Tag: Hyperbubble (Page 1 of 3)

HYPERBUBBLE Love & Bionics

Bionic Bubblepunk duo HYPERBUBBLE feel “the world needs some love and good vibrations… and free stuff”, so have presented ‘Love & Bionics’.

Not content with having delivered a cosmic country covers album three years ago inspired by ‘Switched On Nashville’ called ‘Western Ware’ that put the “MOO” into Moog, the duo of Jess and Jeff DeCuir have turned their attention to a wider range of standards and obscurities arranged in their own style of Texan electro artpunk.

They succeed in their adventure by their choice of less obvious songs getting the electronic treatment.

After all, does the world really need any more modern synth reinterpretations of DEPECHE MODE, YAZOO and ULTRAVOX? But even when HYPERBUBBLE cover songs readily accepted as being of a more synthpop bent, they give them their own twist. Album opener ‘Pop Goes the World’ which was originally by MEN WITHOUT HATS gets new lyrics to introduce the duo by way of a musical manifesto. Meanwhile DEAD OR ALIVE’s ‘You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)’ is given a sombre minimal synth and vocoder treatment at half the speed which surprisingly works!

‘Theme from Shaft’ is an unexpected delight with the tune’s familiar wah-wah guitar motif transferred to bleepy sequences while the orchestrated parts are brilliantly reconfigured with synths. Then there’s a hilarious robopop take on VAN HALEN’s ‘Jamie’s Cryin’ with spoken word segments and yes, synth solos!

‘Tiny Alice’ by lesser known Michigan singer / songwriter Paul Parrish is given an acapella arrangement which sounds like the beginning of DARTS’ cover of ‘Boy From New York City’ while ‘Starship 109’ which was originally a single by the obscure Dutch fusion combo MISTRAL acts as a suitably spacey interlude between the two halves of the album.

The enjoyment factor of ‘You’re the One That I Want’ will be down to individual taste, but this lively post-modern take sums up the light-hearted irreverent nature of HYPERBUBBLE. But best of all though is a charming instrumental version of ‘Sugar Sugar’, which in some ways recalls the style of Gil Trythall’s ‘Switched On Nashville’ album.

Covering music from new wave, heavy rock, exotica, soul, folk and film, ‘Love & Bionics’ is fun and free. Love or loathe, it’s a lesson to others as to how to think outside of the box when it comes to doing cover versions using synths.


‘Love & Bionics’ is available now as a free download album direct from https://hyperbubble.bandcamp.com/album/love-and-bionics

http://www.hyperbubble.net/

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https://twitter.com/Hyperbubble

https://www.instagram.com/hyperbubbleofficial/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
21st August 2020

A Synth Is For Life & Not Just For Christmas…

Remember, a synth is for life and not just for Christmas...As the Yule Tide season gets into full swing, The Electricity Club presents a collection of modern seasonal tunes with a more artful slant…

With a song to play on each of the Twelve Days of Christmas, some are covers while others are original compositions. But each has their own take on the holiday period, whether happy or sad or both.

Synths at Christmas are not entirely new; ‘Last Christmas’ by WHAM! was primarily made with a Roland Juno 60 while BAND AID’s ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas? was dominated by PPG Wave 2.2 with a percussive sample taken from ‘Memories Fade’ by TEARS FOR FEARS also being key to the intro.

Whatever your plans whether with the family or in the studio, please remember, a synth is for life and not just for Christmas… may it bring you lots of cheer 🎹🎄😉


CHEW LIPS When You Wake Up (2010)

CHEW LIPS may be on hiatus but in 2010, on the back of their only album ‘Unicorn’ and its subsequent tour, they were on a productive high. ‘When You Wake Up’ was a bonus tune recorded and given away as a Christmas gift to fans at the end of that very successful year. Delivered with lead singer Tigs’ usual feisty panache, listening back only highlights how much CHEW LIPS are missed.

Originally released as a free download

https://www.facebook.com/CHEWLiPS/


ERASURE Gaudete (2013)

ERASURE GaudeteAndy Bell and Vince Clarke’s version of this traditional Ecclesiastical Latin carol continued an ERASURE tradition that had begun in 1988 with ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ for the CD edition of the ‘Crackers International’ EP in 1988. With a precise electronic backbeat, ‘Gaudete’ was taken from its 16th Century origins and thrown into the new millennium whilst still retaining its original essence with a cheeky ‘Ice Machine’ reference for good measure.

