Tag: Heartbreak (Page 1 of 2)

THE ELECTRICITY CLUB’S 25 Synth B-Sides Of The 21st Century

There is nothing like the other side of life. As a companion to its favourite 25 Classic Synth B-sides, The Electricity Club presents a listing looking at the 21st Century equivalent.

B-sides often take on a cult following, provoking discussions among fans about why they might have missed inclusion on the parent album.

On why artists occasionally overlook a track when it is clearly good enough, Richard Silverthorn of MESH said “Sometimes you can’t see the wood for the trees”.

Then there are the occasional abstract studio experiments which often fail but occasionally work and the occasional cover versions which don’t always find favour with some listeners but are infinitely more preferable over pointless remixes of the A-side!

But how is a modern B-side been defined? There is a wider definition now due to digital and streaming formats, so they can include flipsides of vinyl, bonus tracks on CD singles and non-album tracks released as part of a download single or EP bundle. Despite all this, the term “B-side”, like “album” and “video”, still remains.

So for the purposes of this listing as before with the 25 Classic Synth B-sides, B-sides featured on the original issue of a full length album, or subsequently included on a new one are NOT included. However, those added as bonus tracks on later reissues, deluxe editions or compilations are permitted. Rules are good, rules help control the fun! 😉

So with a restriction of one track per artist moniker, presented in date and then alphabetical order within, these are The Electricity Club’s 25 Synth B-Sides Of The 21st Century…


LADYTRON Oops Oh My (2003)

LADYTRON surprised their audiences during live shows in support of the ‘Light & Magic’ album by closing with a feisty synthpunk cover of TWEET’s ‘Oops Oh My’. Co-written by Missy Elliot, the Timbaland produced original with a DEVO sample had been a hip-hop favourite but the aggressive Riot Grrrl styled take on this risqué song about self-love with lyrics like “There goes my skirt, droppin at my feet” added a rockier edge to their sound.

Available on the LADYTRON single ‘Evil’ via Telstar Records

http://www.ladytron.com/


CLIENT Can’t See Me Now (2003)

“This was written in response to the Iraq War” said Sarah Blackwood aka Client B, “I remember endless discussions with Toast Hawaii boss Fletch about whether it was the right decision and with heavy hearts, watching endless shelling and firefighting, from the 24 hour news coverage on far flung European hotel TVs. It was the first time I had felt that disconnection and frustration with my home country, the ‘not in my name’ ringing loudly in my ears. Bit late to the party but that’s the story of my life.”

Available on the CLIENT single ‘Here & Now’ via Toast Hawaii / Mute Records

https://www.facebook.com/ClientMusic


GOLDFRAPP Gone To Earth (2004)

The eloquence and surreal atmospheres of the first GOLDFRAPP album ‘Felt Mountain’ may have taken a back seat on its follow-up ‘Black Cherry’ but the experimentation continued on the B-sides of the album’s singles. ‘White Soft Rope’ combined the unsettling imagery of bondage with a chorus sung a school choir, but ‘Gone To Earth’ was even more otherworldly. The reverberating bassline combined with swirling synths and dreamy glides while Alison’s alternate cosmic language startled with a spacey hypnotism.

Available on the GOLDFRAPP single ‘Black Cherry’ via Mute Records

http://goldfrapp.com/


THE MODERN Model #426 (2005)

Nathan Cooper who was in THE MODERN said: “The inspiration came from ROXY MUSIC’s ‘In Every Dream Home A Heartache’ which was about a blow up doll, we took that a step further and Model# 426 is about some kind of sex droid!! ‘Model #426’ was always the song that would get the audience talking because singer Emma would open a trunk on stage and lead a gimp out on a collar into the bemused looking audience!! I think it was actually that stunt that got us signed to Universal!”.

Originally on THE MODERN EP ‘Eastern Bloc’, now available on the album ‘Life In A Modern World’ via Pie & Mash Recordings Ltd

https://www.themodernband.com/


PET SHOP BOYS Party Song (2006)

Interpolating KC & THE SUNSHINE BAND’s ‘That’s The Way (I Like It), the self-produced ‘Party Song’ was naturally a throbbing disco driven affair outshone the horrendous Diane Warren penned ballad ‘Numb’ which comprised the main act. Lyrically inspired by the classic Joan Collins and Leonard Rossiter fronted Campari adverts that, it began life as a dance cover of NIRVANA’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ suggested by Elton John and intended as a single for a new PET SHOP BOYS ‘Greatest Hits’!!

Originally the B-side of ‘Numb’, now available on the PET SHOP BOYS album ‘Format’ via EMI Music

https://www.petshopboys.co.uk/


ARTHUR & MARTHA Japanese Kiss (2008)

‘Japanese Kiss’ was from the debut release on Happy Robots from Alice Hubley and Adam Cresswell. “This was the first track I wrote for ARTHUR & MARTHA” he recalled, “mostly recorded in the bedsit I’d moved into after splitting up with my girlfriend. I was absorbed in self-pity, comforting myself with Japanese-horror movies and the company of my ARP Quartet, Moog Rogue and the DR-55. Living my best life!”; 11 years later as Rodney Cromwell, Cresswell did a NEW ORDER inspired ‘KW1’ remix.

