Tag: Gazelle Twin (Page 1 of 9)

A Beginner’s Guide To BENGE

Developing on a childhood fascination with electronic sound, after finishing art school, Ben Edwards set up a music studio in London and began acquiring discarded vintage synthesizers to equip it.

Under his nickname of Benge, he released his debut album ‘Electro-Orgoustic Music’ in 1995 on his own Expanding Label.

But in 2011, he became best known for his role as Chief Mathematician and collaborative partner in JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS.

By this time, what had now become Benge’s MemeTune Studios was housing one of the largest collections of working vintage synthesizers in the world and was the location for several interviews filmed for the BBC documentary ‘Synth Britannia’.

Among the equipment were modular systems from Moog, Serge, E-Mu, Formant and Buchla, the ARP 2500 and 2600, digital systems like the Synclavier and Fairlight CMI, drum machines including the Linn LM1, Roland TR808 and CR78 as well as classic polyphonic keyboards such as the Yamaha CS80, Polymoog, Oberheim 4-Voice, ARP Omni and the less celebrated EMS Polysynthi.

As a collaborator, John Foxx said Benge was “Really good – Intelligent, knowledgeable, technically blinding. He does remind me of Conny Plank. Same generosity and ability, same civilized manner – even looks similar.”

Benge left London and relocated MemeTune Studios to Cornwall in 2015, but with artists savouring this more remote setting near some of the most breathtaking coastal scenery in England, he is now busier than ever as his recent production portfolio has shown.

So by way of a Beginner’s Guide to Benge, here are eighteen examples of his work, subject to a limit of one track per artist moniker or combination, presented in yearly and then alphabetical order. As his own blog says “It’s full of stars”!

TENNIS Weakness Together (2001)

Benge’s instrumental duo with Douglas Benford, TENNIS released their second album ‘Europe On Horseback’ just as dub electronica seemed to be all the rage. Scratchy and weirdly hypnotic with hidden hooks at over eight and a half minutes, the metallic percussive notions of ‘Weakness Together’ with its metronomic rhythms and solemn Cold War synths came together for a great highlight. A third long player ‘Furlines’ emerged in 2003 with ‘The Horseback Mixes’ as a bonus.

Available on the TENNIS album ‘Europe On Horseback’ via BiP_Hop Records


BENGE 1969 EMS VCS3 (2008)

Noted for his experimental solo albums, Benge’s most acclaimed was 2008’s ‘Twenty Systems’. It was an insightful soundtrack exploring how electronic sound architecture has evolved from using transistors to integrated circuits and from ladder filters to Fourier approximation. With each track crafted from a singular instrument, Brian Eno described it as “A brilliant contribution to the archaeology of electronic music” while it was via this album that Benge came to the attention of John Foxx.

Available on the BENGE album ‘Twenty Systems’ via Expanding Records


SERAFINA STEER How To Haunt A House Party (2010)

Legend has it that Serafina Steer’s union with Benge occurred when her harp was stolen and he made synths available to fill in for the intended harp parts. One of the more electronic tracks ‘How To Haunt A House Party’ added drum machine and the spacey accompaniment complimented the songstress’ quirky brand of kitchen sink introspection. ‘Change is Good, Change is Good’ got an endorsement from Jarvis Cocker, the PULP front man declaring it one of his favourite albums of the year.

Available on the SERAFINA STEER album ‘Change Is Good, Change Is Good’ via Static Caravan


JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS Watching A Building On Fire (2011)

Joining forces with Benge, John Foxx found the perfect creative foil to further his earlier analogue ambitions, only this time combined with a warmth that had not been apparent on ‘Metamatic’ or his work with Louis Gordon. The best track on their debut album ‘Interplay’ was a co-written duet with Mira Aroyo of LADYTRON entitled ‘Watching A Building On Fire’. With its chattering drum machine and accessible Trans- European melodies, it was an obvious spiritual successor to ‘Burning Car’.

