‘Buchla and Singing’ Is Synth Pop for Geeks

Geek Culture Music Reviews
"Buchla & Singing" by Reed & Caroline is a fun synthpop album for geeks everywhere.
“Buchla & Singing” by Reed & Caroline is a fun synthpop album for geeks everywhere. Photo courtesy of VeryRecords

If you share my taste in music, you will immediately recognize the name Vince Clarke.

But even if you don’t, you’re probably familiar with music he’s created. You may not remember Yaz (or Yazoo for the Europeans–though Upstairs at Eric’s is a great album to this day). And you may know Erasure best for their song “Always,” the pitch-perfect backdrop for Robot Unicorn Attack, even though the band is still touring and releasing albums. But you almost certainly know Depeche Mode, which Clarke also founded. He is a basting stitch through the quilt of synthpop.

While his music alone has influenced countless artists, he’s more recently helped artists directly via his label VeryRecords, which he describes as “a very small record label dedicated to releasing very fine electronic music.” The label’s second album, Buchla and Singing, certainly qualifies and is sure to appeal to fans of this style of music.

Geeks like us will find much to enjoy in the album’s kid-friendly, upbeat music. Several of the songs have a strong science motif, such as “Singularity (We Bond)” and “Electrons.” My personal favorite of the songs is “Washing Machine,” which gives a noble, catchy view of the humdrum appliance’s life. But the opening lyrics of “John and Rene” are my earworm most days. I’ve been listening to the album any chance I get in the last week.

Music geeks will be equally enamored of the fact that the duo used a Buchla synthesizer as the sole instrument. I don’t know enough about synthesizers to know much about the model, but I can tell when something looks and sounds amazing. I researched it a bit as I wrote this; it’s clearly a complex instrument with large amounts of potential, and the album showcases the wide range of its abilities. Clarke says of it, “I had one once but I sold it. It’s way too difficult to use.” But Reed Hays says he went to Oberlin as a cellist “just to be able to get his hands on the college’s Buchla synthesizer.”

The artists' kids in front of the Buchla. Photo courtesy of VeryRecords
The artists’ kids in front of the Buchla. Photo courtesy of VeryRecords
While Hays manages the Buchla, Caroline Schutz adds dreamy, pure vocals to the tracks. The songs have an ambient quality that strikes me as more modern than the synthpop I know best, and I feel like some of the songs have Eastern or Middle Eastern influences that speak to our more global culture, but there’s no denying its place in the genre.
The album is available for download as of October 14, so pre-order your copy now.
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