Synthpop

Glaciers Noods Radio #17

The chilly punch of Glaciers hit Noods Radio once again, another hour of minimal synth and frosty vibes. Cracking cover of ‘Rhythm Is a Dancer’ too! Check it!

Glaciers Noods Radio #16

Another blast of icy vibes and chilly tundras with an extra dose of post-punk drama at its heart hit Noods Radio yesterday! Wrap up warm and stay safe! 🎹 ❄️ 👌

Armitage Shanks ‘Casual Employment’

Does any other brand have greater ubiquity in the British cultural landscape than Armitage Shanks? Usually lost under a film of days old piss, green lime build-up and a sprinkling of old pubes for good measure, its flourish logo has an unrivalled corporate authority and near-monopoly on our most base needs. It’s fitting too. The capitalist pretence that market reward is there for the taking should you have sufficient tenacity and drive is a cruel joke to every overworked and underpaid worker expected to give maximum labour for minimal wage. We all feel it, that the world is broken and geared to serve billionaire wealth hoarders, and that society is slowly swirling down a toilet of creeping fascism, environmental catastrophe and grotesque wealth disparity. If Tory, austerity Britain has a sponsor, it’d be the U.K.’s leading bog manufacturer.

“I’d have a hard time caring on minimum wage so I certainly won’t do it for free!” yelps Maisie Gilchrist on the rallying ‘I’m Not Here For Small Talk (I’m Here For A Latte)’. Armed with Marxist resolve, Gen Z defiance and a cheap synthesizer, Aussie ‘Trotpop’ duo Armitage Shanks scores their yearning for class war with spoken-word style poetry and minimalist electronics attacking the miasma of neoliberal stagnation we’re all forced to participate in. The title of their debut tape Casual Employment states firmly where their solidarity lies and whose in the firing line of their cutting satire.

The bite that lurks within the observational jest across the 7 tracks (final track ‘School Boycott’ a bonus for fee-paying supporters) stings with familiarity. The choking busyness of the modern age, liberal hypocrisy, exploitative bosses, customer meltdowns, and the yearning for some basic fucking infrastructure all deeply felt and experienced symptoms of the failing social experiment which Gilchrist and fellow keyboardist Angus Clarke explore succinctly and savagely. Their lyrical attack is at their most hilarious and pugnacious on the piquant ‘I Hate Every Vegan Except Myself’, tearing apart the feeble futility of ‘green capitalism’ aided by Sleaford Mods style languid bass and hazy keys, Gilchrist’s sneering opine “if only you cared about refugees as much as vegan cheese” dripping with acidic accuracy. The aforementioned ‘I’m Not Here For Small Talk…’ is a paean to every stressed hospitality employee navigating a quagmire of low-pay, ‘low-skill’ attitudes and nearing explosion, the rising blood pressure spurred by punchy, tight drum machines.

Occasional detours into surreal eccentricity provide different avenues to explore their progressive musings. The politics of space and the questionable judgments of what is ‘problematic’ within it are explored on the contemplative ‘The Pigeon Song’, muffled, buoyant synths jump and dart against an account of a pigeon’s extermination due to the fickle criteria of ‘public nuisance’. Their catchiest track, ‘Bug Beat 02’, is also their most puzzling: a curious declaration of affection for ones pet stick insects atop cool drum breaks and a simple yet infectious synth melody. These beguiling diversions create moments of evocations that stimulate the cerebral side while still retaining their sharp humour.

Novara Media‘s Ash Sarkar lamented the ‘dour cultishness and pomposity’ that plagued the public perception of the left for years, and that the road to communism needn’t be dominated by Soviet-style authoritarianism and grey edifices of bureaucracy, but that liberating people from the material and psychological shackles of rabid capitalism can and should be ‘joyful and exuberant’. Armitage Shanks’s Casual Employment tape demonstrates this perfectly: that Marxist rigour and class struggle can be colourful, freeing, and most importantly, fun.

Glaciers Noods Radio #14

Glaciers frosted up Noods Radio again today, catch up with the 14th helping of icy sinewaves and frosty frequencies below! 🎹❄️👌

Glaciers Noods Radio #13

The 13th punch of Glaciers hit Bristol’s Noods Radio once again, another hour of chilly vibez! Check it out! 🎹 ❄️ 👌

Riki ‘Riki’

The synth/darkwave scene is a genre, unfortunately, wrought with utter derivatives. Wading through the many generic goth acts that clog up Bandcamp is always worth the drudgery when discovering a Sixth June, SDH, and now, Riki.

