Kanka Bodewell - Stroboscope

Kanka Bodewell
Infected Recordings

Orange Sector having a bit of a Tiktok moment thanks to the capricious algorithm gods descending upon their 2016 single “Farben” wasn’t something any of us had on our 2024 bingo cards. Whether that converts into broader sustained success for the German EBM vets is anyone’s guess, but that this crossover moment is happening at the same time that Orange Sector’s Martin Bodewell is releasing a collaborative album with Armageddon Dildos’ Uwe Kanka feels ironic. Despite being a good deal poppier and theoretically more accessible than most work by either parent band, Stroboscope is very much a product of sounds and styles which Kanka and Bodewell have been working in proximity to for years before the majority of kids streaming “Farben” were even born.

Stroboscope is something of a record out of time – apart from some very subtle production tics, there’s very little in the influences or instrumentation of the record which would prohibit it from being released at any point from the mid 90s to the present. This is a record formed by and aimed for the European dark club milieu of the past few decades (it seems fitting that in a recent interview with Synthpop Fanatic the duo recently stated that the prospect of the collaboration has existed for more than a decade), and by that measure it’s a real treat. The pure 90s synthpop of “Believe” (which is crying out for a remix EP) with its crooning vocal harmonies stands alongside the stomp-and-oomph of “Marathon”‘s Nitzer-styled EBM and tunes like “Sisters & Brothers” which sits square in the middle of the hybrid style we’ve simply defaulted to terming European electro.

It’s that peanut butter and chocolate combo of EBM aggression and synthpop sweetness which gives the record its identity. Again, nothing on the record is a quantum leap away from Orange Sector’s or especially Armageddon Dildos’ bouncier tracks, but hearing roots body music by veteran craftsmen like these two thrown into relief by bubbling melodies is decidedly addictive. The way that the monotone and stridently anhalt “Bleib Nicht Stehen” suddenly blooms into a lush and melodic synthpop-adjacent delivery on its chorus is a perfect summation of the charms of Stroboscope.

In their previous projects, both Kanka and Bodewell have experimented with the softer sides of the EBM scene they helped cement, and with this project they’re able to fully indulge in that area. Will anyone from the Tiktok generation make their way over to Stroboscope during the fifteen minutes of fame “Farben” has been afforded? Who’s to say, and who’s to say how they’d triangulate it against their own tastes, but for those of who’ve been tracking each man’s work since the Napster or mp3.com days, the bright melodic streak which runs through Stroboscope is a welcome refreshing of classic sounds. Recommended.

Buy it.