Tag: Destin Fragile

The Electricity Club’s 30 SONGS OF 2015

Loudness Contour Modifiers

In a far more productive year than 2014, many electronic music veterans returned to the fold in 2015 with their first new albums for many years.

There were plenty of releases from independent acts too, with Nordic Europe being a particularly strong territory once again. 45 quality songs made the shortlist and were eventually whittled down to 30.

So mention must be made of ALICE IN VIDEOLAND, ANALOG ANGEL, BEBORN BETON, BECKY BECKY, CAMOUFLAGE, CLUB 8, ELECTROGENIC, EURASIANEYES, MACHINISTA, ME THE TIGER, HANNAH PEEL and SIN COS TAN who all released recordings in 2015 that would have easily made the listing in less competitive years such as 2012 and 2014. Even DURAN DURAN’s disappointing ‘Paper Gods’ yielded one decent track in ‘Face For Today’, but one swallow doesn’t make a summer.

So the decision has been made; with a restriction of one song per artist moniker, this alphabetical list comprises tracks released in physical formats, or digitally as purchasable or free downloads during the calendar year. Here are The Electricity Club’s 30 SONGS OF 2015…


A-HA She’s Humming A Tune

A-HA Cast In SteelHaving played what appeared to be their farewell concert at the Oslo Spektrum in December 2010, A-HA reunited in a relaxed manner that recalled their days as a fledgling band. On ‘She’s Humming A Tune’, there were hints of 1986’s ‘Scoundrel Days’ in a lower key with sweeping synths, bottle neck six string and live drums moulding the chilling soundscape with that exquisite Nordic allure. ‘Cast In Steel’ was the antithesis of the misguided EDM blow-out that DURAN DURAN attempted on ‘Paper Gods’

Available on the album ‘Cast In Steel’ via Universal Music

http://a-ha.com/


BLACK NAIL CABARET Satisfaction

blacknailcabaret_harry_meFeeling gloomy? Then take heed of the advice from BLACK NAIL CABARET and “Don’t be sad! Don’t be whiney!” – this brooding slice of Gothtronica was the lead single from the Hungarian duo’s second album ‘Harry Me, Marry Me, Bury Me’. Laden with a delicious synth bassline like DEPECHE MODE reimagined for a Weimar Cabaret set piece and topped with eerie string machine, ‘Satisfaction’ was the duo’s best individual offering to date. The pair also made a worthy impression opening for CAMOUFLAGE.

Available on the album ‘Harry Me, Marry Me, Bury Me’ via Basic Unit Productions

http://www.blacknailcabaret.net/


BLANCMANGE Useless

BLANCMANGE UselessFrom Neil Arthur’s first BLANCMANGE album without long time bandmate Stephen Luscombe, ‘Useless’ was a brilliant hybrid of BRIAN ENO circa ‘Here Come The Warm Jets’ with LCD SOUNDSYSTEM. “It’s about anyone who thinks they might be useless” said Arthur, “This song is about that whole idea that we’re all flawed and you’re ‘useless as you are’… there are just times when you think ‘f*cking hell, I couldn’t organise a p*ss up in a brewery’ or that whole thing about confidence”.

Available on the album ‘Semi Detached’ via Cherry Red Records

https://www.blancmange.co.uk


CAMOUFLAGE Count On Me

Although launch single ‘Shine’ indicated it was business as usual, as hinted at with the title, CAMOUFLAGE’s long awaited long player ‘Greyscale’ was their most mature artistic statement yet. The mellow and warm ‘Count On Me’ saw Marcus Meyn duet with Peter Heppner of WOLFSHEIM fame. The lush blend of vocals and atmospherics showcased two of Germany’s most highly regarded electronic acts at their best.

Available on the album ‘Greyscale’ via Bureau B

http://www.camouflage-music.com/


CHVRCHES Clearest Blue

chvrches-every-open-eyeCHVRCHES stuck to the synthpop template of their debut and delivered what LITTLE BOOTS, LA ROUX, and LADYHAWKE and HURTS all failed to do… a decent second album! The propulsive four-to-the-floor action of ‘Clearest Blue’ shows how far CHVRCHES developed. Although not unlike an amalgam of ‘Gun’ and ‘Science / Visions’, ‘Clearest Blue’ is even more accomplished, wonderfully held in a state of tension before WHACK, there’s a dynamic surprise that recalls the classic overtures of Vince Clarke.

