Various Artists - Electri_City 2 - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Various Artists - Electri_City 2

by Rob Taylor Rating:8 Release Date:2016-08-12

Elecri_City 2 is another well curated overview of Dusseldorf’s electro-pop scene in the 1970s and 1980s, following on from the success of Groenland’s first compilation in 2014. 

Thunderbirds are go on this slick appetizer, a retort to the mono-cultural English speaking world, a reminder that electro-pop circa 1980 had more than one global centre. Bands such as Rheingold, La Dusseldorf, and DAF were off the radar for most of us. I knew one or two transglobal nerds who tried to educate me in the early 80s, but I was too busy over-styling my hair to listen.

What’s striking about the Electri_City compilations, especially this one, is the exuberance of the music in spite of the singspiel style, synths and programmed beats. On Electri_City 2,  examples abound of how these elements can intermingle brilliantly with razor sharp hooks and pithy composition. On ‘Fluss’ by Rheingold, the sprightly and addictive groove could easily augment your dance party, or your cruise down the autobahn. Not dated in its sound, it seems apt to use the term ‘golden age of synth pop’ when describing this track. 

‘Darling Don’t Leave Me’ by Robert Gohl sounds like classic Phil Oakey, and with a young Annie Lennox on vocals, conveys beautifully what good dance music from the early 80s sounded like. Lennox is in great voice and a perfect foil to the steely male vocal. 

Of course Neu! are represented here by the track ‘Isi’, a little keyboard melody teasing over the usual ostinato rhythm. You either respond to Krautrock divinity or not. Me, I quite like it for a while, but after the umpteenth repeated phrase, narcolepsy sets in. Fortunately at five minutes this one doesn’t outstay its welcome.

Elsewhere, Die Krupps is comparable to early Talking Heads, without the funk but rekindling the ashes of punk. Teja Schmitz may sound like something carried by law enforcement officers, but is actually a band that only ever released one single, and ‘Studieren’ isn’t it. It’s another discovery and a fascinating track, a blend of electronica and nightmarish psychedelia.

DAF’s ‘Kebabtraume’, like ‘Fluss’ by Rheingold, makes me want to jump in the DeLorean and head back to 1982. Weird, groovy synth-pop with a downbeat that makes you want to dance in convoluted stops and starts. 

Of the rest, La Dusseldorf’s self-titled track commences with a German soccer crowd in good harmony. A gratuitous gesture perhaps to the people of Dusseldorf. The squeaky-voiced refrains had me reaching for the fast-forward button. 

Der Plan's 'Gummitwist' is Dusseldorf’s answer to Ian Dury and the Blockheads, if only Dury wore lederhosen. Little differentiation except for a few scratch-it moments mid-section. Cool song. 

The album closes with Michael Rother’s ‘Karussel’, a lovely ambient piece disguising some unobtrusive but characteristic guitar playing. 

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