Tag: Club 8

TEC’s 25 SVENSKA SYNTH SONGS

Like Germany and the UK, Sweden has an established history in electronic music.

With a melodic tradition rooted in traditional Nordic folk music and the region’s long dark nights causing bouts of melancholy, the Swedes are more than well suited to stay indoors and further the art of synthpop.

In addition, Clavia Digital Musical Instruments, founded in 1983 and based in Stockholm, have emerged as a world leader in modern virtual analogue subtractive synthesizers with its distinctive red Nord Lead series.

Probably the most influential act to come out of Sweden are THE KNIFE. Their influence internationally on countless acts such as GAZELLE TWIN, GRIMES, AUSTRA, THE HORN THE HUNT and BECKY BECKY to adopt darker colours and mess with the very fabric of sound, has held a flag for inventive artful experimentation.

Meanwhile, COVENANT maintain an audience across the Atlantic for their resonant futurepop and ROBYN has become so much part of the mainstream that her songs are regularly murdered by reality TV talent show wannabes.

The iconic Energy Rekords provided a platform for modern electronic music in the country while today, labels such as Progress Productions, Labrador and Wonderland have maintained their support for domestic talent.

As KITE lead the way with their upcoming second tour of the US, Swedish synthpop continues to impress with acts like TRAIN TO SPAIN, 047, PRESENCE OF MIND, SILENT WAVE, THE SOUND OF ARROWS and COMPUTE among those with the potential to breakout of their domestic scenes.

So what’s so special about Sweden then? Listed chronologically and then alphabetically from its UK perspective with a restriction of one song per moniker, here are The Electricity Club’s 25 SVENSKA SYNTH SONGS…


LUSTANS LAKEJER Diamanter (1982)

With a shortened title, ‘Diamanter’ was a more synth driven re-recording of their second single. LUSTANS LAKEJER were labelled Sweden’s answer to DURAN DURAN and like the Birmingham combo, Johan Kinde and Co were heavily influenced by JAPAN. Their third album ‘En Plats I Solen’ was produced by Richard Barbieri with Mick Karn popping up with his sax on three of its tracks.

Available on the album ‘En Plats I Solen’ via Universal Music

https://www.facebook.com/LustansLakejer/


PAGE Dansande Man (1983)

Founded in 1980 by Eddie Bengtsson and Marina Schiptjenko, PAGE are often credited with bringing the more purer form of synthpop as pioneered by Vince Clarke to Sweden. Their debut single ‘Dansande Man’ was a frantically percussive excursion suitable for dancing to as the title suggested. Bengtsson and Schiptjenko were to become key figures on the Swedish music scene in many guises, as we shall see…

Originally released as a single via Eskimo, currently unavailable

https://www.facebook.com/PageElektroniskPop/


THE MOBILE HOMES Feeling Better (1989)

With their name inspired by a JAPAN song, THE MOBILE HOMES were another Swedish band adopting purer synthpop colours . For their second single ‘Feeling Better’, they signed to Sonet, a Scandinavian independent who coincidentally handled the early publishing of Martin Gore and Vince Clarke. Eschewing the quirkiness of PAGE, THE MOBILE HOMES reflected the more pessimistic side of life often associated with Sweden.

Available on download bundle ‘Feeling Better’ via Universal Music

http://www.themobilehomes.se/


ARMY OF LOVERS Obsession (1991)

An almost cartoonish trio originally comprising of Alexander Bard, Jean-Pierre Barda and La Camilla, ARMY OF LOVERS countered their outlandish visual presence with catchy electronic dance tunes influenced by the hippy musical ‘Hair’. While the epic ‘Crucify’ was the huge worldwide hit, the musically more subtle ‘Obsession’ offered a softer side while still maintaining the cinematic drama.

Available on the album ‘Massive Luxury Overdose’ via China Records

https://www.facebook.com/armyofloversofficial/


S.P.O.C.K Never Trust A Klingon (1992)

In parallel with PAGE, Eddie Bengtsson joined vocalist Alexander Hofman  to write and perform some ‘Star Trek’ themed songs for a friend’s Trekkie themed birthday party. . Originally called MR SPOCK, the band name was changed to an acronym for ‘Star Pilot On Channel K’ after threats of legal action from Paramount Studios. ‘Never Trust A Klingon’ is still their crowning moment, a genius combination of deadpan vocals, bubbling synthpop and samples from Captain James T Kirk.

Available on the album ‘Five Year Mission’ via Energy Rekords

http://www.subspace.se/spock/


ELEGANT MACHINERY Hard To Handle (1993)

Founded in 1988, ELEGANT MACHINERY were another act who preferred a purer synthpop stance; they even covered SPANDAU BALLET’s ‘To Cut A Long Story Short’ in the style of Vince Clarke for an excellent 1995 Energy Rekords tribute collection of the same name. Many consider ‘Hard To Handle’ their finest song, an excellent blend of dance friendly beats and blippy melodies.

