Dark Entries – A Recent Reflection
Dark Entries, a San Francisco label named after a Bauhaus track aren't the kind of imprint that just take take takes, these guys give something back. Concentrating on electronic sounds from post-goth, via proto-industrial IDM to pre house music from '78 to '88, their re-issues project gives a fascinating glimpse into what artists were doing with what was relatively new technology at the time, a lot of it sounds pretty rudimentary at times, but that's what makes it so interesting.
For the past five years they've sourced unloved tracks, dusted them down, lovingly packaged on vinyl in their original antiquated artwork, and held them up as a thing of wonder. Each release acts as time capsule, acting as a lesson in where current electronic music derived.
We covered the label in detail recently but they've hit a real purple patch with the latest batch of releases, so let's apply a little more love by looking at this latest bunch;
The mini album from Opera Multi Steel is ridiculous (good ridiculous), an eighties synth pop band, they were French so we're talking a little more sophisticated than Thompson Twins here. They're a cross between baroque, an even more pretentious Ultravox AND they have proggy flute solos, good things.
"Holland Tunnel Dive" by impLOG is a sinister piece of cold minimalism which halfway through breaks down into a synth based piece of slicing white noise before bringing in a cheeky saxophone solo, it's classy, sleek and dark.
Too cold for you? Check out Helen's italo disco classic "Witch". For all those preening 80s revivalists around right now, forget them, go back to the source. This mixes the right amount of camp with robust beats and a breathy European accented vocals, it was (then) a modern retake of Marianne Faithfull's to die for "Broken English" track.
Kirlian Camera are a coldwave act from the early 80s who took their cue from Joy Division and early OMD. "Uno" collects their earliest EPS which contain a fascinating glimpse into the earliest of European EBM. The track "Rays" is one of those tracks that used to get swayed to by bored looking girls on Top of the Pops in 1980 who are only there to try to fuck the sax guy from Spandau Ballet.
Severed Heads, an Australian synth group bordering on the industrial have had their track "Dead Eyes Open" re-issued and, phew, it's an astounding track. Using a sample of someone who sounds like Magnus Pyke talking over the top of the kind of jacking electronic beat favoured by the likes of Boys Noize, niceties end midway as a cacophony of keyboard malfunction makes the kind of racket you'd expect from Kevin Shields, it's 30 years old, but sounds like it could have been recorded yesterday.
Finally, Peter Richard's "Walking in the Neon" is one of those forgotten pop tracks that still manages to sound contemporary three decades later, finally trending again as musical fads of the past come back into fashion. All the components of Italo disco are there, Euro accented vocals, an earworm synth hook and pounding 80's beats. The Italo scene was much maligned for years but as shown by Dark Entries and other labels and acts, is a genre that is crammed with unknown pleasures, proof that Italians really do do it better.
Josh Leon – Dark Entries label head plays in London next week. Details here
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