Tag: Analog Angel (Page 2 of 4)

ANALOG ANGEL Four Front

ANALOG ANGEL Four Front-artGlaswegian combo ANALOG ANGEL have been around in many a format.

They returned to the Scottish electronic music scene in 2008 with both new and re-hashed ideas, before quickly establishing themselves as an act of interest.

Led by the man with a powerful voice – John Brown, the first album ‘Dischord’ received warm enough welcome for the trio to gig extensively and cement their reputation within the fanbases of DEPECHE MODE and MESH.

‘The Thin Line’ followed with grand industrial sounds, but it wasn’t all about the foot stomping beat of FRONT 242; the melodious elements followed, clearly influenced by OMD, Depeche and the works by Giorgio Moroder.

The third long player, ‘Trinity’ marked a turning point for ANALOG ANGEL, with a maturer sound and more varied influences from all three band members, John Brown, Derek MacDonald and Ian Ferguson. Co-produced by Philip Morrison, it had a more polished feel to it and heralded a slight detour from the rawer-sounding outings AA were known for.

Having a cynical approach to over-production and over-compression, the two sadly predominant features of most electronic music on the UK scene, the production retained most of its originality and congenial feel.

Analog Angel by Mark WalkerAnd that fact certainly rings true with the new album ‘Four Front’. Entitled to celebrate the fact that three became four: with the admission of a lady into the men dominated group, the textures are bound to vary to accommodate the vocal of Tracy J Cox.

Brown summarises the album as “based on our experiences”, and, boy, the experience does show.The production’s herald, ‘Inner Peace’ ushers the era of powerful synth, elegantly waving through the meanders of voices of Brown and Cox.

ANALOG ANGEL have definitely done their homework on the music front here: Ferguson’s ability to layer sounds shines through, making this a persuasive opener.

Following on is the title track, which is indeed “OMD meets Numan” in a can. The raw, pastoral execution canvasses the Brown-Ferguson harmonies.

The tempo slows down somewhat with the compelling ‘I Am Me’, Brown’s favourite and a superbly accomplished tune written by Ferguson. This ballad, reminiscent of A-HA, is full of uncertainty and moroseness with fragile strings and gentle electronic symbols. AA are going fully Nordic with this one; the track could be easily placed alongside the songs of yet another Norwegian band, ELECTRO SPECTRE.

AnalogAngel-streets2016The tempo speeds up again with Ferguson’s ‘Leaving’, leading onto ‘Flourish’. Describing the life in Glasgow, and the motto of “Let Glasgow Flourish” is Brown’s second favourite and a further nod towards simple piano and eloquent synth.

The rain theme continues with ‘Another Rainy Day In June’. More piano and strings are interwoven within the proficient synthpopia reminiscing MESH.

Here, Brown is again joined by Ferguson on vocals; the latter magnificently sounding like Mark Hockings’ twin.

As much as the band founder wants to steer clear from his obvious influences of EBM, ‘Paranoid’ brings the palpable connotations. And why not? It is quite superb.

‘Turn The Lock’ freshly marries vintage PET SHOP BOYS and equally vintage DEPECHE MODE, followed by the song Brown wrote to suit Cox’s vocals; ‘Perpetual Motion’ is the first proper outing for Tracy J Cox, who has become a fully contributing member of ANALOG ANGEL.

Brown’s staple nod to religion realises itself in the closing ‘Cradle 2 Grave’. This could easily be a PERFIDIOUS WORDS song, with a heavier lyrical content however.

What a journey ANALOG ANGEL have been on; while the spectre of styling themselves as Mode lookalikes is long gone, some references to the Kings Of Electronica still remain, if only in the musical sense; the familiar connotations have been discerned towards the beginning of the band’s journey, now seeing them evolve into an act with its own sound.

Ferguson has clearly influenced AA’s output, producing superb tunes, which sound original and clean. Brown’s vocal, as well as the lyrical content have matured.

Phillip Morrison gives the album the final polish, keeping the crispness and shying away from over-production.

Following their concept of the rawness; the nomadic aura remains, and maybe that is why ANALOG ANGEL’s comeback rings fresher, well-formed tunes, making them worthy a mention within the cream of the crop of UK electronica.


‘Four Front’ is released on 23rd April 2016 can be pre-ordered as a download or CD from
https://analog-angel.bandcamp.com/album/forefront

http://analogangel.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Analog-Angel/78071440078

https://twitter.com/analogangel


Text by Monika Izabela Goss
Photos and artwork by Mark Walker @ MNW Visual Communications
19th April 2016

SYNTH.NU Interviews THE ELECTRICITY CLUB

synth.nu cover 2016Synth.nu is a Swedish language web publication that covers a broad spectrum of electronic music.

Founded in March 2004, synth.nu follows an ethos that covers both new and established acts.

With a team of contributors, their mission statement is “We make reviews, interviews and live reviews in synth / electronic music from all over the world” be it “synth, electronica, EBM, industrial, wave, darkwave and stuff that applies”.

With Sweden being the epicentre of modern electronic music, synth.nu are suitably positioned to report on what is an highly vibrant and creative scene. As kindred spirits following their passion for electronic music, it was only natural that The Electricity Club and synth.nu would eventually get together and have rather a lot to talk about.

TEC meet synth.nuFollowing a first meeting at the Electronic Summer 2015 Festival in Gothenburg, synth.nu’s Martin Brandhill chatted to The Electricity Club’s co-founder Chi Ming Lai for an interview feature that was originally published at synth.nu on 16th March 2016…

When did you start to like electronic music and become fascinated by this music genre?

My very liberal and Bohemian junior school teacher played KRAFTWERK’s ‘Autobahn’ and the soundtrack of ‘A Clockwork Orange’ to us all in class and the sound of both was unusual, yet captivating. It wasn’t until later that I got into synthesizer music properly first through GARY NUMAN, then JEAN-MICHEL JARRE and OMD before moving onto ULTRAVOX, THE HUMAN LEAGUE, JAPAN, SOFT CELL, DEPECHE MODE, HEAVEN 17, JOHN FOXX and SIMPLE MINDS. As I got older, I caught up with the influential acts of the past like BRIAN ENO, ROXY MUSIC, DAVID BOWIE, TANGERINE DREAM, NEU! and LA DÜSSELDORF.

How and why did you start the electronic music website The Electricity Club back in 2010? Were there not any electronic music websites prior to that, who supported the electronic music scene in UK?

The main motivation to do The Electricity Club came from my disgust at classic synthpop being lumped in with the so-called 80s revival.

