Who's Really Listening?: The Minimal Wave Tapes, Volume One

Posted by Aaron Detroit, February 1, 2010 04:00pm | Post a Comment

Over the last few years, Amoeba Music Hollywood has stocked a slew of obscure but quite excellent and endlessly exciting limited-edition vinyl reissues of DIY European and North American dark and minimal analog synth-based music from the 1980’s -- all thanks to the stellar underground label Minimal Wave. Originally these recordings were released in ridiculously small quantities either on cassette or vinyl by the bands themselves or by equally-unknown labels local to the band. Albums by the likes of Spanish Industrial pioneers Esplendor Geometrico, the Belgian Linear Movement (featuring Peter Bonne of New Beat progenitors A Split Second), and French New Wavers Martin Dupont have all recently seen the light of day on quality vinyl pressings via the loving care of the Minimal Wave label.

Minimal Wave’s label head/überfan Veronica Vasicka struck a deal late last year with Peanut Butter Wolf’s Stones Throw label to issue a series of “best-of” compilations featuring choice cuts from the MW roster and beyond. Recently, the popularity of new minimal synth-based bands like Cold Cave and Xeno & Oaklander has heightened, making this the perfect time to issue the first in the series of Minimal Wave/Stones Throw team-ups, The Minimal Wave Tapes, Volume One (available on CD and 2LP). It is a wonderful thing to hear these rescued gems and decades-old transmissions mostly recorded in isolated bedrooms miles away from any bustling cityscapes. Volume One very much invokes a familiar nostalgic feeling, like a mixtape would from your way-cooler friend or older sibling did in your formative years. Vasicka functions here as that cooler friend or sister and thankfully, she doesn’t mind spreading her cool around -- making us ear-opening mixes from her even-cooler record collection.

Volume One will suit anyone longing for jams from the age of pre-Some Great Reward Depeche Mode, Visage, early Human League or OMD. Linear Movement opens the volume with some icy Euro-Electro warmed by disco guitar and a catchy, memorable chorus before the compilation really takes off with the heavy attack-and-decay noise patterns of Crash Course in Science’s “Flying Turns.” On the track “Radiance,” British duo Oppenheimer Analysis offers a dead-pan vocal delivery over classic Numanesque Synythpop blips & bleeps, evoking a slightly friendlier-sounding Camera Obscura-era Nico, while Mark Lane's “Who’s Really Listening?” provides propulsive electro that is a pot-au-feu of Fad Gadget and Soft Cell with odd Industrial drum fills and cool falsetto vocals. Later on the tracklist, French duo Deux is revealed as one of the most obvious ancestors of current analog-wavers Xeno & Oaklander, examining the feeling of isolation and disconnection in an age of rampant technology with Male/Female vocal interplay intoning what is now a not-so-Sci-Fi tale of ominous businessmen and computer programs lurking “in the shadows of the night.” Elsewhere, Turquoise Days ‘ “Blurred” features an “I Wanna Be Your Dog” bassline, Synthpop melodies, urgent post-punk vocals, and lots of jangly-yet-edgy guitar effectively keeping the tracklist surprisingly varied for such a genre-specific collection. There are no clunkers or duds here, just essentials.

Deux "Game and Performance"

Linear Movement's "Way Out of Living"

Amoeba Music Hollywood has copies of both CD and 2LP of The Minimal Wave Tapes, Volume One in stock now. Also check out our current Minimal Synth favorites; Cold Cave’s Love Comes Close CD/LP and Death Comes Close 12” and Xeno and Oaklander’s Sentinelle CD/LP, all filed in our amazing Goth/Industrial section!

Featured Releases This Week, Amoeba Hollywood

Roma Amor Femmina CD [Old Europa Cafe]
Sophomore album from Italian Noir-Cabaret project. 10 songs inspired by female figures of Mediterranean folklore that celebrate the feminine dark side. Awesome late night listening.

Florence Foster Fan Club Everyday Theatre CD [Wave Records]
Straight-forward old-school EBM and crisp, dark Electropop with heavy 80’s Belgian influences and a touch of darkwave atmosphere.

Osoka Caustic Smoke CD [Rage in Eden]
Osaka is an experimental dark rock group hailing from Russia. Caustic Smoke is one expanded track, 45 minutes long, slow, repetitive and crushing, with heavy sections of distorted guitars often interspersed with dark ambient and industrial interludes.

In Next Week, Amoeba Hollywood

Rome L’Assassin CDEP [Trisol]
Includes previously unreleased material plus string versions of 2 classic Rome tracks!

Nachtmahr Madchen in Uniform CD [Trisol]
Brand-new 13-track remix collection of Naughty Title-track and others.

Still Fresh…

Steve Stapelton & Tony Wakeford Revenge of the Selfish Shellfish CD [Robot]
Awesome reissue of 1992 collaboration between, essentially, Nurse with Wound and Sol invictus. Includes Bonus CD of remixes by Andrew Liles and others! Faithfully restored artwork in mini-LP package.

This Immortal Coil
Dark Age of Love CD and 2LP+7” [Ici D’Ailleurs]
Tribute to Coil and the late John (Jhonn) Balance. "The most extra-ordinary, beautiful, and moving, re-interpretations of Coil I have ever heard!" - Peter Christopherson. Includes amazing version of “Ostia” by Bonny “Prince” Billy! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Relevant Tags

Xeno & Oaklander (3), Amoeba Music Hollywood (104), Oppenheimer Analysis (1), Cold Cave (12), Linear Movement (1), Veronica Vasicka (1), Deux (1), Peanut Butter Wolf (32), Industrial (27), Goth (47), Minimal Wave (4), Synthpop (10)