Tag: Cocteau Twins (Page 1 of 4)

MOLINA Vanilla Shell

Originally signed to the Danish label No3, Danish Chilean vocalist Rebecca Molina released her debut EP ‘Corpus’ in 2017 and has since put out a series of singles on Tambourhinoceros in 2018-2019.

‘Vanilla Shell’ neatly rounds up all of these alongside additional tracks ‘Fastfood Widow’ and the EP’s eponymous title work. Citing a wide range of influences from APHEX TWIN and KRAFTWERK through to KATE BUSH and COCTEAU TWINS, ‘Vanilla Shell’ takes the listener on a trip though MOLINA’s eclectic psyche and is anything but a predictable listen…

In today’s pervading climate of overproduced and overmastered pop, the beat less ‘Vanilla Shell’ bravely starts off in acapella mode (“I’m like mermaid with a special tail”) before inviting the listener on an eclectic musical ride, taking in FM electric piano arpeggios, pastoral acoustic guitar and flute along the way. ‘Vanilla Shell’ makes for an intriguing EP start, showcasing MOLINA’s mixing of electronics and real instrumentation and in places being reminiscent of GOLDFRAPP.

‘Mike’ starts with a vintage pentatonic synth riff before launching into a cheekily recreated drum pattern from CHINA CRISIS’ ‘Wishful Thinking’ whilst melding it with the vocal stylings/oblique track structuring of early KATE BUSH and THOMAS DOLBY. In a tale about a “messy shoe wearing” character who’s a bit clueless, the middle of ‘Mike’ sees a return to the intro acapella, but with subtle vocoder layering before a fully produced outro brings the track to its conclusion.

‘Parásito’ is a blissed-out track sung entirely in Spanish and with its main hook “Soy un parásito” (I’m a parasite), the song’s lyrical content counterpoints the dreamy Balearic usage of acoustic guitar throughout.

In her press bio, MOLINA explains: “I feel Spanish amplifies my message. The drama in the language makes it easier and more natural for me to be extrovert and emotional”.

Menacing string breaks punctuate the track and listeners will let the song wash over them before hastily reaching for the repeat button to luxuriate it in again…

‘Hey Kids’ starts with a gritty lo-fi drum machine loop and a hazy BOARDS OF CANADA aesthetic and features the hookiest chorus vocal here, one which will lodge in the brain after the track has concluded.

All of the songs on ‘Vanilla Shell’ keep the listener on their toes and the curveball here is a wonderful multi-layered vocal breakdown with choral parts and sampled voices merging together seamlessly. ‘Fastfood Widow’ is the only real filler track on the EP, but is still worthy of a listen if only for the way that Rebecca Molina phrases the word “widow” as “weirdo”…

The centrepiece of ‘Vanilla Shell’ is however ‘Venus’, a truly stunning piece of songwriting with a chorus that evokes some of the COCTEAU TWINS very finest work. In many ways ‘Venus’ is a distant counterpart of KATE BUSH’s ‘Breathing’ which was a song presented from the perspective of a child in a post-apocalyptic era in the womb.

‘Venus’ though is sung from the mother’s perspective as “I feel, it growing inside me. A big life. On the other side. A hall of fluids. Thick skin, underneath, the opening”. The Shoegazey elements here are beautifully combined with deep synthesizer bass frequencies and if there was any wish with regards to ‘Venus’, it would be to hear a Spanish language interpretation of it.

Just as she did with her previous EP ‘Corpus’, Rebecca Molina and her collaborators here (notably including Luke Smith who did programming on DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Sounds Of The Universe’) have crafted a body of work which is unique and definitely more than the sum of its component parts and influences.

One can only hope that this EP will help MOLINA reach a wider audience outside of Denmark and still shows that when it comes to vibrant, original and well-crafted electronic music, the Scandinavians are still the ones to beat. Very highly recommended.


‘Vanilla Shell’ is released Tambourhinoceros on 24th January 2020 via the usual digital platforms or direct from https://corpusmolina.bandcamp.com/album/vanilla-shell

https://www.facebook.com/molinamarble/

https://www.instagram.com/rebbemolina

https://soundcloud.com/corpusmolina


Text by Paul Boddy
Photo by Sarah Liisborg
22nd January 2020

FRAGILE SELF Interview

Several years in the making, the first self-titled product from FRAGILE SELF is an ambitious statement on mental health and the human condition.