Available on the ARTHUR & MARTHA single ‘Autovia’ via Happy Robots

https://www.facebook.com/arthurandmarthaband


MARSHEAUX Bizarre Love Duo (2008)

Basing its title on the well-known NEW ORDER tune, as with a number of the B-sides listed here, ‘Bizarre Love Duo’ outshone the main act ‘Ghost’. It all began with a pitch shifted groan sample repeated with hypnotic effect over some squelchy backing. But during the second half, the track built itself to a fabulous but abstract electrodisco number with a marvellously catchy refrain. While not quite a song and not quite an experiment, ‘Bizarre Love Duo’ was enjoyable tune in the MARSHEAUX canon.

Originally the B-side of ‘Ghost’, now available on the MARSHEAUX album ‘E-Bay Queen Is Dead’ via Undo Records

https://www.facebook.com/marsheaux


ANTHONIO Angel Face (2009)

A cover of a cover, namely SHOCK’s take on THE GLITTER BAND’s 1974 Top5 hit; playing the role of the Latin lothario in response to the Annie song ‘Anthonio’, Sebastian Muravchik of HEARTBREAK and now SNS SENSATION remembered:Richard X produced this version of ‘Angel Face’ as a side B in his single ‘Annie’. I sang both sides, which kind of shows two sides of Anthonio’s personality in a way. It was a fantastic experience – Richard is a great guy and über pro, so really a win-win.”

Available on the ANTHONIO single ‘Annie’ via Pleasure Masters ‎

https://www.facebook.com/wearesns


LITTLE BOOTS Catch 22 (2009)

“Positive and negative can only attract” sang Victoria Hesketh on the bouncy ‘Catch 22’, a lesser known LITTLE BOOTS track which initially only appeared on the 7 inch single of ‘Earthquake’ in the UK. Gloriously synthpoppy, in hindsight along with other songs that did not make it onto the final tracklisting of her debut album ‘Hands’, it highlighted a possible direction that could have been taken, but which was ultimately watered down for wider acceptance after she was named BBC Sound Of 2009.

Originally the B-side of the single ‘Earthquake’, now available on the LITTLE BOOTS deluxe album ‘Hands’ via On Repeat Records

https://www.littlebootsmusic.co.uk/


VILLA NAH Benny’s Burning (2010)

Continuing a great tradition among the synthpop acts of the past, VILLA NAH had ‘Benny’s Burning’ and ‘Daylight’ as part of their B-side armoury as well as the brilliant debut album ‘Origin’. Highlighting the inherent talent of Juho Paolosmaa and Tomi Hyyppä, ‘Benny’s Burning’ was a smoother and more atmospheric side of VILLA NAH compared with the uptempo technopop impressions of its A-side ‘Rainmaker’. The Helsinki duo later opened for OMD during the UK leg of 2010’s ‘History Of Modern’ tour.

Available on the VILLA NAH single ‘Rainmaker’ via Keys Of Life

https://www.facebook.com/villanah


ERASURE Never Let You Down (2011)

Produced by Vince Clarke, ‘Never Let You Down’ was free of the many autotune treatments that Frankmusik had applied when helming the disappointing ‘Tomorrow’s World’ album in his attempts to make ERASURE sound more modern and contemporary. As a result, that heartfelt soul often associated with Andy Bell made its presence felt over a glorious galloping synthpop tune in the classic ERASURE vein, especially during the middle eight section in Spanish.

Available on the ERASURE single ‘Be With You’ via Mute Artists

http://www.erasureinfo.com/


MIRRORS Falls By Another Name (2011)

In their short career, MIRRORS left not only a great album in ‘Lights & Offerings’ but a body of wonderful B-sides too. Any number of them are worthy of mention but the nod goes to ‘Fall By Another Name’ as it was accessible enough to have been an A-side. Not as dense as MIRRORS’ usual pop noir hence its likely relegation to flipside, the bright pulsing melodies and James New’s Dave Gahan impression made this sound rather like a quality outtake from DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Speak & Spell’.

Available on the MIRRORS single ‘Into the Heart’ via Skint Records

https://www.facebook.com/theworldofmirrors


APOPTYGMA BERZERK Dead Air Einz (2013)

While the A-side was a faithful cover version of Peter Schilling’s anthemic ‘Major Tom’, ‘Dead Air Einz’ was a self-composed song by APOPTYGMA BERZERK mainman Stephan Groth that was eagerly welcomed at the time, thanks to it being his first original new track for four years. Utilising distorted radio broadcasts in its backdrop, it also featured some Korg MS20 from Jon Erik Martinsen and was something of a grower with its steadfast drum machine shuffle.

