Tag: Gwenno (Page 1 of 2)

Ten Years Of TEC: STILL PUSHING THE ENVELOPE

The Electricity Club celebrates its tenth birthday and it really has been synthly the best.

At the HEAVEN 17 aftershow party for their triumphant gig at The Magna Science Park on 6th March 2010, following chats with Glenn Gregory, Martyn Ware, Paul Humphreys and Claudia Brücken, interview opportunities opened up.

It was obvious there was gap waiting to be filled for a quality web publication that featured the best in new and classic electronic pop without having to lower itself to using the dreaded “80s” label. The Electricity Club was it and became reality on 15th March 2010.

Electronic pop music didn’t start in that Thatcher decade and certainly didn’t end there either. So there was even an editorial diktat which banned The Electricity Club’s writers from using the lazy”80s” term as a reference. Tellingly, several PR representatives said that one of the site’s main appeals was that it avoided the whole nostalgia bent that had been presented by both virtual and physical media.

At the time, kooky female fronted keyboard based pop like LA ROUX, LITTLE BOOTS, LADYHAWKE, LADY GAGA and MARINA & THE DIAMONDS were among those touted as being the future at the time. But it proved to be something of a red herring, as those acts evolved back into what they actually were, conventional pop acts.

The Electricity Club preferred the sort of innovative synthpop as outlined in BBC4’s Synth Britannia documentary with the next generation of artists like MARSHEAUX, VILE ELECTRODES, VILLA NAH and MIRRORS more than fitting the bill and that ethos of featuring pop music using synthesizers stuck too.

Meanwhile, The Electricity Club’s portfolio expanded swiftly with key personalities such as Rusty Egan, Sarah Blackwood, Richard James Burgess, Warren Cann, Chris Payne, Thomas Dolby, John Foxx, Andy McCluskey, Neil Arthur, Alan Wilder, Mark Reeder, Gary Langan, Jori Hulkkonen, Howard Jones, Mira Aroyo, Sarah Nixey and Hannah Peel among those giving interviews to the site during its first two years.

The Electricity Club has always prided itself in asking the questions that have never usually been asked, but which fans want to know the answers to. And it was with this reputation for intelligent and well researched interviewing that in March 2011, the site was granted its biggest coup yet.

Speaking to Stephen Morris of the then-on hiatus NEW ORDER, the drummer cryptically hinted during the ensuing chat that Manchester’s finest would return by saying “I never say never really”; and that is exactly what happened in Autumn of that year and the band have been there since, as popular as ever and still making great music with the release of ‘Music Complete’ in 2015.

Monday 21st March 2011 was an interesting day that partied like it was 1981 when it saw the release of albums by DURAN DURAN, THE HUMAN LEAGUE and JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS. Also in 2011, Mute Records celebrated their influential legacy with a weekender also at London’s Roundhouse which culminated in ERASURE, YAZOO and THE ASSEMBLY performing in the same set.

Despite the ‘Brilliant’ return of ULTRAVOX, 2012 paled in comparison after such a fruitful year and several acts who were featured probably would not have gained as much coverage in more competitive periods. With pressure from outsiders as to what was hot and what was not, this was the only time The Electricity Club felt it was obliged to support a domestic scene.

But realising acts like HURTS and STRANGERS were actually just jumping on an apparent synth bandwagon and possessing more style than substance, The Electricity Club decided to change tact and only featured acts it felt truly passionate about, even if it meant upsetting the wider synth community. The reasoning being that just because a band uses a synthesizer doesn’t mean it is good.

During this time, MIRRORS sadly disbanded while VILLA NAH mutated into SIN COS TAN. But the year did see the launch of CHVRCHES who stood out from the crowd with their opening gambit ‘Lies’. With their Taylor Swift gone electro template, Lauren Mayberry and Co managed to engage an audience who didn’t know or care what a Moog Voyager was, to listen to synthpop!

2013 turned out to be one of the best years for electronic pop since its Synth Britannia heyday. What The Electricity Club achieved during this year would take up a whole article in itself… there were high profile interviews with Alison Moyet, Gary Numan and Karl Bartos while OMD released the album of the decade in ‘English Electric’. PET SHOP BOYS made up for their ‘Elysium’ misstep with ‘Electric’ while there was finally a third volume in BEF’s ‘Music Of Quality & Distinction’ covers series.

Although 2014 started tremendously with The Electricity Club being invited to meet Karl Bartos and Wolfgang Flür in Cologne, the year suffered next to quality of 2013.

The interviews continued, particularly with key figures from the Synth Britannia era including Midge Ure and the often forgotten man of the period Jo Callis who was a key member of THE HUMAN LEAGUE during their imperial phase.

But the year saw grandeurs of delusion at their highest, with one artist of a far too normal disposition in particular failing to realise that in order for a crowdfunding campaign to succeed, they needed to actually have quite a few fans in the first place!

Then, there was the similarly clueless Alt-Fest debacle which saw the organisers play Fantasy Festival with no cash to underwrite the infrastructure to enable it to actually happen!

Sadly today, there are still egotistic chancers organising events with zero budget and the money from ticket sales being fleeced to fund their holidays. But these artificial factors are rarely considered and so long as there are lower league artists desperate to play for nowt and a misguided enhancement in profile that is often on a platform that provides minimal exposure anyway, then the confidence tricks will continue.

2015 saw the local emergence of Rodney Cromwell and Gwenno, while the majestic Swedish duo KITE proved that they were the best synth act in Europe with the ‘VI’ EP and their impressive live show.

It was also the year when ERASURE front man Andy Bell gave his first interview to The Electricity Club to offer some revealing insights.

