While the genre known as Minimal Wave (the resurgence of focus on analogue synthesizer artists from the 1980’s) has been spurred along by renewed interest in those instruments by a new generation of listeners and artists, the principle impetus has been provided by a handful of labels that have released, and continue to release, what where once considered lost or forgotten recordings.
One such curator with a masterful ability to ferret out the most satisfying of these rarities is DJ Veronica Vasicka. As a New York City electronic music hipster gone the way of historian/archivist in an attempt to chronicle what was even then a fragmented underground, she has by some sort of Post Modern default become an impressive electronic music story herself. After just six years her aptly named label Minimal Wave has released over 30 vinyl projects preserving an illusive and secretive genre with an impeccable sense of taste.
Continuing her label’s narrative, the latest various artists compilation “The Hidden Tapes” features obscure but certainly noteworthy artists from 1979-1985. Opening up with a strong dose of arpeggiation and anthemic female vocals from Danish band SS-Say, the record moves across side "A" with the up tempo New Wave-ish "Beli-Dekolte" (meaning “white cleavage” in Serbian) by Oskarova Fobija who at the time were from what was then Yugoslavia. Next up is Danton's Voice with "I Hear The Bells," especially interesting because it sounds like a long lost Absolute Body Control or Klinik demo. It being Belgian is no surprise. Japanese rhythmic noise artists Sympathy Nervous follow with "Polaroid" an unreal hypnotic groove that features a cleverly triggered or looped vocoder. And finally the pièce de résistance for side "A" and quite possibly the best track on the LP Pas De Deux's "Cardiocleptomanie," which originally appeared on a flexi-disc included in Vinyl Magazine (pronounced vee-nil) May 1983. It is a “less is more” sum composed of drum machine wood blocks and bongos, a few tasty minimal synth lines, and an overlay of repetitive female vocals that touch a Krafwerkian harmonic nerve.
Side "B" opens up with industrial sequencer vehicle "The Computer Bank" by Robert Lawrence and Mark Phillips. Teetering on the edges of experimental and "Warm Leatherette” inspired work its repetitive dissonant samples and whispered vocals provide plenty of hook. In the second track two sequencers (and their oscillators), a beat box, and some analogue strings are used as ingredients in “Kaleidecon” by The Fast Set. This psychedelic instrumental is a cunning exercise in manipulating overlays of rich minimal sounds. Up third is French trio Reserve with “Destination Pour L'Inconnu,” their minimal answer to Visage’s “Fade To Grey” complete with accoutrement that include Ultravox-like sequencing, French language spoken female vocals, and vocoder. A rich, lush, and well produced accomplishment. The fourth song on Side “B” continues the New Romantic fun with Kym Amps “You Don’t Know My Name.” Lyrically walking the line between longing from afar and stalking it is a dark synthpop treasure. And closing out the disc collaborating artists Unovidual and Tara Cross serve up “Microphone Connection.” The out of key disharmonics and strange but compelling interplay between musicians provides a fitting eclectic anything goes stamp on this compilation.
Vasicka has done a stellar job delivering another essential installment in her mission to bring forward the early story of Minimal Wave. "The Hidden Tapes" will no doubt attract collectors and enthusiasts in droves as it forks over many very good and equally very rare if not impossible to find tracks in a beautifully designed package that goes the extra mile to emphasize the importance of this work. Highly recommended.
Artist Link: http://www.minimalwave.com