Tag Archives: Synth

World Power Alliance

Short-run trilogy of releases from the legendary Underground Resistance, with each of the three main members of the radical techno gang exploring a particular theme across a trio of one-sided concept twelves, the flips each covered with all manner of etched nonsense. Here’s the, um, concept:

“The World Power Alliance was designed to bring the worlds minds together, to combat the medicore audio and visual programming being fed to the inhabitants of Earth, this programming is stagnating the minds of the people, building a wall between races and world peace. This wall must be destroyed, and it will fall.

By using the untapped energy potential of sound, the W.P.A. will smash this wall much the same as certain frequencies shatter the glass.

Brothers of the underground, transmit your tones and frequencies from all locations of this world and wreak havoc on the programmers.

THIS IS WAR! LONG LIVE THE UNDERGROUND”

That’s all drivel of the highest order, of course, but this is still heavy pounding UR techno at its finest and well worthy of your attention.

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(Mike Banks), 12″, World Power Alliance/UR, 1992

1. Kamikaze (5:52)

Discogs

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(Jeff Mills), 12″, World Power Alliance/UR, 1992

1. The Seawolf (5:43)

Discogs

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(Robert Hood), 12″, World Power Alliance/UR, 1992

1. Belgian Resistance (6:19)

Discogs

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Mark Shreeve – Pulsar

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CD, Bruton Music, 1991

At first we didn’t quite believe a friend who suggested that, once one started heading into the outer zone of record collecting known as Library Music, only madness remained. But how could it be otherwise – a whole secret new world of releases, only ever sold to radio stations and advertising houses, some made by your absolute favourite experimental musicians. Some come for the breakbeats, throwing down two hundred bucks for a 1968 collection of besuited white guy session musicians creating background pads for an episode of a BBC cop show in the hope of nabbing a funky, loopable middle-8. Others (like us, we confess) come from the Radiophonic Workshop end, lured in by those deeply freaky homemade Daphne O and Delia D miniatures, and keep on dabbling – though all the time knowing that the newer the disc, the far less likely it is to have been made by tapping on a metal lampshade with a pen and reversing the sound of someone dropping a handbell into a trashcan.

Plenty of musicians stride the line between commercial releases and library discs. Anne (Art of Noise) Dudley’s are a favourite around here, as are David (White Noise) Vorhaus’ rather pricier 70s pieces. Synthesist Mark Shreeve is one of several in his oeuvre who have made an equal number of library and regular releases. The example here is typical – fourteen tracks of solid modern synthesiser soundtrack themes, that are then re-presented in 59 second and 29 second versions for use on adverts and film clips. Several blogs in our links list at the bottom of the page specialise in Library music, old and new, rare and dogshit. Just say no, kids.

1. Synthesis 1 (5:38)
2. Synthesis 2 (3:42)
3. Prototype 1 (4:28)
4. Prototype 2 (4:28)
5. Pulsar 1 (4:02)
6. Pulsar 2 (4:03)
7. Polar Star 1 (2:22)
8. Polar Star 2 (2:18)
9. Technomotion 1 (4:50)
10. Technomotion 2 (4:12)
11. Supernova (4:31)
12. Stadium (7:41)
13. Quasar 1 (5:58)
14. Quasar 2 (1:39)

15. Synthesis (0:59)
16. Prototype (0:59)
17. Pulsar (0:59)
18. Polar Star (0:59)
19. Technomotion (0:59)
20. Supernova (0:59)
21. Stadium (0:59)
22. Quasar (0:59)

23. Synthesis (0:29)
24. Prototype (0:29)
25. Pulsar (0:29)
26. Polar Star (0:29)
27. Technomotion (0:29)
28. Supernova (0:29)
29. Stadium (0:29)
30. Quasar (0:29)

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Taurus – Brain Music™

Tape, self-released, 198something

Ever since the history of mankind, music was created for various purposes.

The BRAIN MUSIC™ is a very special and advanced music. It was created by highly sophisticated computer engineers, and was specially designed to be in perfect harmony with your brain.

The ultimate way to listen to this very special music is to lie comfortably on your back in your bedroom, close your eyes, listen to the music and enjoy a wonderful pleasent [sic] feeling.

A MUST for every thinking person. Try it.

We need say no more.

01. Brain Music part 1 (25:14)
02. Brain Music part 2 (22:10)

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Paul Nagle – Chimera

Tape, Soft Room, 1982

Thirty years ago, Paul Nagle was one of the leading lights in British cosmic synth music. With several dozen self-released tapes to his name, and almost as many compilation appearances (the Flowmotion album or Third Mind’s Visions comp perhaps being the most noteworthy), his lush Berlin School-inspired keyboard workouts walked the fine line between sweet and severe. Truth be told, too often they fell on the wrong side, with many tracks named after episodes from Lord of the Rings or fantasy games. Which means that most of that early stuff is unjustly overlooked – just look at all those titles listed on Discogs, barely heard. There was a reissue of his first two tapes by Vinyl-on-Demand a year or so back, but that was all.

