“Choose synth – Choose a job – Choose a career – Choose a family…”
SPACEPRODIGI is Mackenzie Bartsch, and as her moniker suggests, she’s an up-and-coming electronic dance sensation from Houston, Texas.
She was recently spotted at the Moogfest engineering class building a Moog DFAM percussion sequencer.
Describing the Drummer From Another Mother as also being “A Sick Bassline Synthesizer”, she has put her interest in analogue electronics to good use on her debut EP, the appropriately named ‘Launch’.
What is key to SPACEPRODIGI is that while her club friendly beats and tempos will naturally appeal to her own demographic, her inventive futuristic sound design, coupled to her classical training, connects her to the world of DEADMAU5 and DAFT PUNK.
The accessible defined thrust of ‘Atimony’ is a good example of an approach that could potentially capture a very wide audience spectrum. Meanwhile, the sparkling hypnotic energy of ‘Chameleon’ puts the majority of the inane drop focussed rubbish on Beatport that passes as EDM to shame.
The arpeggio centred title track and the lengthier ‘Kidults’ showcase further promise with the latter interestingly doing away with hi-hats for the first minute and a half, relying more on its octave drive and rigid rhythmic lattice; the best track on the EP, it could well appeal to maturer audiences weaned on JEAN-MICHEL JARRE.
This first instrumental salvo of music from SPACEPRODIGI is crafted and spacious without being overblown. Having received her first synth, a Moog Sub37, as a 14th birthday present, Bartsch has added a Minimoog, a Moog Voyager and the forever robust Roland Juno 60 to her studio, along with a Prophet 6 and Tempest from Dave Smith Instruments.
Her appeal has not only brought her to the attention of euquipment manufacturers like Analogue Solutions who have provided her with their new Nyborg, but also clothing retailers such as Square Wave whose marvellous “CHOOSE SYNTH” T-shirt she wore to great viral effect.
‘Launch’ is released by Alliance Radar as a download EP via the usual digital platforms
Today, electronic instrumental music is everywhere, but often in the form of tedious dance tracks with no tunes all over Beatport and social media.
Luckily, there are still exponents of the classic synth instrumental, and thanks to the rise of the Synthwave sub-genre, there is currently a sympathetic environment for more esoteric and melodic musical offerings.
The key to a good instrumental is it either has to be very melodic to make up for the lack of vocals or very unobtrusive so that while the music is interesting enough to be listened to, it can also be ignored. Thus a Eurorack modular tutorial cannot credibly count as a valid release… 😉
As a follow-up to TEC’s 25 SYNTH INSTRUMENTALS Of The CLASSIC ERA, with a limit of one track per artist, The Electricity Club presents its 25 FAVOURITE SYNTH INSTRUMENTALS Of The 21ST CENTURY in chronological and then alphabetical order…
SYSTEM F Insolation (2000)
While Dutch producer Ferry Corsten hit paydirt with club hits such as ‘Out Of The Blue’ and ‘Cry’ as SYSTEM F, the debut album pointed towards the Trance’s link to electronic pop. As well as a collaboration with Marc Almond entitled ‘Soul On Soul’, the long player included the beautifully majestic classic instrumental ‘Insolation’ which took a breather from the usual four-to-the floor format.
PPK were a Russian trance duo comprising of Sergei Pimenov and Alexander Polyakov. The original melody of ‘ResuRection’ came from Eduard Artemyev’s synthesized theme from the epic 1979 Soviet movie ‘Siberiade’ which won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival. Easily mistaken for JEAN-MICHEL JARRE, the thrusting seven minute ‘Perfecto Edit’ in particular was like an exuberant rocket launch set to music.
Originally released by Perfecto Records, currently unavailable
With a piercing synthphonic riff, scat vocoder, robotic bass and a rigid programmed beat, ‘Turn It On’ saw LADYTRON take a bleep forward with an attempt at a KRAFTWERK track for the 21st Century via Liverpool, Glasgow and Sofia. But as it headed towards its final third, it detoured back to Liverpool and turned into ‘Electricity’ in a cheeky homage to Merseyside’s original electronic trailblazers OMD.