I hated how OMD and DEPECHE MODE were being associated with T’PAU, SWING OUT SISTER and LIVING IN A BOX! Everyone wanted to remember the 80s whereas I didn’t, so there was a definite reaction to the nostalgia industry that was starting to build. “Synthpop NOT 80s!” was my mantra! There are still people who should know better that don’t understand the difference! Incidentally, The Electricity Club’s writers are banned from using the term “80s” to describe the music in their articles 😉

Memetune-polymoogI’d been writing music reviews since college, progressing from student newspapers to fanzines and then online media. There were a number of websites featuring acts I liked, but many focussed on just the 80s or particular bands. And then there were others that were only about dance music or new artists exclusively… I wanted to somehow combine coverage of new and classic synth based pop, but away from dance music which to be honest, is something I generally loathe.

When The Electricity Club launched in March 2010, LITTLE BOOTS, LA ROUX, LADYHAWKE and LADY GAGA had been hailed as the next big things. And with their synth dressed credentials, I embraced them… but it turned out to be a false dawn. Luckily though, just as The L-Word Foursome started disassociating themselves from the whole synthpop thing, MIRRORS, HURTS, VILLA NAH and VILE ELECTRODES emerged and sat nicely with classic acts such as VISAGE, OMD, HEAVEN 17, ULTRAVOX, THE ART OF NOISE and PROPAGANDA who TEC featured in that first year.

What is the main goal that you want to achieve with the website?

You could nickname it ‘Now That’s What Chi & Friends Call Music’ 😉

The Electricity Club is about electronic pop music with roots to Synth Britannia; that was a great BBC documentary about the post-punk UK synth movement. It featured GARY NUMAN, OMD, DEPECHE MODE, THE HUMAN LEAGUE, JOHN FOXX, NEW ORDER, PET SHOP BOYS, SOFT CELL, ULTRAVOX, YAZOO and CABARET VOLTAIRE.

However, the site was never just going to be about established acts, it was always the intention to feature newer ones. But the site launch didn’t take place until our interview with Paul Humphreys of OMD was completed, because having that was the best way to get people to look at the site. And it worked, because parts of the interview were later quoted in The Guardian newspaper in their article about OMD’s then new album ‘History Of Modern’.

So by attracting people who want to read about the acts they know and love, they might then stick around and have a look at the new artists featured who have been seeded from those same electronic pioneers.

The act I have been most proud of featuring in the last five years has been VILE ELECTRODES.

Andy McCluskey read about them on TEC and as a result, they ended up supporting OMD on their 2013 German tour and winning awards too. And they recently did a live session for BBC Introducing. It’s a great upward trajectory they are on right now. They’re a fine example as to what can be achieved by an independent synthesizer act in this day and age.

Which philosophy does the website follow with writing new reviews, interviews or articles in general?

The heart of The Electricity Club is properly written features, not buzz blogging. I don’t like the whole “this is a song, now here’s another…” approach that other websites indulge in. People of a certain adult demographic just haven’t got the time or inclination to go through 10-15 new acts each week; they want to know which band you think is the best and why they should spend money or invest an hour of their time for them.

That is why TEC’s articles have easy-to-understand musical references, trivia and critique. It’s my style and always has been since I started writing about music as a student; I think you can tell if I am really into something when you read my text. It’s storytelling, rather than lecturing or trying to be cool. I’ve been told by friends in Europe that my style is easy to understand for people whose first language is not English.

If people connect with your ethos and enjoy what you write, then they will trust your opinion and return for more. But you need to maintain quality control.

So TEC has to be about what’s good, not what’s going on in The Scene. This is why TEC doesn’t have many news bulletins.

If people don’t like what TEC features or its style of referencing, then that’s ok. They can always do their own blog as some have done. That’s great because then there’s another music platform. We have our choices.

What do I look for in a new act submission? A good song accompanied by a reasonable video with hopefully two or three other numbers of comparable quality. The video is important because it tests the commitment of the artist with regards their visual presentation, as well as their songwriting and production. I come from a generation where videos and sleeve artwork were important; so it’s not just about the music and bands need to be aware that.

I probably give a track about twenty seconds! I’m not after a song that I necessarily love on first hearing, it’s more about it being interesting enough to play on to the end and then, listen to again. People have sent me demos that go on for over eight minutes… that’s not a good idea even if it is your art! The most clueless submission was a five song live gig video recorded at a kid’s birthday party and nothing happened for the first minute!

I literally get hundreds of emails each month. There are complaints that we don’t reply or give feedback. But if we replied to each one, we would never get any articles done.

thekillers2006A fair few get deleted straight away, especially if the accompanying press release mentions “deep house”, “bangin’ techno”, “DJ”, “80s” or “shoegaze”, or the band photo has more than two members with a beard! I remember Neil Tennant once saying he knew THE KILLERS’ second album was never going to be as good as the first, because Brandon Flowers had grown a beard! *laughs*

Just because an act hasn’t been featured on TEC before, it doesn’t mean they won’t be in the future. The best example of that is Glasgow’s ANALOG ANGEL who TEC passed on in 2011. They were quite industrial back then, but changed direction and became more synthpop. So when they released ‘We Won’t Walk Away’ in 2013, I asked them for a video to feature on TEC which they duly presented.

By the same token, just because an act has had TEC coverage before doesn’t mean that their future releases will be featured. One artist demanded we remove a second video that we had on an article about them, so that it could be used for a future TEC review… hang on! There is a strange sense of entitlement from some artists which I find baffling. The Electricity Club is not a crowdfunded promotional service. *laughs*

statler & WaldorfSome people do take things rather personally if they’re not featured; one individual shouted abuse at me in a pub before a gig and stormed off, but he then proceeded to lie and tell everyone I was rude to THEM! It’s just not normal! It wasn’t as if TEC had written a negative review… would they rather have that? Because TEC has done a few of those when appropriate as well!

But slagging TEC off on social media and to their friends is not the best way to gain favourable attention from us. The thing is, TEC is not the only platform covering electronic music… other blogs ARE available.

TEC has existed now for over five years. Has it been lots of fun and an exciting journey when you are looking back at the development of the website and meeting lots of famous people in the electronic scene, since you started the website back in 2010?

It’s definitely been fun, it’s the reason why I am still doing it and would like to do it for a few more years yet 😉

New-Order-2015-MusicComplete-01Two interviews spring to mind as favourites and good examples of TEC’s development. In 2011, I interviewed Stephen Morris from NEW ORDER.

I was surprised TEC’s request was accepted, but we had a brilliant 70 minute chat. He said something about “Never say never” when it came to the future of NEW ORDER.

Then a few months later, NEW ORDER announced they were returning, but without Hooky. So TEC was inadvertently part of a subtle promotional campaign to rebuild the band’s profile before the news broke!

