Tag: Curxes (Page 1 of 2)

Five Years of TEC: 25 Favourite Artist Introductions 2010 – 2014

TEC 5 years-02When The Electricity Club became reality on 15th March 2010, it was on the back of a resurgence in electronic pop music.

New starlets such as LITTLE BOOTS and LA ROUX were acknowledging pioneers such as GARY NUMAN and HEAVEN 17, while the use of synthesizers for melodies as well as effects was becoming more common again and not just as a mocking gimmick.

TEC’s ‘Introducing…’ feature was a platform to showcase promising new talent within the genre and proved that electronic music had not been killed off by Britpop. Around 70 acts have been featured and from these, a number of worthy graduates from the Synth Britannia school and the like emerged. Meanwhile a number were just promising, their talent stifled by line-up changes, record company politics and even geography.

So here are TEC’s 25 favourite artist introductions, listed in the chronological order that they were originally featured on the site…


SHH (2010)

shh_bed1Electronic Pop Buenos Aires Style, SHH were the first act to be introduced by TEC. Led by the vivacious Diana Huarte, they had a sexy blissful optimism that made them a very entertaining live act. They say Latinas are fiery and there was certainly a provocative passion in her performance. Schooled in opera and brimming with charm, Diana’s vocals displayed a magnificent range that suited both uptempo sun-kissed pop like ‘Tiger’ and ERASURE-esque ballads such as ‘Sleepless’.

Their stand-out song was ‘Wonderful Night’ which was reminiscent of Greek power popsters MIKRO with its solid beat and rousing chorus. A third album has yet to be finished, but SHH still make occasional appearances on London’s live circuit, most recently supporting SIGUE SIGUE SPUTNIK.

https://www.facebook.com/Shhsounds


MIRRORS (2010)

Mirrors-also-boxMIRRORS were the second act to have an ‘Introducing…’ feature on The Electricity Club and are still very much the band that new synth acts are judged against. Their fans included Andy McCluskey, Paul Humphreys, Neil Arthur and Eddie Bengtsson. Qualitatively, many a band have been rejected at TEC HQ, simply because “they’re not MIRRORS”. Having delivered a magnificent album in ‘Lights & Offerings’, it is a travesty that MIRRORS’ electronic pop-noir was not embraced by the wider community.

Sadly after founder member Ally Young left in Autumn 2011 due to musical differences, the band appeared to wind down after two releases as a trio. And yet while MIRRORS seem to have been mothballed, far inferior synth acts go on and on and on…

https://www.facebook.com/theworldofmirrors


ARTHUR & MARTHA (2010)

Almost as soon as ARTHUR & MARTHA were the third act introduced on TEC, they disappeared! The duo comprised of, rather confusingly, Adam Cresswell and Alice Hubley, described as “Gilbert & George, disguised as The Carpenters, stealing the hits of Kraftwerk and bashing them out on an old Moog in the style of SECTION 25”. Driven by a synthetic motorik beat, ‘Autovia’ was the superb highlight from their only album ‘Navigation’ which played with a variety of styles ranging from NEW ORDER to CRYSTAL CASTLES.

While ARTHUR & MARTHA are no more, Hubley formed indie act COSINES while Cresswell recently re-emerged as RODNEY CROMWELL.

https://www.facebook.com/Arthur-and-Martha-6821029194/


THE VANITY CLAUSE (2010)

vanityOriginally a duo consisting of David Woods and Russell Harris, THE VANITY CLAUSE‘s potential was blighted by endless line-up changes before a terminal blow. With a synth sound that was heavily influenced by early ULTRAVOX, LADYTRON and Mute Records, it involved big played synths over chunky sequences and urgent rhythm construction. The classic line-up included vocalist and synth girl Louisa Strachan, but never actually released a full length album. An album, appropriately titled ‘Fractured’, was issued after David Woods’ departure, but was disappointing.

The Woods sessions were released eventually as ‘Pre-Stress’ while THE VANITY CLAUSE soldiered on with Mk3 and Mk4 variants. The latter produced an excellent single ‘The Scream’ but the creative momentum could not be maintained. Russell Harris joined ELECTRO KILL MACHINE for a brief period but now makes music as GO YOKO.

https://www.facebook.com/thevanityclauseofficial


KATJA VON KASSEL (2010)

katja1The Electro Weimar Cabaret of KATJA VON KASSEL was a fine sultry presence on the independent music scene. Singing in both German and English, often within the same song in an alluring Marlene Dietrich tone, she had a number of cool elegant songs like ‘Goodbye Was Never Said’, ‘Riding The Horses’ and ‘Lili Marlene’ which were produced with LADYHAWKE collaborator Alex Gray. Her best song ‘Lies’ had strong traditional European influences like French accordions and ‘Vienna’ piano set to a template in a manner that recalled GRACE JONES’ ‘I’ve Seen That Face Before’.

With her “1930s meets the future” twist, she supported ERASURE on their German dates in 2011 and as a result, was signed by a major label. Sadly as has been the case with several acts on the list, that partnership didn’t work out. While record company politics have so far prevented any releases, she intends to have material out soon.

http://www.myspace.com/katjamusic


THE SOUND OF ARROWS (2010)

sound of arrows with dogTHE SOUND OF ARROWS were Stefan Storm and Oskar Gullstrand, said by Popjustice to be “the HURTS you can dance to”. Their self-made CGI assisted visual imagery was described as “Disney meets Brokeback Mountain”! The duo garnered a lot of attention at the end of 2009 with the dreamy widescreen pop of ‘Into The Clouds’ and they were subsequently signed to Geffen Records. The label attempted to push them into a more Ibiza rave friendly sound but eventually, a parting of ways was agreed.

The debut album ‘Voyage’ was eventually released independently in 2011 and was wonderfully swathed in a beautiful Nordic melancholy. There was the poptimistic chant of ‘Magic’ as well as the vibrant Gallic disco number ‘My Shadow’ and the magnificent supreme synthpop of ‘Longest Ever Dream’. THE SOUND OF ARROWS went quiet after that, but Stefan Storm later did some terrific collaborations with QUEEN OF HEARTS

http://www.thesoundofarrows.com


VILE ELECTRODES (2010)

vileint1At the time a trio, VILE ELECTRODES had been making a good impression on the London club scene when they were featured on The Electricity Club in 2010. There are not many acts that could get away with an enigmatic video showcasing a seven and a half minute synth ballad, let alone a fledgling one… but get away with it they did with ‘Deep Red’. VILE ELECTRODES’ love of OMD, NEW ORDER, THE SMITHS and CLIENT combined to procure a fresh approach to a music form that many had dismissed as being 80s.

Some less worthy bands claim to have reinvigorated the 21st Century electronic music scene in the UK, but VILE ELECTRODES did exactly that. So it was not entirely surprising when they were invited to support OMD on their 2013 German tour and the journey began…

https://www.facebook.com/vileelectrodes


HYPERBUBBLE (2010)

Quirky Texan synthesizer couple HYPERBUBBLE delivered a species of cartoonish synthpop that the duo themselves called “Bionic Bubblepunk”. With Jess as the electro Emma Peel and Jeff being the obedient robotic version of John Steed, their mantra was “guitars are retro and sequencers are the key to the future”. Their third album ‘Candy Apple Daydreams’ was a tasty fairground ride that took in influences as diverse as YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA and OUR DAUGHTERS WEDDING to THE OHIO EXPRESS and THE CAPTAIN & TENNILLE, all with a shiny sense of humour.

While a fourth album has not yet been forthcoming, a series of soundtrack and collaborative EPs have maintained HYPERBUBBLE’s profile while they played London for the first time in Autumn 2014.

http://www.hyperbubble.net


SUNDAY GIRL (2010)

sunday4Jade Williams got her stage name from a part time job she had in a pet shop where she was known simply as SUNDAY GIRL. With a raspy voice that appeared to have been shaped from smoking far too many Gauloises in a Paris café, she was signed to Geffen Records. Her first two singles, ‘Four Floors’ and a cover of Italo standard ‘Self Control’ were more ELLIE GOULDING in demeanour. But it was ‘Stop Hey!’ with its piercing MIRRORS meets MGMT template which showed her potential. The unreleased ‘24 Hours’ was wonderfully claustrophobic post-punk but best of all was ‘All The Songs’, a brilliant slice of avant pop powered by pulsing electronic bass and layers of vibrato synth.

However, Geffen Records had other ideas and pushed her into covers of songs made famous by STEPS and THE PIXIES! Once LANA DEL REY hit the airwaves internationally, it was all over bar the shouting and the debut album never came out. Today, Jade Williams is involved in a more conventional pop project under the less mysterious moniker of WHINNIE WILLIAMS.

http://www.wearesundaygirl.com


MAISON VAGUE (2011)

maisonIn 2008, PARRALOX declared “We believe in electric love”! In 2011, “Synthpop’s alive!” was the MAISON VAGUE battlecry! Consisting of lone American-born German based keyboardist / programmer Clark Stiefel, the title track of MAISON VAGUE’s album was a musical reply to a YouTube video that proclaimed “Synthpop is dead”. With a template of GARY NUMAN meets DEVO, MAISON VAGUE combined aggression with eccentricity, but all the songs possessed a sly tongue-in-cheek irony as well as a gloriously vintage synth sound.

A second album has yet to appear but Clark Stiefel still continues with his day job in the classical music world.

http://www.maisonvague.com


QUEEN OF HEARTS (2011)

queenQUEEN OF HEARTS is the talented Elizabeth Morphew who first came to public attention via RED BLOODED WOMEN, a girl group who sounded not unlike GIRLS ALOUD being produced by Daniel Miller. She once said “pop is not a dirty word” and this was reflected in her electro wonderland. Her debut EP ‘The Arrival’ contained enticing songs like the Moroder-esque throb of ‘Freestyle’ and a gorgeous cover of FOALS’ ‘Spanish Sahara’. But best of all was 2012’s ‘Neon’ with its deliciously wired glitterball sparkle that managed to out Goldfrapp GOLDFRAPP.

Her work attracted interest from producers like Mark Reeder who reworked ‘Neon’ and collaborated on ‘United’, although the Stuart Price produced ‘Feel’ has still to officially see the light of day. Her well received debut album ‘Cocoon’ was released in 2014 and she is presently in the studio working on new songs.

http://www.iamqueenofhearts.com/


KID KASIO (2011)

kid kasio-4-700x1024KID KASIO is Nathan Cooper, one-time member of those once great white hopes THE MODERN aka MATINEE CLUB who in their time, supported HEAVEN 17 and released the excellent single ‘Jane Falls Down’ mixed by Stephen Hague. With a debut album ‘Kasiotone’ under his belt, KID KASIO’s vintage but modern flavoured sound updated the one man and his synth template pioneered by HOWARD JONES.