Available on the album ‘Every Open Eye’ via Virgin Records

http://chvrch.es/


RODNEY CROMWELL Black Dog

BlackDogcover170x170RODNEY CROMWELL is Adam Cresswell, formally of ARTHUR & MARTHA. ‘Black Dog’ recalled the pulsing post-punk miserablism of SECTION 25 and was embellished some Hooky styled bass. Cresswell told TEC: “It’s all broadly linked to experiences in my life over the last ten years; themes of love, loss, depression, redemption”. As with NEW ORDER’s ‘Temptation’, despite the inherent melancholy, there was light at the end of the tunnel that made ‘Black Dog’ a most joyous listening experience.

Available on the album ‘Age Of Anxiety’ via Happy Robots

http://www.happyrobots.co.uk/


DAYBEHAVIOR Cambiare

daybehavior-change-front-small-2000Utilising her Italian heritage, DAYBEHAVIOR’s lead singer Paulinda Crescentini gave a suitably alluring performance on ‘Cambiare’, the B-side of the Swedish trio’s single ‘Change’. Remixed to poptastic effect, the joyous yet melancholic tune took the best elements of Italo disco with an expression of sorrow and happiness that recalled imperial phase PET SHOP BOYS. With a catchy chorus and seductive topline, Linguaphone language lessons were never this much fun…

Available on the single ‘Change’ via Graplur

http://www.daybehavior.com


DESTIN FRAGILE Run Away

DESTIN FRAGILE Halfway To NowhereAn offshoot of Swedish EBM veterans SPETSNAZ, DESTIN FRAGILE are a very different animal with hints of CAMOUFLAGE and DEPECHE MODE in their sound. ‘Run Away’ opened their ‘Halfway To Nowhere’ opus, an album which some observers have hailed as one of the best of 2015. Featuring a fine vocal from Pontus Stålberg resembling MESH’s Mark Hockings, this is what modern synthpop should be like; pop music with synths and melody as well as dynamic synth solos.

Available on the album ‘Halfway To Nowhere’ via Dark Dimensions

https://www.facebook.com/destin.fragile.pop


EAST INDIA YOUTH Carousel

EAST INDIA YOUTH Culture of YouthEAST INDIA YOUTH’s debut ‘Total Strife’ pointed towards William Doyle’s potential to pen sublime pop, and with the follow-up ‘Culture Of Volume’, this was more than realised. But the album’s centrepiece was ‘Carousel’. Imagine the start of OMD’s ‘Stanlow’ reworked during BRIAN ENO’s sessions for ‘Apollo: Soundtracks & Atmospheres’. With no percussive elements and over six minutes in length, Doyle gave a dramatic vocal performance resonating in beautifully crystalline melancholy.

Available on the album ‘Culture of Volume’ via XL Recordings

http://eastindiayouth.co.uk/


EMIKA My Heart Bleeds Melody

EMIKA DreiBerlin-based EMIKA is one of the dark horses of the UK electronic scene. A combination of her classical training, Czech heritage and use of modern technology has made for a provoking, brooding sound that has attained critical acclaim over the last few years. From her third album, helpfully named ‘Drei’, ‘My Heart Bleeds Melody’ was its highlight, a concoction of intricate pulsing layers and solemn detachment that provided a captivating listening experience.

Available on the album ‘Drei’ via Emika Records

http://emikarecords.com/


FFS P*ss Off

FFS_cover_artFFS proved collaborations do work. A total triumph, ‘P*ss Off’ was possibly the album’s most outstanding number. With the vibrancy of ‘Kimono My House’ and ‘Propaganda’ era SPARKS, there were plenty of jaunty ivories and camp vocal theatrics in the vein of classics like ‘Something For The Girl With Everything’ and ‘BC’. “It’s inexplicable” they all growled as the multi-track phrase of “HARMONISE” kicked in! A total joy, ‘P*ss Off’ was the ultimate two fingered art school pop anthem.

Available on the album ‘FFS’ via Domino Records

http://www.ffsmusic.com/


WOLFGANG FLÜR Cover Girl – The Ninjaneer Mix

Eloquence CoverOne of the highlights in Herr Flür’s DJ sets has been The Ninjaneer Mix of ‘Cover Girl’, a swirling synthpop track that the former KRAFTWERK percussionist has described as ‘The Model MkII’. He told TEC: “Her story goes on and unfortunately shows her going downhill. She had bad experiences with drugs, alcohol and other things so had to dance in night clubs for earning money at least. A true story, a bad life… that’s sometimes the way how super models are knitting their career”

Available on the album ‘Eloquence’ via Cherry Red Records

http://www.musiksoldat.de


JOHN GRANT featuring TRACEY THORN Disappointing

JOHN GRANT Grey Tickles, Black PressureJOHN GRANT’s adventure into a solemn electronic template on ‘Pale Green Ghosts’ not only won him a BRIT Award nomination too. Meanwhile his collaboration with HERCULES & LOVE AFFAIR showed he understood the disco as well. ‘Disappointing’ combined the two approaches and added some funk for an enjoyable Bowie meets YAZOO styled workout. In a song full of surprises, not only was there the presence of slap bass, but there was the dulcet tones of EVERYTHING BUT THE GIRL’s Tracey Thorn too.