Our 2013 interview with GARY NUMAN was a significant one. In the past, we would lobby for a major interview, but probably end up NOT getting it, like DURAN DURAN or GRIMES. In 2011, we were only granted a short email Q&A with GARY NUMAN. But in 2013, TEC had built up such a good reputation that Numan’s representatives got in touch and literally said “you’re interviewing GARY NUMAN at 6.00pm on Thursday!” – Numan was great and he wouldn’t stop talking, which was great for the eventual article!

TEC mit Karl und WolfgangHaving been invited to meet both KARL BARTOS and WOLFGANG FLÜR, I’ve sort of got nowhere else to go now! It’s not every day you get to be photographed together with two KRAFTWERK legends.

Is there anyone else I’d like to meet and interview? I guess JEAN-MICHEL JARRE would be one. And I’ve never met or interviewed VINCE CLARKE either.

Has 2015 been a good or disappointing music year? Will we remember this year when we look back in a couple of years with a lots of joy or with big sadness over it?

I think 2015 has been good, especially for veteran acts proving they can still do excellent music, be it JEAN-MICHEL JARRE, A-HA, JOHN FOXX or NEW ORDER. Age is not a barrier to creativity, although lack of motivation to challenge oneself artistically in later years might be… 2015 was certainly better than 2012, which I felt was a lacklustre year for electronic pop.

Chi+MLGThe Electricity Club appears to be very critical at times against synthpop legends DEPECHE MODE, why is that?

DEPECHE MODE can still do brilliant stuff, my favourite 21st Century songs are ‘Oh Well’, ‘I Feel Loved’, and the TRENTEMØLLER club mix of ‘Wrong’; I think from those three, you can work out how I prefer DM to sound.

But personally, I am not keen on DEPECHE MODE’s modern day concert format which is more rock based and dominated by live drums; however, I need to clarify about why I’m so critical of them and in particular, Christian Eigner aka ‘The Drumhead’ 😉

Yes, Alan Wilder was a sticksman on the ‘Devotional’ tour but he wasn’t a drummer in a John Bonham sense, so he only played what was needed. Herr Eigner on the other hand is a traditional rock drummer, a role that has a very egocentric and bombastic mindset. So he fills every nook and cranny with drums, whether they really ought to be there or not, that’s the difference!

Now, did you know that THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s ‘Dare’ has no crash cymbals on it? That’s because the Linn LM1 Drum Computer used did not have enough chip memory to store such a sound. So the restrictions meant they had to be artistically inventive and think out of the box to nurture the dynamics of each song. The most recent example of a no crash cymbal policy has been CHVRCHES ‘The Bones Of What You Believe’.

The first five OMD albums have no crash cymbals either and I think you’ll find the majority of DEPECHE MODE recordings up to 1990 are the same. Do you see a pattern here? What I’m trying to say is, live drums and crash cymbals can be a bit of a rock ‘n’ roll cliché… the point about most good electronic pop music is that it is anti-rock ‘n’ roll *laughs*

DM-2013-02-Keith TrigwellThe word is that it’s Dave Gahan who wants it everything to be overtly rockist, but I can’t think of anything more boring! He apparently refuses to sing over exclusively programmed rhythm tracks now.

Ironically though, it’s that rigid electronic percussion which helps give those truly great DEPECHE MODE songs that tension and soul.

It’s why the tribute band SPEAK & SPELL have their place on the live circuit as a recreation of that three synths and a tape machine era.

The strange thing is that I’ve been accused of featuring and referencing DEPECHE MODE too often on TEC. But on the opposite side of the coin, there are people who think I am very negative about DM… neither are true. But do I really enjoy DM gigs in the 21st Century? They have their moments on stage, but the last show I saw at Birmingham NEC in 2014 was terrible!

Are you not grateful for all the great music and achievements DEPECHE MODE has done for electronic music in the UK and for the genre in general?

33verstappenTo use an F1 analogy, DEPECHE MODE are Michael Schumacher from an achievement point of view. But personally, I find the gifted but flawed drivers like the late Ronnie Peterson who never became World Champion, or lively new talent such as Max Verstappen much more interesting. Well, that’s what I think, for what it’s worth 😉

I’m an armchair DEPECHE MODE fan from ‘Speak & Spell’ up to ‘Ultra’, as opposed to being a Devotee. My favourite album is ‘Violator’, while I have a lot of affection for ‘A Broken Frame’. I was in my early teens at the height of Synth Britannia, so when SOFT CELL, DEPECHE MODE and DURAN DURAN emerged, it was all very exciting.

But what you have to understand is that at the time, SOFT CELL were generally seen by people, including myself, as the better prospect. By the time DEPECHE MODE got darker on ‘Black Celebration’, I was at college and had started DJ-ing so was naturally inclined towards more danceable electronic acts like PET SHOP BOYS, NEW ORDER and ERASURE… in hindsight, you can see PSB are actually a smoothed out SOFT CELL! I was still keeping an eye on DM in 1987-1988, but effectively lost touch as I was doing my final examinations. So like many in the UK, when ‘101’ came out in 1989, I was like “what on earth has happened here?” *laughs*

I’ve been lucky enough to have interviewed Alan Wilder three times now and was honoured that the only interview he granted for the 25th anniversary of ‘101’ was with The Electricity Club. He’s always been very honest and forthright.

I remember at the RECOIL film Q&A in London, one girl took exception to his answer to her question about BECK. “YOU ASKED ME FOR MY OPINION!” he retorted. Brilliant!

Like many, I still feel the missing artistic ingredient in today’s DEPECHE MODE is Mr Wilder. Yet, DM have got bigger in terms of their live audiences! So go figure *laughs*

In Sweden, there was a big discussion in many local synth/electronic music communities about the genre’s status. It started because of my discussion event ‘Är Synthen Död?’ (In English: Is The Synth Dead?) which I held in Gothenburg last December. The panel discussed if the genre was still vital and interesting to the youth of today and to old electronic music lovers here in Sweden; or more plainly dead, has no future and will become like Rockabilly music. What are your personal points of view on this subject, when you look at the UK scene?

There was a period in the UK when the dance scene and Britpop effectively killed off synthpop; this would have been 1994-1999. I never really liked acid house or club oriented music. Acts like LEFTFIELD, UNDERWORLD, THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS and ORBITAL did great singles, but they weren’t very song based and their albums left me underwhelmed, especially as the tracks often went on for far too long! And I wasn’t into the Industrial duff-duff shouting-in-German thing that was going on in Europe either!

ladytron2But for me, there was a turning point for the synth in an avant pop context, and that came in 2000-2001 with LADYTRON, GOLDFRAPP and CLIENTBecause they had female vocalists, they also gave a fresh slant to the old Synth Britannia template. KYLIE MINOGUE’s ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’ and SUGABABES ‘Freak Like Me’ were also significant; it’s fair to say quite a few people got into GARY NUMAN because of the latter! 