Released as a CD, vinyl album and a 480 page book which starts and ends with reconstructions of ‘before and after’ treatment for mental illness, the thoughtfully conceived project is the work of Anil Aykan and Jonathan Barnbrook.

The couple are best known for their iconic visual designs for DAVID BOWIE and JOHN FOXX. Among the subjects inspiring their music are Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis and Bertha Pappenheim, the first patient of psychotherapy.

While the music is by its nature, not an easy listen, over ten crafted electronic tracks, ‘Fragile Self’ is intense but ultimately compelling. Anil Aykan and Jonathan Barnbrook kindly chatted to The Electricity Club about their fragile selves…

How did FRAGILE SELF come about?

Jonathan: I love music, it’s the reason I design record covers, that emotional relationship between visuals and sound is something that has always fascinated me, so it got to the point where I felt that the next step to really push myself creatively was by controlling and experimenting with both music and visuals together.

Anil: FRAGILE SELF enabled me to communicate the things that are important to me, express parts of me which I believe others would find inadmissible. I have never had up until now a tool which has been so liberating. Even when I wasn’t actively making music I am inclined to sound; the expressive capacity of human voice; speaking words, tension in speech, muttered sentences, obsessively repeated words, speaking becomes singing… I always record or note down what I find interesting when I am on the bus or walk in the street.

The subject matter of the album – mental health is quite unusual, did you feel that electronic instrumentation was the most appropriate way to express this subject?

Anil: It is unusual subject matter, but I briefly studied Art Therapy, so I was naturally interested in the subject but the specific thing discussed in the songs is mental health in relation to creativity – how far do you go towards abnormality when you are being creative and at what point does it become madness? There is also the more classic side of the pain inherent in a love song. It is just that the love in the songs here is directed towards people who have mental disorders such as narcissism or borderline personality disorder. They are of course metaphors for any kinds of love though.

Jonathan: I’ve been obsessed with electronic music since about the age of 11. The thing that interests me most about it is the changing of electronic voltage that affects pitch, timbre and time. It is like you are playing with the building blocks of the universe. The same thing that makes the sound of drum, drives the human heart to beat or fires neutrons in the brain that define consciousness. Also you will guess of course, I share an interest with Anil in more unusual and extreme states of mind.

Who has influenced the music of FRAGILE SELF?

Anil: ‘Minimal Wave’ is a big influence, bands such as OPPENHEIMER ANALYSIS and DEUX. I also really like LADYTRON. COCTEAU TWINS are very important – not just because of the way Elizabeth Fraser uses her voice but also the way they played with language. English is not my first language so when I sing in English I feel I notice more the words as abstract sounds more – this is as important as the meaning of the lyrics I write.

Jonathan: You’ve probably guessed that I’m obsessed with JOHN FOXX, He creates quite experimental music but within the confines of ‘pop’ music and with a very singular view of the world, that’s inspiring for me. Also how could I not be influenced by Bowie, not just musically but also with the way he takes influences into his music from all areas of art.

Do you each have set roles?

Anil: I am responsible for all the lyrics and most of the melodies, drums etc, I used to be a drummer, so rhythm is very important to me.

Jonathan: I tend to centre more on the arrangements and sounds. I really like the technical side of electronic music, not just production but how you can for instance create complex sounds just using simple sine waves. I help a little on the words and also make some of the melodies, but the poetry and atmosphere are very much Anil.

You mention melodies, so is FRAGILE SELF very much ‘pop’ based as opposed to being experimental, because the ‘Minimal Wave’ sub-genre can be notorious for its lack of tunes?

Jonathan: It was important that the songs followed a traditional pop structure, but what we brought into that was quite avant-garde, be it sound generation or subject matter. So there is a lot of darkness and psychosis but it is contained within a format that we hope people find easy to access. Having said that after the album comes out we will be periodically releasing remixes – that are much more experimental which explore the psychology of the songs in a less structured form.

The inevitable question, have you gone the hardware or software route with FRAGILE SELF?

