The History of Synth Pop (video documentary)

Written by: Stephen Hsu

Primary Source:  Information Processing

I had a vague awareness of synth pop groups like Depeche Mode, Joy Division, New Order, Human League, OMD when I was growing up. I loved the music but knew almost nothing about the bands and the context from which they emerged. This documentary locates them in the post-punk, Kraftwerk-influenced UK of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Highly recommended if songs from these groups give you a jolt of exuberant nostalgia :-)

Now that I’m older I really enjoy this kind of exploration, in which writers, artists, scientists, entrepreneurs reminisce about their youthful moments of creation and discovery. How did it look at the time? And now, in the fullness of life? All those moments, lost in time like tears in rain.

I watched Atomic Blonde on a recent flight and, other than one long fight scene near the end — “Stoy! Stoy!” (pleading… Bang!), found it mostly forgettable. But the incredible 1980s soundtrack got me thinking about this music again…

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Stephen Hsu
Stephen Hsu is vice president for Research and Graduate Studies at Michigan State University. He also serves as scientific adviser to BGI (formerly Beijing Genomics Institute) and as a member of its Cognitive Genomics Lab. Hsu’s primary work has been in applications of quantum field theory, particularly to problems in quantum chromodynamics, dark energy, black holes, entropy bounds, and particle physics beyond the standard model. He has also made contributions to genomics and bioinformatics, the theory of modern finance, and in encryption and information security. Founder of two Silicon Valley companies—SafeWeb, a pioneer in SSL VPN (Secure Sockets Layer Virtual Private Networks) appliances, which was acquired by Symantec in 2003, and Robot Genius Inc., which developed anti-malware technologies—Hsu has given invited research seminars and colloquia at leading research universities and laboratories around the world.
Stephen Hsu

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