VAR­I­OUS ARTISTS

Sub­ver­sive synth pop and abra­sive fu­tur­ism from un­her­alded Aussie scene.

Prog - - Intro - JB

When af­ford­able syn­the­sis­ers hit the mar­ket for the first time at the end of the 70s, it sparked a sonic rev­o­lu­tion. The sound of the fu­ture was now avail­able to every­one, not just well-funded prog groups, and it pro­duced a gen­er­a­tion of artists who forged a new type of elec­tronic mu­sic. Yet while Bri­tish bands like The Hu­man League and OMD were pi­o­neer­ing the synth pop sound that would dom­i­nate the air­waves for much of the 80s, a less well known yet sim­i­larly fer­tile elec­tronic mu­sic scene was de­vel­op­ing in Aus­tralia. Closed Cir­cuits doc­u­ments this scene, high­light­ing, as the sleeve notes say, “peo­ple us­ing tech­nol­ogy to pro­duce some­thing fresh”.

While Cy­botron, Aus­tralia’s an­swer to Tan­ger­ine Dream, pro­duced syn­th­driven out­back kos­mis­che dur­ing the 70s, th­ese bands brought a more post-punk sen­si­bil­ity to the way they in­ter­acted with their ma­chines. Here, the syn­thetic and the or­ganic rub up against each other to of­ten dis­qui­et­ing ef­fect. The Metronomes’ A Cir­cuit Like Me pits a naïve Kraftwerkian melody against a semis­po­ken fe­male vo­cal, a hu­man voice mim­ick­ing a com­puter while the elec­tronic in­stru­ments yearn to come to life.

The Dugites’ Wait­ing and Karen Marks’ Cold Café oc­cupy sim­i­lar ter­ri­tory, a pow­er­ful but re­strained fe­male voice against min­i­mal synth ac­com­pa­ni­ment. Else­where, the elec­tronic tex­tures are more abra­sive, such as Bring Philip’s proto-in­dus­trial

Fire Truck or The Limp’s con­vul­sive Outer Space Moth. The ex­cel­lently named Ger­man Hu­mour cre­ate the gothic fu­tur­ist pop of A Young Man’s Old Girl­friend us­ing drum ma­chine and piano, while Jules com­bine throb­bing elec­tron­ics and crunch­ing gui­tars on Rock Rock Daddy. Best of all is And An A’s Af­fir­ma­tion, new wave elec­tro funk that mixes lone­some har­mon­ica with Fairlight stabs.

Not ev­ery ex­per­i­ment is suc­cess­ful, but fans of retro fu­tur­ism and elec­tron­ica will find much to love in this cel­e­bra­tion of syn­thetic sub­ver­sion.

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