Deca – Synthetic Lips (Mothball / Bordello a Parigi, February 2016)

From the Italian region of Liguria, another sweet though very different morsel from the archive came this month in the form of a reissue of Deca’s 1987 album Synthetic Lips, courtesy of those nutters from Mothball Records/Bordello a Parigi. If you’re a lover of Italian wave, Federico De Caroli’s Deca back-catalogue has probably been on your Discogs wishlist for a while now, and listeners might also recognise Deca from his beautiful ‘First Frequency’, which was included in the second Mannequin Danza Meccanica compilation.

De Caroli’s an odd one, and this LP reveals him in all his oddness. Synthetic Lips is obscure sci-fi one minute, brainy Italo the next, but what really prevails is a sort of olympic atmosphere, something athletic, a strange mix of Kosmischer Läufer and Francis Martin executed in the long shadow of Depeche Mode’s Black Celebration. And in spite of everything, the whole thing sounds really extremely Italian. Muscular and often very dark, Deca glitzes his way through endless arpeggios and modulations to produce music that is strangely always triumphant yet always ominous, as if the idea of victory and the idea of apocalypse coincided. If you’re a fan of darkwave or dark Italo, and you open-heartedly accept Vangelis and Jarre but consider yourself a tad too refined for stadium synth, there’s a lot of joy in here for you. This is really music of the 1980s, almost a scrap of historical evidence of long-gone aesthetics. Archivally interesting and  also quite an emotional journey – and good on Mothball for staying true to their name. Next let’s do Claustrophobia, shall we?