Maison Vague – Synthpop’s Alive

One of the best things about running a blog like The Pansentient League is that I sometimes get sent new music to listen to. Clark Stiefel from Maison Vague kindly mailed me his new album Synthpop’s Alive a couple of weeks ago and with a title like that I just had to give it a listen. I was instantly wrenched back to a time when Gary Numan ruled the charts, when Devo were evolving in the USA and when synthpop music was born. By the time the chorus kicked in on the opening track – “Synthpop’s alive! Can’t you hear it?” – I was totally hooked: this album’s wonderful!
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A professional classical musician by day, when the sun sets Clark dons his cloak (probably) and becomes a superstar synthpop wizard. Employing vintage late 70’s/early 80’s analog keyboard synthesizers alongside cutting edge digital technology, with witty and ironic lyrics relevant to life in the 21st century, this collection of songs reflects an eclectic blend of musical influences, distilled and molded into synthpop form.
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Although the music is very 1980s, the story behind the title track couldn’t be more modern. A few years ago, Clark stumbled across a video on YouTube called “Synthpop is Dead.” With inspired disagreement, Clark composed a musical reply – “No way! Synthpop’s alive!” he sings:
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The response to the clip was so good (with viewers urging him to produce more) that Clark set about writing and recording an album of synthpop delights.
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Second track Pixelated Lover ramps up the Numanoidia with a tale of long-distance love in the digital age. But whereas Gary Numan gets all serious on you, Maison Vague bite you with their wry sense of humour and sweet social commentary:
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She sends her love via SMS,
Words of comfort when I’m in distress,
And smiley faces, over wireless transmission.
I won’t forget the day we met,
She lit me up over Ethernet,
Encrypted passion, accessed only by permission.
She’s my pixelated lover….

My Situation is another track that both Gary Numan and Human League fans are bound to love, while Tunnel Vision slows things down a bit and adds some synth-reggae into the mix.
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We’re Not Human injects some sci-fi spookiness, sounding like a cross between S.P.O.C.K and Freezepop by way of Mars Attacks.
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Colored Glasses shows the range of Maison Vague’s talent: imagine that Procol Harem had been given synthesizers and a drum machine, this is sixties synthpop to the tune of Pink Floyd.
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No Show is all Blackpooltronic and vaudevillian, and once again leaves me with a big cheesy grin on my face: it’s one for all those who’ve gone to see a band with great anticipation only to discover that they’ve cancelled the show.
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I like this album a lot. Synthpop’s Alive is bound to make it into my favourites of the year, it’s exactly the kind of album I’d been waiting for. Unashamedly and gloriously old-school synthpop, Clark’s obvious love for this genre is a joy. Synthpop’s Alive might not be to everyone’s taste, but if you like Gary Numan, Devo, Freezepop or the fun side of synthpop then give it a go.
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Clark Stiefel grew up listening to classic synthpop, and he’s putting on a show to remind you (just in case you were wondering) that synthpop has never been more alive than it is now…

Maison Vague Website
www.maisonvague.com
Maison Vague YouTube Channel
www.youtube.com/maisonvague
  © 2016 Jer White / Pansentient League.
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