CLOSE TO THE NOISE FLOOR: FORMATIVE UK ELECTRONICA 1975-1984

If you were around for the early New Wave era, or just curious about when it was still hungry and vital, then this is a box set that you will love. It showcases the early sounds of the synthesizer used in bands to create sounds, noises and in most cases, songs that still raise the hair on your arms. This collection has sixty tracks across four CD, a great detailed booklet, and has bands that you’ve heard of like the Human League, Blancmange, and OMD, to obscure artists that will make you try to hunt down their music….if you can……

This collection goes from the very experimental, with beeps and other strange noises making up songs, to beautiful soundscapes and early industrial. This was just as punk rock at the time as picking up a guitar, maybe more so, since a lot of these were done on homemade machines and with even cheaper materials. The CDs are packed full of songs that were made in a hurry and not with any eye on being on a chart, just made to do something in the spirit of the times and to create something. To think that a lot of these people have moved on and have forgotten about a lot of this, it’s a great collection to get people to hear things that would have been forgotten except for the greedy and horrible collectors who charge an arm and a leg for these singles online. The big song on here is the Human League track “Being Boiled,” but the others all have their charms and I’m glad to have the chance to hear a lot of music that I never had the chance to hear back then. The remastering is fantastic, especially since some of this came off of cassettes, the sound is clear and makes for a great listen.

I could go on and on about the artists and songs, but you just need to go out and get a copy of this collection. While not being definitive….and how could it ever be? The collection is a great beginning to expanding on your idea of what synthesizer music started out as, as well as being sad at how bad a lot of it turned out later in the ’80s.

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ALIEN SEX FIEND: Classic Albums Volume 2

alien-sex-fiend_web

Alien Sex Fiend is a combination of goth, new wave, and industrial that has been a going concern since 1982 and still continues now. The heart and soul of the band is Nik Fiend and Mrs Fiend who are like the Energizer bunny……..they keep going and going and going…….thankfully for us all. This is a remastered collection of four albums, and the second such collection of their music in this format. You get Here Cum Germs, Another Planet, Curse, and Open Head Surgery, which is their fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth albums. You also get remastered music, bonus tracks, a booklet, mini LP sleeves and a clam-shell box to store it in.

A fantastic collection of albums that showcase the band at the end of the 80’s and the early 90’s when they were getting a lot of interest in North America as well as the UK and Europe. It has them getting deeper into sampling and electronics and doing more experimental things, but still sounding like themselves. The albums have a great mix of cartoonish lyrics and manic music that mesh together perfectly. Here Cums Germs has a great continuation of their earlier albums, and a foreshadowing of the more electronic sounds coming on the next bunch of albums. Another Planet is just Mr and Mrs Fiend and they put together a great album of solid songs. From “Bun-Ho!” to the covers of “Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones and Hawkwind’s “Silver Machine,” the album is a treat. Curse has the fantastic “Now I’m Feeling Zombiefied,” and a huge jump into techno, hip-hop style music that is strong on this album, but still retains the feel of the band. Open Head Surgery continues on from the previous album with a similar sound and has the band leaving the batcave/goth sound pretty much in the dust. The remastered sound gives the listener the opportunity to hear the little sounds that got lost on the previous recordings, and the cleaner sound makes for a better listening experience. The bonus tracks are a treat and the information in the booklet is interesting to read.

The band has gone through a lot of different styles and sounds throughout their career, but through it all, they still are Alien Sex Fiend. This band changes, but yet stays the same in a lot of ways………thankfully for us.

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SKELETAL FAMILY: Eternal

Fronted by glamorous singer Anne-Marie Hurst, The Skeletal Family were at the forefront of the goth rock movement of the 1980s. Compiled with the full involvement of the band, this collection boasts all of the Skeletal Family’s independent recordings for the Red Rhino label between 1983 and 1985, and both of the band’s albums, Burning Oil and Futile Combat are included, alongside all their non-album singles, B-sides and rare compilation appearances. For the first time, many of the band’s unissued BBC sessions for John Peel, Kid Jensen and Janice Long are also included. The fourth disc concentrates on live material, drawn principally from a show at Folkestone Peter Pipers (01-03-84) and a later show with Anne-Marie’s replacement Katrina Phillips. The fifth and final CD boasts a clutch of demos of previously unissued, brand new songs by the modern-day Skeletal Family, alongside earlier demos and some live reunion material.

As you can see, this is a lot of rare and interesting music compiled for your listening pleasure. Starting with the first disc, which is their debut album Burning Oil and some bonus tracks, we can see where they were coming from. The album has a bit of an early, punky Siouxsie and the Banshees sound, but manages to hold its own and you can hear the enthusiasm that they brought to the album. The bonus songs are a treat and give you a bit more insight to the band. The second disc which is their second album Futile Combat sees them growing a bit and stretching out more. You get the terrific “Promised Land” single heard here in both album and 12” versions, and their interesting covers of the Batman theme and Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.” The third disc is the BBC sessions that show the raw talent that the band had. This was getting close to when original singer Hurst left the band. Disc four features two concerts, the first has Hurst on great form, and on the second, Katrina Philips takes over vocal duties, including a cover of “Knocking On Heaven’s Door,” featuring the Sisters’ Andrew Eldritch and Wayne Hussey from The Mission. Both have a bit of a bootleg quality to the sound, but they make for a very cool look into the band’s two vocalists. The last disc has the newer music and shows that the band still can come up with great songs and it bodes well for their future.

