80s (and sometimes 10s) Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/Bands ~ Colony Three/Brian Dickson

(c) Brian Dickson

I’ve had the enormous pleasure of being introduced to the delightful electronic music of Brian Dickson, a.k.a. Colony Three. I was asked to review a collection of 10 tracks titled ErgosphereWikipedia defines the word ergosphere as “…a region located outside a rotating black hole’s outer event horizon. Its name was proposed by Remo Ruffini and John Archibald Wheeler during the Les Houches lectures in 1971 and is derived from the Greek word ergon, which means ‘work.’”

This listening experience allowed me to take a remarkable journey that I look forward to revisiting time and time again; I know that I will hear more and experience different sensations with each opportunity.

The first five tracks lull us as listeners into a sense of peace and well-being—a journey that is both pleasant and without a hint of danger. Suddenly, with the opening strains of “Bad Gram,” the mood changes and we are thrust into a metropolis of sights and sounds that are both confusing and terrifying. As the music gathers steam, we are subjected to the aural awakening of the “fight or flight” instinct.

“Random Sparks” brings us back to a safe haven, giving us hope that there will be no other dangerous interludes until we reach the conclusion of our travels. But, just as suddenly as we feel that sense of calm, we are reminded by the dire melodies in “Collider” that the dangers we face are still all too real.

In the end, the pace of the excursion slows down, the dangers melt away, and again we begin to feel that perhaps this odyssey will have a positive completion after all. “Winds of Elysium Planitia” puts me in mind of The Man Who Fell To Earth when we are given glimpses of Thomas Jerome Newton’s suffering family back on his native planet. The final track, similar in scope by looking back on the previous tracks, evoke feelings of  both relief and sadness—relief that the trip is over and we are still breathing, and sadness, because of a nagging feeling that the world will somehow be forever different.

I am so pleased to have had a chance to interview Brian Dickson to provide some first-hand insight into the origins of this lush collection’s creation. I hope you will enjoy reading what I learned about this man and what he has to say about his exquisite music.

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MissParker: I can sit here and list all of the influences that I hear in this brilliant music—from Brian Eno to Gary Numan to Underworld to Jean-Michel Jarre…but my opinions would be irrelevant. Let’s hear it from you–who are your influences and why?
BD: I’d say my biggest influencers are Tangerine Dream and Jean-Michel Jarre. In the early 80s I lived in a very remote northern town so my exposure to music was mostly through the one local radio station that played top 40 pop and country music. One day, I was digging through my older brother’s stuff and came across a cassette of Force Majeure, and listening to it was a life-changing epiphany. I’d never had an emotional response to music until hearing this. It wasn’t the harsh “bleeps & bloops” synthesizers that I’d heard in so many b-movies and radio shows, but instead an incredible audio landscape that took me on a fantastical journey. I became obsessed with finding more music like this and pretty much anything that pushed boundaries.

Thanks to radio shows like CBC’s “Brave New Waves” with Brent Bambury and CFNY (under the tenure of David Marsden), a whole new world of musical influence was made possible. Listening to bootleg cassette copies of CFNY played a large part in me moving to Toronto.

MissParker: I’m terrified of flying, but I do it out of necessity. Listening to “Approach” made me smile because it actually reminds me of the airplane’s approach to the runway for a landing. What is the true meaning behind that song?
BD: First, I love hearing about how you interpreted this song as it was always a dream of mine to create something that sparks the listeners’ imagination.

Certain sounds or songs create a type of visualization for me.  When composing, I often start with a single sound and build on it, twisting and overlaying a few other sounds. At some point a scene forms in my mind and I often end up naming the track whatever was in this imaginary scene. In this case I had come up with the album name “Ergosphere” and thought it fitting that this song would be the approach into the Ergosphere and beyond.

MissParker: “Indifference Waves” has a lovely build-up to the brief spoken word segment. It puts me in mind of Gary Numan when he was

(c) Brian Dickson

experimenting with techno in the 90s and ended up keeping it as his signature sound. Then it takes off into a fabulous confluence of electronics and raw drumbeat. I love that combination. What inspired it?
BD: “Indifference Waves” was born of a sample from a 1964 episode of Danger Man in which John Drake (played by the outstanding Patrick McGoohan) finds himself in a surreal village called Colony Three. Many speculate that this episode was the precursor to the iconic science-fiction series The Prisoner which finds McGoohan imprisoned in a mysterious village where everyone is known only as a number.

