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Spanish Synth Wave


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  • Shortly after releasing Invenciones, an excellent survey of Latin American experimental music from the '70s and '80s, Munster Records issued the first volume of a series focusing on Spain's minimal synth scene, with tracks ranging from upbeat tecno pop (as it was referred to in Spain) and synth punk to more abrasive industrial and EBM. The liner notes go very much into depth about the background behind this entire scene, and how so many of these groups, chiefly inspired by international names like Kraftwerk and the Human League, barely released anything other than demos, were played by very few radio stations, and were misunderstood by the record industry. Listening to these songs now, it's difficult to imagine why any of this music would've been overlooked. The recording quality is often lo-fi and the arrangements are usually minimal, but the songs themselves are well constructed, and most of the performances are spirited and energetic while still maintaining a robotic new wave feel. Some of these artists are relatively well known to fans of underground synth pop -- Ultima Emocin (aka Europa), Vocoder, and Diseo Corbusier have all been reissued by Dark Entries, and Aviador Dro are the undisputed pioneers of tecno pop, having coined the term in 1979 -- but plenty of other tracks here were previously only available on long-deleted records or cassettes, or were unissued demos. There are too many highlights to mention; the album is just hit after hit after hit. Oviformia SCI's "Hablamos de Nosotros" is both surging and romantic, while Vocoder's French pop-inspired "Radio" is unabashedly fun and dramatic. Kalashnikov's "Digital" is a dead ringer for Belgian EBM acts like Front 242, while El Humano Mecano's "Sucursal" is harsh, jagged, and alarming, sounding like an evil robot stalker on the path to kill. The final track, "La Banda Electrnica" by Bola/Banda Electrnica, manages to combine a flickering electro-disco rhythm, dreamy synths, and prog rock guitar without sounding like a mess. Truly a remarkable, stupendous compilation. ~ Paul Simpson
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