Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Old School Electronics

It's another classic 12"s of the '80s post today with two very different approaches to electronic music.

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Freur predated Prince in one special way - the use of a glyph as their name. Look at the cover above, and the circle with a squiggly line coming off it is the band's name. It's a silly gimmick that their label knew would make it hard for them to sell records, so they asked them to change it. The band then came up with a way to pronounce the glyph, Freur. This band is also notable due to it being the earliest works of Karl Hyde and Rick Smith who went on to become Underworld, the giants of electronics we know and love so well. The music here is a mix of prog and synthpop, and in retrospect, the vocals are pure Underworld. The song was a minor hit, but I've always loved it's oddness. It still sounds pretty good today, apart from the drums at the end which are a bit dodgy in that syn-drummy way. A nice bit of psychedelic pop that slowly builds from trippy mellowness to full on blip laden pounding.
Doot Doot (12" Version) (1983)

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The Blue Nile first came to my attention with their second single, 1984's Tinseltown In The Rain (12" Version). Over a driving, uptempo disco beat the band layered some funky bass, a scratchy guitar riff, lots of piano and keys, threw in a boatload of atmospherics and big strings, and topped it all off with the major croon of singer Paul Buchanan. His voice reminded me of the singers of the 50's, people like Sinatra, and to hear it over such modern, swoony music was a thrill. This song has aged remarkably well in my opinion, and it's combination of icy funkiness and human warmth and sensitivity still gives me a little bit of gooseflesh today. It reminds me a lot of the kind of weird, experimental art disco that Arthur Russell did - modern music with a quirky almost classical approach. I continued to buy the band's output over the years, but nothing ever matched the greatness of this song for me.

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