Archive for August, 2011

Previews whet the Softsynth appetite

Posted in News with tags , , , on August 28, 2011 by softsynth

Almost in direct contradiction to the post of a couple of weeks ago decrying the loss of real anticipation of new releases, two of the gold standard, Softsynth-hall-of-fame bands have released teasers for upcoming albums that have us salivating.

To back up a bit, we are mere weeks away from one of those extremely rare occurences when three of the top bands advocated by this blog have brand-spanking new albums all within a week of one another – Assemblage 23, VNV Nation and Ladytron. Already pretty darn tooting exciting at that but we’ve been graced with teasers for the latter two of them (Come on Shear, give us a taste of the new A23 and make it a complete set!) that raise the excitement factor even further.  Continue reading

Review: Firefox AK – Color the Trees

Posted in Review with tags on August 25, 2011 by softsynth

The low-quality cover-art. The forgettable, far-too-ordinary lead-off single, “Boom Boom Boom”. The signs were not good for the new album by Andrea Kellerman, AKA Firefox AK. And even at first listen there was a lot of low-energy, seemingly forgettable songs, and yet. And yet. One gets seduced by the sheer loveliness of this collection. Upon repeated listens the clever melodies shine through. The dips and soars start to punch a little bit. The lyrics start to touch the listener. It sneaks up on you but once one gets past the touch of samey-sameness to some of the tracks, one realizes that this album is genuinely, surprisingly, terrific. Continue reading

Can we still properly *anticipate* a new release in the digital age?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on August 19, 2011 by softsynth

The year was 1986. The boy was a young Softsynth. Erasure’s debut Wonderland had rocked his world and he heard “Sometimes” and then “It Doesn’t Have to be Like That” via Rock Over London (so, so cheesy but so so important to his musical development), and the anticipation of the second album, The Circus had him in a veritable tizzy. Upon finally buying the album it was listened to non-stop and was declared his favourite album of all time (a status that lasted maybe six months, but still…). The countdown, the lucky catching of the lead-off single on the radio, it all added up to something so exciting, that it resembled the final weeks before Christmas, which a still-younger version of that same boy lovingly counted down by crossing off days in a pocket calendar. The routine would repeat itself over and over in the following years as the musical palette grew, waiting expectantly for new cassette releases by Nitzer Ebb, Depeche Mode, O.M.D., I Start Counting, the first sounds of a lead single were like throwing a drop or two of water to a man dying of thirst. To a hard, hard core music geek there was nothing more visceral. Continue reading

Music by the numbers vs. a touch of soul

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on August 11, 2011 by softsynth

For decades electronic music has been accused of being “soulless” yet so much of the best electronic output has been chock full of the strongest emotional appeal and soul dredged up right from the gut. Instead it’s some of the most popular mainstream music that has had every ounce of soul or meaning sucked from its’ marrow.

Softsynth has recently read illuminating articles on Dr. Luke (in Rolling Stone) and Black Eyed Peas’ Will i am (in various wire stories) where each practically reveled in their absence of heart and/or soul. The former sees creation of a good song as a science, the latter as part of some mathematical equation. In neither case is there any room for deeper meaning either in the chord structure or lyrics.

One of the more frustrating things about the knock on electronic music is its lack of any emotion beneath the surface, behind the machines. The implication being, music made by machines rather than by bashing a fretted or skinned instrument cannot, by default, possess heart, soul or feel. Bullshit, says we. Continue reading

Review: Solar Fake – Frontiers

Posted in Review with tags on August 7, 2011 by softsynth

We’ve posted ad nauseam about how we enjoy electronic music in all its forms and we mean that. From trance to hard core industrial, we dig it all. But that said we often gravitate toward certain sub genres, such as darkwave or electroclash. Mix a little from column A and a little from column B and we’re totally in the musical sweetspot. Solar Fake expertly combine the best of darkwave with a little soupcon of synthpop, a dollop of the Reznor scream and little touches here and there from other areas and the result is about as good as it gets in electronic music.  Continue reading