Dark Entries is one of the premier synth wave and post punk revivalist labels. A loaded statement, but a fair one. Boss Josh Cheon has the knack, the ability to source and resuscitate ambiguous analogue scores and gritty minimalism. Once more, the San Fran label is crossing the Atlantic to revive two Euro obscurities.
I’ve only been to Charleroi in Belgium twice, which seemed like once too many. A town of flues, factories and feck all else. Post-punk outfit SIC hail from this industrial heartland. The grit and dystopia of this cityscape infects their re-issued album, Thought Noises. The group take post punk and introduce some early synth experimentation into the equation. From the outset traditional instruments compete with electronic contemporaries, the larynx being used to fire mortar-like lyrics over this musical waste ground. The sounds are distanced, as in “Never Talk About Romance,” with the listener being drawn in by some of the catchier hooks of pieces like “Between.” The group have elements of XEX and Chrisma, a melodic aspect being blended with abstraction. The space between the music and listener is constant, the short bursts like underground stops dissecting the dereliction. The B-Side of the album is almost entirely dedicated to demo material. The tracks have a wonderful minimal aspect, the D.I.Y. quality removing production gloss. “Inner Time” combines warm synth notes and bass with bitter sweet strings and emotional detachment. The album closes with the estranged bleakness of “Look for the Chorus.” SIC ache with the disaffected machinery of the Belgian Wave scene, their sound amplified by the steel, coal and industrialism of Charleroi.
A quick train journey and we arrive at DE’s next release, Buzz with See The Sioux. Buzz hail from Lille, some ten miles from the Belgian border. The hardy minimal synth sound of Belgium courses through the record. The sounds of synth and post punk are merged together with Buzz having an aspect of ADN Ckrystal to the distanced vocals and electronics. “Picasso” starts as the record means to go on. The pared back elements found in Spain’s preeminent modernist rise to the surface, terse beats and synths merging with emblazoned vocals running parallel. There’s a gritty determination to Buzz’s tracks, a racing passion pouring forth in pieces like “Orange Mecanique” or the hard hitting “Berlin.” The Belgian industrial and synth wave influence is clear to hear across the LP, echoes of Trisomie 21 embedded. “Kennedy” is a track some may know from an IFM jingle; if you were wondering it’s origin, look no further. Like the album, the track traverses the thick analogue chords and strings with a political and social message striving forth. The pop infused commentary runs into the catchy melodies of “L’Agent Secret” and the oriental inspired electronics of “Petite Poupee Japonaise” which closes the album.
A trip with Dark Entries is always a varied affair. The label guides the listener through the wiles of the minimal synth and post punk back waters, trekking across forgotten Scandinavia and lost Yugoslavia. Belgium and France are the destinations for the latest excursion. SIC offer up a powerful portrayal of industrial degradation, a soundtrack to the departure of labor and a reversal of enterprise. Buzz are more of upbeat affair; yes, downtrodden but with a breeziness. The weather may be brightening up; but across Europe of the early 80′s, the skies are synth wave grey.