Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Here is an obscure 7" from a Japanese band called Popsong's Factory. Not much is known about this record. I've seen it mentioned that it was released in 1981, but I have no proof that it actually was (no date anywhere on the record oof sleeves...) Both songs use synths and drum machines. Side A is an electropop song very much in the vein of the early Drinking Electricity singles (except sung in Japanese). Side B is a tripped-out minimal wave song with a simple, repetitive drumbeat, synth noises, dark-sounding sax melodies, and absolute vocoder overload. It takes a few listens to appreciate, but it's such a great art-damaged track that soon becomes endearing.

Here's the info:

Popsong's Factory
198?, Pillbox Records (PX 100000000)
A: My Pops
B: D'Ameja

Click here to download it.

European Toys - Nine Men Applauding LP

This week I have a couple obscurities. This one is an LP from a band from the UK called European Toys. It was released in 1985 on Backs Records. It was one of the earliest releases on the label, which also released material by bands like Venus in Furs, Gee Mr Tracy, Perfect Vision, and loads of other criminally underrated post punk and synth bands. European Toys played melodic, gloomy post punk. I hear similarities to groups like Echo and the Bunnymen, Teardrop Explodes, Sad Lovers and Giants, English Subtitles, and Mecano among others, as well as trace elements of jazz and prog. Songs like "Child Inside" and "Good Times", and "The Room" are quite excellent dark new wave. Give this a download, you may very well like it!

European Toys: Nine Men Applauding LP
1985, Backs Records (NCHLP 4)
1. The Sad Party Story
2. Child Inside
3. Scarlet O Hara Part 1
4. Scarlet O hara Part 2
5. Nine Men Applauding
6. Good Times
7. So Look At Me Now
8. The Room
9. The Travelling Man
10. Flip Side of Life (please note: I did not include this song, since it's just 3 minutes of silence.)

Click here to download it!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Astaron: Selftitled LP & Lance the Ensemble EP

Here are the only two vinyl releases from Vienna, Austria cult band Astaron. When I was in Vienna a few months ago, I found the LP for a couple euro. It looked interesting, but unfortunately the record store did not have a record player (or I didn't know how to ask in German if they had one... I forget) so I had to buy it and hope it was good. I had to wait 10 days before I would get home and listen to it, and the anticipation mounted each day. I bought almost 60 records in Austria, but this one above all others piqued my curiosity. It looked so ... promising; I would be disappointed if it was anything less than gloomy gothic perfection.
When I finally got situated at home, laid in bed, and heard the first crackles of the record give way to synths and organs and chants and hauntingly ethereal vocals, I knew that this would instantly become one of my all-time favorites. I've listened to it dozens of times now, and have not ceased to be entranced by its melancholy beauty. I loved it enough to order the EP, which I just received today and have decided to share with others.
The music ranges from dirgelike chants to ethereal darkwave to haunting ballads. The EP is a bit more cold/darkwave sounding, with danceable beats on all songs; the LP is all doom and gloom, especially from the song "In an Absence" on to the end. Elements of groups like Vyllies, Cocteau Twins, I'm So Hollow, Malaria, Kas Product, and early Danse Society can be heard throughout these releases. Many songs (especially on the EP) also remind me of stuff by more recent darkwave bands, especially The Vanishing and Autonervous.
As for this duo, it contains two girls, who are never named. I do know, through some research, that one of the members was Angie Morth, aka Angie Modepunk, one of the members of seminal minimal electronic/post punk band Viele Bunte Autos (whose entire catalog has been reissued on cd, and who can be heard on their myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/vielebunteautosmusik
Apparently Astaron also released at least one cassette, called Sarg Tape. If anyone can provide mp3s from this or anything else Astaron released, I would be forever happy. I simply cannot overstate how much I love the music this band produced.

Astaron: Selftitled LP
Ton Um Ton Records, 1987 (?)
Black Galley (2:58)
Finale - The Burning (3:38)
Little Girl Crying (2:16)
St. John's Fire (2:34)
As Time Joins In (4:13)
Torch-Light Procession (5:20)
In An Absence (4:57)
Sea-Blue Ladies (4:44)
Collecting Bones (5:14)
The Slurring (3:50)
Untitled (1:01)

(please note that the last two songs are saved as one song)

Astaron: Lance the Ensemble EP
Bugel Records, 1988
The Lance Ensemble (5:47)
The Icequeen (4:21)
Golden Carriage (5:27)
It (4:50)

Download both records here! - Link updated with NEW rips from mint records 1/16/12!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

MOOD SCHOOL: Clutter Without Decay LP

Here is one record that will probably please quite a few people. I've sent tracks from this record to various people on mixed cds and every single person wants the original LP. Mood School was a quartet. They self-released this album, called Clutter Without Decay, on their own Brain Pan Records. I believe they were from Texas (the contact number has the area code 214, an area code for Dallas). As far as I know, this was their only release. However, it appears that they were recording music as later as 1993, as a music video was made that year for a song called Spoon Bender, which does not appear on this album. Fun fact: The guy who directed that video, Ruben Ellingson, went on to be an art director and concept designer on movies like Jurassic Park, Men in Black, and both Hellboy movies. Too bad that doesn't really have anything to do with the actual band, about whom I can find no information... Anyway, this is a great album that mixes post punk, goth, and electro. Most songs have female vocals. Songs like Time Traveler, Your Crime, and Searching should have been hits, but alas, nobody cared. It's not too late to appreciate the music though. Download it now!

1. Blowbuth
2. Searching
3. Your Crime
4. Longest Day
5. All Us Humans
6. To Sir With Love
7. Illusions
8. Alone in the Palace
9. Stroll Through China
10. Time Traveler

Click here to download the album!


Here is one of my favorite Bay Area darkwave records. It was released on the Still Life label in 1987. Essentially a duo of brothers, this group released this one EP, played around the Bay Area between 1984-1988 or so, and then dropped off the face of the earth. They were one of a number of similar bands in the mid to late 80s in the Bay Area. I imagine they would have fit perfectly on the Epithet Records roster with Autumn Cathedral, Crimson Ivy, Mute Angst Envy, ...And Tears Fell, and others, but they were just a bit too early. Shadows As Tall As Trees was synth and keyboard heavy, and remarkably well-produced for such a small indie release. They sound similar to Tears for Fears, Danse Society, Die Unbekannten, etc... Not terribly original, but man are they GOOD!

1. The Problem
2. Now Don't Cry
3. Care
4. The Problem (Depression Mix)

1987 Still Life Records

Click here to download this EP!