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minimal wave

v/a * Death # Disco III (cd 2013)

Strange how things work sometimes. I listen a lot of different kinds of music. Since this has increased a lot and now in combination with Deezer perhaps even more. A while ago I ran into the brilliant band A Place To Bury Strangers who make some sort of shoegaze (1980’ies wave elements, screaming guitars, etc.), but much more uptempo than the “dreampop” variety of the style. I have been looking for other interesting bands in that style and found good bands that combine guitars and electronics. To my surprise one of these bands (The KVB) played at last year’s (2013) Wave Gotik Treffen and than two more (The Soft Moon, Lebanon Hannover) at Summer Darkness. At a music-stand at Summer Darkness I checked the boxes of the usual goth-mailorder and found A Place To Bury Strangers, but also quite a bit of “minimal wave” (and related) music. That part included “Death # Disco” compilations, compilations of a Berlin based monthly clubnight. To my surprise these compilatons contain bands that I previously discovered as “shoegaze” (The KVB, The Exploding Boy, The Lost Rivers, etc.) and as “minimal wave”, another genre that I enjoy discovering (Agent Side Grinder, Xeno & Oaklander, Echo West, etc.). Apparently everything is growing together or is not as separated as I initially thought.
In any case, “Death # Disco III” goes from very nice uptempo analogue dancemusic to screaming guitars. Some tracks are downright briliant, but others are pretty boring, an experience that I got used to in ‘both scenes’. Nice to run into these compilations though.
Link: Death # Disco

Metroland * Mind The Gap (cd 2012)

Metroland’s show at the Summer Darkness festival was great, but the audience was too small. Metroland has a Kraftwerk sound, but it is faster and more danceable. The music is completely metro-themed. The visuals were also well-done and the combination was highly enjoyable. So how would this music stand in the living room?
Well, on cd Metroland is quite tame. Nice analogue synths and old-fashioned vocal effects though, but perhaps the higher volume made the music more danceable or the ambiance added to the experience. Not that “Mind The Gap” is a boring album, but I remember more energy. The album is the moments when you want something tranquil to shake your head to.
Links: Metroland, Alfa Matrix

Newclear Waves * s/t (lp 2012)

I like the sound of “minimal wave”. It is that analogue synth sound with a wavey touch, sometimes joyeus, sometimes dark. I was looking around the many projects of Ramiro Jeancarlo (Staccato du Mal, Opus Finis, Flesh Graey Display, Zug Im Veins) and ran into the many splits of Opus Finis and Newclear Waves. Newclear Waves proved to have a recent release. Jeancarlos’ projects sound better to my ears, but Newclear Waves also has that typical and nice minimal wave sound. There prove to be quite a few artists in this style. A genre to look into a bit further. If you are interested in this lp, be quick, since there are only 300 copies.
Links: Newclear Waves, Desire Records

November Növelet ‎* Heart Of Stone (7″ 2012)

This 4 track ep opens with two soft NN tracks on side A which are nice. Side B opens more lively with a more danceble (but nothing like the “Magic” title track) “Dancing Queen”. The last and least typical track is also the most interesting. In “Up To Date” mrs. Arafna uses another way of singing which I prefer over her usual use of her voice (or is it just the echoing effect?). Also the music is a bit different, a bit more “minimal wave”, but still with the melancholic NN feeling. Like “Sacred” “Heart Of Stone” is a very nice ep, but does not reach the heights of the “Magic” album.
Links: November Növelet, Galakthorrö

Agent Side Grinder * Hardware (cd 2012)

I got to know ASG a couple of years ago when I was looking through the scene caught by terms such as “minimal” and “mininal wave”. They had some very nice tracks, sometimes slightly rough and industrial, sometimes more synthpop with the nice sounds of analogue electronics and indeed, with a flinch of the good old wave. Especially the vocals and the drumcomputer brings a name such as Joy Division to the minds of many. I found the 2008 titleless debut album which has good tracks and not so good tracks. I did not really pick up the band. Then, to my surprise, they were booked at the 2011 Wave Gotik Treffen and to my even bigger surprise, they seemed to have a lot of fans in the gothic scene. This year they played at the Dutch gothic festival Summer Darkness and they were, to me, with distance the most interesting band. The sound seems to have matured. There is more focus the simple analogue rhythms and sounds which was created by three persons. Further there are the bass-player and vocalist who create that typical ASG sound. I appear to have missed quite a few releases, made available on tape (!), vinyl and cd and including much live recordings, including recordings from a show with Suicide! “Hardware” is the last ‘real’ album and it is a very nice one. The sound is a bit softer, the guitar is less present in most songs and the sound goes from early Neubauten to Joy Division and a lot of great analogue dance music with vocals. Not every track is brilliant, especially not those with a different use of (guest)vocals, but most tracks are certainly worth the buy. “Hardware” is available on cassette, vinyl and plastic.
Link: Agent Side Grinder / Klangarkivet

Staccato Du Mal * Sin Destino (cd 2011)

I never heard of Staccato Du Mal until presented a great track of this project (just before the Thorofon track that I did not know). I looked around a bit and this project appeared to have just released the first full-length on a label unknown to me. With the help of Discogs I had my copy quickly. Staccato Du Mal is a project that defines the term “minimal wave”. The music is created with analogue synthesisers and drum-machines so you naturally get this “vintage” sound. The music reminds of Karl Runau, but is more ‘electropoppy’. Agent Side Grinder is another name that comes to my mind, but Staccato Du Mal is softer. It does have the ‘wavey’ sound and vocals though. The weird sounds that come from a label such as Enfant Terrible is definately a way to describe Staccato Du Mal. After the relatively danceable first tracks, the sound goes more towards what is almost “angstpop“, indeed, the sound of some Galakthorrö releaes, but more especially of the Dutch project Distel whose “radio” I was actually listening to when running into Thorofon and this project. Indeed, “Sin Destino” is a wonderfull release. Perhaps too light for people who like the sound of Galakthorrö and perhaps a bit too dark for people who like the “minimal wave” sound or “oldstyle EBM”, but a wonderfull release for my ears.
Links: Staccato Du Mal, Wierd Records