‘The Reason’, ‘Not For Turning’ and ‘Telephone Line’ were fine examples of his bouncy riff laden ditties with catchy choruses reminiscent of imperial phase DURAN DURAN. But the best KID KASIO number was ‘I Miss You’ which sounded like ‘Forbidden Colours’ reworked by LA ROUX. A second album is currently being finished.

http://www.kidkasio.com


CURXES (2011)

Curxes-Lucy-GoodaleCURXES have been continuing their development into a more aggressive post-punk template with wonderful songs such as the haunting staircase mystery of ‘Spectre’ and the CHVRCHES gone aggro stand point of ‘Avant-Guarded’. But when the Blitz Poppers first made a splash on the scene back in Summer 2011, they were “a decorative set of bones, channelling the ghosts of discothèques past” in a manner of DEPECHE MODE being eaten by SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES. This material was released as a mini-album ‘Precurxor’ in 2014.

Where they are heading next may be less overtly synthy but is still technologically dynamic and inventive. Their debut album ‘Verxes’ has been a long time coming but if tracks such as ‘Valkyrie’ are anything to go by, it will have been worth the wait.

http://www.curxes.com/


SOFT METALS (2011)

SOFT METALS colourMore immediate than XENO & OAKLANDER and much shinier than CRYSTAL CASTLES, SOFT METALS took their arsenal of cool vintage synths into ORBITAL territory with a rugged squelch ‘n’ bleep framework driven by Roland Rhythm Composers. Comprising of Patricia Hall and Ian Hicks, the duo have proven their artistic worth with a hypnotic sound on their first self-titled album. The synthetically charged joy of ‘Voices’ was a great calling card while ‘Do You Remember?’ and ‘Eyes Closed’ showcased Patricia Hall’s flirtatious demeanour over a Detroit Techno influenced backbone.

The second album ‘Lenses’ was a natural development of the debut and tracks like ‘Tell Me’, ‘No Turning Back’ and ‘Hourglass’ have indicated there is still more great music to come in that delicious Métaux Mous vein.

https://www.facebook.com/softmetals


ELEVEN: ELEVEN (2012)

111-Sicca-thumbComprising of the seductively celestial voice of Sicca and the instrumentation of Jake Childs, Texan duo ELEVEN:ELEVEN have an electronic dance sound that recalls a variety of influences including Italo Disco, Hi-NRG, Electroclash and the band BERLIN. Their impressive debut ‘Through The Veil’ showed subtle, crafted thinking within EDM as well as hypnotic hints of BOBBY O and GIORGIO MORODER.

With range of rhythmical dynamics on songs such as ‘Little White Lies’, ‘No Words’ and the brilliantly sparkling title track, ELEVEN: ELEVEN’s songs rarely clock in above four minutes, thus avoiding the death-by-four-to-the-floor syndrome that afflicts the majority of club music.

http://weare1111.com/


CHVRCHES (2012)

CHVRCHES-in-fieldThe Electricity Club took a punt at covering CHVRCHES after just one song, but it all turned out rather well. Introduced to the band by the wonderful CURXES, CHVRCHES’ brilliant opening gambit ‘Lies’ was ‘The Whole Of The Moon’ re-imagined by DEPECHE MODE but fronted by ROBYN. With electronic drum tattoos, meaty piercing synths and a great tune, the Glaswegian trio of Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook and Martin Doherty certainly made an impression.

‘The Mother We Share’ proved it was not a fluke while ‘Now Is Not The Time’ showed CHVRCHES were in a position to regulate great songs to B-sides. Support slots with DEPECHE MODE, a never ending tour and a well-received debut album in ‘The Bones Of What You Believe’ have been further evidence of CHVRCHES impact in the international arena.

http://www.chvrch.es/


TITANS (2012)

TITANSImagine if RAMMSTEIN were reincarnated as DEPECHE MODE but without the flame throwers? TITANS‘ vocalist Dan Von Hoyel sounds like a lower register Dave Gahan crossed with a less Teutonic Till Lindemann. In a sub-genre known for its shouting, TITANS’ mighty calling card ‘It’s Dark’ was menacing but melodic. The parent album ‘For The Long Gone’ was an enjoyable listen too, energetic without being bombastic and tuneful without being twee.

The foreboding synth atmospheres of ‘All There Is’ were reminiscent of a doomy CAMOUFLAGE while the Olympian effort of the title track could have been ULTRAVOX meeting RAMMSTEIN for an electronic collaboration. While an EP ‘My Sorrow’ with new songs came out in 2013, a second album is eagerly awaited.

http://www.facebook.com/TitansOfficial


SAY LOU LOU (2013)

say lou lou4Stunning identical twins Elektra and Miranda Kilbey have been labelled the female HURTS and certainly their second single ‘Julian’ is still one of their best songs, full of tension, angst and intrigue like a Nordic Noir mini-series compressed into a three minute pop song. Like HURTS, their music could do with a kick occasionally but numbers such as ‘Everything We Touch‘ are like a sophisticated Scandipop take on HEART, driven by a togetherness that can only come from two siblings.

The forthcoming release of their debut album ‘Lucid Dreaming’ will confirm whether SAY LOU LOU have been able to deliver on their brand of shimmering but accessible escapism.

http://www.sayloulou.com/


GIRL ONE & THE GREASE GUNS (2013)

GIRL ONE GREASE GUNS PHOTOWho are GIRL ONE & THE GREASE GUNS? Nobody really knows for sure, but this mysterious combo with their lo-fi noise and motorik beats have revealed a series of energetic singles over the past few years. There was the ‘Logan’s Run’ tribute ‘Jessica 6’, an eerie post-punk cacophony of sound laced with icy string machine sounding like THE PIPETTES fronting an OMD assisted JOY DIVISION while a winter of discontent overtone sat on the dysfunctional indie synthpop of ‘Driving Without Headlights (Once Again)’.

However in 2014, a much softer side was revealed on ‘No Longer Spellbound’. With its beautiful atmospheric quality smothered in icy synths and grainy vox samples, it would have been the theme tune to ‘Twins Peaks’ had the series been set in The Lake District.

http://www.squirrelrecords.co.uk/girl-one-and-the-grease-guns/


NIGHT CLUB (2013)

NIGHT CLUBForming in 2011, vocalist Emily Kavanaugh and producer Mark Brooks began writing songs that combined the pure pop of PINK and BRITNEY SPEARS with the heavier spectre of SLAYER into a danceable, electronic underworld. They truly arrived on their second EP ‘Love Casualty’, with the highlight being ‘Poisonous’ which reimagined EURYTHMICS’ ‘Sweet Dreams’ fronted by Britney if she had gone Goth.

And with their third EP ‘Black Leather Heart’, NIGHT CLUB delivered their best body of work yet. Featuring a dark disco cover of INXS ‘Need You Tonight’, it was trumped by the sinister yet playfully feline ‘She Wants To Play With Fire’ and the Electroclash flavoured ‘Cruel Devotion’. Based on the evidence trajectory so far, NIGHT CLUB’s fourth EP looks like it will be a blinder!

http://nightclubband.com/


QUIETER THAN SPIDERS (2013)

quieter than spidersCould The Electricity Club have found another MIRRORS in QUIETER THAN SPIDERS? But whereas MIRRORS openly flaunted their Gilbert & George look, QUIETER THAN SPIDERS have been totally anonymous. Their “Shanghai Synthpop …using home-made electronic sounds played by hand” has certainly made an impact with ‘Shanghai Metro’ recalling the obvious melodic elements of classic OMD.

Then there was the haunting dreamscape of ‘Hibakusha’ with its modern, processed twist while the simply wonderful ‘The Land Of The Lost Content’ glided with a glacial beauty that was not only appealing to the ear, but could be danced to as well. The long awaited debut album ‘Signs Of Life’ is to be released on Anna Logue Records sometime in 2015.

https://www.facebook.com/QTSpiders


I AM SNOW ANGEL (2014)

i am snow angel -julieI AM SNOW ANGEL’s music evokes images of icy landscapes and crystalline hydro basins but with a North American twist. Her self-titled debut EP introduced enticingly understated numbers like ‘Grey White December’ and ‘Let Me Go’, but it was her debut album ‘Crocodile’ that united a countrified twang with her dreamy, whispery world to produce a unique and quietly subversive sound within electronica.

There was the excellence of the title track while ‘Walking On Wires’ recalled THE POSTAL SERVICE. But just when you thought there could be no more surprises, there was her drum ‘n’ bass take on BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN’s ‘I’m On Fire’!

http://iamsnowangel.com/


MACHINISTA (2014)

Machinista_bandThe Swedish pairing of John Lindqwister and Richard Flow have declared themselves “synthpop with a rock’n’roll edge” but MACHINISTA have shown themselves to be far weightier with songs such as the superb Brechtian drama of ‘Summersault’ and the midlife pondering ‘Pushing The Angels Astray’. Their debut album ‘Xenoglossy’ delivered on the promise already shown with their first EP ‘Arizona Lights’ and an appearance at ‘An Evening With The Swedish Synth’.

Combining the best elements of both ALPHAVILLE and THE CURE into an enjoyably well produced template of anthemic electro, they even had the bottle to do a cover of DAVID BOWIE’s ‘Heroes’ and did a pretty good job of it too.

http://www.machinistamusic.com/


FIFI RONG (2014)

FifiRong-01FIFI RONG has been building her repertoire using a wide range of influences such as dubstep, trip hop and Chinese folk music while also name checking the likes of COCTEAU TWINS and MAZZY STAR. She also collaborated with TRICKY and her first album ‘Wrong’ came with a rework of her TRICKY track retitled as ‘Only If I Knew’ which was by far a more beautiful interpretation and fully exploited the song’s potential.

Her best number so far though has is ‘Next Pursuit’, which combines the vocal mystery of KELLI ALI and the quirkiness of MOLOKO. Adding rhythmical variation and avoiding clichés, FIFI RONG has manifested her own dream laden underground electronica. She is currently working with BORIS BLANK of YELLO fame.

http://www.fifirong.com


PAWWS (2014)

Pawws2PAWWS is what CHVRCHES would sound like if they were an all-female concern ie a blokey free zone. With some Scandipop influences and a dose of second hand Roland JX-8P, the end result is some sweet, sugary electronically driven pop. The coy, feline magnetism of ‘Slow Love’ showcased PAWWS aka Lucy Taylor’s brand of “upsetting disco” and ‘Give You Love’ from the following ‘Sugar’ EP also lived up to that template.

Meanwhile, The Sunday Times described the EP title track “As if Kylie had worked with OMD”. If there is one lady who could fill the female fronted synthpop void that has been vacated by LA ROUX and LITTLE BOOTS, it is PAWWS. With the warm reception accorded to the first two releases, more music is on the way from Miss Taylor…

https://www.pawwsmusic.co.uk


Text by Chi Ming Lai
7th March 2015, updated 22nd May 2016

The Electricity Club’s 30 SONGS OF 2014

wasp TECWith a less intense release schedule than last year, it was a bit more straightforward for The Electricity Club to choose its songs of 2014.

Whereas 2013 had a short list of 45 songs, 2014 was closer to 35 although not the struggle to find 30 as was the case in 2012. So just missing out are CLIENT, KLEERUP and TODD TERJE featuring BRYAN FERRY, although not by much.

As usual, they are listed in alphabetical order and all have been released either in physical formats, or digitally as purchasable or free downloads during the calendar year. Thus although the excellent video for LIEBE’s ‘I Believe In You’ gained traction on MTV Europe in 2014 as well as being a favourite at TEC HQ, the song was actually released in 2013.

