Pulsing – Early excursions into local Eighties Electronica.

Well before smiley faced whistle blowing club goers were, ‘right on one matey’ and losing themselves in ecstatic bliss on UK dance floors, local Kiwi creators were twiddling knobs and injecting their own brand of synthesised soul into the club scene and national sales charts.

Post punk, studio fused tracks took the raw elements of an anti-establishment mentality whilst embracing new technologies such as sampling keyboards and funky frequencies, to redefine the sounds and styles of what we were used to hearing on our turntables.

From as early as 1979, Mi-Sex, a neo-new wave collective, combined cutting edge studio production with a dynamic live show to expand and explode this new electronic/guitar noise on our unsuspecting eardrums. Led by enigmatic Steve Gilpin as lead vocalist, Mi-Sex scorched the charts with sonic singles ‘People’ and ‘Computer Games’. The later timeless classic rammed a repetitive keyboard loop into the mainstream, full of attitude with a brainwashing beat to hypnotise and exorcise our living rooms.

Another epic slab of energetic experimental ism came in the form of Body Electric, a loose studio based band of post punk pioneers emerging from the ashes of Wellington’s punk and proud The Steroids. Steered by the clever hands of Alan Jansson (yes, he of ‘How Bizarre’ fame), Body Electric tinkled with the idea of aural anarchy via the airwaves of the burgeoning student radio network. 1982 saw their local launch of ‘Pulsing’, an extended mix of chaotic frequencies, which took on the mighty Sheffield synth gods Human League, taking a place on our national charts after nearly 3 months of slow building airplay support. To this day ‘Pulsing’, is highly unique, in that it sounds like a techno time capsule from the future, beat-box blades scraping a mashed up melody from scraps of psychotic ranting, hypnotic, harmful and yet fully immersive.

At this time Split Enz were crafting a less manic mindset and New Zealand culture and sounds were calming down from banging heads and piercing punk provocativeness to a financially fused production experience. Often behind closed doors in well stocked studios, overseas inspiration was flooding into our creative process, with Kraftwerk and Public Image Limited paying a prominent part in shaping our future sounds.

Check out some Mi-Sex and see how it stacks up with today's sound or delve into the equally excellent compilation It's Bigger than the Both of us, both well worth a re-visit.
Alternatively, for an equally excellent excursion slap on the Hallelujah Picassos,  or the dreamy dubbed out bliss of Pitch Black, proud examples of what a well stocked studio can deliver.

Dave Tucker        


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