Maska Genetik * Strada (cd 2011)

The contribution of Maska Genetik to the “Kosmoloko” compilation (2004) belongs to my most favourite tracks. The 2006 7″ “Quarantine” is a great one too. Still for many years it never seemed that there would ever be more material of Maska Genetik. As far as I knew, the project ceased to be. Then I got the Galakthorrö newsletter that announced the “Strada” album. I never even dared to hope for it! Yet the story behind this cd is a tragic one. The material was recorded between 2002 and 2005 and is older and newer than the tracks on “Quarantine”. In that period “Butterfly” was released and who knows how the two projects influenced eachother. After three years of hard work, Amon Radek told Galaktorrö: “I’ve reached the limits of my strength”. A perfectionist as he is, he decided that it was better for his health to abbandon the project. All these years Galakthorrö had “Strada” on the shelf with the idea that Radek would come back with one or two reworked tracks. He never did… After all these years, the material is made available for the world. Maska Genetik is a real Galakthorrö project. I wonder how the label found a Moscowite making music similar to themselves. I find it a strange idea that this is the album that the artist was not completely satisfied with. Indeed, “Strada” is not the masterpiece I hoped for. Especially the first tracks are nice, but nothing like the material that I already knew. Towards the end come a few masterpieces. The sound is that of angstpop of years back, from before Herz Jühning and the time that Haus Arafna perfected the style. It is less catchy, less ‘poppy’, darker in a way, more industrial perhaps. Maska Genetik also sounds more desperate, the mood reminds of the older November Növelet material. Dark industrial music with vocals and soft rhythms and strange sounds. Radek surely was a mastermind of dark electronics and I am extremely gratefull to Galakthorrö that they decided to release the album afterall.
Link: Galakthorrö

Haus Arafna * New York Rhapsody (cd 2011)

When you think that there was a big gap between “Butterfly” (2003) and “You” (2010) you may, like me, not have heard of a little Haus Arafna side project. Our good Arafna couple was asked to do the music for the 12 September 2009 New York Fashion Week show of Katie Gallagher. Because the result is (of course you would almost say) quite different from the usual Haus Arafna sound, mr. and mrs. Arafna delayed the release untill after “You” on purpose. So, what is it then, this “New York Rhapsody”? The 45 minute album opens with a coule of strange soft industrial sound collages nothing you are familar with of Haus Arafna (but when you know the Herman Kopp album…). The fourth track “I did it for you” begins more familiar. It is a nice soft angstpop song. “You know how to destroy me” is a dark industrial track, a real Haus Arafna piece of electronics, again with vocals. The next one is a softer track and then comes a new floorfiller. “Heart beats blood flow” is a brilliant dirty dance track. From then on the sound becomes softer again.
The booklet has photos that I suppose came from the show and they fit well in the Haus Arafna concept. “New York Rhapsody” is a real Haus Arafna cd, but the circumstances forced or allowed our “Industrialists” couple to think over the presentation. The result may be ‘softer’ for Haus Arafna standards, but this sure is no November Növelet. “No sign of “Screams ‘n’ Shouts” here. Instead Haus Arafna created Angst-Pop hits and Industrial Monsters with an extra dose of darkness, almost as if the March into Destruction has to be sweetened somewhat. Well-dressed, of course…”
Link: Haus Arafna, Gallakthorrö

Haus Arafna * You (cd 2010)

Announced for 1 December, but aleady available (in fact, the vinyl version is already sold out!), after seven years Haus Arafna finally comes with a new album. The snippets that have been available at for some time seemed to suggest that Haus Arafna returned to the harder, early sound, but there aren’t many noise tracks on “You”. After a soft, weird and nice opener, you are mostly presented with more soft “angstpop” songs (indeed, with singing). Only here and there there are some noisy sounds and only a couple of the 12 tracks presented are in the harder Haus Arafna-style. I like the softer style of Haus Arafna, but I surely also enjoy the more industrial noise side of the project, so some more harsch tracks would have been nice. Still a good new album though.
Links: Haus Arafna, Galakthorrö

v/a * Radio Resistencia (cd 2009)

Radio ResistenciaThere is this Dutch project called Distel that makes “angstpop”. Indeed this sounds like Haus Arafna / Galakthorrö and the few tracks that I heard are not all that bad. Supposedly there is an album on the way so every once in a while I check if it is already available. Then I noticed that the band has a few live shows, under which a “Gifgrond” party with an “Enfant Terrible” label night in Tilburg coming Saturday. Gifgrond? Enfant Terrible? The latter turns out to be a label with quite a few releases out, the last of which is this compilation cd. “With Radio Resistencia we give another overview of independent music as we see it… and this time not strictly limited to electronic music.” So: “angtpop”, “elektro chansons”, “dada synth punk”, “obscure 80’ies”, a good place to pick up new genre-names! Most of the music on this compilation sounds quite a bit like 80’ies wave and more modern electropop to me. Some tracks are completely electronic, some more rock-oriented. Most tracks are just nice, some are not my thing and a few are quite enjoyable. Different music from what I play usually, but that is a good thing, right?
Link: Enfant Terrible Productions