Tracks which are exclusive to streams, videos or DJ only promos are also not included; so QUIETER THAN SPIDERS ‘The Land Of Lost Content’ is not eligible. Limited to one song per artist moniker, here are TEC’s 30 Songs of 2014…


ANALOG ANGEL The Last Time

Analog Angel trinityThe transformation of Glaswegians ANALOG ANGEL in the last 18 months has been startling. From their third album ‘Trinity’, its closer ‘The Last Time’ was a big surprise, featuring a cinematic arrangement involving an orchestra cascading into an epic Pan-European journey heading eastwards. Recalling THE SISTERS OF MERCY’s ‘This Corrosion’, the virtual symphonic strings and gothic choirs gave an indication as to what OMD might have sounded like if Jim Steinman had been producing!

Available on the download album ‘Trinity’ via http://analog-angel.bandcamp.com/

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


MARGARET BERGER Scream

Margaret-Berget-Scream‘Scream’ launched MARGARET BERGER’s first album ‘New Religion’ since 2006’s ‘Pretty Scary Silver Fairy’ although as yet, the new opus has yet to emerge. The Norwegian Idol finalist effectively revived her career with ‘I Feed You My Love’ which came fourth in Eurovision 2013. ‘Scream’ saw her continuing the ROBYN meets DEPECHE MODE template of her Eurovision smash and possessed an inherent industrialised darkness in an approach to quality pop that set itself apart.

Available as a download single via iTunes Norway through Macho Records

http://www.margaretberger.com/


CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN Nevermind

CLAUDIA BRUCKEN-NevermindThe original first lady of cinematic electronic pop surprised everyone when she appeared on the cover of her third album ‘Where Else…’ with a guitar strapped to her back. But while the record had a folk and blues influence, the synthesized textures that Ms Brücken has been best known for were still very much part of the package. The launch single ‘Nevermind’ could be seen as a musical reply to OMD’s ‘Stay With Me’. A lovely mix of electronics and acoustic, she appears to be driven by a new artistic zest.

Available on the album ‘Where Else…’ via Cherry Red Records

http://www.claudiabrucken.co.uk


DAVIDGE featuring EMI GREEN Sleepwalking

DAVIDGE SleepwalkingDAVIDGE is best known for his work with MASSIVE ATTACK and has been involved in game and film soundtracks for many years. His first solo album ‘Slo Light’ was an impressive debut, containing many of the elements that marked his work with the Bristolian triphoppers. ‘Sleepwalking’ was a haunting number beautifully voiced by EMI GREEN which recalled the ethereal quality of COCTEAU TWINS’ Elizabeth Fraser and the electronically assisted Weimer Cabaret of ‘Felt Mountain’ era GOLDFRAPP.

Available on the album ‘Slo Light’ via 7Hz Recordings

http://www.neildavidge.com/


ERASURE Be The One (Paul Humphreys Remix)

ERASURE VioletFlameFollowing the disappointment of 2011’s FRANKMUSIK driven ‘Tomorrow’s World’, ‘The Violet Flame’ produced by Richard X saw ERASURE express an infectious zest for the future. The songs began with pre-recorded dance grooves from Vince Clarke as represented by the euphoric opening track ‘Dead Of Night’. The best number from the package turned out to be a ballad remixed by Paul Humphreys who added some of the beautiful Synth-Werk magic that characterised OMD’s ‘English Electric’ to ‘Be The One’.

Available on the boxed set edition of ‘The Violet Flame’ via Mute Artists / Pledge Music

http://www.erasureinfo.com


FEATHERS Wild Love

FEATHERS Only OneReleased in time for their DEPECHE MODE support tour in Europe, ‘Wild Love’ was far more dance-oriented than anything FEATHERS attempted on their debut album ‘If All Now Here’. While a heavy beat dominated, the essential component of a song remained, building to a suitably epic chorus providing that euphoric lift. The gated trance elements in the second chorus were a particular highlight, especially when backed by a screeching falsetto counterpoint. But just as it got going, it faded out!

Available on the download EP ‘Only One’ via http://feathers.bandcamp.com/album/only-one

http://www.feathers.fm/


GAZELLE TWIN Exorcise

GAZELLE TWIN Unflesh artThe moniker of Elizabeth Bernholz, GAZELLE TWIN has acquired an impressive host of admirers including JOHN FOXX, GARY NUMAN and CLINT MANSELL. Her second album ‘Unflesh’ has allowed the Brighton based songstress to extract her demons with some artistic violence. One of the highlights ‘Exorcise’ was an impressively aggressive cross between PINK FLOYD’s ‘One The Run’ and KRAFTWERK’s ‘Home Computer’. Its uneasy resonance was aided by Bernholz’s harsh, deadpan commentary.

Available on the album ‘Unflesh’ via Anti-Ghost Moon Ray

http://www.gazelletwin.com/


GIRL ONE & THE GREASE GUNS No Longer Spellbound

GIRLONE-no-longer-spellboundThis mysterious combo with their lo-fi noise and motorik beats have revealed a series of energetic singles over the past two years including ‘Jessica 6’, a frantic salvo sounding like THE PIPETTES fronting an OMD assisted JOY DIVISION. But GIRL ONE & THE GREASE GUNS revealed a much softer side with ‘No Longer Spellbound’. With its beautiful atmospheric quality smothered in icy synth strings and grainy vox samples, if ‘Twins Peaks’ had been set in The Lake District, then the theme tune might sound a like this.

Available on the download EP ‘No Longer Spellbound’ via Squirrel Records

http://www.squirrelrecords.co.uk/girl-one-and-the-grease-guns/


HERCULES & LOVE AFFAIR feat JOHN GRANT I Try To Talk To You

HERCULES & LOVE AFFAIR I Try To Talk To YouImagine Jim Morrison getting it on down at The Danceteria circa 1982! ‘I Try To Talk To You’ featuring the expansive baritone vocals of JOHN GRANT combined the best of classic New York electro disco and grand piano theatrics with an emotively soulful vocal. The courageous lyrics found Grant recalling when he discovered he was HIV positive. “I asked John to dig deep with his lyrical contribution” recalls HERCULES & LOVE AFFAIR mainman Andy Butler, “I had no idea he would dig so deep”.

Available on the album ‘The Feast Of The Broken Heart’ via Moshi Moshi

http://herculesandloveaffair.net/

http://johngrantmusic.com/


HUGH I Can’t Figure You Out

HUGH_ART_APPROVED‘I Can’t Figure You Out’ sounds like another product of Scandinavia but in fact, HUGH hail from South London. The captivating, naive lead vocal from Izzy Brooks states “you know just how I feel” as she makes handle with care pleas like “don’t toy with me” and “careful with my heart” while the intensity builds like a pressure cooker. And this is all before a time signature change and some frustrating despair is released with her spirited jazzy refrain of “No, I can’t figure you out!” Now, who hasn’t been here before?

Available on the download EP ‘I Can’t Figure You Out’ via Hughlovehugh

http://hughmusic.co.uk/


IAMAMIWHOAMI Hunting For Pearls

iamamiwhoami-Hunting-for-Pearls-2014-300x300IAMAMIWHOAMI, the electronic multimedia project fronted by Jonna Lee and produced by Claes Björklund returned with their second opus ‘Blue’. ‘Hunting For Pearls’ featured wonderfully pulsing sequences and trancey atmospheres, coupled with a beautifully rich vocal from Lee. With a mysterious falsetto reach, the air may be cold outside but inside, things are warm. If KATE BUSH made a modern electronic dance record at ABBA’s Polar Studios, it would probably sound like this.

Available on the album ‘Blue’ via towhomitmayconcern

http://www.towhomitmayconcern.cc/


I AM SNOW ANGEL Let Me Go

iamsnowngel_360Deep from within the Adirondack Mountains comes the beautifully gentle electronica of I AM SNOW ANGEL. The self-produced vehicle of singer / songwriter Julie Kathryn, the music evokes images of icy landscapes and crystalline hydro basins. The best track from her debut EP, ‘Let Me Go’ is rich in understatement and a Nordic styled tour de force swathed in melancholy, full of dreamy escapism. The full length album ‘Crocodile’ released in the Autumn did not disappoint either with its quietly subversive nature.

Available on the download EP ‘I Am Snow Angel’ via Amazon

http://iamsnowangel.com/


KID MOXIE Lacuna

Kid-Moxie-1888With a breathier, more continental direction towards cinematic pop, The Kid effectively grew up with her second album ‘1888’. KID MOXIE’s widescreen soundscapes and dreamy demeanour saw a much more focussed work. ‘Lacuna’ means “an empty space” yet this song is filled with an enigmatic mystery as Elena Charbila applied some of the je nais se quoi first piloted on 2008’s ‘La Romance D’Hiver’ to the drifting, almost abstract electronic soundscape… and then there’s the pretty isolated piano ending!

Available on the download album ‘1888’ via Undo Records

http://www.facebook.com/kidmoxie


KLEERUP featuring SUSANNE SUNDFØR Let Me In

Having delivered one of the best synth based debut albums in recent years, any new KLEERUP recording now lives with a high degree of expectation. ‘Let Me In’ featuring SUSANNE SUNDFØR, who voiced several tracks on RÖYKSOPP’s ‘The Inevitable End’ album, came over like KARIN PARK if she had joined latter day ROXY MUSIC. Retaining the original appeal of KLEERUP’s debut, ‘Let Me In’ was brilliantly classic and yet modern with its more organic template and even funky template.

Available on the download EP ‘As If We Never Won’ via Warner Music

http://kleerup.net/


MACHINISTA Pushing The Angels Astray

Xenoglossy_coverMACHINISTA’s pairing of John Lindqwister and Richard Flow specialise in synthpop with a rock’n’roll edge. Their best offering from their debut album ‘Xenoglossy’ was the schaffel propelled ‘Pushing The Angels Astray’. Despite discussing the spectre of immortality, the sombre aura was balanced with a marvellous melodic line and fabulous chorus like ALPHAVILLE in their prime. The Nordic region continually shows how electronic music is done and many could do a lot worse than to observe how MACHINISTA go about their craft.

Available on the download album ‘Xenoglossy’ via Juggernaut Music Group

http://www.machinistamusic.com/


MARNIE Wolves

marnie_wolves_rsReleased in the week of the Scottish Independence Referendum, MARNIE’s ‘Wolves’ was an appropriately soaring anthem “for anyone that doesn’t believe in sticking with the status quo, for anyone who has the heart to try and make a difference”. Certainly, the positive response she received for her debut long player ‘Crystal World’ and a return to her homeland has no doubt inspired her own independence. But with MARNIE due to release a second solo album in 2015, what does this all mean for LADYTRON?

Available as a download single via Les Disques du Crépuscule

http://www.helenmarnie.com


METROLAND Thalys

thalys‘Trans Europe Express’ 21st Century style as Belgium’s favourite passengers METROLAND embarked on a maroon coloured rail journey through France and Germany via the Benelux basin on ‘Thalys’. The full length 11 minute version rhythmitised metal on metal while there were also London, Paris and Düsseldorf edits in this musical tie-in with the Thalys high speed train operator.

