The Minimal Wave Tapes Vol 2

Influences are a focal point of evaluating new music, the strength and relevance of a band as inspiration when being adapted for a new project can be a point for celebration for listeners and musicians alike. From the smallest scale three piece pop punkers headlining the local open mic night to stadium filling multi platinum megastars, there is always an influence behind the music being created. For a lot of listeners, the latest incarnation of an idea is enough to satisfy and with good reason – it regularly becomes apparent the final piece is greater than the sum of its parts – for others though this is not enough. The search for purity in a genre can result in a new found appreciation for any fan, whether it be in the realms of punk, rock, indie, folk or pop. Who would be disappointed unearthing the back catalogue of Talking Heads thanks to Vampire Weekend or The Yardbirds through The Black Keys? It is a thoroughly rewarding and enjoyable experience, but can take some effort both in searching for the influences and then filtering through them for something you actually like. Thankfully though, there people in the world happy to do the searching and filtering for you and will package it in many different formats for your listening pleasure. Enter The Minimal Wave Tapes Volume Two.

Both curated and remastered by electro champion Veronica Vasicka and Stone’s Throw Records owner Peanut Butter Wolf, The Minimal Wave Tapes Volume Two is the second volume of rare international bedroom electro for the late 70s and early 80s that not seen the light of day for many years. Similar to volume one, the idea is to showcase the underground responses to main stream synth-pop of the Second British Invasion that has been commented on and reviewed in great detail. ‘Theme’ by Australians Aural Indifference echoes Kraftwerk’s Trans Europe Express added lines of melody that deserves a letter of thanks from any 90s dance artists – that’s you Black Box. In other places, the proto aspect comes to the fore. ‘Japan Japan’ by German act Felix Kubin shares the same purist vibe and direct feeling of early Black Flag had they bought synths instead of guitars while ‘Fire’ by Ruins could easily be part of any PiL record.

It doesn’t all hit the mark though, not unexpected for a collection of this time. ‘Out of Line’ by Class Info falls awkwardly between Talking Heads demo sessions and Gary Numan in one of his less than catchy moods and ‘HSTA’ by Dutchman Das Ding (Danny Bosten) sounds like the product of a Roland demo at a music expo. These down sides though reassert the point of The Minimal Wave Tapes’ by giving a full exposure of previously unheard genre tracks. Every track on the record has a reason for being included, whether it is for musical excellence or reference. You come away from the playback not just deciding upon which tracks are worth listening to again or not, you have a feeling for the essence of a time in musical development where artists were really breaking new ground.

This is where the true strength of the compilation lies, the painstaking searching and remastering undertaken for the listener. To find a collection of this kind could take a short lifetime of record fare attending and liner note reading. With The Minimal Wave Tapes Volume Two, Veronica Vasicka and Peanut Butter Wolf have done the hard for work and in the climate of renaissance we seem to be experiencing at the moment; this can only be regarded as a blessing for everyone.