Archive for June, 2012

The sad fate of Anothers Blood and the struggle for emerging artists

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 24, 2012 by softsynth

While taking our time out a couple of months ago we had prepared a number of posts including a “three bands we’re digging this week” that featured at the top, London-based trio, Anothers Blood. In the time it took us to post that piece they went and called it a day already. Cue sadness as this was a really interesting up and comer who had already produced some killer songs and has an interesting future ahead of the band. 

It happening all too often where promising bands are calling it quits before they really get going. Countless bands have sent us material only to go belly-up by the time we get around to talking about them in this space. In this climate its harder than ever for a band, especially an electronic band, to make a real go of it. Despite the image of bands getting that record contract and then heading on out to easy street where they get rich while pursuing their musical dreams, the reality is the vast majority of bands, especially in this genre, carry on with a “real job”, often an entirely separate career, while trying to produce material and play gigs on the side. The frustration one might have with bigger bands who could produce more prolifically than they do, the reason most bands don’t release more original material is the issue of time and resources to do it in the first place.  Continue reading

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Three artists we’re digging this week

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on June 23, 2012 by softsynth

We were going to lead off this edition of “three artists we’re digging this week” with the terrific Anothers Blood but they’ve up and called it quits before they really got going. See a related post coming soon to talk about the sadness of this move. Meantime we’ve lots of other bands we’re all over right now.  Continue reading

Review: Assemblage 23 – Bruise

Posted in Review with tags on June 20, 2012 by softsynth

For some time Tom Shear has been setting the gold standard for the darker hue of electronic music. Now he releases the latest treat from Assemblage 23 amidst a wave exceptional electronic releases from across the electronic spectrum that has made the genre fan start to feel rather spoiled. Where once we received many an email from angry fans or even bands themselves saying we were far too harsh in our reviews, one would think we had since been forcefully gentled, medieval-style, so happy and content have been our reviews lo these past weeks.

But we digress.

Suspense aside, this is another positive review, though every inch the well-deserved one. Shear has demonstrated he can produce this stuff in his sleep (and occasionally once senses a bit of an autopilot – in the hands of a lesser artist that would be a knock, not necessarily so in this case).  Continue reading

Thoughts on Depeche Mode recording another album

Posted in Commentary with tags , on June 16, 2012 by softsynth

We have written many words on the subject of Depeche Mode here. Time for a few more.

We haven’t really talked much about the implications of the impending 13th album from DM. We now face the prospect of another Depeche Mode album with as much weary trepidation as excitement. Probably more, truth be told. Again, for the uninitiated, this was the band that got your humble blogger into electronic music back in 1984/85. When asked until quite recently – favourite band? It was always Depeche Mode. And while it’s become cliché to whine about the effect of the departure of Alan Wilder from the band in the mid 90s it did truly damage the band and there has been a clear case of the law of diminishing returns in recent albums. Those recent albums have become careless, and for all the rarity of their appearances (on average every four years) they seemed tossed off. The songwriting, long their bread and butter, became stale. Their material began to feel ordinary. And ordinary was something one could never have applied to this band back in their day. Their last effort, Sounds of the Universe was one of their most forgettable to date, despite some glimmers of joy buried within the folds of its broader mediocrity.  Continue reading

Review: Karin Park – Highwire Poetry

Posted in Review with tags on June 15, 2012 by softsynth

No fartin’ around, straight off the top: this is an exciting, thrilling, sonic mess of an album that rewrites the rules for electronic music in the modern era. Rare is the album that envokes a sincere heavy rotation of your humble blogger shouting “holy shit!!” while listening, presence of the mini-Softsynths and various easily-startled pet hangers-on be damned.

We dug Park’s last album, Ashes to Gold; it was seriously dug. But it was simply a solid, lovely electronic pop album. A few songs on the Softsynth iPod playlist but nothing life-changing. Now, sounding like a demented Bjork, before she abandoned all pretense toward melody, this inventive Swede is bringing the cool back to electronic music.

Continue reading

Review: Ultravox – Brilliant

Posted in Review with tags , on June 13, 2012 by softsynth

We’ve come to approach “reunion” or “comeback” albums with a great deal of trepidation. So many times we’ve built ourselves into a frenzy of expectation waiting for new albums from re-assembled lineups from great days of yore (and yore was such an awesome time. Loves us some yore…) only to be disappointed when the release fell flat. The big exception was the tremendous return from Blancmange last year, an album that was one of our picks for the top ten of the year, and well deserved, that.

So what made the Blancmange effort work so successfully? It was a perfect bland of two qualities: remembering and bringing forward the sound that made them special back in the day and a necessary updating of their sound for this day and time. Other reunions leaned too far to the extreme in one direction or another and suffered for it. So where does this one fall? Continue reading

Review: Future/Perfect – Escape

Posted in Review with tags on June 11, 2012 by softsynth

Full disclosure, Future Perfect are one of a small handful of bands this blog has taken it upon itself to champion. That said, when anticipating their second album it was with a healthy dose of “wait and see”.

Second albums are notoriously difficult. They often pale compared to promising debuts and can sometimes signal a paucity of ideas beyond the handful that got them launched. Bands typically either retread the same ground as the debut, hoping to recapture the lightning in the bottle, or they veer in sometimes-offputting directions which can torpedo the goodwill already gained. It’s a pleasure to report that Future Perfect have taken a path that takes a little from column A and a little from column B to great effect. Continue reading