Available on the album ‘Shattered Grounds’ via Energy Rekords

http://elegantmachinery.se/


COVENANT Bullet (2002)

Formed in 1986 in Helsingborg, the Eskil Simonsson fronted COVENANT managed to gain a footing in both synthpop and EBM camps, achieving great success in North America from touring the alternative electronic club network established following the stateside success of DEPECHE MODE. Still going strong, 2016 saw the release of their ninth long player ‘Blinding Dark’.

Available on the album ‘Northern Light’ via Metroplis Records

http://www.covenant.se/


THE KNIFE Pass This On (2003)

Sibling duo THE KNIFE are probably the acclaimed electronic act to emerge from Sweden. Their uncompromising approach has won them many plaudits. But there was a time when with their experimentation came a tune too. The wonderful ‘Pass This On’ took Karin Dreijer’s unsettling pitch shifted vocals and placed them over brother Olaf’s soundtrack of primitive string machine and uplifting steel drums. Things got much darker after this…

Available on the album ‘Deep Cuts’ via Braille Records

http://theknife.net/


ROBYN Who’s That Girl? (2005)

Tired of her label BMG trying to turn her into the Swedish CHRISTINA AGUILERA, ROBYN took began taking an interest in the electronic movement closer to home. Inspired by THE KNIF, she collaborated with them to produce what is now possibly the key song which transformed Robin Miriam Carlsson into the successful independently minded artist she is today.

Available on the album ‘Robyn’ via Konichiwa Records

http://robyn.com/


EMMON Rock D’Amour (2007)

Best known as a member of the cult Swedish indie band PARIS, singer and keyboardist Emma Nylén had aspirations to produce something that was more decisively electronic. Her first recordings immediately showcased a catchy dance friendly sound as exemplified by ‘Rock D’Amour’. Subsequent albums ‘Closet Wanderings’ and ‘Nomme’ have maintained the standard, although EMMON is currently on a career break to raise a family.

Available on the album ‘The Art & The Evil’ via Wonderland Records

https://www.facebook.com/Emmon-240551649322636/


SISTA MANNEN PÅ JORDEN Allt Är Klart (2007)

Eddie Bengstsson’s solo project, also referred to as SMPJ, saw him unafraid to mine his Synth Britannia influences. ‘Allt Är Klart’ was an ULTRAVOX tribute and effectively a Swedish vocal version of the instrumental B-side ‘Alles Klar’. The hard, staccato synth bassline was borrowed from the original, but the track was bolstered by some superb whirring synths in the tradition of Billy Currie’s adventures with the ARP Odyssey.

Available on the album ‘Tredje Våningen’ via Energy Rekords

http://www.moonbasealpha.space/


ASHBURY HEIGHTS Spiders (2008)

Combining dual male / female vocals with a danceable electro goth backdrop, Anders Hagström and Yasmine Uhlin achieved success in Germany as well as Sweden with ‘Spiders’. ASHBURY HEIGHTS came out of hiatus in 2015 with a new female vocalist Tea F Thimé and a new album ‘The Looking Glass Society’ after a settling a despite with their label Out Of Line.

Available on the EP ‘Morningstar In A Black Car’ via Out Of Line Records

https://www.facebook.com/ashbury.heights/


BWO Lay Your Love On Me (2008)

BODIES WITHOUT ORGANS or BWO saw PAGE’s Marina Schiptjenko teaming up Alexander Bard from ARMY OF LOVERS in a project that has probably come closest to exploiting the musicality of ABBA for the 21st Century. Fronted by the extremely handsome Martin Rolinski, the classic pop tradition of the original Super Swedes was more than obvious on the mightily bonkers ‘Lay Your Love On Me’ which they entered for Eurovision.

Available on the album ‘Pandemonium’ via Capitol Records

https://www.facebook.com/bodieswithoutorgans/


KLEERUP Longing For Lullabies (2008)

Producer Andreas Kleerup hit paydirt with ‘With Every Heartbeat’, a collaboration with ROBYN. A marvellous self-titled album followed with ‘Longing For Lullabies’ featuring Neneh Cherry’s sister Titiyo being the tearful highlight. Despite being driven with raw mechanical beats, the simple vocal melody was simple, almost keyboard-like going up and down the ivory scale in the best tradition of OMD while Titiyo’s vocal range made it a bit Agnetha and Annifrid too!

Available on the album ‘Kleerup’ via EMI Records

https://www.facebook.com/kleerupmusic/


KARIN PARK Ashes (2009)

One established artist who made a volte face in the wake of THE KNIFE was KARIN PARK. It was on more her ROBYN-esque third album ‘Ashes To Gold’ that she sowed the seeds of her current electronic template. The synthpop disco of ‘Ashes’ fused electronic counterpoints and a live bass guitar with an incessant groove while Miss Park provided her enticing vocal presence.

