David Bowie/The Rebels - "Revolutionary Song" (4:42)
Marlene Dietrich - "Just A Gigolo" (3:34)
Review: Here's something to get Bowie fans hot under the collar: a first worldwide pressing of the Thin White Duke's "Revolutionary Song", his only contribution to the soundtrack of 1978 West German flick "Just A Gigolo", in which he also starred alongside silver screen legend Marlene Dietrich. The song was recorded with a local band of musicians hastily dubbed "The Rebels" and sees Bowie in classic crooner mode, adding his distinctive vocals to a jangly, largely acoustic number that's effectively a folksy take on waltz. Over on side B there's a chance to enjoy one of Marlene Dietrich's last ever recordings: an atmospheric cover of 1930s cabaret standard "Just A Gigolo" which ended up being the movie's title track.
Review: Before making her mark with 1981 minimal wave single "Cold Cafe", Australian artist Karen Marks enjoyed an eclectic career. This included spells in music journalism and band management. It's for her brief underground synth-pop career that she's best remembered, though. This all too brief career is celebrated on this five-track EP that includes every track she ever completed. Naturally the title track stands out, but there's plenty to enjoy elsewhere, too, most notably the French horn-sporting minimal wave folksiness of "You Bring These Things", a spacey and sludgy demo version of "Cold Cafe" and the bold moodiness of closing cut "Problem Page". Throughout, Marks' Kirsty MacColl style vocals stand out.
Review: Despite being active for just seven years during the 1980s, Dutch new wave band Mekanik Kommando released a wealth of raw, off-kilter and intergalactic material. 1982's "Dancing Elephants" EP, which here gets the reissue treatment from Dark Entries, remains one of their finest moments, largely because it fuses crunchy, electro-influenced beats and Kraftwerk style computer bleeps with sassy new wave vocals, nods to synth-pop and the low-slung basslines and fuzzy guitars of post-punk rock. Our picks include the alien post-punk pop of "Beauty Of Language", the out-there, delay-laden, extra-terrestrial weirdness of "Miss B" and the new wave electro-pop perfection of "Stop & Play".
Review: Mirror Box is the solo analog synth project of Dallas musician Sean Kirkpatrick. With an extensive resume that includes keyboard duties for Kill Rock Stars' 00s noise rock band The Paper Chase as well as his concurrent projects, dark post-punk-synth-rockers Nervous Curtains and darkwave duo Little Beards, Mirror Box is Kirkpatrick's first foray into the purely electronic realm. Blending together elements of Giallo moodiness, dub texture, techno propulsion, a passing nod to your favorite wave music, and a flare for the kosmiche, Mirror Box' debut release, Minimal Compliance EP, is a tour de force of the veteran musician's exploration of a wide range of influences and experience.
Review: It's been some six years since Caroline "Miss Kittin" Herve and Michel "The Hacker" Amato last delivered fresh material together. While we await further news of their long-mooted comeback, there's this tasty EP of previously unheard archive material to enjoy. Made up of tracks recorded between 1997 and '99 - when their production partnership was in its' infancy - The Lost Tracks Volume 1 contains a number of fuzzy, stylish, floor-friendly bangers, from the S&M-themed madness of opener "Leather Forever" and stripped-back electro gem "Nightlife" (a tribute to Berlin clubs of the period, apparently), to the high-tempo acid-loaded freakishness of "Loving The Alien". Top-notch sleaze.
Review: Platform 23 continue to do a great service to all seekers of furtive sounds from the DIY underground, this time shining a light on the wonderful Mode I/Q. Anyone who digs the sound of New York-tinged new wave and danceable post punk will love this record - the limber disco funk of the rhythm section meets with squalling guitar textures and dubby FX, all shot through with a hooky pop sensibility that makes this record so easy to fall in love with. "Confidence" is especially strong, as is the ramshackle party starter "Two Different Things". It seems there's no end to the overlooked gems from this golden era of independent music - it's time to catch up with Mode I/Q and file them next to your favourite disco-not-disco movers and shakers.
Review: Talk to anyone about Stranger Things and it will only be a matter of minutes before the sensational soundtrack is mentioned. The future retro synths of Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein have a huge impact on deepening the occult feelings you experience when watching the show and that continued through Series 3. Now you can grab the accompanying tracks on neon pink vinyl, which features the vulnerable "You're A Fighter", celebratory 80s synth pop stomps of "Starcourt" and meditative charms of "The Ceiling Is Beautiful" amongst other nuggets of gold. The producers themselves have said this is less a score and more a series of cues, and it certainly got us thinking.