Making something of a comeback after a recorded absence of nearly eight years, Jean-Michel Jarre presented his ambitious two volume ‘Electronica’ project which saw collaborations with a varied pool of musicians including Pete Townsend, Lang Lang, John Carpenter, Vince Clarke, Hans Zimmer, Cyndi Lauper, Sebastien Tellier and Gary Numan.

VILLA NAH returned in 2016, as did YELLO with Fifi Rong as one of their guest vocalists while APOPTYGMA BERZERK went instrumental and entered the ‘Exit Popularity Contest’. Riding on the profile generated from their ‘A Broken Frame’ covers album, MARSHEAUX released their biggest-selling long player to date, a two city concept in ‘Ath.Lon’. This was also the year that The Electricity Club first became acquainted with the analogue synthesizer heaven of Johan Baeckström, a modern day Vince Clarke if ever there was one.

2017 saw a bumper crop of great albums from the likes of I SPEAK MACHINE, LCD SOUNDSYSTEM, SOULWAX, IAMX, GOLDFRAPP and DAILY PLANET, while veterans such as Alison Moyet and Gary Numan produced their best work of the 21st Century.

However DEPECHE MODE unleashed their most dire record yet in ‘Spirit’, a dreary exercise in faux activism bereft of tunes. Salt was rubbed into the wound when they merely plonked an underwhelming arena show into a stadium for their summer London show.

The trend was to continue later in 2019 as DEPECHE MODE just plonked 14 albums into a boxed set, while OMD offered an album of quality unreleased material in their ‘Souvenir’ package.

And with DEPECHE MODE’s sad descent into a third rate pseudo-rock combo during the last 15 years to appease that ghastly mainstream American institution called The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame with guitars and drums, Dave Gahan in particular with his ungrateful dismissal of the pioneering synth-based material with which he made his fortune with, now has what he has always coveted.

And don’t get The Electricity Club started on the 2019 Moog Innovation Award being given to Martin Gore, a real insult to true synth pioneers if ever there was one, including Daniel Miller, Vince Clarke and Alan Wilder, the three men who actually did the electronic donkey work on those imperial phase DEPECHE MODE albums! Gore may have been a very good songwriter during that time, but a synth innovator? Oh come on!?!

With regards Synth Britannia veterans, new albums in 2017 from Richard Barbieri and Steve Jansen saw a revived interest in JAPAN, the band with which they made their name.

Despite releasing their final album ‘Tin Drum’ in 1981, as a later conversation with one-time guitarist Rob Dean proved, cumulatively from related article views, JAPAN became the most popular act on The Electricity Club.

The return of SOFT CELL dominated 2018 with a lavish boxed set that was not just comprised of previously released long players, new songs, new books, a BBC documentary and a spectacular farewell show at London’s O2 Arena.

Meanwhile, adopting a much lower profile were LADYTRON with their comeback and an eventual eponymous sixth album. A Non Stop Electronic Cabaret saw Canadian veterans RATIONAL YOUTH play their first ever UK gig alongside PAGE and PSYCHE, but coming out of Brooklyn to tour with ERASURE was REED & CAROLINE.

EMIKA was ‘Falling In Love With Sadness’ and Swedish songstress IONNALEE showcased one of the best value-for-money live presentations in town, with a show that surreal imagined Kate Bush at a rave!

But from China came STOLEN, one of the most exciting bands in years who were then later rewarded for their graft with a European tour opening for NEW ORDER.

2019 was the year when synthwave graduates Dana Jean Phoenix and Ollie Wride were coming into their own as live performers, while electronic disco maestro Giorgio Moroder embarked on a concert tour for the first time with his songs being the true stars of the show.

Gary Daly of CHINA CRISIS gave his first interview to The Electricity Club to tie in with his solo album ‘Gone From Here’, while a pub lunch with Mark White and Stephen Singleton mutated into an extensive chat about their days in ABC. Lloyd Cole adopted a more synthesized template on ‘Guessworks’ and Britpop went synth as GENEVA’s Andrew Montgomery formed US with Leo Josefsson of Swedish trio LOWE.

If The Electricity Club does have a proudest achievement in its first ten years, then it is giving extensive early coverage to VILLA NAH, MIRRORS, VILE ELECTRODES, METROLAND, TINY MAGNETIC PETS and SOFTWAVE, six acts who were later invited to open on tour for OMD.

Partly because of this success, some of those who were less talented felt aggrieved despite feeling a narcisstic entitlement to be featured. A few deluded artists even went as far as to blame The Electricity Club publically for their lack of traction! NoW that’s what The Electricity Club calls deluded!

If an act is good enough, the fact that The Electricity Club hasn’t featured them should not matter, especially as other electronic and synth blogs are available. After taking its eye of the ball once before in 2012, The Electricity Club maintained a trust of its own gut instinct.

Meanwhile, its stance has been tested by those shouting loudest who instantaneously champion what they perceive as the next big thing like sheep, without really looking ahead at a wider picture. However, TRAVIS on VSTs is just not The Electricity Club’s thing frankly…

The Electricity Club’s participation in the annual ELECTRI_CITY_CONFERENCE in Düsseldorf for on-stage interviews with Rusty Egan, Chris Payne, Mark Reeder and Zeus B Held was another high profile engagement to be proud of. Then there were six TEC branded live events and five rounds of hosting ‘An Audience with Rusty Egan’ in one of the most unenviable but highly entertaining refereeing assignments in music 😉

Other highlights over the last ten years have included The Electricity Club’s 2015 career retrospective on German trio CAMOUFLAGE being edited and used as booklet notes for the Universal Music sanctioned compilation CD ‘The Singles’.

