Synth Britania – a BBC Doc about [white dudes in] 70s/80s British Electronica
Synth Britania is available in full on YouTube, and it’s an interesting and informative enough documentary filled with a lot of good music. Some of the info is going to be redundant for a lot of serious fans of this genre, but there *is* a fair amount of live footage of original performances, so that makes up for the redundancy problem.
The best part, however, is when Simon Reynolds says that Cabaret Voltare sounds like Daleks (Which they don’t: CV’s vocals sound *far* more processed than Dalek lines):
My main impression of Synth Britania, however, is the near complete absence of women, and the total absence of people of color. There have to have been more women involved in this than Gillian Gilbert (of New Order, who gets a passing mention as “the drummer’s girlfriend”), Alison Moyet (of Yaz, who actually gets interviewed, but not without several remarks about her weight), and Joanne Catherall and Susan Ann Sulley (of Human League, who are also interviewed, but treated as sort of ornaments to the ‘real’ group). Genesis P. Orrigde is mentioned, but only as a male — same with Wendy Carlos. Giorgio Moroder gets some serious love, but why not Donna Summer? And seriously, there were plenty of people of color in late 20th-c Britain. So, where were they in British synth/electro? And if there really weren’t more women, or if there really were zero people of color in the scene, why?…Why didn’t they interview Kodwo Eshun, a prominent black British music critic who is an authority on electronica and Afrofuturism?
I guess as an American who was introduced to Kraftwerk by Afrika Bambaataa learned about electronic music from Laurie Anderson and Derek May/Juan Atkins/Kevin Saunderson, the total whiteness and maleness of the scene presented in Synth Britania seems, well, really weird. (And, for all the Dr. Who allusions in the doc, why no mention of Delia Derbyshire?)