Archive for O.M.D.

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

O.M.D. release first video from History of Modern

Posted in News with tags , , on August 16, 2010 by softsynth
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark have released their first video from History of Modern. And maybe it’s a case of too much anticipation, too much lionizing, too much pedestaling, but we’re not really feeling it yet. It’s a fine, serviceable track with some vintage O.M.D. sounds and one definitely feels the influence of Paul Humphries’ return but we’re missing something. Maybe it’s the experimental side of the band we’re yearning for (and we remain hopeful that the album will reveal some of this once again), and this is more like latter-day O.M.D. than we’d like in an ideal world though this remains our most anticipated release of 2010.
The video itself is nice. Pretty people doing pretty things with each other whilst doing pretty interpretive dance with less pretty Humphries and McCluskey rather creepily watching them from on high.
Watch: If You Want It

O.M.D. set release date, track list for History of Modern

Posted in News with tags , , on June 27, 2010 by softsynth

Boy, if this album turns out to be a dud, not sure how Softsynth is going to handle it. The most anticipated album on our calendar in many years is the first new album from Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark in their full original line-up in more than 20 years, and the noise we’ve heard has been very positive (with teaser track “Sister Marie Says” a perfectly serviceable, if not exceptional taste), so our excitement has been on the rise. Better be good for all that waiting. A release date has finally been set – September 20; and a track listing has been revealed (and the song titles take us back to a very early period O.M.D., so they are, at a minimum, taking great care with the window dressing):

1.New Babies: New Toys

2. If You Want It

3.History Of Modern (part I)

4. History Of Modern (part II)

5. Sometimes

6. RFWK

7. New Holy Ground

8. The Future, The Past, and Forever After

9. Sister Mary Says

10. Pulse

11. Green

12. Bondage Of Fate

13. The Right Side?

There were few, more influential bands on the musical identity of this blogger so stakes are high. Make it a good one boys…

OMD return!

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

So honestly, we assumed this was never going to happen but Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark are blazing back with new material. 2010 will see a new album from the fully reunited band as Andy McClusky and Paul Humphries will collaborate on new material for the first time since 1988 with the new album, The History of Modern.

Our fingers are twitching with excitement as we type. Why? Well, while the three albums that McClusky released on his own through the 90s were a serious case of the law of diminishing returns, the fully intact O.M.D. was one of the most important bands in the history of electronic music, not to mention one of the most consistently creative. And now we have “Sister Marie Says”, a new track from the forthcoming album to prove that yes, there really is new material on the way and it’s very much in the classic O.M.D. vein both musically and (especially) lyrically. Between this and a new album from Kraftwerk on the way we can truly party like it’s 1979…

(download “Sister Marie Says” for free at the O.M.D. website)

In defence of the lowly drum machine

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2009 by softsynth

“This next band…doesn’t have a drummer!!” So intoned a breathless Dick Clark in 1984 during a broadcast of his American hot 100 countdown radio show. We were transfixed. What could that mean? To a 13 year old who was just discovering music and for whom pop or rock music meant a guitar, a bass, drums, a singer and maybe a keyboard. What was this non-drummer lunacy?? As it turned out he was talking about Depeche Mode who were enjoying their first North American mainstream success with “People are People”. Clark was positively verkempt at the notion. To young teen Softsynth’s ears it sure sounded like they had drums in there, perhaps Clark was simply insane. It seemed a reasonable conclusion. Continue reading

Bands we miss – Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark

Posted in Commentary with tags , on May 13, 2009 by softsynth

When I first thought of doing this series a while back I was going to write about Soviet and Nitzer Ebb, the two bands that inspired our own little version of “where are they now”, but now the former has a new album out and the latter have been touring, put a new song on the NCIS soundtrack and are working on their first album since the mid-90s. There are other bands that were never electronic bands that we sure as hell “miss” like the aforementioned Cocteau Twins but obviously don’t quite fit into the theme of this particular series. So if the rules are that hard and fast why bend the concept so much in this case.

Well, because, that’s why. Shut up, you. 

O.M.D. have always held a great place in my heart, even as the law of diminishing returns wrecked havoc on the group’s output. They were among the first to blend the experimental industrial themes of the 70s with the pop sensibilities of the 80s and their early work was among the best in the history of the genre. Paul Humphries and Andy McClusky started as a very minimalist purely electronic band (with McClusky’s bass adding a little touch of organic flavour) featuring Winston the drum machine on Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark. As the 80s wore on they got bolder and more experimental, releasing their second album, the slightly-poppier-than-their-self-titled debut, Organisation, which featured the peerless “Enola Gay”, onto the murkier and more experimental, Architecture and Morality, and then the downright freaky Dazzle Ships, (which is more dated than anything else in their canon but still a hoot to listen to and features three rock-solid songs, “Radio Waves”, “Genetic Engineering” and “Telegraph”, all of which sound fresh as a morning breeze even now), then they evened out on the more mainstream, but still unmistakenly OMD, Junk Culture. After that they became increasing ordinary and mainstream, peaking with genuine top 10 Billboard hits “If You Leave” and “Forever Live and Die”. After the top notch pop anthem, “Dreaming” Humphries left and McClusky carried on for three more albums but each felt duller and less alive than the previous until the whole thing finally petered out.

And yet! Why all the humming and hawing about fitting the theme’s rule? Well, wouldn’t you know it, they came back together a couple of years ago to tour the Architecture and Morality album’s anniversary and even talked of recording a new album (on the latter point I’m not holding my breath and there has been little in the way of news of this new product). So, are they “together again” or just reliving better times? Doesn’t matter really. We still miss them for their inventiveness, their boldness, their way with a hook and their ability to create their own custom, distinctive synth sounds that you can hear and instantly say, “hey! OMD!” They made a huge mark on the genre and as an active presence they continually gave us fresh, wonderful content and accordingly thet are a band we miss very much.

Watch: Maid of Orleans (Joan of Arc)

Ten essential electronic albums – Part V and VI

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , on February 21, 2009 by softsynth

The birth of the Golden Age of electronic music began with our next entry. 1980 was an awkward year of transition as technology was tentatively embraced with childlike flutters of uncertain expectation. But the next album marked the emergence of a more confident approach using the technology as a tool to make better and better music as opposed to some exotic novelty. As 1980 gave way to 1981 (the year, I posit, that was the high water mark for electronic music, the watershed year, if you will), things were a’changin’. For a time there, electronic music would become the mainstream, the norm, the gold standard of music. It was brief but it was memorable.

Continue reading