Posts Tagged ‘synth’

Six Synthpop Albums

These are a few synthpop albums that I like. These are not ranked, but just presented alphabetically. I plan to post additional lists in the future, including albums that I like at least as much as these ones. I’m starting with some that are not as well-known as say, Depeche Mode, Erasure, or Pet Shop Boys.

If you don’t like one of these, you might like another. Or you might not like any of them at all.

And One – Bodypop

And One is a German group that’s clearly inspired by Depeche Mode. While their lyrics bug me at times, I like their music. Bodypop is my favorite of their albums.

Beborn Beton – Tales from Another World

While Tales from Another World is a “best of” compilation album with tracks from earlier releases, it’s the best introduction to German group Beborn Beton that I know of. They often have a science fiction theme to their lyrics, such as the song “Ambush” that’s based on science fiction novel The Forever War by Joe Haldeman.

Beborn Beton is releasing another album very soon (as of this writing) that they’ve been working on for eight years. It’s called A Worthy Compensation, and I’m looking forward to it.

Deine Lakaien – Indicator

Deine Lakaien (German for “Your Lackeys”) is one of my very favorite music groups. I’d love to see them perform live (especially one of their performances with an orchestra) but they don’t seem to do any shows outside Western Europe, and that’s very far from where I live.

It’s difficult to choose a single album to represent them, but Indicator is a good one. My single favorite song of theirs is “Supermarket (My Angel)” (Youtube link) from April Skies.

Diary of Dreams – Freak Perfume

Diary of Dreams is yet another German group. (I’m choosing these somewhat randomly, but Germany is the source of a lot of the synthpop music that I like.) It’s primarily the work of Adrian Hates.

The Echoing Green – In Scarlet and Vile

Before I came across this album, the only thing I’d heard by The Echoing Green was a Joy Electric cover (Youtube link). This is group based in the United States, not in Germany.

  • “Heaven (The Devil in the Details)” (Bandcamp link)

  • “Battered and Bruised” (Bandcamp link)

Moulin Noir – Boy in Darkness

Moulin Noir is a Swedish group led by Anders Wikholm. Boy in Darkness apparently gets its name from Mervyn Peake’s book in the Gormenghast series, which just makes me appreciate it more. I’m hoping to see another Moulin Noir album one day, despite the closure of the A Different Drum record label.

I had a hard time finding songs from this album on Youtube, but you can hear samples on the Moulin Noir Web site.


Belbury Poly and “Hauntology”

I wasn’t aware of “hauntology” as a musical term (or any other sort of term) until I came across Belbury Poly. Philosopher Jacques Derrida coined the term to describe the relationship between the past and the present. The music that falls under the label is a mixture of old and new electronic sounds. It’s generally quiet music, with occasional vaguely sinister undertones.

Jim Jupp (Belbury Poly) described his own music in this way in a 2009 interview:

Part of a theme that’s ongoing in all the Belbury Poly records . . . is a tradition of British science fiction, where you’ve got on the one hand the setting of a very traditional background, with very ancient things, but you’ve got this weird, cosmic stuff happening [at the same time]. A lot of old British sci-fi books – John Wyndham, for instance – have these really mundane, quaint little village settings, but all of a sudden something really freaky and cosmic appears in the middle of it.

What is freakish is not necessarily overt – a nuclear war, or a sudden landing of carnivorous aliens – but a more subtle, unsettling sensation that the ordinary world is lying side-by-side with any number of other, stranger ones. It might only take turning a street corner at the right (or wrong) moment; opening a door that you’d never noticed before; switching on the television in time to catch a sinister glitch in the broadcast: any momentary gap in the border between here and elsewhere might thrust you into a new – or an old – reality.

I like all of the Belbury Poly albums, but if I had to choose one to recommend starting with, it would probably be From an Ancient Star.

A couple samples (Youtube links):

The Advisory Circle is another artist in the same genre and on the same record label. As the Crow Flies would also make for a good introduction to this type of music.

A couple samples (Youtube links):

A heavy influence on hauntology music is library music of the type produced by BBC Radiophonic Workshop. One example of their work that I like a lot is Fourth Dimension by Paddy Kingsland.

A couple samples (Youtube links):

I happened to discover Kingsland’s music through a independent game called Space Funeral. It’s quite an interesting game, and I recommend trying it if you think a very short, very unusual RPG sounds like fun. You can get it for free here.


Ronald Jenkees

Ronald Jenkees released his third album Days Away today, so I suppose it’s a good time to mention him here.

Jenkees first became famous-on-the-Internet when he began posting videos of himself playing his synthesizer on Youtube. He began each video with the greeting “Hello, Youtubes!”

He’s certainly talented, and I’ve listened to his previous two albums many times. And his latest seems to be at least as good as the previous two.

From a 2008 interview:

I used to make beats and silly raps and share them with friends on my website, but that was the extent of my music career. I actually studied tech in college and always did music for the fun of it (still do!). I started posting videos on YouTube just to entertain people – mainly my old college friends. Eventually I started posting vids of myself playing music. I guess it mixed well with my goofiness on camera, but mainly that combination of being entertaining and letting loose helped me to not feel like such a show-off. The YouTube audience is the only reason I came out with a whole album and am now working on a second.

Days Away seems to be his first instrumental-only album, the others each featuring two rap songs (their titles helpfully including “rap” in parentheses). Whatever your opinion on rap, I’d recommend listening to 56K (rap) and Let’s Ride (rap) at least once–but try some of his other songs first.