A Norwegian electronic duo consisting of Aggie Peterson and Per Martinsen, FROST released their second album ‘Melodica’ to a positive response, thanks to some production assistance by RÖYKSOPP on two tracks. The beautiful Arctic serenity of ‘Klong’ featuring local trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær alongside layers of gorgeous crystalline synths was one of the album’s highlights that easily outdid anything by GROOVE ARMADA and didn’t rely on using samples either.
Available on the album ‘Melodica’ via Frost World Recordings
‘Destroy Rock & Roll’ was the well-received debut album by Scottish DJ Myles MacInnes that alongside DAFT PUNK and BASEMENT JAXX, summed up the sample laden dance music that was prevalent at the time. Produced on a computer in his own bedroo, the album’s best track however was the more downtempo, MOBY-esque richness of ‘Emotion 96.8’ with its beautiful sweeping synth melodies and unobtrusive rhythm structure. A follow-up to the long player has yet to appear.
With a hypnotic Motorik rhythm, pulsating bleeps and spacey whirs driving a moodier template along the lines of cult German experimentalists EMAK, Phil and Paul Hartnoll continued their primarily instrumental template on their ‘Blue Album’, although SPARKS contributed vocals to a totally unrelated track called ‘Acid Pants’. The brothers split shortly after the long player’s release, but returned in 2009 to play The Big Chill Festival.
From ‘Hymn’ to ‘First Cool Hive’ to ‘A Seated Night’, the man born Richard Melville Hall is a master of the instrumental. The solemn ‘Homeward Angel’ closed MOBY’s comparatively conventional and sample-less ‘Hotel’ album with a solemn yet uplifting slice of mood music that in retrospect, was incongruous with the main act. However, since leaving Mute in 2008, his more recent self-released albums such as ‘Destroyed’ and ‘Innocents’ have displayed this more esoteric quality.
A ten minute instrumental epic, ‘Alpha Male’ came from RÖYKSOPP’s under rated second long player, one that moved away from the chill-out climes of ‘Melody AM’ into much darker sonic territory. The track’s lengthy ambient intro was interrupted by a mighty metronomic beat and the sort of progressive synth overtures that would have made JEAN-MICHEL JARRE proud.
Since his musical return in 1997 with ‘Shifting City’, JOHN FOXX has practically had albums coming out of his ears in song-based, ambient and soundtrack formats, both solo and in collaboration with other artists. The spacey mechanical Schaffel of ‘Kurfurstdendam’ came from an imaginary soundtrack he called ‘Tiny Colour Movies’, inspired by a friend’s birthday screening of a private film collection comprising of random surveillance clips and offcuts from Hollywood.
Few acts actually genuinely sound like their name… SISTA MANNEN PÅ JORDEN, which translates as “the last man in space”, is the solo project of Swedish synthpop trailblazer Eddie Bengtsson, he of PAGE and S.P.O.C.K fame. The frantic ‘Space-Elevator’ with its swimmy string synths and Sci-Fi derived melody acted as an effective Moroder-esque interlude on his excellent sixth album ‘Tredje Våningen’.
Borrowing the distinctive bassline from SIMPLE MINDS’ 1981 single ‘Love Song’, the British duo put together this lively danceable instrumental for their debut TENEK EP. With a modern mechanical groove coupled to their trademark synth rock, the almost funky ‘Ice Fields’ became an early live favourite, although the duo have focussed on more song based adventures for their three albums to date, ‘Stateless’, ‘On The Wire’ and ‘Smoke & Mirrors’.
In 2007, Andreas Kleerup, producer and one-time drummer for THE MEAT BOYS, undertook his first mainstream collaboration with fellow Swede ROBYN. The success of ‘With Every Heartbeat’ led to the recording of his self-titled debut album which featured a number of brilliant instrumentals. ‘Hero’ was its perfect start and with a solid bassline and strong choral timbres, it had the vibe of how OMD might have sounded if they had formed in the 21st Century.
While most of the ‘Tron Legacy’ soundtrack album was arranged and orchestrated by Joseph Trapanese, DAFT PUNK’s spiky electronics and drum machine were kept in alongside the epic strings for the end titles of the sequel to the 1982 movie ‘Tron’. There were nods to Wendy Carlos who composed the score to the original film, with Thomas Bangalter focusing on the heroic themes while Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo was more inclined to generating the darker elements.
