Code Elektro: Live at Radar Station

At a point when synthwave started to become a bit prosaic, repeating itself, passing into staleness, some of the genre's finest saw emergency exits in other art forms. Perturbator turned clearly toward darkwave and metal, Carpenter Brut ventured into film scoring, Gunship and The Midnight incorporated contemporary dance pop elements into their productions, while on the other hand many mainstream and commercial pop artists have exploited synthwave's stylings and aesthetics to elevate what they do into something much cooler, in a way being another factor in the genre's downturn. At the same time there will always be an incalculable amount of hopeful copyists who try their hand at the the style, ranging from ultra lo-fi productions to super polished, still, those above par turn out to be very few.

Code Elektro is an indispensable act for the genre purists, not only because of Martin Ahm's deep understanding of the genre's history, its roots and its present, but because of that fundamental musical ability to come up with compulsive and meaningful composition. 

Code Elektro's panacea to synthwave's routineness came through their potency as a live act, with their traditional apparatus in full effect. On their first live record Code Elektro is shifted into a full rock band, presenting dynamics akin to those of the stage act of John Carpenter, Goblin or the current great, Confrontational. Live at Radar Station sees the band earning a place among those names who give more substance to the music and come with an entirely artistic intention, instead of indulging in the extravagant visuals and the ultra fun part of what has made synthwave popular.

The ten tracks which comprise Live at Radar Station have been previously heard in CE's albums, Triads, Never Mind the Solar Wind, Wolf and Superstrings, and they all have taken new life and character by going through passages of prog rock, darkwave, industrial, cyberpunk, new age and film music, while at the same time they preserve the outrun/synthwave basis which still positions the band in the company of the genre's leading and propitious figures.

Right before the pandemic's heavy strike, the album was recorded at a venue in February 2020 in Aarhus, Denmark, in a full house and with the crowd supplying the additional energy, boosting the band's accurate and dedicated performance. The album plays out as a buzzing live record, as an engaging soundtrack, and as an exquisite set of tracks which can stand soundly on their own. Although it's very rare for the magic of a live show to be recreated with total accuracy on record, this one seems to be a great documentation of what CE have to offer, and that, however it is identified, it goes beyond synthwave's boundaries.

Photo by Rolf Meldgaard


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