Available on the download EP ‘Thalys (London)’ via Alfa Matrix

http://www.metrolandmusic.com/


NIGHT CLUB She Wants To Play With Fire

NIGHT CLUB Black Leather Heart_Cover_finalFrisky vocalist Emily Kavanaugh and moody producer Mark Brooks began writing songs as NIGHT CLUB with the goal of creating dark – yet commercially accessible – synthpop. Developing on the Britney gone electro goth sound of their glorious 2013 single ‘Poisonous’, ‘She Wants To Play With Fire’ treaded on the darker, sleazy side of life and dysfunctional relationships with Kavanaugh out to take on her demented love rival.

Available on the download EP ‘Black Leather Heart’ via Gato Blanco

http://www.nightclubband.com


KARIN PARK Look What You’ve Done

KARIN PARK Look What You've DoneIssued as a trailer for her new album ‘Apocalypse Pop’, ‘Look What You’ve Done’ is a feisty development of ‘Restless’ from KARIN PARK’s previous album ‘Highwire Poetry’. Wrestling within a fiery glam schaffel and a catchy chorus like an angry GOLDFRAPP, with THE KNIFE venturing into more uncompromising climes, the ‘other’ Karin ably fills the void now left vacant by the Drejers in avant pop. ‘Look What You’ve Done’ is a fine example of the Swede’s ambition to fit into both pop and experimental worlds.

Available as a download single via State Of The Eye Recordings

http://www.karinpark.com/


PAWWS Give You Love

pawws-sugarWith LITTLE BOOTS having gone dance and LA ROUX veering away from synthpop, there is now a vacancy for a new kooky homegrown female synth talent. One of the possible candidates is PAWWS, otherwise known on her passport as Lucy Taylor. She has labelled her music “upsetting disco” and ‘Give You Love’ lives up to that description. Certainly those who prefer their music with rough edges and are averse to female fronted synthpop will have their touch paper lit even further with this exquisite pop number.

Available on the download EP ‘Sugar’ via Best Fit Recordings

https://www.pawwsmusic.co.uk


HANNAH PEEL Fabricstate

HannahPeel-FabricstateSince playing with JOHN FOXX, HANNAH PEEL’s own music has used more electronics alongside her beloved violin, musicbox, piano and trombone. ‘Fabricstate’ starts as a beautiful understated number before being bolstered by an unexpected but amazing whirring synth solo around a series of percussive clusters. When the warmth of the synthesizer is exploited and coupled with a classically trained background, the hybrid can result in a quietly subversive organic and technological fusion.

Available on the download EP ‘Fabricstate’ via My Own Pleasure

http://www.hannahpeel.com


FIFI RONG Next Pursuit

FifiRong-nextpursuitOne musician taking electronic music into some intriguing fusions is Beijing born FIFI RONG. ‘Next Pursuit’ crosses the vocal mystery of KELLI ALI and the quirkiness of MOLOKO while throwing in a touch of LANA DEL REY and MAZZY STAR too. Crucially, the intriguingly soulful ‘Next Pursuit’ also adds in rhythmical variation as the rhythms click into action during the higher register vocal refrains while the verses are held together with a smokey allure.

Available on the download EP ‘Next Pursuit’ via Ditto Music

http://www.fifirong.com


ROBYN & RÖYKSOPP Monument (The Inevitable End Version)

ROYKSOPP ROBYNEdited and rethought for ‘The Inevitable End’ album, ‘Monument’ was originally a spacey 10 minute epic now tightened to a more bite size and dare one say it, more enjoyable format sans saxophone over a hypnotic two chord structure. As usual, ROBYN’s vocals are edgy and nonchalant while RÖYKSOPP’s electronic soundtrack ably hit the spot with its energized octave-jumping bassline.

Available on the album ‘The Inevitable End’ via Dog Triumph / Cooking Vinyl

http://royksopp.com/

http://robyn.com/


SIN COS TAN Love Sees No Colour

SIN COS TAN Love SeeWith their third album in as many years, Finnish duo SIN COS TAN went the concept album route for ‘Blown Away’, a midlife crisis story of a man who becomes a drug courier and goes on a journey of excess, fast money and hedonism. First single ‘Love Sees No Colour’ dressed NEW ORDER’s love technique in an OMD stylee with the result being a kaleidoscopic tune that managed to mix sunshine with melancholy.

Available on the album ‘Blown Away’ via Solina Records

http://sincostan.net/


SUSANNE SUNDFØR Fade Away

Susanne Sundfør - fade awayThe Nordic vocalist of the moment has to be SUSANNE SUNDFØR who has worked with M83 and KLEERUP. But she is probably best known for her work with fellow Norwegians RÖYKSOPP. Propelled by a pulsing electronic backbone, ‘Fade Away’ from Sundfør’s forthcoming album ‘Ten Love Songs’ sees her in rousing form with a tune that at times sounds almost like Scandinavian gospel. Meanwhile, a fabulous synth solo gets thrown into the bargain too.

Available as a download single via Sonnet Sound / Kobalt

http://susannesundfor.com/


TRUST Peer Pressure

Rescue, Mister TrustOne act establishing themselves in 2014 were TRUST from Toronto. Led by the polarising “Eeyore gone goth” moodiness of Robert Alfons, the ironically titled ‘Joyland’ was a excellent second album that captured the sleazy nature of a 21st Century SOFT CELL and attached it to the grumpiness of LEONARD COHEN. ‘Peer Pressure’ was a frantic but funky uptempo number featuring Alfon’s trademark vocal pitch shift technique that proved misery and dancing could actually go together.

Available on the album ‘Joyland’ via Arts & Crafts

http://ttrustt.com/


TWINS NATALIA Set Love Free

TWINS NATALIA The Destiny RoomTouchingly melancholic with classic Weimar Cabaret melodies and vibrant Kling Klang interplay, TWINS NATALIA conjured up memories of holiday romances with pretty German frauleins and flirty French mademoiselles. Debut long player ‘The Destiny Room’ was many years in the making and did not disappoint. With the PET SHOP BOYS styled neo-orchestrated statement of ‘Set Love Free’, the song theatrically climaxed like a pomped up ‘Rent’ as a wonderful slice of joie de vivre to finish the main act.

Available on the album ‘The Destiny Room’ via Anna Logue Records

http://twinsnatalia.blogspot.de/


MIDGE URE Dark, Dark Night

MIDGE URE fragileWhile the romantically uptempo ‘Become’ was inevitably the focal point of MIDGE URE’s ‘Fragile’ album, there were other songs that were easily its equal. The most notable of these was ‘Dark, Dark Night’, an online collaboration with MOBY. Though derived from ‘Rockets’ on MOBY’s ‘Destroyed’ opus, Ure exploited the original’s rich symphonic string sounds and chilled vibes. Building to an amazing climax with melodic screeches and a tremendous guitar solo from Ure, this was a partnership made in heaven.

Available on the album ‘Fragile’ via Hypertension Music

http://www.midgeure.co.uk/


VILE ELECTRODES Pandora’s Box

VILE ELECTRODES Pandoras BoxVILE ELECTRODES capitalised on their profile from supporting OMD’s German tour in 2013 by snaring prestigious Schallwelle Awards for Best International Act and Best International Album for their debut ‘The future through a lens’. ‘Pandora’s Box’ was an excellent previously unreleased song full of wobbling analogue vigour that initially came with the lavish ‘Pack Of Wolves’ three CD package and set the scene for a much anticipated follow-up long player.

Available on the download EP ‘Empire Of Wolves’ via http://vileelectrodes.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/vileelectrodes


WRANGLER Lava Land

WRANGLER-LaSparkWRANGLER’s manifesto is to harness “lost technology to make new themes for the modern world”. And their signature track is ‘Lava Land’, a superb cross between CABARET VOLTAIRE and prime ‘Metamatic’ era JOHN FOXX but with a modern twist. Stephen Mallinder’s voice manipulations range from demonic gargoyle to stern drowning robot. The frantic pace is strangely danceable, but the mood is distinctly unsettling and dystopian when the screeching steam powered Logan string machine kicks in.

Available on the album ‘LA Spark’ via MemeTune

https://www.facebook.com/mallinderbengewinter


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Wasp photo by Chi Ming Lai
15th December 2014

The Electricity Club’s 30 SONGS OF 2012

It was a weak year musically overall, but a number of acts with great potential emerged.

So here are The Electricity Club’s 30 Songs of 2012, listed in alphabetical order. All have been released either in physical formats or digitally as purchasable or free downloads during the calendar year. However, the list is limited to one song per artist

It also does not include tracks which are exclusive to streams and videos or DJs only promos like the remix of REPUBLICA’s ‘Christiana Obey’… so maybe next year perhaps?


AUTOMATIC WRITING Continuous

Consisting of the Merrick Brothers, AUTOMATIC WRITING are the angry OMD if you can imagine that! Their sombre, ENO influenced template is like Wirral’s finest have been given a contemporary anthemic facelift by having WHITE LIES Harry McVeigh recruited as lead vocalist! ‘Continuous’ whirs and spins while driven by mutant motorik beats and dysfunctional claustrophobia. The flip ‘Falling’ is a more mid-tempo cousin and is another worthy addition to the duo’s developing sound.

Available as a download single via http://automaticwriting.bandcamp.com/

http://www.facebook.com/automaticwriting


BRIGHT LIGHT BRIGHT LIGHT Immature

BRIGHT LIGHT BRIGHT LIGHT is Welsh songwriter/producer Rod Thomas who adopted his ‘Gremlins’ referencing moniker to prevent being mistaken for an acoustic act which he clearly now is not, despite his folkie roots. As the opener to the long awaited album ‘Make Me Believe In Hope’, ‘Immature’ is a great start as it rhythmically percolates in the manner of THE POSTAL SERVICE before a terrific synth section unexpectedly lifts the whole piece several notches. This is a superbly emotive and sensitive piece of pop.

Available on the album ‘Make Me Believe in Hope’ via The Blue Team/Aztec Records

http://www.brightlightx2.com/


CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN Everyone Says Hi

From ‘The Lost Are Found’ album produced by Stephen Hague which also features versions of songs originally by PET SHOP BOYS, DUBSTAR and STINA NORDENSTRAM among others, CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN’s lively reinterpretation of Bowie’s ‘Everyone Says Hi’ from ‘Heathen’ unveils a previously hidden heartfelt connection, a call for contact like Major Tom in ‘Space Oddity’. Dressed with catchy synth riffs and fuzzy shades, it combines ice maiden chill and organic warmth for an artful sound.

Available on the album ‘The Lost Are Found’ via There (there)

http://www.claudiabrucken.co.uk/


CHVRCHES Lies

ROBYN doing an electro cover of ‘The Whole Of The Moon’ may not sound immediately appealing in concept but that’s how this punchy number starts before elevating into a rousing, spirited synth anthem. CHVRCHES could become the next electro combo to shake up the mainstream pop world since LA ROUX. A great song with great melodies and weird noises, herein ‘Lies’ the bridge between leftfield and bubblegum pop. The follow-up ‘The Mothers We Share’  underlines this promising Glaswegian trio’s capability.

