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 choice was 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*
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! is perhaps their biggest hit.
*Your computer’s Program, **Listen!
Videosex – Neonska Reklama*
Videosex is the most famous Slovene 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.
Kapitan Nemo – Twoja Lorelei*
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’.
Бастион – Deca Sunca*
Bastion was a short-lived synthpop/new wave trio from Skopje, Makedonia. The band 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 are focusing here on non-English songs, ‘Deca Sunca’ has been chosen for this list. Like with Videosex, most of Bastion‘s songs were sung in Serbocroatian. Oh my, listen to that bass!
*Children of the Sun
Max & Intro – Loš Je Dan*
Not much is known about the duo Max & Intro from Belgrade, except that they have recorded only a couple of songs. ‘Loš je Dan’ is from their demo tape.
*It’s a bad day
Romantične Boje* – San**
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*
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)
Also Latvia has 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**
The Khostilnya was a duo consisting of Vasyl Tkach and Ivan Shevchuk, existing from 1990 to 1994. The two guys have recorded an album, but have 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)*
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 ‘Nebo Kazhe (Ydi syudy)’ 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**
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 has recently released a new album.
*My Black Sister, **I don’t know
Super Girl & Romantic Boys – Spokój*
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*
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.