This is the weekly installment where we recap what we’ve been spinning at The Synthesizer Book headquarters during the week. If it’s on this list, it got played more than once!
I’d like to dedicate this week’s “Platter” to all the folks in Japan, whom, I hope find comfort sooner than later. As I watched this week at all of the visuals, it was many of these tracks that provided me with the reflection I needed to digest what had unfolded right before my very eyes.
1.Barbara Morgenstern & Robert Lippok-Tesri
I had to wait a few weeks to get this album in the mail. It’s a common occurrence. One that you sort of get used to. Yes, I could have scoured the Internet for a torrent or file, but some things are just worth waiting for. There is a little bit of everything here for you electronic fiends out there. Whether it’s the kickin drums on the opener, the piano chords on Sommer, the Soul type vocals, or even the 8 bit sound on Kaitusuri, the output here is diverse. Collaborations are always either hit or miss. So what category does this fall in? I think it’s an underground hit. Not in a stand in front of a mirror and dance sort of way or, “hey let me play you this new album…” sort of way. If there were wallpaper music, then this would be the red kind. The one you might find in a Russian restaurant or that favorite college pub. My favorite track on here so far is White Rise Rabbit. Although it’s an instrumental, it moves you along quite nicely and never pushes too far. Come to think of it, that about sums up this album. And for those of you that know me, sometimes that is all I really need.
2.Diamond Rings-Special Affections
I saw Diamond Rings perform on Friday night at the Biltmore Cabaret, which has easily become one of my favorite places to watch a show. But, would someone please raise that stage a few inches? Good friends of mine got me a ticket. They new I would like it. I think they might know me well. I was also given the album and was quite impressed with this album. I was very excited to see him perform. I didn’t know much about him then. Actually, I still don’t know much about this artist. Except that I would highly recommend you get to a club, bar or festival where he is playing and check him out. His set features a MIDI controller, Mac laptop running Ableton Live, a Roland drum pad and his guitar. Doesn’t sound like much, but even with all his silly Hipster regalia and makeup, I was floored. I was impressed at the screaming women. I was inspired by the vibe at the Biltmore that night. The fine folks at Speakerboxxx.com mentioned something about the mixed crowd as evidence that he is making a deep impact across many genres, and I couldn’t agree more. Thanks Jenny for the ticket and thank you Jake for this album. Very good stuff, friends. Have fun in Portland.
3.Atticus Ross-The Book of Eli
He is an Academy Award winner. He is a member of the legendary band, 12 Rounds. He is a long time collaborator of Trent Reznor. He is a person of high interest around here and not just because of what he has done lately either. So, don’t get any bright ideas, alright? The Book of Eli is another great score for him in my estimation. This movie is a funny one for me. It’s one of those movies I tried watching 2 times on a plane. There are several movies like that, but this one kept me wondering what the heck really happens at the end. Each time I watched it on a plane, I would be interrupted by something or other. I finally got to watch it around the holidays and so the score that accompanied it was obviously on my list. The Dystopian nature of the movie owes quite a bit to the Ross score and I’m quite happy I got my hands on it. Make sure you give this a listen if you want to hear one of his many contributions to films.
4.Ministry-Same Old Madness(Industrial Legacy Vol 6.)
It’s hard to imagine that the person who gave us such hard industrialized sounds like those on The Land Of Rape & Honey, Filth Pig, and albums like Dark Side of the Spoon could quite possibly have given us such iconic synth-pop. Nonetheless, it is a reality and it did freakin happen. I still remember walking into clubs and hearing many tracks off of With Sympathy, the era Same Old Madness is from. It was this record, at least to an American like me, that was so inspiring and greatly influential. Of course those weren’t the only Ministry tracks played in clubs. I still have my 12 inch records for Everyday Is Halloween and Cold Life to name but a few. As the electronic sounds got harder, so too did Al Jourgenson’s output. Just give his album Twitch a listen and you can see that it wasn’t just Trent Reznor and his Nine Inch Nails that influenced Industrial music. Of course there are obvious others too and you cannot say the word “Insdustrial” without mentioning Throbbing Gristle, who had single-handidly industrialized the sound of music a decade before. Maybe Al Jourgenson did With Sympathy because he needed to fix that hole on his roof. Maybe he just needed the money. Maybe he would rather forget this era of music altogether. Nonetheless, my Cuban compadre, you and your collaborators like Revolting Cocks were an immense influence on me.
