Reviews

V/A Vertigo: Synth Punk Blasts 1978–1984 LP

Well, first things first: compared to the unrelated but similarly-themed Killed by Synth LP that preceded it, this new comp at least succeeds in only including bands that actually used keyboards, so no BIG BOYS, OIL TASTERS, or BOB this time around. In true KBD tradition, the focus here is on the the flipped-out and the fucked-up—in the words of the compiler(s), “no synth pop, no new wave, no experimental music”—and despite (presumably) being named after the SCREAMERS song, Vertigo skips over the usual synth-punk suspects in favor of some deeper and less obvious cuts. Highlights include the Bloodstains-via-Red Snerts snot of “Sophistication” by PLASTIC IDOLS (Houston’s answer to DOW JONES AND THE INDUSTRIALS), organ-smeared mutant new wave with wild femme vocals from Santa Cruz’s SCHEMATIX on “Nothing Special,” the dark, frenetic end-times robo-pulse of “Happy Funeral” by Sweden’s KITCHEN AND THE PLASTIC SPOONS, the jarring juxtaposition of sparse minimal wave and intense, unhinged vocals in German from DER KÜNFTIGE MUSIKANT’s “Es Ist Kalt”… also, totally bold move with the inclusion of “Food Fight” by the VILLAGE PEOPLE (yes, really)—in the post-disco early ’80s, they revamped their image to pass as New Romantics and recorded this one-off, utterly dumb but kind of amazing slice of PLASTIC BERTRAND-esque punksploitation with the former “construction worker” channeling his inner Tomata Du Plenty, now officially enshrined as the first dollar bin KBD bonzer. Not a predictable comp by any means, and that’s very much to its credit.