Jonathan: It’s interesting because we came to music from design, so we were very comfortable with using software for all of our creative works, however as we have progressed as FRAGILE SELF, particular on the later tracks, we have been using more and more hardware. Now we now have a huge Eurorack modular system which we experiment on a lot. A physical interface does make a real difference to the sounds you make and something generative like modular synthesis is really inspiring.

So as visual artists, how would you like to present your music?

Anil: For us the two absolutely go together, it’s not like we’ve finished the album and now it is onto the visual design. One influenced the other, the images changed the sounds we made, and the sounds had to have the exactly the right images to express them.

Jonathan: Actually It wasn’t like that in the beginning. Initially I was so desperate not to be dismissed as another “designer playing with his laptop”, that I didn’t want to do any visuals at all but it just developed naturally and we realised since we have control of the music and visuals this was the chance to do something quite pure, new and absolutely on our terms with the role the visuals had.

Anil: One of the album releases is a 480 page book and I think it is the best expression of FRAGILE SELF. It was a chance to show all of the influences on the songs, our thoughts around them. Where the lyrics are from. However we were quite careful not to say too often “this song is about this and this” but give a more poetic interpretation to give people room to create their own meaning and resonate in their own lives. That is very important.

The art funk of ‘Bertha’ interestingly utilises what sounds like a plucked sounding texture, how did the track come about?

Jonathan: There is a drastic change of sounds and rhythms throughout the song, I wanted to give it the feeling of classic German 1930s ‘cabaret’ like it was a theatrical event that you would see on stage where the performance would change melody or pace several times.

Anil: The song is about Bertha Pappenheim, one of the first patients of psychoanalysis, who was “treated” by Doctor Breuer and Freud. She was a highly intelligent and like all women at that time, she was repressed with no opportunity to be herself. She had a nervous breakdown at age 21 but emerged as a creative leader and social reformer eight years later. When I started making this song, I was in Istanbul, there must be an influence from being there. I think the best music scene of Turkey was the 70s funk that my father listened to. The juxtaposition of the heavy subject and funky groove just felt right for this song.

‘Patients’ does possess some unsettling rhythmic fervour?

Jonathan: The song uses lyrics taken out of a doctor’s handbook, so it was important that the singing had that unemotional, repetitive feeling that medical text has when dealing with things such as birth, death or madness. These are intense, hugely important events, but are treated in a very pragmatic way.

Anil: Our songs always start with a conversation between lyrics and drum beats – the emotion created between them and the way the change of rhythm can change the meaning. This is very different from the more conventional approach of drums providing a structure of the songs. To us they are everything, the melody and the development of the lyrics are usually a development or a variation of the rhythm.

To casual listeners, the deadpan vocalisation does recall MISS KITTIN but compliments the stark electronic backing throughout the album? Any thoughts?

Anil: I take your comment as a compliment! I find the tension between being very expressive with the voice and suppressing emotion in the voice really interesting. A lack of emotion can often just heighten the feeling when you are delivering lyrics which are full of pain or darkness. It can also have an interesting brutality which further pushes the emotion.

Jonathan: I love Anil’s voice. When we were recording the vocals it was very clear that Anil’s accent should come through. Meaning that if the words were not perfectly said, it added more authenticity about where Anil comes from and feeling to the songs. The accent and the deadpan vocals also the give the same feeling as when you hear NICO or GINA X PERFORMANCE – you immediately associate their accents with a certain dark psychology.

Which tracks are each your particular favourites on the album?

Jonathan: Well I really like the last 2 tracks, ‘Need For Sanctuary’ and ‘Journey Taken’, the way they end the album, they really do what I remember albums are supposed to do when you listen to them in their entirety – take you on a journey deeper into the psychology of the album. The dark sounds in particular on ’Need For Sanctuary’ are a sound palette I really love.

Anil: I like ‘Bertha’ – most because of the subject matter but also the sound. ‘Deperson’ is the most personal song on the album, after I recorded the lyrics I had to go out. When I was walking around I was still totally consumed by the music and the meaning of the words. I felt so alienated from my surroundings and saw the world in a very singular way. I think that is a good mark of creating a song that is honest and authentic.

Who do you think FRAGILE SELF will appeal to?