Available on the JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS album ‘Interplay’ via Metamatic Records


OMD Dresden – JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS remix (2013)

The first band that the young Ben Edwards ever saw live was OMD, thanks to them opening for Gary Numan in 1979. He presented a suitably harsh remix to suit the harrowing lyrical tone of ‘Dresden’. But Andy McCluskey of OMD said: “‘Dresden’ is a whopping great, unsubtle metaphor… it’s not about the bombing of Dresden in the same way as ‘Enola Gay’ was about the aeroplane that dropped the atom bomb.”

Available on the OMD single ‘Dresden’ via BMG


GAZELLE TWIN Exorcise (2014)

The moniker of Elizabeth Bernholz, the secomd GAZELLE TWIN second album ‘Unflesh’ with additional production and mixing by Benge, 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 GAZELLE TWIN album ‘Unflesh’ via Anti-Ghost Moon Ray


HANNAH PEEL & BENGE Find Peace (2014)

Hannah Peel joined JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS in 2011 and became one of the MemeTune family, eventually taking over the studio space when Benge relocated. At the time her most overtly electronic song yet, she teamed up with Benge for a haunting modern day seasonal hymn. With a suitably poignant message, ‘Find Peace’ was a Christmas song longing for the cold but merry winters of yesteryear under the modern day spectre of global warming, armed conflict and political tension.

Available on the HANNAH PEEL single ‘Find Peace’ via My Own Pleasure


WRANGLER Lava Land (2014)

A trio featuring Benge, Stephen Mallinder ex-CABARET VOLTAIRE and of TUNNG’s Phill Winter, the WRANGLER manifesto was to harness “lost technology to make new themes for the modern world”. ‘Lava Land’ saw Mallinder’s voice manipulations ranging from demonic gargoyle to stern drowning robot. The frantic pace was strangely danceable but the twisted mood was distinctly unsettling and dystopian, especially when the screeching steam powered Logan string machine kicked in.

Available on the WRANGLER album ‘LA Spark’ via by Memetune Recordings



GHOST HARMONIC omprisedof John Foxx and Benge alongside violinist Diana Yukawa. ‘Codex’ evolved over the space of a couple of years. Foxx said: “the underlying intention was we all wanted to see what might happen when a classically trained musician engaged with some of the possibilities a modern recording studio can offer…” The result was a startling dynamic between Yukawa’s heavily treated violin and the looming electronics. Closing the album, the title track was a string and synth opus of soothing bliss.

Available on the GHOST HARMONIC ‘Codex’ via Metamatic Records


JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS featuring GARY NUMAN Talk (2016)

‘Talk’ has been used by John Foxx to explore different approaches from a singular idea with other kindred spirits such as Tara Busch and Matthew Dear. ‘Talk (Are You Listening To Me?)’ finally saw Gary Numan working on a track with his long-time hero who he had admired since the ULTRAVOX! days. His take naturally screamed alienation and fully exploited his haunting classic synth overtures, thanks to Benge’s use of a Polymoog and his effective application of its swooping ribbon controller.

Available on the JOHN FOXX album ’21st Century: A Man, A Woman & A City’ via Metamatic Records


FADER 3D Carpets (2017)

While BLANCMANGE’s ‘Unfurnished Rooms’ was the first time Benge and Neil Arthur worked together, their FADER duo project saw the former instigating the music as opposed to working on already written songs. Working on their parts separately, Neil Arthur said “In FADER, Benge will send me the embryonic musical idea and I’m reacting to what he’s given me” ;‘3D Carpets’ captured an independent post-punk intensity, like JOY DIVISION or THE CURE but realised with electronics rather than guitars.

Available on the ‘First Light’ via Blanc Check Records


I SPEAK MACHINE Shame (2017)

“Benge and I had always wanted to write together, so we took the opportunity to do so here, by expanding on the ‘Zombies 1985’ world.” said Tara Busch of how he became involved in the soundtrack of I SPEAK MACHINE’s short film about greed and self-obsession in Thatcher’s Britain as a businessman drives home, oblivious to a zombie apocalypse going on around him. The brilliant ‘Shame’ was a wonderful hybrid of THROBBING GRISTLE, THE HUMAN LEAGUE and GOLDFRAPP.