So synthpop effectively returned, if in a slightly different but still recognisable form. The period helped to shape the sort of music I enjoy listening to now, like MARSHEAUX, KID MOXIE, HANNAH PEEL and GWENNOUnfortunately, although a lot of music is electronically based now, as PAGE’s Eddie Bengtsson said to me, classic synthpop appears to be a dying art.

A friend of mine, who is a video director, received a brief for a “contemporary electropop band”… but they were so contemporary, there was hardly any electropop in their music! The lines are getting too blurred and that’s not a good thing. Like this trio YEARS & YEARS that have been labelled a synthpop act by the mainstream press! Err, no! They are basically BROS with a housey beat!

CHVRCHES-2015-02Luckily, the success of CHVRCHES has confirmed there is still an international market for synthpop. They have a broad appeal which connects with people who don’t necessarily know, or want to know, what a Minimoog Voyager is. Their songs could be covered by TAYLOR SWIFT and become massive hits. Acts like CHVRCHES are the key to younger musicians being influenced to make electronic pop music in the future.

Is the genre dead or alive in UK? Has it a bright future or will genre just have a few followers?

Things are quite strange in the UK… synth music is alive but slightly wounded in my opinion. There is also the weird phenomenon of promoters who don’t even really like electronic music, putting on electronic music events.

In my opinion, there’s big fish in a small pond syndrome going on, in that there’s a sub-culture of acts who just prop each other up and think just because they get a few plays on an internet radio station, they’re heading for the big time. But they are not as good as they like to think they are. Ok, everyone has to start somewhere and grow, but they need to show some humility and give themselves time to learn their craft.

It is important to support bands that are good, not just any band because they are electronic. The trouble is, the entry point to electronic music, podcasting and blogging is very low so if everything is of a mediocre standard, it misrepresents the genre and no-one actually has a quality bar they can work towards. Healthy competition is a good motivator. But when an act appears out of nowhere and has the potential to break into the mainstream like LA ROUX, MIRRORS or CHVRCHES, The Scene doesn’t like it and turns on them.

mirrorsThe lack of recognition for MIRRORS still bothers me, I really miss them and it’s a shame that they didn’t stick together having delivered one brilliant album and a bunch of fabulous B-sides.

People have caught onto them since retrospectively, but it’s a bit too late and now we’re stuck with average bands that go on and on and on!

As far as the UK is concerned, the most promising beacon of light for electronic pop is EAST INDIA YOUTH; he’s a bit like a one-man MIRRORS and it will be interesting to see how he progresses. There’s also RODNEY CROMWELL who is a bit more unorthodox and whose music I like very much. As they’re both solo acts, they can’t split up!

Will we see more unusual electronic music countries or trends that will rise and get more attention, instead of the traditional electronic music countries like the UK and Germany? I was thinking about the rising profile over the past few years for electronic music coming from, for example Canada, Australia, South Africa and even from my native country Sweden?

Photo by Madeleine Berg

My favourite new act at the moment is KITE from Sweden. They have a melancholic, majestic sound that I love. To me, Sweden is the modern hub of electronic pop and has been for several years. When I visited Gothenburg for the 2015 Electronic Summer Festival, I was very impressed by the Swedish passion for electronic music; it appeared a lot more honest than in the UK and I really felt at home.

It’s not just Sweden though, the Nordic region has been producing electronic acts of a very high standard, particularly Norway and Finland. VILLA NAH came from Helsinki and although they appear to be no more, they have at least morphed into SIN COS TAN who are really good.

North America is proving to be one area of growth for electronic music, with Canada being the most creative with acts like TR/ST, AUSTRA, GRIMES, PURITY RING and ELECTRIC YOUTH; but don’t forget the country has a cult tradition dating back to RATIONAL YOUTH and PSYCHE. The USA has some great acts too like SOFT METALS, NIGHT CLUB, FEATHERS and HYPERBUBBLE.

Germany is making a return, although to my ears, much of the new music coming from there is derivative, although of a good standard. But the emergent nation in electronic music appears to be China with FIFI RONG and QUIETER THAN SPIDERS being two of its most notable acts. I am pleased that TEC features acts from all around the world, and does not base itself around a single scene, city or country.

TEC discussionWhat are your expectations and hopes for 2016?

I have learnt over the years to be quietly optimistic and not to have too many expectations… I always think it’s quite funny when bloggers announce that an album is “going to be brilliant” when they haven’t actually heard it yet, and then after its release, go “oh, actually, it’s not very good…” *laughs*

Obviously, I hope there is going to be lots of new high quality synthpop in 2016… if there isn’t, then TEC will focus on being more retrospective, like with those career spanning Beginner’s Guides listings which we do and have become quite popular with readers. It’s a way of showcasing how good things have been in the past, so that new acts know what to aspire to.

TEC will not just feature sub-standard output just because it’s electronic. There’s a lot of new music out there, but it needs to stand the test of repeated listening; only time can tell if you were right or wrong… and TEC got it wrong with a few acts that were featured in 2012 😉

People say to me TEC should cover other forms of electronic music like dubstep and more leftfield sub-genres but frankly, I’m not interested… I know what I like and I’m happy to stand by it. When I was in Gothenburg, Alexander Hofman from S.P.O.C.K complimented me on the fact that TEC focusses on pop. As OMD once sang “It’s my direction, it’s my proposal…”

Speaking of whom, OMD have a new album pencilled in. I remember there was great anticipation about the comeback album ‘History Of Modern’ back in 2010, yet it turned out to be a major disappointment.

So when it came to ‘English Electric’ in 2013, I expected nothing, but it was their best album for 30 years!

I would like there to be another great OMD album, but I will not be too upset if it doesn’t happen. I got the album I’d been waiting for since 1984 with ‘English Electric’, so as far as I am concerned now, OMD have nothing left to prove.

On the other hand, DEPECHE MODE have plenty to prove again; they really need to take a leaf out of OMD’s book and regain some of that artistic high ground. But the thing is, OMD brought back their Alan Wilder ie Paul Humphreys and let him take control of the production reins; the end result of ‘English Electric’ speaks for itself 😉


This interview was originally published in Swedish at http://synth.nu/

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Interview by Martin Brandhill with thanks to synth.nu
23rd March 2016

TEC’s 2015 End Of Year Review

There are no illegal connections…

System100 CakeThe user manual for the Roland System 100 semi-modular synthesizer profoundly stated “there are no illegal connections…”

And in modern electronic music, that is still the case with the accomplished artists of today very much connected to the synth pioneers of yesteryear like KRAFTWERK, OMD, DEPECHE MODE and THE HUMAN LEAGUE.

Belgian duo METROLAND would not exist without the tradition established at Klingklang, while EAST INDIA YOUTH’s interest in BRIAN ENO and Motorik beats curated a sound that has enabled parallels to be drawn with the artful template of the similarly influenced Paul Humphreys and Andy McCluskey.

