From humble but auspicious beginnings as a radio show on Resonance FM, A Colder Consciousness has been committed to championing the “synthetic, dystopian and sentimental” since 2011. The brainchild of Flora Pitrolo, it has since birthed a label of the same name, inaugurated last year with the reissue of some classic Yugoslav synth-pop and new wave. Murmurings from the label suggest they won’t solely focus on reissuing hard-to-come by records of yesteryear, but the followup effort treads a similar path.
Another aural oddity, this time of Italian origin, Novostj DsorDNE 1983-1988 was an archival cassette of material recorded by Marco Milanesio and Roberta Ongaro over a five year period. From smudged electronics to melancholic wave and downcast proto-techno, it’s the quintessential distillation of two bands seeking to capture an essence of Turin’s bleak industrial landscape. Now fully restored, remixed and remastered from the original masters, Pitrolo has taken it upon herself to compile a playlist of equally heart-rending music ahead of its release.
With Brexit looming – or not, as recent developments seem to suggest (honestly, who knows at this stage) – the playlist pulls together minimal synth, industrial, experimental, kosmische and new beat with one overarching theme: Europe. If you weren’t depressed enough about the UK’s not-so-inevitable exit from the European Union already, this should do it.
1. In Trance 95 – 21st Century European Temptation
Lush, melodic, quasi-Byzantine EBM – for me this is their strongest track, and the live version is particularly epic. The lyrics are a good companion piece to Ultravox’s New Europeans – people on beaches, thinking of rising standards, pictured on black and white film.
2. U-Bahn X – Young Hearts of Europe
U-Bahn X was two Brits and a German, but it’s totally euro-fetishing, more like Rational Youth’s Berlin-Silesia fantasies than anything actually European. Heidi who works in Kaufhoff falls in love with Rudi who needs to take the train into Dusseldorf to meet her – sweet, glossy high-powered anthem for pan-European club kids.
3. Pseudo Code – Europa
In a way the whole album is about Europe, but let’s go with the title track. It’s got everything… a sexy broken saxophone, threatening drums approaching, and this prayer of a lyric, chanted and whispered by a dejected choir: where are you Europa? I feel you slowly rotting, slowly wrecking…
4. Kraftwerk – Europe Endless
This is where it all begins so I couldn’t not include it. So hauntingly neutral. An enigmatic and slightly ill vision of progress, in fact maybe it refuses the idea of progress altogether.
5 & 6. Rolf Trostel – I love Europe/It’s War in Europe
Two tracks for the price of one here. The first is Olympic glistening landscapes and polished chrome, the second is a strange journey with a bleak vocoded heart which fades into a sweet, almost childish old-Europe melody at the end. Both are on Two Faces, on the cover Trostel’s face morphs into an African death mask.
7. Copeman – Rekvijem za Evropu
Again this is classic Europe material, from a Yugoslav tape called Emotions In Mäšhine World which contains a number of big hits for me. Nice and gothic and splintered and ghostly, I love how it unravels at the end with a de rigueur bit of radio, something about unified Germany, as usual.
8. Deux – Europe
This was the first version of Sex & Trouble which is on Vasicka’s 2010 reissue, but this is more procedural, and definitely not a love song. Funny how the bit about cars driving in the empty town is about trains quietly cross the continent and united flags flying in the wind in this version. Both feel equally gloomy somehow.
9. Christine D. – Europe
She’s having an orgasm of course, but sometimes I can’t quite tell if she’s being beaten up, and I suppose that’s the thing with Europe. I love New Beat killers with orientalist synth lines, and that tiny interlude of Charpentier’s Te Deum from the Eurovision broadcasts is so silly it might even foster a sense of belonging.
10. Test Dept. – Europe
The tape contains almost 90 minutes of unadulterated live TD bliss. The idea of a European network returns in the breaks from the music, in interviews in which our Deptford industrial internationalists speak of ideologically affiliated underground cultures across the continent, in impeccable French.
11. Snowy Red – Euroshima (Wardance)
This is our new dance, nuclear and ruined, this is how we dance now in Europe. We dance the war dance for ever, and ever.
Novostj DsorDNE 1983-1988 is out March 4th on A Colder Consciousness – pre-order direct from the label.