Riki, the alias of L.A. artist and former Crimson Scarlet member Niff Nawor, swiftly cemented herself as an exciting new figure in the synthpop world with 2018’s Hot City E.P. and a string of support slots with Black Marble and Light Asylum. Teaming up with INHALT’s Matia Simovich for production duties, Riki’s affection for Neue Deutsche Welle , Italo disco and new wave pop have been poured into a bright debut album with an irresistibly lean, bold, and muscular sound.

The punch of a processed orchestral hit opens Riki, first track ‘Strohmann’ drenched in deeply satisfying ZTT Records style bombast, the pop of the snare and bassy throb leaping straight out of Trevor Horn’s E-Mu Emulator library. Its propulsive rhythm glides effortlessly with Riki’s understated vocals examining projected love onto the titular ‘Strawman’. ‘Napoleon’ is a fittingly confident and strident love letter to the French emperor that rushes to a stirring romance with unashamed killer pop hooks and Some Great Reward era production.

The weighty heft that leads the album is afforded moments of respite. The gorgeously seductive ‘Spirit of Love’ effortlessly pulses with delicate sequencers and brittle but infectious minimalism. Contemplative menace is channelled on the passionate ‘Böse Lügen’, a stirring tale of disenchantment sung entirely in German and a showcase of just how rousing Riki’s voice can be.

There is not a shred of irony or acerbity to be found on Riki, every moment is grounded in sincerity to make honest to god pop which excites the soul. Rich, decadent, and deeply romantic, Riki’s debut album is a fantastic conjuring of 80s pop while cutting a voice entirely her own.

Glaciers Noods Radio #12

After two months off the chilly punch of Glaciers is back! Here’s your twelfth helping of your favourite minimal-synth and coldwave pop courtesy of the Noods Radio mob!! ❄️ 👌

Sixth June ‘Trust’

It’s been ten years since Sixth June’s debut LP Everytime, an exemplary work of darkwave synth-pop that thrust the band at the forefront of the minimal-synth resurgence alongside acts like Xeno & Oaklander, Automelodi and Daybed. Kindred spirits they all may be, Sixth June’s lush production and organic textures belied their cold-wave tag and have since continued to forge a unique sound unto their own, one that’s stirring, dramatic, and romantically European.

With third album Trust, the Belgrade duo continues much where they left off from 2017’s Virgo Rising, furthering their penchant for pared-down sonics that illicit deep emotional feeling from the simplest of synth washes and rich atmospheres. This sumptuous subtlety is established immediately on ‘In Dreams’, a rousing yet introspective album opener of wooden percussion and sax overlays which expertly demonstrate their ability to sculpt a wide traverse of mood with seemingly simple instrumentation. The mysterious ‘Negde Neko’ reaches even greater depths of aural purity, haunting keys and perhaps Lidija Andonov’s finest vocals yet recall the ethereal production of Nick Cave’s Ghosteen were it not for the hypnotic drum machine.

There’s plenty of familiar punch amid the austere restraint. ‘Oh Boy’ is classic Sixth June, an urgent pop number with that unmistakable cinematic evocation that grows and swells to a thrilling crescendo without becoming bloated or grandiose. Laslo Antal takes lead vocal duties (his baritone delivery first heard on side project Diesein) on the electro-pop title track, incorporating funky bass and irresistible guitar licks that mesh beautifully with crisp beats and soaring synth melodies before segueing to ‘Remind Me of the Time’, another example of their uncanny ability to marry the organic with the synthetic.

Ten years can dull any artist, but with Trust Sixth June show they are just as confident and inspired as they were a decade ago and still one of the leading figures in the synth scene.

Spit ‘n’ Static! 1020 Radio #10

Your eyeballs become swollen, clammy palpitations take over, then you awaken several hours later with the echoing sounds of unintelligible alien gibberish ringing in your ears. You’ve been exposed to Spit ‘n’ Static!, a raw signal of all things synthpunk and mutoid from sources unknown. Get yer eleventh hit, same slime same face, at Bristol’s 1020 Radio on the 13th Feb! 👽 👌

Spit ‘n’ Static! 1020 Radio #9

Spit ‘n’ Static! hijacked Bristol’s 1020 Radio again for the ninth time, a noxious mutation of synthpunk and avant-garde electro with some electioneering worming its way in! 🗳 👽 👌