Archive for September, 2011

Softsynth Flavour of the Month – Curxes

Posted in Commentary, News with tags on September 26, 2011 by softsynth

We don’t “champion” a lot of bands but one can safely rest assured we shall be Curxes. This UK duo is one of the most exciting new electronic bands to come along in many, many moons. At a time when so many of our old standbys have been releasing disappointing work it’s so exhilarating, so oddly, almost confoundingly reassuring to hear a band like this stumble into our lives. Some months ago we heard “The Constructor” which we liked but caught amidst a wash of new music at the time it was rather forgotten. Flash forward to the single “Creatures/Jaws” and we were suddenly smitten. We dusted off the older song and heard the beauty therein. Add in the lush, gorgeous “Spires” and they are batting 1000 for recorded work. After weathering comparisons to the likes of Depeche Mode it’s important to note how original this band actually are. While “Jaws” almost recalls a post-punk Joy Devisiony sound, their other tracks-to-date defy easy comparison beyond an effect here or a choral note there. They are wholly something new unto themselves. And to boot, we can’t recall an electronic band that managed to sound so “organic”. They’re not just good, they’re interesting and fucking exiting. Plus, how cool is that band name…?

We managed to catch up with the band members Roberta Fidora and Macaulay Hopwood to throw a few questions their way: Continue reading


Review: Class Actress – Rapprocher

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

There’s a whole lot of potential in this interesting American synth pop artist, even if this debut full-length somewhat misses the mark here and there. Elizabeth Harper of Brooklyn has a distinctive British sound and what she’s set out to accomplish is as exciting as it is commendable. But too often the songs don’t go anywhere unexpected or all that interesting and it does occasionally feel like the land of missed opportunity. Continue reading

Review: VNV Nation – Automatic

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

Two of our absolute favourite artists released new albums the same week, Ladytron and VNV Nation. As we wrote recently, the former fell short of expectations, even if there were some true shining moments. The latter is now upon us, has been played and played again until it reeks of familiarity and we can accurately sing along with the peppier tracks, and bizarrely, shockingly marks the second anticipated album that just doesn’t quite ring the bell. Continue reading

Three artists we’re digging this week

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on September 17, 2011 by softsynth

One of those periods when we’re inundated with new or new-to-us artists both from our own trolling or from labels and artists submitting their stuff (and keep doing so, it’s how we’ve discovered some of the most interesting bands on the scene). There are several who have been in steady rotation on the Softsynth playlist the last couple of weeks. Three who stand out are… Continue reading

On reunions

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

Softsynth made a total spectacle of itself in the lead-up to the release of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’s reunion album, History of Modern, last year. We talked about it in such giddy anticipation that “History of Modern” still ranks in the cloud next to this post as one of the most used keywords on the blog in all three years of our existence. See, O.M.D. was so crazy-influential on a young Softsynth and such a gateway drug to the hard stuff in the world of electronic music that their back catalogue isn’t just loved in memorium, it’s downright revered. Such is what happens with the passage of time after the demise of a much-loved band. Our “Bands We Miss” series speaks directly to this nostalgic longing (and also points to just how badly this blogger lives in the past).

But we digress. Continue reading

Review: Ladytron – Gravity the Seducer

Posted in Review with tags on September 13, 2011 by softsynth

Ladytron are one of our go-to bands. Since the unparalleled Witching Hour, they’ve stood head and shoulders above most in the world of electronic music. We’re going to be there day one of any new Ladytron release with bells on. The early signs were inconclusive. The first tracks released were sleepy but well crafted bits of etherial-pop that were good but left no real impression. We needed the whole thing to get a real measure of what these folks are up to in 2011.

So what have they wrought this time around? The sleepy theme rules the day on many of these tracks and surprisingly often the album comes off more “beautiful” than “great”. By that we mean the production has never been cleaner, Helen Marnie’s voice has never sounded lovelier, and the swooping synths have never sounded so gorgeous. There’s an elegance to the entire affair that’s fun and classes up the joint a little, right down the outstanding cover art (Ladytron do good album covers, now and forever). But on much of the album the soul of the band doesn’t come through as much as one might like. It sounds lovely but doesn’t click as memorable often enough, at least not as often as we have been led to expect.  Continue reading

The curious case of Porcelain Black…

Posted in Commentary with tags , on September 5, 2011 by softsynth

We admit to a genuine fascination with Alaina Marie Beaton. Even just trying to figure out what kind of artist she is has been a brain-squeezer. She formally recorded under the name Porcelain and the Tramps (a moniker we happened to love), but difficulty with her record label meant an album was not forthcoming and we were left with just an assortment of odd tracks. But damn if a great many of those tracks weren’t incredibly compelling. “Fuck Like a Star”, “Redlight District” and the wonderfully bitter “My Leftovers” were provocative and catchy. Beaton’s razor-blade-ravaged voice screamed over dirty electronics and jagged guitar it was industrial-flavoured yet had an oddly accessible pop mentality that was genuinely confusing. What kind of artist was she attempting to be? Even her image was an exercise in contradictions. She is beautiful. Alt-geek-fantasy-chick beautiful. A mix of dirty, angry, yet extremely polished and very self-aware. Tats everywhere, hair colour and style changed to suit the day, leather, fetish wear, she was the whole goth fantasy girl cliché, but she seemed more than that…

Continue reading