“Indifference” describes my interpretation of The Prisoner, which is the importance of questioning the status quo. I’m finding that naming the songs is almost as much fun as making them!

MissParker: There seem to be very brief, if any, breaks between most of the tracks. Was this collection meant to flow like a single soundtrack, or are the songs meant to stand on their own?
BD: Some of Ergosphere was composed with no gaps between the tracks, but I’ve found that some streaming platforms or audio playback software inject small breaks between songs. Spotify seems to play the album “gapless” while others are hit and miss. I’ve noted that artists like Jean-Michel Jarre now release large single track “continuous play” version of their albums to avoid this issue. I personally love continuous play albums as they seem keep the listener’s imagination and mood flowing throughout.

MissParker: I played a lot of Jean-Michel Jarre in the late 90s early 00s when I was a corporate trainer. I used his music specifically to soothe my classes while they were testing on the stuff that I’d taught them. I hear some of his influence in “Flight to Tadoule.” What is your take on Jarre’s music? Did he inspire you to create your own version of electronica and how?
BD: Jean Michel-Jarre is influential on almost everything I produce. In my opinion, Jarre has found the precise balance of classical composure and technology. His bold approach to musical and performance experimentation is inspirational. I was fortunate enough to go to Jarre’s amazing 2017 performance in Toronto and it was better than I could’ve ever imagined.

Jarre inspired me to start simple and build on it. If I ever got the chance to speak with Jarre, I always imagine that his advice would be “There’s no wrong way to do it.” Sometimes when working on a track I will literally ask myself, “What would Jarre do at this point?” which always seems to get me past the block.

MissParker: “Clearwater” has a remarkable intro that flows seamlessly from the close of “Flight to Tadoule.” It reminds me of a DJ making the perfect segue between songs during a radio broadcast. Were the two songs created in tandem purposely?
BD: Unbeknownst to everyone (until now) “Clearwater” and “Flight to Tadoule” were composed in memory of my mother and father. My mother lived her final years in Clearwater, a scenic town in the interior of British Columbia, Canada. Her last years there were the happiest of her life and it was always a pleasure to see her so happy there. One of my fondest memories of my father was when he took me on a flight in a Cessna to a very remote northern community called Tadoule Lake. I felt it fitting to have these songs sound very different on their own but also be somewhat connected.

MissParker: Up until “Bad Gram,” the songs seem to have a laid back and dreamy quality to them. Then all of a sudden we’re thrown into a random foot chase with pursuers hot on our heels. The urgency carries over into “Influence,” although not as intense. What brings on this change of mood?
BD: I really enjoy your interpretation of “Bad Gram,” and I think I hit the mark on this one! As the song was being composed, I started imagining a scene from a Michael Mann movie, like some of the amazing instrumentals that Jan Hammer had done for Miami Vice. After the lulling jazz-bar sounds of “Daydream on Pacific Avenue” I wanted to create an unexpected spike of adrenaline for the listener to snap them back to the rest of the album.

MissParker: I mentioned in the introduction how some of this collection reminded me of David Bowie in “The Man Who Fell To Earth.” My only complaint about the film is that 45 years later, the soundtrack (which Bowie did NOT compose) presents as a bit “cheesy.” Your music on Ergosphere, however, is as timeless as space itself. That said, did you have a “movie” playing in your head when you created these tracks?
BD: That is another really big compliment on many levels! I didn’t set out with a movie in mind for the overall album, and I think the timeless aspect is a result of a personal preference I have for simplicity in both the composure and instruments being used. My good friend Rob Stuart (of SLAVE to the SQUAREwave) and I discuss this philosophy at length, that so many of the timeless classics were created using equipment that was greatly limited by today’s standards. I believe these limits are what ultimately demanded the most creativity and best performances from the artists at the time. I used to think that because I had a 16-track recorder, I needed to make use of them all. (Maybe to get my money’s worth?) Now, my studio has the ability to mix and record over 1,000 tracks, but I generally use 10 tracks for most songs, which encourages me to focus on melody and dynamics.

