Various Artists – “La Contra Ola”

It’s always heartening to see that the wealth of reissue material isn’t hitting dry sands at this point. While the majors scramble to repress issues of records that could easily be found lying in the dollar bin (Janis Joplin’s Greatest Hits I’m looking your way) labels like Swiss imprint Les Disques Bongo Joe are digging into the grit and grime of post-punk, exploring the not remotely picked over fertile ground of 80’s Spanish Synth Wave. And while the album could easily act as a companion piece to the great issue Sombras (Spanish Post Punk + Dark Pop 1981-1986) that Munster put out, it picks a little deeper at the wound of Spain’s brittle underground.

As with any compilation of this type there are curiosities and obvious standouts that feel like they should have been part of the national conversation for years. Heading up the standouts is an entry from the woefully named Zombies (no relationship to the UK band) whose RCA single “Extraños Juegos” is a delight that should populate pretty much any post-punk mixtape you’ve got going. There are shades of industrial (La Fura Dels Baus), squirming nerve-pop (Tres) and frantic synth pop (Todo Todo) that seems like someone in the Sega music mill might have been listening in when soundtracking the 16-bit generation (esp. Kid Chameleon). All around, a great collection that shines a light on quite a few acts that have been languishing out of the spotlight for years. If Les Disques Bongo Joe hasn’t been on your radar up to this point, keep an eye for some truly necessary gems.


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