❉ Over 30 modern electropop artists celebrate the enduring influence of the Blitz club, writes Ange Chan.
“From sophisticated synth pop classics to electronic new wave floor-fillers and takes in minimal electronic synth punk and outsider post punk along the way, this collection includes overt homage alongside creative deconstruction of some of the sounds and styles of the Blitz period.”
At the very end of the 1970s, a new cultural movement was fermenting which would inspire a generation of fashion designers, musicians and songwriters and reinvent the relationship between creative fashion and music. In 1979, London boy Rusty Egan and South Wales escapee Steve Strange brought their ‘electro-disco’ club night from its previous residency at ‘Billys’ to a wine bar in Covent Garden called Blitz, which was soon to become a home from home for creatives, artists, actors and scenesters. Lifelong friendships were formed within those damp basement walls that would shape their collective and individual creative outlets forever more.
Generation Blitz is an independent compilation of modern electropop artists who were inspired by that era and make music today, with the ethos of the Blitz club very firmly in their minds. The compilation is vast, with thirty-four tracks to consume, comprising of exclusive tracks as well as remixes and remakes of classic songs and has many highlights to enjoy in the electronic post punk/synthpop-inspired global genre. From sophisticated synth pop classics to electronic new wave floor-fillers and takes in minimal electronic synth punk and outsider post punk along the way, this collection includes overt homage alongside creative deconstruction of some of the sounds and styles of the Blitz period.
Generation Blitz was compiled by Martin James (Nostalgia Deathstar) and Timo Jalkanen (Montage Collective) with support from Gary Jones. I’ve got to say that they have done a sterling job of gathering together a diverse range of synthpop artists wrapped up in the common theme of celebrating the Blitz Generation, from darkwave to synthpop and back again via post-Punk. To those already within the synth scene, there are plenty of recognisable artists including We Are Cult featured artists Blaklight, The Frixion, Tiny Magnetic Pets, Scenius and MORE,
The compilation kicks off with Montage Collective’s The Blitz Kids (Retrofit Remix) setting the scene for those less well-versed about the scene, with a spoken word voiceover listing all that is the Blitz club carried along by thematic synth music.
Hot on the opening track’s heels, The Crown’s Sink Ya Teeth is a combination of Kraftwerk-inspired backdrop with a modern sensibility, and kings of the synth cover Parralox with their interpretation of what is quite possibly the ultimate anthem of the Blitz club, Fade to Grey originally recorded by Visage.
In fact, the overt tribute count, whether intentional or not, is evident in many places on this compilation. TCV21 by Nostalgia Deathstar is pure Soft Cell meets Kraftwerk and is a fast-paced addictive track; you just want to listen to it again and again. This Human Condition’s Brother Blue (Muzoid Remix) is blissfully reminiscent of Alison Moyet meets Boy George courtesy of Jamie Jamal’s soulful vocal delivery. LorD and Master’s Strength in Numbers wouldn’t feel out of place in a Pet Shop Boys concert, reminding me of a combination of a number of PSB songs, mashed up together, to an effective outcome.
Radio Kootwijk (Mark Reeder’s Radio Silence Mix) by Birmingham Electric has a distinct OMD sensibility about it, which is no surprise when reading the liner notes which reveal that Malcolm Holmes (original drummer for OMD) has produced the track. The Rude Awakening’s Emerald Dancer (New Romancer Mix) adds a darkwave edge to the compilation which I really like, whereas Hurting for Two by Chain Complex featuring WARTERAUM evokes Soft Cell.
The Rude Awakening aka Bridget Kyle Gray and Johnny Normal said of the compilation, “People talk about the Blitz era as a snapshot of the past, but the music and fashions live on to inspire generations of artists. We were very happy to be asked to contribute to this project, not only because we love the music of the time but because we’re huge supporters of independent musicians and there are so many incredibly talented people on this compilation it’s a pleasure to be part of it. We took the opportunity to revisit and remix one of our favourite songs Emerald Dancer to give it an extra new romantic flavour.”
Xibling’s Hello Stranger has a speedball cyberpunk Siouxsie and the Banshees feel about it and takes you on an exciting journey of discovery that you can’t help but indulge yourself in. The theme continues with Diskothek by Blood Everywhere, which has significant elements of Kraftwerk influences within the track.
Tiny Magnetic Pet’s fabulous track, Drowning in Indigo tempers the mood to a more considered pace, allowing you to appreciate the melody, and relaxes you back down again in contrast to the previous few tracks. When reviewing TMP’s Blue Wave, I’ve already gone on record to say that this track is a beautiful melody and I’m even quoted in the booklet that accompanies the CD, as saying as much!
The chill continues with MORE’s Sentimental Sounds adding another smooth edge to the mix. Magnus of the Swedish band MORE said of being invited to contribute to the collection, “When we were invited to be included in this wonderful compilation, we felt extremely flattered and honoured. Martin wanted to include Sentimental Sounds which for us is a special song, since it is our debut single and was so well received by the listeners. We did a small little add-on on the backing vocals which isn’t included in the original single and can’t be found anywhere else besides this compilation. We hope new listeners who haven’t heard the track before, get thirsty for MORE”.
Finally, we come to the end and track 34 is truthscan’s Your Parallel Life is a song produced on analogue synth which has a DIY aesthetic to it, in order to achieve the dystopian post-punk feel the artist intended, whilst having a Cabaret Voltaire feel to it, which is never a bad thing.
Generation Blitz truly is an album of all killer no filler, it’s difficult to choose a single favourite track as there are so many brilliant songs. The contributors and compilers should be proud of the high standard which they’ve produced.
Generation Blitz is available now to download or to buy on 2CD/Cassette via Bandcamp and the label website as well as the usual streaming sites. Physical copies will be accompanied by a 7” square magazine with introductions to the artists, the highly influential radio shows that have nurtured this community over the years and essays on the cultural impact of that original Generation Blitz.
❉ ‘Generation Blitz’ is out now via Bandcamp as a Double CD (Compact Disc + Digital Album, Limited Edition Double Cassette, Limited Edition Double Cassette (Cassette + Digital Album) and Digital Album (Streaming + Download). Includes unlimited streaming of Generation Blitz via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more: https://generationblitz.bandcamp.com/album/generation-blitz
❉ Ange Chan is a Freelance Writer, having produced two novels and six volumes of poetry. A prominent contributor to Me and the Starman (now available by Cult Ink on Amazon) and lifelong lover of music, Ange is also We Are Cult’s Social Media Administrator.
Album cover photography: Anastasia Labekina