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Data: Opera Electronica (reissue)

Possibly best known for his pivotal role in chart darlings Sailor and the techno-pop of Noir, Georg Kajanus also spent time in Electron and with the electronica pioneers Data. Having previously reissued some of his other work, Angel Air now turn their attention to the latter, the early eighties released, but in places, late seventies written compositions from Data finding a collective whose influence over what was to come, is possibly stronger felt than their own musical legacy. Opera Electronica was the band's first album, Kajanus teaming up with vocalists Frankie and Phil Boulter to provide a hybrid of out and out pop, and the more uncompromising synth focused outfits, such as Kraftwerk. One observer being as bold to suggest they were like a joining of Abba and Giorgio Moroder something that with retrospect is quite a stretch of the imagination. Along the way everything from Talking Heads to Jean Michel Jarre is reminded of, although it's the vocals of Frankie and Phil which are forced to the front as wordy lyrics that aren't afraid to tackle politics and (then) current affairs, are relayed in surprisingly joyous fashion.

This clash of styles and ideals leaves a challenging, full on experience, the feeling being that you have to constantly dig deep to truly unearth the heart of these songs. Something which is otherwise buried behind darting harmony vocals and numerous effects and beats. The passing of time leaves a lot of the results sounding naive and decidedly dated, the simplistic sounds deceptively intricate. Although the twee aspect that the intervening years between recording and reissue brings, can grate on the nerves, the likes of "Fallout" now unintentionally TV theme music like as chirpy choruses and bright synth splashes move a million miles from the cutting edges they used to frequent. Unfortunately it's a similar story throughout, "Fever Of Love" undoubtedly catchy in places, but never in a stick in the mind sort of way, while the more overtly avant-garde "Life On Video" simply struggles to hold the attention through its starkness and lack of entry point. Still, with "Armageddon" a prime example of how to deal with tough issues in a cleverly flippant style and the opera based title track illustrating just how daring Data were attempting to be, there's still a lot to admire. The latter blending styles in a way that maybe isn't so readily illustrated elsewhere.

Two bonus cuts are added to the original ten tracks, "Politics" another overtly bright and bloopy jaunt, while "Talk" may actually be the most immediate track in sight. Although again, the dated aspect of what the 80s thought of as being fashionable, can now be a little jarring.

For fans of Kajanus's wide and hugely varied catalogue, this reissue will be most welcome, while for followers of burgeoning electronica, there will also be rewards aplenty. However, if you don't fall into those categories, it wouldn't be too tough to suggest that what Data were breaking boundaries with in 1981, now sounds more like 'kids' music' than it does daringly different pop.

Track Listing
1. Cuckooland
2. I Want To Know
3. Fallout
4. Fever Of Love
5. Star
6. Left Right Centre
7. Life On Video
8. Armageddon
9. Boys Will Be Boys
10. Opera Electronica
Bonus Tracks
11. Politics
12. Talk

Added: October 29th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Opera Electronica at Angel Air
Hits: 302
Language: english

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