Sound Obsession

Synth Wave Special: 1982-1984

120 minsFirst aired 3 Feb 2019
Artwork by Nick Taylor

Kirk Degiorgio puts your musical heroes’ discographies to the acid test. Here’s the second part of his synth wave special: 1982 to 1984.

Combining the post-punk ethos with (often monophonic) synthesizers and an overall reduced, blank-faced approach to lyricism, synth wave became the defining sound of the late ’70s and early ’80s. By and large predecessors of the ultra-ironic mind state, many synth pop, wave and New Romantic bands found inspiration in the works of Yellow Magic Orchestra and Wendy Carlos’ A Clockwork Orange soundtrack, the stoicism of German krautrock, or Brian Eno’s early ambient experiments. The so-called Second British Invasion took the US charts by storm when it peaked in the early ’80s. With synthesizers and analog gear being much more accessible in the beginning of the ’80s, synth wave saw its commercial and creative heyday with industrial leanings from Front 242, and Man Parrish’s proto-hip-hop right next to the obscure experimentalism of Conrad Schnitzler or Chris & Cosey.

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