There is a whole world of music out there. Sometimes it's easy to forget that little fact, since it's easy to find music in English. Heck, the English speaking world produces so much music that it's not even possible to be aware of it all. And then there are the other nationalities that either sing in English (Germans, and the various Scandinavian nations) or make brilliant instrumental music (a la Sigur
Ros, M83, Ulrich
Occasionally i will become aware of an artist who makes music that is fully
a part of another culture. For example, i went to see the great Malian guitarist Boubacor
Traore, and thoroughly enjoyed his performance. The powerful Pakistani
singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan had a brief spurt of popularity in the English
speaking world due to his collaborations with Massive
Attack and Michael
Brooks. And then there was the Nona
Delichas album i stumbled across, revealing
a world of competent dreampop coming out of Mexico.
But what of the other industrialized nations?
Well, apparently in 1978 a group of students in Barcelona, Spain formed a band called El Aviador Dro, and started making really great synthpop. Just this year Omega Point Records compiled some of their greatest hits from the past 28 years onto this one convenient CD, in an attempt by El Aviador Dro to break into the American market. They sing in Spanish, and i know that lack of vocal comprehensibility bothers some people (which begs the question of why Sigur
Ros have become so popular singing in a language they describe as "made up"...), but as a Cocteau
Twins fan, comprehensible lyrics have never been something that i have worried about.
So for 28 years this band has been making interesting music with Spanish vocals, drum machines, effected guitars, and tons of synthesizers. Had they been a predominantly instrumental act like Kraftwerk, they might be revered in this country today. Instead they sang in their own language, and we Americans ignored them. Heck, if you look them up on AllMusic, this compilation is the only one of their releases even listed! This is our loss.
This is some quality music. If you like to listen to synthesizers, then you
need to check out ¡Eléctrico!. There is a ton of interesting
stuff on this CD, which is jam-packed with 18 tunes, including some live ones.
As a greatest hits compilation, this is of course pretty strong. There are
no duds here, but some songs stand out among the crowd.
La television es nutritiva features a happy synth beat, a throbbing bass, and some monotone vocals. And then, on the chorus, the music gets quiet and the vocalist chants the title. According to Babelfish this means "the television is nutritious". It just sounds silly, but it makes the song jovial.
La Zona Fantasma is a great lost synthpop tune. Why weren't we dancing to this in the mid 80's? The beat and synth melody here are something that Depeche Mode would have loved to have come up with, and the vocalist turns in a fantastic job, really nailing the melody. He has a fine voice, rich and powerful, and he really makes this tune.
And then there is El perdio el control, which is a Spanish synthpop version of Joy Division's She's Lost Control. Done with layers and layers of synths, it sounds really great. Was this cover an inspiration for what New
Order became? Could be....
Anyway, i could go on here, but let's just say this: ¡Eléctrico! is a great compilation of catchy synthpop tunes. Fans of the synthpop genre should definitely check this out. Overall, i am very impressed. I don't speak Spanish at all, so i am not too sure what they are singing about at all times, but the vocals are well done, and he does have a really nice voice. Plus the music is excellent, and the television is, in fact, nutritious.