TEC Gold: LIVE REPORTS ARCHIVE

jean-michel-jarre-o2-03Since March 2010, The Electricity Club has built up a big portfolio of live reports featuring gigs by evergreens such as JEAN-MICHEL JARRE, OMD and HEAVEN 17 to modern day exponents of electronic music like EAST INDIA YOUTH, NIGHT CLUB, VILE ELECTRODES and TENEK.

Events both home and abroad such as The Electronic Phuture Revue and the ELECTRI_CITY CONFERENCE have also been reviewed. All of TEC’s live reports have been archived in an easy-to-use page set in reverse chronological order. More inside ›

A Beginner’s Guide To DEPECHE MODE In The 21st Century

Nearly 30 years since the Concert For The Masses at Pasadena Rose Bowl, DEPECHE MODE continue to fill stadia throughout the world.

However, their recorded output in the 21st Century and their attitude towards their live presentation leaves a lot to be desired.

But despite The Electricity Club’s criticism of DEPECHE MODE as a live band with the excesses of The Drumhead and The Noodler, they are still capable of occasional brilliance as an artistic force. And it is that intermittent quality which is the most frustrating aspect of DEPECHE MODE in the 21st Century.

But this article is not about the absence of Alan Wilder or the much-debated choice of producers, it’s about when the DEPECHE MODE brand has got it right, whether with the full involvement of the band’s members or not.

So which are those moments that veer closest to the glory of albums such as ‘Black Celebration’, ‘Music For The Masses’ and ‘Violator’ that see Messrs Fletcher, Gahan and Gore properly exploring the electronic sound with which they made their fortune? Tellingly, many of the best DM moments in this new millennium are remixes, instrumentals, bonus tracks or songs sung by Martin Gore.

It must be pointed out that this listing is NOT intended for Devotees but aimed those former fans of DEPECHE MODE who disillusioned by Dave Gahan’s drug fuelled stage diving antics, bowed out after ‘Songs Of Faith & Devotion’ or those hanging on for the possibility a good record using synthesizers rather than a collection of pastiche electro-blues.

So here are the 18 tracks which act as The Electricity Club’s own Beginner’s Guide To DEPECHE MODE in the 21st Century.


Dream On – Dave Clarke Acoustic Version (2001)

‘Dream On’ was a messy trailer to the inappropriately named ‘Exciter’ album, but with Dave Clarke slowing down the song’s acoustic guitar line, the makeover brought the track closer to its full musical potential. Anything BUT acoustic thanks to the addition of electronic drum patterns and icy string synths, there was the bonus of the track being made instrumental and free of the dreary lead vocal on the original.

Available on the 2CD album ‘Remixes 81 – 04’ via Sony Music


I Feel Loved (2001)

Inspired by Giorgio Moroder, the pacey and club friendly ‘I Feel Loved’ stood out like a sore thumb on ‘Exciter’, being the album’s only truly uptempo number. With its synthy sirens and tightly sequenced bassline, treated enhancement was provided by Airto Moreira, a veteran jazz drummer from Brazil who appeared to have a good grasp as to the best way to provide percussive colour to a danceable electronic recording.

Available on the album ‘Exciter’ via Sony Music


Easy Tiger – Full Version (2001)

Martin Gore’s interest in leftfield electronica and thus the employment of the late Mark Bell from LFO as producer on ‘Exciter’ only truly manifested itself in the full-length version of ‘Easy Tiger’ which appeared on the B-side of the ‘Dream On’ single. A beautifully progressive track with many intelligent layers and hypnotic percussive counterpoints, a truncated version of ‘Easy Tiger’ ended up on the album, but was so short that it was rendered virtually pointless when cut off at two minutes.

Available on the 6CD single boxed set ‘6’ via Mute Records


Zenstation (2001)

A dreamy neo-instrumental with a few Martin Gore vocal ab-libs, ‘Zenstation’ emerged as the B-side of ‘Freelove’. Using exotic koto samples and assorted detuned synth sounds, the under rated track was strong on melody and inventive in its percussive interplay. Recalling an earlier mood piece ‘Christmas Island’ but utilising a more meditative environment, its Far Eastern overtones provided a wonderful textural diversion within the DEPECHE MODE canon.

