Tag: Fifi Rong (Page 1 of 6)

Introducing SCINTII

Music needs some mystery every now and then, and that comes with SCINTII, the musical vehicle of Taiwanese singer and producer Stella Chung.

SCINTII released her first EP ‘Mica’ in 2017 which explored glitch and leftfield dance in a manner reminiscent to Dot Allison who made her name in ONE DOVE, particularly on its smoky title track. Meanwhile ‘Papier’ exuded the menace of GAZELLE TWIN although within a more chilled setting.

Her second EP ‘Aerial / Paperbags’ featured the gorgeous ‘Terminals’ and led to the Shanghai-based artist signing with Houndstooth, the independent label established in 2012 by the London superclub Fabric.

Comparisons are easy to make with the Beijing-born FIFI RONG as both have an exotic trip-hop influenced sound and ‘Deux’ could easily be mistaken for the Chinese YELLO and TRICKY collaborator with its eerie but accessible underground sound. SCINTII’s hypnotic new single ‘Times New Roman’ has been produced by Danny L Harle, best known for his remix of CHARLI XCX’s ‘After The Afterparty’ and his uplifting single ‘Super Natural’ in collaboration with Canadian starlet Carly Rae Jepsen.

The main melody came into SCINTII’s head while walking round a shopping mall. Using an interesting and intelligent analogy for the tune, she said: “Times New Roman is one of the main languages used in graphic design and this song is about finding that language for myself as an artist”.

The moody video for ‘Times New Roman’ has been directed by Kynan Puru Watt and produced by Dede Wen, capturing a deep icy austere. Alluring atmospheric with an understated rhythmic edge, ‘Times New Roman’ is beautifully elegant electronic pop and hopefully a sign of more to come.


‘Times New Roman’ is released by Houndstooth and available now in a digital bundle with remixes from https://scintii.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/scintii

https://twitter.com/sc_in_tii

https://www.instagram.com/sc_in_tii

https://soundcloud.com/scintii

https://www.houndstoothlabel.com/artist/scintii


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photo by Hailun Ma
16th September 2020

YELLO Point

Switzerland’s YELLO have never been an act to over-expose themselves in relation to the product that they’ve released.

Previous album ‘Toy’ was released in 2016 and prior to that ‘Touch Yello’ came out in 2009; so after a four year gap we now have the duo’s latest work ‘Point’.

According to their label Universal, ‘Point’ takes the classic YELLO aesthetic of albums such as ‘Stella’, ‘One Second’ and ‘Flag’ and “twists it into something ultra-modern.” the sound “part spy film, part Dali-painting, part strobe lit dance floor, part 4D car chase and part deep space torch song. It’s YELLO, absolutely on point.”

Within the first 10 seconds of album opener ‘Waba Duba’, there is no mistaking that this IS YELLO; the track is based around a tribal Dieter Meier chant and punctuated with staccato horn stabs which recall their biggest hit ‘The Race’. Thankfully ‘Waba Duba’ doesn’t take itself too seriously with gibberish-style lyrics “Do you want me to do/Don’t take me for a fool/I’m only happy man/I jump out of the can”. All in all, ‘Waba Duba’ is a feelgood track with enough synth parts to satisfy fans of their more electronic work.

‘The Vanishing of Peter Stong’ starts like an EBM track with a menacing synth bassline, but the live drums and vocal narrative from Meier takes the piece into a completely different direction. Throughout the album comparisons could easily be made with THE ART OF NOISE, both acts are known for their sampling with Boris Blank having a huge sample collection (400,000+). ‘The Vanishing of Peter Strong’ features more rhythmic vocal sampling and the kind of production sheen that Trevor Horn and Stephen Lipson cultivated with their associated ZTT acts.

‘Way Down’ features an offbeat skanking backbeat and a welcome female vocal layer above Meier’s trademark talking growl. Beautifully produced again with an amazing clarity to the drum sound; cinematic horns and echoed synth arpeggios excel on a short three minute track that doesn’t outstay its welcome.