There was also ‘The Electricity Club’ 2CD released by Amour Records in 2019 which included TEC featured acts like MESH, SECTION 25, SIN COS TAN, KID KASIO, NIGHT CLUB, QUIETER THAN SPIDERS, ELECTRONIC CIRCUS, DAYBEHAVIOR, LIEBE, TWINS NATALIA, KID MOXIE, GIRL ONE & THE GREASE GUNS, ELEVEN: ELEVEN, AUTOMATIC WRITING, FOTONOVELA and QUEEN OF HEARTS among its 34 excellent tracks, including a bangin’ MARSHEAUX remix of Katy Perry!

As 2020 settles in, highly regarded artists within the electronic community continue to engage with The Electricity Club. Neil Arthur recently gave his seventh interview as BLANCMANGE and his tenth interview overall, taking into account his side projects FADER and NEAR FUTURE. Not far behind, Martyn Ware has also been a regular interviewee having spoken to the site on six occasions while Paul Humphreys has been interviewed no less than five times.

The Electricity Club is still pushing the envelope, continuing to reflect the interests of people who love the Synth Britannia era and have a desire to hear new music seeded from that ilk. With artists like ANI GLASS, IMI, KNIGHT$, NINA, MECHA MAIKO, GEISTE and PLASMIC among those on the cusp of a wider breakthrough, there is still more excellent music still to be created, discovered and savoured.

One inferior revivalist platform featuring far too much normal rubbish once complained that The Electricity Club “only feature bands that are popular…”; what they actually mean is “only feature bands that are really good”! 😉

The Electricity Club gives its sincerest thanks to everyone who has taken the time read any article on the site over the last ten years, it is greatly appreciated.


‘The Electricity Club’ is released by Amour Records / Minos EMI / Universal Music in collaboration with Undo Records as a 34 track 2CD set in a deluxe 6 panel digipak with track-by-track commentary and ‘O’ card; the compilation be purchased from the following retailers:

Europe http://www.poponaut.de/various-artists-electricity-club-p-18056.html

North America https://stormingthebase.bandcamp.com/merch/various-the-electricity-club-2cd

The tracklisting is:

CD1

01 MAISON VAGUE Synthpop’s Alive
02 KID KASIO Full Moon Blue
03 ELECTRONIC CIRCUS Roundabout
04 DAYBEHAVIOR It’s A Game (Marsheaux remix)
05 MARNIE The Hunter
06 ELEVEN:ELEVEN Through The Veil
07 NIGHT CLUB Cruel Devotion
08 QUEEN OF HEARTS United
09 KATY PERRY Hot ‘N’ Cold (Marsheaux remix)
10 ERASURE Be The One (Paul Humphreys remix)
11 KID MOXIE The Bailor
12 KEEP SHELLY IN ATHENS Oostende
13 FOTONOVELA featuring JAMES NEW Our Sorrow (Original mix)
14 GIRL ONE & THE GREASE GUNS Jessica 6
15 AUTOMATIC WRITING Continuous
16 METROLAND Thalys (London Edit)
17 RODNEY CROMWELL Black Dog

CD2

01 SIN COS TAN Trust
02 POLLY SCATTERGOOD Other Too Endless (Vince Clarke remix)
03 TENEK What Do You Want? (Alternate TEC version)
04 ANALOG ANGEL We Won’t Walk Away
05 ARTHUR & MARTHA Autovia
06 MARSHEAUX Suffer The Children
07 SECTION 25 My Outrage
08 047 featuring LISA PEDERSEN Everything’s Fine
09 TAXX Is It Love?
10 LIEBE I Believe In You
11 QUIETER THAN SPIDERS Shanghai Metro
12 iEUROPEAN featuring WOLFGANG FLÜR Activity Of Sound
13 TWINS NATALIA Destiny
14 MESH Tuesday
15 MIRRORS Between Four Walls
16 OMD Time Burns (Fotonovela rework)
17 VILE ELECTRODES Deep Red

Please note this product is NOT on sale through The Electricity Club website and only via retailers


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Image Design by Volker Maass
16th March 2020

ANI GLASS Peirianwaith Perffaith

ANI GLASS is back with a new single ‘Peirianwaith Perffaith’, an enticing trailer for her forthcoming as-yet-untitled debut album.

Translated as ‘Perfect Machinery’, with the vibe of Autumnal discontent, the haunting detuned backdrop is perfect for her socially conscious Welsh expressionism.

With a wonderfully swirling leadline and a suitably penetrating bass pulse, the Cardiff-based synth songstress says the song is about how the “search for identity in a moving city and society insists on a sense of stillness often found in the shadows of progress”.

The still image visual accompaniment filmed and directed by Jon Pountney with artistic direction by ANI GLASS begins with stark industrial views before drifting into suburbia and a journey into the countryside in time for twilight.

An experienced hand who has previously worked with Andy McCluskey and the late Martin Rushent, ANI GLASS released her acclaimed first EP ‘Ffrwydrad Tawel’ in Spring 2017. Having recently completed a Masters Degree, the songstress is now fully focussed on finishing her self-produced debut long player.

She said to The Electricity Club in January: “I’m really excited about curating the presentation of this album; conceptually and visually. I have a lot of ideas about how I might involve and engage with people who may not be instinctively interested in Welsh electronic music. It’s quite an exciting time to be making music in Wales – something is afoot; I couldn’t tell you what it is but I think it’s going to be exciting and I really want to be a part of it.”


‘Peirianwaith Perffaith’ is released by Recordiau Neb, available on iTunes and Spotify

ANI GLASS’ previous releases are available direct from https://aniglass.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/aniglasscymru/

https://twitter.com/Ani_Glass

https://www.instagram.com/ani_glass/

https://soundcloud.com/aniglass


Text by Chi Ming Lai
31st October 2018

A Beginner’s Guide To MARTIN RUSHENT

Although he became a noted producer during the height of punk, it was with THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s ‘Dare’ that Martin Rushent’s reputation as an electronic music pioneer was forged.