(c) Brian Dickson

MissParker: Is all of the writing and production solely yours, or do you have people that you collaborate with?
BD: For my first album, I made a conscious decision to go it alone as I ultimately wanted to own the outcome and find my own groove, so to speak. I did the writing and recording over the course of a few months. While the composing and recording was the fun and easy part, I was really struggling when it came time to master the album. Mastering is the final step in the process where the entire album is stitched-together and balanced for harmonics and volume levels. I’m thankful for being able to lean on Rob Stuart for advice during this journey as he has decades of experience in music composure and production. These great conversations turned have led to Rob and I collaborating on some new tracks.

It’s early days but we are both really excited about the outcomes and are looking forward to sharing them.

MissParker: Do you perform live? If so, where can people have the pleasure of being enveloped by your music in a live performance?
BD: I haven’t spent the time yet to research live performance in this genre…I’ve simply been having too much fun creating the music! I think my gateway into live performance would be through that previously mentioned collaboration. It would be the experience of a lifetime no matter what the venue.

Missparker: Where can people sample and ultimately purchase your music?
BD: For the latest information about Colony Three and to sample new music in the making, visit:

Instagram (@colony_three)
Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ColonyThree/ )

Colony Three music is available on all of the major streaming and download services including Amazon, Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, and YouTube:

Missparker: Thank you so much for taking the time to share your music and your thoughts with us.
BD: Thank you for your support and for such a thought-provoking and fun interview experience!

I love your site and what you’re doing for all artists both new and established!

80s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ Rob Stuart is Back with Electronic Dream Factory (EDF)

Excellent music never dies; sometimes it just goes away for a while. And, like a treasured loved one, its return evokes strong emotions of joy, relief, and a reconnection with the universe. That’s what’s happening here, folks. And, I am delighted to be the bearer of the fantastic news.

Rob Stuart first graced Rave and Roll’s pages exclusively as a featured artist back in November 2009. Earlier that year, I had published an article about his Toronto-based band SLAVE to the SQUAREwave, followed by a review of their then-latest smashing release, The Money Shot. Earlier this year (Feb. 2014, to be exact), I was privileged to announce Slave’s return with a jaw-dropping, in-your-face collection of tunes called Asphalt, Sex & Rock ‘N’ Roll. Now, I am thrilled to deliver the trifecta: Rob Stuart’s long-awaited re-emergence featuring an entire catalog of synthesizer-driven musical goodness from his band, Electronic Dream Factory (E.D.F).

Rob agreed to be interviewed so that I can share with you all a little bit about the beginnings of E.D.F., its evolution, the inspiration for the music, and the reason for the decision to re-release the catalog.

When did E.D.F. make its debut in the world?

EDF studios circa 1983

EDF studios circa 1983

Originally E.D.F was and still is the name of my home recording studio. I stole the name from a small British synthesizer company called Electronic Dream Plant which built a very cool monophonic synthesizer called “The Wasp.” My earliest recollection of my first home studio was back in 1981. I decided very early on in my “music career” that rather than pay other people to record in their studios, that I would just build my own and teach myself how to record, engineer and mix.

I was only sixteen back then and gear was incredibly expensive, so my first studio was nothing fancy. I would work three summer jobs to save up enough money to buy studio gear. I still remember purchasing the first real synth I ever owned, a Korg MS-20 for $595.00 at Steve’s Music Store in Toronto. I was so proud walking home with that synth tucked under my arm that day. It was once I started writing original music when I decided Electronic Dream Factory would also serve as a good band name.

Who were the original band members?

Greg Fraser, Rob Stuart, Rob Tennant (1992)

Greg Fraser, Rob Stuart, Rob Tennant (1992)

There have been many incarnations of the “band”version of E.D.F. Version 1.0 is me alone as a solo artist . Long time friend/musician/ artist, Greg Fraser was the first person to become an official member. Our first full-length self-titled album was just Greg and myself. Version 2.0 included Rob Tennant, who was the live drummer.

We soon added Maxx on guitar. Version 3.0 included Emerich Donath on stick bass and Rude Van Steenes on electronic percussion and vocals. I knew Rude back from the Vis-A-Vis days as I was an original member of that band .

EDF Version 3.0

EDF Version 3.0

Why synthesizers and electronica vs. guitars and…?

I’ve always been a synthesizer nut. Ever since I first heard early synth-based music like Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, Pink Floyd, Jean Michel Jarre, Vangelis, Throbbing Gristle, David Bowie, Brian Eno, Gary Numan, John Foxx, and early Human League, I knew I wanted to get into synthesizers.