‘Out of Sight’ starts like a distant cousin to KRAFTWERK and ‘Boing Boom Tschak’ before being joined by a “dum dum” vocal bass line which again echoes THE ART OF NOISE. The vocal sampling and stuttering of LES RYTHMES DIGITALES’ ‘Jacques Your Body’ seems to be an influence too…

‘Arthur Spark’ is far more electronic in nature, with low-slung synth bass sequencer work and APOLLO 440-ish vocodered vocals. A KRAFTWERK-style drum pattern dips in out of the track and subtle guitar work features throughout. What is admirable here is that five tracks in and each track has its own atmosphere with original sounds and none of the tracks become overly repetitive or linger around for too long (actually none of the songs on ‘Point’ are in excess of four minutes in length).

‘Core Shift’ features a fantastic synth breakdown at its 38 second mark, again another stunningly mixed track; if one worked in a hi-fi shop ‘Point’ would make a great sonic fidelity demonstration album.

‘Rush for Joe’ is a cheeky John Barry-style spy theme-in-waiting with added Korg M1 organ bass sounds, whilst album closer ‘Siren Singing’ features the only guest vocalist on the album with an appearance from British based Chinese artist Fifi Rong. ‘Siren Singing’ is an ambient downtempo piece which draws ‘Point’ to a more introspective conclusion. The only track not to feature Meier’s vocals and without him, results in a piece which is pretty un-YELLO like.

The deal breaker with YELLO has always been Dieter Meier’s vocals, he’s always been a storyteller rather than a singing vocalist, and there is no deviation from that template here. Arguably ‘Point’ would function better with more guest vocalists, but he is part of the duo’s signature sound and as album closer ‘Siren Singing’ proves, his absence ends up being missed.

From a production point of view, ‘Point’ is stunning throughout and although there are no huge stand-out tracks here, the album is a concise re-affirmation of the YELLO sound and long term fans will adore it.


‘Point’ is released via Universal Music, available as a collector’s box, CD, deluxe CD, vinyl LP and digital download

http://yello.com

https://www.facebook.com/yello.ch/

https://www.instagram.com/yello_official/


Text by Paul Boddy
14th September 2020

NEW RO i o u

NEW RO is a Helsinki-based singer, songwriter and producer with a cheeky sense of humour that she often vivaciously expresses via her social media.

Known by her mother as Ronja, she released her first music in 2018, beginning with the saucily titled R’n’B pop of ‘I Cum’.

With an approach that is melodic, rhythmic and vulnerable, NEW RO released the appropriately spacey ‘Kosmos’ EP at the start of 2020, with the title song having a delightful GRIMES approach circa ‘Visions’.

Signing to Solina Records, home of VILLA NAH, SIN COS TAN, VON KONOW, THE HEARING and JUNO FRANCIS, NEW RO’s new body of work ‘i o u’ encapsulates a more dance-oriented direction, celebrating friendship and hedonism.

The opening title song is a fabulously dreamy trance tune with an alluring vocal performance from NEW RO over a throbbing electronic soundscape that engages the mind and the feet. An equivalent artist for reference would be Sweden’s LIZETTE LIZETTE who also places techno backbones into an avant pop setting; “I forget myself” she happily declares.

Initially sparser, ‘Trickle’ enters ROBYN mode and passionately builds into something quite percussive and most of the remaining tracks on this EP follow a similar vibe. With an airy warbling flavour laced with gated voices, ‘3’ explores more Balearic territory.

Meanwhile ‘Don’t Talk To Me On The Dancefloor It’s Really Annoying’ visits Detroit via its hypnotic club drive, although it is all given an icy Finnish twist with the surprising addition of kantele! However, ‘Everything’ closes proceedings with something more abstract and reprises the esoteric side to NEW RO that appeared on ‘Kosmos’.

A vintage string machine is thrown into ‘Everything’ amongst the prominent textural swoops and layers of treated vocals which are aesthetically not far off YELLO collaborator FIFI RONG.

“I wanted to emulate the feeling of hazy and euphoric nights in a great company” said NEW RO, “My friends have inspired this EP and I want to see them dancing to it.”

