Coldwave (also written as cold wave) is a French variant of post-punk music, primarily spread in France, South Belgium and Romandy.
The term "coldwave" was first used by journalist Vivien Goldman in British paper Sounds in 1977 in an article about Siouxsie and the Banshees.
Coldwave was inspired by post-punk groups such as Siouxsie and the Banshees and Joy Division. In 1977, Siouxsie and the Banshees described their music as "cold, machine-like and passionate at the same time" and Sounds magazine prophecised about the band: "Listen to the cold wave roar from the '70s into the '80s".Siouxsie and the Banshees' first album, The Scream, released in November 1978, was also pictured as "cold wave" by music historian Simon Reynolds. For critics, coldwave also applies to Martin Hannett's production for Joy Division, prominent in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Hannett first met Joy Division in late 1978. His first recording with the band was for the song "Digital" for the compilation A Factory Sample.
Early French punk rock groups, forerunners to the scene such as Stinky Toys, Métal Urbain and The Opposition, tried to play abroad in the late seventies.
Another scene of French and Belgian musicians who sang in English emerged in the early eighties. These bands were Marquis de Sade, KaS Product, Siglo XX,> Martin Dupont, Deux, Asylum Party, Twilight Ritual, Norma Loy, Pavillon 7B, Résistance, Clair Obscur, Richard Pinhas, Artefact, Opera Multi Steel, Trisomie 21, Lizzy Mercier Descloux and Die Form. In the late 1980s, groups such as Asylum Party, Little Nemo, Museum of Devotion and The Breath of Life continued to practice the style. The Breath of Life, according to music historian Mick Mercer, took "some of the brighter elements of late '70s Siouxsie and the Banshees", with "subtle power and emotionally charged confusion". The journalist Jean-François Bizot initially documented the scene. The original coldwave groups were generally not distributed in the United States and did not sing in English.
Pieter Schoolwerth describes the style of these French bands as similar as Seventeen Seconds and Faith-era The Cure.
The groups began to achieve mainstream coverage in France in 1980 when Patrick Zerbib wrote an article for the magazine Actuel covering Marquis de Sade, Artefact and Jacno, titled "Les jeunes gens modernes aiment leurs mamans" ("The Modern Young People Love Their Mothers").
A recent retrospective article enumerates various stylistic and conceptual influences (translated to English):
"Taking advantage from the double efficiency of the do it yourself method and the provocation established by the activist strategy of experimentation which punk had permitted, the new wave recalled at the same time the historical artistic avant-gardes (constructivism, futurism, symbolism, dadaism, socialist realism), literature (romanticism, science fiction), the cinema (French New Wave, German Expressionism) and the latest advanced technologies (electronics, robotics, nuclear)."
Wierd Records is credited with establishing interest in the style in the United States, while The Liberty Snake Club did a great deal to popularize it within the United Kingdom. The Tigersushi Records compilation So Young But So Cold, compiled by Ivan Smagghe, is one document of the scene.
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