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V/A – Living On Video

V/A - Living On Video

DVD, Cohaagen, 2003

“Living on Video” is the first incursion of American Synthpop label Cohaagen into the domain of video publishing. After a fashion, it’s a label sampler compilation published in video, showcasing the musical and image work of twenty bands which can be considered as representative of the current trends in the Synthpop genre, four of which are signed to the Cohaagen label (Ganymede, Fr/Action, Gary Flanagan and Nukleon).
There is great variety of in this compilation, from more retro-sounding Synthpop and Wave to Future Pop and even Electroclash, with dance-floor oriented tracks as well as material that can be classified as synthpop ballads. The themes of the songs are as varied as the song-styles themselves, even if in most cases they deal with relationships and personal feelings (not a fault per se, simply one of the chief characteristics of the synthpop genre).
Visually speaking, the videos are also very varied in style and thematic and, despite some lows, the overall production effort put into the videos is quite high as is their originality. However, I feel that some stand out more than others…
Some are noticeable as being particularly original and suiting the songs like a glove and enhancing them. Of particular note are NASA’s extremely clever “Back to Square One”, Gary Flanagan’s nostalgic “Summertime”, Soviet’s whitewash-look “Commute” and Freezepop’s animated “Stakeout”.
In some cases, the video might not have much to do with the song itself but still be a remarkable visual piece drawing attention to the song (which is what a video is supposed to do). B!Machine’s cryptic “In Thrall”, Electrosquad’s “Envy” with James Bond undertones, Nukleon’s “Homewrecker” and Axoe’s “Calling” come to mind as videos in this class.
Naturally, there are also some not-so-good pieces in which the video doesn’t add anything to the song or even detracts from it like Neuropa’s “Lifeline”, Moulin Noir’s “Maria Calling” and Cosmicity’s CGI “Technology”. However, these are exceptions to what is otherwise a very good music and video compilation of the Synthpop genre.


— Miguel de Sousa

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