Available on the album ‘Grey Tickles, Black Pressure’ via Bella Union

http://johngrantmusic.com


GWENNO Calon Peiriant

Gwenno_Y_DYDD_OLAFGWENNO’s Welsh and Cornish heritage has allowed her to develop a unique brand of lo-fi electronica. Her full-length Welsh language debut ‘Y Dydd Olaf’ came out on Peski Records in October 2014. Now reissued in 2015 by Heavenly Recordings, GWENNO has deservedly gained an increased profile for her music. With beautiful, traditionally derived melodies placed in a spacey yesterday’s tomorrow setting, the spacey ‘Calon Peiriant’ was one of the more immediate delights on offer from a wonderful album.

Available on the album ‘Y Dydd Olaf’ via Heavenly Recordings

http://www.gwenno.info/


IAMX Happiness

IAMX HappinessDepression despite apparent material success has been an ongoing lyrical theme for Chris Corner as IAMX. And with ‘Happiness’, his craving for a mind to be free of bad news, negative influences and jealousy was countered with his line of “Everywhere hypocrisy!” as pulsing arpeggios kicked in for the final third’s gentle but drama laden climax. Highly poignant in the current economic and political climate, Corner’s move from Berlin to Los Angeles certainly did his music no harm.

Available on the album ‘Metanoia’ via Caroline International

http://iamxmusic.com/


JEAN-MICHEL JARRE & VINCE CLARKE Automatic Parts 1 + 2

Jarre-electronica-coverThe French synth maestro’s first album for since ‘Teo & Tea’ in 2007 was an opus entitled ‘Electronica 1 – The Time Machine’ featuring collaborations with TANGERINE DREAM, JOHN CARPENTER, LITTLE BOOTS, MASSIVE ATTACK among many. But the two part ‘Automatic’ with VINCE CLARKE was the highlight, taking in the best of the tune based elements of both artists while not letting one party dominate. VCJMJ was certainly a more artistically realised proposition than the polarising techno of VCMG!

Available on the album ‘Electronica 1: The Time Machine’ via Columbia Records

http://jeanmicheljarre.com/


KID KASIO Full Moon Blue

KID KASIO Sit and Wait“Whether I release it in 2013 or 2016, it’s still going to sound like 1985!” said KID KASIO main man Nathan Cooper. A man whose is plainly honest about where his influences lie, his love of classic synthpop permeates throughout his work. Now imagine if DEPECHE MODE was fronted by Nik Kershaw instead of Dave Gahan? With ‘Full Moon Blue’, that musical fantasy became fully realised with a clever interpolation of ‘Two Minute Warning’, one of Alan Wilder’s songwriting contributions from ‘Construction Time Again’.

Available on the album ‘Sit & Wait’ via Kid Kasio

http://www.kidkasio.com


KITE Up For Life

Kite-VI-2015-EPDespite having been around since 2008, Swedish synth duo KITE have tended to be overlooked internationally. But Nicklas Stenemo and Christian Berg’s wonderfully exuberant array of sounds and rugged, majestic vocals deserve a much larger audience. Issuing only EPs and never albums, KITE’s most recent release ‘VI’ opened with the magnificent progressive electronic epic ‘Up For Life’. The passionate and sublime first half mutated into a beautifully surreal journey of VANGELIS-like proportions for the second.

Available on the EP ‘VI’ via Progress Productions

https://www.facebook.com/KiteHQ


MARSHEAUX Monument

marsheaux_a_broken_frame_LPA worthy of re-assessment of DEPECHE MODE ‘A Broken Frame’ has been long overdue and MARSHEAUX have certainly given a number of its songs some interesting arrangements. Their version of ‘Monument’ borrowed its bassline from latter day DM B-side ‘Painkiller’. Combined with some wispily resigned vocals, it provided a tense soundtrack that could be seen as metaphoric commentary on the economic situation in Greece. It’s not often that cover versions are better than the originals, but this is one of them.