Jonathan: We don’t really know who the audience is, and in some ways it is important not to limit the project by worrying too much. Obviously there will be people who will be interested in the graphics work of the studio, but it is a serious attempt to show how visuals and music relate so we hope it will appeal to people outside that.

Anil: We might even get some psychotherapists interested too!

Is the concert aspect of presenting the work somewhere you would like to venture?

Anil: Definitely, we really want to see how people directly react to the music. Also being on stage and singing these songs is going to be a very emotional experience that I am keen to try.

Jonathan: It is another big project entirely though – how to translate all of this into a live form. Obviously people are expecting something visual from us on stage, so we are planning that right now, again something new and very exciting for us.


The Electricity Club gives its grateful thanks to FRAGILE SELF

‘Fragile Self’ is released by Sugarcane Recordings / Daperson Society on 4th November 2019 as a vinyl LP, CD and 480 page book with download code, pre-order from http://www.fragileself.com/vinylcdbookdownload

Download also available from https://fragileself.bandcamp.com/

http://www.fragileself.com

https://www.facebook.com/fragileself/

https://twitter.com/fragile_self

https://www.instagram.com/fragile_self/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
2nd November 2019

TRENTEMØLLER Obverse

One of the definitions of ‘Obverse’ is “the opposite or counterpart of a fact or truth” and it is this intriguing title that heralds the arrival of the fifth studio album by Danish composer / producer Anders Trentemøller.

‘Cold Comfort’ which opens ‘Obverse’ is an epic languid downtempo piece which perpetuates TRENTEMØLLER’s obsession with the sound of UK post-punk; although this time there are major echoes of COCTEAU TWINS with SLOWDIVE vocalist Rachel Goswell’s ethereal vocals drifting Liz Fraser-like over a backing track which is heavily inspired by the Scottish trio.

Also present, as with much of TRENTEMØLLER’s work, is the grey spectre of ‘Faith’-era THE CURE with the intro owing a debt to ‘All Cats Are Grey’; a dynamic chorus shift with abrasive fuzz guitar stops the piece becoming a parody though. The last and frankly superfluous two minutes of the track go into waltz time and the piece dissolves into more of a soundscape than a song…

‘Church of Trees’ is an all-electronic instrumental which although pleasant enough, feels more like an interlude piece rather than something which should occupy the second track of an album and as such ends up being a momentum killer.

‘In The Garden’ features more vocals, this time from Lina Tullgren and placed over another sound-a-like backing track of THE CURE.

‘Foggy Figures’ is another instrumental, starting off ambient in nature with floaty chorused guitar and splashy ride cymbals before transforming into a breakbeat that is almost drum ‘n’ bass inspired for the piece’s final two minutes. The track is beautifully produced, but like the album opener, struggles to sustain interest over its seven plus minute length.

‘Blue September’ is less predictable in nature and not so in awe of the post-punk aesthetic. Frustratingly instead of bringing back Lisbet Fritze’s beautiful vocals, the track’s final two minutes go off on another synth excursion which again is functional enough, but wastes the song’s full potential.

There is another Lisbet Fritze collaboration here ‘One Last Kiss to Remember’ which raises the tempo a fraction and provides some welcome variety; along with ‘Blue September’, it’s one of the stronger pieces here if only because it’s shorter, more memorable and less self-indulgent.

‘Try a Little’ is the closest to a pop single on ‘Obverse’, it’s to the point, has a catchy chorus and is counterpointed by a Hooky-style melodic bass guitar line. To be honest, it’s the only track here that is melodically strong enough to stay with you after the album has finished. Outro ‘Giants’ ends ‘Obverse’ (unsurprisingly) in a gloomy fashion; a combination of the Mellotron experimentation of OMD’s ‘Architecture & Morality’ and Ennio Morricone’s score to John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’.

The main problem with ‘Obverse’ is the lack of killer songwriting, without wanting to second-guess the gestation process of the album, it sounds like the backing tracks were created in advance and then the vocalists drafted in to vibe over the top. This can work well, but adversely it can mean that the song’s core can be woefully lacking, once stripped of all the production sheen and effects.

As The Electricity Club previously observed with TRENTEMØLLER’s previous work ‘Fixion’, the producer still remains in awe of his influences, to the point where once the post-punk guitars are removed, there is nothing here that provides any kind of original or signature sound.

