In the early 1980s, a small genre of electronic music began to emerge: minimal, homemade, rough and icy. Influenced by The Cure, Joy Division, Kraftwerk and Krautrock, the sounds were made on early-model, cheap, portable synthesizers. The lyrics took on alienation, paranoia, fear and the general landscape of post-war anxiety. Retrospectively called either “minimal wave” or “cold wave,” the groups came from economically depressed cities like Sheffield, Berlin, Brussels, Manchester… and Santa Barbara?
When record label and Web site Minimal Wave put together its compilation of rare and obscure bands, “The Found Tapes: A Compilation of Minimal Wave From North America ’81-’87,” it included the little-known Iron Curtain, Steve Fields’ short-lived band that seems as out of place now as it did then, in a town used to feel-good beach rock and reggae.