Available on the album ‘Ashes To Gold’ via Young Aspiring Professionals

https://www.facebook.com/karinpark/


NIKI & THE DOVE DJ, Ease My Mind (2010)

Another act formed under the spectre of THE KNIFE, Stockholm duo Malin Dahlström and Gustaf Karlöf released ‘Mother Protect’ as a free download to launch NIKI & THE DOVE. Then came ‘DJ, Ease My Mind’; shaped by a ritualistic percussive mantra and whirring sub-bass, Dahlström’s witchy mannerisms provided the surreal scenario of what the Dreijers might have sounded like if they had decided to enter Eurovision.

Available on the album ‘Instinct’ via Mercury Records

http://www.nikiandthedove.com/


DAYBEHAVIOR Silent Dawn (2011)

Having issued their first album ‘:Adored’ in 1996 and their second ‘Have You Ever Touched A Dream?’ in 2004, ‘Silent Dawn’ was a single released as part of DAYBEHAVIOR‘s much vaunted comeback. The song was an exploration in laid back filmic pop and breathy continental vocals that wouldn’t have sounded out of place in Italian art movie. Indeed their most recent single ‘Change’ was also released in an alternative Italian language version, naturally titled ‘Cambiare’.

Available on the album ‘Follow That Car!’ via Graplur

https://www.facebook.com/DayBehavior/


KITE Step Forward (2011)

KITE have been called “Sweden’s best kept pop-secret”; Nicklas Stenemo and Christian Berg have undoubtedly been producing some of the best electronic pop of the last few years. Only releasing EPs, things started to truly come together on their fourth release ‘IV’. From it, ‘Step Forward’ with its sharp percussive drama and pentatonic overtones was the undoubted highlight. More recently, the duo have been commissioned to provide a song for a new Steven Segal film.

Available on the EP ‘IV’ via Progress Productions

https://www.facebook.com/KiteHQ/


CLUB 8 Stop Taking My Time (2013)

With Karolina Komstedt’s dramatically assertive vocal and a bursting bassline from Johan Angergård, CLUB 8 showed in a crisp 180 seconds with ‘Stop Taking Time’ that a danceable electronic tune didn’t have to be a journey into death by four-to-the-floor. Formed in 1995 as a more conventional pop act, CLUB 8’s most recent album ‘Pleasure’ celebrated 20 years for the duo.

Available on the album ‘Above The City’ via Labrador Records

http://www.club-8.org/


MACHINISTA Molecules & Carbon (2014)

MACHINISTA are seasoned hands, John Lindqwister was part of CAT RAPES DOG while Richard Flow was in VISION TALK with the late Krister Petersson. Their mantra is produce synthpop with a rock’n’roll edge. Like THE CURE gone electronic, or ALPHAVILLE crossed with SUICIDE, ‘Molecules & Carbon’ is both catchy and danceable with some suitably rousing elements too.

Available on the album ‘Xenoglossy’ via Analogue Trash

http://www.machinistamusic.com/


IAMAMIWHOAMI Chasing Kites (2014)

First launched via a set of mysterious viral videos with alphanumeric code titles, IAMAMIWHOAMI helmed by vocalist Jonna Lee and producer Claes Björklund premiered a delightfully odd cinematic electronic sound. From the second album ‘Blue’, the rich Scandipop of ‘Chasing Kites’ sees Jonna Lee hitting those ABBA-esque high notes with ablomb before adopting a huskier register for the second half.

Available on the album ‘Blue’ via To Whom It May Concern

http://towhomitmayconcern.cc/creators/iamamiwhoami


JOHAN BAECKSTROM Synth Is Not Dead (2015)

A touching tribute to Messrs Clarke, Gore, Hütter and Schneider, JOHAN BAECKSTROM said “I guess I just wanted to reflect on the fact that there still IS a synthpop scene with some really great bands, both old and new. In another way, the song is sort of my ‘thank you’ to some of the artists that inspired me for several decades – some of them are mentioned in the lyrics, but far from all of course”.

Available on the EP ‘Come With Me’ via Progress Productions

https://www.facebook.com/bstrommusic/


TWICE A MAN High In The Clouds (2015)

Founded by Dan Söderqvist and Karl Gasleben, TWICE A MAN were the opposite to many Swedish acts in that they used synths and electronic effects for more sombre atmospheric soundscapes rather than performing outright pop. Still operating as a unit, their 2015 album ‘Presence’ featuring epic environmental message songs like ‘High In The Clouds’ showed their talents have not waned over the years and indeed have become more accessible.