Available on the soundtrack album ‘Tron Legacy’ via Walt Disney Records
Forming in 2001, Swedish duo 047 began their chiptune experiments thought a mutual appreciation of vintage video games. But after their debut long player, Peter Engström and Sebastian Rutgersson began to incorporate melodic song based elements and vocals into their music. The end results led to the impressive second album ‘Elva’, but they celebrated their chiptune influenced roots with the jolly YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA salute of ‘Kanpai!’
‘The E-Bay Queen Is Dead’ was collection of rarities from the MARSHEAUX archives. While Marianthi Melitsi and Sophie Sarigiannidou have done a fair number of cover versions in their time, they are not really known for doing instrumentals. But the electro-boppy ‘Now & Never’ was a very promising wordless demo that Vince Clarke would have approved of; as one of his former DEPECHE MODE colleagues once sang: “words are very unnecessary…”
Fusing Detroit techno with more European experimental forms, Patricia Hall and Ian Hicks’ second SOFT METALS album ‘Lenses’ featured the fabulous instrumental ‘Hourglass’. As Hall put it: “I really wanted to write lyrics for that one, but was never quite satisfied with what I came up with. I decided it would be better to let that one be an instrumental. I think it holds up on its own. It’s nice to give the listener a chance to interpret its meaning on its own rather than direct them with words”.
Available on the album ‘Lenses’ via Captured Tracks
Anais Neon and Martin Swan’s tribute to ‘Assault On Precinct 13’, ‘The future through a lens’ was a moody but booming instrumental that began their excellent debut longer player of the same name, which later netted a Schallewelle Award for ‘Best international Album’ in 2014. With their vast array of analogue synthesizers and exquisite taste for sound textures, it won’t be too surprising if VILE ELECTRODES aren’t offered some soundtrack opportunities in the near future.
Although making his name within EDM circles, the Norwegian producer born Todd Olsen paid a musical tribute to ‘Back To The Future’ and its futuristic gull-wing doored Delorean DMC-12 car with this suitably driving Synthwave instrumental. Unlike other so-called dance producers, Terje is conversant with electronic music history and possesses a wry sense of humour, as evidenced by the witty wordplay of track titles like ‘Inspector Norse’ and his own DJ moniker.
After the first phase of BLANCMANGE, Neil Arthur and Stephen Luscombe worked within the TV and film industry, scoring soundtracks and incidental music. Although best known for his voice, Neil Arthur’s instrumentals have been a continual form of expression. The brilliant ‘Cistern’ comes over like an imaginary Bond Theme for a retro-futuristic world. The wordless wonder that is the parent album ‘Nil By Mouth’ is an unsung masterpiece.
Adam Cresswell’s sombre vocals and the darker lyrical themes on his debut RODNEY CROMWELL album ‘Age Of Anxiety’ took a breather with the bright and breezy ‘Baby Robot’. With sweet synthesizer melodies, pretty glints of glockenspiel and a bouncy beatbox, the instrumental was inspired by birth of his son. “Yes, ‘Baby Robot’ is the one track on the album that’s 100% upbeat as it is about the experience of being a father” he gleefully told The Electricity Club.
While Danish duo DARKNESS FALLS are better known for their melancholic Nordic vocals and neo-gothic overtones on songs like ‘The Void’, the dark synthy instrumental ‘Thunder Roads’ proved to be one of the most striking tracks on their second album ‘Dance & Cry’. With a punchy drum machine mantra and menacing reverberant sequence, it was augmented by guitar screeches and sombre six string basslines reminiscent of JOY DIVISION and THE CURE.
JEAN-MICHEL JARRE & BOYZ NOISE The Time Machine (2015)
JEAN-MICHEL JARRE’s first album for since ‘Teo & Tea’ in 2007 was a two volume opus entitled ‘Electronica’; it features collaborations with a number of synth pioneers and modern day dance artists including BOYZ NOISE aka Berlin DJ Alexander Ridha. This climactic track took on a new life as the set closer on the French synth maestro’s ‘Electronica’ world tour, with a lasered 3D visual feast that required no special glasses! BUT BEWARE OF FLASHING IMAGES! 😉
Available on the album ‘Electronica 1 – The Time Machine’ via Columbia Records
The horror film king recorded his ‘Lost Themes’ series in collaboration with his son Cody and his godson Daniel Davies as standalone pieces, without the pressure of having to put the music to moving images. The second volume was completed on a tighter schedule to accompany a world concert tour and thus replicated some of the challenging moods in his soundtrack work with tracks like ‘Utopian Façade’ recalling his classic movie soundscapes.