Available on the album ‘A Broken Frame’ via Undo Records

http://marsheaux.com/


METROLAND (We Need) Machines Without Romance

METROLAND Zeppelin blueMETROLAND’s second album ‘Triadic Ballet’ was a triumphant electronic celebration of the Bauhaus, art movement led by Walter Gropius. Gropius theorized about uniting art and technology and on the B-side of its launch single ‘Zeppelin’, METROLAND worked towards the 21st Century interpretation of that goal. Now imagine if GARY NUMAN had actually joined KRAFTWERK in 1979? Then the brilliantly uptempo ‘(We Need) Machines Without Romance’ would have surely been the result.

Available on the EP ‘Zeppelin’ via Alfa Matrix

http://www.metrolandmusic.com/


MURICIDAE Away

muricidae-Songs From A Silent OceanStudio legend John Fryer has been busy and the project that perhaps harks closest to THIS MORTAL COIL is MURICIDAE. Featuring the exquisite vocals of Louise Fraser, she and Fryer apparently “met on the beach searching for mermaids”… the sea is very much the visual theme for their music, with Fryer cultivating “sonic sculptures to musically embody the exquisite Muricidae Shell itself”. The tranquil beauty of ‘Away’ captures a shimmering soundscape that compliments Fraser’s plaintive lament.

Available on the EP ‘Tales From A Silent Ocean’ via Muricidae Music

https://www.facebook.com/muricidaemusic


NEW ORDER Plastic

NEW ORDER PlasticAfter the guitar dominated proceedings of the last few NEW ORDER albums, Bernard Sumner promised a return to electronic music for the Mancunians’ first album of new material without estranged founder member and bassist Peter Hook. That was certainly delivered on with ‘Plastic’, a full-on throbbing seven minute electro number mixed by Richard X with blippy echoes of ‘Mr Disco’. Dealing with the issue of superficiality, it declares “this love is poison, but it’s like gold”… yes, beware of anything plastic and artificial!

Available on the album ‘Music Complete’ via Mute Artists

http://www.neworder.com/


KARIN PARK Stick To The Lie

KARIN PARK Stick_To_The_LieIn 2015, the Norge domiciled Swedish songstress’ KARIN PARK finally released her fifth album, the profanity laden fifth ‘Apocalypse Pop’. While less harsh in sound to some of the other tracks on the long player, ‘Stick To The Lie’ was no less angry. The most overtly synthpop track on the collection, this accessible yet emotive song was one of the highlights on a collection that affirmed KARIN PARK’s place in modern electronic pop.

Available on the album ‘Apocalypse Pop’ via State Of The Eye

http://www.karinpark.com/


PURITY RING Begin Again

With CHVRCHES having borrowed PURITY RING’s electro template and pushed it into the mainstream, the direction taken on the Edmonton duo’s sophomore album ‘Another Eternity’ was going to be watched with interest. Certainly it was more focussed than its predecessor ‘Shrines’. Still utilising glitch techniques, booming bass drops and Corin Roddick’s rattling drum machine programming, the album’s best song ‘Begin Again’ made the most of Megan James’ sweet and dreamy voice.

Available on the album ‘Another Eternity’ via 4AD Records

http://purityringthing.com/


SISTA MANNEN PÅ JORDEN All The City Lights

SMPJ TranslateSweden’s SISTA MANNEN PÅ JORDEN (translated as “The Last Man on Earth”) are led by Eddie Bengtsson, best known for his work with S.P.O.C.K and PAGE. The themes of space travel and Sci-Fi are regular lyrical gists and while all of SMPJ’s songs are voiced i Svenska, Bengtsson opened up his Vince Clarke influenced synthpop to the English language in 2015 with the ‘Translate’ EP. Brilliantly produced, ‘All The City Lights’ (a version of his 2014 single ‘Stadens Alla Ljus’) was its highly enjoyable opening gambit.

Available on the CD EP ‘Translate’ via SMPJ

http://www.moonbasealpha.space/


SUSANNE SUNDFØR Delirious

Susanne_Sundfor_tenlovesongsSUSANNE SUNDFØR and her acclaimed ‘Ten Love Songs’ album developed on the electronic focus of its predecessor ‘The Silicone Veil’. With an eerie, droning intro with echoes of THE WALKERS BROTHERS’ ‘The Electrician’, ‘Delirious’ thundered with some fierce electronics bolstered by dynamic orchestrations like THE KNIFE meeting DEPECHE MODE. It captured love as a reluctant battle of the emotions while our heroine announced with emotive resignation “I’m not the one holding the gun”.