First of all, they looked so cool and they could make sounds that you’d never heard before. That was really the appeal to me. I would spend hours messing around with my MS-20, plugging in cables, twiddling all the knobs, to come up with unique and different sounds. I’ve never been a person who is comfortable jamming in a rehearsal studio or in a band situation, which is why I don’t really consider myself a musician. I still don’t play that well, but writing, recording, and producing came fairly naturally to me. Writing music always was and still is a personal journey for me, so when MIDI came along it allowed me to create all parts of the music by myself, which I thrived on.

Having said that, I’ve always been a guitar fan, so when I couldn’t fake a guitar part by myself or find the right guitar sample I’d have to bring in a guitar player. Of course nothing can replace the thundering sound and look of a live guitar player on stage. That’s where Maxx came in. He was a cool-looking dude with a great head of hair and a killer guitar sound which added to the live element and gave the studio recordings a little extra grit.

Was E.D.F. mainly a studio band, stage band, or both?

I’ve always been a studio guy, but you have no choice but to play live if you want to promote your product seriously. It’s a great feeling playing your own music live with 3 or 4 other people on stage with the lights, smoke, and (hopefully) crowds of people in the audience grooving to your tunes; however, I also derive immense pleasure spending hours in my studio just writing or playing music by myself.

That’s were the “other” side of E.D.F comes from, as I also record and release ambient, chill out, new age music which I never intend to play live. Our finest moment was playing at Pine Knob in Detroit, Michigan in front of 10, 000 people for a big end-of-summer music festival.

What or who inspired the music?

The “who” is endless. See all the bands named earlier. Inspiration can come from anything, really. It could be a unique industrial sample, synth patch, drum and bass groove or simply a nice chord progression. It’s piecing all of those elements together that makes it fun and challenging.

Did E.D.F. originally get the airplay it deserved, and if so, by whom?

The first E.D.F release was actually a cassette-only; but, believe it or not, we used to get airplay on the radio. CFNY 102.1 in Toronto was the first station to play our music. That station was a huge supporter of local independent music, led of course by the one and only David Marsden who still plays my music to this day on his new station http://www.nythespirit.com. With open-minded people like David and the good folk at CFNY, the song “So, What of Tomorrow” ended up being a winner on a CFNY talent search contest and was released on a compilation CD, which to us at the time was unbelievable.

Other places that would play our music would be University radio stations like CIUT (University of Toronto), CKMS-FM in Waterloo, and CKLN (Ryerson University) who were always great supporters of ours. Local DJs like Ronno Box and Craig Beesack would play us at clubs like Catch 22 and local promoter Billy X was also an early supporter of E.D.F

What’s it like to translate a concept in your head into music that you share with the rest of the world?

It’s fun at first, but it can quickly become frustrating when the business aspect kicks in. I won’t even talk about the music business these days as no one has a clue what’s going on; but back in the early 90s there were still labels you could shop your product around to. For our first album we had some interest from TVT Records which had just signed Nine Inch Nails. For the second album, “Drama Dream” we signed a deal with a label in Montreal, which went bad. For the album “Number 3” I had a distribution deal with Toronto’s The Record Peddler. Financially that was probably the most success I had with an EDF album as they managed to get distribution deals in quite a few different territories worldwide.

What made you decide to resurrect EDF?

One word: “Tunecore.”

Tunecore is a great service that distributes your music around the world to digital music stores and streaming stations. It’s really cheap and allows you to keep 100% of the earnings. They really do get the music out all over the world! E.D.F had a pretty strong following in its heyday, especially in Europe.

As I mentioned above, the album “Number 3” was released and distributed internationally by The Record Peddler. I used to get royalty cheques from airplay I received from places like Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Norway and many other countries. Over the past few years I decided to post some old E.D.F videos on YouTube and found that people were actually looking for the old releases. It seemed like a perfect opportunity to re-master and re-release the whole collection in a new package.

Hence “Industrial Catalogue:” All four E.D.F albums in one, 64 songs in total, reasonably priced at $8.99. I did the same with my ambient/chillout/down-tempo E.D.F music, as well. Four albums in one package under the title ˜Noise Control” with 60 Songs in total.

Are there plans for live shows, and if so, where?

