Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Limelight by Rename

I've spent the last several posts talking nostalgically about synthpop from the 80s.  Yes, I know--that's the stated purpose of this blog and all, but I've long since expanded the scope to cover other electronic music that I like; the majority of which that isn't 80s synthpop being, of course, subsequent synthpop.

I have, currently a little over 2,000 songs on the memory card of my Android, and I usually just  put it on shuffle and let it play while commuting, jogging, working out, hiking, doing chores, etc.  Without doing any kind of systemic count or survey, I'd break up my collection into four areas, with a rough estimate as to how much of my collection it makes up as follows:

  • 80s New Wave - i.e, the primary source material for this blog.  30-35% or so.
  • More recent electronic music; mostly synthpop and futurepop from the 90s, 00s and 10s, but with some techno, acid, house, etc. mixed in to keep it a little bit esoteric.  45-50%, I'd guess.
  • 80s pop music that isn't New Wave.  It's usually top 40 stuff, and a not inconsiderable portion of it is hair rock like Quiet Riot, Def Leppard, Ratt, Motley Crue, Skid Row, etc.  10-15%, roughly.
  • A few modern pop songs that I've picked up here and there, but don't really fit the profile.  Modern being a relative word, of course; mostly meaning "since the 80s."  This could vary from stuff like Imagine Dragons, Coldplay, Franz Ferdinand, Ke$ha, Katy Perry, Onerepublic, etc.  No more than 5%, probably.
Hence my shifting of the focus.  And of course, it's also the fastest growing portion of my collection (for what it's worth, this only music on my phone, not music that I own in other formats. And it does absolutely nothing to account for my vast collection of classical music, orchestral movie soundtracks, video game soundtracks, New Age music, and other weird esoterica which I also own.  Just about the only thing that I don't have any appreciable quantity of in my collection is so-called ethnic music and country.  Although I do have small smatterings of both here and there.  Oh, and hip-hop.  I don't have any of that.)

I've kind of lost track of "the scene" in recent years, in part because it's just gotten to big to keep track of anymore, and in part because I'm OK with stumbling across new stuff by accident; my collection is busy enough to keep me pretty busy as it is.  I don't tend to get "tired" of music and retire it, so I don't always need something fresh to occupy me.  I'm as likely to feel like listening to a 30+ year old track that I've had in hand since it was new and find it surging to the front of my consciousness as I am something that I literally just discovered.  That said; of course, who doesn't like finding something new from time to time?  In this effort, the real leader has long been Todd Durant and his business A Different Drum, which sadly closed its doors recently.  Not only did he maintain the premiere label for synthpop through the 90s and 00s, but he also was the best distributor/shop for the stuff.  Of course, now that Amazon makes self-distribution rather easy, I suppose the place in the world for that kind of thing has dried up, and that's OK... although somewhat unfortunate, I suppose.  

Not only was it the place to buy synthpop, but it also was occasionally the place to sample synthpop, and I admit that I often would download legitimate mp3s of A Different Drum releases from his site, Electrogarden, or even on Amazon back when they used to have mp3 samples designed to spark sales.  Sometimes they did, in fact, spark sales, but sometimes I took the samples, was happy with them, and then never actually bought anything from the artists I was sampling.  Even when I really liked the samples.

One example of a band of this latter category would be Germany's Rename.  I've always meant to pick up more, considering how much I loved the two sample tracks I picked up, but I just haven't managed to get around to it yet.  Maybe this post will help prompt me to get off my lazy behind and see what I can find by the band and investigate further.  If not, maybe at least it will do so for you.

Besides a few CD catalog of their own material for me to investigate, I also have a Rename remix of a De/Vision track that I really, really like (and have had for several years--"Turn Me On".  Check it out) as well as some Mark Oh and Rename collaboration where they remade Visage's classic "Damned Don't Cry."  Same vocalist.

It looks like there was an anniversary release of their debut album, with double the tracks.  Both are available as mp3 downloads from Amazon, as well as a sophomore album.  According to discogs there's a third album that's been self-released, but I don't see it on Amazon, sadly.

My favorite of the sample tracks was the dreamy and catchy "Limelight" which I like for much the same reason that I like guys like OMD or Book of Love.  While I think it's fairly representational of their sound, I think much of the rest of Rename's output does tend to be more overtly clubby than this particular track.  Not that you can't easily dance to this, of course.

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