More recently Paul has been playing out as part of synth outfits like Cosmic Smokers and the Joint Intelligence Committee, which are more modern in sound, and thus less interesting to us at least. With all things Krautrock and cosmic synthy – and New Age slush too – being rediscovered by a new generation of hipsters, perhaps his time will come too.

A1. Metal Water
A2. 732 and 815
A3. The Ultiman
A4. Marid
A5. Bedenke Ich Bin
B1. Chimera
B2. Cerin Amroth
B3. Fallow
B4. Phaeta
B5. Firvulag

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The Sea of Wires – Individually Screened

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Cassette, Sea of Wires, 1980

Coventry, England, synthesizer duo The Sea of Wires were another shadowy outfit from the electronic Dark Ages, those very early 1980s, just as synths started to get smaller and more affordable. Releasing just a few self-released tapes and making a couple of compilation appearances, Chris Jones and compadre Tony “T” Murphy mostly relied on beat-free sequencer pulses with something of a Kraut influence, plus the occasional nod to the past glories of the Radiophonic Workshop. Since this tape is SOW #2, we’ve always hoped that there was a #1, to add to their 1983 follow-up and Chris J’s solo tape. A few years later and they’d have been on ICR or Direction, I suspect, and more widely known and loved. Anyway, enjoy this one at least.

A1. Invincible
A2. Seascape
A3. Is the New Man Human
A4. Return of the Captain
B1. Robot Dance
B2. An Endless Rainy Day
B3. Breathing
B4. Viking

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Gil Mellé – Mindscape

LP/CD, Blue Note, 1989

Rippling New Age-y synths meet fusion-inspired soundtrack impressionism, on this atypical (to say the least) late 80s Blue Note release. Mellé is best known for his wonderful electronic score for The Andromeda Strain in 1971 (dig that extraordinary sleeve also), and he provided music for classic 1970s US TV shows like Columbo and Kolchak the Night Stalker. He played everything here, produced the album, even painted the sleeve image. He died in 2004.

A1. Mindscape (3:37)
A2. Message from Mozambique (5:58)
A3. Shadow and Substance (13:51)
Part 1 – Vintage Autumn
Part 2 – Experiment Perilous
Part 3 – Zero in the Universe
B1. Bird of Paradise (3:39)
B2. Double Exposure (2:55)
B3. The Blue Lion (5:43)
B4. Neon Canyons (5:43)
B5. Swamp Girl (4:17)

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SpaceSounds

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9″ flexidisc, National Geographic Society, 1980

More outer space stuff – a felicitous mix of narration, sound effects and sympathetic synth burbles that sounds like the audio-visual soundtrack for a bunch of museum exhibits. It’s the only record we’ve come across (so far) where the Astronomy Consultant gets a namecheck, but the narrator and musicians do not.

Sound quality is a bit suspect, but that’s double-sided 25cm flexidiscs for you. I know, it’s a constant bugbear. Meanwhile, check out that natty op-art Bridget Riley-esque sleeve – remind you of anything?

A1. From Sun Gods to Science
A2. The Planets are Born
B1. Energy From Space
B2. Exploring the Universe

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Rolf Harris – Introduces the Revolutionary Stylophone

7″, Dübreq, 1970-ish

Hey, guess what we got for Christmas…

Much beloved of David Bowie (hear the rocket take-off FX in the middle of “Space Oddity” for starters) and latterly Orbital, the Stylophone was a fabulous little home synth perfect for any boy or girl, whatever their age, who wanted to sound like a frustrated bee. With its odd little contact stylus and touch-sensitive keyboard, it seriously must have had a profound influence on a whole generation of early Seventies kids in a way that multi-thousand pound Moogs the size of Jodrell Bank could not.

Add wacky uncle Rolf (ex-teacher, Aussie with a German name who hit big in the UK in the 60s with a mix of very odd songs and while-you-watch painting, now discredited as a serial sex pest and currently resident at Her Majesty’s Pleasure) as your guide and this is a veritable time machine of revulsion.

And the fact that you can actually buy the buzzy little bastards again – is surely the perfect excuse to dig this out and rip it. Just don’t let him ask you if you can guess what it is yet.

A. Lesson One (5:41)
B. Lesson Two (5:19)

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The Magits – Fully Coherent

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7″ EP, Outer Himmilayan, 1979

Yeah, OK, with their gloomy bedsit electronic dirges The Magits don’t have all that much in common with Nick Blinko’s next band, the awesome anarcho-punk power trio, Rudimentary Peni (“Nightgaunt! Nightgaunt!”). Except maybe short track durations – the whole lot is over in well under four and a half minutes. Bloody odd all round. Three years later you would lump this in with what is now apparently called “minimal wave”. Mr Blinko tried to buy our copy off us on Discogs recently. True story.

A1. Fragmented [0:59]
A2. Disconnected [0:55]
B1. Disjointed [1:30]
B2. Detached [0:51]

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