sweet as the scratch

"i want to be a machine": 80s synth pop

In the UK in the 1980s, as synthesizers and DIY audio-equipment began to show up in droves in the average English home, an explosion of electronic dance music infected just about every strand of British popular music. Fueled by a drug and club culture where electronic beats were preferred to even the best four-piece rock band, "new wave" music and synth pop, birthed from the echoes of dub-reggae and punk, quickly became a dominating force in the international music industry, inspiring pop stars, club djs, and underground garage groups alike.

Though the music would eventually take on a ubiquitous sound-formula of synth loops and sappy vocals, its origins were in a queer and post-punk sensibility imagined by groups like Ultravox and Art of Noise, who injected a colorful landscape of synth and electronically produced instruments into traditional rock ballads. Like so much in the 80s, themes of love, technology, and alienation reigned supreme, and the sometimes overly expressive self-explorations of these artists were rich with emotion and vulnerability.

The result, some "big tunes":

0:00 "New Life" - Depeche Mode - (1981)
3:38 "Dangerous Rhythm" - Ultravox - Ultravox!
7:40 "81-82-83-84" - Simple Minds - Simple Minds ‎– New Gold Dream
13:09 "Messengers of Love" - Carmody - (1985)
18:00 "Disorder" - Joy Division" - Disorder
21:34 "Dark Trees Beyond" - A Blaze Colour - Against The Dark Trees Beyond
24:03 "Together In Electric Dreams" - Giorgio Moroder x Philip Oakey - (1984)
27:49 "Moments in Love" - The Art of Noise - Into Battle
38:04 "Theme For Great Cities" - Simple Minds - (1982)
43:57 "Silent Street" - Maximum Joy - Stretch
48:24 "Man Next Door [prod. On-U Sound]" - The Slits - (1980)
51:47 "Walking in L.A." - Missing Persons - (1982)
55:46 "Eisbær" - Grauzone - (1981)
59:23 "Computer Liebe" - Kraftwerk - Computerwelt
1:05:53 "I Want To Be A Machine" - Ultravox - Ultravox!
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