Available on the CD single ‘Freelove’ via Mute Records


A Pain That I’m Used To – MARSHEAUX remix (2005)

Already a magnificent brooding epic in its original form, ‘A Pain That I’m Used To’ was brilliantly transformed by MARSHEAUX, adding their own sparkling top end dynamic. While this is one of DEPECHE MODE’s better offerings in recent years, it seems outsiders have a better grasp of classic DM than the band themselves. Although never officially released, this was voted top remix in a poll of Devotees and far superior to the dreadful Jacques Lu Cont remix that the band insist on doing live!

Remix not officially available


Suffer Well (2005)

The ‘Playing The Angel’ album was a return to form, thanks largely to its “pain and suffering in various tempos” but also following his lacklustre solo debut ‘Paper Monsters’, the rise of Dave Gahan’s abilities as a songwriter, as proven by the embittered thrust of ‘Suffer Well’. It was a fine if slightly overdriven fusion of rock and electronic elements that came over brilliantly in a live setting.

Available on the album ‘Playing The Angel’ via Sony Music


Martyr – Paul van Dyk Radio Mix (2006)

It could be said that the worst judges of DEPECHE MODE’s music are DEPECHE MODE themselves… originally titled ‘Martyr For Love’, this rousing number came from the ‘Playing The Angel’ sessions, but was apparently rejected from the album for being too poppy! Released as the launch single to a ‘Best Of’ compilation, the most enjoyable version of the song came via a remix from top Trance DJ Paul Van Dyk who exploited the tune’s accessibility to the full with a nicely polished club friendly sound.

Available as an iTunes download single via Mute Records


Wrong – Trentemøller Club Remix (2009)

Anders Trentemøller’s superb Club Remix of ‘Wrong’ well and truly outstripped the rather ploddy original. His astute understanding of synthesizers and conventional instruments has made him an acclaimed producer in-demand with both electronic acts and indie bands such as SAVAGES. But despite sitting under the noses of Messrs Gahan, Gore and Fletcher, the Dane has unbelievably never received that call.

Available on the album ‘Remixes 2: 81-11’ via Sony Music


Spacewalker (2009)

Martin Gore writes great instrumentals, but unlike the days of yore when he would explore his synths and build atmospheres like ‘Oberkorn’ and ‘Nothing To Fear’, they are kept as short as possible, almost in fear of boring the more rock inclined audiences where subtle textures are a bit of an anathema. ‘Spacewalker’ was wonderfully light and tuneful relief on the rather dire ‘Sounds Of The Universe’.

Available on the album ‘Sounds Of The Universe’ via Sony Music


Jezebel (2009)

Martin Gore’s voice is undoubtedly more suited to ballads and in an album of C-sides, a song that perhaps would have only been a B-side a few years earlier was the highlight of ‘Sounds Of the Universe’. With lyrics such as “Whenever we walk in – You’re going straight to hell for wanton acts of sin”, ‘Jezebel’ was a stand-out song and able to keep the some of the more deviantly inclined Devotees happy.

Available on the album ‘Sounds Of The Universe’ via Sony Music


Oh Well (2009)

‘Oh Well’ is one the best DEPECHE MODE recordings of the 21st Century, but it never made the final tracklisting of ‘Sound Of The Universe’ which proves the band aren’t necessarily the best judges of their own music. The first Gore / Gahan song collaboration, although their parts were written separately, it showed that DEPECHE MODE could still sound exciting when some creative tension was thrown in. Like Giorgio Moroder meeting DAF, it was cruelly used as a video teaser to fool fans into thinking ‘Sounds Of The Universe’ would be a full-blown synth work.

Available on the 4CD deluxe boxed set ‘Sounds Of The Universe’ via Mute Records


The Sun & The Moon & The Stars – Electronic Periodic’s Microdrum Mix (2009)

‘The Sun & The Moon & The Stars’ was a Martin Gore vocalled outtake from the ‘Sounds Of The Universe’ sessions and while it was included on the deluxe 4CD boxed set alongside ‘Oh Well’, the guitar driven ditty was much less convincing. The more overtly electronic Microdrum Mix with its scratchy rhythm passage and robotised harmonies was far superior, as an example of yet another more fully realised recording courtesy of an external remixer.