Rushent had cut his teeth as an engineer for acts as varied as SHIRLEY BASSEY and T-REX, working under the wing of their respective producers Johnny Harris and Tony Visconti.

His first major production was for CURVED AIR on their ‘Air Cut’ album; it featured Jim Russell on drums who became later became one of Rushent’s engineers and joined THE HUMAN LEAGUE for their ‘Crash’ tour.

He then secured a lucrative role working for United Artists, the company famously founded by Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks Junior, Mary Pickford and DW Griffith, as an in-house producer with A&R responsibilities.

It was in this position that he found major success working with THE STRANGLERS and BUZZCOCKS. Meanwhile his freelance clause allowed him to also produce bands like GENERATION X, 999 and THE REZILLOS whose guitarist Jo Callis was later to join THE HUMAN LEAGUE.

It was in 1978 at the height of his punk success that Radar Records, an offshoot of Warners who had Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe on their roster, offered Rushent an opportunity to start his own label and production company. Radar had been founded by the team that had hired Rushent for United Artists and the offer included funding to build what was to become his Genetic Sound Studios complex at his home in Reading.

With his new office based above The Blitz Club and a desire to move away from guitar bands, Rushent became fascinated by the New Romantic movement and its electronic soundtrack provided by their resident DJ Rusty Egan. Egan had started a project with Midge Ure named VISAGE fronted by the now sadly departed Steve Strange. Their demos had been offered to EMI but were turned down…

“Martin Rushent turned punk into pop with THE STRANGLERS and BUZZCOCKS and was the hottest punk producer in 1977-78” Rusty Egan told The Electricity Club, “He had no idea about synths, he was a rock producer but knew ULTRAVOX, MAGAZINE and RICH KIDS were disbanded. But his musical hunch was ‘they must come up with something’”.

Sensing that something was in the air, Rushent invited VISAGE to use his studio to see what they came up with. These sessions, which also featured ULTRAVOX’s Billy Currie plus MAGAZINE’s Dave Formula, the late John McGeoch and Barry Adamson, intrigued Rushent.

“We came with our equipment and no drum kit” recalled Egan about that visit to Genetic Sound Studios which was still being built, “I had the CR78 and the Simmons SDS3 prototype which Richard Burgess gave us; Midge had a Yamaha CS50, Billy had an RMI Electra Piano, Elka Rhapsody 610 and the ARP Odyssey while Dave brought his Yamaha CP30, ARP Odyssey and Yamaha string machine. We ran sequenced drums and layered, we had SMPTE timecode as MIDI did not come in for years, so we triggered and I hit drum pads and we created the sounds… Martin had never seen this type of recording”.

Despite the promising material coming from VISAGE, Warners pulled the plug on Radar and immediate plans for Genetic Records became stillborn. In hindsight, this move was extremely short sighted on Warners part as it was rumoured Rushent had been in discussions with JOY DIVISION, ULTRAVOX and SPANDAU BALLET.

Despite this set back, this experience helped Rushent realise that music production moving towards being more computer-driven, so he bought a Roland MC8 Micro-composer along with a Roland System 700 and Jupiter 4.

A strong advocate of clarity in instrument voicing and as a former drummer, how drum sounds were achieved, the availability of the Linn LM1 Drum Computer in 1981 was the final piece in the jigsaw and the set-up helped Rushent realise his vision. The rest as they say, is history and THE HUMAN LEAGUE scored a No1 with ‘Don’t You Want Me?’ on both sides of the Atlantic…

Rushent won the 1982 Brit Award for best producer and went on to produce THE GO-GO’S third album ‘Talk Show’ released in 1984. However, while recording the follow-up to ‘Dare’, a breakdown in his personal life, coupled to deteriorating relations with THE HUMAN LEAGUE led to Rushent leaving the sessions and walking out of his own studio!

Following his divorce, Rushent was forced to sell Genetic Sound Studios to avoid bankruptcy. Despite reducing his workload to more occasional studio recordings with ASSOCIATES, HARD CORPS, THEN JERICO and TWO PEOPLE, Rushent was suffering from depression; realising his heart was no longer in music, he effectively retired from the industry.

Taking time out to raise his family as a single parent, he eventually made a steady return to full album productions with HAZEL O’CONNOR in 2005 and THE PIPETTES in 2010. Buoyed by the huge developments in computer technology, he even presented his own DISCO UNLIMITED project with a track called ‘Itchy Hips’ inspired by his daughter Amy, as well as working with his son James’ band DOES IT OFFEND YOU, YEAH? But just as momentum was returning to his music career, Rushent sadly passed away in June 2011, aged 62.

Remembering working with Martin Rushent, Clive Pierce of HARD CORPS said to The Electricity Club: “Personally I felt overwhelmed when in the studio with him as it did feel at times that your precious baby was being bounced around in a manner you would never dream of doing yourself. His deft production work magnified what we were attempting to do ourselves and that’s exactly what great producers do”.

THE PIPETTES’ Ani Saunders who now makes music as ANI GLASS added: “One of the greatest lessons I learnt from Martin was to only spend your time working on music you believe in and not to be afraid to change / amend / cut parts or songs if they’re not good enough. Of course the production and engineering skills I gained working with him were invaluable but I also learnt about how to create the right atmosphere for and during recording, something which I think is often overlooked. When I’m writing pop songs I always ask myself ‘what would Martin do?’ – it helps to keep me in check”.

