Coldwave, Part 1 (1980s French Post-Punk & Underground Rock)

As a spin-off of sorts to our recent Unfinished Business (1980s Post-Punk) series, we decided to focus this week's show entirely on 1980s post-punk and other underground rock sounds from France. Indeed, we've had plans to do a coldwave themed show for more than a year now but just haven't gotten around to it. Given our current 2-hour summertime slot, though, we chose to expand beyond just the narrower confines of coldwave to explore a wider variety of French post-punk, new wave, synth/electro, and art/experimental rock from the era (late 1970s into the very early 1990s).

Coldwave (or La Vague Froide), for those unfamiliar with the term, is basically a broad categorization for bands/music from the French (and Belgian) post-punk scene. Today, it has come to be associated primarily with minimal synth music - and surely there are some genre purists who will bristle at our using the term to describe anything else. Moreover, "coldwave" has become so synonymous with minimal synth music that it is frequently used to loosely refer to any dark, minimal electronic music from anywhere, past or present (completely obscuring the classification's original temporal and geographic implications). Nevertheless, coldwave can and has been prominently used to refer to any music associated with the French post-punk scene of the 1980s, and it's that more generalized definition that we're using here. To further argue our point, coldwave originated as a guitar-driven form of post-punk, most clearly influenced by the icy, austere punk of Joy Division (and other Factory Records bands produced by Martin Hannett), as well as early goth rock and "darkwave" music from the likes of The Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees. The other major influence on the scene was the electronic futurism of Kraftwerk. But limiting coldwave to just synth music is both reductive and ahistorical. These quibbles aside, the coldwave style - whether synth-based or more traditionally rock/pop oriented - is most recognizable for its distant, impersonal performance style and often unemotional, blasé, and/or naive lyrical themes.

This show is hardly a complete, or even representative, survey of the 1980s French coldwave scene (or genre, movement, whatever you want to call it). Indeed, we've easily got enough additional music to fill another few hours of radio. It may not happen immediately, but stay tuned for a follow-up broadcast sometime in the not-too-distant future.

For now, here's the playlist for Part 1 of Coldwave (1980s French Post-Punk & Underground Rock), which was broadcast on Thursday, August 7, 2014:

Metal Urbain - "Panik"
Kas Product - "So Young But So Cold"
C.O.M.A. (Clinik Organik Musak Anatomik) - "Femme-robot"
Charles De Goal - "Dans Le Labyrinthe"
Taxi Girl - "Aussi Belle Qu'une Balle"
Suicide Romeo - "Suicide Romeo"
Jacno - "Anne Cherchait L'amour"
Artefact - "Sex Computer"
Marquis De Sade - "Cancer and Drugs"
End Of Data - "Dans Votre Monde"
Comix - "Touche Pas Mon Sexe"
Twilight Ritual - "Closed Circuit"
Ferdinand - "Tele, Apres La Meteo"
Philippe Laurent - "Distrosion"
Lizzy Mercier Descloux - "Mais ou Sont Passees Les Gazelles?"
Des Airs - "Lovely Lady of the Roses"
Nini Raviolette - "Suis-Je Normale"
Warum Joe - "Sex Beat"
Mathematiques Modernes - "Disco Rough (Long Version)"
Berurier Noir - "Salut a Toi"
Modern Guy - "Electrique Sylvie (Full Length Version)"
Candidate - "Starway"
Ruth - "Polaroid/Roman/Photo"
Braque - "Jeanette"
Asylum Party - "Pure Joy in My Heart"
Mary Goes Round - "The Promised Land"
Coldreams - "Morning Rain"
Movement - "Perfect Day"

Archived streaming audio of this show can be heard here now (playable in Chrome, Firefox, Explorer, Opera, and Safari browsers):

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