Dick’s Picks: “I don’t know, you wait around for one vintage cold-wave synth classic and then…..”
Paul Nova – what do we know?
Hailing from the West Midlands, Paul Nova (possibly not his real name) was, like many other budding musicians of his generation, given a right-royal, motivational kick up the backside by punk. 1978 saw him release a one-off 7” single as the Resistors, before quickly morphing into Bizarre Unit, a skronky post-punky type affair with one foot in the Roxy Music camp whilst the other was busy getting seduced by the flashing lights and make-up of Gary Numan, Mute Records, Japan and Kraftwerk (but of course). After a Damascene moment witnessing Wire live, the newly monikered Paul Nova emerged with a single-minded determination to succeed on his own terms (with the help of fellow band members Neil Chapman and Andrew Moody that is) – and before you could say, “Fiat Lux”, two 7” singles were released in ’82 and ’83 on their own self-financed Exhibit One Records. Recent years has seen the remains of just about every music genre picked over for lost gems, synth freaks from the dawn of the ’80s with angular haircuts are no exception – it’s been labelled retrospectively as ‘cold-wave’ don-cha-know.
What’s the album ‘Trees Without Leaves’ like?
Firstly it’s brilliantly evocative of the era it was released, and if you’re a fan of synth/electronica/post-punk it has a lot to offer, a fantastic DIY aesthetic, real song-writing nous and home-made sleeve art to boot. Take album opener, ‘Lovers In Paris’ which ticks any number of cold-wave boxes; from the icy European cool hinted at by the Parisian locale to the oh-so detached vocal ticks found throughout “when you’re in Paris you drink red wine all day” (well, you do) and lest we forget that wonderful one-finger synth riff riding rough-shod over a Bauhaus-esque bassline….
Second track ‘You Could Be Good’ is really, rather good. This time it’s inter-locking guitar motifs and rumbling low-end bass manoeuvres give it a distinct post-punk Wire vibe, yes that good..
Fast forward to track four and Paul & Co. really let rip – it’s 4.30 of ramshackle drum machine, all manner of electronically processed plinks and plonks a distorted vocal effect (similar to cult French fave Black Devil Disco Club in fact) all the while proffering a sanguine account of mass-deforestation…you didn’t get that with Kajagoogoo!!
What happened next?
Paul Nova carried on with another 12″ ‘Fantasy and Feeling’ released in 1985 (we also have that in stock and you can get the full info here )
There’s not a whole lot out there biog-wise so unsure if Paul went on to work in music behind the scenes or re-trained as something else – a tree surgeon perhaps? However, recent years have seen such an upsurge in the value of privately pressed vinyl (especially synthy-cold-wave stuff) that original copies have been rising in price at an alarming rate, there was a reissue with bonus tracks out through Vinyl On Demand in Germany in 2015 – but you want the autographed original right? Good, ‘cos that’s we have in stock, grab your instant collectors item today….
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