Archive for March, 2011

Review: IAMX – Volatile Times

Posted in Review with tags , on March 24, 2011 by softsynth

Sometimes there is no winning for trying. Sometimes a bar is set so ludicrously high, that no matter what an artist does it will pale as compared to what has come before. The better the work, the increasingly impossible to reach those heights again. Two years and change ago Chris Corner released what Softsynth considers to be one of the greatest electronic albums ever recorded, our far-and-away pick for album of the year that year and one that we believe will stand the test of time. No matter what Corner and friends recorded as follow up was going to pale in comparison.

And it does.

But is that fair? Can we ever assess a work of art within a bubble, without the context of what has come before? Well that’s beyond the powers of this reviewer, so with that context laid out what hath M. Corner wrought in 2011?  Continue reading

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Review: Blancmange – Blanc Burn

Posted in Review, Uncategorized with tags , on March 21, 2011 by softsynth

It seems like every band we’ve written about in our Bands We Miss series over the past few years have reunited and returned to the scene. Too often these reunion efforts, while entirely welcome, are also underwhelming as compared to the built up anticipation. Rare is the “come-back album” that actually manages to capture what made the artist great in the first place let alone actually improve on the older work.

Rare but not unknown as it turns out. Continue reading

Review: Intuition – Berlin Sky

Posted in Review with tags , on March 19, 2011 by softsynth

We’ve always had a soft spot for US synth pop band Intuition. They’ve possessed an unabashed, knowledgeable ken for making electronic pop music that sticks. Criminally underrated and known less than they should be, they’ve managed to stick it out longer than many might have given them credit for. It’s been a staggering six years since their last album, the very solid and prophetically titled Overworked and Underplayed. It had been so long since we heard from Garrett Miles and Ken Porter that we were preparing a Bands We Miss entry for the band when we came across their Facebook group where they confirmed they had a new album in the works. Several months later the album – their third – is upon us. Continue reading

Bands We Miss – Technoir

Posted in Commentary with tags , on March 13, 2011 by softsynth

There are few bands whose passing saddened us more than that of Germany’s Technoir. Singer Julia Beyer left to pursue her numerous other interests (to her great credit she’s been keeping it electro singing with various bands providing the highlight from the last Mesh album, doing some beautiful work with Patenbrigade:Wolff and predominantly providing lead vocals for Chandeen) and the future of the band seems murky at best. Continue reading

Review: Maison Vague – Synthpop’s Alive

Posted in Review with tags , , , on March 12, 2011 by softsynth

At first we really weren’t sure what to make of this peculiar project, the brainchild of US-born/Germany-based Clark Stiefel. It seemed like a gimmick, a bit of a laugh, a de facto response to the clever “Synthpop is Dead” YouTube meme. The video for the title track was funny, odd, and completely un-self conscious in it’s stereotypical electro geek finery. It was cute and that seemed to be that.

But hold on…this is, as it turns out, a whole hell of a lot more. This is something almost subversively brilliant in it’s nakedly retro throwback vibe. Stiefel has created in a backhanded way, one of the most intriguing electronic albums in recent memory. Continue reading