Available on the album ‘Snow Globe’ via Mute Artists

http://www.erasureinfo.com/


HURTS All I Want For Christmas Is New Year’s Day (2010)

Hurts-christmasWith their TAKE THAT dressed as ULTRAVOX template having achieved great success in Europe, courtesy of their debut album ‘Happiness’, Theo Hutchcraft and Adam Anderson parradoxically turned their attentions to memories of “the worst Christmas of our lives”. In true Bros Go To Bavaria style, despite the mournful start, ‘All I Want For Christmas Is New Year’s Day’ steadily transformed itself into a hopeful anthem with a big chorus and lashings of tubular bells.

Available on the download single ‘All I Want for Christmas Is New Year’s Day’ via Major Label / RCA

http://www.informationhurts.com/


HYPERBUBBLE A Synthesizer for Christmas (2013)

HYPERBUBBLE A Synthesizer for ChristmasWhether it was a Casio, Yamaha or Roland, everyone wanted ‘A Synthesizer For Christmas’. Texan couple HYPERBUBBLE took that enduring memory and turned it into a delightful synthpop ditty that could resonate with electronic geeks from eight to eighty the world over. Short but sweet, it was another joyous “cartoon automaton symphony” from Jess and Jeff.

Available on the download single ‘A Synthesizer For Christmas’ via Socket Sounds

http://www.hyperbubble.net/


LOLA DUTRONIC Another Christmas Without Snow (2010)

Lola Dutronic-Christmas without snowIn the UK, a wet Christmas is always more likely,  but LOLA DUTRONIC’s ‘Another Christmas Without Snow’ resonated with its melancholic yet pretty demeanour. The project of Canadian producer Richard Citroen and using a flexible roster of wispy female vocalists, the tones of Lola Dee came over all dreamy like SAINT ETIENNE and conveyed the season’s mixed emotions.

Available on the download single ‘(Another) Christmas Without Snow’ via Lola Dutronic

https://www.facebook.com/LOLA-DUTRONIC-80232595392/


MARSHEAUX We Met Bernard Sumner At A Christmas Party Last Night (2015)

GHOSTS-OF-CHRISTMAS-PAST-twi158cd‘We Met Bernard Sumner At A Christmas Party Last Night’ is a wonderfully whispery synthpop number that is classic MARSHEAUX. The lyrics are constructed from the song and album titles of NEW ORDER to provide an imaginary narrative on Marianthi Melitsi and Sophie Sarigiannidou surreally bumping into the Manchester combo’s lead singer at a Yule Tide function.

Available on the album ‘Ghost Of Christmas Past Remake)’ (V/A) via Les Disques du Crépuscule

http://www.marsheaux.com


HANNAH PEEL Find Peace (2014)

HANNAH PEEL Find Peace‘Find Peace’ is 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. It is certainly a suitably poignant message for the festive season. With hints of GAZELLE TWIN, the off-kilter analogue buzzing and almost random sequences make for a striking listen as a frantic percussive death rattle and an emotive synth drone take hold to provide an appropriate backdrop for HANNAH PEEL’s eerie but beautiful voice.

Available on the download and 7 inch single ‘Find Peace’ via Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club

http://www.hannahpeel.com/


PET SHOP BOYS It Doesn’t Often Snow At Christmas (2009)

Pet_Shop_Boys_-_ChristmasOriginally recorded in 1997 for an exclusive fan club single but remixed in 2009 for an official release, ‘It Doesn’t Often Snow At Christmas’ was a suitably camp offering that couldn’t have been anyone else. Famous for keeping THE POGUES ‘Farytale Of New York’ off the 1987 UK Christmas No1 spot with their cover of ‘Always On My Mind’, while this didn’t hit those commercial heights, it provided a very PET SHOP BOYS take on the madness of the festive season.

Available on the EP ‘Christmas’ via EMI Records

http://www.petshopboys.co.uk/


SIN COS TAN Dead By X-Mas (2016)

A cover of Finnish metal glamsters HANOI ROCKS, this take on ‘Dead By X-Mas’ from the nocturnal synth duo SIN COS TAN aka Juho Paalosmaa and Jori Hulkkonen came over a bit like BILLY IDOL gone electro, but with an elegiac twist. Bizarrely in 2006, the former William Broad issued his own collection of seasonal themed tunes entitled ‘Happy Holidays’ … it’s a nice day for a ‘White Christmas!

Available as a free download

https://www.facebook.com/homeofsincostan/


SPARKS Christmas Without A Prayer (2015)

SPARKS Christmas Without A PrayerBack in 1974 for their ‘Kimono My House’ album, the Mael brothers recorded a song called ‘Thank God It’s Not Christmas’, a typically perverse SPARKS romp that had nothing to do as such with the holiday season. Currently enjoying their highest profile since their pop heyday, thanks to their FFS collaboration with FRANZ FERDINAND, Russell and Ron ended the year with ‘Christmas Without A Prayer’, a fitting offering which also amusingly outlined that albums by WINGS were actually unwanted gifts.