Available as a free download via Neon Gold

http://www.facebook.com/CHVRCHES


VINCE CLARKE Featuring ANE BRUN Fly On The Windscreen

Novelist Tonya Hurley commissioned her brother-in-law VINCE CLARKE to record a stark cover of his former band’s ‘Fly On The Windscreen’ with vocalist ANE BRUN as part of promotion for her literary trilogy ‘The Blessed’. While the guitar-like textures appear to have been borrowed from the original in an act of artistic continuity, the rest of the arrangement is quite different as the vulnerable feminine twist acts as the ‘Twilight’ Generation’s perfect introduction to DEPECHE MODE.

Available as a download single via iTunes and Amazon

http://www.vinceclarkemusic.com/

http://anebrun.com/


COMPUTE Light As A Feather

COMPUTE is Ulrika Mild, a Gothenburg girl who discovered synthpop via DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Speak and Spell’. ‘Light As a Feather’ is a bouncy but melancholic ditty which suggests a snow mountain of vulnerability. That is certainly apparent in Ulrika’s sweet, fragile voice. It’s beautifully sequenced with layers of eerie string machine for that distinctive Nordic chill.

Available on download album ‘The Distance’ via iTunes and Amazon

http://www.compute.se


CURXES Spectre

Roberta Fidora shows yet another fine turn of aggressive resignation like SIOUXSIE SIOUX in a padded cell while instrumentalist Macaulay Hopwood picks out his unsettling bass notes to full effect. While this CURXES tune is perhaps more guitar driven than what would normally be expected of most electronica, ‘Spectre’ is positively Spartan with symphonic synth stabs and industrial beat snaps…it’s the sound of the overground or Goth ‘n’ Bass…or even Gotham Bass; geddit? Simply exhilarating!

Available as a download single via Amazon and iTunes

http://www.curxes.com


DIVINE KNIGHTS Clouds (THE SANFERNANDO SOUND remix)

Goth laden PET SHOP BOYS from the theatrical Aussie duo dreamily remixed by THE SANFERNANDO SOUND. This is richly synthesized with lashings of atmosphere and accessible melancholy. The extrovertly camp pair have even subverted the realm of the talent show by getting into the semi-finals of ‘Australia’s Got Talent’. Dannii Minogue said: “I think DIVINE KNIGHTS are brave for coming on a show like this because not everybody is going to get them…but I really hope they do well!”

Available as a download single via Amazon and iTunes

http://www.divineknights.com.au/

http://www.facebook.com/thesanfernandosound


ELEVEN:ELEVEN No Words

Texan duo ELEVEN:ELEVEN comprise the feline vocals of Sicca with the instrumentation of Jake Childs and throw in a variety of influences including Italo Disco, Hi-NRG and Electroclash. ‘No Words’ recalls MISS KITTEN & THE HACKER, capturing a tense nightlife seediness. Short but sweet with a swirling middle section, who needs an extended dance mix when the point is made in two and a half minutes? ELEVEN:ELEVEN have proved danceable electronic pop music can be made that’s syncopated and subtle.

Available as a free download via http://weare1111.com/


GAZELLE TWIN Changelings (JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS remix)

Stark and mysterious, the living art of GAZELLE TWIN is the moniker of Elizabeth Walling, the Brighton based songstress whose brooding, unsettling Hauntronica has impressed in all the right circles. JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS’ version of one of her best tracks ‘Changelings’ sees Mr Foxx adding his own Cathedral Oceans sweeps to Benge’s Mathematical solutions. In an productive year profile wise, her music was used in the promotion for the film ‘Prometheus’.

Available on the album ‘The Entire City Remixed’ via Anti-Ghost Moon Ray Records

http://www.gazelletwin.com/


GRIMES Oblivion

GRIMES is the kooky Montreal sensation that is Clare Boucher and this LYKKE LI fronting KRAFTWERK tune is sumptuously infectious. Despite almost unintelligible vocals, ‘Oblivion’ is probably the most immediate track on the ‘Visions’ album although other tracks like ‘Genesis’ and ‘Be A Body’ explore similarly accessible synthesized avenues. ‘Oblivion’ is ideal for those looking for subtler percussive colours and synthesized tapestries in a leftfield lady meets pop princess fusion.

Available on the album ‘Visions’ via 4AD Records

http://www.grimesmusic.com


HUSKI Close To The Edge

HUSKI first came to public attention on the trendy Shoreditch electro scene back in 2007 with ‘Take Me Your Picture’.  The late lamented Word magazine described ‘Close To The Edge’ as sounding “not unlike how Clare Grogan might if she took a guest slot with THE HUMAN LEAGUE”. As both THE HUMAN LEAGUE and ALTERED IMAGES worked with the late Martin Rushent, that is not as peculiar as it first sounds and it brims with a cutesy allure.

Available on the album ‘H’ via Amazon and iTunes

http://www.huskimusic.com/


IAMAMIWHOAMI Drops

IAMAMIWHOIAMI is the enigmatic electronic multimedia project fronted by Jonna Lee. From her first full length album ‘Kin’, ‘Drops’ is uptempo but almost trancelike. The beats are subtle with just layers of ice and chill to compliment. The clattering fits of noise and metallic textures add to the hypnotism. Jonna Lee’s piercing larynx will polarise listeners but this is Nordic weirdness in all its wonderful glory.

Available on the album ‘Kin’ via Co-Operative Music/To Whom It May Concern

http://www.towhomitmayconcern.cc/


INJE Kofein I CO2

Hailing from Belgrade and featuring the nucleus of vocalist Jelena Miletić and instrumentalist Jovan Vesić, INJE have had the pleasure of supporting HURTS and FAITHLESS in their home country. Their chromatic East European charge will almost certainly please followers of LADYTRON. The excellent ‘Kofein I CO2’ from their EP ‘Protok’ is sort of DUBSTAR in Serbo-Croat meets DAVID LYNCH soundtrack, possessing an aural magnetism that is gorgeously layered with an air of wispy innocence.

Available as a free download from http://inje.rs/


KOVAK Killer Boots

‘Killer Boots’ is cooing new wave electropop with an immediately catchy Italo vibe…think ‘Self Control’ or even ‘Touch Me’! Appropriately decadent and sexy, this catchy song is produced by GARY NUMAN collaborator Andy Gray. Colourful, energetic and glamourous, KOVAK are like BLONDIE meeting DRAGONETTE and GWEN STEFANI through a TUBEWAY ARMY voltage controlled filter.

Available as a download single via 74 Music

http://kovak.co.uk/


LITTLE JINDER Keep On Dreaming

Is it dubstep or is it electro? ‘Keep On Dreaming’ actually sounds more like the latter. When the half beat/two step influences kick in, luckily they do so without the irritating, skipping CD nightmares that devilishly plague most dubstep. But like with all crossover songs, it is the flavour rather than the full blown experience that often wins favour. Confused? Just enjoy… this number by young Stockholm songstress Josefine Jinder features lots of lovely synths!

Available as a download single via Trouble & Bass

http://www.facebook.com/littlejinder


LOVELIFE Brave Face

From the creative minds of former MIRRORS man Ally Young and Lee Newell from one-time indie darlings VIVA BROTHER, ‘Braveface’ is a chilling but uplifting piece of mood music which comes over like OMD fronted by HARD FI! With its Cool Britannia meets Synth Britannia fusion via the Big Apple, LOVELIFE’s genre blend may be confusing indie and electronic music fans alike but at least it’s different.

Available on the free download EP ‘El Regreso’ from http://www.lvlf.info/

https://www.facebook.com/LVLFinfo/


MIRRORS Between Four Walls

Since slimming down to a trio, MIRRORS have been heading for a sparser, textural direction which is perhaps less immediate than their debut album ‘Lights & Offerings’ but nevertheless rewarding with further listens. The beautifully stark drama of ‘Between Four Walls’ is sublime and full of post 3am drama. With echoes of OMD, CHINA CRISIS and THE BLUE NILE, it is high end atmospheric electronic balladry at its best. “Do you ever wonder how you’ll ever get there when you never turn back around?”

Available as a download single via http://mirrorsofficial.bandcamp.com/

http://www.facebook.com/theworldofmirrors


MODOVAR Clearly

Comprising of Glen Wisbey on synths and the suave persona of Christopher Beecham on vocals, MODOVAR’s most immediate number is the emotively rousing ‘Clearly’. Beecham is a man with a self-confessed admiration of ALISON MOYET so ‘Clearly’ connects as a song of love in the first degree. It is just one of their “melodic, anthemic, chorus led songs, lyrically focused on the undercurrents of love and the human condition”. Also check out their cover of ROXY MUSIC’s ‘Same Old Scene’.

Available on the download EP ‘Clearly’ via Amazon and iTunes

http://modovar.com/


MOTOR featuring MARTIN L GORE Man Made Machine

MOTOR’s electro stomper ‘Man Made Machine’ features vocals by DEPECHE MODE’s Martin Gore in a collaboration that sounds not unlike a camp IGGY POP being backed by an angry GOLDFRAPP. In the absence of DM material in 2012, this has been a worthy substitute with Gore luring nervously over the duo’s brand of harder edged techno electro. Incidentally, the same titled parent album also features guest such as GARY NUMAN and NITZER EBB’s Douglas J McCarthy.

Available on the album ‘Man Made Machine’ via CLR

http://www.wearemotor.com/


THE MYSTIC UNDERGROUND Remember Me

New York domiciled Anglophile duo THE MYSTIC UNDERGROUND’s make “pop songs for the disenchanted, disillusioned and disenfranchised”. Featuring Vladimir Valette on vocals and Benedetto Socci on keyboards, their “life…set to a dance beat” touches a nerve and now more so than the NEW ORDER influenced ‘Remember Me’. An emotive guitar assisted number in the vein of ‘Leave Me Alone’, it is slightly mournful and despaired but melodically secure.

Available on the download EP ‘Dreamers & Lovers’ via Stereosonic Recordings

http://www.themysticunderground.com


KARIN PARK Thousand Loaded Guns

BJÖRK goes synthy via THE KNIFE on ‘Thousand Loaded Guns’, a danceable tune that provides a degree of accessibility into the world of darker Nordic climes. Hailing from the forests of Djura in Sweden, KARIN PARK is yet another child of Drejer-Andersson, straddling between electropop and artier aspirations. Her sound is sonically awkward, albeit in a liberating artistic way. Scandinavia is a great place to be musically at the moment.

Available on the album ‘Highwire Poetry’ via State Of The Eye Recordings

http://www.karinpark.com/


QUEEN OF HEARTS Neon

Following her Arrival in 2011, QUEEN OF HEARTS graced the music world with a glitzy slice of electro schaffel appropriately entitled ‘Neon’. On first hearing this live, The Electricity Club gleefully pronounced that this managed to out Goldfrapp GOLDFRAPP. While this had the obvious hallmarks of Lady Alison’s glam stomp, Queenie added her own cooing poptastic flavour, recalling RACHEL STEVENS’ under rated and great lost album ‘Come & Get It’.

