Sound Obsession

Synth Wave Special: 1978-1981

120 minsFirst aired 2 Feb 2019
Artwork by Nick Taylor

Kirk Degiorgio puts your musical heroes’ discographies to the acid test. Here’s the first of his synth wave specials covering 1978 to 1981.

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 roughly around 1981. Focussing on the years 1978 to 1981, Kirk recalls the progression of the synth wave movement in its complexity, from its simplistic origins, to the heavily Bowie and Brian Ferry-informed androgynous performances of the early ’80s.

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