Archive for Nitzer Ebb

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



Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 29, 2011 by softsynth

When we look back at the history of electronic music, and more personally Softsynth’s own journey to embrace our shared genre, Daniel Miller’s record label played a larger, more significant role than any other entity. As a young lad in a small Canadian city in the pre-internet era there were only a few ways to discover new music. Mainstream radio was the big one and we’ve waxed on about how we discovered Depeche Mode in 1984 thanks to the then-ubiquitous “People Are People” which aired on MuchMusic, daily video shows like CBC’s Video Hits, and on radio programs like Dick Clark’s op 40 Countdown which aired on Halifax’s C-100.
Continue reading

Review: Nitzer Ebb – Industrial Complex

Posted in Review with tags , on December 14, 2009 by softsynth

They’re baaaack. And about time too, they’ve been sorely missed. Nitzer Ebb’s last effort was their 1995 album, Big Hit, which Softsynth loved but upset many NE fans with its pop influences (we also got to see them on tour that year and they were in fine form). So after nearly 15 years away from the studio what have they deigned to share with us? Something pretty awesome as it turns out.

A little background/perspective first: In 1985/86 a young teenage Softsynthette was just beginning to understand the genre which at that point was either synthpop of the early Depeche Mode/Human League variety or the marginally more experimental O.M.D., or the moodier, slightly gothier strains influenced by the likes of DM’s Black Celebration. We then picked up a cassette of NE’s That Total Age and at first – hated it. A lot. It was just screaming and what sounded like hitting pipes with bits of metal. Shelved it. But we would occasionally pull it down and play it – just to ensure we felt like we were getting out $8.99 Cdn-worth – and it grew on us. By the time Belief came out we were anxious for an Ebb return. And we were rewarded – the song writing was better, the “musicality” was strengthened and the blend was starting to really hit its mark. Each successive album blended more sounds, more melody, and more song craft up to and including Big Hit. But harking back to That Total Age, Nitzer Ebb did more to teach us that there was so much more to electronic music. From the day we first listened to that cassette we began to open our eyes and stretch outward both looking into the disparate roots of the genre as well as looking to different segments of the community including industrial, ambient, trance and dozens more. All thanks to Bon Harris and Douglas McCarthy. Continue reading

Nitzer Ebb finally confirm new album title/release date

Posted in News with tags , on November 26, 2009 by softsynth

After one of the most interminable waits for a new release ever, Nitzer Ebb have finally set the date. Their long long awaited follow up to 1995’s Big Hit will hit the world January 22nd. The album will be titled Industrial Complex. The boys will also soon embark on a tour with Depeche Mode as opening act, reprising a scenario from 1988. Can’t wait.

Quick trip around the interwebs: Covenant album on hold

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2009 by softsynth

Every few months Softsynth takes a trip around about 100 web sites for our favourite bands, especially those who have been quiet for a while. We learned today that Sweden’s Covenant have put their new album Modern Ruin on hold as their label reorganizes. Sad news as it could be another six months (!) before we see what has been shaping up to be a very promising new work. Meanwhile their US tour will go ahead even without the new album to promote. Hm. Continue reading

What makes for a good live electronic act?

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 16, 2009 by softsynth

After watching clips of the new Anne Clark live DVD and finding ourselves most impressed with the lineup and the sound she and her band achieve, Softsynth is flashing back to the concert of a lifetime – Depeche Mode, Toronto, 1988, just days before their legendary “101” concert at the Pasadena Rose Bowl. It was a lineup that embodied the best of electronic music, three keyboards, Martin Gore making his first fawn-like tentative journeys to the front of the stage to play guitar before retreating to the comfort of his synth downstage, and a charismatic lead vocalist who carried the energy of the show on his shoulders. Since that time we have seen every variance of live set from myriad electronic bands, some of which work nicely, others bring a degree of shame to the genre. in 2009 what kind of set should we come to expect from the leading electronic bands of the day?

For the more conventional rock band setup, this is a trite and obvious question. You strap on the guitar, the drummer sits down at the kit and you rock it out dude! The standard guitar/bass/drums/vocalist lineup, while inherently dull to this blogger, is the mainstay of a live rock set and there is little question of what the lineup will look like (maybe some question of a keyboard player or horn player being invited to sit in, or for the more prog-rock or enjoyably pretentious, perhaps a small string or brass section, or extra precussion unit, but these are extras to the main deal). But for an electronic band there are many questions that must be queried. Laptops or keyboards? Live percussion or programmed? Guitar or no? Full-on trad-rock lineup or something a little closer to the purity of the electronic set? This is one of those rare posts where we solicit your thoughts. What works for you. What drains the essence of what made the band special in the first place?

Our thoughts: it depends on the band in question. Full disclosure – Softsynth is most fond of performance. We have little interest in watching folks stand behind laptops all by their lonesome, occasionally pushing a button (see And One, Erasure, Venus Hum, Chemical Brothers); while a charismatic lead singer (see Erasure, Venus Hum) can carry a show on their shoulders, it’s nice to see the rest of the band occasionally working up a sweat, or at a minimum, playing a fews keys here and there. Continue reading

NCIS – world’s dullest show = world’s coolest soundtrack?

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on January 6, 2009 by softsynth

I confess I have never watched NCIS. I have glanced at it and it hold zero appeal for me. Total middle of the road CBS procedural. And yet their just-announced soundtrack sounds nothing short of awesome. Seems there is a very hot “goth chick” named Abby (Pauley Perrette) who works as some kind of lab monkey and we are often witness to her listening to her music on the show (I am taking all this from things I have heard about the show so I could be wildly wrong). And what awesome music it is. As a result this soundtrack is the first major airing for a number of my favorite artists and in some other cases, the widest release many have received in a very long time. The soundtrack features tracks by SKOLD vs. KMFDM (and a fabulous track it is), Solamingus, Android Lust, Collide (featuring the best track from their great new album, Two Headed Monster), Ministry, and best of all a brand new track from Nitzer Ebb, “Promises” (to tide us over until their first album since 1995’s Big Hit. Pauley Perrette herself contributes a wonderful song as well. There’s a lot of disposable crap on their as well but this collection may force me to make my first official connection to the show. 

It’s available February 10th.