Available on the APOPTYGMA BERZERK single ‘Major Tom’ via Pitch Black Drive Productions

http://www.theapboffice.com/


CHVRCHES Now Is Not The Time (2013)

Making their initial impression with the mighty ‘Lies’ in 2012, Glasgow trio CHVRCHES actually became the mainstream saviours of synthpop that LITTLE BOOTS and LA ROUX had promised but ultimately failed to deliver on. ‘Now Is Not The Time’ was a fantastic midtempo tune with a great chorus that like ‘The Mother We Share’ sounded like Taylor Swift gone electro. However, it got relegated to B-side status despite being superior to several songs on their debut long player ‘The Bones Of What You Believe’.

Available on the CHVRCHES single ‘Recover’ via Virgin Records

https://chvrch.es/


DEPECHE MODE All That’s Mine (2013)

In a pattern similar to the ‘Sounds Of The Universe’ boxed set only track ‘Oh Well’, the best song from ‘Delta Machine’ sessions was left out of the main act. ‘All That’s Mine’ featured a tightly sequenced backbone, electronically derived rhythms and a gloomy Eurocentric austere, all the perfect ingredients for a classic DM tune! While it was no doubt rejected for not fitting into the faux blues aspirations of modern DEPECHE MODE, it made up for the dreary notions of the A-side ‘Heaven’ which were more like hell…

Originally the B-side of the single ‘Heaven’, now available on the DEPECHE MODE deluxe album ‘Delta Machine’ via Columbia Records

http://www.depechemode.com/


OMD Time Burns (2013)

OMD’s twelfth album ‘English Electric’ was notable for combining conceptual art pieces alongside supreme electronic pop in a manner reminiscent of their fourth long player ‘Dazzle Ships’ and KRAFTWERK’s ‘Radio-Activity’. Although four of these concepts made it onto the final running order of the album, one that didn’t was ‘Time Burns’, a intriguing sound collage comprising of clock movements, chimes and digital watch alarms over rumbles of sub-bass and profound computer generated speech.

Originally the B-side of the single ‘The Future Will Be Silent’, now available on the OMD EP ‘Night Café’ via BMG

http://www.omd.uk.com/


QUEEN OF HEARTS United (2013)

A stomping electro disco number produced by Mark Reeder and Micha Adam, Elizabeth Morphew’s cooing Bush-like howls and breathy euphoria are a total delight to the ears while the mighty cavernous sound provided the heat! However, ‘United’ has ended up as the B-side. Reeder said ”I saw a piece posted on The Electricity Club about QUEEN OF HEARTS and I was curious. I really liked Elizabeth’s voice from the moment I heard the first couple of tracks.”

Originally the B-side of ‘Secret’, now available on the QUEEN OF HEARTS deluxe album ‘Cocoon’ via Night Moves

http://iamqueenofhearts.com/


VILE ELECTRODES Little Death Capsule (2013)

With an alluringly haunting vocal from Anais Neon, the eerily stark ‘Little Death Capsule’ saw VILE ELECTRODES tell the story of early space travel when these primitive craft were sent out of the earth’s atmosphere effectively sitting on inter-continental ballistic missiles, with burning up also a possibility on return. With pulsing instrumentation from Martin Swan, it featured the sort of sterling analogue treatments that would make KRAFTWERK and YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA proud.

Available on the VILE ELECTRODES EP ‘The Last Time’ via Vile Electrodes

http://www.vileelectrodes.com/


JOHAN BAECKSTRÖM Synth Is Not Dead (2015)

A touching tribute to Messrs Clarke, Gore, Hütter and Schneider with hints of YAZOO’s ‘In My Room’, Johan Baeckström said of ‘Synth Is Not Dead’: “I guess I just wanted to reflect on the fact that there still IS a synthpop scene with some really great bands, both old and new. In another way, the song is sort of my ‘thank you’ to some of the artists that inspired me for several decades – some of them are mentioned in the lyrics, but far from all of course”.

Available on the JOHAN BAECKSTRÖM single ‘Come With Me via Progress Productions

https://www.facebook.com/bstrommusic/


METROLAND (We Need) Machines Without Romance (2015)

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

Originally the B-side of ‘Zeppelin’, now available on the METROLAND boxed set ’12×12′ via Alfa Matrix

http://www.metrolandmusic.com/


MESH Paper Thin (2016)

Of the superbly rousing ‘Paper Thin’, Richard Silverthorn of MESH recalled: “Mark Hockings presented me with a demo at the time we were writing material for ‘Looking Skyward’. On first listen, I wasn’t too sure about the track as I thought it didn’t really fit with the overall feeling of the album so it kind of got shelved. The record company asked ‘what about the B-side?’ so Mark suggested ‘Paper Thin’ again. The bassline, drums and many other lines were changed and the new version came to life.”