GWENNO by Jacek Davis PhotographyAnd although SUSANNE SUNDFØR was already an established singer / songwriter in her homeland of Norway, attention was not fully drawn on her new synth based direction until she performed a sympathetic cover of ‘Ice Machine’ with RÖYKSOPP in late 2012. Even the exquisite lo-fi Welsh language electronica of GWENNO can be traced to Sheffield, thanks to the songstress’ previous pop excursions which involved working on an album with the late Martin Rushent.

As JEAN-MICHEL JARRE said: “Electronic music has a family, a legacy and a future…” so to deny the glorious heritage of electronic music when assessing new acts would be futile. Indeed, acknowledging history is very much part of The Electricity Club’s style and it appears to have been appreciated, especially in regard to the feature ‘Five Years of TEC: 30 Favourite Albums 2010 – 2014’, one of a quintet of special articles to celebrate the site’s fifth birthday in March…

“Huge thanks to The Electricity Club” said avid reader Hugh David, “A victory for well-written, artfully conveyed content curation once again… you knew exactly what to say to sell me on one artist or another. That rare ability of a reviewer to pinpoint the precise comparisons that enable me to decide to seek something out based on my own tastes is something lacking in so many other outlets; love that you’ve got that in spades”

Another reader David Sims added: “TEC is a great way of discovering artists you might not otherwise be aware of. A bit like when a friend used to come round your house clutching an LP or C90 saying ‘I really love this, have a listen’, introducing you to new music that makes your neck hairs stand up in ovation”

NEW ORDER2015-Roger Kamp-072014 was a comparatively lean 12 months, but this year found many veterans returning to the fold. NEW ORDER released ‘Music Complete’, a much discussed comeback that was not only the Mancunians’ first album for Mute, but also without estranged bassist Peter HookMARC ALMOND released ‘The Velvet Trail’, his first pop album for many years while ANDY BELL embarked on further solo adventures in support of ‘Torsten The Bareback Saint’.

SPARKS joined forces with FRANZ FERDINAND as FFS while telling everyone to ‘P*ss Off’ and proved that collaborations do work. Electronic music legend JEAN-MICHEL JARRE also went the collaborative root. His first album for several years ‘Electronica 1 – The Time Machine’ featured the likes of LITTLE BOOTS, JOHN CARPENTER, TANGERINE DREAM, AIR, ARMIN VAN BUUREN, GESAFFELSTEIN, MOBY, MASSIVE ATTACK and VINCE CLARKE.

Wolfgang Flur 2015Another legend GIORGIO MORODER made his statement of intent with ‘74 Is The New 24’ and released ‘Déjà Vu’, a disco pop record featuring the likes of SIA, BRITNEY SPEARS, FOXES and KYLIE MINOGUE.

Meanwhile, his artier counterpart ZEUS B HELD gave us some ‘Logic of Coincidence’ and WOLFGANG FLÜR made his solo debut with ‘Eloquence’, his first length album project since 1997.

Liverpool duo CHINA CRISIS delivered ‘Autumn In The Neighbourhood’, their first original material since 1994’s ‘Warped By Success’ while HOWARD JONES showed he could still innovate at 60 years of age when he launched ‘Engage’, “a highly interactive live experience designed to immerse audiences in an audio / visual feast”. A-HA came back after disbanding in 2010 with ‘Cast In Steel’ and DURAN DURAN recruited an all-star cast that included Nile Rodgers, John Frusciante, Kiesza and Lindsay Lohan for the rather disappointing EDM blow-out ‘Paper Gods’.

MG-PRBLANCMANGE’s ‘Semi Detached’ was Neil Arthur’s first without long-time partner Stephen Luscombe and he even found time to release a wonderful instrumental collection entitled ‘Nil By Mouth’. Indeed, there were quite a few instrumental opuses in 2015, with GHOST HARMONIC’s wonderful ‘Codex’ featuring JOHN FOXX and the electronic pioneer’s own glorious ‘London Overgrown’. TUXEDOMOON joined forces with CULT WITH NO NAME for ‘Blue Velvet Revisited’ while not wishing to be left out, DEPECHE MODE’s Martin Gore released the tutorial for his new Eurorack modular system as the simply titled ‘MG’.

2015 saw the 25th anniversary of DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Violator’ and to ignore its significance, as some DM fan related platforms did, would have been incredibly short sighted. However, there was none of that from premier DM tribute band SPEAK & SPELL who played their biggest UK gig yet with a splendid boutique showcase of that landmark album at London’s Islington Academy.

camouflage1__12314_(Credit_Klaus_Mellenthin)CAMOUFLAGE, a band who started off very much under the influence of the Basildon boys, issued the mature statement of ‘Greyscale’ while continuing the DEPECHE MODE album theme, Athens based synth maidens MARSHEAUX gave a worthy of re-assessment of ‘A Broken Frame’ and procured a number of interesting arrangements for some under rated songs.

DIE KRUPPS got more metal than machine on their fifth opus ‘V – Metal Machine Music’. Fellow Germans BEBORN BETON made up for a ten year absence with ‘A Worthy Compensation’ while SOLAR FAKE and SYNTHDECADE also got in on the action too.

CHVRCHES-2015-02CHVRCHES continued their quest for world domination with something that LITTLE BOOTS, LA ROUX, LADYHAWKE and HURTS never managed… a decent second album. But PURITY RING, the Canadian act whose template CHVRCHES borrowed, must have looked over with a touch of envy at the Glaswegian’s success so responded with ‘Another Eternity’.

HANNAH PEEL released an interim mini-album ‘Rebox 2’ which blended centuries of music technology while VILE ELECTRODES came up with the gorgeous ‘Captive In Symmetry’, possibly one of the songs of 2015. EURASIANEYES heeded all the guidance available to them to produce their most accomplished song yet in ‘Call Your God’ and ANALOG ANGEL went on a well-received tour supporting Swedish veterans COVENANT with a message to listeners of ‘Don’t Forget To Love’.

RODNEY CROMWELL -NASAElsewhere in the British Isles, CIRCUIT3RODNEY CROMWELL and SUDDEN CREATION made their first excursions into the long player format just as KID KASIO and KOVAK each delivered album number two while Berlin based Brit EMIKA helpfully titled her third opus ‘Drei’.

“So, what’s so special about Sweden then?” someone once rather cluelessly asked TEC. Well, it is the modern hub of inventive, electronic pop. KARIN PARK offered her profanity laden fifth album ‘Apocalypse Pop’ while SAY LOU LOU finally gave the world their ‘Lucid Dreaming’. SISTA MANNEN PÅ JORDEN offered to ‘Translate’ while TRAIN TO SPAIN told the world ‘What It’s All About’. And this was without feisty youngsters like ME THE TIGER and comparatively experienced hands such as PRESENCE OF MIND, DESTIN FRAGILE, CLUB 8, 047 and HILTIPOP all entering the equation too.

