El Aviador Dro: 30+ Years of Spanish Synthesizers

I’ll be out of the country this July and living in Valladolid, Spain where I’ll be improving my Spanish writing and grammar skills at University of Valladolid. I’m going to mark the occasion with a number of posts about Spanish music groups beginning with:

El Aviador Dro y Sus Obreros Especializados (The Aviator Dro and His Specialized Workers, Aviador Dro for short) is an Electronic Pop group from Madrid whose musical style falls somewhere between Kraftwerk’s serious minimalism and DEVO’s deadpan kitsch.

Founding members Servando Carballar and Arturo Lanz fmet in Madrid’s Santamarca Institute in 1976. Carballar formed Punk group Alex y Los Drugos (Alex and The Droogs) in 1978. He later bought an electric organ that same year and created Techno-Pop group Holoplastico.

The group changed its name to Aviador Dro the following year and added Andres Noarbe, Manuel Guio and Alberto Florez to the lineup. Dro released a number of singles including “Laser (Lazer),” “La Chica de Plexiglas (Plexiglass Girl)” and a cover of Kraftwerk’s “The Model (La Modelo)” until 1982 when the band released its debut album, Alas Sobre el Mundo (Wings Over the Earth), on its own independent record label Discos Radioactivos Organizados (Radioactive Records Organized) a.k.a. DRO.

Above: Aviador Dro takes on Kraftwerk

During these early years, Aviador Dro was at the forefront of La Movida Madrileña:

During the long rule of the dictator Francisco Franco both public laws and church regulations had enforced a rigid set of social structures aimed at preserving the traditional role of the family, formal relations between the sexes, and control over expression in the press, other media and other important social institutions. Following the death of ‘El Caudillo’ in 1975 and the restoration of democracy in the late 1970s, Spain then underwent a series of radical changes in politics and society, which was called the ‘Transition’. Even before Franco’s departure its people had come increasingly into contact with the outside world and changes were starting to wrench at the fabric of traditional society, but once state censorship was relaxed there was a kind of mini explosion – at least in urban areas.

Dro, along with their peers in Esplendor Geometrico, were the first Spanish artists to experiment with electronic sounds during this wave of freedom and experimentation.

Above: The group performs “Corazon Artificial” (Artificial Heart) on Spanish music program A Tope (the 80’s were a weird time for fashion).

The group celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2009 in a big way. They released a new album Yo, Cyborg (I, Cyborg) followed by remastered re-releases of all their original studio albums (nearly 20) with bonus material. Dro topped it off with a huge concert in December at Madrid’s Joy Eslava where the original lineup performed alongside with former and current “obradores especializados.”

Above: Dro’s complete lineup performs “Nuclear, Si! (Nuclear, Yes!)” at Joy Eslava.

Above: Aviador Dro performs “Otro Mundo Mejor (A Better World)” off their latest album.

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