Available on the MESH single ‘Kill Your Darlings’ via Dependent Records

http://www.mesh.co.uk/


KNIGHT$ So Cold (2017)

After SCARLET SOHO, James Knights busied himself with a new Britalo inspired solo project. With hints of NEW ORDER’s ‘Subculture’ and found on KNIGHT$ debut EP ‘What’s Your Poison?’, he said “’So Cold’ is the second or third song I wrote as KNIGHT$. It’s a little darker than my other material, and the only song I’ve recorded using a marxophone (a fretless zither which I borrowed from my friend Alun Davies). It didn’t make it onto my debut album, but it’s still a song the audience enjoy, as do I.”

Available on the KNIGHT$ EP ‘What’s Your Poison?’ via Speccio Uomo ‎

https://knights101.com/


PSYCHE Truth or Consequence (2017)

PSYCHE co-founder Darrin Huss said of ‘Truth Or Consequence’: “It started out under the title ‘Life On Trial’ and was about the Bradley Manning (now Chelsea) situation. It’s about the NSA surveillance, whistleblowers, etc. It’s also about the confusion between what is Truth, and what are the consequences of telling it, living it? Do we have safety in numbers? etc. It’s all in the lyrics. It’s a very PSYCHE song with even a nod to ‘The Brain Collapses’ with our use of that song’s drum machine the Oberheim DMX.”

Available on the PSYCHE single ‘Youth Of Tomorrow’ via Artoffact Records

http://www.psyche-hq.de/


SOFT CELL Guilty (2018)

That Marc Almond and Dave Ball reunited for a farewell gig and new material was a pleasant surprise. The frustration and anger expressed in ‘Guilty (Cos I Say You Are)’ with the lines “I can denounce you just because I can, I didn’t have the life I wanted, I didn’t do the things I dreamed” saw SOFT CELL continue where they left of in 2003. With dark resonances like ‘The Omen’ gone disco, its eerie gothique countered the celebratory electro-soul of A-side ‘Northern Lights’

Originally the B-side of ‘Northern Lights’, now available on the SOFT CELL album ‘Keychains & Snowstorms – The Singles’ via Universal Records

https://www.softcell.co.uk/


INTERNATIONAL TEACHERS OF POP Another Brick In The Wall – Remoaner mix (2019)

Inheriting the mantle of THE HUMAN LEAGUE in the modern synthpop stakes, INTERNATIONAL TEACHERS OF POP impressed with their self-titled debut album. With the single release of ‘The Ballad Of Remedy Wilson’ was a timely Remoaner mix of PINK FLOYD’s ‘Another Brick In The Wall’ sung in German that made a bold musical and political statement. Headteacher Adrian Flanagan said: “I hope that statement is ‘I hate PINK FLOYD but love KRAFTWERK’ and / or – ‘I hate you but love the EU’”.

Available on the INTERNATIONAL TEACHERS OF POP single ‘The Ballad Of Remedy Nilsson’ via Desolate Spools

https://www.facebook.com/internationalteachersofpop


Text by Chi Ming Lai with thanks to all the artists who contributed
19th July 2020

SNS SENSATION Your Door

Having captured the claustrophobic solitude of lockdown with ‘Small World’, SNS SENSATION follow-up that slice of disco noir with a variation on the theme.

Entitled ‘Your Door’, this reflective electronic number deals with the effect that isolation has on the wider human condition.

Highly influenced by the cool synthpop templates of NEW ORDER and PET SHOP BOYS, Sebastian Muravchik is the man behind SNS SENSATION.

Muravchik was best known as the front man of HEARTBREAK and while that project’s Italo sheen remains one of the continuity elements within SNS SENSATION, less prominent though are the heavier synth rock elements that came via musical partner Ali Renault. However, ‘Your Door’ springs a surprise with some distorted guitar in the final third to counterpoint its more wistful elements.

The promo music video for ‘Your Door’ is another inventive home-made affair and tells the story of a young school boy dealing with lockdown, unhappy about being taught by parents and unable to meet friends, but finally getting to enjoy the wide-open spaces of the great outdoors.

The video is a London-based present day colour tribute to Francois Truffaut’s 1959 nouvelle vague drama ‘The 400 Blows’, a story about a misunderstood Parisian adolescent who struggles with his parents and school. Elements could also be thematically seen to visually resonate a similar sentiment to TEARS FOR FEARS and the artwork for their debut album ‘The Hurting’.

Being in lockdown has made many feel like John Tracy in Thunderbird 5 and the subtle processing on Muravchik’s voice creates a hazy cabin fever feeling that aesthetically conveys all manner of frustrated emotions within ‘Your Door’.

In an interview with The Electricity Club in April, Sebastian Muravchik said: “After the initial shock and the panic that ensued from becoming aware of what this pandemic could be and mean, I felt that facing the reality of it head-on in my work was a way of coping: perhaps a sense of control, even if illusory.”

He concluded that “My contribution is to help make some sort of sense of this reality; to try to understand more”.