Photo by Madeleine Berg

Still in Sweden, DAYBEHAVIOR went all female PET SHOP BOYS with the Italo flavoured ‘Cambiare’ and MACHINISTA followed up their debut ‘Xenoglossy’ with ‘Garmonbozia’. while there was also the unexpected return of alternative synthpopsters ASHBURY HEIGHTS. But best of all were the mighty KITE; their ‘VI’ EP was a masterclass in epic, majestic electronic pop.

In the rest of Europe, there was an influx of darker female fronted acts such as Hungary’s BLACK NAIL CABARET, Italy’s ELECTROGENIC, Greece’s SARAH P. and Germany’s NINA; the latter’s ‘My Mistake’ even ended up on a Mercedes TV advert. The male contingent did their bit too with Slovenia’s TORUL unleashing their second offering ‘The Measure’ while the prolific Finnish duo SIN COS TAN took things a little bit easier in their fourth year with just an EP ‘Smile, Tomorrow Will Be Worse’, having already released three albums since 2012.

SILVER GHOST SHIMMEROslo based studio legend John Fryer returned with two new projects, SILVER GHOST SHIMMER and MURICIDAE featuring vocalists Pinky Turzo and Louise Fraser respectively. Both reminded listeners of his work with COCTEAU TWINS and THIS MORTAL COIL, but with an Americanised twist. The Icelandic domiciled Denver singer / songwriter JOHN GRANT added some funkier vibes to his continuing electronic direction while IAMX moved from Berlin to Los Angeles, and did no harm to his art with the brooding ‘Metanoia’ album.

On the brighter side of North America, PRIEST’s self-titled debut long player became reality following their dreamy ‘Samurai’ EP, while HYPERBUBBLE made available their wacky award winning soundtrack to the short film ‘Dee Dee Rocks The Galaxy’ and joyous 2014 London show. And GRIMES caught the music biz on the hop when she released a new album ‘Art Angels’, having scrapped an album’s worth of material in 2014.

NIGHT CLUB Nov2015But despite North America itself being one of the territories flying the flag for the synth with acts like NIGHT CLUB, BATTLE TAPESAESTHETIC PERFECTION and RARE FACTURE all figuring, the worst single of 2015 actually came from the USA; decades of synth heritage were eminently obliterated in five soul destroying minutes… was this really what the Electronic Revolution was fought for? This is cultural history and it needs to be protected.

Although the year had flashes of brilliance, it was generally less impressive overall for fledgling electronic artists, with a number forgetting that all important factor of a good tune! Eddie Bengtsson of SISTA MANNEN PÅ JORDEN remarked last year that synthpop was becoming a dying art.

And in 2015, synthpop’s credibility was further tarnished with lazy use of the term by the mainstream press for acts like YEARS & YEARS; one could argue that TAYLOR SWIFT and her ‘1989’ opus is possibly more synthpop than YEARS & YEARS have ever been! In a market where EDM appears to be king and clubbers are happy to witness DJs miming their two hour sets, there is clearly something wrong. Things were not helped by certain media outlets insisting that dance music was the only way; it was as if electronic music had somehow managed to jump from KRAFTWERK to Detroit techno with nothing happening in between.

jarre clarkeAnd then, there were those who had never particularly enjoyed music from that key Synth Britannia period, who were trying to dictate how modern electronic music was being presented and pretending it had popped out of thin air! Some bands were not doing themselves any favours either, showing little empathetic connection to the history of electronic music in their deluded optimism that they were crafting something completely new! As JEAN-MICHEL JARRE amusingly quipped to Sound-On-Sound magazine: “Lots of people in America think that electronic music started with AVICII and it’s not exactly the truth…”

The lack of accuracy in a number of publications over the last 18 months was also shocking, particularly within magazines and online media that continued to employ writers with a history of not knowing their tape recorders from their drum machines. This simply proved the old adage that just because someone is employed as a professional writer, it doesn’t actually mean they are a good writer!

MYSADCAT2015

Photo @MYSADCAT

The domestic live scene had its challenges too with slow ticket sales and a number of events cancelled. But even when some true legends in electronic music were booked, ticket sales could not be guaranteed and efficient promotion was needed to maximise potential.

Some observers were bemoaning a lack of support for the scene, but if line-ups are not particularly appealing, then audiences cannot be expected to invest time and money to attend.

A number of organisational infrastructures also lacked credibility; if a promoter doesn’t have at least some idea if they’re going to sell fifty tickets or five thousand, then they really shouldn’t be in the business! The question that has to be asked then is, has anybody actually learnt from the Alt-Fest debacle of 2014?

ES2015-Marsheaux+TrainToSpainWhile ‘A Secret Wish’ and SOS#2 were a couple of the year’s better UK events, Europe showed once again how things should be done. Electronic Summer in Gothenburg and the Electri_City_Conference in Düsseldorf were two of the most notable electronic music events of 2015; the inherent knowledge and sense of understanding in both differed immensely to some British promoters. This perhaps could explain why electronic pop has generally flourished more in territories across the North Sea.

Electronic pop needs to continue to develop, but quality control must be maintained to ensure the genre is not publically misrepresented. SOFT CELL once sang about ‘Monoculture’ while KID MOXIE declared how everyone was just content with ‘Medium Pleasure’. If all that’s heard is the best of a bad bunch, then younger listeners (and therefore potential future synth oriented musicians) will not be inspired. That is why it is important that CHVRCHES and EAST INDIA YOUTH consolidate their positions as modern electronic pop’s representatives in the mainstream.

Rusty vs Andy - Chi Ming LaiIt is not good practice to support mediocre music just because it happens to be electronic. The finest examples need to be set so as to show what can be achieved; now if that means possibly referencing back to the golden age of synthpop, then so be it. Only then will the synth baton be able to taken up by a new generation who can then truly reinvigorate it.


