Song Of The Day 1/29/2014: Thomas Dolby - "Flying North"


Remembering KPOP: I may be romanticizing synth-pop more than I really intend this week. But I always went for the good stuff. I wasn't ever sold on Depeche Mode or Thompson Twins, or any of the bands with names that sounded like combinations of Sub-Saharan airborne diseases and baby talk. I also didn't care for bands who simply adapted rock guitar lines and funneled them through keyboards. (I'm peering at you, Dead Or Alive.) Guitar chords worked on guitars. If you tried power chords on piano you just sounded like a troubled meatpacker trying to build an insanity defense.* Synth-pop was usually fine when one took full advantage of the compositional range of the keyboard, and had something semi-intelligent to say for bonus points.

So yes, that makes me a fan of Thomas Dolby, beyond the plasticized mania of his one American hit, "She Blinded Me With Science (So I Deafened Her With Social Studies)." Blinded By Science may have been the first EP I ever bought, and that was only because they were playing "Airwaves" in The Wherehouse in Citrus Heights when I walked in. It also contained an alternate, extended mix of "SWBWS" which I played for months before it became a hit. Aside from those, Blinded By Science and Dolby's first two albums contain some of the most beautiful synth-pop songs of the era, like "Europa And The Pirate Twins," "One of Our Submarines," "Screen Kiss," and today's entry "Flying North." Out of all those songs, I think "Europa" is the only one that got any KPOP airplay at all, but "Flying North" wouldn't have sounded out of place if they ever took the chance. There's also a lovely piano part in "Flying North," although most likely it was one of those digital grand pianos that had chorus effects and ever-so-delicate flanging. Note the strangled, muted-tube sound of the Linn snare drum. Liturgical legend says that whenever you heard that sound, an angel found his Aqua Net and his cloves.
*(Yes, I did just this at Cocktail Hell, but that was the intended effect.)
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