Synthpop legends Propaganda return with new song “Purveyor of Pleasure”

The reunited project is working on a new album.


One of the forebears of synthpop has returned with a new song that’s largely gone unnoticed. Last week, the legendary German act Propaganda released a new track called “Purveyor of Pleasure.” It’s their first new music in nearly 20 years—though that stat is a bit complicated.

“Purveyor of Pleasure” is a dark, somewhat ambient sounding song with polished, modern production. It is reportedly the precursor to a new full-length album. Relatively unknown German artist Thunder Bae provides loungey vocals. I can’t find much biographical information about her other than she’s a multi-instrumentalist and gifted singer who has released a handful of her own songs.

This current iteration of Propaganda features its classic musicians, Ralf Dörper and Michael Mertens. Original vocalists Susanne Freytag and Claudia Brücken are not part of the revival, and some fans may bristle at the idea of a Propaganda reunion without either of them.

We last heard new music officially credited to Propaganda way back in 2005 when they released the jazzy single “Valley of the Machine Gods.” At the time, Propaganda was comprised of Mertens and Freytag.

Propaganda has a complex history

Propaganda formed in Dusseldorf, West Germany, as early as 1982. Several members have come and gone over the years, though Ralf Dörper and Michael Mertens have largely steered its creative direction. Dörper is also a keyboardist for the electro-industrial band Die Krupps, and Mertens is a classically trained musician who was once a percussionist in the Düsseldorf Symphonic Orchestra.

They’re primarily known for a string of ’80s hits that include “Dr. Mabuse,” “Duel,” and “p:Machinery.” Notably, famed musician and producer Trevor Horn produced some of their early work. The classic lineup split in 1987 amid legal disputes with their label ZTT (home to another synthpop legend, Frankie Goes to Hollywood).

Over the years, various lineups have reformed the project. In 1990, Propaganda released an album on Virgin Records called 1234. That incarnation featured new singer Betsi Miller though Freytag appeared on two tracks. The band scored hits in South America but once again went into hiatus.

Former singers Claudia Brücken and Susanne Freytag record music and tour under the name xPropaganda. In 2022, they released an album called The Heart Is Strange.

Dörper and Mertens reunited in 2015 to remix a track by Holly Johnson, former lead singer of Frankie Goes to Hollywood, called “Dancing With No Fear.” That reunion sparked the project’s current incarnation.

You can find “Purveyor of Pleasure” on Bandcamp and Spotify.

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