Frank Deserto, aka Frankie Teardrop, has been a champion of obscure music, focusing heavily on the 80s post-punk, minimal synth, and coldwave scenes. He has been running music blog Systems of Romance for eight years, ripping and sharing obscurities from his collection and exposing a new generation of music fans to long, forgotten classics. Also a DJ in the NYC scene, his passion for the obscure knows no boundaries. He also is active in The Harrow, who will be releasing their debut LP on aufnahme+wiedergabe this November, with lead-off single “Love Like Shadows” coming this Friday, August 28th.
We’re excited to feature this excellent podcast from Frankie’s favorite archives, the first in what we hope to be a regular series. This particular installment focuses entirely on female-fronted projects, running the gamut from experimental industrial dirges to minimal post-punk, jumping between countries and continents with only the feminine mystique to string these songs together. Without any further adieu, click above to listen, with tracklisting and descriptions to follow below.
1. “Strange Girl”- Candidate (France, 1987, Side By Side 12”, Dum Dum Records) Extremely minimal/coldwave duo from Nancy, kicking things off with a bleak babygirl lullaby. Vocalist Cécile would also provide backing vocals for Oto’s Purge An Urge LP.
2. “Caos”- Harry (Brazil, 1987, Caos 12”, Wop Bop) Industrial inspired darkwave project from South America, whose members shared vocal duties across a small, but respectable discography.
3. “Walking Through Gardens”- Ghosts of Dance (UK, 1982, Ghosts of Dance 7”, Plastic Canvas Records) The flip side of this UK band’s lone 7”. This five piece took their name from Japan’s excellent “Ghosts” cut, and would record several more tracks in a more New Romantic-inspired vein, culminating in a rare CD reissue in 1996.
4. “Stay With Me”- Industrie (Australia, 1983, H LP, EMI Custom Records, Australia) An obscure treasure from down under, this is one of many highlights from Industrie’s lone LP. Released in 1983, the band was never heard from again. A shame, as Anne Fish was a true vocal talent.
5. “Whispering Sons”- Moral (Denmark, 1982, Whispering Sons K7, Ådsel Service) The standout title track from this Danish three piece’s first cassette. This track also appears as a bonus track on Dark Entries Records’ recent reissue of their classic And Life Is LP.
6. “It”- Astaron (Austria, 1988, Lance the Ensemble 12”, Bugel Records) Incredible female duo from Australia, who released one cassette, one LP, and this lone 12”, which is the catchiest of their discography. Haunting, rhythmic, and gorgeous, giving way to absolute cacophony by the track’s end.
7. “California Dreaming”- Denial (Australia, 1982, California Dreaming 7”, M Squared) Bleak, minimal cover of the Mamas and the Papas classic single. Their only release, though a handful of other tracks were recorded under the Aural Indifference moniker.
8. “Grüne Augen”- Asmodi Bizarr (Germany, 1986, Sunsierra LP, Das Büro) Roaring post-punk/goth band in the vein of Xmal Deutschland, also active under the name Aspirin. The band has been active again since 2011, performing a set at this year’s Wave-Gothik-Treffen festival.
9. “Release”- Indifferent Dance Centre (UK, 1981, Flight & Pursuit 7”, Recluse) The b-side from an incredibly obscure, Factory-influenced post-punk 7”, self-released in a stamped paper sleeve with minimal information. Extremely DIY to the last drop.
10. “Tina Town”- Kas Product (France, 1983, By Pass LP, RCA Victor) Classic French Coldwave duo from Nancy, a rare sensual moment in their catalog. Kas Product have since reunited and have played a handful of shows throughout Europe, including highly publicized appearances at Wave-Gotik-Treffen and Gothic Pogo Festival.
11. “Pushing”- Matador (Germany, 1991, Écoute LP, Moabit Musik) All female German supergroup of sorts, featuring ex-members of Malaria!, CHBB, Einstürzende Neubauten, and Liasions Dangereuses. Matador formed in the mid-80s and released three excellent records and one 12” before disbanding in the early 1990s.
12. “Sensible”- Hedone (UK, 1984, Sensible 7”, Omgowa Power) Obscure, melancholy post-punk from Bath. This is their only release, stacked with an equally great B-side.
13. “Nowhere Bei Mir”- Nicolle Meyer (Germany, 1983, Nowhere Bei Mir 7”, Virgin) One-off single released under Nicole Tollmann’s pseudonym. Nicole was also a contributing member to the Fred Banana Combo, who recorded their own punked-out version of this track in the same year.
14. “Sudan”- Thick Pigeon (UK, 1984, Too Crazy Cowboys LP, Factory Records) A Factory/Benelux treasure, recorded by the outsider duo of Stanton Miranda and Carter Burwell, with additional help from Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert of New Order. Thick Pigeon would release an excellent club-centric single under Stanton Miranda (“Wheels Over Indian Trails,” 1986). Carter Burwell would go on to contribute music to Raising Arizona, Psycho III, and Fargo, among many others.
15. “Morning Train”- Esprits Animaux (Netherlands, 1985, Whip of Passion 12”, Poppi Disk) Lead-off track from this excellent 12”, the only one on the record solely featuring female vocals. Though the band was Dutch, their name is French, and translates to “Animal Ghosts.”
16. “Beautiful Diseases”- The Vyllies (Switzerland, 1985, Lilith LP, Out of Tune Records) Another all-female group, this time a trio. Oftentimes appearing in shrouds and flowing dresses (their name invokes a Slavic folk legend), The Vyllies have a near-flawless discography and cult influence that spreads across the globe.
17. “Don’t Believe It’s Over”- Nocturnal Emissions (UK, 1988, Duty Experiment (1982-1984 Years), Soleilmoon Recordings) Dark, mantra-esque demo from one of the UK’s most prolific experimental tape projects. Recorded during the band’s early years, it has since been reissued on several collections of the band’s work, achieving near-mythic status in an otherwise expansive discography.
18. “Bound By Silence”- Pink Industry (UK, 1985, New Beginnings LP, Zulu Records) UK’s Pink Military was already a classic underground band, but from their ashes arose Pink Industry, a much more satisfying project, through and through. Jettisoning angular guitars and embracing the 808 drum machine, menacing rhythms, reverb-drenched saxophone, and Jayne Casey’s seductive vocals, Pink Industry would release three flawless LPs before splitting in 1987.
19. ¼ Circle Black- Turning Shrines (UK, 1985, Face of Another 12”, Temple Records) Recorded by Fred Giannelli just before joining Psychic TV’s acid-driven incarnation (and released by Genesis Breyer P-Orridge’s Temple Records), this Turning Shrines 12” features four tracks of pre-dreampop perfection. This standout track (a highlight among highlights) was reissued by Mexican Summer in 2013, featuring a bonus re-recorded version of this track by Tamaryn and Lansing-Dreiden’s Jorge Elbrecht.