Focussing primarily on his work with synthesizers and technology, The Electricity Club looks back at the post-punk career of Martin Rushent. With a limit of one track per album project and presented in chronological order, here is a Beginner’s Guide to the late, great man…


THE STRANGLERS Nice N Sleazy (1978)

Making his fortune producing the key tracks of THE STRANGLERS’ career such as ‘(Get A) Grip (On Yourself)’, ‘Peaches’ and ‘No More Heroes’, the mutant punk reggae of ‘Nice N Sleazy’ saw a diversion into synthesizers with Dave Greenfield’s spacey blast of swirling Minimoog during the instrumental break. At their Battersea Park in September 1978, the band typically courted controversy when they were accompanied by strippers for the song’s visual embellishment!

Available on THE STRANGLERS album ‘The Very Best Of’ via EMI Records

http://www.thestranglers.net


JOY DIVISION Ice Age (1979 – Released 1997)

Recorded in March 1979, JOY DIVISION spent a day at Eden Studios in London with Martin Rushent, recording a 5 track demo with the view to signing to his Genetic Records label. But afterwards, the band headed to Strawberry Studios in Manchester to record their debut album ’Unknown Pleasures’ with Martin Hannett for Factory Records. However, Rushent always reckoned his version of ‘Ice Age’ was better than the speedier version which ended up on the posthumous ‘Still’ collection in 1981.

Available on the JOY DIVISION boxed set ‘Heart & Soul’ via Rhino Records

http://joydivisionofficial.com


VISAGE Tar (1979)

At Genetic Sound Studios, VISAGE started recording an album. Rusty Egan recalled: “we agreed to use the studio for a weekend with Martin engineering”; the first track from those sessions was ‘Tar’, a cautionary tale about the dangers of smoking. After numerous contractual issues, it was finally released as a single on Genetic Records but within days, Warners closed down his funding source at Radar Records. But encouraged by all the synthesizer technology being used in his studio, Rushent saw the future.

Available on VISAGE album ‘Visage’ via Polydor Records

http://www.visage.cc/


PETE SHELLEY Homosapien (1981)

Released on the relaunched Genetic Records via Island Records, ‘Homosapien’ came about after sessions were aborted for BUZZCOCKS fourth album. Rushent suggested to frontman Shelley that the two of them should work on new material using the Roland MC8 Micro-composer and System 700. Now seen as Shelley’s coming out song, a cacophony of synths and 12 string guitar combined for a wonderful futuristic snarl. However, the lyric “Homo Superior in my interior” got it a BBC Radio1 ban.

Available on the PETE SHELLEY album ‘Homosapien’ via Active Distribution Ltd

http://www.buzzcocks.com/_peteshelley/peteshelley.html


THE HUMAN LEAGUE The Sound Of The Crowd (1981)

When presented with the demo of ‘The Sound Of The Crowd’, Rushent’s response was “Well, that’s going in the bin”. Phil Oakey objected but the producer snarled back: “You came to me, so I assume that’s because you want hits?”… triggering bursts of System 700 white noise from the Micro-composer for the rhythm track, the combination of obscure lyrics from Ian Burden like “Stroke a pocket with a print of a laughing sound” and a screaming chant gave THE HUMAN LEAGUE their breakthrough hit.

Available on THE HUMAN LEAGUE album ‘Greatest Hits’ via Virgin Records

http://www.thehumanleague.co.uk


ALTERED IMAGES Happy Birthday (1981)

While Steve Severin from SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES produced the majority of the ‘Happy Birthday’, the job of turning the title track into the Glaswegian quintet’s breakthrough hit fell to Rushent. Tight ‘n’ bright thanks to his modern production techniques and Glare Grogan’s helium fuelled cutesy vocals and nursery rhyme lyrics, ALTERED IMAGES were denied the No1 spot for 3 weeks by Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin’s synth cover of ‘It’s My Party’ and then later, THE POLICE.

Available on ALTERED IMAGES album ‘Happy Birthday: The Best Of’ via Music Club

https://www.facebook.com/ClareGrogansAlteredImages/


ALTERED IMAGES I Could Be Happy (1981)

Combining the precision of the latest programmed technology with live instrumentation, ‘I Could Be Happy’ was close to perfection as one of Rushent’s best productions. Despite being shrouded in melancholy, it was catchy and danceable enough to be a UK Top 10 hit. Rushent produced the parent album ‘Pinky Blue’ but it was given a lukewarm reception by the music press, ultimately causing the original line-up of ALTERED IMAGES to implode.

Available on ALTERED IMAGES boxed set ‘The Epic Years’ via Cherry Red

https://twitter.com/claregrogan2


LEISURE PROCESS Love Cascade (1982)

Featuring Ross Middleton and Gary Barnacle with production by Rushent, ‘Love Cascade’ was the missing link between PETE SHELLEY and THE HUMAN LEAGUE. The vocals were virtually unintelligible as the clattering Linn Drum, pulsing synths, squawky guitar and sax merged together for a cool dancefloor friendly tune full of the decadent spirit of the times. Rushent produced the duo’s three other singles, while Barnacle went on to become one of the world’s most in-demand session saxophonists.

12 inch version available on the album ‘Retro: Active 5’ (V/A) via Hi-Bias Records Canada

http://www.discogs.com/artist/Leisure+Process


THE LEAGUE UNLIMITED ORCHESTRA Do Or Die (1982)

“The most creative experience I’ve ever had in my life” was how Rushent described the making of ‘Love & Dancing’, an album of tracks from ‘Dare’ specially remixed and re-edited by the producer. Pre-sampling, the material was remixed from the mixing board using a multitude of effects with vocal stutters created by cutting up small portions of tape and splicing them together with the aid of his custom-made ruler. The percussive dub laden barrage of ‘Do Or Die’ was one of the highlights.

