Album: Various artists

A Secret History, New Religion
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The Independent Culture

This anthology of synthesiser-wielding precursors of today's electroclash scene avoids the usual suspects, ignoring not just obvious pioneers such as Kraftwerk and The Human League, but also Juan Atkins and Derrick May. Instead, the compilers have focused on the early Eighties electro-pop boom, with particular emphasis placed on the genre's international appeal, as knob-twiddlers from Tokyo to Italy grasped the opportunity offered by this new music to circumvent pop's Anglo-American bias. In retrospect, most of it is rubbish, such as Gaz Nevada's "I C Love Affair", but back then, the aimless lines and brittle electronic beats employed by such as Telex, Alexander Robotnick and Liaisons Dangereuses seemed like the new world tapping at one's door. So, too, it must have seemed to Paul McCartney, who invested in the new technology and twiddled until he came up with the irritating "Temporary Secretary". Ryuichi Sakamoto's "Riot In Lagos" is better than most, his more varied synth tones aping African thumb-piano and ethnic percussion, but the best piece here is the earliest, Throbbing Gristle's "Hot on the Heels of Love", from 1979. Compared with the others' clockwork rigidity, its stubborn irregularity affords a contrast and colour that's operating on a more human level.