Archive for January, 2011

“Ghosts of Utopia” – have a listen

Posted in Commentary, News with tags , on January 29, 2011 by softsynth

We are in giddy anticipation of the new IAMX album, Volatile Times. Full stop. Their last album was pure genius. As we have written, ad nauseam, Kingdom of Welcome Addiction, was a near-perfect album, and our far-and-away pick for album of the year in 2009. Upon hearing it, we are hard-pressed to remember the last time we felt so viscerally enthusiastic about and emotionally connected to an album. Maybe Goldfrapp’s Supernature, but we think maybe all the way back to Depeche Mode’s Black Celebration. But, as with any follow-up to an important album, we get nervous about what will come next. The stakes get high. “Think of England”, from KoWD, was a serviceable track but not one that excited us all that much. Well, now we get a listen to lead-off track from the new album, “Ghosts of Utopia” and we’re far more jazzed about this. Cluttered, dirty and ragged, and pulsing with emotion and we’re hooked already. Bring on the new album!

Watch: Ghosts of Utopia

The Softsynth flavour of the week – Culture Kultür

Posted in Commentary with tags , on January 29, 2011 by softsynth

Spain’s Culture Kultür are one of the better-kept secrets in the electronic music community. Their third full-length album, Spirit, was released late in 2010 and didn’t get on the Softsynth radar early enough for consideration for the top 10 of the year but now that we’ve had some time to sit down with it and let it sink in, it’s quickly become a real keeper. Continue reading

Ultravox back for more

Posted in News with tags on January 20, 2011 by softsynth

Ooh, ooh, yes = this. Amidst the rash of defunct classic electronic acts starting to resurface (Human League, O.M.D.), the latest to hit the boards is Ultravox. They’ve been touring the classic Rage in Eden album but now, best news of all they are recording new material for a new album. They left things back in the day on a bit of a sour note with the disappointing, overblown U-Vox album in 1986 and then a line up change that saw Billy Currie the lone original member still hanging in and a trio of pretty ordinary, lousy albums left in the wake. But the Midge Ure-led line up is recharged and has been working on new material since last year. No release date yet but the band have confirmed the great news on their web site.

One of our favourite bands back in the day, and the purveyors of Vienna, one of our very favourite albums of all time, this return is most welcome. While we know the classic returns can sometimes be underwhelming following perhaps-unrealistic expectations, we have high hopes for this one. Welcome back, boys.

Trent wins the Golden Globe

Posted in News with tags on January 16, 2011 by softsynth

Yeah, posted with little comment except to say, the sight of ‘ol Trent Reznor, up there accepting his Golden Globe award in his tux for the breathtaking soundtrack for The Social Network is bizarre and hard to square. But well deserved and a terrific acknowledgement of a modern day genius.

That is all.

Bands we miss – “where the hell *are* they?” edition

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on January 15, 2011 by softsynth

Usually our “Bands we miss” series focuses on bands we know to have disbanded, broken up, gone to that CD clearance rack in the sky. This day we look at three bands, as it happens all hailing from synth mecca Sweden, who live in a limbo state, unknown where they are, what’s gotten into them, what they’re up to. Each one is a band we miss terribly and it’s made all the worse for not knowing. In each case we tried to reach the band or their management and still no dice.  Continue reading

Miss FD back with second helpings

Posted in News with tags on January 6, 2011 by softsynth

A world of yay. A year ago we embraced Florida’s Miss FD as one of a very small handful of artists we champion to the ends of the earth, and now we’re delighted to see she’s already on the way back with a new album, a follow-up to the Softsynth Top 10 of ’10 debut, Monsters in the Industry. Love Never Dies will be released Valentine’s Day. Containing a sadly scant seven songs (that said, how nice is it to see an artist release an album, even an EP in subsequent years? Softsynth remembers back to the 80s when the key bands of the day routinely released albums once a year, none of this four years between bands bullshit…), she says on her web site: things “take a much darker turn – even the title itself is an ironic stab at the heart of the romantic ideal. Far from a collection of love songs, instead these seven tracks spin a tale of emotional devastation, using unconventional melodies, haunted vocals and disturbing beats unlike anything you’ve heard from FD before.” Yes = This. Consider us there.

Watch: Album Promo

Three bands we’re digging right now

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on January 3, 2011 by softsynth

With 2011 now upon us, a quick look back over the year that just was shows a number of sad developments in the world of electronic music. The death of aha, (maybe?) Ashbury Heights, Thermostatic and Mobius Band, the splitting in two of Client, and disappointing product from many electronic stalwarts, not to mention a number of favourites that have gone genuinely AWOL (see next post). However, one glance over the new bands we’ve shone a light on over this last year makes us perk up a little as we realize the next generation has a great many exciting things to offer. Three bands yet to record an official album (along side Sunday Girl and Vile Electrodes who will release debuts this year) are on our radar as we ease into ’11. Continue reading