’81 in ’21

Last night at 1 am I had the great idea to make a mix or playlist featuring music from 1981 – since it is now 40 years ago and there was so much groundbreaking music released around then, especially music that went on to influence electronic artists of the 90s. We’ve also featured quite a lot of post-punk from 1981 in our 80s (non)hits series. But I wanted to focus on the pioneers of synthesizers, sequencers and drum machines. Synth wave, early industrial music and experimental post-punk – but also italo and techno-pop.

The second brilliant idea I had was to ask Josh of Dark Entries if he wanted to contribute. It turns out that by coincidence, he’d just played a set of favourites from 1981 on his radio show, because it’s his birthday this week (happy bday Josh) and he was born in 1981. So I felt this playlist was meant to be. You can check out his masterful set here, which I have also taken some inspiration from. Two other great comps to check out is La Contra Ola that I’ve already mentioned not to long ago (for its selection of early Spanish synth music) and Mannequin’s Danza Meccanica Italian Synth Wave (of which there are two volumes).

I tried to steer clear of some of the most familiar records from 1981, such as Depeche Mode’s debut, while limiting the number of tracks to 40. So here it is, ’81 In ’21 – a celebration of early electro sounds, from DAF to Telex to Nightmoves.


Logic System – Clash
Tangerine Dream – Pilots of Purple Twilight
Grauzone – Eisbär
D.A.F. – Als wär’s das letzte Mal
K.I.D. – Don’t Stop (original mix)
Patrick Cowley – Get a Little
Taxi Girl – Jardin chinois (nouvelle version)
Carol – Breakdown
Kuruki – Crocodile Tears
Gülistan Okan – Yabancı
David Chesworth – Finding Out
Trek With Quintronic – Meet the Beat
Los Microwaves – TV In My Eye
Rich La Bonté – Show Me Pictures
Jeff & Jane Hudson – PCP
Asmus Tietchens – In die Zukunft
Esplendor Geométrico – Necrosis en la Poya
Crash Course In Science – Flying Turns
Sympathy Nervous – His Forte
Art & Technique – Dérive
Turquoise Days – French Film Backwards
Svart – Den sovande i dalen
The Lines – The Landing
Zombies – Crimen
TodoTodo – Tratamiento Radical
Chris & Cosey – Heartbeat
Cabaret Voltaire – Landslide
Nightmoves – Transdance
Cybotron – Alleys of Your Mind
Absolute Body Control – Figures
Telex – Réalité
Clara Mondshine – Caesar In Camerun
Klaus Schulze – Silent Running
Ryuichi Sakamoto – Boku no Kakera
Suicide Dada – Acque
Der Blaue Reiter – Through Glasses
Din A Testbild – Satisfactory
Carmody – Time’s Under
Sons of Science – Way of Life
The Metronomes – A Living Person

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