Available on the iTunes Pass download album ‘Sounds Of The Universe’ via Mute Records


Soothe My Soul (2013)

An obvious cousin of the bluesy ‘Personal Jesus’ but quickly disowned and dropped from the ‘Delta Machine’ tour, ‘Soothe My Soul’ was one of the few crowd pleasers in a live set that had far too many lulls. But with Gahan’s rockist tendencies and insistence on live drums from Christian Eigner, why don’t DEPECHE MODE be brave and go the full blues combo hog, put Peter Gordeno on bass guitar and drop the electronics, as well as the old hits? Is that possibly because no-one would bother to see them?

Available on the album ‘Delta Machine’ via Columbia Records


Broken (2013)

A song that Dave Gahan said to Mojo Magazine was “uptempo” but in reality, was more like ‘A Question Of Time’ with assistance provided by a mobility scooter, ‘Broken’ was nevertheless, one of the better and more electronic offerings on the blues dominated ‘Delta Machine’. But the end result sees Gore desperately trying to work guitar into a track where it’s not needed, almost as a statement to say that DEPECHE MODE are NO LONGER an electronic band!

Available on the album ‘Delta Machine’ via Columbia Records


All That’s Mine (2013)

In a pattern similar to ‘Oh Well’, the best song from the ‘Delta Machine’ sessions was left out of the main act. ‘All That’s Mine’ featured a tightly sequenced backbone, electronically derived rhythms and a gloomy austere… in fact, they were all the perfect ingredients for a classic DM tune! But it was no doubt rejected because Dave Gahan can’t do a Mick Jagger impression to it and would have been changed beyond recognition if performed with live drums.

Available on the 2CD deluxe album ‘Delta Machine’ via Columbia Records


Should Be Higher – In My Eyes Remix (2013)

Using sounds sampled off ‘World In My Eyes’, this 4/4 bootleg remix by DOMINATRIX was far superior to the original, offering many of the synthesized textures and electronic percussive templates that made DEPECHE MODE great. In its original form, the song was good but suffered from a lacklustre production and ploddy arrangement, perhaps in an attempt to project a more authentic bluesman demeanour. It’s almost as if DEPECHE MODE are scared to be considered an electronic band these days.

Remix not officially available


Cover Me – Alt Out (2017)

The vocal-less second half of ‘Cover Me’ was brilliant, a gorgeous cacophony of arpeggios and layers of sweeping synths reminiscent of the ‘Violator’ era. But when the ‘Alt Out’ mix was issued as a bonus on the ‘Spirit’ album’s deluxe edition, it was as if someone within the band’s circle understood Gahan’s SOULSAVERS warbling was likely to polarise and that an instrumental version would be appreciated by the masses… it was!

Available on the 2CD deluxe album ‘Spirit’ via Columbia Records


Fail (2017)

Despite being the main songwriter, things do not look good when the best vocal song on a DEPECHE MODE album is one sung by Martin Gore. And after ‘Jezebel’ on ‘Sounds Of the Universe’, it was the turn of the sombre but enticing ‘Fail’ on ‘Spirit’. Gore seems to have an understanding of what is appealing about DEPECHE MODE, but appears too frightened to assert that ethos on the grunge victim that is Gahan. But their dependency on each other to ensure the continued capital value of the brand means that much of the music made now seems strangely muted.

Available on the album ‘Spirit’ via Columbia Records


DEPECHE MODE play London Stadium on Saturday 3rd June 2017

http://www.depechemode.com/

https://www.facebook.com/depechemode/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Anton Corbijn
19th April 2017

BLACK NAIL CABARET Interview

Hungarian born BLACK NAIL CABARET have gathered a wide audience inside and outside their homeland.

Now a fully established darker synth act, Emese Illes-Arvai who partnered with Sophie Tarr in 2008, debuted with a surprising version of Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella’ to kick off their musical journey.

Their sound took electronica listeners by storm, mainly due to the eloquent use of hardware and interesting melodies, making BLACK NAIL CABARET very distinguished.

Tarr left at the beginning of 2016, but Illes-Arvai continued writing to release the third opus, ‘Dichromat’ before Christmas, this time joined by Krisztian Arvai on keyboards and production.