Available on the album ‘Zombies 1985’ via Lex Records



LONE TAXIDERMIST is the vehicle of Cumbrian lass Natalie Sharp, a performance artist who believes “Your body is a sensory device”. With Phill Winter of TUNNG and WRANGLER among the collaborators, Benge acted as co-producer and released the album himself. The debut album’s opening song ‘Home’ made Sharp’s avant pop intentions clear with a catchy throbbing outline and a wonderfully wayward vocal style crossing Grace Jones with Ari Up.

Available on the LONE TAXIDERMIST album ‘Trifle’ via MemeTune Recordings


BLANCMANGE In Your Room (2018)

Working with Benge again on what was effectively their third album together, Neil Arthur has undoubtedly found comfort in their partnership. ‘Wanderlust’ was possibly BLANCMANGE’s best body of work in its 21st Century incarnation and from it, ‘In Your Room’ was a great slice of vintage robopop, with a vocoder aesthetic and an assortment of manipulated sounds at a reasonably uptempo pace. “Lyrically it was about being content with something quite simple” added Arthur.

Available on the BLANCMANGE album ‘Wanderlust’ via Blanc Check Records


CREEP SHOW Safe & Sound (2018)

With eclectic US singer / songwriter John Grant joining forces with the WRANGLER boys Stephen Mallinder, Benge and Phill Winter at MemeTune Studios, CREEP SHOW was something of an electronic meeting of minds. On the resultant album ‘Safe & Sound’, the quartet explored a spacious KRAFTWERK vs Moroder hybrid using dark analogue electronics, gradually revealing some wonderfully warm melodic synth textures to accompany Grant’s passionate lead croon.

Available on the CREEP SHOW album ‘Mr Dynamite’ via Bella Union


JOHN GRANT He’s Got His Mother’s Hips (2018)

Following the artistic success of the CREEP SHOW collaboration, it was only natural that Benge would step up to produce John Grant’s number four solo album ‘Love Is Magic’ to more allow the Icelandic-domiciled American to fully embrace his love of electronic music. Making use of a vintage synth brass line, the mutant crooner disco of ‘He’s Got His Mother’s Hips’ was driven by a delicious synthetic groove while not forgetting to include an uplifting chorus.

Available on the JOHN GRANT album ‘Love Is Magic’ via Bella Union


LUMP Hand Hold Hero (2018)

Lyrically inspired by the apparent emptiness of contemporary life, when British nu-folk queen Laura Marling teamed up with Mike Lindsay, co-founder of acid-folkies TUNNG and Benge’s one-time partner-in-crime, it called for something out-of-the-box and that came courtesy of Benge’s Moog Modulars. A hypnotic sequencer line provided the backbone to ‘Hand Hold Hero’ for a rather unusual slice of Sci-Fi Country ‘N’ Western that met ‘On the Run’ somewhere on the Virginia plains.

Available on the LUMP album ‘Lump’ via Dead Oceans


OBLONG Echolocation (2019)

It only took 13 years to follow-up their debut record ‘Indicator’, but with the second OBLONG album ‘The Sea At Night’, the trio of Benge, Dave Nice and Sid Stronarch delivered a collection of rustic electro-acoustic organically farmed electronica! With mood and pace, ‘Echolocation’ was a classic synth instrumental with its crystalline textures and charming slightly off-key blips, aurally reflecting the remote moorland location in Cornwall where it was recorded.

Available on the OBLONG album ‘The Sea At Night’ via MemeTune Recordings


Text by Chi Ming Lai
9th March 2020


“Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness”: Sigmund Freud

Exploring states of mind from madness to creativity, FRAGILE SELF are a minimal electronic duo aiming to create dark pop music to communicate the detachment often felt within the human condition.

Anil Aykan and Jonathan Barnbrook are FRAGILE SELF, thoughtful visual artists with a strong sense of partnership in music through their previous work with personalities as diverse as David Bowie, John Foxx, Hannah Peel and Rihanna.

