Rational Youth – Cold War Night Life

photo by Marc de Mouy (1982)

This December sees the release of a deluxe expanded edition of Cold War Night Life, the debut album of Canadian synth pop outfit Rational Youth. It is the second time the acclaimed album has had a fresh outing since its original unveiling and with rare memorabilia and photos, new extensive liner notes, and a host of extended remixes and singles related to the original full-length it provides nothing less than rich and thick pleasure.

Formed in 1981 by Tracy Howe and Bill Vorn, the Montreal hailing band was as notable as releasing one of the first all-synth pop albums released in Canada the following year with Cold War Night Life as they simply were for highly flavoursome songs. The following years only saw their music and releases find more success and further afield alongside arrivals and departures in personnel. Even so Rational Youth came to an end in 1986 but twice the band has returned, the first in 1999 seeing third album To the Goddess Electricity released with the 2009 re-uniting of Howe and Vorn leading to the extremely well-received Future Past Tense EP seven years later when Gaenor Howe stood alongside Tracy. It is fair to say though that throughout, Cold War Night Life has continued to be an inspirational moment for new fans and artists so it will be no surprise if its fresh return finds new appetites and plaudits feasting.

Kraftwerk was a major inspiration upon both Howe and Vorn and openly embraced within their early sound though still no more than a rich spicing to their own imagination as revealed across Cold War Night Life. The band’s second gig was supporting Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and it is easy to suggest they too provided a strong influence listening to the album, especially in moments like City Of Night, a track which dances with ears and imagination half way in to the release. Melodic hooks flirt like cousins to those found within the UK duo’s Enola Gay, luring and seducing with inevitable success such their infectious potency highlighting why the track was one of the bands most memorable and successful.

Before it within Cold War Night Life, opener Close To Nature sets the tone and electronic pop landscape, its dark air and alluring shadows draping the instinctive catchiness of the track’s enterprise and heart. The song has a certain Fad Gadget-esque breath to its breath and character which only adds to its swift beguiling of ears before Beware The Fly strolls in with a more Thomas Dolby meets Landscape like personality and infectiousness to match its success.

With both alone proving that good songs can be fresh and current to newcomers no matter when they were written Saturdays in Silesia soon joins the pair in casting synth pop contagion as melodies and nagging rhythmic enticement reign over ears and imagination. The track is pure virulence before drifting off to allow Just A Sound In The Night to share its richly emotive air and drama within a less urgent but just as magnetic pop embrace which lies somewhere between the John Foxx and Midge Ure fronted eras of Ultravox.

The likes of Le Meilleur Des Mondes with its darkly lit almost menacing instrumental and otherworldly laced intimation and the Visage evoking Ring The Bells further reveal the broadening landscape of Rational Youth’s emerging sound, its own fertile enterprise and suggestiveness an easy involving of the imagination while Dancing On The Berlin Wall, a song which only eclipsed its original success around Europe with its re-release as a single when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, breaths cold war drama and sinister intrigue within its infectious theatre.

For all its pop agility and prowess, the album is just as notable and potent in its instrumentals, Power Zone another almost sinisterly too easy to immerse within and have the imagination conjuring with its disquieting air and haunting electronics. We have many favourite moments within the release but this remains one of our big pleasures and soon rivalled by the equally ominous and haunting Coboloid Race. It too is soaked in a dark magnetism while suggesting a DAF like influence and only captivates from start to finish.

With the album offering Cité Phosphore, the French version of City Of Night, a Danse mix of City Of Night, and an extended versions of Saturdays in Silesia and City Of Night, as well as the crystalline radiance of the band’s debut single, I Want To See The Light, the ever thrilling Cold War Night Life only confirms itself as one of synth pop’s finest moments as it delights fans and newcomers to Rational Youth alike.

Cold War Night Life is released December 6th on CD and digitally via https://rationalyouth.bandcamp.com/album/cold-war-night-life-expanded-and-remastered with a vinyl version available to order via Music Vaultz.

https://rational-youth.com/   https://www.facebook.com/RationalYouth   https://twitter.com/tm_howe

Pete RingMaster 05/12/2019

Copyright RingMasterReview: MyFreeCopyright

Rainium – Sounds Of Berlin

Having thoroughly enjoyed their new single, the offer from Rainium themselves to check out their debut album was easy to take up. So with thanks and help to guitarists Rainer Krenzke and Jay Parmar we did just that and discovered in Sounds Of Berlin another of this year’s pleasures.

