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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Trans X - Message on the Radio

Name: Trans X
Album: Message on the Radio
Year:1983
Style: Dance, Electronic, New Wave, Synth Pop
Similar Bands: New Order, Sparks, OMD, Lime, Devo, Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Crash Course in Science
One Word Review: Nonstop Dancing Futureistic Computers
Based Out Of: Montreal, Ca
Label: Matra
 Message on the Radio - Cover, Record
Message on the Radio - Back, Record
Message on the Radio (1983)
  1. 3-D Dance 5:53
  2. Nitelife 7:15
  3. 21st Century 5:29 /
  4. Living on Video 5:52
  5. Message on the Radio 5:10
  6. Josee 5:46
  7. Digital World 3:34
Album Rating: 9.0

Members & Other Bands:
`Pascal Languirand - Vox, All Instruments
`Anne Brosseau - Additional Personnel
`Chiffon - Additional Personnel
`Liz Tansey - Additional Personnel
`Linda Benoy - Additional Personnel
`Ian Lebofsky - Additional Personnel
`Steve Wyatt - Keys, Programming,
Laurie Ann Gill - Vox (Nudimension)
`Christian Traut - Art Direction
`Carmine Nicodemo - Exec Producer
`Dominique Nicodemo - Exec Producer
`Claude Allard - Mixing, Engineer
`Carole Arsenaul - Hair
`Daniel Poulin - Photography
`Michel Cloutier - Asst. Photography
`Lisa Fizzano - Make-Up
`Daniel Bernier - Prodcer
`Pierre Bernard - Programming
`Gaetan Desbiens - Recording
`Pierre Lacoste - Percussion, Drums (Isinglass)
`Guy Abrassart - Guitar

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this band. But it looks like they are Canadian, which really does not mean anything for the style of music the album may contain. I like the angular basic shape artwork on the front, and the back looks like it might have disco elements. But from the album and band name, there might be some electronic elements.

Album Review: Apparently, this is the Canadian version of the album, as other versions around the world were retitled Living on Video, since it was the big international hit, even covered by many different bands. Pascal Languirand is the main force behind the band, controlling who is his partner, and deciding when the band is together and when it is on hiatus. The name is taken from the Kraftwerk song “Trans Europe Express.” There are two classic albums, before he retired the band, but picked it up at different times to release more albums under the name. He also recorded solo albums that are more ambient, space music in genre. I’m imagining Sparks and OMD teaming up to cover New Order songs.

“3-D Dance” was the third single released by the band. It starts with a synthesized drum beat. Swooping synth effects fly across the speakers and a fun bouncy synth hook starts wiggling into your ears. It is dotted with OMD style synth notes. The vocals start, and represent part disco, and part Sparks. The bass is driving and thumping, augmented by the nervous keyboard sounds and pulsing synth beats. There are female vocals exchanging lines in the first verse, and in the second verse, digitized, deep monster vocals exchange lines with the lead. The song is like a sped up, energetic version of Men W/O Hat’s “Safety Dance.”
“Nitelife” begins with a dark, rumbling warning synth hook, reminding me of Crash Course in Science. Then a keyboard alarming sound is added in, which reminds me of Martha & the Muffins. The effects keep changing, and get squeaker and catchier. The chorus is a call in response with the singer and himself, only a slightly deeper pitch echos the original, Devo-ish call. Synth effects zig and zag, creating a little jazzy section of the song, all the while the drums and dark bass synth keep the tempo driving. It keeps coming back to the familiar elements that are laid down in the beginning, just in continuous variation. By the end of the song, the alarming keyboard sound warbles from left to right speaker.
“21st Century” begins with a somewhat disco bass and hand clap-like percussion start. Then with a genuine OMD twinkling keyboard melody, the upbeat song takes shape. Crystalline/angelic hums fade in and out on rotation. The vocals sound quite excitable. The song follows on this Sparks (vocal melodies) plays an OMD style song. It tends to get a little tedious in its repetitive structure.

“Living on Video” was their first, biggest single, covered by many and topping the charts in the US and Europe on top of Canada. It starts off with a strong “Blue Monday” New Order bass line, with crystal synth twinkles and space warp effects. Then another OMD keyboard hook builds in to repeat, and the final hook is added, a synthetic slide whistle is the best way to describe it. The vocals are all quite calculated, and some are digitized and some have an alluring unisex tone. Once the song breaks, the New Order bass line comes into full swing, and it is wonderful. More space and digital effects are layered over, along with vocal (some like Ladytron) cruising by. The song tears itself down, and builds itself back up numerous times, and keeps coming back to the incredibly catchy elements.
“Message on the Radio” was also a single, and the album title for most of the world. Different styles of digital hooks are used here, again, bringing OMD to mind, mostly. The vocals again remind me of Sparks. The song is built on a standard template of lyric-instrumental stanza on repeat until it reaches the chorus. The chorus is a burst of excitable vocal energy. Halfway through the song, an instrumental breakdown begins, with some sections experiencing a controlled breakdown, but it always comes back to the main supportive hooks. The song fades out with the energetic chorus in a fade.
“Josee” starts with a bass and drum beat, and breathy, futuristic automated female vocal samples. The song kicks in with another playful and upbeat OMD style synth line. The lyrics have a big emotional exertion, again, similar to Sparks. Once you make a connection, it is hard to shake it. The song sonds like a reprise on a couple of songs that came before it. The breathy vocals play a much bigger role here, for an instrumental breakdown, they speak over in a French(?) accent, like they are speaking over a phone call. There is a bit of an industrial effect breakdown, and some soaring electric guitar notes, and the male Oh-whoa-oh-oh vocals perform a call and response with the female vocals. The song returns to its previous structure, and plays out with the bouncy synth effects carrying it through to the fade out
“Digital World” has an anxious looping keyboard hook, accompanied with a drum machine tempo that is steady feels like it is about to pick up. Drive-by zooming synth effects lift off, and the song takes a leisurely futuristic drive, with a few vocal samples that cruise by, lost in the song’s momentum. This instrumental song continues with the nervous, driving synth tones, allowing the listener to visualize passing through art deco-futuristic city-scapes. It feels like I should be playing a game like Stun Runner. 

Stand Out Track: Living on Video

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