It is immaculately produced and mixed, but at its very core is an emptiness and lack of originality or emotion which means that the listener isn’t compelled to return to ‘Obverse’ after a cursory listen.


‘Obverse’ is released by In My Room in the usual formats

http://www.anderstrentemoller.com/

https://www.facebook.com/trentemoller/

https://twitter.com/trentemoeller

https://www.instagram.com/trentemoeller/


Text by Paul Boddy
13th October 2019

The Electronic Legacy of AMBIENT

Ambient electronic music is a much misunderstood genre.

One is not talking about JEAN-MICHEL JARRE or VANGELIS who are far too comparatively lively to be truly considered ambient. And it is not ‘chill out’ that’s being talked about either, which seems to lump in any form of dance music that is under 112 beats per minute.

Modern ambient probably came to prominence with BRIAN ENO. While lying in a hospital room after a car accident in 1975, a friend visited him and put on a LP of harp music. However the volume had been set at an extremely low level and one of the stereo channels had failed. Unable to move to adjust this, Eno had a new way of listening to music forced onto him.

In recalling this story for the sleeve notes of his ‘Discreet Music’ album, Eno said the music now became “part of the ambience of the environment just as the colour of the light and the sound of rain were parts of the ambience.”

Eno may not have been the inventor of ambient, but he was almost certainly was its midwife. With its lengthy gradual processes and unpredictable changes, ambient can be listened to and yet ignored. Going against the Western tradition of music where vocals, melody and rhythm are essential components, ambient music is designed to accommodate many levels of listening without enforcing one in particular.

One of the other beauties of ambient music is that the pieces are often so progressive that it becomes quite difficult to remember individual sections.

Therefore on repeated plays, the music can still sound fresh and rewarding. It was an approach that fascinated many and while they may not have released whole works, artists such as DAVID BOWIE, THE HUMAN LEAGUE, OMD, BLANCMANGE and RADIOHEAD recorded ambient pieces for album tracks or B-sides.

Comments about ambient music being “boring” are missing the point, because at points of the day where the state of near sleep looms, music with no vocals, no rhythms and not too much energetic melody is perfect.

Restricted to one album per moniker or collaborative partnership, here are the twenty long players presented in chronological and then alphabetical order which form The Electricity Club’s Electronic Legacy of Ambient. Acting as a straightforward introduction to the genre, it refers to many artists whose comparatively mainstream works may already be familiar.


KLAUS SCHULZE Timewind (1974)

A one-time member of TANGERINE DREAM and ASH RA TEMPLE, ‘Timewind’ was Schulze’s first solo album to use a sequencer, evolving as a longer variation on his former band’s ‘Phaedra’. Referencing 19th century composer Richard Wagner, Schulze transposed and manipulated the sequences in real time, providing shimmering and kaleidoscopic washes of electronic sound using equipment such as the EMS Synthi A, ARP 2600, ARP Odyssey, Elka string machine and Farfisa organ.

‘Timewind’ is available via Mig Music

https://www.klaus-schulze.com


TANGERINE DREAM Phaedra (1974)

‘Phaedra’ was the breakthrough record for TANGERINE DREAM which saw them using sequencers for the first time. Featuring the classic line-up of Edgar Froese, Peter Baumann and Chris Franke, the hypnotic noodles of EMS VCS3s and Moogs dominated proceedings while Mellotrons sounding like orchestras trapped inside a transistor radio. Organic lines and flute added to trancey impressionism to produce a fine meditative electronic soundtrack.

‘Phaedra’ is available via Virgin Records

http://www.tangerinedream.org/


CLUSTER Sowiesoso (1976)

The late Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius were CLUSTER. Having released their first long player together in 1969, their fourth album ‘Sowiesoso’ was CLUSTER’s first fully realised exploration into ambient electronics. With gentle melodic phrasing and unimposing rhythmical patterns, the title track was a wonderfully hypnotic adventure that welcomed the listener into the soothing world of the longer player’s remaining aural delights.