Available on the download EP ‘Neon’ via All Things Go Records

http://www.iamqueenofhearts.com/


RITUALS James

Hailing from downtown Los Angeles, RITUALS comprise vocalist Neil Popkin and electronic producer Julian Denis. ‘James’ is rousing neo-NEW ORDER meets THE BRAVERY (remember them?) stomper which is only slightly short of being outstanding due to its demo-ish production…but the song resonates with an appealing doom. ‘Walk Away’ from their 2011 debut EP is another fine example of their potential.

Available as a free download via http://ritualsla.bandcamp.com/album/james-single

http://ritualsla.com/


SIN COS TAN Trust
SIN COS TAN is the new mathematically charged project of ace producer Jori Hulkkonen and VILLA NAH’s Juho Paalosmaa, “a synthesized duo of great promise, broken dreams, and long nights”. They have certainly delivered with ‘Trust’, all draped in melancholy with emotive vocals haunted by the ghost of Billy Mackenzie. This is subtle, hypnotic dance music with layered strings, sampled cimbalom and Cold War dramatics, it is one of the songs of the year.

Available on the album ‘Sin Cos Tan’ via Solina (Europe) and Sugarcane Recordings (Rest of World)

http://www.facebook.com/homeofsincostan


SINESTAR Hurricane

Bristol’s SINESTAR are a full blown five-piece band with drums, bass and guitar as well as synths and their MESH derived synthesized rock has the potential to crossover into several electronic sub-genres. With a so far small but impressive body of work as showcased on the ‘I Am The Rain’ EP, the terrific ‘Hurricane’ is like FAITHLESS gone rock! Catchy, tuneful and anthemic, they just need to work on the production.

Available on the download EP ‘I Am The Rain’ via Dead Rat Recordings.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sinestar/310216912403126


STRANGERS Safe/Pain

STRANGERS have been perilously close to COLDPLAY territory on occasions. But on ‘Safe/Pain’, a moody slice of sweeping synth noir with a lonely piano intro, the big surprise comes when a series of rave stabs cut in for the ultimate euphoric lift, crossed with a bit of dubstep! The BBC loved ‘Safe/Pain’ and used it for a clip compiling Team GB’s immense cycling achievements at the end of the London 2012 Olympics. Following prestigious support slots with BLANCMANGE and CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN under their belt, David Maddox-Jones, Raife Hacking and Piers Sherwood Roberts are well on their way!

Available as a download single via Beatwolf

http://strangers.co.uk


TITANS It’s Dark

‘It’s Dark’ could be RAMMSTEIN reincarnated as DEPECHE MODE with fewer the flame throwers! TITANS’ vocalist Dan Von Hoyel sounds like a lower register Dave Gahan winning a fight with a less Teutonic Till Lindemann. In an electronic sub-genre known for its shouting, ‘It’s Dark’ manages to sound menacing without forcing the aggression. The edgy electronic backing from Fredrik Mattsson and Jimmy Svensson blends marvellously with the band’s doompop manifesto.

Available on the download album ‘For The Long Gone’ via Progress Productions

http://www.facebook.com/TitansOfficial


ULTRAVOX Live

There were so many songs that could have been chosen but with this opener from their err… Brilliant comeback album was ULTRAVOX’s optimistic message of intent. Musically, ‘Live’ is ‘Dancing With Tears In My Eyes’ without the imminent nuclear holocaust! The instrumental breakdown, which drops to a magnificent pulsing sequence, piano and lone bass drum before the climax, is pure LA DÜSSELDORF and really is something to be savoured.

Available on the album ‘Brilliant’ via Eden Recordings/EMI Records

http://www.ultravoxbrilliant.com/


SAORI YUKI Yoake No Scat (MARSHEAUX remix)

While recording their long awaited new album ‘Inhale’, MARSHEAUX added to their remix portfolio with a terrific reworking of a track dating back to 1969 by Japanese classic singer SAORI YUKI. Adding incessant beats, infectious pulsing synth and melancholic washes of sound to the more organic re-recording with PINK MARTINI from 2011, this brings Kayokyoku (a style of Japanese music thatabsorbs various Western styles) into the electro age with a Melody For a New Dawn.

Available as a download single via EMI Japan

http://ameblo.jp/saori-yuki

http://www.facebook.com/marsheaux


Text by Chi Ming Lai
12th December 2012

The Electricity Club’s 2011 End Of Year Review

The Year Of Capacitors

It was a year which saw classic and new stand side-by-side as comrades in arms for the synthesizer.

In possibly the event of the year, April’s ‘Back To The Phuture ­- Tomorrow Is Today’ at London’s Troxy saw godfathers GARY NUMAN and JOHN FOXX supported by the best new UK synthpop act for many years, MIRRORS.

The Brighton quartet reappeared in the summer over on the South Bank when the Vintage Festival Electronic Phuture Revue gave us a celebration of synthpop cool with performances by ONETWO, RECOIL, THOMAS DOLBY and HEAVEN 17. Speaking of the latter, they premiered ‘The Luxury Gap’ at The Roundhouse in 3D sound no less while their production alter-ego BEF presented ‘Music Of Quality & Distinction Live’.

Meanwhile, Mute Records celebrated their influential legacy with a weekender also at London’s Roundhouse featuring ERASURE, YAZOO and THE ASSEMBLY in the same set, plus acts such as RECOIL, NITZER EBB and LAIBACH.

With an electro documentary weekend before Easter on the Sky Arts TV channel featuring GARY NUMAN, DURAN DURAN, JEAN MICHEL JARRE, NEW ORDER and the late ROBERT MOOG, electronic music’s cultural legacy was being recognised the world over.

Indeed, GARY NUMAN’s Inspiration Award from Mojo magazine finally acknowledged those trailblazing Synth Britannia years. There were complaints by one well-known blog however about wrinkly electropop but without these pioneers who changed music, where would we be today?

As KRAFTWERK’s Ralf Hütter said: “From all over the world comes inspiration. We have been very lucky, because the music we envisioned, the ideas we had of The Man Machine and electro music, have become reality and technology has developed in our direction…and electro is everywhere”.

Shouldn’t the imperial phase of Synth Britannia and its earlier Germanic influence therefore be celebrated in the way that senior blues musicians have been revered within the world of rock ‘n’ roll?

Missing from the Mute evening’s proceedings as a collective were DEPECHE MODE who gave the world a U2 cover and a second instalment of their remix collection as part of their year’s work.

One rework that provoked enormous debate was Alan Wilder’s improved rework of 2009’s ‘In Chains’ which added speculation as to whether he would be rejoining the band. Certainly, it would induce some much needed creative tension that has mostly been missing from DEPECHE MODE since the start of the noughties.

But one act truly excelling in the darker side of electronic based music was IAMX who continued to conquer Europe while remaining largely ignored in the UK. Martin Gore could seriously learn from Chris Corner about how to make melodic, accessible music that doesn’t compromise artistically and retains a gritty edge. Meanwhile, Gore rekindled a working relationship with Vince Clarke on a techno project under the banner of VCMG.

Monday 21st March was an interesting day as it saw the release of albums by DURAN DURAN, THE HUMAN LEAGUE and JOHN FOXX. As TEC interviewee Mr Normall amusingly recalled in his Facebook status “this is 2011, not 1981”!

At least two of those albums were the best and most immediate bodies of work from those artists for many years. The bar has certainly been raised for acts such as ULTRAVOX and VISAGE who both announced forthcoming new albums.

BLANCMANGE made their welcome return with Neil Arthur’s sense of humour as sharp as ever but sadly, he was unable to be joined for the live shows by his bandmate Stephen Luscombe due to illness. One hopes Stephen is making a good recovery.

MIRRORS showed their promise and delivered the superbly seamless long player ‘Lights & Offerings’. While the band themselves admitted it may have been a touch derivative, it was enjoyed by a small but loyal fanbase who embraced their whole intelligent pop noir aesthetic.

However, just as they were about to make a breakthrough, a second high profile tour supporting OMD in Germany was cancelled along with an appearance at Bestival. Then founder member Ally Young announced he was leaving the group.

The situation has been likened by some observers to when Vince Clarke left DEPECHE MODE. Of course, the end result of that was both parties mutated into highly successful acts and The Electricity Club is hopeful something similar may occur here. Certainly an excellent new darker tune called ‘Dust’ from the remaining trio indicates MIRRORS are not finished yet! The similarly smartly attired HURTS continued their domination of Europe and while not as adored in the UK, they still did the business touring wise with sell-out shows at Somerset House and Brixton Academy with KYLIE MINOGUE making a surprise guest appearance at the latter.

Of the ladies, BETH DITTO went superbly electronic with her debut solo EP while CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN went jazz for the soundtrack of ‘LA Noire’, but not before celebrating the electronic part of her career with a fine retrospective Combined and a fantastic show at The Scala which saw a three quarters reunion of PROPAGANDA plus special guests ANDY BELL and HEAVEN 17.

Another acclaimed German chanteuse BILLE RAY MARTIN returned with her new project THE OPIATES and an album ‘Hollywood Under The Knife’ while LADYTRON released a definitive Best Of ’00-10′ and a new album ‘Gravity The Seducer’. The latter was a glorious, lush masterpiece of aural subtlety which was not universally embraced by their fanbase but is likely to become a cult favourite in the future.

Meanwhile, the spectre of FEVER RAYs Karin Drejer-Andersson lurked, both musically and politically, within several darker female fronted combos such as AUSTRA, THE HORN THE HUNT and GAZELLE TWIN.

The brooding unsettlement of this Hauntronica (or witch house as it was sometimes referred) won favour with several of The Electricity Club’s team while JOHN FOXX named GAZELLE TWIN’s ‘The Entire City’ as his album of the year. However, this fairly uncompromising strain of electro wasn’t for everyone although it was definitely more preferable to dubstep, the trendy new dance form that even the usually club friendly Chris Lowe of PET SHOP BOYS was having trouble embracing!

But Nordic influences weren’t just about tonal gloom and witchery. Greek maidens MARSHEAUX adopted some FEVER RAY styled percussive moods on their only song of the year ‘Can You Stop Me?’ but remained synthpop while American duo NIGHTLIFE borrowed SALLY SHAPIRO’s sweeter template.

Over at The Finland Station, producer JORI HULKKONEN’s PROCESSORY project delivered an 18 track electronic Sci-Fi concept album entitled ‘Change Is Gradual’. TIGER BABY from Denmark returned with the dreamy single ‘Landscapes’ while from Sweden, both THE GIRL & THE ROBOT and EMMON delivered enjoyable new material. There was also the mysteriously kooky IAMAMIWHOAMI but best of all from the region were THE SOUND OF ARROWS with the cinematic crystalline pop of their debut album ‘Voyage’.

At the pure pop end of the spectrum, LADY GAGA plotted her next move into world domination with new album ‘Born This Way’. With religious lyrical imagery were very much in evidence throughout, this was her ‘Like A Prayer’ with a Eurocentric sound being very much the dominant factor in the music. With her ear firmly on the inventive UK music scene, GOLDFRAPP, HURTS and MIRRORS were commissioned to deliver remixes of ‘Judas’.

