I tend to forgive a lot of stuff from the 80s. You have to, hardly any group was immune to lapses in judgement and wonky tastes in fashion and production. For this reason you have to, for once, look past the whole vision that Christina and Maurizio held at this time. Following the success of their previous album Hibernation many English and American groups started to actively seek them out as tour mates and to ride their coat tails a bit. Likewise, Chrisma, now started to feel pressure on all sides, as pop stars, to produce a massive album that they could use as a rocket to worldwide fame. This expectation made them compromise certain aspects they wouldn’t have before.

The first one was changing their name to Krisma, it was simply a tool to angle into the New Wave market and to be less continental-European. The second one was to dive ever more into the electronic side of the music equation. Where once their music had a wonderful mix of synths, guitars, pianos, and even strings, now their music turned colder and decidedly more blunter. With the rise of groups like Gary Numan, Ultravox, Joy Division, etc. their once unique sound was a widespread phenomenon that had countless imitators. For this new album, Cathode Mamma, they turned away from the production work of Niko, Vangelis’ brother, and went with the production work of a not-then famous German, Hans Zimmer. It was obvious that they were trying to figure out their way around a new era of digital synthesizers and what their place in it all would be. Its for these reasons that a lot of the album tracks sound like somewhat lesser recorded versions of bands they might have inspired.

Hans Zimmer with Christina

However, the spirit of innovation was still burning, if not just a bit more unevenly for this while. For example, Maurizio did create the first micro synthesizer during this time, and hear and there you can hear hints of the more succinct sound they were going for. On the whole, though, even they knew that for all of Hans more panoramic synth sounds challenged any bands sound out there, that same sound tended to wash away part of their truly original glamourous/sexual subversiveness. Now everything was a bit more straightforward. I mean, that goes even to their look as well. Now, its more decidedly reacting, instead of acting. Christina has cut off her long locks and embraced a wilder image, while Maurizio has receded a bit more to the background. I mean, unfortunately, as it happens to us all, age (in all its facets) had started to catch up to this couple. However, I won’t dwell too much into that, because somehow for their second single “Cathode Mamma” they managed to recapture a bit of their past Chrisma glory.

Hovering from abrasive to playful, much like the uber-digital video, it presented a decade enamored with the new type of programming filling their tv sets but still trying to process what this change meant. Anyway, its a great video (or videos if you want to stick around for the second performance of it which shows a young Hans Zimmer toiling away and a far more spirited Maurizio). Somehow, Christina and Maurizio present a different mix for this track, one you won’t find on the album proper, one that’s more confrontational, grittier, and that works far better than the more laid back, funkier album version. The videos do capture that feel, so good on them for figuring out a way to pump up what the original was missing. Anyway, Krisma really finds its footing and pumps up everything that was missing tomorrow…

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Listen to Cathode Mamma in Spotify.