Available on the album ‘Presence’ via Ad Inexplorata

http://www.twiceaman.com/


VANBOT Trooper (2015)

After her inconclusive self-titled debut album in 2011, VANBOT aka Ester Ideskog had a rethink and started venturing into artier climes with the dreamy and enigmatic ‘Trooper’. With layers of vocals and rushes of lush synth, it started a journey towards the otherworldly template of IAMAMIWHOAMI. Her icy journey continues on her next album ‘Siberia’ which was written and recorded on a 17 day trip aboard the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Available on the album ‘Perfect Storm’ via Lisch Recordings

http://www.vanbotmusic.com/


REIN I Don’t Get Anything But Sh*t From You (2016)

Feisty, ambitious and not to be messed with, REIN has certainly caused a stir with Europe’s male dominated EBM scene. A true Rebel Girl as suggested by one of the highlights from her self-titled debut 2016 EP, even within the inherent shouty nature of the genre and Joanna Reinikainen’s debut song ‘Can’t Handle Me’ effectively being a mission statement, things are ramped up to 11 on ‘I Don’t Get Anything But Sh*t From You’. She’s an artist to watch for sure…

Available on the single ‘I Don’t Get Anything but Shit from You’ via Playground

https://www.facebook.com/reinelectronic/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
18th February 2017, updated 3rd November 2018

CLUB 8 Pleasure

CLUB8 PleasureSweden consistently delivers in the field of electronica and 2015 has been truly won over by the Swedes. New, fledging bands have surfaced with a quality of material, which some weathered UK bands should be jealous of.

CLUB 8, however, have been around for a long while. Twenty years have passed since teenager Karolina Komstedt, a gifted young singer, founded the enterprise, joined by Johan Angergård.

The duo’s beginnings were more guitar pop, bossa nova style, than synthpop.

Signed to the Spanish Siesta label, their first trials were labelled as “anorak pop”, and the first album ‘Nouvelle’ received a warm welcome. The second production, ‘The Friend I Once Had’ landed the Komstedt-Angergård collaboration their first gig in New York.

More albums followed with their self-titled third long player, ‘Spring Came, Rain Fell’, ‘Strangely Beautiful’, ‘The Boy Who Couldn’t Stop Dreaming’ and ‘The People’s Record’, before their “everything at once” record, ‘Above The City’ which featured the magnificent cult favourite ‘Stop Taking My Time’.

Club_8-2015aCollectively, CLUB 8’s albums have been released on over forty labels including territories in South East Asia. The band also prided themselves with the popularisation of indie pop genre in Indonesia, and starting up, what has become an extensive scene out there. ‘Pleasure’ is the ninth studio production from the duo, and Johan Angergård’s 21st record, conceived and executed in their ever-changing Summersound Studios. The themes are love, sex and jealousy, “a strong congruous effort”, as described as Karolina.

An unusually short album housing eight tracks only, it opens with the pessimistically titled ‘Love Dies’. This slinky, shiny and sophisticated ballad leads into a pensive mood, which isn’t representative of what the production is about. The mood swiftly changes with ‘Skin’, a dirtier, lustlier version of the following ‘Late Nights’. The crisp vocals by Komstedt are girly and fresh, digging deeper into the matter of decaying love.

Meanwhile ‘Kinky Love’, apart from its obvious sexual connotations, is a superbly executed, PET SHOP BOYS style serenade. She wants it “strange”, before ‘Jealousy Remains’ enters with a glossy and defined chorus, leading into ‘Hush’ which has ghostly echoes of ART GARFUNKEL’s ‘Bright Eyes’ gone electro…

‘Movement’ lyrically continues the theme of wanting “some action”, all heading in the direction of ‘Promises We Never Meant To Keep’. The closing track, possibly the best on the album, softly cushions love’s ups and downs, awakening the longing once more.

club8_2015b2After twenty years of collaboration, five of which they spent as a couple, now describing their relationship as a “brother and sister love”, neither Komstedt nor Angergård feel like they’ve learnt anything about how to conduct themselves in a union that would last.

Unhappy in love, “wanting things to be something that it will not be”, “how love changes”, are the themes explored on the opus, described by the band themselves as a “shimmering electronic pop album”.

The erosion of love, which ultimately is a subject of this record, is a twisted form of “pleasure”, as observed by Karolina: “We humans tend to enjoy the things that hurt”.

What ABBA started, seems to continue. Sweden leads in the music field, whether it’s pop, indie or synth, and they do it with poise, grace, power and determination, which is second to none…

Pay attention UK, learn and copy accordingly.


‘Pleasure’ is released by Labrador Records

http://www.club-8.org/

https://www.facebook.com/Club8music/


Text by Monika Izabela Goss
24th November 2015

Five Years of TEC: 30 Lost Songs of The Electricity Club 2010 – 2014

Over the five years since its inception on 15th March 2010, The Electricity Club has aimed to highlight the best new music within the electronic pop world.

But with so much music and only a finite allocation of time, songs have slipped under the radar occasionally, or perhaps only received a glancing mention.

However, a bit of time and distance can reveal if these recordings really are actually lost gems and whether The Electricity Club missed the boat.

