Unknown minimal synth records abound, even in this digital age in which it seems everything has been shared. Here is a virtually unknown gem that I have only seen twice: A 7" from a San Francisco solo synth artist with the perfectly new wave name Martin Human. I don't know if he ever released anything else, or was ever in any other groups - it would be nice to know! This 7" is a self-released record on his Human Release label. The music is just programmed drums and very simple, minimal electronics and vocals - a very bare-bones approach to synthpop. The A side is good, but the B side, Rocks and Caves, is even better, with a quick pace, echoing vocal cries that sound like they were indeed recorded among the rocks and caves, and synthetic percussion overload at times. This one is sure to be on at least a couple wantlists.
Here is a mini email interview I did with Joseph from Martin Human:
I have a ton of other stuff that I recorded and mixed on my 1/2" 8 track in my bedroom that no one except friends have heard. It was kind of all over the map stylistically but mostly soundtrack kind of material. I have never really stopped making music to this day. Martin had quite a bit of interest from Elektra/Asylum at the time but they wouldn't move forward with me until I had a band together that could tour to support a release which I never got around to. The motivation and interest for me was to be in the studio constantly making new stuff as opposed to playing the same songs over and over live.
Q: Did you play live, and if so, were there any similar bands that you played with in the area?
A: Martin never played live but I did with a number of other bay area bands.
Q: What was the SF synthpop scene like at the time - was there a lot of support for the music?
A: I used to get a lot of radio play from "The Quake" KQAK (later became Live 105) which supported a lot of local music at the time, as well as most of the local college stations. I sort of did my thing in a vacuum back then and didn't really know many other synth artists at the time. I was so young I couldn't even get into most of the clubs. KROQ in SoCal also had the single in rotation for a few weeks in addition to lots of college stations all over the country (I have a list somewhere).
Q: What equipment did you use?
A: All the synth sounds on the single were made with a Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 and Prophet 600. The drum box was an EMU Drumulator. It was recorded and mixed at Russian Hill Recording, SF in studio B on a Neotek console and an MCI 2" 24 track.
Q: And how many copies did you press?
A: 1000 were pressed. I sold about 200 and gave away about that many.
Martin Human: Upside Down and Backwards 7"
1984, Human Release
A: Upside Down and Backwards
B: Rocks and Caves
Download this record here!