The sound on these discs is great, giving a clarity to the songs, plus the booklet is chock full of info, pictures and an interview with the band, that makes for a great piece by itself. If you are a fan, this is a dream collection that has everything and more that you could ever want from them. I had heard some of the songs back in the ’80s, but never knew that much about them, but with this box set, I feel that I have a relationship with them that goes deep.

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THE DANSE SOCIETY: Reincarnated: Download

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After starting out back in 1980 in Barnsley, England, this band has released some amazing albums and songs that appear on a plethora of Gothic compilations, but they only hint at the thrill of an entire album by them.

With lead singer Brian O’Shaughnessy, the band has a more rock-tinged sound than they did before, but it actually fits the vibe of the album perfectly. “Message In The Wind” kicks things off and even though they had released this on a previous album, they make it sound brand new.  The redo five original era tracks on here and they completely reinvent them. The fantastic title track is a drummer’s paradise instrumental piece. “Child Of Paradise,” is a great track that I couldn’t get enough of. “Seance And Heresy” has a great post punk sound. “More Than Dreams” made me want to get up and dance (or danse). “Glory Or Grace” has a huge sound that reminds me a bit of THE MISSION. “All That Shines” has a lot of keyboards and sounds like a great mix of older and newer sounds all mashed together.

As a fan of this band since 1983, I have to be honest; I loved it and play it all of time. This is a great return to form and I hope that they keep going on forever.

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THE DANSE SOCIETY: Seduction / The Society Collection: CD

Seduction is the debut studio album by English gothic rock band The Danse Society. It was released in September 1982 on the band’s own record label, Society. The CD features the original Seduction LP cover along with the other sleeves from the Society Records period. Sleeve notes have been written by Danse Society keyboardist, Lyndon Scarfe and also included is a complete discography of the band.

Interesting vocals and overall sound, with clear and easy to understand lyrics. The album is a collection of songs from their 1982 album under the same name along with tracks from their highly acclaimed 12″ singles “Somewhere/ Hide and Woman’s Own.” Other tracks include their first single “Clock” with classics “These Frayed Eyes” and “The Seduction” also featured. The album has an interesting sound to it that has a sense of foreboding, and a powerful sense of individuality that I don’t believe another band could replicate. Synthesizers play a key role in the unique sound it has, the overall feel to this album is hard to describe due to the different layers and sounds to each track. It isn’t too highly fast paced, nor is it mellow, it lays somewhere in the middle.

A classic, hard to find album that includes the terrific “Danse/Move” and makes me want to dance. How could this be anything other than a treat?

Review by: AMY EAST

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GRANDE ROSES: Built On Schemes: CD

Grande Roses - Built on schemes cover art

This band from Sweden lists themselves as “rock” in style and yes, it is rock, but it also has a nice touch of alternative, but not the crappy stuff on the radio, more lick the stuff that was on the radio back in the late ’80s and early ’90s. The kind of music that covered rock, new wave, and a new twist on rock just like The Levellers, Sisters Of Mercy, and even way back to Joy Division.

The styles of this album are mixed together to complement one another and give the band a style all of their own. From the first note of the opening track “The Knife Digs Deeper” to the finale of “Spread the Ashes,” you get hit with powerful songs and energetic playing. With post punk rhythms, and soaring chorus’, it feels as though every track is an anthem, or should become one. “No Future” has a nice Iggy Pop vocal touch and punk rock feel to it, plus great background vocals to be one of the highlights of this album. I was just amazed at how this album has a timeless sound to it, it could have come out in the ’80s when post punk was huge, it could have come out when the goth powerhouse bands in the late ’80s, early ’90s were pumping out classics, and it sounds fresh today. The band shows just how skilled they are on track after track, giving their all in every note, and the vocals are so emotive and powerful that the album sends shivers down my spine.

I was more than shocked to hear an album that blows away the competition…what competition, these guys stand on their own. If this is only their second album, I can’t wait to see where they go and grow from here.

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NEW JACOBIN CLUB: Soldiers Of The Mark: CD

Champagne Ivy cover art

Since forming in the mid-90’s as a three-piece, New Jacobin Club has shared the stage with KMFDM, Voltaire, The Groovie Ghoulies, Nashville Pussy, and The Nekromantix and gotten more interesting as time passed. By incorporating an electric cello, keyboards, synthesizers and even a theremin, The New Jacobin Club created an unique sound that bounces back and forth between the genres of punk, goth, hard rock, and metal.

“The Mark” kicks things off and has a tight mix of metal and goth with a touch of punk that really gets you in the mood for a hard-hitting collection of songs. The dual vocals really add to the song, as well as the theremin giving a nice spooky touch to the song. “Champagne Ivy” has a great groove and the band brings in the male / female vocals to a great harmonizing effect. The song just picks you up and pushes you into the more punk side and really stands out. “Angel MMXIV” has a great female vocal lead that gives the album a different feel, but still has that edge to it that makes you want to hit replay on. “Garthim” is the only song that I hit the skip button on, the song is interesting as a mood piece, kind of like Jolly Tambourine Band’s “Apple Strudel Man,” but just not as interesting.

The band hits hard and heavy, giving you a kick to the forehead and making you notice them and the great talent that is on display here. This is an album that brings different sounds and genres together to make a glorious racket.

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