Do you have what it takes to
become a DECEMBER AGENT?


Our AKG C414

We need a singer!

December Agents has published four basic new demos (without vocals) on SoundCloud. If you'd like to collaborate on this project, download the tracks. You can either record your own vocal to go with them yourself, or contact us, and we can setup a time for you to come to the studio in Chicago and try singing with our AKG C414 condenser mic.

You could be a December Agent!

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Go check out our SoundCloud demos now!

Tangerine Dream performance Tangerine Dream - Tangram

Some examples of my musical influences...

The following should give some ideas of where I'd like to go musically, along with some of the demos on SoundCloud. This may give some idea of whether you'd like to collaborate on this project.

Tangerine Dream

As far as I'm concerned, they are the elder statesmen of electronic music. Formed in 1967 during the psychedelic period, they ended up being some of the founders of the music which later during the 70's became known as "krautrock" (or more politely, Berlin School electronic music). If you've been into electronic music for long, chances are good that their seminal 1974 album "Phaedra" is already in your collection.

If you like Moogs, tape delays, pulsating, warbling LFO's and filters, and dark forboding analog soundscapes that never stop also being melodic, like a classical piece done with tubes and wires, you'll absolutely love pretty much everything they've done up through the late 80's. After that, they seem to have lost their inspiration, as seems to happen with most artists after awhile.

Fairlight sampler Kate Bush - The Dreaming

Kate Bush

Best known for her 1985 synthpop release, "Running Up That Hill", she is proof that in the 80's, being a real artist was not the hindrance to making the pop charts that it is now. Most of her songs have a certain science fiction aspect to them -- about things like a machine that can change the weather (putting its inventor into danger from the government); a woman whose lover has been shot, which prompts her to make a deal with God to exchange their places; a bank robbery gone wrong; witches; madmen; travels through space; seeing a duplicate of oneself suffocating in the water under a frozen lake, and looking back at her own double from under the ice...etc. All of these slightly off lyrics set to electronic tracks done with the Fairlight CMI, the queen of samplers in the 80's. And while ownership of a $100,000 Fairlight was common with wealthy musicians in the 80's as a sort of status symbol to show they had "made it," many Fairlight owners then really never scratched the surface of what it could do or really learned to program it. (Actually, let's just say it: They wanted to show everyone they had a Fairlight.) Kate Bush was probably one of a very few Fairlight owners who actually took the time to understand the machine and use it to potential.

The Art of Noise members The Art of Noise - In Visible Silence

The Art of Noise

And speaking of people who really know what to do with a Fairlight CMI, we should not fail to also mention Trever Horn's most interesting project, The Art of Noise.


Martin Gore of Depeche Mode Depeche Mode - A Broken Frame

Depeche Mode

Of all of the various electronic groups that came out of the new wave direction rock music moved into in the 80's, probably none were more electronic in the pure sense than these guys. And whereas most of this type of music was trying to keep a certain upbeatness for pop radio's sake, it seems like Depeche Mode weren't really worried about it. Their wonderful bleakness provided the spark for much of the industrial, gothic, and darkwave musical splinters that came later. Today, in the current-day neo-synthpop movement, probably no other influence from 80's new wave and synthpop is being more still felt and credited (and endlessly copied) by the various groups that have surfaced now than Depeche Mode.


B! Machine B! Machine - Hybrid

B! Machine

Probably the quickest way to explain B! Machine's music if you've never heard it would be: Imagine a version of Depeche Mode that can't be properly listened to without a subwoofer. Yes, bass. Lots and lots of really low analog bass. For years now, I have witnessed with disappointment the sort of pop music that has come out that uses sub-bass frequencies and thought to myself, "Such potential...if only it was real music." Well, with B! Machine...it is. B! Machine unites the world of the second "British Invasion" with the capabilities of modern sound systems, and the result will crack the plaster in your house.

The founder of B! Machine is San Francisco keyboardist Nathaniel Nicoll, who started it after its predecessor project Doctors With Knives fell apart. Unlike most other neo-synthpop bands of the 2000's, B! Machine was active during the "dry period" of the 90's, during which almost no music of this type was being made. As of 2010, B! Machine seems to have gone defunct, but has done so after having been one of the longest-lived and most prolific neo-synthpop groups during two decades, releasing over a dozen CD albums. They'll be missed, but they've earned their retirement.

iamamiwhoami

Jonna Lee To Whom It May Concern

The inspiration I get from Swedish neo-synthpop project "iamamiwhoami" includes many things, but one of the most important ones is that it reminds me of the same thing that Devo tried to teach us all thirty years ago, if we would listen: In new wave, it's okay to be weird. Really, really brilliantly weird.