The Electricity Club is chatting to BLACK NAIL CABARET about their past, present and future with the news that they will be performing at London’s Electrowerkz on SATURDAY 6TH MAY 2017 as part of Synth Club.

Your first proper outing was with Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella’. An interesting song to be covered by a synth band?

Emese: I loved the chorus of the song and I was craving to do my own interpretation of it, to give it an 80’s synthpop feel. I was also testing my ability to put together a song from start to finish as that was one of my very first creations. It was a lot of fun.

‘Emerald City’ was your first album. With tracks like ‘Hangman’ and ‘Veronica’, you certainly made few heads turn. Did you expect that reaction?

Emese: Not really, we were simply hoping for the best. Those were also experiments with sound, trying to find our way and niche and I wasn’t even sure whether the album will be coherent at all. Emerald City was a good lesson, but to be fair, all albums are lessons to some extent.

Krisztian: Those were the first two songs I heard and those made my head turn too, this is when I came into the picture as a producer.

‘Satisfaction’ on your follow-up opus ‘Harry Me Marry Me Bury Me Bite Me’ showcased a big sonic leap into darker spheres?

Emese: Definitely, which is due to Krisztian joining the songwriting process for Harry Me. We were listening to a wide range of stuff at that time, getting inspiration from new sources, which I believe comes across quite nicely.

Krisztian: This was the first song with which I wanted to showcase the direction I thought BNC should move toward, without losing the general BNC mood. In other words, to push the borders.

Not many newish acts get to support CAMOUFLAGE or COVENANT, how did that come about?

Emese: We were at the right place in the right time I guess. We were lucky to support CAMOUFLAGE and COVENANT in Hungary thanks to a few enthusiastic and hands-on organisers who saw us performing before and thought we were a good match. The guys from Camouflage liked our show and invited us to their upcoming German tour to support them along with SOLAR FAKE. We had an amazing time!

Releasing the ‘Steril’ EP in your native Hungarian was a brave step too?

Emese: I’ve always played with the thought of writing a Hungarian song or songs, but I found that I sound way too pompous when singing in Hungarian. It requires a different kind of phrasing and it is easy to sound ridiculous.

Since we have a great fan base in Hungary, but also loyal followers from many other countries, the time felt right for at least an EP on our mother tongue.

I think I also matured enough to produce Hungarian songs without sounding awkward, at least for myself.

Krisztian: I was intrigued by the task as I always wondered what BNC would sound like on our mother tongue.

Your live performances are accompanied by artistic, sometimes erotic visuals and interesting costumes, it all adds to the mystery…

Emese: …and it helps me to transform into someone or something that is different from my normal self. It’s hard to name it and it is constantly changing from concert to concert.

Krisztian: I wear black.

Emese, how was your collaboration with the master of production that is Daniel Myer?

Emese: It was great fun, I got to do what I like to do the most: writing words and coming up with ideas for speech and/or vocals and playing with the structure. It was a truly inspiring process. Daniel then turned the songs inside out and I was amazed to hear the final versions which in many cases had nothing to do with the demo I worked with. There’s a mystic vibe when performing these pieces live.

Your love of DEPECHE MODE shines through not only your music, but also your ‘Violator’ tattoo…

Emese: Haha, nice observation! We have lots of things to thank DEPECHE MODE for; friendships, music, our relationship and the list goes on. It is no secret that we’re coming from the synthpop/darkwave/goth subculture. However, there are many other great artists who have constant influence on our music.

Krisztian: Depeche mode and synthetisers came into my life at the same time, and all of their albums taught me a new trick, which confirmed that there are boundaries or rules that can be breached

Krisztian had been involved with BNC prior to Sophie’s departure and now he’s a full time member. Why did Sophie leave such a successful project?

Emese: She felt that she could not be part of a dark synthpop kind of project any longer, and that her role had lost authenticity so to say. She has been into completely different kind of music for some time now – more guitar-oriented, experimental stuff.

I respect her for that, for standing up for herself in that way. I think this is probably the best for the both of us, as now I can play with my weird dark characters on stage freely. It is also no secret that she is going to be a mommy soon.