But Muravchik admitted “the biggest challenge of all, bigger than the very real and horrific death we all justifiably fear, is freedom. And for as long as we manage to stay healthy, freedom is everywhere.”


‘Your Door’ is available now as a download single direct from https://wearesns.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/wearesns/

https://twitter.com/sns_wave

https://www.instagram.com/sns_discopop_noir/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
10th July 2020

Introducing SNS SENSATION

If there is a song right now that captures the claustrophobic solitude of lockdown isolation both aurally and visually, then it is the appropriately titled ‘Small World’ by SNS SENSATION.

SNS SENSATION is the solo musical vehicle of Sebastian Muravchik, best known as the charismatic front man of the Italo flavoured electro rockers HEARTBREAK; together with Ali Renault, the pair were often on concert billings with LITTLE BOOTS and LA ROUX during the electro resurgence of 2007-2009.

A song about self-isolation during the pandemic crisis, ‘Small World’ itself is a throbbing electronic number with icy rhythms, marrying the elegance of minimal synth with the melodic presence of Italo disco.

It is reminiscent of ‘I’m Still Searching’ and ‘Miserabilsm’, two excellent songs released respectively as B-sides by VISAGE and PET SHOP BOYS.

Articulating the mood of our times, Sebastian Muravchik kindly spoke to The Electricity Club from the isolation of his ‘Small World’…

The subject matter of ‘Small World’ is quite timely with everything going on in the world, is that a coincidence?

The release was going to be a different song, but this pandemic kicked off and ‘Small World’ happened quite quickly as a response to it. Having said that, many of the issues enhanced by this crisis are there in regular times; existential ghosts that you’ll find in this pandemic song, but also in other SNS SENSATION’s songs, unrelated to the pandemic.

‘Small World’ has an uptempo but claustrophobic feel which is also reflected in the video, how did you come up with both?

Writing and producing songs is easy, mostly, because the music and the lyrics write themselves, and the arrangements and ideas emerge from flow. The only real obstacles in the way are ego and fear.

In this blurry channelling of ideas, one key concept was descending steps. The claustrophobia in descent. Descent is there in the lyrics, the music and the music video (including the descent of what’s falling onto you).

The aim was to find claustrophobia in the way disease, fear, uncertainty, meaninglessness and time itself descend onto your feeble existence (or how it descends onto them). A down-sloping diagonal, like a steeper remake of ‘North by Northwest’ by David Lynch.

After the initial shock and the panic that ensued from becoming aware of what this pandemic could be and mean, I felt that facing the reality of it head-on in my work was a way of coping: perhaps a sense of control, even if illusory. There are enough good artists out there singing bright songs of hope and togetherness, and they do it very well. My contribution is to help make some sort of sense of this reality; to try to understand more.

Some may know you from your work with HEARTBREAK, so how does SNS SENSATION differ conceptually and musically? Who are your influences and inspirations in this respect?

SNS SENSATION is more cinematographic, tends to be more noir. SNS SENSATION’s disco-pop is more tinged by minimal wave and post-punk, and acts like DEUX, or the more wistful end of INTERNATIONAL MUSIC SYSTEM; but the bedroom textures of old school house and techno are still there to be found.

SNS SENSATION is also more aligned to KRAFTWERK’s emotional channeling (e.g. ‘Neon Lights’, ‘Metropolis’, ‘Spiegelsaal’, etc), ie the movement in the still picture, as opposed to HEARTBREAK’s attempt to stop time by invoking the speed of light.

SNS SENSATION’s approach to multiplicity in identity is channeled through the cinematographic, rather than by putting the personality of the rock star through the cycles of a washing machine, as we do in HEARTBREAK. The robotic is still there, but it’s a film star robot (‘Das Modell’).

There is a lot less influence from Metal as well, since Ali is the expert on that genre, and I feed from his passion for metal in our collaboration. And less of that electro-industrial edge that Ali brings to the work we do together.

Singing-wise, less Ozzy in this project, and more the Ralf Hutter end of Neil Tenant’s singing, as well as the singing in IMS’ ‘Runaway’ (what is that singer’s name!? anyone?). Horror is still key, but SNS SENSATION focuses on the fear while HEARTBREAK focuses on the gore… but just like HEARTBREAK, openness and a wide range are key, letting the creative flow dictate what a project is, and what it becomes.

SNS SENSATION embraces influences from EARTH WIND & FIRE, from CASCO (rip Salva x), and from DAS DING. It’s about the song as much as the sound. If you can picture the band SEND MORE PARAMEDICS dancing to John Parr’s ‘Man in Motion’, you’ll get the idea. There’s some very bright disco pop and some eco-apocalyptic minimal synth-inspired songs, and some in the middle.

Even if both HEARTBREAK and SNS SENSATION are heavily grounded in disco and the bedroom producer aesthetic, I am quite curious as to how HEARTBREAK fans will respond to SNS SENSATION’s more sombre shades, as well as its overexposed pop inclinations… in other words, I hope they like it!

