I know it seems random, but something is going on in Barcelona. Suddenly, all kinds of groups from the Gaudí city are coming across my desk with a Kraut-pop sound. That is, experimental, droney, spacey, electronic, and quite steeped in the awesome 80s tradition of German minimalism and analogue synthesizer. Listen to Kraftwerk for a refresher, then remember that a lot of technology has been invented since then.
The Barcelona-based label Irregular Records is one of the forces behind this “trend” (because I say it’s a trend dammit), boasting a number of bands that fall in this vein. Label spokesman Bruno Garca tells us:
“Barcelona has been always a city very open to all kind of underground electronic music. The local scene is not just the bands, but also particular venues: NIU, Miscelänea, Sidecar o Convent de Sant Agustí. The passion in these places for electro-pop, synths and krautrock music have been present always, since the 80’s! First class bands like The Suicide Of Western Culture or Pegasvs had their first gigs there. Their motorik rhythms, dirty atmospheres and vintage instrumentation flooded all those places…they’re currently still running, and there’s a new one called Discos Paradiso.”
But a few more artists came barreling into my headphones recently who prove that this goes well beyond a unilateral tastemaker. Turns out, Barcelonians are just loving the Kraut right now, and subsequently, so are we.
Let us now journey….to OUTER SPAAAACE!
The Suicide of Western Culture
One of the Irregular Label’s shadowy duos, The Suicide of Western Culture is one of the more percussive of the kraut-pop groups. Their thrashing beats made them the perfect openers for Animal Collective on the band’s Spain tour, but their production is decidedly future-electro-Krauty — not to mention fun, despite the title of their upcoming second album, Hope Only Brings Pain. Stream their new video, “Love Your Friends, Hate Politicians.”
I recently described the feeling of listening to the duo Pegasvs as “being a child in the 80s looking at the stars, receiving imaginary, totally friendly transmissions.” I stick by my words. The throbbing bass and jarring space-age synth off their eponymous debut album is some of the most pleasant shit the cosmos has to offer.
Are y’all ready for some FUZZ? Boreals — which looks like ‘fo reals!’ but is probably an Aurora Borealis reference — is a psychedelia trio on the Irregular label, and the rule of thumb on their EP Grecia seems to be: the spacier the better. Their track “Desde un Mirador” (“from a mirror”) is a slow, chill kraut-y jam, topped with reverb on steroids.
Stand Up Against Heart Crime
After their MTV Iggy Artist of the Week win, Stand Up Against Heart Crime once told us: “We didn’t want to pose as if we were another fucking garage boy band trying to be funny.” Success! They totally have an air of Depeche Mode-era cerebralism. Their songs and videos off their self-titled debut album are high-concept, with a foot in hypnotic, German modernism. Cool shit.
When they finally invent hovercrafts, I’m gonna roll down my window (which will be my entire roof because it’s the future) and blast anything by Lasers out to all the spacehoneys. Here’s “Bird Feeder” off their upcoming album Exchange Levels.
These dudes are ridiculously awesome. Like, blippy grungy Devo awesome. The Oddvisers, (who you should probably never take advice from) make riotous, stuttery space synth-rock tracks with bitchin’ names, like “The Mind is Not Inside the Head” off their EP Lambada for Zombies. Their videos are properly ridiculous, too.
Fernando Lagreca moved from Uruguay to Barcelona in 2012, where (thankfully for us) he found his nerdy calling: making mad science with analogue instruments, and perfecting a dreamy minimalist pop sound. Here’s “Silly Girl Meets Silly Boy” from his album Childhood is All We Have, off Irregular Records.
Kraftwerk would be proud of producer Brunetto. Though rooted a little more in hip-hop beats than his robotic antecedents, the producer/DJ/jack of all music trades is making magic in the realm of experimental, Kraut-y tinkering.
Pura Neurosi is a bit of a grunge outlier on this list, sitting on the darker side of psychedelic jamming and arguably veering it toward metal territory at times. But they’re definitely still from outerspace. Here’s their single “No Body” for proof.
Honorable Mention: Barcelona Jangle-Pop
In addition to space electronic madness, something else is afoot in Barcelona, and that’s The Cure-style jangle-pop and power pop noise. While they probably belong on a different list, we can’t talk about Barcelona forever and ever, so consider this all part of the reverb family. Check out Grushenka, Odio Paris and Univers so we can kill two birds. Something is in the water there, and it’s super echo-y!