Has moving to London opened any new doors for the band?

Emese: Well, we got to know amazing people and artists here in the UK. It’s a new wave of inspiration, also in the multicultural sense. I don’t think we’d ever be played on a British internet radio show if we were still living in Hungary.

Krisztian: It is also worth mentioning that it became easier to develop our technical background and gear, which is essential with such band activity. This has been a huge help for live shows as well as for studio work. Nevertheless, we get less bookings in Europe as it is hard to travel with the full stage setup.

‘Dichromat’ views matters in a colourless, simplified manner…

Emese: I love the mechanical sounding of the word. The songs are dichromatic imprints of reality – I tend to say.

All that I perceive from reality comes through my own filter, and goes into the music and lyrics.

It always lacks a colour from the whole picture, because it is my own experience, which I put down in words and melodies. The listeners will add the extra colour; their own interpretation.

Your use of analogue shines throughout the latest production, and that, coupled with Emese’s vintage vocal, adds to a synth success story!

Emese: Thank you very much! It comes across quite clearly that we have more hardware now than before, and we use them as much as possible.

Krisztian: It is important to improve and learn from others. You can get away with only using software synths but in the end you will find that the raw sound of analog synths makes the production work much easier and enjoyable.

‘Minor Panics’ proved to be the most popular song from the opus, did you think that’d be the case?

Emese: To be honest, no. We both had our own favourites from the album, but for me it wasn’t Minor Panics. It’s an honest, sentimental song, it might be a little awkward to admit that I got emotional during the chorus so I had to stop recording for like 20 minutes because my voice became too shaky. Not sure if that contributed to its success.

Krisztian: We didn’t pay much attention to write a particularly popular song to the album, we only felt that it’s going to be a strong material altogether.

‘We Like To Suffer’ is accompanied by a monochromatic video with a masochistic existence in mind; nothing ever ends well in the works of BNC?

Emese: I try very hard here to come up with an objection, but I can’t. No, seems like nothing ends nicely. The bare fact that all the inspiration comes from frustration explains how BNC is functioning. I find it hard to write songs about happiness as I rather just enjoy it when it occurs. Frustration on the other hand wants to be written out, this is how I deal with it.

You play at Synth Club in London in May. What have you planned for that?

Emese: This is going to be our belated UK ‘Dichromat’ launch gig, so we plan to play as many new songs as possible!

Are you planning to gig ‘Dichromat’ outside the UK and your native Hungary?

Emese: We already did an album launch in Budapest, and we have a few shows booked in Prague, Leipzig (Wave Gotik Treffen) and some further gigs in Hungary and Switzerland (Eine Nacht im Bergwerk Festival) in the second half of the year. We are always on the lookout for new cities and dates, so promoters are welcome to get in touch!


The Electricity Club gives its grateful thanks to BLACK NAIL CABARET

‘Dichromat’ is available from https://basicunitproductions.bandcamp.com/album/dichromat in CD or download formats

BLACK NAIL CABARET perform at London Electrowerkz on SATURDAY 6TH MAY 2017 as part of Synth Club which will also feature VILE ELECTRODES, KNIGHT$ and FRIXION – tickets available now from http://www.wegottickets.com/event/393488

http://www.blacknailcabaret.com/

https://www.facebook.com/bncband/


Text and Interview by Monika Izabela Trigwell
Promo photos by Raphael Preston
Live photos by infinitebeat.hu and Richard Price
1st April 2017

DEPECHE MODE Live at Glasgow Barrowlands

It can’t be easy being DEPECHE MODE, the sheer weight of expectation for everything they do from their devoted fan base must sit heavy at times, a fact evidenced by the diminishing returns on recent albums, the latest ‘Spirit’ included.

There is no denying however that they are still a huge live draw even if, like the aforementioned recorded output, recent tours have seemed like an exercise in going through the motions. As someone that remembers them as fresh faced poppets wielding synths without a drummer in sight at venues smaller than the average arena green room, it was with some fascination I approached the BBC 6 Music headline show at the legendary Glasgow Barrowlands.