‘Sowiesoso’ is available via Bureau B

http://www.roedelius.com/


ASHRA New Age Of Earth (1977)

ASH RA TEMPLE’s Manuel Göttsching was looking to visit synthesized climes and explored more progressive voxless territory armed with an Eko Rhythm Computer, ARP Odyssey and what was to become his signature keyboard sound, a Farfisa Synthorchestra. An exponent of the more transient solo guitar style of PINK FLOYD’s David Gilmour, this template was particularly evident on New Age Of Earth’, a beautiful treasure trove of an album.

‘New Age Of Earth’ is available via Virgin Records

http://www.ashra.com/


STEVE HILLAGE Rainbow Dome Musick (1979)

One-time member of GONG, solo artist and an in-house producer at Virgin Records, Steve Hillage had a love of German experimental music and ventured into ambient with long standing partner Miquette Giraudy. Recorded for the Rainbow Dome at the Festival for Mind-Body-Spirit at Olympia, these two lengthy Moog and ARP assisted tracks each had a beautifully spacey quality to induce total relaxation with a colourful sound spectrum.

‘Rainbow Dome Musick’ is available via Virgin Records

https://twitter.com/stevehillage


HAROLD BUDD & BRIAN ENO The Plateaux Of Mirror (1980)

Mostly piano-oriented, its backdrop of shimmering synthesizer and tape loops of voices was conceived in a sound-world that Eno had created via his various instrument treatments. With Budd improvising live, Eno would occasionally add something but his producer tact was to step back if nothing extra was needed. ‘The Plateaux Of Mirror’ was a lovely work with resonating ivories of the acoustic and electric variety. A second collaboration came with ‘The Pearl’ in 1984.

‘The Plateaux Of Mirror’ is available via Virgin / EMI Records

https://www.haroldbudd.com


BRIAN ENO Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks (1983)

Recorded as a soundtrack to a documentary film about the Apollo Missions to the moon, one of the inspirations was to react against the uptempo, manner of space travel presented by most TV programmes and news reels of the day with its fast cuts and speeded up images. Eno wanted to convey the feelings of space travel and weightlessness. Although based around Eno’s Yamaha DX7, the album was quite varied instrumentally, featuring his brother Roger and Daniel Lanois.

‘Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks’ is available via Virgin / EMI Records

http://www.brian-eno.net


ROGER ENO Voices (1985)

The debut album from the younger Eno, ‘Voices’ captured a sustained mood of dreamy soundscapes and aural clusters with its beautiful piano template strongly reminiscent of Harold Budd’s work with brother Brian, who was also involved on this record via various electronic treatments although it was actually Daniel Lanois who produced.

‘Voices’ is available via Virgin / EMI Records

http://www.rogereno.com


DAVID SYLVIAN & HOLGER CZUKAY Plight & Premonition / Flux & Mutability (1988 – 1989)

By 1986, the former JAPAN front man wanted to get away from singing as reflected by the ‘Gone To Earth’ bonus album of instrumentals. Sylvian found a willing conspirator in CAN’s Holger Czukay who had developed several unconventional compositional techniques using devices such as short wave radios and Dictaphones. Through a series of improvisations, the duo came up with two companion long players that conveyed a sinister yet tranquil quality drifting along in complex spirals.

‘Plight & Premonition / Flux & Mutability’ is available via Grönland Records

http://www.davidsylvian.com/

http://www.czukay.de/


HAROLD BUDD The White Arcades (1992)

Unlike the comparatively optimistic air of his work with Eno, Harold Budd’s solo journeys often conveyed a more melancholic density, probably best represented by the haunting immersive atmospheres of ‘The White Arcades’. An elegiac combination of shimmering synthesizers and sporadic piano  provided an austere depth that was both ghostly and otherworldly, it was partly inspired by his admiration of COCTEAU TWINS whom he collaborated with on the 1986 4AD album ‘The Moon & The Melodies’.

‘The White Arcades’ is available via Opal Productions

https://www.facebook.com/music.of.harold.budd/


STEVE JANSEN & RICHARD BARBIERI Other Worlds In A Small Room (1996)

With ‘Other Worlds In A Small Room’, Steve Jansen and Richard Barbieri created an atmospheric collection of electronic instrumentals that they considered “Ambient in the traditional sense”. Alongside the three new pieces, there was an appendix of four suitably complimentary tracks from their 1984 album ‘Worlds In A Small Room’ had originally been commissioned by JVC to accompany a documentary about the Space Shuttle Challenger and its various missions.

