Archive for Apoptygma Berzerk

Top 25 electronic albums: 2000-2009 – Part I

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 29, 2009 by softsynth

As the decade draws to a close, blog after blog and magazine after magazine have been publishing their end-of-decade best-of-the-aughts music lists. Allow Softsynth to dive in to that crowded pool.

It’s been a busy and exciting decade for electronic music after the dry-ish decade of the 90s that saw a genre in transition, unsure of what was to come next as the golden era of the 80s passed by and the resurgence was yet to come. Since 2000 we have seen ups and downs among the subgenres with some of the most interesting music those subgenres have ever produced bubbling up this decade. In the coming weeks we will share our annual best of the year list – the only time we break from the declared mandate of this blog and we include what we thought were the best albums of 2009 regardless of genre – but for now, we share part of the best of the decade in electronic albums.

We have spent more time than usual preparing this list, one that is as subjective as any other (and we have seen some electronic best-0f-the-decade lists that have swung wildly across the spectrum – to the AV Club you would swear that “electronic music” consisted of little more than the DJ community, for example) based on our own tastes but we try to be as inclusive as possible, knowing that 50 fans of electronic music will come up with 50 different permutations. We started with nearly 100 of the most notable electronic albums of the decade with the various electronic subgenres and whittled it painstakingly down to 25. Some released this year may well stand the test of time but haven’t marinated long enough – including new work from Venus Hum, and Assemblage 23. Only two 2009 albums have made it to this list, and both were releases at the very top of the year. On further reflection we may wish to have added the 2009 offerings from the above two or others (and it would be a safe bet that each will be in our best of ’09 list so stay tuned). For better or worse, here’s the best of the rest: Continue reading

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What exactly constitutes “electronic” music?

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 12, 2009 by softsynth

I have been asked following my posted review of Lily Allen’s great new album, what do I consider electronic music? Where does the line get drawn? Why is it that many bands lumped in as part of the electro universe only possess a tentative link at best? There are obvious rock bands that some consider part of that universe and other artists that clearly find themselves driven by electronic soundscapes but would never be considered part of the electronic scene. What gives? Continue reading

Review: Apoptygma Berzerk – Rocket Science

Posted in Review with tags , on January 20, 2009 by softsynth

So, Rocket Science will soon be upon us officially. APB made a sharp left hand turn with their last album, 2006’s You and Me Against the World and there has been much speculation as to whether or not they continue down this new road or if they bring the harder-edged electro back.¬†

Well, the answer isn’t quite as simple as that. While in terms of attitude and tone it bears a striking resemblance to YAMATW, Stephan Groth and co. occasionally veer in different directions. Continue reading

On change and the insecurity of electro fans

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , on January 12, 2009 by softsynth

In the on-going¬†cataloging of 2009 releases in the electronic community, the last week has brought news of two of my very favourite bands in the studio (or shortly heading there) to produce new content for ’09. VNV Nation is about to head on in to record newly written material for the upcoming Of Faith, Power and Glory, the followup to the awesome Judgement. (In addition to a cast-offs/live tracks/varia album Reformation we will see in coming weeks, for the collectors.) Also in the studio are Mesh, my so-called “second favourite band” (truth be told many bands have held that description at one time or another) who are well into the recording process for the followup to the incomparable We Collide, one of my favourite albums of all time. However, when reading about the Mesh sessions on Side-line.com, I was unnerved to see them describe the album-in-progress as “grittier and rockier (sic)”. Now I’m all about the grit and the rock, but this has become shorthand among many electronic artists, code words for “more organic” or “less of what has made this band the band you’ve enjoyed up to this point”. So why would I react this way? Aren’t artists supposed to grow and change and bring different things to the table? Continue reading

New singles – Apop and And One

Posted in Review with tags , , on January 2, 2009 by softsynth

In a previous post I mentioned (and linked to the video for) Apoptygma Berzerk’s new single, “Apollo (Live on Your TV)”. The EBM and darkwave scenes seem to run in cycles and many of the more popular bands in these genres seem to release new material on a similar schedule. I note that And One has also released a new single recently, “Paddy is My DJ” (worst title ever in the history of everything? Maybe…). While the Apop single is from the forthcoming album, Rocket Science, the And One song hasn’t been attached to any other upcoming product. Both are considered among the biggest names in electronic music so each is worth a listen. Continue reading

On “best ofs” and yet-to-comes

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 29, 2008 by softsynth

I have had a few questions regarding my “best of ’08” list, and yes it’s ridiculously subjective. As are all such lists. I like lists, they play to my anal retentive side. But while fun to contemplate, they are still based on the varying tastes of its particular authors. Among the “big five or six” of the music papers I saw Duffy’s album on two “best of the year” lists” and on one “worst of the year”. I saw the Jonas Brothers on one of each. Same with Chinese Democracy What does any of it mean? Not a whole lot. Unless you are T.V. on the Radio, in which case you are universally beloved by mainstream music press and those who fashion themselves as more of the alternative variety. (Now I like TVotR too, but the collective hysteria over this album is disproportionate to how good the album actually is. It’s good. It is. It’s a fine, clever, well written, well produced album but except for a few stand out tracks it still strikes me as quite ordinary. Good-ordinary to be sure, but still ordinary. Nothing wrong with that but the “It’s as good as Pet Sounds/The While Album/Let it Bleed all rolled into one” wankfest has gone to a silly place. But there again, you have it. It’s so stupidly subjective that what means one thing to one listener means something altogether different to the next.)¬†

Continue reading