LITTLE BOOTS returned with a bouncy house number called ‘Shake’ while SUNDAY GIRL had her album delayed again and didn’t appear to know whether she wanted to be a singer or a fashion designer. Her pop thunder has now potentially been stolen by the similar raspy timbres of LANA DEL REY whose pair of remixes by NIKONN became favourites with many electro enthusiasts.

Embracing couture but with her head fully focussed on the music, QUEEN OF HEARTS brought some intelligent sparkle to electropop. With mentions in The Guardian and The Times, her superb EP ‘The Arrival’ realised the potential that was apparent in her earlier girl group days.

Several acts previously introduced by The Electricity Club in 2010 gained prestigious supports slots as a sign of their steady progress. SHH were billed with former BLACK BOX RECORDER vocalist SARAH NIXEY, THE VANITY CLAUSE opened for a solo ANDY BELL performance while Electro Weimar songstress KATJA VON KASSEL did the same at two of ERASURE’s shows in Germany. VILLA NAH were due to play the biggest gig of their career with DURAN DURAN but Simon Le Bon’s illness, which also caused the postponement of the entire UK tour in May, unfortunately put paid to that.

VILE ELECTRODES headlined The Electricity Club’s first live event TEC001 and combined the kitchen sink drama of THE SMITHS and the nonchalance of CLIENT with lashings of analogue synths and fetish rubberwear.

So it could be said that “Synthpop’s Alive” and this was exemplified by Essen based American act MAISON VAGUE who gave the world probably the best wholly independent release of the year.

Clark Stiefel’s wonderful cross of GARY NUMAN and DEVO was the work of a man brought up in the avant-classical world with hands-on experience of vintage Moog and Buchla modulars. Using the concept of “living in a dream since 1983”, despite the vintage influences, it was electronic music as imagined by the eccentricity of Oscar Wilde crossed with the thoughtful demeanour of late classical composer Franz Liszt.

Over the year, American based electronic acts were starting to come to the fore with XENO & OAKLANDER, SOFT METALS, TARA BUSCH, HIGH PLACES and THE MYSTIC UNDERGROUND all gaining notable acclaim.

A question that has to be asked though is whether there is too much synth based music at the moment? Interestingly, THOMAS DOLBY and SARAH NIXEY moved away from the electronic world and released new albums that had a more personal, organic quality. Some observers were complaining about “synthpop by numbers” and “Synth Britannia throwbacks”, but as OMD’s Andy McCluskey once said on that very programme, if there was a magic button for a hit single, he’d have pressed it more times than anyone else.

While improvements in technology have made it much easier for the public at large to make music and interesting noises, not everyone has the ability to write proper songs. Not only that but the iPod/notebook generation have been listening to compressed mp3s on tinny speakers for such a long time now that they have no grasp of dynamics.

This has hampered many new acts who have taken to doing everything themselves and as a result, produced some average pieces of work. There is nothing like a second opinion and creative tension to help a new piece of music along. And it is this willingness to understand the cores of songwriting, production and arrangement that ultimately separates the good from the bad, and ultimately the outstanding from the good.


THE ELECTRICTY CLUB Contributor Listings of 2011

MIKE COOPER

Best album: MUERAN HUMANOS Mueran Humanos
Best Song: VELVET CONDOM Rouge City
Best Gig: KRAFTWERK at Die Alte Kongresshalle, Munich
Best Video: LADYTRON Mirage
Most Promising New Act: MUERAN HUMANOS


STEVE GRAY

Best album: GARY NUMAN Dead Son Rising
Best Song: TENEK What Do You Want?
Best Gig: Back To The Phuture – Tomorrow Is Today at The Troxy, London
Best Video: DURAN DURAN Girl Panic!
Most Promising New Act: QUEEN OF HEARTS


CHI MING LAI

Best album: MIRRORS Lights & Offerings
Best Song: VILE ELECTRODES My Sanctuary
Best Gig: Back To The Phuture -Tomorrow Is Today at The Troxy, London
Best Video: TIGER BABY Landscapes
Most Promising New Act: QUEEN OF HEARTS


NIX LOWREY

Best Album: SANDWELL DISTRICT Feed Forward
Best Song: JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS Summerland
Best Gig: KRAFTWERK at Die Alte Kongresshalle, Munich
Best Video: LADYTRON Mirage
Most Promising New Act: MUERAN HUMANOS


RICHARD PRICE

Best album: MIRRORS Lights & Offerings
Best Song: JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS Shatterproof
Best Gig: HEAVEN17/BEF Weekender at The Roundhouse
Best Video: QUEEN OF HEARTS Shoot The Bullet
Most Promising New Act: QUEEN OF HEARTS


JOHAN WEJEDAL

Best album: AUSTRA Feel It Break
Best song: MIRRORS Into The Heart (Greek Girls Are Not Easy extended remix)
Best gig: AUSTRA at Stockholm Debaser Medis
Best video: EMMON Ghost Dance
Most promising new act: LOUISE (ex-THERMOSTATIC)


Text by Chi Ming Lai
31st December 2010

The Electricity Club’s 30 SONGS OF 2011

So what did The Electricity Club think was hot back in 2011?

It featured a day in March when THE HUMAN LEAGUE, JOHN FOXX and DURAN DURAN all released new albums, while VILE ELECTRODES launched their debut EP. In a year when the synth pioneers were finally recognised for their valuable contribution to popular culture, here is The Electricity Club’s Top 30 songs of 2011 in alphabetical order by artist:


AUSTRA Spellwork

AUSTRA deliver a stark, baroque form of electronica fuelled by sexual tension. Like a gothic opera which successfully blends light and darkness with fragility and power, Katie Stelmanis and friends borrow the tones of classic DEPECHE MODE and cross it with THE KNIFE for this, their most accessibly brilliant synthpop offering from their debut album. The B-side ‘Indentity’ is a worthy listen too.

Available on the CD ‘Feel It Break’ via Domino/Paper Bag Records

http://www.austramusic.com


TARA BUSCH Rocket Wife

A charity single for The Bob Moog Foundation, if you’ve ever wanted to hear that bizarre sonic other worldiness of GOLDFRAPP’s first album Felt Mountain again, it’s right here on ‘Rocket Wife’. With hints of the eerie classic Star Trek theme, this is really does sound like THE CARPENTERS in outer space! Calling occupants of interplanetary craft, across the universe indeed!

Available on the download EP ‘Rocket Wife’ via The Bob Moog Foundation

http://tarabusch.com/


CURXES The Constructor

CURXES are Brighton duo Macaulay Hopwood and Roberta Fidora. Describing themselves as “a decorative set of bones, channelling the ghosts of discothèques past”, their haunting neo-gothique flavour is quite unique as far as Eurocentric electronic pop music is concerned. This is a fine example of a synth friendly SIOUXSIE SIOUX going on a mutant staccato journey via La Nouvelle Vague crossed with DEPECHE MODE.

Available as a download single via iTunes and Amazon

http://www.curxes.com


DAYBEHAVIOR It’s A Game (MARSHEAUX Remix)

With wonderful riffs and an uplifting chorus, this is delicious electronic pop from the cult Swedish trio of Paulinda Crescentini, Tommy Arell and Carl Hammar. Remixed by Athens synth maidens MARSHEAUX, this has the best of both worlds and could easily be mistaken for Sophie and Marianthi. Paulinda’’s Italo Nordic charm gives ‘It’s A Game’ a distinct Mediterranean flavour.

Available on the download EP ‘It’’s A Game’ via Graplur Records

http://www.daybehavior.com


BETH DITTO Do You Need Someone?

BETH DITTO would probably be the Alison Moyet of modern electro if she didn’t prefer the funky punk of her band GOSSIP. ‘Do You Need Someone?’ sees Ms Ditto’s powerful and passionate yearning adding soul to the sparkling electronic dance groove. With production from SIMIAN MOBILE DISCO, KRAFTWERK’s ‘Computer World’ tones towards the song’s coda are a marvellous touch. A future career as an alternative disco diva beckons.

Available on the CD EP ‘Beth Ditto’ via Deconstruction Records/Sony Music

http://www.gossipyouth.com

http://www.simianmobiledisco.co.ukk


THOMAS DOLBY Spice Train

While Dolby’s album return was largely organic with hints of bluegrass and Americana, its token synthpop offering was the wonderful ‘Spice Train’. Over its hypnotic, squelchy sequence and mechanised dance beat, it gets strangely humanised by a Mariachi horn section. With the kitchen sink and a host of exotic influences thrown in via Bollywood and the Middle East, ‘Spice Train’ does exactly what it says on the tin.

Available on the CD ‘A Map Of The Floating City’ via Lost Toy People.

http://www.thomasdolby.com


DURAN DURAN Being Followed

‘All You Need Is Now’ saw DURAN DURAN cyclically return to the funk-led syncopated pop of their first two albums. ‘Being Followed’ is one of its many highlights. A superb sequencer assisted disco number with a tingling metallic edge, touches of THE CURE’s ‘A Forest’ and Nick Rhodes’ vintage string machine capture the tension of post 9/11 paranoia. Simon Le Bon gives it his all and while he is technically one of the most chronic singers of his generation, he is unique AND untouchable… just try doing any DD song at karaoke to find that one out for yourself!!

Available on the CD ‘All You Need Is Now’ via Tape Modern

www.duranduran.com


LANA DEL REY Blue Jeans (NIKONN remix)

NIKONN’s brand new album ‘Instamatic’ is suitably Mediterranean so add that instrumentation to the voice of raspy New Yorker LANA DEL REY and the end result is a glorious sun-kissed dancefloor moment. Somehow, you end up feeling much happier after dancing to, what is essentially in its original form, a quite stark, heartfelt minor key ballad.

Originally issued as a free download but currently unavailable.

http://www.lanadelrey.com

http://www.facebook.com/pages/nikonn/7193878082


SOPHIE ELLIS-BEXTOR Synchronised

From her under rated album ‘Make A Scene’ which includes contributions from Richard X and Armand Van Buuren, the appropriately titled Synchronised is a synthpop tune with a distinct YAZOO flavour to it. All highly appropriate as she supported ERASURE during their forests tour this year. This superbly cements her electro kinship which has been apparent since ‘China Heart’ from her ‘Tripping The Light Fantastic’ in 2007 and more recently on ‘Heartbreak Make Me A Dancer’ with FREEMASONS.

Available on the CD ‘Make A Scene’ via Douglas Valentine Limited

www.sophieellisbextor.net


JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS Watching A Building On Fire

The best track on the ‘Interplay’ album is a co-written duet with Mira Aroyo of LADYTRON. ‘Watching A Building On Fire’, with its chattering drum machine and accessible Trans- European melodies, oozes a synthetic smokiness. Aroyo’s counterpoint is almost playfully feline although Foxx’s inherent dystopianism gives it his stamp, making this a second cousin of ‘Burning Car’. The Andy Gray remix is also a worthy acquisition on the second JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS double CD package ‘The Shape of Things’.