Available on the download single ‘Christmas Without A Prayer’ via Lil’ Beethoven Records

http://www.allsparks.com/


VICE VERSA Little Drum Machine Boy (2015)

“A twisted cover of a cover of a cover”, this synth laden reinterpretation of the tune (based on a traditional Czech carol) made famous by a bizarre but highly enjoyable version by David Bowie and Bing Crosby, saw former ABC stalwarts Mark White and Stephen Singleton reconvene as  VICE VERSA to wax lyrical about 303s, 808s, 909s and a “shiny new Roland toy”. It was a fabulous combination of sleigh bells, squelching arpeggios and of course, drum machines…

Available as a free download

https://www.facebook.com/Vice-Versa-Electrogenesis-806726912703189/


VILE ELECTRODES The Ghosts Of Christmas (2013)

VILE ELECTRODES The Ghosts Of ChristmasIf ‘Twin Peaks’ met ‘Leader Of The Pack’ under the mistletoe, it would sound like this. Possibly the best Christmas tune of the last five or ten years, Anais Neon’s harrowing tale of a departed loved one is strangely enticing, with the beautifully haunting echoes of JULEE CRUISE’s ‘The Nightingale’ lingering over the frozen lake.

Available on the EP ‘The Ghosts Of Christmas’ via Vile Electrodes

http://www.vileelectrodes.com/


A further varied collection of seasonal synth based tunes compiled by The Electricity Club can be listened to at: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7vIIjZkGd3cVOSarUPvX85


Text by Chi Ming Lai
9th December 2018, updated 21st December 2019

HYPERBUBBLE Pretty Plastic

Celebrating 20 years of HYPERBUBBLE, the Texan electro artpunk duo of Jess and Jeff Decuir release ‘Pretty Plastic’.

It’s a compendium of their work previously scattered across vinyl, EPs and compilations issued on labels in the UK, America, Germany, Italy and Japan.

As well as gathering rarities, ‘Pretty Plastic’ also includes slight variations on some of their best known songs that have gained the duo a worldwide cult audience.

Beginning with ‘Jouet Pop’ aka ‘Girl Boy Pop Toy’, this is the couple’s appealing musical mission statement as the “synthesizer couple” which often opens their live set and acted as one of the key tracks on their third album ‘Candy Apple Daydreams’ in 2010.

From that very album, an Extended Remix of the title track acts as enjoyable treat, featuring a more dance focussed rhythm construction while maintaining the song’s quirky B-52s catchiness. The longer middle section even throws in a robotised HYPERBUBBLE biography.

Featuring in a Nightmare Mix, the frantic and brilliant ‘Chop Shop Cop’ amusingly asks “you wouldn’t steal a car, you wouldn’t steal a DVD, you wouldn’t download load an illegal MP3, so why did you steal my heart?”, while the sturdy Valentino Mix of ‘Non Biodegradable Hazardous Waste Disposal’ adds another catchy but different focal point.

Having shown their knack for synth instrumentals on 2016’s ‘Music To Color By’, HYPERBUBBLE prove they’re always had it with tracks like 2014’s ‘Son of Sky Smasher’ and ‘Disgow Glasgow’ from 2009.

And if you’ve ever wanted to hear what ‘Money’ might sound like as mad electronic remix, then the 60 second ‘Party On Jupiter’ does the trick, while ‘(She’s So) Technical’ reveals a moodier side to the couple. The driving electronics of ‘Kinky’ provide some spice to proceedings before the octave thrust of ‘Pop Star’ amusingly captures wanabee culture with a spacey twist.

‘Welcome to Infinity’ is Vince Clarke-styled sequenced magic with shades of Donna Summer thrown in and appropriately, the 2004 vintage ‘Disco Invasion’ gives an alien take on Giorgio Moroder.

Things perhaps go off track with the Neuromix of ‘Synesthesia’ which is really for fans only but ‘Another Ride’ puts things back on track before an extended take on ‘Girl Boy Pop Toy’ nicely bookends the collection.

At 22 tracks, ‘Pretty Plastic’ is excellent value and achieves that difficult feat of appealing to loyal followers and acting as a representative introduction to those who are curious about the June Carter and Johnny Cash of synthpop.


‘Pretty Plastic’ released in CD and download formats by Pure Pop For Now People Records

http://www.hyperbubble.net/

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https://twitter.com/Hyperbubble


Text by Chi Ming Lai
17th July 2017

HYPERBUBBLE Western Ware

The quirky Texan husband and wife duo HYPERBUBBLE have finally delivered their long awaited cosmic country album with a twist.