‘Other Worlds In A Small Room’ is available via https://jansenbarbieri.bandcamp.com/releases

http://www.stevejansen.com/

http://www.kscopemusic.com/artists/richard-barbieri/


VINCENT CLARKE & MARTYN WARE Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle (2000)

‘Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle’ was composed by Vince Clarke and Martyn Ware as part of an Illustrious art installation at The Roundhouse in a circular, white clothed room where the colours referred to in the titles of the six lengthy pieces were “programmed to cross fade imperceptibly to create an infinite variation of hue”. Using binaural 3D mixing techniques, the sleeve notes recommended it was best heard using headphones while stating “This album is intended to promote profound relaxation”.

‘Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle’ is available via Mute Records

http://www.illustriouscompany.co.uk/


WILLIAM ORBIT Pieces In A Modern Style (2000)

Trance enthusiasts who loved Ferry Corsten’s blinding remix of Samuel Barber’s ‘Adagio For Strings’ will have been shocked if they had bought its virtually beatless parent long player. Orbit’s concept of adapting classical works was that he wanted to make a chill-out album that had some good tunes. In that respect, a collection featuring lovely electronic versions of Beethoven’s ‘Triple Concerto’ and John Cage’s ‘In A Landscape’ could not really miss.

‘Pieces In A Modern Style’ is available via WEA Records

http://www.williamorbit.com


ALVA NOTO & RYUICHI SAKAMOTO ‎Vrioon (2002)

Alva Noto is a German experimental artist based in Berlin and ‘Vrioon’ was his first collaborative adventure with YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA trailblazer Ryuichi Sakamoto. A beautiful union of piano, synth shimmers and subtle glitch electronics proved to be an unexpectedly soothing and  meditative experience that was gloriously minimal over six starkly constructed mood pieces.

‘Vrioon’ is available via Raster-Noton ‎

http://www.alvanoto.com/

http://www.sitesakamoto.com/


MOBY Hotel: Ambient (2005)

Originally released as part of the 2CD version of ‘Hotel’ in 2005, Moby couldn’t find his copy and decided on an expanded re-release. Inspired by the nature of hotels, where humans spend often significant portions of their lives but have all traces of their tenancy removed for the next guests, the ambient companion progressively got quieter and quieter. The emotive ‘Homeward Angel’ and the solemn presence of ‘The Come Down’ were worth the purchase price alone.

‘Hotel: Ambient’ is available via Mute Records

http://moby.com


ROBIN GUTHRIE & HAROLD BUDD After the Night Falls / Before The Day Breaks (2007)

Robin Guthrie and Harold Budd first collaborated on ‘The Moon & The Melodies’ album along with the other COCTEAU TWINS. ‘After the Night Falls’ and ‘Before the Day Breaks’ were beautiful experiments in duality but it would be unfair to separate these Siamese twins. Serene, relaxing, abstract and distant, Guthrie ‘s textural guitar and Budd’s signature piano were swathed in drifting synths and treatments that complimented each album’s self-explanatory titles.

‘After The Night Falls’ and ‘Before The Day Breaks’ are available via Darla Records

http://www.robinguthrie.com


JOHN FOXX & HAROLD BUDD Nighthawks / Translucence / Drift Music (2003 – 2011)

A sumptuous trilogy featuring two artists who had both worked with Brian Eno. ‘Nighthawks’ was John Foxx and Harold Budd’s most recent collaboration with the late minimalist composer Ruben Garcia and a soothing tranquil nocturnal work with tinkling ivories melting into the subtle layered soundscape with its Edward Hopper inspired title. Meanwhile, the earlier ‘Translucence’ from 2003 was a close relative and classic Budd, partnered with the more subdued overtures of ‘Drift Music’.

