“Heresy: A Tribute To Rational Youth” review


Heresy: A Tribute to Rational Youth is a brilliant example of a cleverly thought out Rational Youth covers compilation. Those who are not familiar with Rational Youth have really missed out on a part of synth pop music history. The band is one of the Canada’s synth sound pioneers and that makes them important, despite their lack of great commercial hits.

Just last month the Tribute to Rational Youth compilation was released by Cold War Night Life, consisting of two LPs, a 12” single and two CDs.

Nineteen inspired artists, including Rational Youth themselves, contributed to this fantastic project. The covers focused mostly, but not exclusively, on the Cold War Night Life album.

heresyWhat I found interesting is the difference in approach when covering the same track. While Candide chose something best described as italo disco for “City of Night”, Machinista, on the other hand, covered the same track with a harsher and more modern sound presenting it as the original’s futuristic dance version.

Beware the Fly” in Project Grudge‘s interpretation really got a life of its own and took me by surprise with its raw, grunge sound that I would have not expected, at least not here. However, it was nice to hear such a version where the genres intertwined. And while Independent State decided to go all synth in its cover of that track, again, it somehow managed to make it sound harsher. Both bands went for a sound that was a bit darker than the original.

One of the tracks I was really interested in hearing was the Pyche‘s cover of “Ring the Bells”. And, even though I was far from listening to all the tracks, I was already sold on this one. Psyche made the melody flowing and almost ethereal, coloured with so much emotion. I was very interested in Touching The Void since I knew this track would fit their style perfectly. Again one more job well done. This time, the “Ring the Bells” idea was delivered by the more precise and exact sound and these two covers fought a hard battle over this song. Both of them have been very much to my liking; Psyche keeping it more on the mellow side and Touching The Void sounding more analytic.

Parralox is known for great covers, and there it was, John von Ahlen’s version of “I Want to See the Light”. As predicted, he did a splendid job. No matter how much I love the original tracks, the covers really gave them a new life, and the one by Parralox could find its way to the dance floor. The melody runs so smoothly, it can be followed so easily. And I must pay compliments to John’s vocal performance here.

heresy2 Technomancer feat. Angst Pop chose the track from the Heredity album: “I’ve Got A Sister in the Navy”. They cleverly turned this ’80s pop track into a powerful pulsating rhythmic sensation, by carefully following the great melody. Sometime I would really like to hear it very loud. Recommended to all the DJs out there.

One more great cover from Heredity that caught my attention was “Holiday In Bangkok” by John Costello. Even though this one comes close to the original, it feels enriched by the modern sound and production.

The cover of “Talk To Me (I’m Only Human)” from Rational Youth’s To the Goddess Electricity album was surely a daring move for Diskodiktator, since the original version seems such a perfect piece that I could not even imagine it covered. The cover delivers a bit more vibrant and saturated version, distanced from the dance vibe of the original.

And here we are, back to Cold War Night Life. “Saturdays in Silesia” by Johan Baeckstrom brings that pure synth pop feel as close as it gets and presents perfectly what this VA project is all about: unveiling the story of synth pop by recording more of good synth pop.

And, let’s not forget, Rational Youth contributed to this wonderful synth pop treasure creation by putting out “This Side of the Border” from their Future Past Tense EP released earlier this year.

The rest you will need to discover for yourselves and I advise you to do so! Get your copy and submerge yourself into the world of Rational Youth’s timeless songs in their new skins.

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