So here are 30 songs from the cover the period between March 2010 to December 2014 which The Electricity Club feels are worthy of rediscovery. They have been released as physical product or purchasable / free downloads and are listed in chronological and then alphabetical order.


YVY DEMINA Alley of Aces (2010)

Zwischenfall - A New Decade Vol. 01Sounding like night meeting day with an omnipresent gothic allure, YVY DEMINA has been making music since 2007 but despite having songs on compilations, so far she has yet to have a release in her own right. A debut EP scheduled for July 2009 never materialised but the excellent ‘Alley Of Aces’ crept out on the ‘Zwischenfall – A New Decade Vol. 01’ compendium which also featured XENO & OAKLANDER. No more has been heard since…

Available on the compilation album ‘Zwischenfall – A New Decade Vol. 01’ via Real Voice Of Underground

https://soundcloud.com/yvy-demina/yvy-demina-alley-of-aces


LYLEE Sternentanz (2010)

LYLEE SternentanzSeductive, Weimer Cabaret styled electropop with a rich, layered atmosphere, ‘Sternentanz’ was a gloriously vibrant song from this promising German songstress. But aside from three mixes of ‘Sternentanz’ and another track titled ‘Kein Weg Zu Weit’ on the single release, that was it. LYLEE’s website has long since gone offline so despite Google, there appears to be no extra information on her whatsoever… so a song and artist truly lost.

Available as a download single via Batleth Records, extended version available on the compilation album ‘electropop.5’ via Conzoom Records

http://www.last.fm/music/Lylee


TIKKLE ME Remind The World (2010)

tikkle meSick of female fronted synthpop? Well, tough! We want “synths with balls” cry the electro fraternity still stuck in their shouty, chauvinistic cauldron! But as the feminist synth combo TIKKLE ME put it on their song ‘Remind The World’: “I’ve got no balls you see… I’ve already checked!”. This Swedish collective certainly made a positive impression with some thought provoking lyrics on their feisty self-titled debut album and have tunes too! Their second album ‘What Is Real’ is even better!

Available on the download album ‘Tikkle Me’ via Gaphals

http://tikkleme.se/


047 Featuring LISA PEDERSEN Everything’s Fine (2011)

047 Everythings FineWith some rich Scandipop in the vein of ROBYN courtesy of guest vocalist LISA PEDERSEN, ‘Everything’s Fine’ showed that Swedish electronic duo 047 could produce quality song based material. Sebastian Rutgersson and Peter Engström started out as a chiptune act before expanding their sonic template on their second album proper, ‘Elva’. It is territory they’re continuing in with the much anticipated follow-up, currently being recorded.

Available on the album ‘Elva’ via Killing Music

http://www.047.se/


JOHAN AGEBJÖRN & LE PRIX featuring LAKE HEARTBEAT Watch The World Go By (2011)

johan-agebjornJOHAN AGEBJÖRN is better known as cult Swedish songstress SALLY SHAPIRO’s right hand man, but for his debut solo album, he brought in a number of guest vocalists like QUEEN OF HEARTS for ‘Casablanca Nights’, a rather danceable electronic pop album. ‘Watch The World Go By’ was an uptempo highlight with a longing, melancholic vocal from Janne Kask of LAKE HEARTBEAT that was treated to the point of being almost feminine.

Available on the download album ‘Casablanca Nights’ via Paper Bag

http://www.johanagebjorn.info/


CITIZENS! True Romance (2011)

citizensProduced by FRANZ FERDINAND’s Alex Koupranos, CITIZENS! ‘True Romance’ had a hint of HOT CHIP collaborating with Vince Clarke about it. Catchy and quirky, it was released in late 2011 and even had a slight passing resemblance to the CCS remix of LYKKE LI’s ‘Little Bit’. From a so-called indie band, ‘True Romance’ had a fresh, synth assisted approach that didn’t involve too many guitar interventions.

Available on the album ‘Here We Are’ via Kitsuné

http://www.citizenscitizens.com/


HIGH PLACES Year Off (2011)

HIGH PLACES Original colorsHIGH PLACES are a duo based in Brooklyn. Dark but danceable, Mary Pearson’s half spoken / half wispy vocals on the haunting ‘Year Off’ are unearthly. As a percussive mantra takes hold, the cacophony of synthetic sound produced by musical partner Rob Barber only enhances the cerebral experience of this magnificent track, with an electronic bassline solid enough to knock your head on.

Available on the album ‘Original Colors’ via Thrill Jockey Records

https://www.facebook.com/pages/High-Places/83873543030


NIKI & THE DOVE Mother Protect (2011)

NIKI&THEDOVE Mother ProtectWhile quite obviously derived from THE KNIFE and the hanutronica mood of the times, ‘Mother Protect’ was a great brooding tune from NIKI & THE DOVE. Malin Dahlstrom had a menacing growl that strangely sat between Karin Dreijer and Cyndi Lauper on this doom laden percussive rattle. The pair had potential and while THE KNIFE go to Eurovision of ‘DJ, Ease My Mind’ was another good tune in their cannon, they lacked consistency and the debut album ‘Instinct’ was not quite as impressive.