First revealed during an interview for The Electricity Club in 2014, ‘Western Ware’ puts the “MOO” into Moog!

Inspired by GIL TRYTHALL’s ‘Switched On Nashville’ which featured a Moog modular version of ‘Gentle On My Mind’ and a bizarre vocoder laden take on ‘Folsom Prison Blues’, ‘Western Ware’ was actually recorded in the home city of country music.

This HYPERBUBBLE album is a collection of covers that promises the recordings are “100% Electronic. No Strings Attached”. Opening song ‘Y’All Come’ is a hoe down in space, but things get more crossover with the unmistakable lilt of ‘Jolene’. Previously covered by acts as unlikely as THE SISTERS OF MERCY, STRAWBERRY SWITCHBLADE and ONE DOVE, Dolly’s classic tune gets an enjoyable synthpop reboot.

On the ‘Nashville in the 23rd Century’ rendition of ‘Boney Fingers’, Jess DeCuir’s theremin is a most perfect Country instrument as it hauntingly twangs, while she duets with her man Jeff. Perhaps unsurprisingly as electronic music’s own CARTER & CASH, ‘Truck Driving Woman’ actually sounds like one of HYPERBUBBLE’s own compositions despite being of 1968 vintage, first made famous by Oklahoma starlet NORMA JEAN.

With its swoops, sweeps and Darth Vader references, the cover of FREDDY WELLER’s ‘Bar Wars’ is hilarious and brought up to date.

The tone continues on a pulsating synth laden rendition of ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’ which also features musical pranksters Ricardo Autobahn and Daz Samson as well as some HI-NRG orchestra stabs!

And as the track segues into ‘Digital Cowboy’, there’s a treat for fans of OUR DAUGHTER’S WEDDING as Scott Simon comes out of semi-retirement to play lead synths on this previously unreleased title track from ODW’s first EP.

‘The Rubber Room’ adds some square waltzing and more theremin before the album climaxes with ‘The Electric Horseman’, a meaty take on the instrumental from the Robert Redford film of the same name. Extended from the original which incidentally also featured a sequencer line, the track is given a powerful synthwave workout not far off from PERTURBATOR!

‘Western Ware’ clocks in at just over 29 minutes and while it doesn’t outstay its welcome, it is disappointing that ‘The Devil Went Down To Georgia’, which HYPERBUBBLE have played live on several occasions, hasn’t made the final tracklisting.

As with their previous offering ‘Music To Color By’, phasers are again set to fun and for the ‘Western Ware’ concept alone, HYPERBUBBLE deserve either an award or a straitjacket 😉

‘Western Ware’ uses the following equipment: Moog Etherwave Theremin, Moog Rogue, Moog Sub37, Moog Little Phatty, Moog Theremini, Moog Prodigy, Moog Taurus II, MicroKorg Vocoder, Korg Monotron, Roland Gaia, Roland Juno 60, Roland Jupiter 8, Roland TR707, Roland TR808, Roland TR909, ARP Odyssey, ARP Omni, Yamaha CS01, Casio MT500, Oberheim Matrix, Nord lead, Access Virus T12, Alesis D4, Linn LM2, Boss DR55, Simmons SKHB2, Dubreq Stylophone


‘Western Ware’ is released by Fellowshipwreck as a CD and download
http://www.hyperbubble.net/

https://www.facebook.com/hyperbubble

https://hyperbubble.bandcamp.com/

https://twitter.com/Hyperbubble

http://fellowshipwreck.com/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
26th February 2017

TEC’s 2016 End Of Year Review

What In the World…

tec2016review-mopho2016 will forever be remembered as the year when a significant number of cultural icons and popular musical figures left us; DAVID BOWIE, PRINCE, TOMITA, PETE BURNS, COLIN VERNCOMBE, KEITH EMERSON, DON BUCHLA and LEONARD COHEN were just some of the names who sadly departed.

But despite sadness that loomed, the year did produce some good music, particularly in the second half of the year.

GARY NUMAN launched an ambitious Pledge Music campaign and released some excellent collaborations with JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS, JEAN-MICHEL JARRE and TITÁN. But with his retrospective tour of material from his three most popular albums taking up much of his year, his new crowdfunded album did not meet its planned October release deadline.

jarreyello2016Meanwhile JEAN-MICHEL JARRE had an excess of material and issued the second volume of his ‘Electronica’ project which also featured YELLO and PET SHOP BOYS, plus a third instalment to his classic opus ‘Oxygène’.