5.G.D. Luxxe-Vendetta EP
The snare on the first track, Reasons, is just poppin. On this EP, there are lots of synthesizers, from the FM bell type to analog washes throughout. One of the things that is evident is right from go, G.D. Luxxe, aka Gerhard Potuznik, is into his drum machines and their sounds. One of my favorite tracks on this EP is Metawelt which has a very Depeche Mode type of bassline throughout. The drums throughout are super crispy tight. Potuznik’s vocals work and compliment the tracks on this EP very well. Also on Vendetta is a red hot track called Quiet Life, that features none other than Solvent himself. Thanks to Jason Amm. This is very good, indeed. I’d like to learn a little more about this Vienna native.
6.To Rococo Rot-Speculation
I always talk about the To Rococo Rot guys. Robert Lippok is a Synthesizer Book favorite. You have to know this. This album features quite a bit of free-form jamming from the Lippok brothers and bass player Stefan Schneider. Check out other posts herein to learn more about this group. These Berliners have created a very tasteful collection of tracks here. There is not much mechanical going on, but rather something that would’ve come after rock. I kept feeling I was in the studio listening to a jam after a couple of glasses of wine. The fact that they created this in rural Germany makes perfect sense. Overall, the recordings are loose, live sounding and they definitely provide an atmospheric experience. This album was released on Domino Records in 2010.
7.The Mitgang Audio-The View From Your New Home (suction019)
There are always good things that come from Brooklyn. Over the past few years I could swear that 5 out of the 10 albums I buy feature a Brooklynite. What’s in the water? I wonder. Maybe all those experimental schools have really paid off. This album was originally released in November 2003 on Suction Records. It has quite a lot of synth-pop elements throughout and overall this collection of tracks works.
8.John Foxx-The Noise (from Modern Art – the Very Best of John Foxx)
To all the regular readers, you obviously know I am a big John Foxx fan and, come to think of it, so is my family. I am counting down the days for my copy of Interplay to arrive so, in typical junkie form, I’ve been playing just about anything John Foxx I could get my hands on. It’s a simple track about noise. It features a nice drum part, a square wave bass pulse, and it even has a little blippy synth to make synth fiends all around smile and remind themselves that the origins of synth-pop are still intact. Boy am I glad I’m not talking about Hip-Hop!
Alright, I’m a little late to the table with this release. Over a year to be precise…but better late than never, right? I’ve been hearing and reading rave reviews about this artist for a long time. I even had the audacity to pass up a couple of chances to see him live. So, I figured I’d better check him out. I got my hands on this and have played it several times. It’s good. It’s got that Indie feel throughout. The sound is meticulous with detail. The dreamy nature created by the synthesizers and percussion remind me in part of Broadcast, Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds or maybe something all together different or unique on its own. I’ve only played this a few times, but I know it’s going to be a favorite. Violins, horns, Nord Wave synthesizers? I don’t think I’ve been this excited since Beirut dropped his Gulag Orkestar LP. My favorite so far is Oh Heartland, Up Yours! for its melody, quarter note bassline and of course Pallett’s great vocal. There is much more to this LP, and this review and my exploration could easily continue. I don’t quite know what people associate the synth with anymore, but if for the next few years it includes albums like this, then bring it on. I’m ready.
10. Bon Iver & St. Vincent-Rosyln(Twilight Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Like the Twilight movies or not, this is one great song. It’s one of my favorites, with Thom Yorke’s, Hearing Damage winning the top slot. Makes me wish I was slow dancing with a beautiful Vampire or maybe just a woman wearing a corset and dark lipstick! This track gets played often. I played it on the way home earlier and so here it is. If you haven’t heard this yet or experienced it in the movie, make sure you check it out. Not everything we play features the synthesizer and when it sounds this good, it doesn’t need to.