Available on the EP ‘The Drummer EP’ via Sub Pop

http://www.nikiandthedove.com


SPLENDOR PROJEKT Darkest Days (2011)

electropop6Full of European melancholy, ‘Darkest Days’ did what it said on the tin and appeared on the ‘Electropop.6’ compilation alongside VILE ELECTRODES and OBLIQUE. The vehicle of French producer Peter Rainman whose remixed for artists on labels such as Dependent, A Different Drum and Out Of Line, to date this has been his last offering as SPLENDOR PROJEKT. It is often quite puzzling how some musical ventures never get beyond a few released songs, while other less satisfactory acts keep going on and on…

Available on the compilation album ‘electropop.6’ via Conzoom Records

http://www.discogs.com/artist/1034736-Splendor-Projekt


PATRICK WOLF In The City – Richard X Mix (2011)

the-city-patrick-wolf1PATRICK WOLF once claimed to have had his image and act nicked by LA ROUX, but he seemed to do alright for himself as a kind of 21st Century’s answer to MARC ALMOND. With the synthetically accessible Richard X remix of ‘This City’, he actually came over like the lost Glaswegian band H20 through a Eurodisco filter. If Wolf actually stopped worrying about having his thunder stolen and actually did more stuff like this, he might then be able to outstrip LA ROUX.

Available on the download single ‘In The City’ via Hideout Recordings

http://www.patrickwolf.com


CHROMATICS Kill For Love (2012)

Chromatics_-_Kill_for_LoveHailing from Portland, CHROMATICS were one of the brace North American electronic acts who appeared on the ‘Drive – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack’ with their song ‘Tick Of The Clock’. ‘Kill For Love’ from their fourth album of the same name could have been THE JESUS & MARY CHAIN if they were a female fronted synth band. With a lo-fi, punkier edge to their sound, CHROMATICS straddle several camps and bring a unique template to the alternative music table.

Available on the album ‘Kill For Love’ via Italians Do It Better

https://www.facebook.com/CHROMATICSBAND


COMPUTE Goodbye (2012)

seventies revisitedGothenburg’s Ulrika Mild is COMPUTE whose first two releases ‘This’ in 2009 and ‘The Distance’ in 2012 impressed with their wispy, emotive DIY synthpop. Since then, she also found time to record a fabulous cover of ‘Goodbye’, written by Paul McCartney and first recorded by Mary Hopkin, for a tribute CD that also featured Swedish synth veterans PAGE with a great electro version of SLADE’s ‘Coz I Luv You’. Known for taking her time over things, COMPUTE’s third release is still eagerly awaited.

Available on the download compilation album ‘The Seventies Revisited’ via Friends of Electronically Yours

http://www.compute.se


MORTEN HARKET Scared Of Heights (2012)

MORTEN HARKET Scared Of HeightsFollowing the second disbandment of A-HA in 2010, MORTEN HARKET has sat again in that awkward artistic hinterland where he has the voice and the cheekbones, but is more challenged in the songwriting department. However, the spritely ‘Scared Of Heights’ written by Espen Lind, a mentor on the Norwegian version of ‘The Voice’, recalled the best of A-HA’s classic singles with Harket’s trademark falsetto allowed to let rip. However, Harket is unlikely to ever escape A-HA…

Available on the album ‘Out Of My Hands’ via Island / Universal Music

http://mortenharket.com/


LIZ & LASZLO Rien À Paris (2012)

LIZ & LASZLO Rien À ParisWhile bandmate Sean McBride was busy with his MARTIAL CANTEREL solo project, XENO & OAKLANDER’s Liz Wendelbo took a parallel busman’s holiday and contributed string synths and vocals to some tracks recorded by Xavier Paradis of AUTOMELODI fame. Perhaps lighter than XENO & OAKLANDER and more obviously in key, ‘Rien À Paris’ captured Wendelbo’s Gallic charms in a manner than was Francoise Hardy rather than her usual Jane Birkin.

Available as a download single via Visage Music

https://www.facebook.com/lizandlaszlo


PURITY RING Belispeak (2012)

PURITY RING BelispeakThe act that influenced CHVRCHES, Edmonton duo PURITY RING combined synths and glitch techniques with a clattering, off-kilter drum machine backbone. Megan James’ vocals aren’t that far off Lauren Mayberry’s sweet tones but while ‘Belispeak’ was a good tune full of invention and atmosphere, overall PURITY RING have perhaps lacked the pop oriented immediacy and focus of their Glaswegian contemporaries. Where they head next in the light of this will be interesting…

Available on the album ‘Shrines’ via 4AD

http://purityringsongs.com/


TOMORROW’S WORLD So Long My Love (2012)

TOMORROW’S WORLD So Long My LoveThe enticing project of NEW PONY CLUB’s Lou Hayter and Jean-Benoît Dunckel from AIR, ‘So Long My Love’ was a wonderfully motorik number with hypnotic drum machine, brash synth effects and sexy nonchalance all thrown into the bargain. Such an interesting combination had so much potential, but the resultant self-titled album released in 2013 lacked the vibrancy of this calling card and was sadly a disappointment.

