Thirteen, unlucky for some; not for Kernkrach.

I find it hard to come at Kernkrach from a critical angle. For thirteen years they have been pioneering synthesizer music. The German label has been pulling at my heartstrings for near a decade and continues to do so with its unending unearthing of new talent.


Dada Pogram describes his sound as Tech Noire. A lengthy manifesto of the genre, for those interested, can be found here. In short the style is centred in synth-pop, and synth-pop that’s right up my street. I’d never come across the Canadian artist before, but I’ve been thankfully introduced. Kolophonium brings together ten piece that stretch the imagination of New Wave. Subtle and melodic instrumentals are countered by rich and wonderful lyrics. An immediate comparison would be Silicon Scientist. Warm and engaging analogue sounds with crisp snares and at times pretty impressive vocals. A stand-out track has to be the rapidly sang “The Jean Of Peterhead,” a tale of shipwrecks in the North Sea accompanied by a pulsing backdrop. An ambitious and superb example of contemporary take on an 80s sound.

Recent 7”s race out of speakers. BPMs accelerate whilst listless lyrics brake. Element 104 debut with East Side of Heaven. The group, from what I can unearth, didn’t have any releases while they were active in the 1980s. But who sad output means quality. The group deliver two works of emotion drenched electronics, feeling flashed through by frantic beats. Tata Technik debut with homages to Danzig and pin pricked sentiment with Bláskertel Flakka. Both tracks are pacey with lilting harmonies and an EBM slant, a quality addition if there ever was one.

Düsseldorf’s MängelExemplar have brought together thirteen pieces and crammed them onto a single LP for their second album Heim Und Garten. The duo build on the warm and engaging wave riches that marked their first LP, [Freizeit Und Technik]. Tracks are short and snappy. Words swish and swirl with cheer churned chords. Blips and bleeps, plinks and plonks are peppered with fast flowing rhythms. The record is energetic and inventive. The style is embedded in synth pop where emotions ebb between elation and elegy.

I was at a gig recently rabbiting on to someone about Kernkrach. I’m always amazed that the label isn’t better known and cherished. The imprint has never sought the limelight, but definitely deserves it. Before any of the revivalist labels, before the wave resurgence and before Djs returned to the modern romantics there was Kernkrach innovating and giving a vinyl voice to exciting talent old and young. Long may it continue.

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