Available on THE LEAGUE UNLIMITED ORCHESTRA album ‘Love & Dancing’ via Virgin Records

http://www.muzines.co.uk/articles/human-league-in-the-studio/4246


THE HUMAN LEAGUE Fascination (1983)

Tensions were running high with creative differences during the recording sessions for THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s follow-up to ‘Dare’, with Rushent losing enthusiasm for the album project due to conflicts in the studio with Phil Oakey and in particular, Susanne Sulley. The weirdly catchy ‘Fascination’ was the last track to be recorded with Rushent, but he departed before it was mixed, despite Jo Callis’ attempts to mediate. The eventual ‘Hysteria’ album was lukewarm, audibly missing Rushent’s touch.

Extended version available on THE HUMAN LEAGUE album ‘A Very British Synthesizer Group’ via Virgin Records

https://www.facebook.com/thehumanleague/


PETE SHELLEY Telephone Operator (1983)

With Shelley and Rushent developing on ‘Homosapien’ with a more fierce sound, ‘Telephone Operator’ could be seen as an extension lyrically to the themes of its predecessor. The original parent album ‘XL-1’ had a novel bonus track in a computer program for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum which printed lyrics in time with the music and displayed graphics, there was a locking groove before the code so that its bleeps and squeaks could not be played accidentally.

Available on PETE SHELLEY album ‘XL-1’ by Active Distribution Ltd

https://www.discogs.com/artist/28754-Pete-Shelley


HAZEL O’CONNOR Don’t Touch Me (1984)

When endorsing Korg’s PSS-50 Programmable Super Section for a magazine advert, Rushent was enthusing about a record which “apart from voice” was “all written and performed on one synth” – that album was HAZEL O’CONNOR’s ‘Smile’. From it, the moody single ‘Don’t Touch Me’ was very art school Weimar Cabaret with some very passionate vocals from O’Connor, constructed around a Synclavier with its distinct period bass and brass sounds.

Available on HAZEL O’CONNOR album ‘Smile’ via Cherry Red

http://www.hazeloconnor.com


ASSOCIATES Breakfast (1985)

Rushent worked with Billy Mackenzie on five tracks for ‘Perhaps’, the much anticipated recorded return of ASSOCIATES. ‘Waiting For The Love Boat’ was one of those songs, but the recording which stood out from the sessions was the epic string laden drama of ’Breakfast’. It is possibly Mackenzie’s greatest single moment, the melancholic piano motif setting the scene for an entire film noir in five minutes with its widescreen dramatics and mournful tension.

Available on ASSOCIATES album ‘Singles’ via WEA

http://www.billymackenzie.com


HARD CORPS ‎Je Suis Passée (1985)

Clive Pierce told The Electricity Club: “HARD CORPS, having traditionally self-produced tracks at our resident studio in Brixton relished the prospect of working with Martin on ‘Je Suis Passée’ having been admirers of his work on ‘Love & Dancing’. It was difficult but never the less a total education. That’s the trouble being so close to something it’s difficult to let go. In retrospect I now listen to ’Je Suis Passée’ in awe of what he achieved for the track. The baby was fine”.

Originally released as a single by Polydor Records, version available on the album ‘Clean Tables Have To Be Burnt’ via Minimal Wave Records

https://www.facebook.com/hard-CORPS-217860235015406/


THEN JERICO The Big Sweep (1985)

Pop rockers THEN JERICO were fronted by the handsome if volatile Mark Shaw; their debut single ‘The Big Sweep’ was recorded with Rushent and some help from his new Synclavier. However, due to the track’s anti-tabloid lyrical subject matter, the band’s label London Records initially declined to release the track. So it was self-released as a 1000 limited edition, although the track eventually resurfaced in its club mix on the 12 inch of ‘Muscle Deep’ in 1987.

Available on the THEN JERICO album ‘The Best Of’ via London Records

http://www.thenjerico.com


THE HUMAN LEAGUE Heart Like A Wheel (1990)

Jo Callis told The Electricity Club: “With ‘Heart Like A Wheel’, when The League came to thinking about the follow up to ‘Crash’ (which would become ‘Romantic?’), I thought there might be a good opportunity to try and get ‘the old team’ back together again, which I did manage to achieve for a couple of tunes at least”. With Rushent at the helm again, the result was a tune that recalled the classic pop era of THE HUMAN LEAGUE more than either of the two 1986 singles ‘Human’ or ‘I Need Your Loving’ had done.

Available on THE HUMAN LEAGUE album ‘The Very Best Of’ via Virgin Records

http://jocallis.com


GRAFTON PRIMARY Relativity – Martin Rushent remix (2008)

Australian electro-noir duo GRAFTON PRIMARY balanced in the divide between art and science on their debut single ‘Relativity’. Benjamin and Joshua Garden utilised sharp synthpop hooks and solid basslines in a classic Synth Britannia vein not dissimilar to THE HUMAN LEAGUE, which naturally made the Garden brothers perfect for a remix by Martin Rushent.

Available on GRAFTON PRIMARY single ‘Relativity’ via Resolution Music ‎

https://www.facebook.com/graftonprimarymusic/


THE PIPETTES Our Love Was Saved By Spacemen (2010)

From Rushent’s final album production, ‘Our Love Was Saved By Spacemen’ was a celestial Latin flavoured pop tune by the MkII variant of THE PIPETTES, fronted by sisters Gwenno and Ani Saunders. The partnership was to prove inspirational with Gwenno’s next solo long player ‘Y Dydd Olaf’ being one of the best albums of 2014, while Ani recently tweeted a photo of project notes from recording with Rushent as she prepared to record her first solo album.

