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This weekend I’ll mostly be listening to… Covenant May 9, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....

I came across Futurepop more or less by accident.

What is futurepop you ask? Well, it’s a variant of Electronic Body Music.

This Electronic Body Music you speak of… what pray tell is that?

Hmmm… Well, it’s a variant of techno. Sort of.

According to wiki: Futurepop is an electronic dance music genre, incorporating influences from synthpop (such as song structure and vocal style), uplifting trance (grandiose and arpeggiated synthesizer melodies), and EBM. The term was coined by Ronan Harris (of VNV Nation [Ronan hails from this very island, not that you’d know it from our ‘music’ media) and Stephan Groth (of Apoptygma Berzerk) while attempting to describe the style of music their bands produced.

Some of the bands look to Joy Division, others to the Sisters of Mercy, yet others to the golden era of synthpop when Depeche Mode, Gary Numan and OMD ruled the roost. See, that’s clear then, isn’t it?

And EBM is a bit harsher being… ‘a music genre that combines elements of industrial music and electronic punk music’

Precursors and forerunners? Cabaret Voltaire, DAF, Front 242… at least for EBM (and interesting that it has been extremely popular in the former East Germany… hmmmm, what on earth could be the attraction of a electronic form which in some instances in its visual stylings towards iconography of the far left and right? I can’t imagine). For Futurepop the influences include that but then go on to incorporate trance and synthpop (from the 1980s onwards) not least Kraftwerk.

The ironic thing is I came to it by metal, not dance. For despite all the avant-garde pretensions of those who boosted the truly awful sub-genre of electroclash which was popular in at least two NYC night clubs for… oh, at least a week or so… (although I must give a free pass to Felix Da Housecat, whose Kitten and Thee Glitz album as noted here is a synthpop legend)…

Ten years ago or so I used to buy Rocksounds magazine in a sort of residual metal phase. Although now that I think about it that phase has never ended. Anyhow… this was during the height of nu metal and all the Limp Biscuit nonsense – so lean times as one can imagine. One feature I really liked was their monthly CD with a selection of music. And this was much more broadly based a selection than one might imagine. Goff was in there, as was traditional metal, black metal, rock and… er… the occasional example of Goth inflected Techno.

Which is where Covenant came in. Now how they managed to make the track list with the effortlessly techno/trance… I cannot explain, but there it was. And very fine too.

But of course Covenant came from an entirely different place. Their earlier albums were industrial and techno inflected. As time moved on they took on the faintly gothic hue of much Futurepop. And that, almost inevitably, sent them towards more traditional song structures. Not entirely, but in the main. And it is perhaps this which to some degree underpins Futurepop, not that there aren’t instrumental excursions, or songs of indeterminate length, but that they still throw something that in a parallel musical universe might just barely be commercial. And perhaps to many of those who make it, they already are commercial as they contemplate the careers of Depeche Mode and others not a million miles away from them.

Another element is a degree of bombast, often, but not always associated with the sort of visual undertow associated with totalitarian regimes. All very DAF then, as you can imagine. So we have VNV Nation using imagery of vast mock-Stalinist sky-scrapers, Covenant appearing in Kraftwerk like mode, and beyond that the cloying hand of cyber-punk and other strands of science fiction. Like, it’s done on keyboards, y’know… so it’s all about the future (which reminds me, back around 1980 I was told by someone in school who ‘knew’ such things that guitar music was dead and keybs – ugh! – were the wave of the future. I thought it preposterous then, one can only imagine his subsequent disappointment). Still, he wasn’t entirely wrong what with electronica, rave, dance, etc, etc.

Anyhow, here are Covenant, prime exponents of the form with all it’s vices and virtues… hailing from Sweden (and isn’t it interesting how the Nordic countries have become musical powerhouses in the last decade or so?), sharply dressed young(ish) men working away from the late 1980s or early 1990s. A feature of their music is that the live sound is near-indistinguishable from that on CD or download. Is that a good thing? Who can tell?

Dead Stars – in a way it’s a pity this doesn’t have a proper video, not least because it’s sort of a seminal artifact of the EBM/futurepop sound. Got to love that keyboard at 2 minutes and 6 seconds in… and 2.56… very Jean Michel Jarre goes to a rave and learns something useful.

Call the ships to port – I mentioned bombast… or did I?

Bullet – or man listens to Kraftwerk and likes what he hears. Man machine indeed.


1. D. J. P. O'Kane - May 9, 2009

Why do you do this?

You’re older than I am, FFS.


EamonnCork - May 20, 2011

Why did you bother posting this? FFS is right.


2. WorldbyStorm - May 9, 2009

Er… yeah, and that would mean what exactly? 🙂

Look, I like music. A lot. I like pretty much all music, not so fond of reggae, although I like dub. So, I like to talk about stuff I like. It’s that simple. And writing this is a good way of reconnecting with music I haven’t heard in a while. I also like science fiction, but haven’t yet got around to a fluency about talking about it… there’s always time…you’ll love it. Trust me.


3. WorldbyStorm - May 9, 2009

Actually, talking about older… when I was nineteen or twenty and still living at home I remember my father hearing that I was listening to some metal or somesuch, Christ knows what it was.. saying, ‘you’re very loyal to that, aren’t you?’. I genuinely didn’t know what he meant, and still don’t. What is the rationale about somehow not liking something at 43 that you liked at 23 (obvious caveats apply… I’m no fan of individual bands twenty odd years later)? If it’s *good* at 23 then it should be good at 43. Now I am conscious of the fact that I’m a feck of a lot older, and that the concerns of 20somethings musically seem so much fluff to me now. But I’ve always been more interested in melody etc than lyrics so that’s a help. Am I meant to listen to jazz cos I hit 35? Done that. Still like Miles, but prefer Herbie. Or classical. I like bits of it. But… in my heart of hearts its Covenant or whoever who still do the business. It worked for John Peel and I’m still a tad younger than he was.


4. Dan Sullivan - May 13, 2009

That is an excellent find for me. I should get back to travel more there is nowt like wandering into a club or music playing bar somewhere on the continent and hearing stuff you’d never have otherwise come across. I miss that.

Also re: the last track Bullet, there is a lot of latter era Alphaville to that chorus. I’ve even one or two of their independent releases.

Again thanks.


5. Daniel Sullivan - May 20, 2011

Finally around to picking up some albums via play, they’ve joint reissue of Cryotank and Europa on sale. My many, many thanks for this.


6. This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Astralasia, Pitched Up At The Edge Of Reality « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - June 15, 2012

[…] that came via industrial and goth into the Electronic Body Music/Futurepop genres, i.e. acts like Covenant, Apoptygma Bezerk (in the early years) and VNV Nation. Of course they took a much less celebratory […]


7. This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Astralasia « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - June 16, 2012

[…] that came via industrial and goth into the Electronic Body Music/Futurepop genres, i.e. acts like Covenant, Apoptygma Bezerk (in the early years) and VNV Nation. Of course they took a much less celebratory […]


8. For those of us into EBM… | The Cedar Lounge Revolution - July 27, 2013

[…] …good news here and here. Not too sure that the last VNV Nation album was much cop, though it had some moments, and Covenant’s last one with a new line up was excellent in parts, but good to hear that both have new material out at the end of the Summer. Looked at Covenant here years back. […]


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