Some may not know you were the voice of ‘Anthonio’ in the ‘Annie’ response single in 2009, working with Richard X. How do you look back on that experience and how it may have shaped SNS SENSATION?

It was really helpful; it was an opportunity to explore that other singing range I hadn’t found an outlet for, guided by a top producer. I was really happy with the outcome too, and sort of opened the door for me to be more confident in exploring this SNS SENSATION area. Richard X also helped me with the vocal recording of an SNS SENSATION single produced back then, ‘Everybody’; he was very supportive about the songwriting aspect of my work, which helped a lot too.

So what is next for SNS SENSATION ? An album or EP?

SNS SENSATION’s strategy is more digital singles, monthly or so. An EP is definitely a possibility, a decent format right now (concise, yet showing range and a journey through songs). There are plans for a vinyl EP with a fantastic label at some point this year hopefully, but no date confirmed yet. I am very excited about a physical release through such a highly reputed label. I always have loved vinyl (also tape).

Another aim is to keep developing the SNS SENSATION video and photography work, and find out how social media can be an aspect of its body of work. To keep SNS SENSATION evolving, and figure out its audience.

I’m enjoying it enormously, the experimental freedom and the fun of seeing where it goes, the wondrous surprises, the constant learning.

What is the strategy for modern music marketing now as HEARTBREAK came out of period before streaming took hold and where selling to the mainstream was still a target for many labels?

What was just starting back in the days of HEARTBREAK’s ‘Lies’ is now the norm. The more I understand and adapt to it, the freer I feel.

One thing I love about social media is that it is generally accepted as a way of putting “unfinished work” out there, of experimenting and trying out things; most people accept it as a form of documenting your process, or just having fun! It encourages you to be creative every day of your life, not just during the album recording phase.

All the restrictive stages of the previous exposure model are irrelevant now; even the greatest stars discover themselves in this looking glass 🙂

Also the idea of sharing in social media is still strong I think. The relationship to fans is so much healthier than it used to be, less oppressive for fans, less lonely for artists. And the multiple is there too: you are part of different groups, where you can indulge your love for music, for images, for history, experiments and novelty. If you use it right (and not everybody does), it can be very organic and natural. It allows you to be yourself; but more importantly, it allows you to disguise yourself, which is more honest!

Release strategy-wise, I think regular singles are great, very dynamic and respectful of people’s time. They also enable the songs to remain relevant to a fast-changing world. But particularly, as a songwriter, I feel really excited about the space and the importance that it gives to THE SONG. Songs are easy to write, but a good song is rather hard to come by – respect to the makers of this complex form is overdue, in my opinion.

I genuinely think this is a wonderful time to be alive. As we face extinction on several fronts, and however real the panic and the horror is, we are forced to become more resourceful and creative with our technologies, to adapt, and also to face the truth.

We are forced to love every breath we are able to take, like that Italian doctor said who was recovering from the virus.

And the biggest challenge of all, bigger than the very real and horrific death we all justifiably fear, is freedom. And for as long as we manage to stay healthy, freedom is everywhere.


The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to Sebastian Muravchik

‘Small World’ is available now as a digital single via all the usual platforms including https://wearesns.bandcamp.com/ or https://open.spotify.com/track/4FSEEAhCd81BcCHWrYGm8E

https://www.facebook.com/wearesns/

https://twitter.com/sns_wave

https://www.instagram.com/sns_discopop_noir/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
25th April 2020

JORJA CHALMERS Live in London

Jorja Chalmers’ debut LP ‘Human Again’ was something of a conceptual observation on the human condition, a musical reality check following the artifice of adulation.

Conceived and sketched in hotel rooms around the world while in her dayjob as the sax / keys player for ROXY MUSIC’s Bryan Ferry, it captured the comedown of emptiness and alienation often arising from living the dream and touring to packed houses around the world.

The primarily instrumental suite was released in September 2019 by Italians Do It Better, home to CHROMATICS, DESIRE and HEAVEN, as well as being co-mixed by head honcho Johnny Jewel. While the Australian multi-instrumentalist has been something of a live veteran, having been part of the London music scene as a member of HOTEL MOTEL in the mid-noughties, Jorja Chalmers’ set at The Lexington was her first ever solo performance.

Backed by Ali Renault, best known as the synth man from Italo-influenced duo HEARTBREAK, the intimate London space was ideal for the introspective downtempo nature of the ‘Human Again’ material.

The organic spiritual tones of ‘Black Shadow’ began proceedings to create an uneasy ambience and a desolate air of mystery in keeping with its title.

But the set was not just about instrumentals as ‘She Made Him Love Again’ saw Chalmers put her breathy but spooky voice to good effect. A song of a sombre synthy disposition in the vein of the ‘Blade Runner’ soundtrack, a more prominent deep intervention of sax than on the record added an extra human quality, echoing the cult movie’s own blues.