Available on the album ‘Ten Love Songs’ via Sonnet Sound

http://susannesundfor.com/


TRAIN TO SPAIN Passion – Machinista Club mix

TRAIN TO SPAIN Keep On RunningTRAIN TO SPAIN’s developing brand of uptempo, energetic pop utilises classic synthesizer sounds in the vein of Vince Clarke coupled to a metronomic rhythm structure akin to the 1985 ‘Philip Oakey & Giorgio Moroder’ album. Coming over like LANA DEL REY fronting YAZOO, Wigeborg’s cooingly vulnerable vocals on ‘Passion’ let rip over a suitably complimentary electronic backbone from Rasmusson, while a superb remix by MACHINISTA added some beefy gothic disco goodness.

Available on the download single ‘Keep On Running’ via Sub Culture Records

http://www.traintospain.se/


TREGENZA The Partisan

TREGENZA Into The VoidManchester based Ross Tregenza is an experienced hand having co-written ‘Diaries Of A Madman’ with Dave Formula and Steve Strange when he was a member of VISAGE II in 2007. He surprised electronic music audiences with a Spartan cover of ‘The Partisan’, a song made famous by LEONARD COHEN. While many may despair at the very mention of the droll Canadian, his work has strong parallels with many Gothic veined musical forms, especially with this harrowing tale of fighting for La Résistance.

Originally from the EP ‘Stolen Thunder’, alternate version available on the album ‘Into The Void’ via Tregenza Music

https://www.facebook.com/tregenzamusic


VILE ELECTRODES Captive In Symmetry

VILE ELECTRODES Captive In SymmetryOn VILE ELECTRODES’ mesmerising ‘Captive in Symmetry’, “Filmic” is indeed a very apt description with the booming synth bass motif possessing echoes of the ‘Twin Peaks’ theme tune ‘Falling’. As beautiful sequences, eerie strings and Anais Neon’s hauntingly alluring vocals take hold, it all comes over like a dreamboat collaboration between JULEE CRUISE and OMD that could easily be considered for use in the proposed revamp of the surreal North American drama.

Available on the EP ‘Captive In Symmetry’ via Vile Electrodes

http://www.vileelectrodesco.uk/


VIVIEN GLASS Black Magic

VIVIEN GLASS Jura Final Cover - Josh BrandaoVIVIEN GLASS took a major bleep forward in 2015 with a well-produced album ‘Jura’. ‘Black Magic’ was a good example of their dark but melodic synthpop. With a catchy riff, syncopated percussive bass grunt and piercing synth pads like LITTLE BOOTS meeting GARY NUMAN at The Batcave, Melissa Glass’ gothic laden vocal provided an additional enticing allure. The bonus of an engaging co-ordinated live presentation also put the trio ahead of the domestic competition.

Available on the album ‘Jura’ via Vivien Glass

http://www.vivienglass.com/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
9th December 2015

Introducing PRESENCE OF MIND

PresenceOfMind by Krichan WihlborgAlthough PRESENCE OF MIND released recordings as early as 1995 on the cult synth compilation ‘Circuit One’, the Swedish trio only released their debut album proper in the summer of 2014.

Their first recordings borrowed from the Vince Clarke school of synth programming but today, PRESENCE OF MIND are a much darker but no less song based proposition. Influenced by the likes of MESH, DE/VISION and inevitably ‘Violator’-era DEPECHE MODE, childhood friends Christoffer Lundström, Johannes Ambros and Anders Wallroth have taken their time.

But without the pressure of constant touring, they’ve utilised a developing songcraft and life experience to pay dividends on the resultant long player entitled ‘Interpersonal’.

Utilising the crisp production ethos of Wallroth and Ambros, ‘One Step I’ takes some killer squelch bass and places it alongside the strong, melodic vocals of Lundström. Just accorded a new promo video, the track is a great bleep forward from their earlier work and the interim ‘Between Emotions’ EP from 2005. Another good example of their passionate synth rock is ‘Queen Of Redemption’, an obvious second cousin of ‘Enjoy The Silence’ but with a Svenske twist.

PRESENCE OF MIND are an enticing live proposition, as proven by their impressive appearance at the pre-party of Electronic Summer 2015 in Gothenburg. Lundström in particular, is a charismatic and engaging frontman with a lively but controlled stage presence that contrasts the dark, but danceable electronic soundtrack.

