Archive for Marsheaux

The Best Electronic Albums of 2013

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2013 by softsynth

Such a different process of culling the best albums of the year without regular blogging beforehand. Without the regular reviews and check-ins it’s a more daunting, from-scratch process to paw through the various offerings from our genre.

And it’s been a cracker year. In some previous years our first cut narrowed the best of the best to 25-30 great albums, but this year numbers more than 40 in the first cut. Some notables that deserve a mention:

– Depeche Mode return with their strongest album in many years promising more life for the band. The kind of life even old school fans could learn to look forward to again.
– Erasure release a holiday album that turns out to be their best since Nightbird. Haunting Xmas tunes with terrific    originals, the likes of which we weren’t sure they could do anymore.
– Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark make good on the previously-mild promise of their comeback with a great return to form with English Electric.
– Technoir, one of Softsynth’s all time favourites come back without singer Julia Bayer, and with Steffen Gehring becoming “all of Technoir” for We Fall Apart and the results are uneven but surprisingly satisfying.
– Another Softsynth favourite, Diffuzion return with a fantastic EP that promises so much for their new album in 2014.
– Polly Scattergood ends the debate of “electronic, or no?” once and for all with her great album Arrows.
– Goldfrapp begin a debate of “electronic or no?” with a strangely unsatisfying new album.
– Vile Electrodes finally, at long last, released their debut full length album and it fulfilled the tremendous promise we knew the band had.

But what of the best? The cream of the electronic crop in this year of plenty? The choices were difficult but there were a “best”. To whit… Continue reading

Review: Marsheaux – Inhale

Posted in Review with tags on June 13, 2013 by softsynth

When we reviewed Greek electro duo Marsheaux’s last album, Lumineaux Noir, a full four years ago, we were pretty hard on it. We were lukewarm at best, largely because it didn’t build on what had come before and it seemed to disappointingly fade into the background. (That said, the album has had remarkable staying power and still sounds pretty fresh.) What a difference an album makes.

Flash forward four years and without any kind of major makeover, the ladies have produced an album that is anchored in stellar songwriting and a stark awareness of what makes for a meaningful, smooth electronic musical experience. It’s an album that borrows heavily from the genre’s roots but in a reverential way, not a gimmicky or lazy manner. When someone can bottle the sound of the Golden Era of electronic music and reproduce it in a thematically-relevant way in 2013, they’ve stumbled upon the Good Shit.

Inhale is chock full of the Good Shit. Continue reading

The 2011 Softsynth playlist

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 18, 2011 by softsynth

So, as we do every year, we have assembled the individual songs that made up the soundtrack for Softsynth this year. We are generally more about albums than singles but there are individual songs that stand on their own as outstanding. Some of these come from albums we found underwhelming as a whole, some were one-off singles, or standouts from excellent EPs.

We don’t do a singles list because as often as not it’s album tracks that get us all hot and bothered but the song collection that truly moved us, our “top 25 songs” to go with our albums of the year, starts with the following: Continue reading

Wasn’t there this guy who blogged electronic music…?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on May 21, 2011 by softsynth

First off, apologies for the extended absence from this space. Your humble blogger was sick with the pneumonia for quite some time which kept him away from the electronic music discourse. As it happened this absence coincided with a peculiar dearth of meaningful developments within the electronic music world. Made it easier to ease back into the process. A few things percolating though: Continue reading

New releases in early 2011

Posted in News with tags , , , , on November 23, 2010 by softsynth

The new year will bring its usual assortment of cool new releases. While we’re giving thought to what will make up the Softsynth best of the year list for 2010 we’ve already got our eyes on what the year-to-come will bring, rumoured or otherwise.

The big names include Erasure who will bring forth an as-yet-untitled new work. It will be interesting to see what the boys proffer this year after the highly disappointing Light at the End of the World.

Our most anticipated release of the new year is IAMX’s Volatile Times. After the peerless, near-perfect Kingdom of Welcome Addiction, our unquestioned pick as the number one electronic album of last year, we are both excited and nervous about what’s next on the docket. It will be among us in March and no other album is as yearned-for.

Covenant finally bring us the long-delayed Modern Ruin January 17th. We’re big Covenant fans so the repeated delays have frustrated us to no end. The “Lightbringer” teaser hasn’t set us afire but we’re still greatly looking forward to what our Swedish stalwarts have in store.

Greece’s Marsheaux will release Message From Mars in the early months of the new year. Consistent and utterly in the know about what makes electronic music work this duo is sure to bring us an electronic highlight for the year.

Swedish electropunk band Alice in Videoland will release their fourth album A Million Thoughts and They’re All About You January 11 in North America (but is already available in some markets). Alice in Videoland can do little wrong as far as we’re concerned so we’re all a-twitter.

There are a lot of terrific electronic releases yet to come in 2010 and we’re girding ourselves accordingly but we can’t help but cast our glance to the first few months of ’11 to remind ourselves that the electronic movement keeps on ticketing and barreling ever-forward. Much yet to come…

(What have we missed? What else in on the scene in the first quarter of the new year? Let us know!)

The Softsynth 2009 Playlist (songs of the year ’09)

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

So this will be the last in the long line of “lists” for the year. We had mused about doing up a “best singles of the year list”

and were both overwhelmed by the task at hand and felt persnickety about the notion of being limited to just singles.

The era of the single is definitely upon us what with the death of the CD as the last remaining form of “physical” music and the growth of iTunes culture, but damn it, Softsynth is a creature from the age of album appreciation and the best songs are so often not the tracks sent out to be appreciated by the masses, but those that remain buried in the outer confines of an album. (That said many of the best songs

released there were, indeed, singles, so we’re not limiting ourselves here). It’s what made for the great mixed tapes of yore. (And for those of a certain age, too young for the pure album era of the 70s, but older than those who know only the MP3 era, the mixed tape was a crucial part of our musical upbringing. we created our own playlists, as a kind of precursor to the era we increasingly find ourselves in today via one-off MP3 downloads, but with tracks culled from albums or singles as we saw fit, depending on our mood at a given time.)

This is literally the only time through the year that we open things up to acknowledge the best stuff from various genres, not just electronic music (and in our next post we will revisit the question of what exactly constitutes so-called “electronic music”).We will paint with a wider brush just to fully colour in the year. So away we go, the singles of the year, er, songs of the year, uh…no, the “2009 Softsynth playlist”…

Continue reading

Review: Marsheaux – Lumineux Noir

Posted in Review with tags , , on August 19, 2009 by softsynth

Reviewing a Marsheaux album is much like reviewing a blade of grass: beautiful in its way but identical to thousands of other blades nearby. And nothing to distinguish it from the rest, nothing to leave behind that would cause to remember and treasure that particular blade.

That said, there is an odd complexity to reviewing Marsheaux’s latest, in fact it has taken over a month to craft a short review as one struggles to come up with anything meaningful to say about inherently non-meaningful music and in the meantime finding the album really growing on your humble blogger.

This Greek electro-pop duo keeps it very, very old-school, as they have on their previous releases, Peek-a-Boo and E-Bay Queen, and they certainly get it right in terms of mood and overall sound. What they are missing – and what they missed on the previous efforts – is the energy needed to make some of these tracks pop, and make a lasting impression. Continue reading