Available on THE PIPETTES album ‘Earth Vs The Pipettes’ via Fortuna Pop

https://www.facebook.com/thepipettes/


In memory of Martin Rushent 1948-2011

The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to Rusty Egan, Clive Pierce, Ani Saunders and Jo Callis

A Facebook tribute group to Martin Rushent run by his son Tim can be viewed at
https://www.facebook.com/groups/216490505038835/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
12th February 2018

ANI GLASS Interview

With the release of her debut EP ‘Ffrwydrad Tawel’, ANI GLASS has added a gorgeous ethnic resonance to the aesthetics of modern synthpop.

The stage persona of Cardiff-based musician, photographer and artist Ani Saunders, she sings in her native languages of Welsh and Cornish to provide a politically charged soundtrack for the times.

Having served her apprenticeship as a member of the Andy McCluskey managed GENIE QUEEN and then THE PIPETTES with her older sister Gwenno under the production guidance of the late Martin Rushent, she became a member of indie band THE LOVELY WARS before eventually releasing her first solo single ‘Ffôl’ (‘Foolish’) in 2015.

But it was her follow-up single ‘Y Ddawns’ (‘The Dance’) that made its presence felt as a wonderfully exhilarating pop art adventure, swathed in synths and emblazoned with hope.

A new single ‘Generaduron’ (‘Generators’) has just been unleashed and with the recording of a full-length album currently in progress, ANI GLASS kindly chatted to The Electricity Club about her artistic ethos and musical journey…

The new single ‘Generaduron’ is quite different from the material on your debut EP ‘Ffrwydrad Tawel’, what was the inspiration and why the ‘new direction’?

Until relatively recently, production was something that I always appreciated and admired but wasn’t something I thought I could do or wanted to do for that matter. I felt it was always attached to people, or dare I say men, who were far more technical or interested in the process than I was and so for years it didn’t even cross my mind. However, from my experience, when you get a bit older you lose a bit of that self-consciousness and self-doubt that you drag around during your early twenties and I just thought to myself “What the hell, I want to make my own record and I know how I want it to sound” … and so here I am. ‘Generaduron’ (‘Generators’) is me at the start of my journey.

It’s a taster for your debut long player, do you have a theme or concept for it yet? How’s it coming along?

I’ve recently embarked on a Masters course at Cardiff University studying Urban and Regional Development, and as a result, reading the works of people such as Jane Jacobs and Jan Gehl has really impacted on the way I view city and urban living which in turn has had an impact on my approach to music. A lot of us live in cities now and although we live in different places, many of our experiences are the same. In short, my album has a very loose concept about a day in the life of a city girl and all that comes with it. It will have all that you expect from a busy city – fast-paced, slow, abrupt, noisy, happy, joyful, sad, chaotic and peaceful. I have a fair amount of work yet to do but it’s well on its way.

Do you think the album still has a place in modern music consumption?

Absolutely. There’s a strong sense in society that we’re all searching for somewhere or something to belong to. I don’t think it’s a new thing, perhaps it’s just become a bit more prominent in recent times. But as a result, I think music has a strong role to play in helping people to feel like they’re a part of something, that they belong or that they’re understood and so that’s where I think the album comes in. The way I see it, a good single or a song is like a holiday but a great album is like a home and we all need one of those.

The ‘Ffrwydrad Tawel’ EP took a while to come together, how do you look back on it and what it achieved for you artistically?

It was really important for me to create and present a solid body of work on which to build on and working with producer Haydon Hughes (W H Dyfodol) was a brilliant experience, especially with regard to creating a sonic statement.

I’m ever so pleased with how it turned out, there will always be parts I would want to change or improve but I don’t see that as a weakness, it’s an important part of developing as an artist.

‘Y Ddawns’ was a fine statement of hope, but also had a great rousing tune?

I wrote ‘Y Ddawns’ (‘The Dance’) after reading ‘We’ by Yevgeny Zamyatin. It was a dystopian vision of the future created partly in response to my experience in THE PIPETTES – it was, in essence, my version of a space-age pop tune. My favourite songwriter of all time is Paul McCartney – he was the reason I picked up the bass and started writing music. His wonderful ability to take melodies to places you don’t quite expect is always something I try to aspire to and it was certainly something I had in mind when writing ‘Y Ddawns’.

The pulsating ‘Geiriau’ recalled Moroder–era SPARKS but was about reconnecting with your Welsh and Cornish heritage?

Although ‘Geiriau’ (‘Words’) is about by personal journey of moving to England, questioning my identity only to return and re-connect to my Welsh and Cornish roots, I feel that it’s also symptomatic of what is happening to us all. It feels as though the whole world is going through some sort of an identity crisis and some of the results of this are quite frightening (Brexit, Trump etc).

My personal and political reaction to this has been to delve into my cultural heritage – to gain a deeper understanding of my past, to learn to appreciate the value of language and culture in order to take ownership of my identity. This journey has not been about looking inward or become insular, but understanding myself and my place within a culture in order to best placed to understand others. The UK has a terrible reputation for its weak linguistic skills, the numbers studying foreign languages is decreasing year upon year and so we’re losing our ability to understand the value of ‘other’ and so it can’t be a coincidence that as globalisation grows and language skills decline, tension is increasing.

Had you found yourself becoming detached as you immersed yourself in the pop world when you were in GENIE QUEEN working with Andy McCluskey and THE PIPETTES working with Martin Rushent? Is it like living in a bubble?

Quite possibly, although it didn’t feel like that at the time.

I absolutely love pop music, and although I don’t like a lot of chart music at the moment, I will always defend it.

The dynamics of GENIE QUEEN was what you would consider ‘traditional’ for a pop band – very little creative involvement and input from the artist themselves whilst THE PIPETTES was the exact opposite; complete artistic control.