With excellent uptempo songs such as ‘Alive’ and sensitive ballads like ‘In My Dreams’ in their repertoire, the threesome from Mariestad are already at work on a second album to maintain their new-found momentum with tracks such as ‘Brittle Bones’ already having received public premieres. PRESENCE OF MIND are now finally knocking on the door of Northern Europe and making a positive impression on its independent electronic pop scene.


‘Interpersonal’ is released as a download and CD via Cramada

https://www.facebook.com/PresenceOfMindSwede

https://twitter.com/POMelectro


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Krichan Wihlborg
15th September 2015

DESTIN FRAGILE Halfway To Nowhere

DESTIN FRAGILE Halfway To NowhereSome bands crop out of nowhere, quickly put together the material, not knowing what the real direction of the album they’re writing is, then place high hopes for a fast success.

Other musical creatures work for years to develop their sound and perfect their trade, while branching out into other projects, just to come up with a masterpiece. The formation of DESTIN FRAGILE dates back to 1993 when Swede Pontus Stålberg started collaborating with various musicians before joining forces with Daniel Malmöf and Stefan Nilsson for live performances.

Nilsson and Stålberg ran a side project, the EBM inclined SPETSNAZ, who released four albums and enjoyed fair amount of popularity. Malmöf returned to complete the DESTIN FRAGILE cycle, which has culminated in the release of ‘Halfway To Nowhere’ on Dark Dimensions.

Since it’s been a 20 year wait for the album, the expectations run high; ‘Run Away’, which opens the production, immediately brings to mind a mixture of vintage DEPECHE MODE and elements of Germany’s AND ONE with a clear vocal by Stålberg, that is quite different from what SPETSNAZ ‘s fans are used to hearing. Ethereal and gentler in tone, it somewhat resembles Mark Hockings of Bristol’s own UK electronica masters MESH.

Clever, heavier synth follows on ‘In Your Eyes’; burly, very AND ONE and decadent, it leads to ‘In the Frame’, which is characterised by CAMOUFLAGE-like landscape, off beat drum patterns and irregular keys. ‘Alive (It’s Up To You)’ opens with a recognisable Gahan influence, a definite gloomy love affair, bearing Doug McCarthy’s vocal stamp, with a filthy synth finish. The poppier and gentler title track floats in, with TEARS FOR FEARS meets ‘Ultra’ era DM qualities. Rather superb in its simplicity, it is roughly interrupted by the incoming ‘April Light’, which couldn’t be more AND ONE in its texture.

DESTIN FRAGILEThe rhythmic ‘Change’ brings out qualities of SPETSNAZ at first, to transcend into the perfect synth pop tune, just before ‘Worlds Apart’ breaks the beat, followed by ‘In Plain Sight’.

Unsurprisingly, elements of FROZEN PLASMA are rather palpable; many a band this year has used their influence in their own creations. A dance tune at its best – fast, to the point, not over complicated with unnecessary filler sounds and simple enough to please.

‘Out Of The Darkness’ is delicious vocally and musically alike. The PET SHOP BOYS styled production is marked with eloquent formulation of synths from the lost era, combined with AND ONE’s ‘Virgin Superstar’ style of manufacture of a superior electronic track.

The closing bonus ’11’ is fabulously surprising, a vintage Merry- Go- Round, Victorian music box, horse cart and choir certainly aren’t a concoction one would expect as the culmination of this record. But that’s exactly what you get. Truly inspired and wonderfully wrapping this excellent album up.

To some, the obvious DEPECHE MODE and AND ONE characteristics, so often audible on this production, could be a turn off. It has to be said, however, that DESTIN FRAGILE have made those influences their own and the overall effect is highly pleasing.

Sweden certainly doesn’t cease to give birth to some excellent acts in the genre. Stålberg and friends have the aura of the weathered, grown up daddies of electronica about them, which differentiates them from many an act on the scene.

DESTIN FRAGILE recently showcased their material at Gothenburg’s Electronic Summer 2015 Festival at The Brewhouse with considerable success. Let’s hope they continue creating synthpop soundscapes worthy of the ever expanding electronic Swedish music scene.


‘Halfway To Nowhere’ is available as a CD or download via Dark Dimensions

https://www.facebook.com/destin.fragile.pop


Text by Monika Izabela Goss
10th September 2015

ELECTRONIC SUMMER 2015 at Gothenburg Brewhouse

Norse Code

ES2015-Marsheaux+TrainToSpainThe Electricity Club has said many times before: “There are electronic music events… and there are electronic music events…”

And the best sort of electronic music events are those curated by electronic music enthusiasts, people who actually enthuse about the genre, recognise its history and expel a passion to see it continue as a defined artform.

