Tag Archives: Software

How Software’s “Island-Sunrise” Became a Curious Cult Classic


Software, 1984. L: Michael Weisser, R: Peter Mergener.

Digital-Dance is an obscure 1988 LP from the little-known (at least in America) German duo Software. Released at the time by the cult label Innovative Communication, the record is a collection of leisurely electronic instrumentals, drenched in nostalgia and indebted to ambient and downtempo soundtrack work.

Save for its urgent title track—a brisk, no-nonsense throwback to early ’80s industrial synthpop—and the closing song “Waving-Voices,” Digital-Dance is mostly dedicated to capturing one of life’s most curious phenomena: the way time seems to slow down during vacations, particularly if that vacation is in a tropical location.

Oceanic sound samples, like lapping waves or keening birds, crop up throughout the record, and Digital-Dance‘s song titles are deliberate nods to seaside scenes. Both “Sea-Gulls-Audience” and the multi-part “Oceans-Breath” incorporate mournful saxophone and dreamy synth textures, the former recalling the hazier parts of 808 State’s “Pacific.”

The album sets the mood immediately, opening with the addictive “Island-Sunrise,” which has become a vaporwave touchstone. It’s easy to see why: Thanks to a taffy-pulled tempo, the song feels like it’s suspended in deep space. Syrupy synthesized strings, 8-bit keyboard whimsy and occasional percussion sizzles—percolating woodblocks, hissing rattles, cautionary chimes—create an alluring and narcoleptic atmosphere.

And now, almost 30 years after its original release, 100% Electronica record label—home of the Australian vaporwave phenomenon S U R F I N G—is issuing a limited-edition vinyl pressing of Digital-Dance, along with a host of other Software titles, available digitally for the first time.

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