Review: Hot on the heels of volume one, Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein present a second selection of tracks composed for the soundtrack of Netflix's acclaimed weirdo-thriller, Strangest Things. As with the first edition, the 39 highlighted compositions are built around the duo's obsession with vintage analogue synthesizers and drum-computers, including the Granddaddy of the lot, the pioneering Fairlight "computer musical instrument" (check the woozy CMI choral samples on "I Know What I Saw"). Even if you've not seen the series, the music stands on its own; for proof, check out the ghostly ambience of "Crying", the tightly-wound creepiness of "Danger Danger", and the glistening, sun-kissed bliss of "Talking To Australia".
Review: There's no doubt that this brilliant, synthesizer-heavy soundtrack played a key part in the success of Netflix's deliciously odd thriller, Stranger Things. Written and performed by Survive members Kyle Dixon and Michael Steen, it has the right balance between John Carpenter style creepiness, Vangelis-like melodiousness, and the cinematic feel of classic movie soundtrack material. Happily, the streaming behemoth has decided to release two volumes of musical highlights from the series, beginning with this first volume. It's testament to the quality of the Texas-based duo's work that those who've not seen the series should still enjoy it. This is atmospheric, clandestine electronic music of the highest order. Moody, immersive, and reminiscent of the best material from the 1980s.
Review: El Deux is the Swiss electro-pop trio of Gutze Gautschi (guitar, vocals), Steno Onetz (bass), Martin Kraft (vocals, drum machine). Formed circa 1981 in Aarau by Gutze and Steno who played together in punk/New Wave band Fresh Color aka Frische Farbe featuring a pre-Yello Dieter Meier. Gutze's minimal electronic compositions did not fit the concept of Fresh Color, so they formed a new project with their live mixer, Martin Kraft, on vocals. The group was quite successful with many concerts, mainly in southern Germany and various TV appearances in Germany and abroad. Between April/September 1982 they recorded and mixed their debut album 'Nur Fur Madchen' in 15 days at Powerplay Studios, Zurich. The LP was released later that year on Gold Records. Influences at that time were of course the NDW "Neue Deutsche Welle'' movement and also from Gutze's time as a musician & guitarist since 1965. Their step up for recording was a Moog Prodigy, Korg Rhythm 55 (KR-55), Simmons Drums, Casiotone 202, Guitar and Bass. We've added a bonus track "Video King" that was originally released as a follow up single in 1984 before the group disbanded. All songs have been remastered by George Horn at Fantasy Studios. The record is housed in an exact replica of the original jacket and includes an insert with photos and lyrics.
Review: Roy Garrett born Roy Sambar in Colonia, New Jersey arrived in New York City hungry to explore the sex and porn scenes he'd seen advertised in the Village Voice's classified section. He danced in Times Square theaters The Gaiety, Ramrod, and Big Top before moving into adult film. From 1979 through 1983 Garret starred in ten films, five of them for Joe Gage, including his lead role in 'Heatstroke'. Throughout this period of self-discovery, he wrote the suite of poems that became 'Hot Rod to Hell'. In 1982 he recorded 48 of the poems with haunting, atmospheric score by Man Parrish, who also did several soundtracks for Gage. The project was produced for the stage and for cassette by Manhattan illustrator Robert W. Richards. Richards calls 'Hot Rod', "a searing voyage through the labyrinths of modern male sexuality; it's geography ranging from porn theaters to back room bars to the intimacy of shared beds. Only a man born at exactly the moment in gay history that Garrett was could have lived through and conceived this work." Roy Garrett tells his stories of sex, violence, truth, and illusion, a visceral and personal a record as any of that moment in gay history pre-AIDS. Joe Gage, describes 'Hot Rod' as, "...sweet danger. This is a perceptive look at the underside of love. It is funny, scary, surprisingly moving and best of all, extremely acute in observing the specifics of the human condition." All poems have been carefully remastered for vinyl by George Horn at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley. The records come housed in a jacket designed by Gwenael Rattke and includes an 44-page full color magazine with all 48 'Hot Rod' poems plus 44 previously unpublished poems from Garrett's archive. All proceeds from 'Hot Rod' will be donated to Housing Works, a New York City based non-profit fighting the twin crises of AIDS and homelessness.
Review: Apparently inspired by 1980s computer game soundtracks and the synth-heavy scores to fantasy films, M83's "DSVII" is slated as a sequel to the band's 2007 set "Digital Shades". If so, it's a rather belated one, especially considering the French outfit has released three studio sets and a swathe of soundtracks since then. Regardless, the material here is deliciously evocative, emotion-rich and atmospheric, mirroring the ebb and flow (and peaks and troughs) associated with soundtracks whilst relying entirely on i80s-sounding synthesizers and drum machine hits. It's basically synth-wave, with Symmetry's "Themes From An Imaginary Film" - itself based on music initially intended for the "Drive" soundtrack - being an obvious comparison.