While the title track is the definite stand-out from ‘i o u’, as was the case on her previous release ‘Kosmos’, NEW RO has shown promise with her two most recent EPs and The Electricity Club awaits with interest as to how she progresses creatively in the future.


‘i o u’ is released by Solina Records via the usual digital outlets

https://www.facebook.com/longlivenewro

https://www.instagram.com/longlivenewro/

https://www.facebook.com/SolinaRecords

https://open.spotify.com/album/2LDMRexBa1huWFUUh2FgQt


Text by Chi Ming Lai
30th June 2020

FIFI RONG Love Is A Lonely Thing

Following on from her three part singular release ‘Red Moon Voyage’ for Halloween 2019, Fifi Rong turns her attention to Valentine’s Day 2020 with a bittersweet trilogy under the title of ‘Love Is A Lonely Thing’.

It is a three-chapter tragic romantic story with a cinematic sonic parallel to ‘Mood For Love’ by Wong Kar-Wai.

Despite a spirit of newly found independence, the Beijing born songstress enters a forlorn world inhabited by many, where all unrequited love desperately seeks a way to prove its own existence.

She said to The Electricity Club: “I channel my emotional pain through every heartbreak, and sing for those who can’t express their emotions through music”.

Accompanied by three videos directed by Zee Marla Osh, the mutant reggae of Part 1 states“How much I cry for your smile”, before being haunted by “A ritual that repeats” while Part 2 has more of a nocturnal anguish; when the realisation hits home when the love is not reciprocated, she asks in cut-up collage “don’t you wanna be the one?”

Part 3 takes on a smoky trip-hop stance and a sense of resignation with goodbye looming. With the surprise of dysfunctional electro-dub, Fifi Rong is intriguing as ever with her enigmatic whispers that “I still don’t believe in love”.

With her prolific artistic impulses now being the main driving force, The ‘Love Is A Lonely Thing’ trilogy is a result of Fifi Rong re-establishing control of her own artistic destiny over the last two years, releasing material of varying concepts as she sees fits to her loyal fan base.

While ‘Red Moon Voyage’ and ‘Love Is A Lonely Thing’ have been trilogy concepts, her currently being recorded new album is her most ambitious project yet, embarking on a cultural fusion that combines her native tongue of Mandarin with the universal pop language of English.


The ‘Love Is A Lonely Thing’ trilogy is available direct from https://fifirong.bandcamp.com/

http://www.fifirong.com/

https://www.facebook.com/fifirongmusic/

https://twitter.com/fifirong

https://www.instagram.com/fifirong/

https://open.spotify.com/album/6QZtsByiKYIICESBU0UhAh


Text by Chi Ming Lai
14th February 2020

TEC’s 2019 End Of Year Review

2019 was a year of 40th Anniversaries, celebrating the synth becoming the sound of pop when ‘Are Friends Electric?’ reached No1 in the UK chart in 1979.

While GARY NUMAN opted for ‘(R)evolution’ and two of his former sidemen RRussell Bell and Chris Payne ventured solo for the first time, OMD offered a 7 disc ‘Souvenir’ featuring a whole album of quality unreleased material to accompany a concert tour to celebrate four decades in the business.

That was contrary to DEPECHE MODE who merely plonked 14 albums into a boxed set in a move where the ‘Everything Counts’ lyric “the grabbing hands grab all they can” became more and more ironic…

MIDGE URE partied like it was 1980 with the music of VISAGE and ULTRAVOX, while SIMPLE MINDS announced an arena tour for 2020 so that their audience could show Jim Kerr their hands again. HEAVEN 17 announced some special showcases of the early material of THE HUMAN LEAGUE and got a particularly warm reception opening on tour for SQUEEZE as a trailer ahead of their own ‘Greatest Hits’ jaunt next year.

Celebrating 20 years in music, there was the welcome return of LADYTRON with a self-titled comeback album, while Swedish evergreens LUSTANS LAKEJER performed the ‘Åkersberga’ album for its 20th Anniversary and similarly GOLDFRAPP announced a series of shows in honour of their magnificent cinematic debut ‘Felt Mountain’.