Two such people are Henrik Wittgren and Sebastian Hess, whose organisation Depeche Mode Party Gothenburg have been running successful music events in the Swedish city for several years. Electronic Summer started as a DEPECHE MODE fan event in 2012 with none other than Alan Wilder as guest of honour, while the live headliners were MESH and DE/VISION.

ES2015-Psyche+JenniferSince then, the event has developed with DAF and APOPTYGMA BERZERK headlining in 2013, while the 2014 event featured COVENANT, ASSEMBLAGE 23 and AESTHETIC PERFECTION.

With VNV NATION, SOLAR FAKE, MARSHEAUX, KARIN PARK and PYSCHE featuring in the Electronic Summer 2015 line-up, a sell-out crowd at the Brewhouse Arena was eagerly anticipating a great weekend of music and culture.

Such was the community spirit of the occasion that musicians from local acts such as TRAIN TO SPAIN were also in attendance. To start proceedings, early arrivals were welcomed to an enjoyable pre-party featuring AVANTGARDE, XHILE, PRESENCE OF MIND and DESTIN FRAGILE. Each act had appeared on the cult Swedish synthpop compilation ‘Circuit One’ and gathered to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

ES2015-PresenceOfMindPRESENCE OF MIND were particularly impressive with their brand of dark, but melodic synthrock. Their debut album ‘Interpersonal’ was only released in 2014, but it is a indicator as to why Swedish acts are generally holding their own against competition from around the world. Meanwhile, DESTIN FRAGILE showcased songs from their ‘Halfway To Nowhere’ album released this year and some observers have considered it one of the best synth flavoured long players of 2015.

Day 1 began in the late afternoon with Nordic friendly blog Cold War Night Life hosting a DJ set in The Outsider bar area. As music fans prepared themselves for a nine hour night, DJ combo Spacelab aka Alexander Hofman and Johan Billing from S.P.O.C.K. continued the electronic soundtrack.

ES2015-PeterSjoholmThroughout the weekend, there were enjoyable DJ sets based around the themes of Mute, DEPECHE MODE, NITZER EBB and ERASURE but there was also just great electronic pop by artists of all generations ranging from KRAFTWERK, SOFT CELL and NEW ORDER to CLUB8, TRUST and SUSANNE SUNDFØR. The first live act of the day was the milk loving PETER SJÖHOLM who gave his distinctive quirky take on electronic pop.

But that was followed by the unusual sight of Day 2 headliners VNV NATION taking to the stage at 19:00 hours. Performing what was billed as an alternative set, it contained a collection of their lesser played works from their vast catalogue like ‘Kingdom’ and was a suitable dress rehearsal for their headline slot. Following on, NATTSKIFTET and VIRTUAL VOICES kept the crowds warm in preparation for Canadian darkwave trailblazers PSYCHE.

ES2015-PsycheAccompanied by Stefan Rabura, Darrin Huss led a spirited performance that was fittingly poignant following the recent sad passing of his brother and PSYCHE founder member Stephen. This was particularly evident on ‘The Brain Collapses’ from ‘Insomnia Theatre’, their debut album together.

The magnificent ‘The Saint Became A Lush’ from ‘Unveiling The Secret’ was another pivotal moment while that album’s title track and the single ‘Uncivilized’ were other treats. Huss recited his synthpop knowledge too, dropping in snatches of EURYTHMICS’ ‘Sweet Dreams’ and YAZOO’s ‘Bring Your Love Down (Didn’t I)’ during the set.

ES2015-KarinPark02KARIN PARK gave another of her towering performances, the aggressive synth glam of ‘Look What You’ve Done’ fully exploiting the presence of her metalhead drummer brother David and lively new keyboardist Kine Sandbæk Jensen aka PIECES OF JUNO. Meanwhile ‘Stick To The Lie’ and ‘Ashes’ demonstrated that despite her intense stage demeanour, Miss Park does supreme electronic pop. To climax the set, the charismatic Swede led a three way drum barrage to conclude the mighty ‘Thousand Loaded Guns’.

PROJECT PITCHFORK concluded the evening with a suitably Teutonic fist of aggression; their in-yer-face pounding ensured any remaining energy left in the audience after a long day was put to efficient use. If nothing, it ensured a good night’s sleep in preparation for Electronic Summer 2015’s second instalment.

ES2015-HiltipopDay 2 began with HILTIPOP, the solo project of Magnus Johansson from the YAZOO influenced duo ALISON.

His promising FAD GADGET meets KRAFTWERK template was an ideal way to ease everyone back into the synthetic groove and many watching including George Geranios of Undo Records and Darrin Huss were impressed. 

