Those Germans and their electronic music, eh? Ever since the days of "krautrock" and Kraftwerk, all varieties of electronic stuff have competed with heavy metal for the hearts and ears of German music fans. As a result, the German scene is probably the world's most varied, which is clearly showcased by this CD put together by the compilers of the DAC, the German alternative chart.
Cashing in on the popularity of the futurepop scene, which mixes elements of classic '80s EBM, synthpop, trance and techno, this double CD set has two of the scene's leaders at the helm of each disc. VNV Nation kick off the first with the thumping trance epic 'Genesis', while Apoptygma Berzerk front the second with the 'dark club mix' of 'Until the end of the world'. Slightly lesser lights from the futurepop scene are here too, Assemblage 23, Icon of Coil, Neuroticfish and the Crüxshadows, who unveil the new dancier sound of their upcoming "Wishfire" with an Apop mix of 'Tears', along with more obscure names like OOMPH!, Slam and Second Decay.
Thankfully, futurepop is as close to the overblown German trance scene as this get, more mainstream sounds are represented by the classy Kosheen, while the nu-electro scene is represented by Felix da Housecat with the bass-thumping original mix of 'Silver screen (Shower scene)', I-F's seminal 'Space Invaders are smoking grass' and Tomcraft's funky 'Overdose'. Welle: Erdball's 'Super 8' is a great example of cross-fertilisation, mixing futurepop and nu-electro elements perfectly.
The rest of the collection is made up of the more traditional electronic styles of synthpop and EBM. The Human League's brilliant, and tragically overlooked, return to form single, 'All I ever wanted', blows away all pretenders to their throne, particularly the unfortunate T.O.Y. (formerly Evil's Toy, not the Human League producers) who follow directly after with the more pedestrian 'Loner', as well as the heavily Depeche Mode-influenced Mesh. Even Marc Almond lending his vocals to System F's electro dance track 'Soul on soul' doesn't raise it from the pedestrian.
On the EBM side, bands like Diary of Dreams, with their classic dark emotive sound, or The Retrosic, [SITD] and Hocico, with their harsh growly sound, have stuck largely to the '90s sound. Others have introduced dance music elements, at least in the mixes here, tracks like Deine Lakaien's militaristic 'Where you are', Funker Vogt's 'This world' or :Wumpscut:'s electro-tinged 'Wreath of barbs'.
EBM veterans Front Line Assembly show a more melodic side to their usual harsh sound, doubtless influenced by their mainstream popularity as Delerium - you could actually say that Bill Leeb is singing on some of 'Everything must perish'! German ex-pats KMFDM, meanwhile, treat this compilation with their usual level of respect, with a thumping industrial take on Nancy Sinatra classic 'Boots', literally stomping all over Megadeth's version with its tongue firmly in their cheek. Even the Goth scene gets a look in, admittedly in the form of Helium Vola's ethereal 'Omnis Mundi Creature', a medieval sounding piece that totally out of place here, with little or no obvious electronic elements!
Basically, what you have here is over two and a half hours running through electronic music as it stands largely to the left of mainstream dance music. This is highly recommended if you are in any way interested in broadening your knowledge of this kind of music, whether or not you're a fan of any of the main styles here. I don't think there's anyone who will like every track on here, I know I didn't, but that's just testament to its eclectic variety.
Girl the Bourgeois Individualist