Imagine being a 14 year old kid and discovering that the entire music world was changing around you. At 14, you wouldn’t really know the history or the reasons – all you would know was that suddenly bands like Yes, Emerson Lake & Palmer, and Genesis were on their way out, with a whole slew of synthesizer-based bands taking their place.
In 1979, two kids from Italy noticed this and delved. Bands like OMD, Human League and Depeche Mode were following in the footsteps of Kraftwerk, taking the DIY ethics of punk and creating an entirely new genre of music. And so like any 14 year olds with a dream, they got some electronic organs and modified them to sound like synths. They built their own rhythm boxes, sequencers and vocorder, and proceeded to write a handful of songs.
As time went on, they got some better equipment and refined the songs already under their belt. They released exactly one song and basically disappeared. By the time they were old enough to get into clubs, the new wave synth movement was gone. but that one song, “I’m a Vocorder,” became a sort of cult hit.
These days, the single is a collector’s item, fetching upwards of $150. Thankfully, Seattle-based Medical Records has reissued not only “I’m a Vocorder,” but seven previously unreleased tracks recorded by Gay Cat Park from the early 80s. It’s a limited release of 650 (I have #608) on clear vinyl with red splatters.
So how does it sound? Surprisingly good. The sound quality is great. There’s a bit of variation from song to song (as would be expected), but overall, you really don’t notice it.
The songs themselves might seem a little (and I mean a very little) derivative. These kids were in their middle teens and were influenced by what they listened to. But the integrity and enthusiasm of youth is there, just as much as it was there in the even more derivative ’88 NYC Hardcore scene. And that is more than enough to carry this entire release.
Sure, there’s elements of early Depeche Mode and some of the lyrical qualities of Kraftwerk – even a strange homage to Yazoo – but there’s enough of their own materialistic feel to make this sound unique.
“I am a Vocoder, I am synthetic voice
I am a very extravagant device
Into my box, there are a lot of things
But I will not, tell you about their means
I am a friend of the circulator, Which is in love of microprocessor
Is out of memory, for this silicons chips
But is no possible excange with them his bits”
I’ve probably listened to this seven or eight times in the past day and a half. You need this, but you better hurry up. It’s ridiculously limited and already going for $35+ in online reseller shops. Luckily, you can still get it from Medical Records. But seriously, don’t dally.