The more rhythmic ‘Red Light’ added vocal ad-libs to counter its sinister claustrophobic Cold War atmosphere, all very Berlin in its mood with a variety of chilling dissonant keyboards.

New number ‘Don’t Think’ recalled the electro-dubby wash of lost Glaswegian trio ONE DOVE while the doomy metallic chill on ‘Copper Bells’ was given resonance, thanks to the meaty combination of pulsing arpeggios and a layer of Klaus Schulze-like string machine.

On the ‘Human Again’ title song, our heroine took to her sax and mic again. Like a forlorn Enya wandering into ‘Twin Peaks’, her emotive declaration that “I’ve been on my own for so long” captured the feeling of solitude in company, an often discussed post-gig condition.

Closing with two new songs, the comparatively boisterous ‘Warrior’ fused a distinctive marimba line with sax, but the sexy synth ‘n’ sax of ‘You Should Love Me Tonight’ was even more of a surprise.

Very avant pop in its construction, this slinky tune was a considerable departure from the more understated tracks collected on ‘Human Again’, coming over like a brilliant art school take on Cyndi Lauper.

It was a captivating half hour presentation which showed that material from the ‘Human Again’ album could work effectively within a live context and hold the attention of an audience. But having displayed a song-based prowess in the newer material, where Jorja Chalmers will take her music in the future is deliciously intriguing. So watch this space!


With thanks to Frankie Davison at Stereo Sanctity

‘Human Again’ is released by Italians Do it Better in CD, vinyl LP and digital formats, available from https://italiansdoitbetter.com/product/jorja-chalmers-human-again/

https://www.instagram.com/jorjachalmers/

https://twitter.com/IDIB

https://open.spotify.com/artist/4AB4sOhd7x98tjAMB4SgNY


Text and Photos by Chi Ming Lai
31st January 2020

HEARTBREAK Interview

When London based electronic disco duo HEARTBREAK first appeared, they prided themselves on being “kind of how the 80s would sound today if the 90s hadn’t got in the way”. 

Fronted by the charismatic Argentinian vocalist Sebastian Muravchik and backed by Chester-born producer Ali Renault’s dramatic heavy metal electro where guitars were substituted for a Roland SH101, they somehow managed to mix BLACK SABBATH with Italo Disco.

This incongruous cocktail came together in a sinister but joyous manner that would “make the world dance with tears in their eyes, like bi-polar maniacs on the brink of an ecstatic panic attack!”.

Anthemic songs such as ‘Destroy All Power’ and ‘My Tears Electro’ put HEARTBREAK alongside WHITE LIES, LITTLE BOOTS and LA ROUX in the promising synthy school of 2008, with the duo touring with the latter two. However, despite these well-received live performances, HEARTBREAK went into hiatus with just one album ‘Lies’ to their name.

But in keeping with their best known song ‘We’re Back’, Sebastian Muravchik and Ali Renault have announced an unexpected return with a reunion gig at The Moth Club in London’s Hackney for Hypnotic Tango with ITALOCONNECTION, the production team featuring Italo legend Fred Ventura.

The duo kindly chatted to The Electricity Club about what has been happening over the last few years within the HEARTBREAK camp and what they might have planned for the future.

One of the influences in HEARTBREAK was Italo Disco which is now being reappraised in a more positive light with documentaries like ‘Italo Disco Legacy’. How did you come to discover and love it?

Seb and Ali: It was always there, from childhood. It was big both in Italy where Ali lived and in Buenos Aires as well, where Seb is from. But then of course Ferenc drew attention to it through the CBS and then IFM, and here DJ Casionova made us realise this was more than music, it was a mission. It was always there and always will be; to quote Casionova: “Italo is forever”.

Your signature song ‘We’re Back’ is proving to be quite prophetic?

Seb and Ali: In many ways, yes. Back then there were a few nights in the country pushing the sound, but it was mostly ignored in the UK, as it had been for decades since its inception. These days it seems to be a fairly well established scene.

For instance Fred Ventura is a regular visitor here these days, and we’ll be lucky enough to share the bill again with him on the 15th.

Salvatore also managed to finally DJ here a few times before his extremely untimely passing – credit the classic Cyber Dance crew for a lot of this.

There was a certain hypocrisy towards Italo Disco in the UK despite it being an important aspect of PET SHOP BOYS and NEW ORDER?

Seb and Ali: You bet. Italo in the UK carries political weight, in a similar understated way to how Disco was political in the US during the 70s. I think in that sense it is more relevant now than it ever was before.

Another element of HEARTBREAK was the heavy electronic sound and also being very energetic live…

Seb and Ali: Metal was and is very important to us as an influence in a variety of ways.

We called it Metallo, but you know, as soon as we define our work as something we seem to immediately move in a different direction.