Available on the album ‘Tomorrow’s World’ via Homebase

http://tomorrowsworld.fr/


CLUB 8 Stop Taking My Time (2013)

Club-8-Stop-Taking-My-TimeReleased on Sweden’s Labrador Records who launched THE SOUND OF ARROWS, ‘Stop Taking My Time’ was proof that a danceable electronic tune didn’t have to be a journey into death by four-to-the-floor or longer than five minutes. With Karolina Komstedt’s dramatically assertive vocal and a bursting bassline, CLUB 8 showed in a crisp 180 seconds that glorious, uplifting synthpop could still have an impact.

Available on the album ‘Above The City’ via Labrador Records

http://www.club-8.org/


DELPHIC Baiya (2013)

DELPHIC BaiyaLike fellow Mancunians HURTS, DELPHIC were hailed as one of the great hopes for male fronted electronic pop with a sound not unlike A CERTAIN RATIO gone right! Their debut album ‘Acolyte’ showed what they could be capable of, if they could only turn their extended jams into songs. However, the follow-up album ‘Collections’ disappointed with a misguided excursion into rap. The launch single ‘Baiya’ though was a cracker, combining the anthemic vocal pomp of MUSE with the rhythmical overtures of PRINCE.

Available on the album ‘Collections’ via Polydor Records

https://www.facebook.com/delphicmusic


FORT ROMEAU Stay True (2013)

FortRomeauTrueGhostly are the innovative label founded by American electronic musician MATTHEW DEAR and home to electro-punksters ADULT. Their roster also includes a number of interesting acts like London based FORT ROMEAU. The project of producer Michael Greene, ‘Stay True’ takes on a pulsating electro influence, but is allowed to breathe and progress with the space permitted by the length of the piece.

Available as a download EP via Ghostly Records

http://ghostly.com/artists/fort-romeau


ISAAC JUNKIE featuring GLENN GREGORY Something About You (2013)

ISAAC JUNKIE+GLENN GREGORY Something About YouHaving toured both ‘Penthouse & Pavement’ and ‘The Luxury Gap’, HEAVEN 17 really needed to record new material to maintain their credibility. It could be argued that this collaboration with Mexican producer ISAAC JUNKIE and GLENN GREGORY went part of the way in kick starting that. A marvellously trancey electronic dance tune, the only thing that stops ‘Something About You’ from being perfect is the way Mr Gregory’s vocals have been processed and distorted.

Available on the single ‘Something About You’ via Isaac Junkie Records ‎

https://soundcloud.com/isaacjunkie


KEEP SHELLY IN ATHENS Oostende (2013)

KeepShellyInAthens_AtHomeLike MARSHEAUX crossed with POLLY SCATTERGOOD, the dream laden chillwave of ‘Oostende’ showcased what COCTEAU TWINS might have sounded like had they been a synth duo. Comprising of the gorgeous afflicted voice of Sarah P,. and the mysterious RΠЯ, KEEP SHELLY IN ATHENS actually hailed from the Greek capital, but sounded like they’d emerged from a frozen Fjord in Narvik. Sarah P. subsequently departed in 2014, but KEEP SHELLY ATHENS continue today with new singer Myrtha.

Available on the album ‘At Home’ via Cascine

http://keepshellyinathens.blogspot.co.uk/p/blog-page.html


KITE The Rhythm (2013)

kite VDespite having released their five EPs in five years, this Swedish duo have tended to be overlooked. There was a two year wait for KITE’s most recent EP ‘V’, but it was worth the wait when Nicklas Stenemo and Christian Berg offered some fine, if mournful electropop in the shape of ‘The Rhythm’. With layers of exuberant synth sounds and Stenemo’s almost chant like vocals full of brooding sadness but with a glimmer of hope, the next EP ‘VI’ is set for a Spring 2015 release.

Available on the EP ‘V’ via Progress Productions

https://www.facebook.com/KiteHQ


NATTEFROST Will I Get To Your Heart? (2013)

NATTEFROST futurizedNATTEFROST is Danish musician Bjørn Jeppesen whose tenth album ‘Futurized’ encompassed many of the spacey elements of yesterday’s tomorrow that fans of JEAN MICHEL JARRE and KRAFTWERK would enjoy. Featuring as a guest vocalist, Michel Moers of Belgian synth subversives TELEX, his Gallic nonchalance on ‘Will I Get to Your Heart?’ is particularly good with sequenced percussive effects and rich synth sweeps providing some old fashioned synthpop.

