Dig compilations of obscure music? Synthesizers? Anything vaguely German? Then you’ll dig The Minimal Wave Tapes Volume One, Chad Dryden‘s Record Exchange Staff Pick of the Week. Here’s what he had to say about it:
One of the best things about working at a record store is turning people on to great music in the purest way possible: by playing it for them.
A few weeks ago, days after the release of The Minimal Wave Tapes Volume One (Stones Throw), a Record Exchange clerk put our only copy of this archival electronic compilation on the store hi-fi. It didn’t stay there long. A customer, digging what he heard, bought it on the spot.
Minimal Wave was a genre of underground DIY electronic music that sprouted up in North America and Europe in the late 1970s and early 1980s. As the name implies, the music was minimal in nature. Period analog synths and drum machines feature prominently. A new wave/post-punk influence dominates.
The recordings were mostly made at home, self-released on vinyl and cassette and distributed one at a time through the mail. In 2005, the Minimal Wave label was founded to expose a larger audience to this music, and last month, the folks at Stones Throw — purveyors of fine rare funk and soul comps, among other fab releases — partnered with Minimal Wave to release the first official Minimal Wave compilation.
The 14 tracks featured on the comp (available on CD and vinyl) cover wide referential ground: Kraftwerk, Joy Division/New Order, vintage video game soundtracks, Strange Brew (the music during the creepy hockey game at the brewery). But this isn’t a collection of bedroom musicians plagiarizing their influences; it’s a stellar showcase of synth music’s creative zenith and a fantastic piece of musical archeology.