And that's something worth remembering. It seems that now that new wave and synthpop are attempting, via the path of neo-synthpop, to be reborn like the phoenix from their own ashes, they've often commited the cardinal sin of all art forms that live long enough to call themselves veterans -- they're now taking themselves very, very seriously. We may all suffocate from all this self-serious reflection and self-adoration that neo-synthpop is going through now.

iamamiwhoami has come to save us from all that. With their video visions of men with beards made of duct tape who have sex with trees, and giant dust-bunny monsters seven feet tall, there's no danger that Jonna Lee is going to let us be normal.

Jonna Lee was already a known musician under her own name, who had produced lots of good material of a much more acoustic nature, on conventional album CD's. But in 2010, she mysteriously debuted on YouTube under the login "iamamiwhoami", without revealing who she was. Over the next year, her project released one new song (with video) every few months, in the form of an online-only "album" titled "To Whom It May Concern." The next year she did another virtual album the same way. The videos were far more weird and visually creative than almost everything MTV ever showed us even in their heyday, even compared to when they still played music videos. This was finally what it meant to be a real star in the post-MTV era. iamamiwhoami showed us that the death of MTV did not have to really matter for us if we take the opportunity the Internet is giving us now.

And weird it was. She showed visions of men with beards made of duct tape who have sex with trees, seven-foot dust-bunnies made of hair, and the king who lives inside the trees and gets killed by an arrow shot by a knight in shining armor. We saw a funeral ceremony held in the woods in winter, performed by a men with tape-beards who dance to her music in 7/4 time. All the weird was back. And her song titled "O" is not to be missed.

Trisomie 21 Trisomie 21 album cover

Trisomie 21

The fact that Trisomie 21 even exists as a band is both frustrating and inspiring to me as a musician, because they have already accomplished what I have always wished to do. There is something disappointing in knowing that someone else beat you to it, but it's also reassuring to know there's proof that it's possible.

Trisomie 21 is a French group who are one of the few rare bands that are long-lived enough to say they are both an actual 80's new wave group and a current-day neo-synthpop group as well. Yes, there are a few bands from the 80's that are still around in some semblance of their former selves, but it'd be very hard to call most of them real neo-synthpop. Trisomie 21 is a true long-term survivor. And that's not all.

For pretty much the whole time I've been working on music, since 1986, I've tried to employ the entire style range of new wave, synthpop, techno, industrial, ambient, and everything else that's come out of that particular thread of rock music as a pallete to work with, rather than being tied down into one particular sound. That is, I have always strived to be the exact opposite of those bands you always hear where every song they do sounds like variations on the same song. Marketing people (back in the age of when there really was a music market) generally hate groups like that, because they say it's harder to sell the music of someone whose style is all over the map.

Well, Trisomie 21 has accomplished this, so their label must be in hysterics. I don't think there's a style or derivitive of new wave and its various cousin styles that they haven't carried off with a sense of art and dignity, and it's amazing to listen to, all coming from one group...everything from material that goes in the general direction of Joy Division to other stuff that's in the general direction of Front 242. Still other stuff from them sounds like Roxy Music.

Boards of Canada Boards of Canada - Twoism

Boards of Canada

It's doubtful that they would ever consider themselves neo-synthpop, and yet stylistically, it's hard not to see the connection anyway. Rich-toned analog synthesizers, big drum tracks, hypnotic sounds that are what you might get in your head if you stared into the distance too long... Boards of Canada are so named because of the old 70's film reels (which were naturally full of analog synth scores, warbly tape sounds, etc.) that used to be put out long ago by the Film Boards of Canada, which seem to be the aesthetic their music manages to capture. They are actually Scottish, not Canadian, by the way.

How to describe them... Have you ever found a sound on a synthesizer that was so hypnotic, so comforting in a trance-inducing sort of way, that you just wanted to keep on hearing it as it morphed into other things and took you places? It's like that, all with lots of analog warmth and tape effects...just beautiful.