❉ New wave meets (c)old wave in this collection of electric dreams, writes Ange Chan.
“The future is the past backwards…”
From the team who brought you Generation Blitz – ‘Dusk to Dawn’ in September of last year, comes an exciting sequel, entitled Generation Blitz 2 – ‘Concrete and Chrome’. Consisting of 36 exclusive tracks and mixes, and similarly including leading lights from the contemporary electronic postpunk, synth pop and electropop underground artists from across the world.
Where the previous compilation invited contributors to reimagine the soundtrack to legendary Blitz club, this compilation asked artistes to put themselves in that moment when the Blitz eclectic soundtrack gave way to distinct avenues towards cold electronics, future disco and perfect synth pop of the early 1980s period.
The first CD opens with Brutalist Architect in the Sun and their track Grief Killed Hope which has early Soft Cell meets Cabaret Voltaire vibes around it, with a basic drum machine backing, evocative of the ‘Heath Robinson’ element of making music in the early 1980s era.
In stark contrast, track two is EVill (2022 remix) by Emily Zuzik and Tim Lefebvre and couldn’t be more different. With New York City speedball vibes, it’s a heady mix of their own unique style with elements of Suicide-influenced electronica thrown in for good measure. The two artists coming together here with an impeccable pedigree; Zuzik has collaborated with Moby in the past and Lefebvre is of David Bowie’s Blackstar band.
Having appeared on the first Generation Blitz compilation, The Rude Awakening make a welcome return on Concrete and Chrome with To Say Goodbye (TRA Blitz Mix) and once again Bridget and Johnny share lead vocals. Meanwhile Video L’Eclipse’s My Enemy (Concrete and Chrome Remix) is pure Depeche Mode circa A Broken Frame. The Denial Waits track, Aphelion has a haunting, repetitive backing vocal with an unforgettable melody which stays with you long after you’ve heard the song.
Many tracks on the first disc are in the style of their forerunners and influences, mixed with their own distinctive musicality for example, Nostalgia Deathstar’s What If I Did (I Choose Danger Remix) has Pet Shop Boy vibes with a sinister edge, whereas Chrysalid Homo’s Dominic Kohl has a distinctive Sparks sensibility to it. It’s the perfect mix of new meets old and fits the album’s narrative perfectly.
Swedish band Cold Connection’s track Degraded Life (PO Remix 2021) has more of a traditional synthpop melody going on in the style of their European counterparts as Wolfsheim or Camouflage. It’s a standout track on the first disc for me.
Another highlight track for me is Photograph (Zoom Mix) by Planet Neil who are evocative of Yazoo’s Situation, one of my favourite tracks of theirs. Planet Neil is a Norwich based solo electronic act who Electronic Sounds magazine described as ‘choc-a-block with smart synth hooks and smoother machine beats’.
All too soon we arrive at disc 2 which opens with Mothloop’s We Fight Together (Montage Collective’s Heart Stop Mix) which has a refreshing early New Order sensibility about it.
EMT’s Diva has a new remix version on this collection by Psykelektrik Mix edit, giving it a wholly different feel to other versions of this track. Meanwhile, Cult With No Name’s melancholic torch song My Right Hand Holds the Biosphere also features and regular readers of We Are Cult will know that we’re already fans of this band, having reviewed their output on several occasions. This particular track offers a melancholic interlude, courtesy of Erik Stein’s smooth and laconic Lou Reed-esque vocals. Another WAC favourite is Californian band BlakLight, appearing here with their track Wicked Face.
Canadian synthwave duo Honey Beard feature on the compilation with their track Sleep Walking, offering a tranquil yet mesmerising synth-laden melody coupled with gentle vocals.
Vocoders are used to maximum effect on nON sTOP eROTIC cABARET’s rOBOSEXUAL (sCARLETT MIX) whereas Depthcruiser’s Sexual Fantasies instrumental track offers a pulsating lo-fi hi-NRG vibe that is eminently danceable. PowerStateFailure’s polyphonic track Give Me the Night is another instrumental which gives out tuneful melodies in the style of The Grid.
Also appearing on this compilation is Alone in the Dark from Rocket Report, a relatively new band who formed in lockdown during 2020 and comprise Jon Russell (aka Jonteknic), Mark Stagg and Robert McCulloch. Next up is Leeds-based electronic/shoegaze duo Lines of Flight’s track In Your Arms Tonight, reminiscent of Saint Etienne. Following numbers by V-Sor, X Tomorrow’s Past and Agency-V’s Rain, Stephen Jones & Logan Sky, Re:Invented (On Polaroid), completes this 36-track aural journey through wildly different presentations of electronica.
Concrete and Chrome offers another fabulous curation of tracks of some of the sounds and styles of synth artists from previous decades, but which could only have been created in the here and now, in the 21st Century.
❉ ‘Generation Blitz 2 – Concrete and Chrome’ was released March 4, 2022 as a double CD and cassette via Bandcamp: Click here.
❉ Ange Chan is a Freelance Writer, having produced two novels and six volumes of poetry. A prominent contributor to Me and the Starman (available by Cult Ink on Amazon) and lifelong lover of music, Ange is also We Are Cult’s Social Media Administrator.