Bleepin’ hell, this reissue of Silvia’s Silvia LP is decent.
Let’s get the obvious moans about this record out of the way: it's not something to play if you’re against repetition or you don't relish the most icy of early 80s synths. For everyone else, it’s time to puff out your hairdo and throw some sparse Teutonic shapes to a predictably morbid, yet intriguing little reissue, titled with the kind of apathetic sparseness that permeates every one of its nine tracks.
Dating from 1982, it was birthed as part of the enigmatic Neue Deutsche Welle scene by Silvia Nemanic and ex-punkers Tommi Stumpff and Käpt’n Nuss, formerly of Der KFC. This LP may have been out-shadowed by more illustrious contemporaries, but it has a ramshackle, transitory charm that belongs only to itself. Named eponymously after its tarpit-voiced singer, Silvia careens along at a quick clip with one eyebrow raised at genre conventions and a sloppy, lipstick-smeared grin on its face. We enjoyed it, that’s what we’re saying.
Silvia clatters along with a surging, dancefloor-ready momentum that is sustained between tracks through mutually cohesive basslines and a droll, deliberately pseudo-sexual vocal drone. Considering that the lyrics are exclusively in German, the casual middle-Engländer doesn’t have to overtly invest themselves in them, which when you’re dealing with this era is probably a mixed blessing. None of it makes any sense even if you speak the language, dammit! The simplicity of the recording setup, with a Sequential Circuits Pro One and Moog Prodigy controlled by a pair of sequencers, means that there’s a cheeringly naive finish to the record that wouldn’t go amiss in some of today’s irony-drenched scene. The synths aren’t half-bad either, plinking and buzzing their way through a succession of early-80s clichés. It’s the kind of music that you could feasibly recreate in your own bedroom, which in this case is a good thing: it’s always pertinent to pay homage to New Wave forefathers.
Silvia herself is predictably the pivot around which this LP revolves, with her anaemic vocals meshing with the record’s charismatically sparse production. Her voice verges on the androgynous and was apparently so deep that it had to be pitched up for the finished tracks, gifting them overall with the kind of spirited, nihilistic verve that smacks of hedonism tinged with BDSM aesthetics. Ooh er.
We wouldn’t want to say any more and spoil the surprise, so we’ll just tell you to reject all your preconceived notions of German electronic music and take a trip back to a time when things were starting to get really, really exciting. Yes, it's not a perfect collection of tracks, and yes, Silvia is hardly a revelation for anyone even vaguely familiar with the German New Wave scene, but it’s just right as a rallying point around which nocturnal types can plot around the faux-cheeriness and sunlight of spring.
Tracks to listen to, possibly in the queue line for Berghain: ‘Mata Hari’ & ‘Sauf Un Stirb’
Silvia LP was re-released via Dark Entries, on vinyl, on the 27th Feb 2017.
By Robyn Strachan | Loose Lips
A1 - Zuerst Ich A2 - Ich Bin Nicht Die A3 - Mata Hari A4 - Mörderinnen Küsst Man Nicht A5 - Das Ende Vom Traum
B1 - Sauf Und Stirb B2 - Stammtisch B3 - Wintergarten B4 - Sex Im Aquarium