Zeus B. Held – Vinyl Collection (Medical Records, October 2015)

Busy celebrating its fifth birthday and focusing on new artists, Seattle’s Medical Records has been quiet of late. As they return to their archival-selves, Medical have a guest of honour, and one who perfectly matches the label’s taste for that neon green zone between Italo, cosmic Prog and the more wacky sides of NDW. Bernd Held, aka Zeus B. Held, is well known for his work in crazed Neue Welle act Gina X Performance, but his career as producer and musician tells a longer, more intricate story. Debuting in early ‘70s Krautrock like many of his generation, he went on to develop a whole range of interesting futuristic ideas by himself, pre and post-Gina, producing three albums at the cusp of the 1980s, from which Medical have curated this retrospective.

The line that emerges from Held’s solo ventures ain’t straight: we hear him meandering left, right and centre, and there’s reason to believe he had a lot of fun. Like Moroder but madder, this Vinyl Collection is mouth-watering ARPs one moment, tender, funky vocoder the next, with almost symphonic electric violin compositions, melodies that sound like TV credits wedged in-between. There’s a sleazy and slightly satanic cover of the Beatles classic “Drive My Car”, a watery, happy track called “Intermezzo in Acqua”, and spacey opening piece, “Enfant Terrible”. If the Welle side of the 1980s interests you this is classic bubbling froth from the German wave.

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