Cult favourites FIAT LUX made their intimate live comeback in a church in Bradford and released their debut album ‘Saved Symmetry’ 37 years after their first single ‘Feels Like Winter Again’.

As a result, their fans were also treated to ‘Ark Of Embers’, the long player that Polydor Records shelved in 1985 when the band were on the cusp of a breakthrough but ended with a commercial breakdown.

Modern prog exponents Tim Bowness and Steven Wilson got back together as NO-MAN for their dual suite electronic concept record ‘Love You To Bits’, but an even more ambitious undertaking came from UNDERWORLD with their boxed set ‘Drift Series 1’.

Also making live returns were one-time PET SHOP BOYS protégé CICERO with a charity gig in his hometown of Livingston, WHITE DOOR with JOHAN BAECKSTRÖM at Synth Wave Live 3, ARTHUR & MARTHA at TEC005 and Mute Records veterans KOMPUTER at TEC006.

After a short hiatus, the mighty KITE sold-out three gigs at Stockholm Slaktkyrkan and ended the year performing at an opera house, while GIORGIO MORODER embarked on his first ever concert tour where his songs were the stars.

Although their long-awaited-as-yet-untitled third album was still to materialise, VILE ELECTRODES went back on the road in Europe with APOPTYGMA BERZERK and THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT. Meanwhile, Chinese techno-rock sextet STOLEN opened for NEW ORDER on their Autumn European tour and EMIKA performed in a series of Planetariums.

Despite the fall of The Berlin Wall 30 years ago, there were more evident swipes to the right than there had been for a long time, with the concept of Brexit Electro becoming a rather unpleasant reality. So in these more sinister times, the need for classic uplifting electronic pop was higher than ever.

To that end, three superb debut albums fitted the bill. While KNIGHT$ offered quality Britalo on ‘Dollars & Cents’, the suave presence of OLLIE WRIDE took a more MTV friendly direction with ‘Thanks In Advance’.

But for those wanting something more home produced, the eccentric Northern electronic pop of the brilliantly named INTERNATIONAL TEACHERS OF POP continued the artistic lineage of THE HUMAN LEAGUE.

QUIETER THAN SPIDERS finally released their wonderful debut album ‘Signs Of Life’ which was naturally more understated and Denmark had some worthy synthpop representation with SOFTWAVE producing an enjoyably catchy debut long player in ‘Game On’.

On the shadier side of electronic pop, BOY HARSHER achieved a wider breakthrough with their impressive ‘Careful’ long player but as a result, the duo acquired a contemporary hipster element to their fanbase who seemed to lack manners and self-awareness as they romped around gigs without a care for anyone around them. But with tongues-in-cheeks, SPRAY continued to amuse with their witty prankelectro on ‘Failure Is Inevitable’.

Photo by Johnny Jewel

Italians Do It Better kept things in house as CHROMATICS unexpectedly unleashed their first album for six years in ‘Closer To Grey’ and embarked on a world tour.

Main support was DESIRE and accompanied on keyboards by HEAVEN singer Aja, the pair took things literally during their cover version of ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ with a girl-on-girl kiss in front of head honcho Johnny Jewel.

Other ITIB acts on the tour dependent on territory included DOUBLE MIXTE, IN MIRRORS and KRAKÓW LOVES ADANA. But the best work to appear from the stable came from JORJA CHALMERS who became ‘Human Again’.

There were a variety of inventive eclectic works from FAKE TEAK, MAPS, FINLAY SHAKESPEARE, ULTRAMARINE, TYCHO, THE GOLDEN FILTER, FRAGRANCE. and FADER. Meanwhile VON KONOW, SOMEONE WHO ISN’T ME and JAKUZI all explored themes of equality while BOYTRONIC preferred ‘The Robot Treatment’.

But expressing themselves on the smoother side of proceedings were CULT WITH NO NAME and notably SHOOK who looked east towards the legend of YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA.