‘Nighthawks’ and ‘Translucence / Drift Music’ are available via Metamatic Records

https://www.facebook.com/johnfoxxmetamatic/


JOHN FOXX London Overgrown (2015)

‘London Overgrown’ was John Foxx’s first wholly solo ambient release since the ‘Cathedral Oceans’ trilogy. With the visual narrative of a derelict London where vines and shrubbery are allowed to grow unhindered throughout the city, the conceptual opus was a glorious ethereal synthesizer soundtrack, smothered in a haze of aural sculptures and blurred soundscapes. With ‘The Beautiful Ghost’, as with William Orbit’s take on ‘Opus 132’ from ‘Pieces In A Modern Style’, this was Beethoven reimagined for the 23rd Century.

‘London Overgrown’ is available via Metamatic Records

http://www.metamatic.com


STEVE JANSEN The Extinct Suite (2017)

“I like the effects of calm and dissonance and subtle change” said Steve Jansen to The Electricity Club. Not a remix album as such, the more ambient and orchestral elements of ‘Tender Extinction’ were segued and reinterpreted with new sections to create a suite of instrumentals presented as one beautiful hour long structured ambient record. A gentle blend of electronic and acoustic instrumentation including piano and woodwinds, ‘The Extinct Suite’ exuded a wonderful quality equal to Eno or Budd.

‘The Extinct Suite’ is available via https://stevejansen.bandcamp.com/album/the-extinct-suite-2

http://www.stevejansen.com/


PAUL STATHAM Asylum (2017)

B-MOVIE guitarist and pop tunesmith Paul Statham began his experimental music account with ‘Ephemeral’ and ‘Installation Music 1’. ‘Asylum’ was a more ambitious proposition and featured in an audio visual installation created with painter Jonathan McCree in South London’s Asylum Chapel. The eight compositions together exuded a cinematic, ethereal quality with some darker auras and an eerie sound worthy of the ambient pioneers Statham was influenced by, especially on the gorgeous closer ‘Ascend’.

‘Asylum’ is available via https://paulstatham.bandcamp.com/album/asylum

http://paulstathammusic.com


Text by Chi Ming Lai
22nd August 2018

THE FRIXION If U Ever Wonder EP

THE FRIXION are a new name, but the duo are both experienced hands…

British-born singer and lyricist Gene Serene emerged from Berlin’s hedonistic club scene and teamed up with RADIOPHONIC WORKSHOP and CLOR cohort Bob Earland for her debut album ‘The Polaris Experience’ in 2015.

Meanwhile, synthesist and producer Lloyd Price is best known as a collaborator of SIGUE SIGUE SPUTNIK’s Martin Degville and a member of alternative eyeliner punk combo MASSIVE EGO who released their most recent opus ‘Beautiful Suicide’ on Out of Line Records.

Forming in 2016, Serene and Price’s combined sound mines both classic synthpop and Weimar Cabaret on their debut EP offering. The rich and stellar vocals of Gene Serene are on full display on the title track; ‘If U Ever Wonder’ oozes an accessibility reminiscent of LITTLE BOOTS, but thanks to Price’s production and arrangement, there’s a dark avant quality about it too.

The pop sensibilities continue on ‘Heartbroke Disco’, with Serene coming over like a Goth Kylie over Price’s trancey Numan-eqsue backbone. The brooding musicality of ‘From Dusk ‘Til Dawn’ exposes THE FRIXION’s moodier side, the wobbling bass synth and minor key mode lifted by a great chorus that is countered by a haunting spy drama instrumental section.

‘We Walk A Line’ swings in 6/8 like a mighty electro-COCTEAU TWINS trapped at Hansa Tonstudio, while to finish the five song collection, there’s a tribute to The Purple One with a touching take of his ‘Under The Cherry Moon’.

This excellent reinterpretation accentuates PRINCE’s often hidden spiritual link to European pop forms and recalls ‘The Rhythm Divine’, YELLO’s collaboration with Shirley Bassey.

The ‘If U Ever Wonder’ EP is a fine collection to launch THE FRIXION; the songs are varied enough while still having a core identity to build a connection with a curious electronic pop audience.

It’s rather like making a good impression on a first date in the hope of at least getting a second one… and yes, The Electricity Club would like its second date 😉


‘If U Ever Wonder’ will be available as a CD EP or download on 14th August 2017, pre-order from https://thefrixion.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/TheFrixion/

https://twitter.com/TheFrixionBand


Text by Chi Ming Lai
29th July 2017

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