Available on the album ‘Futurized’ via Sireena Records

http://www.nattefrost.dk/


MULU featuring RUSSELL MAEL David – Frozen Smoke Remix (2013)

Frozen smokeSPARKS have never just been an exclusively synthpop act but with the Mael Brothers more orchestrated in their instrumental template these days, it is rare to hear the magnificent nuances of Russell Mael on an electronic track in the 21st Century. This rather good collaboration with MULU remained strangely unreleased until dance act FROZEN SMOKE threw caution to the wind and let their synth dominated remix with its meaty snare sounds out. Singer Laura Campbell sounded totally glorious next to the younger Mael.

Originally available as a free download via Soundcloud, currently unavailable

http://www.allsparks.com/

https://soundcloud.com/frozensmoke


NIGHT ENGINE Give Me A Chance (2013)

NIGHT ENGINE Give Me A ChanceArt rockers NIGHT ENGINE are possibly the most interesting guitar driven band to come out of the UK for some time. What separates them from the pack is their use of whirring synths for their solos. The rousing ‘Give Me A Chance’ fuses DAVID BOWIE and TALKING HEADS before digressing into a punchy end section which would conscript the quartet into TUBEWAY ARMY. And this is without mentioning that lanky vocalist / guitarist Phil McDonnell has that menacing air of Thin White Duke about him too.

Available on the download EP ‘Night Engine’ via Demand Vinyl / Something In Construction

http://www.nightengine.net/


TAXX Is It Love? (2013)

TAXX Is it loveMining the heritage of Italo disco, enigmatic Greek singer / songwriter TAXX aka Taxiarchis Zolotas successfully combined atmospherics, propulsive bass sequences and a solid electro beat on the immensely catchy ‘Is It Love?’. With a moodiness reminiscent of PET SHOP BOYS, but with spacey buzzes and a harder kick, TAXX’s homage to the club based sub-genre was a worthy excursion into classic European pop.

Available on the download single ‘Is It Love?’ via Undo Records

https://www.facebook.com/pages/TAXX/136706069723907


TRENTMØLLER featuring SUNE ROSE WAGNER Deceive (2013)

TRENTMØLLER featuring SUNE ROSE WAGNER DeceiveAnders Trentemøller made a name for himself when he remixed DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Wrong’ in 2009. He succeeded not only in stamping his own vision with a far superior interpretation but highlighted shortcomings in DM’s production department. The muted synth trumpets and spacey swirls of ‘Deceive’ driven by an incessant drum machine made for a positively nocturnal atmosphere . And when crossed with an eerie vocal turn by Sune Rose Wagner, it all came over brilliantly like DM meeting DEATH IN VEGAS.

Available on the album ‘Lost’ via In My Room

http://www.anderstrentemoller.com/


ELECTRIC YOUTH feat ROOM 8 Without You (2014)

ey.11183Hailing from Canada, ELECTRIC YOUTH’s collaboration with COLLEGE entitled ‘A Real Hero’ was included on ‘Drive – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack’ in 2011. Their debut album ‘Innerworld’ finally came out in Autumn 2014 and one of its highlights was another collaboration, this time with ROOM8 called ‘Without You’. The bridge and chorus are particularly tremendous. Now if this electronic ditty had come out thirty years ago, there is no doubt it would have ended up in a Brat Pack movie.

Available on the album ‘Innerworld’ via Last Gang Entertainment / Secretly Canadian

http://www.electricyouthmusic.com/


EMIKA Let’s Dance (2014)

DAVID BOWIE - RECOVEREDPitch shifted to an almost asexual resonance, EMIKA delivered a wonderfully unique cover of one of Bowie’s best known tunes. The stabbing synth melody only vaguely sounds like it may have been derived from the original ‘Let’s Dance’. Indeed, this is more of a tribute with EMIKA herself describing it as “A new time-travel, gender twisting experiment in honour of one of my favourite artists…” – indeed, DURAN DURAN’s ‘Union Of The Snake’ sounds more obviously like a cover of ‘Let’s Dance’ than this does 😉

Available on the CD ‘David Bowie – Recovered’ free with Rolling Stone Germany – May 2014

http://www.emika.co.uk/


TAYLOR SWIFT New Romantics (2014)

taylor swift 1989 deluxeThe now New York based pop princess moved away from her Nashville roots for her first overtly pop album ‘1989’. Whereas tracks like ‘Blank Space’ and ‘Out Of The Woods’ merely flirted with synthpop in the mould of CHVRCHES, the appropriately titled deluxe bonus track ‘New Romantics’ almost went the full hog! In fact, if Miss Swift’s inherent Americanisms were not so apparent, this enticing number could easily be mistaken for the dreamy allure of Scandipodean twins SAY LOU LOU.

Available on the album ‘1989 – Deluxe edition’ via Big Machine Records

http://www.taylorswift.com


Text by Chi Ming Lai
26th February 2015, updated 2nd August 2017