Skip to main content

Robert Reed's favourite five electronica tracks

RR
(Image credit: Robert Reed)

Robert Reed recently released his new electronica and synth album Cursus 123 430, which sees him drawing inspiration from a wide array of electronic artists.

"Over the years, and especially of late, I’ve realised how much I have also been impacted by electronic music." says Reed. "From Jarre to Vangelis, from Ultravox to Depeche Mode, and from John Carpenter to Tangerine Dream. So I went out and bought a collection of old analogue synthesisers and this is the album that resulted, which I hope is one that captures the emotion and warmth."

Here Reed picks his five favourite electronic tracks.

Prog

ULTRAVOX - VIENNA

A prog epic in five minutes using tempo changes and those early cello samples. I love the descending piano runs and the slowdown into the last chorus. What an atmosphere those electronic drums created at the opening with the distant piano. And of course, there is the video which has all the excesses of Prog.

TUBEWAY ARMY - ARE FRIENDS ELECTRIC

Now this is a weird one because it was hailed as a big electronic anthem, but the music is played on real instruments – drums, bass and electric guitars. Gary Numan said they only added the Moog because it was lying around in the studio. What a song and a testimony to the power of Moog melodies. It’s just a classic.

SPACE - MAGIC FLY

I remember this being a number one single in 1977. The video featured these guys in space suits with early TV F/X on their visors. It must be one of the first electronic dance records, but it has a brilliant production and melody. The band came from France and this was their only UK hit.

JEAN-MICHEL JARRE - EQUINOXE PART 4

I have to include the master of electronic music. Vangelis had the musical chops and was really a concert pianist so was not afraid to get into the classical feel. But Jarre is more ‘less is more’ when it came to melodies, which are almost childlike, but that is just the sign of a gift for commerciality. The sound of Oxygene is so organic because of the use of real analog synths where many home organs are played through an effects unit. To me, it sounded like something from another planet. I could put on my headphones and I would feel like I was travelling through space.

TANGERINE DREAM - FORCE MAJEURE

This is the only Tangerine Dream album I own but I play it to death. Weirdly, it has real drums and guitars on it, but still works with that combination against the synths. They were signed to Virgin Records at the same time as Mike Oldfield, and I can see some similarities with this album. Again, I love the atmosphere on these 1970s albums. You can also smell the studio and the smell of those old synths working away. It is music very much of its time, a little grey and depressing. But the thing that draws me are the melodies.