At this point, definitely not. SLAVE to the SQUAREwave takes up all of my spare time with live performances and recording. The last time E.D.F played live was at a rave in the middle of a farmer’s field in Oakville, a suburb of Toronto. This was actually where I met Colin Troy from S2TSW, as we were both playing at the rave that night. I was performing my more “techno” E.D.F material while Colin was doing his Smokin’ Jehovah project, which was a mix of middle eastern music and house. Really cool stuff. We chatted through the night about our love for Bowie, Roxy Music, and electronic dance music. We became instant friends and SLAVE to the SQUAREwave was born.

Do you have any examples of E.D.F. music online that people can preview?

Here’s some of my ambient/chill-out music taken from “Noise Control”:

Will the entire catalog be available for purchase? Where?

“Industrial Catalogue” is available via Amazonmp3.

Picture-#-4.-EDF-Industrial

 

 

 

 

 

“Noise Control (Vols 1 to 4)” is available via Amazonmp3.

Picture-#-5.-EDF-Noise-Cont

 

 

 

 

 

Both albums are also on Spotify, Rdio, Shazam, iTunes, Google play, Wimp, Deezer, beats music and many, many more on-line stores.

Can folks buy single tracks?

Yup! Single tracks are the standard 99 cents.

Will this inspire you to go back into the studio and create new E.D.F. tracks?

E.D.F has never really stopped. It’s just come in many different shapes and forms over the past 32 years and will continue to evolve. I’m getting more and more into the chill-out/ambient stuff as I get older, so you can most likely expect some more music in that vein.

What’s next?

I’m considering releasing some music by a duo group I was in back in the mid 80s called “silent GREEN.” It was an ambient project where the music was ad-libbed and recorded live. I played synthesizer while Bruce Bentley played “ambient” guitar. Bruce and I also had a synthpop band called “Ear Candy,” which was another CFNY-supported band. Tragically, Bruce passed away last year, so I’m thinking of releasing it in his memory. Some of that music is pretty magical.

Thanks so much!

Thanks for your support. I love what you do. You don’t know how important things like this are to a band/artist. You’re really doing a great thing here and it is most appreciated. XOXO

Gary Numan ~ The Amazing 80s Icon is Back Stronger Than Ever

From the “it doesn’t get much better than this” department….Gary Numan’s live set presented by KCRW in its total exquisiteness.

This was merely a warm-up for the mini-eastern US tour he was about to embark on, and the later more extensive UK tour.

Unfortunately, I missed Numan in Sunrise, FL when he opened for Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails on October 30. I had a ticket, but circumstances way beyond my control prevented me from attending.

Next time…and there WILL be a next time, so I hear. Perhaps in March 2014.

Until then, there are always quality videos such as this–and my dreams–to sustain me.

With thanks to Andrew Lister for calling my attention to this video.

80′s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/Bands ~ Karl Hyde / Freur/ Underworld

~July 13, 2012~

Imagine a world where gifted artists from your favorite music decade continue to create brilliant music for over 30 years. Not tired, recycled retro; but new, reinvented, and cutting edge. That’s what I love so much about Gary Numan. And that’s also what I love about Karl Hyde, formerly of Freur and currently of Underworld.

For me, the past year and a half has been, in a word, stressful. Music is the salve for my tortured soul, the magic medicine that sees me through each day. During this period, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to travel back in time and rediscover some of the finest music the 80’s had to offer. One such “discovery” is Karl Hyde, front man for the unpronounceable group Freur. The iconic song “Doot Doot” is the stuff classic 80’s electronica is made of.

Freur – “Doot Doot” via YouTube user AreFriendsElectric:

In 1987, Karl Hyde and Rick Smith moved on from Freur to start the group Underworld, along with  bass player Alfie Thomas and drummer Bryn Burrows. Hyde and Smith have been the constant members over the past two decades. Underworld was an experimental band from the beginning. Karl Hyde used his electronic roots in a very unique and cutting edge way, establishing a strong foothold and forging ahead with dance/techno music. “Underneath the Radar” is an excellent illustration of Hyde and company’s successful segue from New Wave into this new genre.

Underworld – “Underneath the Radar” via YouTube user AussieFive:

Underworld continued to push the limits of their creativity, landing in the techno/trance realm with a breakthrough hit named “Born Slippy” which was featured in the critically acclaimed movie “Trainspotting.”