Dixon and Stein are members of the Texan group SURVIVE and their accompanying music to ‘Stranger Things’, a cross between ‘ET’, ‘The Goonies’ and ‘Alien’, sent electronic music fans into online meltdown with its use of vintage analogue synths. With a soundtrack influenced by the horror flicks of Dario Argento and of course John Carpenter, the one minute opening title music to the acclaimed drama series said all that was needed to be said in its brooding dissonant tones.
As would be expected from a title like ‘Klangfarben’, this vibrant instrumental from Dublin trio TINY MAGNETIC PETS is an enjoyable homage to Germanic music forms, with a loose percussive feel that still maintains that vital degree of Motorik. A word meaning “soundcolour”, it refers to a technique whereby a musical line is split between several instruments, rather than assigning it to just one instrument, thereby adding timbre and texture to proceedings.
There has been a resurgent interest in the work of GIORGIO MORODER thanks to his own life story being appropriately set to music by DAFT PUNK for the song ‘Giorgio By Moroder’ on the helmeted duo’s new album ‘Random Access Memories’. But it was DONNA SUMMER’s ‘I Feel Love’ that brought the legendary producer to the world’s attention.
Born Hansjörg Giovanni Moroder in 1940, the Italian began his career as a solo artist in Germany before immersing himself in production with musical partner Pete Bellotte at Musicland Studios in Munich. In 1973, they came across an American singer who had been touring in a theatre production of ‘Hair’.
That’s singer was DONNA SUMMER and together they went on to record the unforgettably orgasmic ‘Love To Love You Baby’. It was submitted to Casablanca Records boss Neil Bogart who loved it so much, he kept playing it continuously at a party he was hosting. Bogart later contacted Moroder to make it longer. The final album version clocked in at over 17 minutes, but the edited single became Moroder and Summer’s breakthrough international hit in 1975.
Sometime later while recording a historical concept album with DONNA SUMMER which showcased various musical styles through the ages called ‘I Remember Yesterday’, Moroder wanted to feature a track that represented “the sound of the future”.
Most of Moroder’s previous work had utilised conventional instrumentation and orchestration, save the odd texturing using string machines or Minimoog.
But employing the Moog Modular system with an 8-step analogue sequencer plus a triplet delay to create the pulsing synthesizer lines and metronomic beat, the resultant song ‘I Feel Love’ changed the course of music when it hit No1 around the world in 1977. It was dance music without the funk, which at the time was quite unusual as it had been one of the main constituents of disco. Incidentally, Summer’s hypnotic, almost Arabic falsetto was an accident as inadvertently, ‘I Feel Love’ had been recorded in a key outside of Summer’s usual range.
It was a year which also saw electronic hits in the UK by JEAN MICHEL JARRE, SPACE and DAVID BOWIE. Bowie was at this time resident in Berlin recording ‘Heroes’ with BRIAN ENO and remembered: “Eno came running in and said ‘I have heard the sound of the future’. He puts on ‘I Feel Love’ by Donna Summer and said ‘this is it, look no further, this single is going to change the sound of club music for the next 15 years’, which was more or less right.”
1977 also saw the release of KRAFTWERK’s ‘Trans Europe Express’ album which had a big effect on the New York dance scene. Although KRAFTWERK had a big international hit single with ‘Autobahn’ in 1975 and there had been HOT BUTTER’s ‘Popcorn’ before it, both were considered novelty records at the time and did not indicate the start of any burgeoning movement. For that reason, 1977 can effectively be considered as Year Zero in modern electronic pop. So for ‘I Feel Love’ alone, GIORGIO MORODER’s place in music history is assured.