Those experiences were invaluable but although they perhaps existed within their own bubbles, I think I’m probably in as much of a bubble now. My motivations and perspective may differ but my commitment is still unwavering and I’m conscious that I will have to remain vigilant to ensure that my focus does not encourage a blinkered vision.

I use my Chinese name Chi Ming Lai rather than anglicising myself and taking a Western first name, to preserve my cultural heritage. So was singing in Welsh always going to be an essential component of ANI GLASS? What does it mean for you?

I think it was an essential. When you consider the slow decline of your native language, you begin to question your role in either helping to reverse or speed up this process. I’ve always felt that learning the language is important, however if there is no living culture to talk about, then what is the language for? There is no question that understanding the past is important but the present is equally as important if not more so. It was with this in mind that I decided that Welsh and Cornish would have to be my focus – I wanted to contribute to these living cultures, to add an extra voice and narrative. Although it is entirely possible, I think it would be very difficult to be a Welsh or Cornish language musician or artist and for it not to be a political act.

Photo by Rhodri Brooks

More artists are starting to sing in their native languages again, do people just need to get a bit braver?

I’m not sure if it’s about being brave, it’s more about recognising what you’re really in it for.

Of course, if you sing in Welsh as opposed to English, your potential reach is considerably smaller but on the other hand you also have a much smaller chance of being drowned out in a sea of noise.

A lot of modern Welsh music is still predominantly male rock and guitar focussed (though this is slowly changing) and so any diversion from this does tend to raise a few eyebrows which of course I love! I think the main thing is being true to yourself and if that means singing in a language that fewer people understand, then so be it.

Patriarchy is a theme you have dealt with in your songs. With all the recent stories of abuse and harassment in the entertainment world, what do you think needs to be done within the music industry to provide a safe comfortable environment for women to work in as equals?

I think there needs to be a more honest and open discussion within the industry with both women and men leading discussions. Most of what I’ve personally encountered is (or was) so normalised that you would be made to feel that any reaction, other than to brush it off or worse still, to laugh along, would be seen as disproportionate. I think these are some of the most difficult things to address and recognise because it is so ingrained in our culture, it involves everybody, our whole dynamic system is warped and needs to shift. Women in the industry are not ‘women musicians’ or ‘girls in tech’, we’re just musicians and technicians. That’s the equality we must strive for.

Apart from finishing your debut album, what’s next for ANI GLASS?

I’m really excited about curating the presentation of this album; conceptually and visually. I have a lot of ideas about how I might involve and engage with people who may not be instinctively interested in Welsh electronic music.

It’s quite an exciting time to be making music in Wales – something is afoot; I couldn’t tell you what it is but I think it’s going to be exciting and I really want to be a part of it.


‘Generaduron’ is released as a download single by Recordiau Neb

‘Ffrwydrad Tawel’ is still available as a download EP from https://aniglass.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/aniglasscymru/

https://twitter.com/Ani_Glass

https://anisaunders.com

https://www.instagram.com/anisaunders/

http://www.recordiauneb.com


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
8th January 2018

ANI GLASS Ffrwydrad Tawel

Her 2016 single ‘Y Ddawns’ marked ANI GLASS out as a socially conscious, avant pop talent.

An experienced hand who has previously worked with Andy McCluskey and the late Martin Rushent, the Welsh synth songstress has now released her first EP ‘Ffrwydrad Tawel’. Meaning ‘Silent Explosions’, it is inspired by Welsh artist Ivor Davies and his exhibition of the same name which mixed the Welsh language, bleak colours and destruction to reflect society.

Included on this six song EP, ‘Y Ddawns’ (The Dance’) is a declaration of hope, a deeply voiced electronic adventure with a soaring uplifting chorus that acts as a rallying call for those seeking inspiration in music, dance, art and culture.

Then there’s the fabulous ‘Geiriau’ (‘Words’), a driving sequential drama that has more than a passing resemblance to the first part of SPARKS’ ‘No1 Song In Heaven’. The song revolves around ANI GLASS’ experience of flying the nest and returning years later to reconnect with her Welsh and Cornish heritage; spacey and futuristic, it’s a wonderfully uplifting homecoming song if ever there was one.

However, ‘Ffrwydrad Tawel’ begins more sedately with ‘Y Newid’ (‘Change’), an ethereal piece with the gorgeous ethnic resonance of FIFI RONG. It also features a vocal sample from socialist activist Ray Davies during his speech at the Yes Cymru rally in 2014. Meanwhile, the wispy layered falsetto of ‘Dal I Droi’ (Another Day) showcases ANI GLASS’ vocal range over a metronomic electronic backbone and deals with the heavy issue of mortality.

A droning interlude entitled ‘Mor Hapus’ (‘So Happy’) leads into the closer ‘Cariad Cudd’ (The City Sleeps). In a soundscape reminiscent of Dinsdisc-era OMD, the atmospheric twirl is charged and passionate, with our heroine making a pronounced statement about rebuilding bridges on her return.

ANI GLASS says: “Through the echoes of lost industries, communities and language there is hope. Always hope”.

Moody and melancholic, ‘Ffrwydrad Tawel’ is also laced with optimism, while the use of the Welsh language provides an otherworldly beauty to savour in this cultured journey of self-discovery.


‘Ffrwydrad Tawel’ is released on 21st April 2017 via Recordiau Neb, available from https://aniglass.bandcamp.com/album/ffrwydrad-tawel

https://www.facebook.com/aniglasscymru/

https://twitter.com/Ani_Glass

https://soundcloud.com/aniglass


Text by Chi Ming Lai
13th April 2017

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