Archive for July, 2011


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

When we look back at the history of electronic music, and more personally Softsynth’s own journey to embrace our shared genre, Daniel Miller’s record label played a larger, more significant role than any other entity. As a young lad in a small Canadian city in the pre-internet era there were only a few ways to discover new music. Mainstream radio was the big one and we’ve waxed on about how we discovered Depeche Mode in 1984 thanks to the then-ubiquitous “People Are People” which aired on MuchMusic, daily video shows like CBC’s Video Hits, and on radio programs like Dick Clark’s op 40 Countdown which aired on Halifax’s C-100.
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Three artists we’re digging this week

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on July 28, 2011 by softsynth

One thing we enjoy about listening to all forms of electronic music is the mix at any one given time can be eclectic, even if all over the place while still enjoying the best of what the genre has to offer from many quarters. One quick check of the Softsynth iPod and we find three great bands keep popping up this week, and the only thing they have in common is they are all awesome.

Mechanical Cabaret are Roi Robertson with Steve Ballamy joining on live synths, and the band is oft-compared to Fad Gadget (RIP Mr. Tovey), an apt description though this project is less experimental and more about delivering the kick-ass electronic rock song. This year they released Disco Vandalism, and while we normally eschew new releases that are largely rehashes of existing material, this collection of remixes is top-notch, particularly the DV800 mix of “In Loving Memory”. It’s dark and messy but also catchy with a synthpop influence buried beneath the more darkwave-tinged exterior. It’s excellent, excellent stuff and has inspires us to seek out the back catalogue (favourite song: “See Her Smile” from Product For Your Insecurity). They are quickly becoming one of our favourites.  Continue reading

Imogen Heap still one our most compelling artists

Posted in News with tags , on July 11, 2011 by softsynth

Imogen Heap has long been a Softsynth fave, dating back a number of years to when we accidentally stumbled on her performing “Goodnight and Go” on one of the late night talk shows, just her and a bank of synths. Her last album was a lovely, magnificent achievement and we’ve been waiting with bated breath for the follow-up.

Instead of doing what one might have expected – and we should know to never set expectations with this delightful oddball – her new project is a concept album built track by track, using “submitted sounds” from fans. Each song is constructed from the ground-up and released every three months (which should make for a long album-in-progress) including an original video. So far there have been two terrific tracks released as the results of this project, “Lifeline”, a slow burn contemplative song, and even better the new “Propeller Seeds” which defies easy description. She’s getting stranger and more esoteric with each new project, and that direction won’t be for everyone, but she’s producing some challenging, odd, but compelling music that only enhances her already impressive legacy. Worth checking out the track progressions at her web site as the weeks scroll on.

Watch: Propeller Seeds

The future of our genre may belong to Northern Kind

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 9, 2011 by softsynth

We’ve never sung the praises of Northern Kind to the degree we should have, at least not in these pages. And yet, in so many ways they represent the best of our genre. Looking back on our review of their last album, we “liked it” but did we “like it, like it”? Not really. It was seen as a solid, fun, enjoyable, but not necessarily memorable album. And yet looking back at the material that made up that album, Wired:, we are struck by how lasting, how compelling those songs still sound. They have long been one of those bands that is “there”, in the background, always satisfying, never quite rising to the top of the “must listen to this” pile, and yet…and yet. Continue reading

Bands we miss: Spoons

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on July 1, 2011 by softsynth

In honour of Canada Day (and for the uninitiated, what July 4th is to the ‘mericans, Canada Day – July 1 – is to Canadians) we look back at a once great electronic new wave Canadian band that never saw a whole lot of attention outside the country but in its day was right up there with the bigs of the genre in their own way. Continue reading