Underworld – “Born Slippy nuxx (Live)” via YouTube user bandulu:

Underworld – “King of Snake (Everything Everything) via YouTube user 3xrymek:

I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing this incredible band perform live. But, I can’t get enough of watching Karl Hyde onstage via YouTube. His enthusiasm for his music is eminently evident and contagious. The privilege of experiencing a live Underworld concert must be something similar to a religious transformation. The level of euphoric participation that Hyde exudes cannot be faked. He literally loses himself in the music, and no matter how many times he performs, his excitement and love for his music shines through. It’s almost as though his face is a window to his soul as his body moves of its own accord on its own spiritual plane.

“Scribble” from 2010’s CD Barking is my go-to song when I need a lift. It’s infectious upbeat is difficult to resist. I highly recommend exploring the phenomenon that is Underworld. Very few 80’s-based artists have successfully survived a tough and unforgiving music industry. When they do, they definitely have a gift that’s worth adding to your treasured collection. And when you’re down, spin a few of Underworld’s tunes.  In addition to bouncing up and down to the beat, you just may get that same Hyde-esque euphoric look on your own face.

Underworld – “Scribble” live from KCRW radio via YouTube user Alin82:

Underworld – “Scribble” via YouTube user UnderworldLiveTV:

Gary Numan Live in London and Manchester ~ April 1 & 2, 2011

Copyright (c) Mimi 2011

Gary Numan gave phenomenally great performances billed as “Back To The Phuture” last weekend at the Troxy in London and the Manchester Academy. In Manchester on April 1, Gary Numan and band shared the stage with Recoil, Motor, and DJ Mark Jones. At the Troxy, on April 2, other artists included legendary John Foxx, Mirrors, Motor, DJ Daniel Miller, and DJ Mark Jones.

There are some fantastic fan videos of various songs Gary Numan performed, including one that he penned just that week (“Obelisk/Everything Comes Down To This”). I’ve linked to some of the better ones below. Enjoy!

Gary Numan’s Official website.

Pure (Live)” via YouTube user GaryNumanOfficial:

The Fall (Live)” via YouTube user GaryNumanOfficial:

Obelisk/Everything Comes Down To This” via YouTube user AlmaKnack:

I Die You Die” via YouTube user AlmaKnack:

That’s Too Bad” via YouTube user AlmaKnack:

Haunted” via YouTube user TamTamster:

Pure” via YouTube user TamTamster:

Halo” via YouTube user TamTamster:

Crash” via YouTube user TamTamster:

Zero Bars” via YouTube user TamTamster:

80’s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ (Much More Than) One-Hit Wonders

It’s time to go on a rant about extraordinarily gifted artists and bands who were unfairly labeled “one-hit wonders.” Oftentimes, these artists were not properly promoted after charting; although they continued producing incredible music, the powers that be at the record companies and radio stations turned a deaf ear in order to promote the next flavor of the month. We, the listeners, were the big losers.

So much fantastic music from the 80’s has since been unearthed, that it’s not even necessary to listen to the contemporary repetitive swill out there. My iPod has 10 days’ worth of obscure 80’s listening gems. Each week, when I listen to the champions of the little guys, David Marsden and Ed-FM, I am treated to even more music that wasn’t promoted, that should have been, and that absolutely rocks.

This week will showcase three wrongly identified “one-hit wonders.” I urge you, if you haven’t already done so, to explore and enjoy their music. You will discover music your ears have been longing for, that will soothe your soul, and make you fall in love with your speakers all over again.

Gary Numan

Numan’s first group, Tubeway Army, scored big hits with “Cars” and “Are Friends Electric” back in the late 70’s/early 80’s. Since then, Gary Numan has been a very busy man, working hard to reinvent himself and finally finding success with a move to a decidedly Goth/Industrial/Dark Wave genre. Starting in the mid-90’s, Numan hit his stride with the albums Sacrifice, Exile, Pure, Hybrid, Jagged, and the latest, Dead Son Rising (sheduled to be released later in 2010). Never heard of them? If you enjoy Dark Wave, do yourself a huge favor and check them out. Both Trent Reznor and Marilyn Manson have cited Numan as an influence. Exile and Hybrid are personal favorites of mine. Gary Numan has transcended Tubeway Army in a huge way and deserves much more than the limited success of the past 15 years.