PAUL BODDY

Best Album: EAST INDIA YOUTH Culture Of Volume
Best Song: NEW ORDER Restless
Best Gig: EAST INDIA YOUTH + HANNAH PEEL at London Village Underground
Best Video: BATTLE TAPES Valkyrie
Most Promising New Act: BATTLE TAPES


DEB DANAHAY

Best Album: IAMX Metanoia
Best Song: KITE Up For Life
Best Gig: NODE at The Royal College of Music
Best Video: IAMX Oh Cruel Darkness Embrace Me
Most Promising New Act: KITE


IAN FERGUSON

Best Album: EAST INDIA YOUTH Culture Of Volume
Best Song: KITE Count The Days
Best Gig: ASSEMBLAGE 23 at SOS#2 Festival
Best Video: VILE ELECTRODES Captive In Symmetry
Most Promising New Act: RODNEY CROMWELL


MONIKA IZABELA GOSS

Best Album: SILVER GHOST SHIMMER Soft Landing
Best Song: IAMX Happiness
Best Gig: IAMX at London Koko
Best Video: TORUL The Balance
Most Promising New Act: SYNTHDECADE


SIMON HELM

Best Album: LAU NAU Hem Någonstans
Best Song: ME THE TIGER As We Really Are
Best Gig: SISTA MANNEN PÅ JORDEN at A Secret Wish
Best Video: JUNO Same To Me
Most Promising New Act: REIN


CHI MING LAI

Best Album: SUSANNE SUNDFØR Ten Love Songs
Best Song: KITE Up For Life
Best Gig: FFS at The Troxy
Best Video: VILE ELECTRODES Captive In Symmetry
Most Promising New Act: RODNEY CROMWELL


RICHARD PRICE

Best Album: EAST INDIA YOUTH Culture Of Volume
Best Song: NEW ORDER Plastic
Best Gig: EAST INDIA YOUTH + HANNAH PEEL at London Village Underground
Best Video: VILE ELECTRODES Captive In Symmetry
Most Promising New Act: KITE


Text by Chi Ming Lai
16th December 2015

SOS#2 Festival at Electrowerkz

The cancellation of Alt-Fest in August 2014 sent shockwaves around the alternative music scene.

SOS#2-Assemblage23-01Although the fantasy festival approach had led some to read between the lines and anticipate that the event was never going to take place, many put faith in supporting the scene and fellow music enthusiasts. Quite why people were prepared to commit themselves to a live promoter who had no acknowledged record of organising an event of this magnitude still remains a mystery… the initial crowdfunding exercise should have rung alarm bells as to the lack of liquid funds to run Alt-Fest.

If only the organisers had learned to walk before they ran and opted for something more manageable… so acts from many shores, like AESTHETIC PERFECTION, CLAN OF XYMOX and AGONIZE who had pre-arranged to come to the UK, now had nowhere to play. Coming to the rescue were Flag Promotions who promptly hosted everyone at Electrowerkz in London. Fittingly named SOS, the event was a success and prompted a second instalment for 2015.

SOS#2TregenzaThis year’s first night was headlined by Seattle’s ASSEMBLAGE 23 with support from ANALOG ANGEL and a host of other combos of varying electro and alternative persuasions in two rooms. Opening SOS#2 in the electro section was new act TREGENZA, who sounded nothing like how they looked. The combo surprised those present to a cover of ‘The Partisan’, a song made famous by Leonard Cohen and with the solemn militaristic grandeur of ‘Born Into Fire’, it was a promising performance.

SOS#2-EmpathyTestEMPATHY TEST have been much talked about and on paper have all the ingredients. In a currently weakened British scene, they have stood out with their hipster credentials, good looks and brooding synth sound. But even with a song like ‘Kirrilee’, there is something missing. Like STRANGERS before them in 2012, EMPATHY TEST are not MIRRORS, or even the current UK benchmark EAST INDIA YOUTH. However, a small enthusiastic following was rooting for them all the way through their set.

SOS#2-Vivien GlassVIVIEN GLASS on the other hand made much more of an impact, from their co-ordinated stage presentation to their dark, punchy synthpop. With a syncopated groove on their better songs like ’Black Magic’ and ‘Julius’ offset by moody female lead vocals, they are perhaps this year’s FUTURE PERFECT. Their debut album ‘Awake My Sleeper’ was a mixed bag, so the new one ‘Jura’ out in September is awaited with interest.

With D-K-A-G being a rather generic EBM Industrial band who shouted “DAS” rather a lot, it was time to make a sharp exit. Welcome relief came in the downstairs alternative rock room where RED SUN REVIVAL provided some of the chromatic Gothic resonance that gave ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN some crossover appeal in the ‘Ocean Rain’ years.

SOS#2-AnalogAngelVery much originally part of the Industrial scene up to 2011, an introduction of melodic synthpop elements has given ANALOG ANGEL a much more expansive template which has widened their appeal. The recent support slot for KRAFTWERK legend Wolfgang Flür and tonight’s spirited crowd singalong to ‘We Won’t Walk Away’ was evidence of that. And there was also a cheer of recognition for ‘When You Called My Name’, the song that signalled ANALOG ANGEL’s move into more synthpop based territory.

SOS#2-Assemblage23-02After a slight delay, ASSEMBLAGE 23 took to the stage and despite the jet lag, Tom Shear was on good form with Paul Seegers sternly controlling the backing. While A23’s stomping numbers like ‘Let Me Be Your Armor’ pleased the faithful, it was the emotive ‘Damaged’ from 2007’s ‘Meta’ and 2009’s superbly spacey futurepop of ‘Spark’ that stole the show. Having released their first recordings in 1998, a few acts could learn from ASSEMBLAGE 23’s resilience and humility with regards maintaining an audience and surviving in the modern music industry

It was a packed evening although some rightly quibbled that the running order was far too crammed, with schedule clashes and little time for punters to properly mingle between acts, other than a glancing hello. But SOS#2 was entertaining and enlightening, providing a much needed platform for independently minded electronic music.


SOS#2-posterWith thanks to Flag Promotions

http://www.flagpromotions.com/

http://www.assemblage23.com/

http://www.analog-angel.com/

http://redsunrevival.com/

http://www.vivienglass.com/

http://www.empathytest.com/

https://www.facebook.com/tregenzamusic


Text and photos by Chi Ming Lai
9th August 2015

FROM NORWICH, IT’S THE GIG OF THE WEEK!

An Evening at Epic Studios with WOLFGANG FLÜR + ANALOG ANGEL

Wolfgang + TracyJIt was once the venue for “the quiz of week”, but since ending its tenure as the base for ‘Sale Of The Century’ presented by Nicholas Parsons and Anglia Television, the now privately owned Epic Studios in Norwich has emerged as a key live music venue in the area.

With gigs from the likes of MIDGE URE, HOWARD JONES, TOYAH and PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING in the last few years, Epic Studios secured its biggest coup yet with an appearance from former KRAFTWERK percussionist WOLFGANG FLÜR. Working in association with Stephen Roper, author of the GARY NUMAN book ‘Back Stage’, one of the motivations for this event was that Roper had been unable to attend Herr Flür’s recent ‘Musik Soldat’ show in London. So rather than wait for the Schlagzeug legend to return to the UK, he approached Epic Studios and the event was born.

ANALOG ANGEL02by Simon WatsonWith Flür secured as the headliner, several acts were considered for the prestigious support slot. So with an eye on the crème of the UK’s independent electronic music talent, the opportunity was accorded to Glasgow’s ANALOG ANGEL, a band very much on the upward trajectory following their tour supporting COVENANT.

