Release Date: Feb 28, 2012
Record label: Stones Throw
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Club/Dance, Synth Pop, Post-Punk
Minimal wave, cold wave, potayto, potahto – it’s all the same to us: steely, off-its-rocker, bare-bolts synth music that made barely a dent in the ’80s, but, like a hardwired northern soul for nerds, now enjoys cult status and wields influence over [a]Grimes[/a], [a]Factory Floor[/a] and plenty more. This second volume of rarities and remasters, compiled by minimal wave excavator Veronica Vasicka and Peanut Butter Wolf, is a wonky, Teutonic thing full of outré drama (Edne Shneafliet’s ‘Animals From Outer Space’) and should-be pop classics (In Aeternam Vale’s Suicide-like ‘Annie’ and Aural Indifference’s ‘Theme’). Brrr, it’s chilly though.[i]Chris Parkin[/i] .
Amidst all the hand-wringing about the effects of software on electronic music, we've lost sight of one of the charms the soft-synth era has robbed us of: the joy of listening to artists learn to play with machines. Software like Ableton, Reason, and Maschine have steep learning curves but long plateaus. True amateurs don't sound blocky and tinny like vintage 808s-- that can require real skill-- but merely undistinguished.
The Minimal Wave Tapes Volume 1, an expertly curated collected of rudimentary analogue synth artifacts from the post-punk era which Mark Fisher in The Wire called the “Nuggets of early 1980s bedroom electronica,” featured an array of songs whose lyric sheets seemed to comment on decay, memory loss, mutually assured destruction, and the process of forgetting. When asked about the influence of these buried-to-the-point-of-near invisibility curiosities on his current project, minimal synth torchbearer Sean McBride of Xeno, Oaklander and Martial McBride said, “It was as if these groups were writing soundtracks to a film depicting their own extinction. ” Two years after the release of the aforementioned compilation, minimal wave’s spotlight moment may have passed, but it is now in the precarious position of not having been forgotten.
Have you ever looked at an old Korg analog synthesizer, all knobs and dangling patch cables, and felt like, if given the chance, it would start composing music on its own? No? Well, in any case, that might give you a picture of the dug-up treasures found on NYC DJ Veronica Vasicka and Stones Throw founder Peanut Butter Wolf‘s latest compilation, The Minimal Wave Tapes, Volume 2. Running at a ripe 50 minutes, the album is an expertly curated collection of dark and industrial-leaning electronic music, primarily European and pre-MIDI (early ’80s). The songs, which loom at the intersections of post-punk, goth and new wave, represent a genre retroactively coined by Vasicka as “minimal wave.