Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Fad Gadget was the pseudonym used by British musician, synthesizer pioneer, and performance artist Frank Tovey, an influential electronic music/New Wave artist throughout his career.

Fad Gadget began his musical career after studying performance art at Leeds Metropolitan University. The songs of his early career (under the pseudonym) all feature synthesizers plus, sometimes, machine sounds like that of an electric razor or of an electric drill. Almost all songs create a dark, mystical atmosphere, with Gadget's voice hovering monotonously over then unheard of, groundbreaking and still brilliant synthesizer sound effects. The lyrics are either very earnest, discussing subjects like guilt or life and death, or convey a black, sarcastic humour.

Singles included "Back To Nature", "Ricky's Hand" and "Collapsing New People". Fad Gadget was the first artist signed to the then-fledgling Mute label and released four full-length albums, Fireside Favourites (1980), Incontinent (1981), Under The Flag (1982) and Gag (1984). After Gag, Tovey released a compilation (The Fad Gadget Singles) and recorded five more albums under his own name, whose styles ranged from semi-industrial electronic ballads to folk-oriented protest songs. He last appeared on a European tour supporting his latest album in 1993 and then virtually disappeared for some eight years.

In 2001 Tovey resurfaced with a comeback appearance and subsequently supported Depeche Mode on the Exciter tour later that year, again under his pseudonym Fad Gadget and backed by members of Temple X, whose album he had been producing. (Depeche Mode cite Tovey/Gadget as an icon and a paragon, and it shows in their music.) Tovey died of a heart attack on 3 April, 2002, aged 45, having suffered heart problems throughout his life.

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