One thing that stands out about Epic Studios is its vast resources and how organised it is. Helpful signage is prominent while all the staff are extremely polite and hospitable. This is perhaps largely down to Epic’s policy of promoting staff from within. Giving something back to the local community, it runs an apprenticeship scheme in which places are highly sought after.

Epic soundcheckAnd it’s not about just giving a chance to anyone, candidates are rigidly assessed on their potential and attitude; those who are successful get continually monitored to test their commitment and ability. This is none more apparent when ANALOG ANGEL arrive for their set-up and soundcheck.

Welcomed on arrival by staff at Epic, the band are directed to the staging area and shown the facilities while the evening’s key personnel such as the lighting man and sound guy introduce themselves. The latter is a young lad named Ben, one of Epic’s sound engineering apprentices. His enthusiasm is a lesson to those wanting to sustain a career in the music industry.

While obviously having plenty to offer, he is also willing to listen and learn. Although primarily an indie rock fan, Ben is relishing the challenge of working with electronic acts. Indeed, he later enthuses about having seen EAST INDIA YOUTH the other week… this is how the synth music baton gets passed.

Downstairs, WOLFGANG FLÜR arrives early at the venue, but it turns out it’s to ink a brand new deal with Cherry Red Records. His first album since 1997’s ‘Time Pie’ as YAMO, it will be an eight track affair entitled ‘Eloquence’ and issued under his own name. When he arrives for soundcheck, he is impressed. After a short run through, he shouts out “the sound is good”!

ANALOG ANGEL01by Simon WatsonAs ANALOG ANGEL chill in the dressing room, talk turns to their photo session with up-and-coming photographer Simon Watson and what they should wear. The quartet have an interesting set of contrasts in their dynamic. John Brown is moody and intense like many lead singers, but at the opposite end, there’s the wisecracking party monster Derek McDonald, or Derek Van Door as he is now known for an incident involving his fingers being trapped while entering the AA tour van!

Then there’s the forthright, prog rock loving Ian Ferguson and the flirty, friendly Tracy J Cox who joined the band after contributing backing vocals to their acclaimed third long player ‘Trinity’. It would be fair to say that the band have not always paid much attention to their visual image. In fact, it has been rare for ANALOG ANGEL to have been photographed professionally together, other than on stage.

But as their fellow weegie Jim Kerr from SIMPLE MINDS recognised back in 1982, there is a need for colour photo sessions for media outlets to use. Watson’s request to snap the band on the roof of Epic Studios is politely declined for obvious safety reasons, but the use of the venue’s loading bay, and a nearby car park proves to be visually very effective.

ANALOG ANGEL live02 by Will WilliamsIt is almost show time and a significant number of people have already arrived; ANALOG ANGEL take to the stage for the most important gig of their career so far. Selected to appeal to a more synthpop inclined listenership, the setlist works a treat. ‘Drive’ goes down well, but it’s the more expansive soundscapes of ‘We Won’t Walk Away’ and ‘The Last Time’ that draw the audience into the joys of ANALOG ANGEL.

The performance has obviously impressed as the merchandise stand is met with numerous visits and requests to purchase CDs. Unfortunately, in their busy preparations for this gig, this has been overlooked. This may be the digital download age but at a gig, interested parties can buy and try instantly via the CD medium, sampling the band on the drive home. It’s not something that can be done with a download and chances are that any interested members of the audience may have already forgotten the band’s name by the time they wake up the next morning.

AA vs OMD by Will WilliamsAs with many prestigious gigs, it is a joy to witness the presence of luminaries from the Synth Britannia era mingling with the crowd. Andy McCluskey reveals to those around him listening that OMD are to play a special concert in 2016 featuring the ‘Dazzle Ships’ and ‘Architecture & Morality’ albums in full.

Meanwhile, Stephen Mallinder, formally of CABARET VOLTAIRE and now of WRANGLER, is happily joking away with people, quite the antithesis of the dark music forms he has been associated with. From the German side, former DIE KRUPPS bassist Rudi Esch is also present, network and promoting his ‘Electri_City’ music conference in Dusseldorf where KRAFTWERK and many other great acts like DAF and NEU! also emerged.

WOLFGANG FLÜR takes his place on the stage slightly later than planned, but he is welcomed as a hero when he heads straight into KRAFTWERK’s ‘Home Computer’. His performance is storying telling to music and visuals, with dad dancing to boot.

WOLFGANG FLUR by Simon WatsonThe excellent slice of synthpop that is ‘Cover Girl’, a track from his upcoming album also figures, while there is also the welcome addition of ‘Pocket Calculator’ into the set. Ending with his ironic militaristic marching while donning his Pickelhaube, the performance is a triumph at the close to capacity venue. Like with his previous shows, the amiable Herr Flür meets and greets his loyal followers afterwards, happily posing for photographs and signing autographs.

Such is his iconic role in changing the landscape of popular music, those who come to say hello span several generations and range from sixteen to sixty. Always the most sociable member of KRAFTWERK, the ever charming Musik Soldat still has an eye for the ladies, even with his wife filming every moment for prosperity.

Wolfgang and fanThe evening winds down and Stephen Roper is smiling, happy that his idea has been a success. A photo of himself with his wife and the man who was once a robot is his perfect souvenir of the evening. As the crowd disperses, Ian Ferguson appears to have become Andy McCluskey’s new BFF, the pair exchanging stories about Glasgow; the OMD front man’s father was from the city and in the ensuing conversation, Ferguson remarks to McCluskey “your Glaswegian accent is better than my Scouse!”

With the time to leave the venue, the Epic Studios staff kindly escort ANALOG ANGEL out to prevent any kind of ‘Spinal Tap’ incidents trying to find the exit. Ben receives a big cheer from everyone for his outstanding contribution to proceedings as the fully loaded AA ‘Turdbus’ leaves the building… only it doesn’t! After a few amusing stop / starts with Tracy J Cox at the wheel, the concert party gets safely back to the hotel. It turns out Mrs Cox hasn’t driven with a manual gearbox for over ten years!

Backstage with WolfgangAnd if that wasn’t already amusing enough, when the entourage retires to a well-known fast food outlet nearby to beat the munchies, two of the party are served their menu choices with the bottom burger buns missing!

It was just one of those great nights, filled with fun, laughter and good music. Like Cold War Night Life proved with their event ‘A Secret Wish’, the best electronic music events are those curated by electronic music enthusiasts.

This evening at Epic Studios was another one of those…


The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to Stephen Roper and all the staff at Epic Studios

http://www.musiksoldat.de

http://www.analog-angel.com/

http://www.epicstudiosnorwich.com/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Simon Watson, Will Wilson and Chi Ming Lai
27th June 2015

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