Some bands thrive, while others, inexplicably disappear. The glory days of 80’s minimalist synth comprised roughly the years from 1982 until 1985 with fits and spurts every since. This trend has often been called Minimal Wave. For the sake of brevity, I’ll consider it a legitimate micro-genre and not enter into any broader discussions about whether it deserves its own classification outside of the more common but equally maddening delineations of Synthpop, Electropop, Synthpunk and Coldwave. Well known bands like Kraftwerk or Front 242 that fit the profile transcended micro-genre classification because they simply gained popular appeal. Staples of the genre included elementary musical structure, relatively unpolished production (part and parcel with the “I’m-trying-so-hard-I’m-not-really-trying facade) and the use of analog synthesizers and drum machines. Minimal Wave sounds mechanical and often repetitious to the point of numbness. Let it be said that this is not a nostalgia post. 97.9% of this style of music proved disposable, but from within these Dogme-like constraints, a few artists recorded brilliant lo-fi sounds of 80’s-era emptiness and disillusionment. It should come as no surprise to any fan of 80s music that Germany became an epicenter for this style of music. And it is from Germany that today’s forgotten band of the 80’s hails. Jyl (pronounced: Jill), named after lead singer Jyl Porch, deserved a better fate than a one-record catalog and total anonymity by the turn of the decade, particularly since Klaus Schulze, electronic-music legend and one-time member of Tangerine Dream, produced the record. Jyl shares a vocal kinship with notable front-women like Annie Lennox and Siouxsie, but her more even-tempered crooning fit the electronic bleeps and blips perfectly. This album really is a gem and if you happen across it in any secondhand record shop or flea market, buy it immediately. You won’t regret it. And I will be jealous because I am still searching for my copy.
Jyl – Computer Love
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Jyl – Mechanic Ballerina
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Jyl – Universe
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I’d love to offer more information on the band or their subsequent projects but I’m finding very little information of note. Okay, I’m finding nothing at all. The part about being German doesn’t help my cause. They just seem less prone to the frivolous sharing of information. No sales numbers, no singles charts. I’ve got nothing other than a few blogs out there on the Interwebs that have dedicated pages, not entirely unlike this one, to the cause of bringing Jyl back to some music fans that might indeed like to discover something old and fresh.
Shout out to Fantasmi Macchina, a tremendous (but also apparently dead) blog that highlights many forgotten artists, including Jyl. Follow this link to hear even more Jyl.