Available on the CD ‘Interplay’ via Metamatic Records

http://blog.johnfoxxandthemaths.com/

www.metamatic.com


GAZELLE TWIN The Eternal

JOY DIVISION’s original on ‘Closer’ was one of the most fragile, funereal collages of beauty ever committed to vinyl but Elizabeth Walling has covered this cult classic and made it even more haunting! Replacing the piano motif with eerily chilling synth and holding it together within an echoing sonic cathedral, she pays due respect while adding her own understated operatic stylings. PAUL YOUNG’s interpretation of ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ this most certainly ain’t… you should hear her version of ‘Louie Louie’!

Available on the download EP ‘I Am Shell I Am Bone’ via Anti-Ghost Moon Ray Records

www.gazelletwin.com


THE HUMAN LEAGUE Never Let Me Go

Susanne Sulley does her best LITTLE BOOTS impression with this opener to ‘Credo’, the long awaited comeback album from THE HUMAN LEAGUE. Sounding like ‘Crash’ gone right, it is also auto-tuned to the hilt as Da League go all contemporary with this marvellous slice of electronic funk. Let’s hope it’s not another ten years before there’s new material!

Available on the CD ‘Credo’ via Wall Of Sound

www.thehumanleague.co.uk


IAMAMIWHOAMI Clump

‘Clump’ could be the sound of the drums on OMD’s ‘History Of Modern Part 1’ but it’s actually this kooky little number by IAMAMIWHOAMI aka Jonna Lee. A synthetically charged amalgam with vintage sounds and even a toy piano thrown in, this is a bit brighter than some her contemporaries if still delightfully odd and mysterious. It’s musically more BJORK than FEVER RAY although she does share the same management company with the latter.

Available on the download single ‘Clump’ via iTunes and Amazon

http://www.facebook.com/pages/iamamiwhoami/270417754335


IAMX Ghosts Of Utopia

IAMX have captured an electro Gothic aesthetic that combines the theatrics of Weimar Cabaret with themes of sex, alienation and dependency in the best tradition of DEPECHE MODE and NINE INCH NAILS. Despite the lyrical and aural fervor, Corner’s songs are strongly melodic with an accessible grandeur. The superb lead single ‘Ghosts Of Utopia’ from new album ‘Volatile Times’ has instant appeal with its exhilarating mechanical drive and electrickery. His scream of “this is psychosis” is wholly believable! Dance in the dark!

Available on the CD ‘Volatile Times’ via Republic of Music/BMG

http://iamxmusic.com/


LADYTRON Mirage

Flautist textures dominate the more sedate pace of ‘Mirage’ almost as a reaction to the loudness war of previous album ‘Velocifero’. Helen Marnie’s voice beautifully suits the synthetic atmospherics while the widescreen, spacious mix compliments a catchy tune that has hints of SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES. Although confusing some of their fans, given room to explore, ‘Gravity The Seducer’ is that under rated album which will be hailed as a classic in years to come.

Available on the CD ‘Gravity The Seducer’ via Nettwerk Productions

http://www.ladytron.com


MAISON VAGUE Synthpop’s Alive

Maison Vague-SynthpopsAlive-cover

Living in a dream since 1983 and as a homage to ‘The Pleasure Principle’, MAISON VAGUE mainman Clark Stiefel responded musically to a YouTube video entitled ‘Synthpop Is Dead’. The opening salvo is brilliant and the lyric of “Everyone’s entitled to opinion, you have yours and well I have mine” hits home. But it’s the retort of “And though it seems that our opinions differ, you’ll agree in time!” that says it all. This could be the sound of PLACEBO gone electro. This post-Synth Britannia battlecry has heart, soul and humour.

Available on the download album ‘Synthpop’s Alive’ via Amazon

http://www.maisonvague.com


MIRRORS Secrets

Closing MIRRORS’ outstanding ‘Lights & Offerings’ long player, ‘Secrets’ shifting phat bass riff across two octaves is pure Kling Klang, driven by an intense percussive march. An epic at over ten minutes in length and split into three movements, the ambient interlude of the second section consists of an aural sculpture that plays with the mind. It then suddenly reprises with a piercing military tattoo for its finale with unsettling voices in your head for some added claustrophobic edge.

Available on the CD ‘Lights & Offerings’ via Skint Entertainment

https://www.facebook.com/theworldofmirrors/


MOBY Be The One

Yes, MOBY has settled into a formula but he does it well. One of the more immediate tracks from the excellent ‘Destroyed’ album, ‘Be The One’ is full of rich layered synth strings with moody chordial sweeps over a motorik beat and textured vocoder. Despite the simplistic robotic couplet “I was the hell that you needed – I was the one when you needed love”, it strangely exudes warmth and emotion.

Available on the CD ‘Destroyed’ via Little Idiot Records

http://www.moby.com


NIGHTLIFE On The Run

From their second EP Radio, Darin Rajabian and Caroline Myrick met at a party in Michigan and soon developed their interest in dreamy danceable synthpop. With Caroline’s soft vocals attached to Darin’s classic electro disco inspired backing, ‘On The Run’ could be described as ELLIE GOULDING gone right and is free of folkisms. Caroline nicely summed up the escapist feel of the song with: “I want back the soft quiet days of ever, when there was lemonade and sand, and rainy screen doors and sad movies; when the minutes were no one else’s but ours”.

Available on the download EP ‘Radio’ via their website

http://nightlifepop.com/


GARY NUMAN The Fall

Anthemic gothic rock is what the former Gary Webb deals in these days but ‘The Fall’ is a lot less heavier and one-dimensional than the offerings on previous album ‘Jagged’. With a fair smattering of synths too, this achieves a much better sonic balance and GARY NUMAN’s most accessible number in years.

Available on the CD ‘Dead Son Rising’ via Mortal Records

www.numan.co.uk


QUEEN OF HEARTS Spanish Sahara

This mysterious young royal with her assorted headgear and couture is modern electropop’s own Queen Amidala. From a galaxy far, far away and light years ahead of the poptastic competition, this moody, pulsing cover of indie rockers THE FOALS is transformed by a hypnotism textured with spacious synths to give our Queenie room for some sexy breathiness.

Available on the download EP ‘The Arrival’

www.iamqueenofhearts.com


SECTION 25 Colour, Movement, Sex & Violence

Best known for their seminal electro classic ‘Looking From A Hilltop’ in 1984, the song’s husband and wife vocalists Larry Cassidy and Jenny Ross have sadly since passed away. So it was highly appropriate that for SECTION 25’s recorded return, fronting the former punks would be Larry and Jenny’s daughter Bethany. She does a fine job with this danceable synth led ditty which captures that classic hedonistic Manchester vibe that recalls THE OTHER TWO’s ‘Tasty Fish’ while also placing itself in contemporary club culture.

Available on the download EP ‘Invicta’ via Fac 51 The Hacienda

www.section25.com


SOFT METALS Eyes Closed

SOFT METALS are a newish electro duo comprising Patricia Hall and Ian Hicks. Now resident in Los Angeles, they have an accessibly minimal sound with Hall’s pretty vocals being a particular delight and reminiscent of DOT ALLISON’s flirtatious aura. ‘Eyes Closed’ is probably the highlight from their very promising debut album, elements of ORBITAL creeping into the danceable bleep fest.

Available on the CD ‘Soft Metals’ via Captured Tracks

www.facebook.com/softmetals


THE SOUND OF ARROWS Longest Ever Dream

Stefan Storm and Oskar Gullstrand hail from Gavle in Sweden. Both filmic and musical elements are important factors in THE SOUND OF ARROWS. Produced by Richard X and featuring a sweet guest vocal from ACTION BIKER aka Sarah Nyberg Pergament, the choral patches and the symphonic templates are just so reminiscent of OMD. Coupled to some fantastically optimistic ambition, Longest Ever Dream is a panoramic joy!

Available on the CD ‘Voyage’ via Skies Above

www.thesoundofarrows.com


TENEK What Do You Want?

Featuring violin by Chris Payne from The GARY NUMAN Experience, ‘What Do You Want?’ is the first TENEK track that could be described as possessing a degree of beauty. The Brtish duo’s more rousing anthemic style takes a breather here and although this has more in common with their other ballad track ‘The Art Of Evasion’, the subtlety and strings add a new sonic dimension to the developing TENEK sound.

Available on the CD ‘EP2’ via Toffeetones Records

www.tenek.info


TIGER BABY Landscapes

TIGER BABY are a Copehagen trio led by Pernille Pang with Benjamin Teglbjærg and Nikolaj Tarp Gregersen in synthetic support. They released their debut album ‘Noise Around Me’ in 2007. Stylistically, this has all the unmistakeable melodic sensibility that Scandinavian pop acts seem to naturally possess as pretty arpeggios and wispy vocals combine for some dream laden electro.

Available on the CD ‘Open Windows Open Hills’ via Gunhero records

http://www.tigerbaby.dk


VILE ELECTRODES My Sanctuary

VILE ELECTRODES are a colourful beat combo who combine analogue synths with fetish fashion. Their sound could be described as THE SMITHS reincarnated as CLIENT but ‘My Sanctuary’, the closing track on their debut EP is a sweeping moody epic that recalls imperial phase ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVRES IN THE DARK. Anais resigned melancholic vocal gives that ice maiden demeanour over glorious symphonic synth strings and deep sombre tones. It’s magnificence embroiled.

Available on the CD EP ‘Vile Electrodes’

www.facebook/vileelectrodes


WHITE LIES Strangers

They’re the 21st Century equivalent of THE TEARDOP EXPLODES but with no brass. WHITE LIES however are much more bombastic with synths carrying melodies and assorted effects. Driven by a sweeping theme and deep bass thud before leading to a sense of urgency in the verse, a thoroughly anthemic chorus doesn’t appear until halfway to increase tension. This is possibly what TX could have sounded like if Julian Cope hadn’t gone to live under a tortoise shell!

Available on the CD ‘Ritual’ via Fiction/Polydor Records

www.whitelies.com


XENO & OAKLANDER The Staircase

Chugging arpeggios, clattering primitive drum machines and slightly unorthodox vocals, minimal duo XENO & OAKLANDER give a brilliantly vibrant offering of vintage futurism. ‘The Staircase’ is their most immediate offering yet. Based in Brooklyn, part of their authentic Europeanism comes from Liz Wendelbo’s wispy French / Norwegian charm. Writing with partner Sean McBride since 2004, they successfully supported JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS in October where they were warmly received for their stark electronic sound.

Available on the CD ‘Sets & Lights’ via Wierd Records

http://xenoandoaklander.com/


ZEBRA & SNAKE Empty Love Song

Those dark Nordic nights certainly have their effect as this cynical tune from this Finnish duo indicates. Comprising helpfully of two friends Tapio and Matti, ZEBRA & SNAKE fuse vintage electronics with a touch of ambient dexterity as an “artistic form of therapy”. ‘Empty Love Song’ is suitably bittersweet and sounds a bit like MGMT’s ‘Time To Pretend’ after six months in deep freeze! However, despite its lyrical stance, it possesses a grand anthemic quality.

Available as a free download from http://soundcloud.com/freeman-pr/zebra-snake-empty-love-song

www.zebraandsnake.com


Text by Chi Ming Lai
21st December 2011, updated 14th March 2017

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