How would they fair away from the huge stages of European Olympic stadia and under the eye of a watchful BBC TV camera crew? The answer is, unsurprisingly, good and at times bad…

The Barras and the Glasgow audience has a fearsome reputation and rightly so… if they like you, you will be carried along triumphant to the encore and beyond… hate you and, well let’s say many a band have found out that it isn’t beer in those thrown pint glasses…

The scramble for tickets for this show and the fallout surrounding touting/reseller sites has left a bitter taste in the mouth of many a fan but the lucky 1200 or so that attended the Sunday night show, from across Europe and beyond, settled into the East End venue under a palpable blanket of expectation.

The BBC missed a trick by not pairing Depeche with an actual band as warm up James Lavelle’s DJ set was little more than background music to the inevitable meetings and greetings between fans. Come just after 9pm however and DJ Lauren Laverne came on stage to awkwardly introduce the headliner.

Keeping with tradition the set opened with the opener from the latest album, in this case ‘Going Backwards’ from ‘Spirit’. I’ll admit I haven’t enjoyed a DM album since ‘Songs of Faith & Devotion’, I find the way the band has developed to run counter to what made them great in the first place (and no, I’m not going to mention a certain Mr Wilder…) – however, this track sounded much punchier than the version on ‘Spirit’.

Another new song, ‘So Much Love’, comes across better live as did the surprise inclusion of ‘Corrupt’ from ‘Sounds Of The Universe’. But it was from here that things started to go a little awry and the fault can be laid squarely at the door of Mr Eigner and his bish-bash-bosh style of drumming.

As someone said, he plays like he hates his chosen instrument with little finesse and at times apparent rhythmic skills. His timing seemed off during the next couple of numbers, especially so on the intro to ‘World in My Eyes’. His fills and cymbal rolls added little to ‘Cover Me’, a track crying out for a real big production à la Midge Ure’s ‘Dark Dark Night’.

I have to question the need, in a shortened set like this, to allow Martin Gore his solo slot but it was given to allow a performance of ‘Home’. The latest single ‘Where’s The Revolution’ remains a plod, one thankfully without an anticipated mass audience train dance while ‘Barrel Of A Gun’ did little to lift the tempo.

‘Walking In My Shoes’ was messy, but thankfully an energetic ‘Personal Jesus’ lifted the set back on track, in time for it to finish. Calls for an encore were answered with a spirited ‘Enjoy The Silence’, the crowd, who in reality gave more energy to the band than they received from the stage, taking the lead on the choruses. And with that it was over, a short set but one that encapsulates everything that is right and wrong about DEPECHE MODE 2017.

The band, I am sure, won’t be particularly bothered about my opinion, as they embark on what will no doubt be another highly lucrative world tour. This showing however demonstrates that as a band, they don’t really work as well on the huge stages of football stadiums and indoor arenas as they do in the more intimate environs of venues like the Barras.

An enjoyable evening but one I fear, as we all get older, we won’t see the likes of again. Still a valid live act? Yes, of course but one better experienced up close and personal and not 1000 yards away outdoors.

Although even this near, nobody can tell what Fletch does…


Special thanks to Kevin May for the use of his photos, please visit http://halotheviolatorbook.com/ for information on his forthcoming book ‘Halo’ which will be out during the European leg of DEPECHE MODE’s upcoming ‘Global Spirit’ tour – they play London Stadium on Saturday 3rd June 2017

‘Spirit’ is released by Columbia Records in CD, deluxe 2CD, double vinyl LP and digital formats

http://www.depechemode.com/

https://www.facebook.com/depechemode/

https://twitter.com/depechemode


Text by Ian Ferguson
Photos by Kevin May
27th March 2017

iEUROPEAN Into The Unknown

The claim that DEPECHE MODE are the flag bearers for electro-blues becomes somewhat redundant with ‘Into The Unknown’, the debut album from iEUROPEAN.

Originally the solo project of Dublin musician Seán Barron, a one-time member of EMPIRE STATE HUMAN, the idea had initially been to feature guest singers or contributors on each track.

The first track to be unleashed in late 2014 was the wonderful ‘Activity of Sound’ featuring Wolfgang Flür, formally of KRAFTWERK.