Like a musical thesis on psychotherapy, the self-titled album is released on the 120th anniversary of the first publication of ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’ by Sigmund Freud.

Aykan had an early flirtation with Black Metal with her handling the poetry, she comes over like an existentialist cross between MISS KITTIN and Mira Aroyo of LADYTRON which suits the brooding and ritualistic exploration that is FRAGILE SELF.

Mixed by Erland Cooper and shaped by modular synthesis, Jonathan Barnbrook said ”The thing that interests me most about it is the changing of electronic voltage that affects pitch, timbre and time. It is like you are playing with the building blocks of the universe. The same thing that makes the sound of drum, drives the human heart to beat or fires neutrons in the brain that define consciousness.”

With an incessant mechanical rhythm and stark vocal phrasing, the opener ‘I Loved Alone’ takes on the fierce aura of GAZELLE TWIN and a detached expression of feeling within the language.

Beginning with a recorded quote from Fritz Perls who coined the term ‘Gestalt therapy’, ‘This Is My Existence’ is brutal with Aykan exclaiming “memory is cancer”, Barnbrook’s doomily emulates his hero John Foxx with an eerie synth theme over a minimal structure.

The art funk of ‘Bertha’ is mutantly danceable, the deadpan vocalisation does recall MISS KITTIN but compliments the stark electronic backing, especially when Aykan percussively slips into German to recall the attitude of Berlin punks MALARIA!

The eponymous title track squelches with bass rumbles and electronic chainsaws while ‘Patients’ does possess some unsettling rhythmic fervour in a white noise barrage and talk of “broken histories” before going aggressively militaristic.

The noise attack on ‘Deperson’ is the darkest track on ‘Fragile Self’, swoops and gongs do battle over an industrial backbone in eine eintürzende Wand aus Tönen. The reverberant cerebral concept piece ‘Surrogate’ hints at Wendy Carlos and dark Jean-Michel Jarre; aesthetically schizophrenic, it is also something which also shapes the sinister arpeggio and chant laden ‘Leon’.

A syncussive pulse soundtracks the horror mood of ‘Need For Sanctuary’ with creepy Theremin-like qualities for a slice of vibrato laden avant-wave. ’Journey Taken’ though is a battle of machines in alternate quartet bursts in all frequencies before unsettlingly ending on the doom of church bells affirming Sartre’s view that “Hell is other people”.

The debut offering from FRAGILE SELF is an intense uneasy listen, but it is a well-crafted and yes, impeccably designed art statement. There’s aggression and agitation but it is aurally cathartic and rewarding.

So if the idea of MISS KITTIN collaborating with GAZELLE TWIN in an experimental electronic backdrop appeals, then this record will help highlight how “Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength”.

‘Fragile Self’ is released by Sugarcane Recordings / Daperson Society as a vinyl LP, CD and 480 page book with download code, available now direct from http://www.fragileself.com/vinylcdbookdownload

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





Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Teri Varhol
11th November 2019


From the serene shores of Loch Lomond and the remote Outer Hebridean Isles, WITCH OF THE VALE have made a fine impression in their comparatively short period of being.

The couple’s musical potential has been rewarded with support slots for CLAN OF XYMOX, ASSEMBLAGE 23, SOLAR FAKE, LEÆTHER STRIP and DRAB MAJESTY while their biggest symbol of recognition in a prestigious slot at Infest awaits them at the end of August.

Possessing some Pagan fervour like GAZELLE TWIN meeting ‘The Wicker Man’ and ‘Twin Peaks’, the folk inspired stylings of Erin and Ryan Hawthorne have chillingly stood out through the release of two EPs ‘The Way This Will End’ and ‘Trust The Pain’.

From the latter, WITCH OF THE VALE’s hauntingly bleak cover of the already explicit and sinister ‘Gods & Monsters’ by Lana Del Rey has become their best known recording to date. Meanwhile, an EP of remixes entitled ‘Changeling’ has just been released featuring a rework of the ‘Trust The Pain’ song itself by LEÆTHER STRIP.

