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Various Artists: BIPPP: French Synth Wave 1979-85

Album: BIPPP: French Synth Wave 1979-85
Label: Everloving

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Artifacts from an era that grows more elusive as more of its secrets come out to play, the 13 songs on BIPPP signify the '80s well enough to argue that most working notions of the '80s don't work so well. The collection of obscurities proves unerringly strong, and the acts enlisted span from pent-up post-punk (Casino Music) to strobing synth-disco (Les Visiteurs Du Soir) to new-wave pop in the mold of Kraftwerk and Human League (The Comix). The highlights don't just slot into their respective niches, but expand them with musical deviations (incongruous horn lines, synths doing weird things) or deliciously bleak sentiments angled to shine ("it's a pretty day to die" in a track by Mary Moor). The best song does a little of both: In "Game And Performance," the minimaliste band Deux strains an excess of melody out of a confined keyboard chorus and makes evocative poetry of words as mundane as "computer programs… shadows in the night."