Top 13 East-Central European Synthpop

Synthpop was never only big in the English speaking world. Almost every European country has developed an interesting synthpop influenced scene in the 80s and 90s, some even “their own personal” Depeche Mode similes.

It’s time for a list of synthpop pearls from East-Central and Eastern Europe, focusing on songs not sung in English. The choices were very hard as the selection is vast and gorgeous. Come with me on a time travel to re-visit a music which once meant the future.

Denis i Denis – Program tvog kompjutera*

Yugoslavia (Croatia)
Year: 1984
Album: Čuvaj Se!**

Denis & Denis was a band from Yugoslavia’s music capital Rijeka (Croatia) existing from 1982 until 1988. Some years ago Denis & Denis reunited and presented a fourth studio album. The song ‘Program tvog kompjutera’ from their debut Čuvaj Se! was perhaps their biggest hit.

*Your computer’s Program, **Listen!

 

Videosex – Neonska Reklama*

Yugoslavia (Slovenia)
Year: 1984
Album: Videosex

Videosex is the most famous Slovenian synthpop outfit of the 80s. The lyrics were sung in Serbocroatian though, not in Slovene (but were understood federation-wide). Videosex‘ singer Anja Rupel later also gained reputation as a part-time member of industrial band Laibach and in the 90s reinvented herself as a solo-pop-artist.

*Neon Commercial

 

Kapitan Nemo – Twoja Lorelei*

Poland
Year: 1984
Album: Zimne Kino / Twoja Lorelei ‎(7″ Single)

Kapitan Nemo is the alter ego of musician and composer Bogdan Gajkowski from Warsaw. He was Poland’s most famous representative of the New Romantics in the mid-80s. His biggest success was with the song ‘Twoja Lorelei’.

*Your Lorelei

 

Бастион – Deca Sunca*

Yugoslavia (Makedonia)
Year: 1984
Album: Bastion

Bastion was a short-lived synthpop/new wave trio from Skopje, Makedonia. They only released one album which, however, gained cult status in former Yugoslavia. Bastion‘s most famous piece is surely the awesome ‘A Hot Day in Mexico‘, but as we focus here on non-English songs, ‘Deca Sunca’ was chosen for this list. Like with Videosex, most of Bastion‘s songs were sung in Serbocroatian. Listen to that bass!

*Children of the Sun

 

Max & Intro – Loš Je Dan*

Yugoslavia (Serbia)
Year: 1985
Album: Demo

Not much is known about the duo Max & Intro from Belgrade, except that they recorded only a couple of songs. ‘Loš je Dan’ is from their demo tape.

*It’s a bad day

 

Romantične Boje* – San**

Yugoslavia (Serbia)
Year: 1986
Album: Romantične Boje

Ful dbest! The New Romantics band Romantične Boje around frontman Zoran “Cvele” Cvetković was formed in 1983 in Serbia’s third largest city Niš. They left us with a demo and an album, before they disbanded in 1986.

*Romantic Colours, **Dream

 

Bonanza Banzai – Kihalt minden*

Hungary
Year: 1990
Album: A Jel**

Bonanza Banzai were the Hungarian Depeche Mode, they took on a similar look, but their unique language gave the music a different, more exotic taste. Although active only from 1989 to 1995, the band released a whole bunch of records. Their singer, Ákos Kovács, continues to make music under his first name and is one of the most successful Hungarian musicians of all time.

*Everything died out, **The Sign

 

Jumprava* – Ziemeļmeita**

Soviet Union (Latvia)
Year: 1989
Album: Pilsēta***

Also Latvia have some synthpop which is worth to be listened to. Jumprava were the local stars of new wave music during the 80s and the 90s. Latvian is a language one does not hear every day, so here is your chance.

*Maiden, **Northern Girl, ***The City

 

The Хостільня* – Чиясь Чудова Весна**

Ukraine
Year: 1993
Album: Непри100совані***

The Khostilnya was a duo consisting of Vasyl Tkach and Ivan Shevchuk, existing from 1990 to 1994. The two guys recorded an album, but never officially released it. It can be found someplace on the Internet, though. The music of The Khostilnya is very specific, very mellow.

*The Hostel, **Somebody’s Magnificent Spring, ***The unadapted ones

 

Скрябін – Небо Каже (Йди Сюди)*

Ukraine
Year: 1998
Album: Хробак**

Skryabin is one of the most successful and legendary Ukrainian bands. Before they changed their sound to a more commercial one, they were the acme of Ukrainian synthpop. The song ‘Небо Каже (Йди Сюди)’ is from the album Khrobak** (1999), which marked the peak of their synth era. Sadly, their charismatic frontman Kuzma died three years ago.

*Heaven is saying (come here), **Worm

 

Mano Juodoji Sesuo* – Nežina**

Lithuania
Year: 2002
Album: Synthetique

Mano Juodoji Sesuo are around since the early 90s and used to be the pinnacle of Baltic gothic rock. A decade later they switched their style to synthpop with the album Synthetique (2002). The mastermind of the band, Mindaugas Budnikas, is still active and recently released a new album.

*My Black Sister, **I don’t know

 

Super Girl & Romantic Boys – Spokój*

Poland
Year: 2002
Album: Miłość Z Tamtych Lat**

Synthpop is a thing of the 80s and 90s. Or is it? It seems to be coming back. Also nowadays synthpop projects are forming, forging a retro sound with a touch of new. A good example of that is the Polish band Super Girl & Romantic Boys from Warsaw.

*Quiet/Peace, **Love from those years

 

Black Rose – Vampirka*

Slovakia
Year: 2003
Album: Black Rose

In Slovakia and in Czechia there is a big Depeche Mode scene (“Depešáci“) since the 90s. At that time several bands formed to make music similar to their idols. One of them is Black Rose from my beloved Košice, active to this day.

*Female Vampire

 

About André Savetier

Since 2011 André Savetier is actively working as a music journalist with an expertise on contemporary new wave music phenomena. His scientific specialization is anthropology of music and anthropology of popular culture. Savetier remains intrigued by the interplay between the aforementioned social phenomena, the told (and untold) legends of music and its roots.

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