WITCH OF THE VALE kindly chatted to The Electricity Club about their musical philosophy and existential ideals…

Give us a quick recap on the history of the band so far…

Erin: It started out with Ryan twisting my arm into doing one song, and at the time he promised it would just be this one song. I hadn’t done anything musical in a long time and had zero confidence. We really didn’t have any particular ambitions or strategy when we started doing it, and really never intended to play live shows. A drunken conversation with a local promoter resulted in our first show – a support slot for CLAN OF XYMOX. Things changed gears a bit after that.

Ryan: Our first release was only last October, so there’s been a lot of firsts since then. The first time someone asked us to sign something, the first fan page, the first fan tattoo, the first time one of our musical heroes shared our music, and soon at Infest, our first festival slot.

How much has your geographical background shaped the sound of the band?

Ryan: It underpins our entire sound. We use a lot of early Scottish folk inspired drones with open fifths, evolving reed based synths, strings and brassy textured sounds. The start of ‘Deathwish’ is inspired by the sounds of a Celtic carnyx.

Musically we draw inspiration from Gaelic folk songs. It’s particularly prominent in two of our Waltz songs ‘Your Voice’ and ‘The Way This Will End’.

There’s a dreamlike quality to the music which is counter to the quite biting lyrics. How deliberate is this or does it just flow naturally?

Erin: I wouldn’t say this is intentional. I think the music is pretty dark and melancholy by itself, anyway. Maybe I just can’t write gentle lyrics. I do take a lot of time writing though, it matters very much to me that the words are right.

What is your approach to writing?

Ryan: We have three phases to writing a song…

Write the song
The sound comes later. It may seem obvious, but if we can’t pick up some unplugged musical instruments and have it sound good, then we don’t have a song. Try again.

Destroy it
Once we have something beautiful and then we ruin it. Sterilize any lingering feelings of hope in the song. We use a little distortion on everything.

Buried in the dirt. Left to fester on an external drive. For months a song will stay in this phase, lingering at the back of our minds like mild toothache. Eventually it’s back to phase 1. Repeat the whole thing until we have something we both love enough to release.

How important has playing live been to building your audience? And Ryan, do you have your own drum roadie yet?

Erin: We had shared some music online before our first shows but I don’t think anyone really took note until our first gig.

Ryan: We definitely streamlined what we take with us since that ASSEMBLAGE 23 support slot in London, where you laughed yourself sick seeing us struggling with oversized, non-portable gear. As we write this, we are carrying our gear on the train to play at ‘Beat: Cancer’ in Manchester and Erin has a broken arm. The drum remains a necessity.

Erin, you have a very striking stage presence. How did this develop?

Erin: I’m surprised to hear that anyone thinks that, to be honest. I have horrendous stage fright, and most of what I do on stage is likely a coping mechanism for that.

Ryan: That’s just what Erin looks like.

A lot of folk are quite ‘anti’ streaming platforms like Spotify. How do you view them?

Ryan: we both extensively use Spotify to listen to music and discover new artists. It would be hypocritical for us to criticise it. Unfortunately, you need to be an established artist to be discoverable. Without followers and appearances on prominent playlists, you won’t appear on the algorithms. That’s why it makes such a huge difference if you follow indie artists, share their music, and add them to playlists. Do it!

There is also a fair amount of competition between bands for support slots, coverage etc. How do you feel about this?

Erin: We’ve been pretty lucky in securing good support slots, actually, especially considering we really are still just getting on our feet. I don’t think I’ve felt much in the way of competition between other smaller acts, really. We’re actually a bit concerned about over-playing. You see some small artists who take every other gig they’re offered, which I think isn’t necessarily the best way to gain interest and a following. If you play the same clubs to the same audiences every other month… people stop coming out to see.

I go for dinner ‘Chez Hawthorne’ What’s on the playlist whilst we eat?

Erin: FEVER RAY; their two albums on loop.

Ryan: I hope you don’t mind vegetarian food by the way, accompanied by an Entrée of artists like ALICE GLASS, KANGA, THE BIRTHDAY MASSACRE, CRANES and THE CURE.