Rainium is an Anglo/German endeavour created by Krenzke in 2017. With a swift link up with vocalist Michael Voss (Mad Max, Casanovo, ex-Bonfire), the emerging project was soon the host of new songs, demos, and a line-up subsequently completed by bassist Marco Tardanico (ELA) and British lead guitarist Jay Parmar (Eden’s Curse, Iron Knights, The Inner Road). Musically, Rainium weave a sound bedded in a fusion of classic and hard rock and alive with individual craft. As that first single and its title track revealed, the album revels in a blend of familiar and wholly fresh ingredients though across a dozen tracks Sounds Of Berlin quickly and firmly unveils a far richer adventure of sound and enterprise.

The brief attention luring invitation of ET (Et Toujours) leads eagerly into the waiting arms of Two Friends which welcomes ears with big swinging beats amidst rapacious threads of guitar. Quickly it opens up a web of melodic threads and vocal incitement, both as persuasive on ears and body as the continuingly infectious rhythms. Edging on the side of snarling, riffs drive the song’s catchy stroll whilst the melodic prowess of Krenzke aligns with Parmar’s skilled intricacies and invention until it all rousingly unites with the anthemic incitement of the band’s combined vocals.

It is a potent start to the album which the band’s current single wraps itself as it shares its own individual enticement. From the enclosed theatre of the subways, Sounds Of Berlin hits its catchy stride with a boisterous appetite, setting up classic rock nurtured riffs and hooks in a catchy and tempting embrace at the same time. Tardanico’s bass throbs magnetically under the song’s skin as Parmar’s stylish weave wraps a body teasing with almost industrial hued flavours at times though its chorus is pure eighties rock natured.

In The Dead Of Winter strides in next, confident in its temptation and indeed it takes mere seconds to get under the skin as rhythms pounce and vocals hook. It is a wicked start which softens a touch as its equally contagious chorus shares keen energy, the cycle just as virulent the second time around. With Parmar again enthralling in his craft and enterprise, the track lays down a strong best track claim before Farewell slows things a little but adds greater intensity and emotion in its metal infused canter. Melodically haunting as drama lines every moment entangled in the emotive intimation of the guitars, the song makes for one of the album’s most absorbing moments.

Another big highlight of the release comes with Right Here Right Now, a song which starts with almost predatory intent as its initial riffs strike but soon simply seduces attention as the instantly captivating tones of Ilo Schnittchen (Isle Of Rock) nestle in the melodic embrace of the song. With rousing eruptions in the heart of the temptation, the track proved increasingly irresistible and firmly one of our favourite moments.

Both Just The One with its open nineties rock seeding and the wild almost salacious antics and suggestiveness of Gypsy had the body bouncing if neither could quite rival the success of its predecessor while Wake Up stakes its own claim on one of the album’s major moments with its prowling intrigue and drama. From the compelling throaty lures of Tardanico’s bass to the subsequent almost new wave nurtured melodic captivation which wraps the imagination, the song enthralled and embroiled us in its gentle swing.

With Parmar’s steel strings as poetic as ever, it is a fine close to the collection of seriously engaging and forcibly memorable songs though Sounds Of Berlin still has the pleasure of three bonus tracks to please ears with. The first is another version of Right Here Right Now which sees Schnittchen and Voss in more of a duet across its highly magnetic body, its treat followed by an instrumental demo of In The Dead Of Winter and a demo take of Just The One.

From the moment an idea, which was to become Rainium, escaped Krenzke’s imagination it has been three years of inspiration, passion, and endeavour from all members, traits shaping and fuelling a release we can only suggest needs a lusty checking out.

Sounds Of Berlin is available now.

 http://rainium.com   https://www.facebook.com/RainiumBand   https://twitter.com/jayparmarguitar

Pete RingMaster 05/12/2019

Copyright RingMasterReview: MyFreeCopyright