But it was when Ruth Lalor was asked to contribute vocals for one of Barron’s tunes that iEUROPEAN morphed into becoming an electronic duo with a unique twist. Coupled to Barron’s Mittel Europa synths are Lalor’s soulful, bluesy vocals, schooled under the influence of Billie Holliday and Lena Horne. Thus this long player really is a musical journey ‘Into The Unknown’.

Layered with classic synth strings, Lalor makes a grand entrance on ‘Sweet Paranoia’ augmented by Barron’s bass sequences before a faithfully devoted drum loop kicks in. A worthy variation on the theme of DEPECHE MODE’s ‘In Your Room’? You bet!

A solo Ruth Lalor composition ‘Falling’ sees the lady sing the blues over an enticingly minimal but technological framework including some digital guitar in the latter stages; incidentally, the track is co-arranged by Robert Arkins who also played aspiring band manager Jimmy Rabbitte in ‘The Commitments’ movie. Meanwhile ‘Fire Out’ ups the pace for a brooding slice of stark electronic pop that bubbles into something very hot!

‘Don’t Lose Control’ sees the rhythm construction harden as Lalor’s voice is laid bare, with a particularly raw edge to the larynx in the chorus.

While the vocal is coloured in shades of blues, the backing turns distinctly European grey in the final minute and a half as it unexpectedly journeys east towards Der Rhein.

‘I Will Follow’ is not a cover of the U2 song but follows the template of the moodier numbers that CAMOUFLAGE do so well, although Lalor’s presence offsets the chill. Meanwhile, some eerie electric ivories and detuned sonar shape the solemn ‘Requiem’ as steadfast marching drums and percolating arpeggios punctuate the lonely atmosphere.

Another song written by Ruth Lalor, ‘Sweet Dreams’ appears it might have been of a more traditional conception, but Barron’s synth interventions take it into another world, territory that perhaps YAZOO might have entered had they got to their fifth album. The filmic drama of ‘Bring On The Rain’ is perhaps the most trip-hop derived number of the album, with the muted trumpet and cimbalom textures usually associated with the genre.

‘We Are Brothers’ starts as the being most conventional sounding song on the album with elements of THE CURE before it gets more obscure, with some twisty turns in its chordial structure. Written by Barron with his former EMPIRE STATE HUMAN bandmate Aidan Casserly and Alan Arkins, Barron takes a turn at a duet with Lalor, while Clive Pierce from HARD CORPS joins in on the middle eight.

After all the digital six string on ‘Into The Unknown’, real guitar makes an appearance on ‘World Of Fantasy’ courtesy of Mark Joseph Healy, the sweeping synths and organic counter-melodies adding an almost folk laden resonance for a fitting closer. A hidden track sees Lalor’s vocals totally isolated for a spirited acapella of ‘Sweet Paranoia’; it is nothing short of mesmerising…

Overall, ‘Into the Unknown’ is a fine showcase of an Emerald Isle blues voice alongside authentic Eurocentric electronics. It’s quite a contrast, but the end result is rather wonderful.

‘Into The Unknown’ uses the following hardware and virtual instrumentation: Ekosynth, Roland TB303, Yamaha CS1X, Korg PolySix, Roland JX305, Roland Jupiter-8, Korg DW-8000, Korg DV-800, Arturia Minimoog, Steinberg Hypersonic, Steinberg Virtual Guitarist, ARP 2600V, Native Instruments Absynth 5, Native Instruments Battery, Stereophonics Stylus rmx, Stereophonics Omnisphere 2, Edirol Orchestral, Edirol Super Quartet, Waves Element Stereo, Broomstick Bass, Fabfilter Twin2, Jupiter 8V2, PRO-52, PRO-53, RealStrat, Rob Papen – Real Guitar, Rob Papen – Blue, Rob Pagen – SubBoomBass, LinPlug Albino 2, Arturia Analog Factory, Surge, Cakewalk Z3TA+2, Poly-ANA


‘Into the Unknown’ is released on CD by The People’s Electric on 21st April 2017, pre-order now from http://www.thepeopleselectric.com/shop/products/bfa2cc74-81b7-4905-a7ed-88c4afc25596

https://www.facebook.com/iEuropean-149564838461817/

http://thepeopleselectric.com/ieuropean


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Ruth Maria Murphy
13th March 2017