Nevertheless, from classic metal like Sabbath and so on through Thrash and into Death Metal, themes, energy and attitude influence what we do – we also greatly admire the scene’s endurance and its uncompromising artistic stance.

Why did the HEARTBREAK hiatus happen in the first place?

Seb and Ali: Love tore us apart.

What did you both do during the break?

Seb: I wrote and produced the SNS album and toured with the band, and also did some acting in the occasional soap opera in Buenos Aires when the political climate allowed it (it’s too risky at the minute, but it was fine for quite a few years before). I have also done some academic work and research on photography and screenwriting, and recently started a third wave of work with Movimiento Improbable, looking a lot into early electronic and tape music, and classic tango of course.

Ali: I went back to concentrating on solo projects under my aliases Ali Renault and Cestrian as well as starting a new EBM influenced project called PARASOLS. In 2013, I started a new label Vivod, now 22 releases in and started my own Radio Show on Intergalactic FM, Vivod Radio 3 years ago. Other than that, I’ve been gigging around Europe taking my live set around but mostly DJ-ing.

Looking back to 2008-2009, it was a crazy time… you had a lot of good press, were collaborating with LITTLE BOOTS on the song ‘Magical’, remixing for SUGABABES + SAINT EITENNE and doing the NME tour with LA ROUX, what do you remember of it?

Seb and Ali: Intense highs, deep lows, considerable joy, considerable pain. But above all, great gigs all round.

How do you reflect on the recording of the ‘Lies’ album? Which tracks do you think still stand up today?

Seb and Ali: ‘Regret’ is our favourite – something special happened there; but also ‘We’re Back’ and ‘My Tears Electro’.

‘The Deadly Pong of Love’ has actually grown on both of us and we love it even more than we did back then. ‘Robot’s Got the Feeling’ does as well, everything basically, except maybe for ‘Give Me Action’ which hasn’t aged too well we think.

‘My Tears Electro’ was a song on the ‘Deceit’ EP, what was that inspired by?

Seb and Ali: Hope against hope, belief in the impossible, and the overwhelming sadness underlying any fight worth fighting. HEARTBREAK in a way was about turning anger and despair into love and lust for life. All of it simultaneously strengthened and undermined by what we consider our own lines of flight.

You did a cover of ‘Loving The Alien’ for the ‘Life Beyond Mars – Bowie Covered’ album but of course, he’s sadly no longer with us…

Seb and Ali: He was an excellent songwriter, a fact sometimes overshadowed by the visual aspect of what he did (which was very strong as well of course), and the overall myth he projected so effectively. His post-modern stance on identity is influential to Seb, and so is his early work as a lyricist, but we cannot say his sound at any particular stage bears relevant influence to HEARTBREAK’s, production-wise.

The ‘Anthonio’ song Sebastian did with Richard X over the ANNIE backing track was good fun and rather authentic…

Seb: I’m really thankful to Richard X for the opportunity to explore that singing register and expression, something I’ve always wanted to do.

It was a fun idea and I’ve learnt a lot from working with Richard on that and another bit of vocal recording for SNS he once helped me with.

I am better as a singer because of that experience. I hope someday somehow I get to work with him again.

How do you feel about how the music business landscape and social media has changed since ‘Lies’ came out in 2008?

Seb and Ali: Best time for music ever. As a business, streaming shows amazing potential. Vinyl costs could be covered by streaming profits, but we also hail the return of the cassette tape, all potentially enhanced by the streaming model’s democratising wealth. In terms of social media, we like the accountability it brings and how it might help to a degree do away with the harmful ghosts that smother the music world in smoke and mirrors, purifying the listening experience and music culture in general. I think it can empower fans and help them through some of the psychological hardships associated with following the work of their favourite artists.

So are HEARTBREAK back for the long haul and will there be new material?

Seb and Ali: We’ll do the Moth Club gig, see how that goes and take it from there. But we’re in a good place right now. This gig to us is a celebration of what HEARTBREAK was, an honest mission full of love at a time where that was (and now probably remains) fairly rare among electronic bands, but also a celebration of a great friendship that we thought had broken down for good and never thought we’d be able to rebuild. Being friends again is a bit of a miracle to be honest, which we value greatly. The idea is that, whatever we do next, this time the friendship comes first.

Your comeback performance will be at The Moth Club in London with Fred Ventura’s ITALOCONNECTION, what have you planned for that?

Seb and Ali: Blood and tears.


The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to HEARTBREAK

‘Lies’ released by Lex Records is still available as a CD, vinyl LP or download from the usual online retail outlets or direct from https://shop.lexrecords.com/collections/catalogue/products/lies

HEARTBREAK play The Moth Club, Valette Street, Hackney, London E9 6NU as part of Hypnotic Tango on Friday 15th June 2018 with ITALOCONNECTION + IL BOSCO, Facebook event page at https://www.facebook.com/events/228357584413240/

https://www.facebook.com/Heartbreak-14224761975/

https://myspace.com/heartbreak1


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
31st May 2018

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