You are the latest in a long line of breakthrough bands to play Infest. Do you prepare for a show like this differently to a usual performance?

Erin: We’re both quite anxious people, so preparation will likely involve drinking more than usual… so it’s probably a good thing our set is quite early. We’re hoping to include some new material.

After Infest, what’s next?

Ryan: Tricky question, we would love to do some shows and festivals further afield, but that would require having the time and the confidence to reach out and cold contact festival organisers and promoters. We could really use some suggestions or representation in this regard. Don’t be afraid to reach out to us on social media if you know someone who might want WITCH OF THE VALE on their next line-up.

The Electricity Club gives its sincerest thanks to WITCH OF THE VALE

‘The Way This Will End’, ‘Trust The Pain’ and ‘Changeling’ are available direct from https://witchofthevale.bandcamp.com/releases

WITCH OF THE VALE play Infest at University of Bradford Student Union on Saturday 24th August 2019 shortly after doors open at 15:00






Interview by Ian Ferguson
Additional Text by Chi Ming Lai
7th  August 2019

ZAMILSKA Uncovered

The concept of “Teraz Polska” (Poland Now) has been popularised in the Slavic land on both sides of the Vistula River for years.

But could it be that it truly is the time for the Poles to conquer the world of electronica?

Polska has found her own GAZELLE TWIN: enter Natalia Zamilska from the famously darkest part of the country, Silesia. Covered in carbon soot, raising deep from the centre of the Earth, she hits hard with her third album ‘Uncovered’.

The first parts of the undertaking, ‘Untune’ and ‘Undone’ were the formation of the now established artist and ‘Uncovered’ ushers in the new concepts of unearthing deeply hidden sounds, raising rather than falling and defying gravity. Zamilska draws parallels between life in the mining capital of Poland, with the constant noise, trembles and shakes, the true “attacks against the Earth” and creating meaningful music to excavate the electronic beauty for surface delivery.

Katowice may not be the most romantic place on the planet, but it’s certainly a superb backdrop against the industrial sounds which the producer, radio DJ and now vocalist likes to explore.

Zamilska is doing well in Poland with her own radio show, regular gigs and her work has been used by Dior for the catwalk in Japan. She has also remixed GAZELLE TWIN, collaborated with Szczecin Philharmonic Orchestra and received a nomination for a Fryderyk, the Polish equivalent of a Grammy (named after Chopin of course).

‘Uncovered’ can be best described as artful and thought through. Nothing is random here, from the opening ‘Message’ with whipped cymbals, distorted radio and heavy bells to the closing ‘Done’, the shape bending scenarios are being played over and over again.

‘Hospital’ is a mirror image of GAZELLE TWIN’s works on ‘Unflesh’ with words thrown in for good measure, while ‘Hollow’, featuring the voice of Polish actress Justyna Wasilewska, repeats its rhythm as if through smoke. The mantric sound asks “what should I tell you” in various voices and time shifts.

There’s a feeling of dread and images of levitation come to mind. The idea of floating and bending into shapes that are unnatural prevails on this record, being visually presented on the artwork where Zamilska is seen in unworldly positions, as if undergoing an exorcism.

‘Still’ meanders between the two with the sinister voice of a fever induced coma, gathering the strength to enter into ‘Gape’. ‘Alive’ is a synth play, strangely musical and super enticing with unusual punctuations; is Zamilska giving her fellow Polish megastar Nosowska a run for her money here? Run Kaśka, run…

Perhaps it’s just a ‘Delusion’, or maybe a mere religious ritual as empty as the Church’s promises. “Wonderful ‘Prisoner’, wonderful” brings the notion of Earth trembling, being forced to part with its precious resources she had been guarding for centuries. Or are we all ‘Blind’ to the obvious?

‘Back’ and ‘Front’ are both cinematic and epiphany bringing, and in Zamilska’s case it’s simple: “I think I only have one dream, to continue to do what I do, to make music. I finished one stage and have started the next – it’s a strange time full of thinking. There is something around the corner, and I just need to be calm. I’m always saying that to myself: calm down Zamilska, calm down.”

