Parralox are the multi-talented John von Ahlen and Amii, two antipodean popsters who blend chart-friendly dance music with synthpop and Hi-NRG to produce a unique contemporary sound. I love these guys, I think they’ve produced some of the very best music to come out in the past few year. I reviewed their Isn’t It Strange single back in March and was honestly impressed: it’s chock-full of brilliant mixes and other exclusive tracks. With single Supermagic due out to coincide with their much-anticipated appearance at the Infest festival at the end of the month, and with 3rd album Metropolis planned for release in November, Parralox are a band whose prolific output is a delightful reward for their fans.
I got in touch with John and asked him to let us know his Top 10 favourite songs. With typical attention to detail, he replied with ten songs but then tweaked and changed his list several times before deciding on twelve songs with a plea to make it a Top 50 next time 😉 Here then are John’s chosen tracks!
One of my all time favourite tracks ever, if not only for the brilliance of the Fairlight CMI programming, then for its sheer originality and execution. This album was (and will always be) ahead of its time. It still inspires me as much today, as when I first put the needle to the record in 1984. I’m listening to it right now (why aren’t you?)
2. This Mortal Coil – Song To The Siren
Most people think I’m only into synthpop, but in actual fact I am obsessed with production and songwriting, no matter what musical form it takes. In the 80’s we were fortunate to witness an explosion of creativity which I haven’t seen since. This song is still a template for my production style today, vocals included. A classic song that I will never tire of. I could have chosen Massive Attack’s Teardrops, but Elizabeth Fraser sounds heavenly on all her recordings.
3. Depeche Mode — Stripped
Do I really need to tell anyone why this track is so good? It’s full of Blackness and Synclavier with a dash of Wilder. Close your eyes and be transported to a time when samplers were 12 bit and the world was naive. Is it any wonder that we tragically long for those simple days of synthetic perfection and recollection?
4. Propaganda — P:Machinery
So hard to chose just one Propaganda track. I could really have chosen anything off their debut album. This track compels me with its constant and hypnotic bassline. I still strive to achieve the perfection of this album. I could have just as easily chosen Femme Fatale or Dream Within A Dream.
5. Pet Shop Boys — Left To My Own Devices
I consider this to be the all time classic PSB track. Sometimes it’s hard to separate a good/bad track from the associated fond childhood memories it engenders, but this track remains forever treasured. Produced of course by an all time genius (Trevor Horn). It’s a perfect combination of pop sensibility and intellectualism.
One of SAW’s best ever songs (apart from What Do I Have To Do and Love, Truth & Honesty). I will never get sick of this one. Whenever you hear Syntom Snares in my songs, you can thank Sinitta. From the moment I first heard this in 1988 it’s been a fave. Most of her other songs have dated but this one has a timeless feel to it. I’ve heard that Sinitta hates this track. Shame really.
7. The Human League — Morale / You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling
When I was about 13 and an Australian Champion Ballroom dancer (Under 16’s Modern Category, 1981), I tried many times to get the dance instructors to play this track and convince them of its brilliance. I was always met with strange looks, which always puzzled me. Didn’t they understand how epic this track was? And still is.
8. Kate Bush — Running Up That Hill
What an amazing artist, what an amazing song and what an amazing video. It was difficult to choose between this, Cloudbusting, Babooshka and Wuthering Heights. Another example of English literary lyrical genius and Fairlight CMI programming that borders on the sublime. I nearly have a tear in my eye as I listen to this song and write these words. Really!
9. Kraftwerk — Radioactivity
I really hate having to list my top ten favourite songs. It would be much easier to list my top 1,000 favourite songs. It’s Kraftwerk: I don’t really need to explain further, do I? Maybe I should, as lyrically this is as close to an electronic Nirvana as I could imagine. It’s in the air for you and me….
10. The Human League — The Things That Dreams Are Made Of (Remix)
If you’ve read my interviews, you’ll know that The Things That Dreams Are Made Of (Love & Dancing Remix) is the track that brought together my love of electronics and music. I had never realised before that point that the two could be combined in such transcendent harmony. At certain times when I listen to this track I am simultaneously transported to my childhood, and also energised with such a ferocious burst of inspiration it’s scary. But that’s the power of music.
11a. New Order — Confusion (12″ Version)
11b. The Human League — Fascination (Improvisation)
Sorry but I have to add this combo. I remember buying these two 12″ Vinyl records from Missing Link in Geelong. I think it was Missing Link… it was a well known record store that sold heaps of cool imports. Anyway I bought them both at the same time and played them back to back for months on end. Those four fucking amazing mixes of Confusion! I’m still trying to attain that greatness in my own production. And then the newly funked up Human League, who actually managed to crack a smile on the front cover of Fascination! What’s that all about? Well, Fascination was brilliant too, especially the Improvisation.