Coldwave is minimal post-punk analog synth music that’s seen a huge resurgence in the past couple of years. While I knew and loved the likes of Fad Gadget, Hard Corps, Joy Division and The Future, I had little knowledge of the many lesser-known bands who’d self-released a vast amount of this chilled, sparse synth music on the back of the first wave of synthpop and industrial music in the early 1980s. Now several new labels have appeared with a mission to recover some of these long-forgotten “coldwave” electronic gems.
Labels like Minimal Wave, Mannequin and Angular Recording Corporation have been busy tracking down and licensing the best of these underground synthworks, then re-releasing them on 180g vinyl, download, and (thankfully) Spotify too. The Black Devil Disco Club might have tricked you with their faux-history but this is the real-deal!
Here then is a short introductory selection of some of the electronic coldwave on Spotify, grouped by record label and with click-to-listen Spotify play buttons.
Minimal Wave Records
Veronica Vasicka’s Minimal Wave Records are at the forefront of the coldwave restoration, with several superb compilation albums to their name as well as a veritable gold mine of dusted-off re-releases of ultra-rare synthwave from the early 80s.
Angular Recording Corporation
While not solely rooted in the Coldwave genre, London-based label Angular Records (in collaboration with New York’s Wierd Records) put out the seminal compilation Cold Waves and Minimal Electronics in 2010. More recently, the label released a translucent “tree coloured” 12″ vinyl from the band Eleven Pond. Luckily this is on Spotify; be sure to check out the brilliant New Wavey pop track Portugal.
Mannequin is a Roman label that specializes in “exhausting work of archeological research” to re-issue Cold Wave, Dark Wave and Minimal Synth from the early to mid 1980s. Releases include the brilliant Danza Meccanica series of original Italian Synth Wave, featuring artists inspired by the likes of early Factory (especially Joy Division), 4AD and Mute Records.
Infrastition is a French label who’ve been re-releasing quality Cold Wave since 2004, championing bands like Asylum Party, Babel 17 and Opera Multi Steel. Many of these aren’t strictly electronic bands (think: guitars + drum machine) but then again, some would argue that “Cold Wave” is really French post-punk music inspired by Joy Division and The Cure and doesn’t necessarily need to be particulary electronic in the first place. Either way, Infrastition doesn’t seem to have much on Spotify just yet, unfortunately.
Something Cold is a Detroit-based club and label with a focus on minimal-synth, coldwave, post-punk and witch house. Like Infrastition, they’re also absent from Spotify but you should check out this sampler album on Bandcamp.
For more on the coldwave genre, a must-read is Dan Nixon’s excellent The Dummy Guide to Cold Wave.