Archive for VNV Nation

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

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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

Review: VNV Nation – Automatic

Posted in Review with tags on September 24, 2011 by softsynth

Two of our absolute favourite artists released new albums the same week, Ladytron and VNV Nation. As we wrote recently, the former fell short of expectations, even if there were some true shining moments. The latter is now upon us, has been played and played again until it reeks of familiarity and we can accurately sing along with the peppier tracks, and bizarrely, shockingly marks the second anticipated album that just doesn’t quite ring the bell. Continue reading

Previews whet the Softsynth appetite

Posted in News with tags , , , on August 28, 2011 by softsynth

Almost in direct contradiction to the post of a couple of weeks ago decrying the loss of real anticipation of new releases, two of the gold standard, Softsynth-hall-of-fame bands have released teasers for upcoming albums that have us salivating.

To back up a bit, we are mere weeks away from one of those extremely rare occurences when three of the top bands advocated by this blog have brand-spanking new albums all within a week of one another – Assemblage 23, VNV Nation and Ladytron. Already pretty darn tooting exciting at that but we’ve been graced with teasers for the latter two of them (Come on Shear, give us a taste of the new A23 and make it a complete set!) that raise the excitement factor even further.  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

Religion in electronic music

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , on April 25, 2010 by softsynth

Maybe it’s just because we follow our mutual preferred genre so closely that this seems to stand out but it strikes Softsynth there’s almost a disproportionate number of theistic, or “religious”, if you will, music in the electronic world. Some are confirmed so, others are merely assumed to be such given the subject matter of their songs, but either way there seems to be an awful lot of electronic music that takes a little ride on the religion highway. 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