I've recently purchased a new computer. My last one was a pre-millenium Mac Blue & White G3 and it's still working next to the one I'm writing on now. I've experienced over a decade's gap in technology and am only now just catching up. I can now youtube, work facebook, blog, and what I'm leading up to is my lateness in coming to Pandora radio. I know there are others out there that delve deeper but I'm not quite bored enough (though I am getting there) with Pandora to take the time to look.
What Pandora has provided me with is a new insight into my past and the music I liked around the outskirts of punk and hardcore that I never got around to fully exploring. I've decided to call it Synth Punk as opposed to what it was called back in the day which was everything from New wave to No Wave. I feel (as do others) the term, Synth Punk more accurately reflects it's true nature in that the people creating it came out of the same gene pool as the punks and created the music in the same DIY fuck the Man spirit.
As soon as I set up Pandora the first thing I typed in to create my station was Suicide, which is Martin Rev and Alan Vega ripping it up with drug fueled lyrical weirdness and primitive drum machines, a beat up Farfisa organ and later synths. They actually were called Synth Punks as they were deep in the scene having started in 1971. Their first album came out in the seminal year 1977 and they were as influential to the industrial/electronica scene as, say, Iggy Pop was to the Punk scene.
There were a lot of people to follow. Alien Sex Fiend, Ultravox, Human League, Gary Numan, Cabaret Voltaire, Foetus, and Devo are obvious inclusions in the genre but I would add Killing Joke, Joy Division and The Stranglers as well. The common element in all of these bands is the use of the first cheaply available mass produced synthesizers such as the Yamaha DX7, the Roland 303 bass sequencer and 606 drum machine, the Casio Cz series and, of course, the Minimoog.
These and many other bands explored where there were not yet any formulas or expectations to be trapped by and the music is wildly creative and wonderfully strange. Most of the bands were short lived and synth music itself did become formulated and mostly relegated to the dance scene. What I feel is that the whole genre never truly got its legs and what the aforementioned bands did was open a door to a vast area of musical expression that is still there for others to explore.
There has been a resurgence of interest in the roots of the electronic music of today that goes back to the fifties (twenties if you want to include Leon Theremin and his ilk) and I feel something along the lines of the Synth Punks of yore is gelling as I write this. People are getting fed up with laptop performers and record spinners and are looking for people who play hands on, balls and breasts to the wall, with real hardware and real, dare I say it, ability. I don't know about you but I'm going to fire up my Moog Little Phatty and get to work.