Feeling that the instrumentation wasn’t quite enough to convey all she wanted, the Silesian magician introduced vocals to level “the play between the rising up, letting go and being vulnerable, while still being deeply anchored”.

If this is the level of Polish alternative electronica, then the rest of Europe should be afraid, or perhaps Zamilska is merely proving that the Polish are “narodem wybranym…”

‘Uncovered’ is available now as a download direct from https://zamilskaofficial.bandcamp.com/ – vinyl LP and CD released on 19th July 2019





Text by Monika Izabela Trigwell
16th May 2019

ANNA ÖBERG Vafan Har Jag Gjort!

The Swedish band LADOMIR, who described themselves as “synth and string”, was the jump start for Anna Öberg, who had long been a stand-alone composer and lyricist.

A self-confessed lover of pop, Öberg decided to take the plunge into the ocean of electronica, releasing ‘Härsknar’ as her first solo long player.

This amalgamation of new wave, punk and heavy industrial elements was produced by Charles Storm, known for his collaborations with HÅKAN HELLSTRÖM.

This year sees Öberg’s return with a follow-up, ‘Vafan Har Jag Gjort!’, which sweetly translates as “What the f*ck have I done!”

So, Anna, what the f*ck have you done!?

Promising “further steps into her very personal synth universe and masterful craftsmanship”, Öberg claims that this time she’s pushing “a little harder”, but at the same time “a little more sweet”.

Indeed, the harder pushing, nearly psychedelic sound LSD induced and with rave qualities, introduces the album with ‘Jag Blir Inte Kysst’ (‘I Don’t Get Kissed’), where the artist goes all out with pitch changing vocal, gritty synth and dirty textures, that attack from the onset.

The question of today is ‘Vafan Har Jag Gjort!’, which is repeated several times in the course of the song, pushing further and further like uncomfortable probe, to ease off for seconds before the machine starts up again. From the clear protest song, to this of arm swaying quality, the regretful plea ebbs and flows until it disappears into the abyss of Öberg’s disturbed mind.

‘Daga Att Gråta’ sees a more demure approach with sluggish rhythm, slower beat and poetic verses, interwoven with heavier elements to complete a more uncertain track, full of Pagan imaginary and artistry.

Vintage synth a la FAD GADGET’s ‘Ricky’s Hand’ ushers ‘Jag Såg Dig På En Lördag’ where that Saturday feeling drives the fast paced beats, continuously paying homage to the analogue machinery, showing off the fact Öberg can do “the happy” as well as the harsh and sad.

The unusual returns on ‘Bråk’, which is “fraction” like GAZELLE TWIN meets BJÖRK. The main musical elements are a choir, sparse synth and echoed voices. ‘Ich Bin’ changes the tongue to German and Öberg warns in no uncertain terms the she needs love: “Achtung Achtung Ich brauche Liebe”, over possibly the most interesting musical manipulation on the production.

A PET SHOP BOYS like dance sound enters on ‘Fortfarande 16’. The clash of voices and sounds bursts out like Jack in a Box, paying further homage to synth of the past times, while the closing ‘Omöjligt’ wraps up the album with the strangest of tunes. Dark, smoky and spooky, this persuasive piece evokes uncertainty and fear, with very few sounds, which develop into a plethora of sci-fi light and truly “impossible” imaginary.

Nobody said this was easy listening music, nobody warned against harsh words, nobody prepared against heavy statements, but Anna Öberg cares not. Having Charles Storm taking the reins of production again, as well as the inclusion of the poet Bob Hansson, John Lindqwister and Russ Rydén, Öberg achieves higher levels of musical wisdom, thanks to her ever expanding electronic horizons.

‘Vafan Har Jag Gjort!’ is released by Xenophone International as a CD and vinyl LP, download available from https://annaberg.bandcamp.com/releases


Text by Monika Izabela Trigwell
16th March 2019

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