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World Music CD Reviews Europe

Various Artists

By Tom Pryor
Published June 13, 2008

B.I.P.P.: French Synth Wave 1979/85

Don’t let the synths scare you—this isn’t the vapid day-glo pop that came to dominate the mid-1980s The aesthetic here is decidedly pre-MTV, suggesting a jittery mashup of Gaulloises, amphetamines and cheap technology that still sounds fresh today. Culled from obscure 7-inch singles and limited pressings, all 13 tracks skitter and spike with a bleak, detached worldview. The featured bands—Deux, Ruth, TGV, Act, and others—are close contemporaries of such seminal U.K. acts as Ultravox, Soft Cell, Gary Numan and New Order, and like their Brit counterparts, these Parisians had a penchant for spare, guitar-free soundscapes, crafted mostly on old Roland CR-78 rhythm composers and other pre-MIDI keyboards. The bleeping, mechanized anomie of the era is best captured on Vox Dei’s “Terroriste,” Deux’s “Game And Performance” and TGV’s “Partie 1,” while the Gallic obsession with the perverse is on full display on À Trois Dans Les WC’s “Contagion” and Comix’s “Touche Pas Mon Sexe.” There are plenty more gems here—along with some great anecdotal stories in the liner notes—but you’ll have to forgo the MPMP3 rips and actually buy the CD to get the full picture. And what could be more ’80s than that?