 

“Absolution” via YouTube user Patrickingham21:

“Exile” via YouTube user MollyClark4430:

“Haunted” via YouTube user Industrial82:

Modern English

Modern English scored a big hit in the 80’s with “I Melt With You.” If you haven’t taken the time to listen to any other of their eclectic 80’s tunes, you are cheating your ears out of pure pleasure in a big way. Their four 80’s LPs were Mesh and Lace (1981), After the Snow (1982), Ricochet Days (1984), and Stop Start (1986). My personal favorite is “Someone’s Calling” from the After The Snow LP. Definitely take the time to go back and check out any Modern English music you may not have heard the first time around. This band deserved to be more than a “don’t blink or you’ll miss them” phenomenon.

“Someone’s Calling” via YouTube user ealdrett:

“Ink and Paper” via YouTube user delahuerta:

Blue Peter

Virtually unknown outside of Canada, Blue Peter enjoyed a couple of hits with “Don’t Walk Past” and “Radio Silence.” The band, led by Paul Humphrey, continues to play in and around Toronto to this day. If you like the style of David Byrne, front man of Talking Heads, you’ll love Blue Peter. Humphrey embodies all that is great about Byrne, with a little David Bowie and Bryan Ferry thrown in for fun. Criminally underrated doesn’t even begin to describe Blue Peter’s talent. Even if you were lucky enough to have heard either of their hits back in the 80’s, chances are you missed out on gems such as “Falling,” “Take Me to War.” “All Your Time,” “Unchained Heart,” and “Video Verite.”

 

“Don’t Walk Past” via YouTube user johnmcboston:

“I Walk Alone” via YouTube user orbitalpopdog:

“Video Verite” via YouTube user orbitalpopdog:

80’s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ Front Line Assembly

Bill Leeb (keyboards, vocals) formed the Canadian underground “band” Front Line Assembly around 1985 out of Vancouver BC, Canada. For a few months, Leeb’s attention was split with another band called Skinny Puppy, before finally turning his full attention to cultivating FLA.

FLA’s music is described as electro-industrial, decidedly cutting edge for a fledgling band in 1985. The synthesizers that were a vital part of the New Wave era were starting to turn a bit more serious and brooding mid-to-end of the 80’s decade. Even Gary Numan, considered by many to be the Godfather of Electronica, switched gears to create music that was moody and contemplative. New Wave’s popularity was showing signs of waning, while industrial, goth, dream pop, house, grunge, and shoegaze began to take hold.

Leeb recorded and produced a demo tape titled Nerve War in 1986. Only 50-100 copies of Front Line Assembly’s official debut were made and distributed. Shortly after, Rhys Fulber (keyboards, percussion) joined ranks with Leeb and together they produced a second full-length demo, Total Terror.

In 1987, Front Line Assembly debuted its first official album, The Initial Command. Michael Balch (keyboards) joined the duo about this time. As FLA’s popularity and name recognition grew, the trio ended up releasing State of Mind outside of Canada to a worldwide audience.

The three members continued their collaboration which culminated into releasing two EPs Corrosion and Disorder. These two compilations were later combined into a full album, Convergence.

The next album, Gashed Senses And Crossfire, netted a single “Digital Tension Dementia” which fueled the band’s underground popularity. Ed-FM played this song during this weeks’ Retrospect show from CFRC-FM, catching my attention and leading to this feature. About this time in the band’s evolution, Balch left Front Line Assembly to join Ministry.

Front Line Assembly has weathered many line-up changes over the years, and currently continues to record and perform live. I have listed only those titles in their discography released through 1991 because this blog focuses on 80’s music. For a full listing of their catalog and to find out shat FLA si up to today, check out Wikipedia and the Front Line Assembly MySpace site. If you prefer your 80’s electronica edgy, serious, and accompanied by a dollop of angst, FLA is definitely worth your time to discover.

“Digital Tension Dementia” via YouTube user djoscafox:

“Nerve War” via YouTube user Akira625:

“Total Terror” via YouTube user Akira625:

“Provision” via YouTube user MetalKael:

80’s Discography

1986: Nerve War
1986: Total Terror
1987: The Initial Command
1988: State of Mind
1988: Corrosion
1988: Disorder
1988: Convergence
1989: Gashed Senses and Crossfire
1990: Caustic Grip