Following on, STURM CAFÉ gave their localised take on electro body music. With enough flashes of DAF to wake anyone who was still sleepy, the Alte Schule sound was not totally unexpected from a band who soundtracked a movie called ‘Die Zombiejäger’. 

ES2015-MeTheTigerMeanwhile, ME THE TIGER were another Swedish band on the second day’s very international bill and notably reflected their country’s solidarity values. With their synth assisted new wave songs like ‘Ariana’ and ‘Pocket Sized Edition Ending’, the trio showcased their YEAH YEAH YEAHS influenced pop augmented by punky guitars and lively drums.

In Gabriella Åström, ME THE TIGER have a feisty front woman full of energy and attitude, something that was particularly evident on anthemic numbers like ‘Heartbeats’ and ‘What Promises Are Worth’. Even a broken kick pedal didn’t dampen their enthusiasm and this was promptly repaired without a flutter.

ES2015-Marsheaux02The event maintained its original DEPECHE MODE roots with the presence of Athens based synth maidens MARSHEAUX performing selections from their acclaimed reinterpretation of ‘A Broken Frame’. The wispy renditions of ‘My Secret Garden’, ‘Monument’ and ‘Leave In Silence’ were particular highlights while there was the surprise inclusion of ‘See You’ B-side ‘Now This Is Fun’. Best of of all though was an angelic rendition of ‘The Sun & The Rainfall’.

But it wasn’t all about Basildon as MARSHEAUX impressed the Devotee dominant crowd with their own cracking tunes like ‘Hanging On’, ‘Dream Of A Disco’, ‘Come On Now’ and ‘Breakthrough’.

ES2015-SolarFakeGerman duo SOLAR FAKE led by Sven Friedrich kept the crowd moving with their Goth infused electro, a tone that was not entirely surprising given Friedrich’s roots in cult alternative band DREADFUL SHADOWS. ‘I Hate You More Than My Life’ was a more than ideal overture while ‘Under Control’ provided a trancey focal point with hints of COVENANT. The remainder of their set was enjoyably accessible dark synthpop that suited the duo’s striking look.

To conclude the weekend, VNV NATION blasted their way through a hits set of their characteristic Futurepop, the duo of Ronan Harris and Mark Jackson certainly providing lashings of “Victory Not Vengeance”.

ES2015-VNV2011’s ‘Space & Time’ and the 1999 vintage of ‘Standing’ were just two of the stomping crowd pleasers while the more epic electro rock inclined ‘Perpetual’ made a fitting set closer. Throughout the weekend, there was an enormously warm and friendly atmosphere. The event had something for everyone so as different factions of the audience moved between their preferred acts, there was plenty of time for passionate discussion in the various bars.

Despite fierce debate about the merits of synthpop versus industrial, most shared an intense dislike of EDM and agreed that its inane DJ culture was ruining electronic music. However, when there were differences in opinion as the well-known Nordic enjoyment for liquid refreshment kicked in, no-one took it personally. There was plenty of mutual laughter as chat varied from whether ‘MG’ was actually a Eurorack YouTube tutorial put to record, to the use of the word ‘Marmite’ as a descriptive term in music journalism.

ES2015-CWNL+friendsElectronic Summer has developed into a fine annual platform showcasing the best in independent synth driven talent from around the world. The 2015 variant was a truly worldwide event, again proving what can be done when event organisers actually enjoy and understand the music they are dealing in.

It was indeed, a fine benchmark for other event organisers to aspire to.


ES2015-TeamThe Electricity Club gives its sincerest thanks to Henrik Wittgren and Sebastian Hess at Depeche Mode Party Gothenburg

Thanks also to Simon Helm at Cold War Night Life

www.electronicsummer.se

www.anachronsounds.de/

www.solarfake.de/enES2015-Spacelab

www.marsheaux.com/

www.methetiger.com/

www.facebook.com/sturmcafe

https://soundcloud.com/sem-hilti-johansson

www.project-pitchfork.eu/ES2015-TEC+KarinPark

www.karinpark.com/

www.psyche-hq.de/

www.facebook.com/nattskiftetmusik

http://members.tripod.com/~virtual_voices/

www.facebook.com/peter5joholm

www.facebook.com/destin.fragile.pop

www.facebook.com/PresenceOfMindSweden

www.discogs.com/artist/129276-Xhile

www.facebook.com/pages/Avantgarde/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Chi Ming Lai, Simon Helm, Jennifer Last and Madeleine Berg
5th September 2015