Archive for Tenek

The Best Electronic Albums of 2011

Posted in Commentary, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2011 by softsynth

This has been something of a peculiar year for electronic music. Some of the most compelling music from the genre has come from unsigned or yet-to-record-an-album bands. Discoveries like Curxes, Vile Electrodes and Nightlife provided some of the most alive, exciting and dynamic electronic music of the year. It was a year where EPs, instead of full albums, which we measure here today, brought us some of the most interesting glimpses of how good electronic music can be from the likes of Softsynth mainstay Miss FD, The Golden Filter, Tenek, or the three aforementioned bands (perhaps the latest example of how differently we now consume music in the digital age). And it was a year when many of the bands that make up the very foundation of this blog and this blogger’s bedrock musical interests, released new albums only to fall flat. In a year when Erasure, Ladytron, VNV Nation, M83, She Wants Revenge, And One and The Human League released new work it felt like assembling this year’s chart would be a pre-ordained affair, and yet it was surprises, resurfaces and new discoveries that provided the real fodder for our best of the year list in 2011. It was a year when Amy Lee of Evanescence, of all people would give us one of our most compelling electronic songs of the year, covering a Muppets song no less. There were curve balls but ultimately, as is the case every year, the best of the best rises to the top… Continue reading

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Three artists we’re digging this week

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on November 6, 2011 by softsynth

There have been big swaths this year where the electronic music been has been nothing short of arid; then, there are times like now when we are blessed with a surfeit of excellent tunes swirling around our heads.

Three artists that are on such heavy rotation on the Softsynth playlist this week they might just develop whiplash. One favourite with new stuff, another this-year-new and another still, new in terms of musical output but one we’ve been waiting for literally, for years. Continue reading

The Softsynth 2010 playlist

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2010 by softsynth

Daunting is the idea of having to single out singles.

a) What do singles even mean in 2010? The digital age, the era of the pre-release leak, the lack of any physical “release” for all intents and purposes, the absence of any television presence where videos are played in any meaningful way – all have lead to a music world where a so-called “single” means no more than any other stand-out track on an album.

b) If breaking down the best albums in a particular genre is as daunting as it was in 2010, the idea of having to attack the mountain of meaningful electronic songs and somehow rank them in a consequential way is beyond the mental capacity of this blogger.

That said, each year there rises an honour roll of sorts, in absolutely no particular order at all, no “first”, no “last” . just those songs (yes, usually singles, but not always) that were constantly on the Softsynth playlist this year; those songs that resonated and rose above the conclave, the 30 “best” electronic songs of 2010. Continue reading

Review: Tenek – On the Wire

Posted in Review with tags on August 17, 2010 by softsynth

While we quite enjoyed Tenek’s debut, Stateless, and looked forward to its efficiently-released follow-up ,our expectations were realistically whelmed. That an album that hardly writes new history, or pushes electronic music into any particularly interesting new direction can be this good is a testament to the songwriting prowess of this constantly refreshing UK duo.

The band go in a clearly-defined new direction. While their first album was rather standard modern synthpop indicative of the aughts, On the Wire takes a decidedly retro path. There are songs here, like “The Art of Evasion” and “The Grid” and especially “Under my Skin” that evoke mid-80s Canadian synthpop. While listening to the album on repeat during a five-hour drive this weekend we kept flashing back to summer of ’85 or ’86 when songs by Strange Advance or Honeymoon Suite were all over the radio in this country. In and of itself that’s not germane to whether the album good or bad, it just very much “is”. Continue reading

Three bands we’re digging this week

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , on June 20, 2010 by softsynth

Been listening to a few bands that are hard to access but finally scraped up their material. A couple of these are our two favourite new additions to the Softsynth stable.

The first is Norway’s Electro Spectre whose most recent album Watch It All Turn is an utter treat. It’s as old school electro as old school gets. Right down to the production values the album sounds like it could be have been released in 1982. There is some confusion as to whether or not this is a 2009 album or released more recently than this (a recent label change has added to the confusion – it’s only as issue inasmuch as this is already a strong contender for Softsynth’s Best of 2010 though be all accounts it’s been out in some form for a while), but either way its’ delightful retro synth pop and nakedly European vocals make it go down like tea with a strong helping of honey. Wonderful stuff.

The other we simply cannot stop listening to is Squared Strawberries by Greece’s Rockets in a Coma. This is a dance-influenced electro pop album released last year but only now coming to our attention and it’s a beautiful, shockingly original collection of material. Hard to pin down exactly what this band “is” (Synth pop? Dance? Experimental? Something else altogether?) but what we do know is it’s become a fast favourite around here and we’re excited as hell to hear more. Crazy-hard to get a hold of but well worth the effort if you do. Continue reading

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