Memories maketh the music…
I was going to begin by saying I never cared for the term Synth Pop, though I had forgotten just how brilliant Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Messages was/ is, containing those perfect opening bars which almost come to define the pleasure of these three discs. Also because the word Pop suggests certain words, phrases and melodies which can become less interesting, less relevant over time. However, nothing could be further from the intent of a lot of the music created here as you will soon hear. But before pressing play the accompanying sleeve notes by Electronic Sound magazine’s Mat Smith are temptingly thought-provoking, while his histories of the individual tracks are equally fascinating.
The proceeding intersection plays out between what evolved out of late seventies Punk in the UK and its prior USA counter-part, an awareness of the importance of Kraftwerk et el, synthesized Disco, alongside the more industrial, experimental ideas fizzing away across the globe, plus increased access to the employment of innovative keyboard sounds to speak the new language. Some artists took the influence of electronic music on board extending/ broadening their career, others became innovators, influencers in turn. Casting aside the overly familiar three chord structure a new horizon opened up for music with tracks such as these creating more international impact than was perhaps first perceived. The ideas and techniques heralded the dance music that was to come in the succeeding years, all of those loosely defined possibilities were entirely endless. Although, sometimes some of the numbers simply feel like rock n roll played by electronics. The compilation also demonstrates that electronic music could become something more than it was touching upon popular song, while also being radical if that was the path you wished to explore.
It being the 1980’s occasionally melodies cruise in certain directions but then you have the likes of Fad Gadget’s resolute Coitus Interruptus to correct the digression. In fact it quickly proves remarkable the breadth of wonderful, inspiring music there is on offer across each cd. And I’m not just referring to Gina X, John Foxx (of course), D.A.F, Visage, even a certain Phil Lynott’s exploration of electronic music, or The Residents delightfully dangerous Diskomo. As for every name that’s familiar there are those, forgotten, who this compilation pays tribute to as well.
In a sense this is music purely defined by its time that you probably won’t ever hear again, re-created elsewhere. I guess because the looser structure of recording analogue, alongside the injection of Punk attitude + the non-conformity of D.I.Y culture doesn’t seem quite as high on the agenda as it once did, creating a definitive, necessary ambience in the process.
Release: July 31