Relocating to Hollywood after his music for ‘Midnight Express’ won him an Oscar, the huge success of ‘Flashdance…What A Feeling’ for IRENE CARA in 1983 led Moroder to lucrative commissions such as the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. This resulted in the massive, but totally dreadful AOR hit ‘Reach Out’. He was then asked to contribute the love theme for an aviation action film called ‘Top Gun’.
Moroder has recorded many significant pieces of work; so here are twenty pieces of interest that tell the story of the pioneer’s creative journey in electronics with a nomination restriction of one track per project, but also omitting some of his more obvious hits which the world already knows and loves such as ‘I Feel Love’, ‘Call Me’ ‘Flashdance…What A Feeling’, ‘The Never Ending Story’ and the inevitable ‘Together In Electric Dreams’…
GIORGIO Son Of My Father (1971)
Featuring a distinctive Minimoog line and solo, Moroder’s first widely known composition with guitarist Pete Bellotte was actually his fourth German solo hit single. With catchy but bizarre lyrics, ‘Son Of My Father’ was a schaffel stomper coated with assorted effects such as phased drums from Keith Forsey. The prototype of the electro glam template later popularised by GOLDFRAPP, CHICORY TIP’s copycat cover with future SEX PISTOLS’ producer Chris Thomas playing the Minimoog part was a UK No1 in 1972.
Available on the GIORGIO album ‘Son Of My Father’ via Repertoire Records
On a roll from his pioneering work with DONNA SUMMER, his first solo album for Casablanca Records centred around this throbbing electronic disco number. Almost trance-like, ‘From Here To Eternity’ featured vocodered and conventional voices. Often mistaken for being KRAFTWERK, it actually prompted the Kling Klang quartet to move towards a more computerised sound for their 1978 album ‘The Man Machine’… Moroder’s influence can be clearly heard on ‘Spacelab’ and ‘Metropolis’.
Available on the GIORGIO album ‘From Here To Eternity’ via Repertoire Records
From an ambitious double album called ‘Once Upon A Time’ consisting of four distinct approaches, ‘Working The Midnight Shift’ formed part of an all-electronic three song segued suite entitled ‘Act2’ that took up one side of vinyl. Developing ‘I Feel Love’ to the next level, Summer’s wispy falsetto was supplemented by raspier gospel-like harmonies and a grander cavernous setting within which the rhythmical electronics and descending synth riffs took a heavenly hold.
Available on the DONNA SUMMER album ‘Once Upon a Time’ via Casablanca / Universal Records
Driven by an intense slamming and syncopated by popping pulses, ‘Chase’ was commissioned by director Alan Parker for the graphic prison drama ‘Midnight Express’ who wanted some electronic accompaniment to the crucial chase scene of the film in the style of ‘I Feel Love’. Working with Harold Faltermeyer who was later to find fame in his own right with ‘Axel F’ and as producer of PET SHOP BOYS’ ‘Behaviour’ album, the bassline from Moroder’s own 1976 cover of ‘Knights In White Satin’ was reappropriated.
Available on the soundtrack album ‘Midnight Express’ via Casablanca Records / Universal Records or the compilation ‘The Best Of Giorgio Moroder’ via Repertoire Records
Moroder’s composition for the original ‘Battlestar Galactica’ film was a prolonged battle between man and machine, rather like the film itself. Wobbly treated bass, symphonic synths, and heavy rock guitar were augmented by the simple percussive style of Keith Forsey who was noted for being able to play a kick drum for up to 15 minutes at a time without fluctuating his beat… that skill was quite handy for this lengthy instrumental that took up an entire side of the album.
Originally on the GIORGIO MORODER album ‘Music From Battlestar Galactica & Other Original Compositions’ via Casablanca Records. Now available on the GIORGIO album ‘E=MC2’ as a bonus track via Repertoire Records
MUNICH MACHINE Introducing CHRIS BENNETT It’s For You (1978)
Rumoured to be using songs written for DONNA SUMMER but rejected by Casablanca label boss Neil Boggart, MUNICH MACHINE was one of the many outlets for the extremely prolific Moroder. Fronted on the second album by jazz singer CHRIS BENNETT, ‘It’s For You’ was the standout song on an album that combined electronics, flutes and orchestrations with a coy playfulness. The album was noted for its depiction of a naked Bennett posing with two pre-‘Transformers’ robots on the back cover.
