Standstill to Motion - Minny Pops Album Review

Minny Pops
Minny Pops

Album Review

Their name comes from a particular brand of Korg drum-machine, but back in the early '80s Dutch band Minny Pops (the Dutch new-wave aggro-popsters) were occasionally confused with Mini Pops (grim kiddy karaoke band with TV series). Ironically, the latter made far more money and gained a wider audience than their European similarly-pronounced namesakes. A pity there was much to like in the doomy outfit's canon.

To coincide with the band's first shows for 30-odd years (yes, we have tickets see below), sympathetic LTM Recordings have drawn together a box-fresh remaster of a rare Melkweg show from 1981, coupled with a swathe of live visuals and promo videos presented in raw (and unpolished) form. It's a fitting preface to what may well be a memorable quartet of UK shows in January 2012.

The CD half of the package positively bursts from the speakers and has been buffed up to the highest standard. The set-list for the show includes many renditions of tracks from "Sparks in a Dark Room" (their sole Factory album), including "Wong", "Tracking" and "Trance", as well as a trio of singles tracks and the odd rarity, including "Lights", "Island" and "Kogel", all of which reveal a more thoughtful, and less aggressive electro facet to their art. Minny Pops were clearly not chart material, but possessed a certain something and were, at this time, at the peak of their popularity.

And, in fact, 'art' plays a considerable part in Minny Pops' live performances on the accompanying DVD. Lead-singer and 'conceptualist' Wally van Middendorp is a formidable performer. Not in the Hendrix, Cobain or Clapton sense, more in the disjointed, unpredictable and almost unsettling manner that Ian Curtis displayed, with essence of Kraftwerk and Gilbert and George and big-framed glasses. The live excerpts presented on the DVD, range from stints at the Peppermint Lounge and Hurrah in New York to a clutch of 'art'-ful performances, including a seriously freaked-out version of their landmark single, "Dolphin's Spurt". It's a shame they didn't sing it at Melkweg.

"Standstill to Motion" is a robust document that capably demonstrates the range of Minny Pops' emotions in fact, to paraphrase the title, from standstill ("Een Kus") to motion ("Son"). Bring on the gigs.

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