Clubbers' Decktionary: Cold Wave

  • The List
  • 25 June 2012

Métal Urbain strutting their synths and stuff

Trouble's DJ Hobbes gives us a guide to the myriad genres of clubbing

Cold Wave proper noun; various aliases and various tempos. Created using analogue synths, sequencers and drum machines and released via largely unpromoted recordings on cassette and, occasionally, vinyl. Musically located somewhere between Kraftwerk and their krautrock peers in Germany, British industrial and the electro/synth-pop that followed, lyrically often dealing with themes of detachment and alienation, with a distinctly gothic, gloomy or melancholic edge – a key stepping stone between continental European new wave and the European and American dance music of the late 80s and early 90s.

Origins: It emerged mainly via the post-punk and new wave scenes of France, Germany, Italy, Belgium and Holland, circa 1978-85, but it never really became a proper scene in its own right at the time, as the bands didn’t really know one another and there were no defining moments documented by the mainstream media. Rather, they simply co-existed underground, all trammelling at a similar, minimal electronic furrow and taking most of their cues from the output of British labels such as Mute and Factory, albeit then interpreted in a uniquely European way.

Key figures: The acts remained largely unrecognised in their time, but today’s revivalist scene is redressing the balance. Among others, New York’s Wierd Records founder Pieter Schoolwerth and Joe Daniel of London’s Angular Recording released a retrospective compilation, Cold Waves & Minimal Electronics Volume 1, while Stones Throw’s Peanut Butter Wolf invited New Yorker Veronica Vasicka to compile The Minimal Wave Tapes Volume 1, with both released to wide acclaim in 2010. Brooklyn’s Light Asylum are now mining a similar seam to international plaudits, with a debut album just out on Mexican Summer.

You’re likely to hear some Cold Wave at Betamax, Studio 24, Edinburgh, Fri 13 Jul and Optimo, Sub Club, Glasgow, Sun 24 Jun.

Light Asylum - Dark Allies

Veronica Vasicka | Minimal Wave


Mutant disco, post punk, new wave and 2Tone night hosted by Chris FAST (FASTpunkclub) and Big Gus (the Go-Go).

Elsewhere on the web

Post a comment