Various Artists, Balearic Electronic

Barry Walters

By Barry Walters

on 07.26.12 in Reviews

Balearic Electronic

Various Artists

Although much of the Balearic series is a forerunner to today’s EDM, Balearic Electronic is where its sounds are most pointedly synthetic. This is synthpop, unabashedly robotic for its time, yet also elegant in its emphatically European, quasi-symphonic alienation: ’80s dance music doesn’t get more estranged than Anne Clarke’s poetically pained cult club hit “Our Darkness.” An apt remedy to the summer heat, nearly everything else here is refreshingly chilly: OMD’s 1980 early UK breakthrough “Messages” remains the coolest in its long discography. As with most other installments, there’s a US pop smash here, When in Rome’s deeply romantic 1988 single “The Promise,” but a lot more from the margins, courtesy of B-sides, album cuts and should-have-bit-hits by early Heaven 17, China Crisis, Ultravox and other staples of the decade’s alternative dancefloors.