Minimal Wave Tapes vol. 2 is a collection of obscure and out-of-print synth bands, mostly from the 1980s, remastered from old cassettes and compiled by New York based DJ Veronica Vasicka. Although it shares only two of the same acts, it follows the same blueprint as Vol 1 which was released in collaboration with Peanut Butter Wolf's Stones Throw label.

This is music from an earlier time, back when synth-based music had only started to make an impact on the charts, and the likes of Kraftwerk, the Human League and Depeche Mode were beginning to make their influence felt. Most of the bands included here can't compete with those household names in terms of pop songwriting or production values, but compilations like this serve to illustrate the fact that there was a worldwide underground analog synth movement which grew through the use of cheap keyboards, 4-track cassette recorders and self-released tapes and fanzines. This is a valuable exercise in recent musical archaeology and it is a very welcome one.

Here we have 14 distinct acts from all over the world, most of them relatively unknown, with most of the music on offer dating between 1981-1985. The only one familiar to me is Hard Corps, a UK band whose classic single 'Dirty' kicks the whole album off in fine style. It's not only a great tune, it also manages to be the most sonically interesting piece here, with some great industrial beats and low frequency synth stabs propelling a heavily reverbed female vocal.

Vasicka has done a great job sequencing this album as the tracks sit well together as a set, and it hasn't just been ordered by release dates or region.

Greek band In Trance 95 carry on where Hard Corps left off with 'Presidente' from 1988, which does sound more advanced in terms of production than some of the other tracks here. Great use of percussion and some atmospheric, whispered vocals combined with samples and found sounds.

Phillipe Laurent's danceable 'Distorsion' is a good track to showcase the overall sound of Minimal Wave. It features cheap synths and drum machines and a vocal heavily treated through a basic reverb unit, whilst the overall mix is lo-fi and almost mono. Above all though, it's a pretty good tune.

Das Ding from the Netherlands are one of the bands that were included in Vol 1 of this series and provide one of the earliest tracks here, HSTA, from 1982. This one does sound dated and comes across as a bunch of people trying to get the most out of whatever synths they have, complete with whooshes and synthetic car horns! The very obscure Belgian band Subject are contemporaries of Das Ding, but their track 'What Happened to You' does something very different with their limited resources. The lead synth riff sounds somewhere between analog synth and lead guitar, and the voice is so heavily treated it could be a vocoder. t's almost hard to believe that this is an unsigned band from 1982.

Canadian musician Ohama is the only other act from Vol 1 and his tune 'The Drum' features great multi-tracking of drum tracks and it also owes a bit to Kraftwerk in it's use of passing chords and harmonies.

Omaha is still making music today, and so is LA-based Geneva Jacuzzi, which despite the '80s name, her track 'The Sleep Room' is actually from 2004. This is also lo-fi with a jerky staccato rhythm, and its serious female vocal and atmospheric eerie backing illustrate the connection between '80s synth and the likes of the Knife and Zola Jesus.

Felix Kubin is another act who has released most of his music over the last ten years, but the track included here 'Japan Japan' is from his own compilation of his teenage experiments and dates from the mid-80s. It's slightly different in that it is faster than a lot of the music here and it mixes punkier drums and discordant vocals with the synths.

Ende Scheaflet are the earliest, and the oddest band here. 'Animals from Outer Space' (1981) again stretches the boundaries of the cheap equipment, blending garbled vocals with a wide palate of sound effects. The only other tune from '81 is 'Theme' by the Australian act Aural Indifference which is a superb lo-fi anthem. It takes a simple melody and builds it into something bigger, yet the cheap drum machines and keyboards still make it sound fragile.

In Aeternam Vale's 'Annie' probably takes the honours for sounding the most brittle and lo-fi. The synths don't even sound like piano keys at all, they are more like the processed electronics that later experimental acts would build upon. Even the vocals sound like they are recorded on a cheap mic. I love this one though, it is a real find.

In fact the whole compilation is a real find. The underground world of analog synth has thrown up yet another essential collection of lost proponents of the genre, and I bet there are a few more where this came from.