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Systems of Romance (Remastered & Expanded)

Ultravox

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Album Review

With 1978's Systems of Romance, Ultravox! left punk behind and single-handedly blue-printed the entire New Romantic movement to come — well, with a little help from co-producers Conny Planck and Dave Hutchins. Gone was the brittleness of Ha!-Ha!-Ha!, replaced by a rich lushness of sound that would define the forthcoming genre. Shifting from the political to the inter-personal, gone too was the overwhelming sense of looming Armageddon, replaced by more generalized (and mundane) feelings of alienation, "Dislocation," and unease. "Quiet Men" is a Lowry painting brought to life, the chorus of "Slow Motion" a swaying field painted by Renoir, "I Can't Stay Long" a Degas ballet, while "Maximum Acceleration" is as lavish in sound as Botticelli was with paint. The rhythms still remained dangerous, however, and Robin Simon's guitar gives the set a tough edge, but it's the swirling, swooping synths and keyboards that predominate within.

Biography

Formed: 1974 in London, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Rejecting the abrasive guitars of their punk-era contemporaries in favor of lushly romantic synthesizers, Ultravox emerged as one of the primary influences on the British electro-pop movement of the early '80s. Formed in London in 1974, the group — originally dubbed Ultravox! — was led by vocalist and keyboardist John Foxx (born Dennis Leigh), whose interest in synths and cutting-edge technology began during his school years. With an initial lineup consisting of bassist Chris Cross, keyboardist/violinist...
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