Available on the MUNICH MACHINE album ‘A Whiter Shade Of Pale’ via Casablanca Records
Having acquired Roland’s new System 700 modular and an MC8 Micro-composer to control it, work started on ‘E=MC2’ which was touted as the first “electronic live-to-digital” album with “music programmed as bursts of energy”. This concept allowed for an uptempo funkiness previously unheard on sequencer based music to come into play. And with the electronically treated vocals and euphoric energy of the marvellous ‘What A Night’, the sound of DAFT PUNK was inadvertently being invented!
Available on the GIORGIO album ‘E=MC2’ via Repertoire Records
The bridge between growly funk-rock JAPAN and the more familiar artier and mannered version of the group, David Sylvian submitted ‘European Son’ for the session in Los Angeles but it was rejected by Moroder. Instead, the Italian offered several of his demos, of which, Sylvian picked the one he considered to be the worst so that he could stamp more of his own vision for JAPAN’s developing synthesized sound. Ahead of its time, unbeknown to Moroder and Sylvian, they had just conceived DURAN DURAN!
Available on the JAPAN album ‘The Very Best Of Japan’ via Virgin / EMI Records
In a creative rut following their massive UK success in the glam-era, the Mael Brothers had found ‘I Feel Love’ awe inspiring. A journalist friend put SPARKS into contact with Moroder who had aspirations to work with a band and set to work with them immediately. The first result was the tremendous ‘No1 Song In Heaven’ where Russell Mael’s flamboyant falsetto fitted well with the electro-disco sound, while the programmed backing meant Ron Mael could maintain his image of doing nothing.
Available on the SPARKS album ‘No1 in Heaven’ via Repertoire Records
Every wondered where NEW ORDER got that iconic rapid-fire drum machine intro for ‘Blue Monday’? Then look no further than the brilliant ‘Our Love’. Not content with inventing Hi-NRG, Moroder thought he’d formulate Italo disco as well! Working closely with Harald Faltermeyer and Peter Bellotte, there was a distinct edge to the synthesizers too with the tight sequences synonymous with the Moroder sound considerably beefed up for a harder club impact.
Available on the DONNA SUMMER album ‘Bad Girls’ via Casablanca Records
Essentially a funky instrumental version of BLONDIE’s ‘Call Me’ in 4/4 time but without the chorus, the cool dramatics blended with slithering synth sweeps on ‘Night Drive’ could be seen as the forerunner of COLLINS and tracks such as KAVINSKY’s ‘Nightcall’ which coincidentally was co-produced by DAFT PUNK’s Guy-Manuel De Homem-Christo. Incidentally, both ‘Night Drive’ and ‘Call Me’ from the Richard Gere film ‘American Gigolo’ were variations of a Moroder demo entitled ‘Man Machine’.
Available on the soundtrack album ‘American Gigolo’ via Polydor / Universal Records
With a moody slowed down introduction, the Dame croons over his only collaboration with Moroder before some gothic rock elements and female gospel backing singers take hold, before a powerful burst of tribal drumming from Keith Forsey. Fittingly as the song was for an arthouse horror movie, this now sounds like a blueprint for ‘More’ by THE SISTERS OF MERCY! Incidentally, ‘Cat People’ was one of Forsey’s last recordings with Moroder before moving onto his own production career with notably BILLY IDOL.
Available on the soundtrack album ‘Cat People’ via MCA Records and the DAVID BOWIE album ‘The Best Of 1980/1987’ via EMI Records
With Forsey and Faltermeyer flying the nest, Moroder employed new sidemen Richie Zito on guitar and Arthur Barrow who could handle anything thrown at him from slap bass and synths to Linn Drum programming! Having worked with Moroder on ‘Call Me’ DEBBIE HARRY returned for the soundtrack of the Al Pacino gangster flick ‘Scarface’ for ‘Rush Rush’. Premiering a new style that pushed a rockier energy, Moroder avoided using the Fairlight CMI to keep his productions as distinct as possible.