Dark minimalism reigned in the work of FRAGILE SELF and WE ARE REPLICA while no less dark but not so aggressive, WITCH OF THE VALE cemented their position with a well-received opening slot at Infest.

Touring in Europe with OMD and MIDGE URE, TINY MAGNETIC PETS unleashed two EPs ‘The Politburo Disko’ and ‘Girl In A White Dress’ as fellow Dubliner CIRCUIT3 got political and discussed ‘The Price Of Nothing & The Value Of Everything’.

2019 was a year of electronic instrumental offerings galore from NEULAND, RICARDO AUTOBAHN, EKKOES, M83, RELIEF, FEMMEPOP and OBLONG, although ERIC RANDOM’s dystopian offering ‘Wire Me Up’ added vocoder while BRIAN ENO celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing ‘For All Mankind’.

The King of Glum Rock LLOYD COLE surprised all with an electronic pop album called ‘Guesswork’ just as PET SHOP BOYS set an ‘Agenda’. HOWARD JONES released his most synthy work for years in ‘Transform’ and while CHINA CRISIS acted as his well-received support on the UK leg of his 35th Anniversary tour, their front man GARY DALY ventured solo with ‘Gone From Here’.

Among the year’s best new talents were IMI, KARIN MYGRETAGEISTE and ALICE HUBBLE with their beautifully crafted avant pop.

And with the media traction of artists such as GEORGIA, REIN, JENNIFER TOUCH, SUI ZHEN, THE HEARING, IONNALEE, PLASMIC, ZAMILSKA, IOANNA GIKA, SPELLLING, KANGA, FIFI RONG and I AM SNOW ANGEL, the profile of women in electronic music was stronger than ever in 2019.

Sweden continued to produce quality electronic pop with enjoyable releases from the likes of MACHINISTA, PAGE, COVENANT, OBSESSION OF TIME and LIZETTE LIZETTE. One of the most interesting acts to emerge from the region was US featuring the now Stockholm-domiciled Andrew Montgomery from GENEVA and Leo Josefsson of LOWE, with the catalyst of this unlikely union coming from a shared love of the late country legend Glen Campbell. Meanwhile, veteran trio DAYBEHAVIOR made the best album of their career ‘Based On A True Story’.

However, Canada again gave the Swedes a good run for their money as ELECTRIC YOUTH and FM ATTACK released new material while with more of a post-punk slant, ACTORS impressed audiences who preferred a post-post-punk edge alongside their synths. DANA JEAN PHOENIX though showed herself to be one of the best solo synth performers on the live circuit, but artistically the best of the lot was MECHA MAIKO who had two major releases ‘Okiya’ and ‘Let’s!’.

Despite making some good music in 2019 with their ‘Destroyer’ two-parter, the “too cool for school” demeanour of TR/ST might have impressed hipsters, but left a lot to be desired. A diva-ish attitude of entitlement was also noticed by The Electricity Club to be disappointingly prevalent in several fledgling acts.

Synthwave increased its profile further with the film ‘The Rise Of The Synths’ narrated by none other than John Carpenter. MICHAEL OAKLEY released his debut album ‘Introspect’, BETAMAXX was ‘Lost In A Dreamworld’, COM TRUISE came up with a ‘Persuasion System’ and NEW ARCADES were ‘Returning Home’.

Scene veteran FUTURECOP! collaborated with PARALLELS, COMPUTER MAGIC and NINA prior to a hiatus for the foreseeable future, while there were promising new talents emerging in the shape of POLYCHROME, PRIZM, BUNNY X and RIDER.

However, several of the sub-genre’s artists needed to rethink their live presentations which notably underwhelmed with their static motions and lack of engagement.

While promoters such as Outland developed on their solid foundations, others attempted to get too big too soon like the musical equivalent of a penis extension, leaving fans disappointed and artists unpaid. Attempting to turnover more than 10 acts during in a day with a quarter of an hour changeover has always been an odious task at best, but to try 15?!? One hopes the headliners were well paid despite having to go on at midnight when most of their supporters went home so as not to miss the last train…

Now at times, it was as if a major collective midlife crisis had hit independent electronic music in the UK during 2019.

