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Sunday, 20 October 2013

B9 Bis - Belgian Cold Wave 1979-1983

The title sounds like pure obscure gold and I’ve been rubbing my little hands together in anticipation of wrapping my ears around B9 Bis. Disappointingly, ‘Cold Wave’ doesn’t quite live up to my gleeful expectations. The songs are a stark throwback to a time when electronic music was new and exciting, however most of the selections on the disk are average at best. It all boils down to a lovely idea, but poorly executed.

It’s hard to describe the musical direction of the compilation. At its best it’s the birth of dance music as we know it, at worst it’s a Kajagoogoo album track. It’s as if the bands are grappling with the new technology and haven’t quite grasped the need for quality song-writing to match their geeky enthusiasm for these new fangled synthesisers. I guess it sounds like a hybrid of Kraftwerk, John Foxx, The Danse Society, early Cure and B-Movie, but not always in a positive way. Well done to the Belgians for their enthusiasm if nothing else.

Sadly, a nifty atmosphere alone doesn’t make for a great compilation and ultimately there are about three songs that I actually like. Siglo XX gives his all with ‘Individuality’, Isolation Ward are suitably icy and detached with ‘Lamina Christus’ and easily the best track is The Names’ ‘Spectators of Life’; 2 minutes and 58 seconds of ‘Nowhere Girl’ inspired perfect pop song.

Great title, slick packaging, lovely accents, high levels of ‘starkness’ and a catchy genre name. Poor songs. I suppose you can’t have everything.


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