Available on the soundtrack album ‘Scarface’ via Geffen Records
BERLIN were one of the first American new wave acts to be inspired by European bands like KRAFTWERK and ULTRAVOX, so it was natural that they would aspire to work with Moroder. By 1984, both were keen on achieving a more FM friendly sound following their synthpop beginnings. The Linn driven synth rock fusion resulted in BERLIN’s first Top 30 US hit single ‘No More Words’ which sounded not unlike HEART fronting ULTRAVOX! It was the start of a relationship that would ultimately end the band.
Available on the BERLIN albums ‘Love Life’ or ‘Best Of Berlin 1979-1988’ via Geffen Records
Moroder acquired the rights to the cult Fritz Lang film ‘Metropolis’ and colourised the film with a contemporary MTV friendly soundtrack. The launch single ‘Love Kills’ featured QUEEN’s lead vocalist over a starkly percussive electronic track with an operatic rock fusion and neo-baroque interludes. The song’s guitar solo is often mistaken for Mercury’s bandmate Brian May but is actually Richie Zito who does the fret work. The title became sadly poignant when Mercury passed away in 1991.
Available on the soundtrack album ‘Metropolis’ via Columbia Records
The B-side of LIMAHL’s international hit ‘The Never Ending Story’ was a wondrous solo Moroder offering set at 6/8 called ‘Ivory Tower’. Also from ‘The Never Ending Story’ film based on a German fantasy novel by Michael Ende, this uplifting and rousing instrumental was also used as incidental music for the grid positions summary at the start of each F1 race during the BBC’s ‘Grand Prix’ programme… now Moroder and racing, that’s an interesting concept!!
Available on the soundtrack album ‘The Never Ending Story’ via EMI Records
Despite the worldwide success of ‘Together In Electric Dreams’ in late 1984, the ever morose Philip Oakey was quite ambivalent, considering the music to be slightly old fashioned. However, it did better than anything from THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s lukewarm ‘Hysteria’ album. Virgin Records swiftly despatched Oakey to record an album with Moroder. ‘Now’ was an epically stabbing song with Oakey’s heartfelt commentary on economic corruption with mighty backing from Moroder sidekicks Barrow and Zito.
Available on the album ‘Philip Oakey & Giorgio Moroder’ via Virgin / EMI Records
Moroder and Terri Nunn got on very well during BERLIN’s ‘Love Life’ sessions so he asked her to sing on a ballad he had written with his Ferrari mechanic Tom Whitlock entitled ‘Take My Breath Away’. With its distinctive fretless bass line played on a DX7, heartfelt lyrics and unforgettable key change, it was a No1 around the world but the success was bittersweet. The song was unrepresentative of BERLIN’s previous work and the band fell apart. Meanwhile Moroder won his third Oscar!
Available on the soundtrack album ‘Top Gun’ via Columbia Records and the BERLIN album ‘Best Of Berlin 1979-1988’ via Geffen Records
The hype surrounding SIGUE SIGUE SPUTNIK and an alleged million pound advance from EMI caused much resentment in the press. Developing the Cyberpunk sound which crossed frantic rockabilly with modern technology like SUICIDE on speed, Moroder threw in the kitchen sink on the quintet’s debut album ‘Flaunt It’. ’21st Century Boy’ was the superior younger brother to the slightly formless collage of ‘Love Missile F1-11’, even if to the untrained ear, the two songs sounded virtually identical!
Available on the SIGUE SIGUE SPUTNIK album ‘Flaunt It’ via EMI Records
In an unusual collaboration, Moroder recorded some autobiographical monologue for DAFT PUNK to build a musical homage around. Although influenced more by the conventionally flavoured disco of his ‘I Wanna Funk With You Tonight’ and ‘Love To Love You Baby’ period rather than his pioneering electronic phase, ‘Giorgio By Moroder’ possesses a wonderful groove assisted by all manner of machines, freeform drumming, guitar solos and some jazzy improvisation over its 9 minutes.
Available on the DAFT PUNK album ‘Random Access Memories’ via Columbia Records
With his story being told to a brand audience courtesy of DAFT PUNK and his DJ services being sought after around the world, Moroder returned with a new solo recording. Commissioned by Google Chrome for their online game ‘Racer’, the piano line is like ULTRAVOX gone disco while the whirring synths, octave shifts, robot voices and trancey gates are like a history of electronic dance music. Moroder is making club music today that is as vital as any young pretender with a set of double decks and laptop.