It was not unlike how “born again bikers” have become a major road safety risk, thanks to 40somethings who only managed Cycling Proficiency in Junior School suddenly jumping onto 500cc Honda CMX500 Rebel motorcycles, thinking they were Valentino Rossi.

Something similar was occurring in music as a variety of posturing delusional synth owners indulged in a remix frenzy and visions of grandeur like it was normal behaviour, forgetting that ability and talent were paramount.

This attitude led to a number of poorly attended events where attendees were able to be counted on one hand, thanks to clueless fans of said combos unwisely panning their video footage around the venue.

Playing at 3:15pm in an empty venue is NOT performing at a ‘major’ electronic festival… “I’ll be more selective with the gigs I agree to in the UK” one of these acts haplessly bemoaned, “I’ve played to too many empty rooms!” – well, could that have been because they are not very good?

Bands who had blown their chance by not showing willingness to open for name acts during holiday periods, while making unwise comments on their national TV debut about their lack of interest in registering for PRS, said they were going to split a year in advance, but not before releasing an EP and playing a farewell show in an attempt to finally get validation for their art. Was this a shining example of Schrodinger’s Band?

Of course, the worst culprits were those who had an internet radio show or put on gigs themselves so that they could actually perform, because otherwise external promotors were only interested in them opening at 6.15pm after a ticket deal buy on for a five band bill. Humility wouldn’t have gone amiss in all these cases.

It’s a funny old world, but as The Electricity Club comes up to concluding its tenth year as an influential platform that has written extensively about not one or two or three or four BUT five acts prior to them being selected to open on tour for OMD, luckily the gulf between good and bad music is more distinct than ever.

Artwork by Heloisa Flores

The Electricity Club had a compilation released by Amour Records gathering some of the best music from the last 10 years and reached No2 in the German POPoNAUT charts.

It will be interesting to see if the high standard of electronic pop will be maintained or whether the influx of deluded poor quality artists will contaminate the bloodline.

So The Electricity Club ends the decade with a complimentary comment by a punter after TEC006 who had also been to TEC004: “You don’t put on sh*t do you…”

May the supreme talent rise and shine… you know who you are 😉


THE ELECTRICITY CLUB Contributor Listings of 2019

PAUL BODDY

Best Album: UNDERWORLD Drift Series 1
Best Song: MOLINA Venus
Best Gig: RAMMSTEIN at Milton Keynes MK Bowl
Best Video: SCALPING Chamber
Most Promising New Act: SCALPING


IAN FERGUSON

Best Album: NO-MAN Love You To Bits
Best Song: NO-MAN Love You To Shreds
Best Gig: RAMMSTEIN at Stadion Slaski Chorzow
Best Video: RAMMSTEIN Deutschland
Most Promising New Act: IMI


SIMON HELM

Best Album: PAGE Fakta För Alla
Best Song: PAGE Fakta För Alla
Best Gig: LAU NAU at London Cafe OTO
Best Video: LAU NAU Amphipoda on Buchla 200 at EMS Stockholm
Most Promising New Act: THE HIDDEN MAN


CHI MING LAI

Best Album: KNIGHT$ Dollar & Cents
Best Song: OMD Don’t Go
Best Gig: KITE at Stockholm Slaktkyrkan
Best Video: NIGHT CLUB Your Addiction
Most Promising New Act: IMI


RICHARD PRICE

Best Album: KNIGHT$ Dollar & Cents
Best Song: OMD Don’t Go
Best Gig: MIDGE URE + RUSTY EGAN at The London Palladium
Best Video: IMI Margins
Most Promising New Act: PLASMIC


MONIKA IZABELA TRIGWELL

Best Album: MECHA MAIKO Let’s
Best Song: KANGA Burn
Best Gig: DANA JEAN PHOENIX, KALAX + LEBROCK at London Zigfrid von Underbelly
Best Video: IONNALEE Open Sea
Most Promising New Act: PRIZM


Text by Chi Ming Lai with thanks to Ian Ferguson
16th December 2019

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