YELLO and PET SHOP BOYS also released new albums to a positive reception, proving again that partnerships featuring personnel over the age of 60 can still create music that is fresh and relevant.

Incidentally, one of YELLO’s young vocalists FIFI RONG continued to maintain her artistic profile with successful campaigns for her releases ‘Forbidden Desires’ and ‘Alone’.

Hannah-Peel-2016-042016 saw two concept albums emerge in ‘The Ship’ from BRIAN ENO, a solemn art piece with poignant anti-war messages and ‘Awake But Always Dreaming’, a very personal musical statement by HANNAH PEEL on the traumas of dementia. It was a busy year for Miss Peel with her also contributing her voice to BEYOND THE WIZARDS SLEEVE and JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS, as well as showcasing her own MARY CASIO side project.

WRANGLER released a new album ‘White Glue’ which exuded a less rigid format compared to its predecessor ‘LA Spark’ and collaborated with JOHN GRANT at the Rough Trade 40 live celebrations, while the prolific Neil Arthur issued another new BLANCMANGE album in ‘Commuter 23’ while also launching a new side project NEAR FUTURE with BERNHOLZ.

midgerusty-2012The Manchester veteran ERIC RANDOM issued ‘Words Made Flesh’, the second album of his recent return to the music while RUSTY EGAN finally presented ‘Welcome To The Dancefloor’ which despite its title, was actually a collection of classic styled synthpop. After many years of trials and tribulations for the co-founder of VISAGE, the long player featuring MIDGE URE, TONY HADLEY and CHRIS PAYNE who co-wrote ‘Fade to Grey’ exceeded expectations.

Space travel and synths were just made to go together, so JØTA and VANGELIS conceived projects covering The Cold War space race and the more recent Rosetta probe respectively. Meanwhile, WHITE LIES again showed they are as synthy as they are guitary on their ‘Friends’ album, and even started to sound like A-HA!

Fellow blog Cold War Night Life released ‘Heresy: A Tribute to RATIONAL YOUTH’ which featured PSYCHE and MACHINISTA as well as the Canadian trailblazers themselves. Meanwhile Ireland staked its claim as a new territory for synthpop talent; CIRCUIT3 ‘siliconchipsuperstar’, TINY MAGNETIC PETS ‘The NATO Alphabet’ and EMBRACE THE CRISIS ‘Black Heart’ were good examples of what was on offer from the Emerald Isle.

Over in the UK, VILE ELECTRODES, SPRAY and ANALOG ANGEL all released new albums. There were long awaited long players too from SHELTER and SINESTAR, but these suffered when compared to respective acts from Sweden, JOHAN BAECKSTRÖM and PRESENCE OF MIND.

So again, Sweden still proved it was special with SILENT WAVE and MY GOD DAMN TERRITORY exhibiting varying degrees of potential. But it was REIN in particular who was causing a stir within the ranks of EBM, while the country’s best kept secret KITE toured North America and Asia. However, neither of these two latter artists figured in the line-up of Gothenburg’s Electronic Summer 2016 festival.

VILLA NAH2016-01The Nordic region saw the welcome return of VILLA NAH with the album ‘Ultima’ after a five year absence, while TRENTEMØLLER made the case again as to why he is still the perfect producer for DEPECHE MODE with his new long player ‘Fixion’.

However, Norwegian acts APOPTYGMA BERZERK and ELECTRO SPECTRE ensured the Swedes, Finns and Danes did not have it all their own way.

Greece was still the word with LIEBE, KID MOXIE and MARSHEAUX all presenting brand new releases, while SARAH P. maintained her profile with a series of inventive promo videos highlighting the ongoing issues of equality for women within the music industry. Embracing the same issue on the other side of the Atlantic, I AM SNOW ANGEL immersed herself in setting up the FEMALE FREQUENCY collective while also releasing her own music.

2016 was a good year for female acts with EMIKA, KALEIDA, ANI GLASS, THE HEARING, KITE BASE, KATJA VON KASSEL, HOLOGRAM TEEN and VOI VANG among those making a positive impression. There was also ‘SVIIB’, the final album from SCHOOL OF SEVEN BELLS and the emergence of CHRISTINE & THE QUEENS, while LADYHAWKE remembered what a good album sounded like with ‘Wild Things’.

night-club-requiem-for-romance-2016Over in LA, NIGHT CLUB developed on the promise of their EP trilogy and got a bit heavier on their debut long player ‘Requiem For Romance’, ending up sounding not unlike Britney fronting NINE INCH NAILS in the process!

After gestation periods of nearly six years, both EKKOES and THE MYSTIC UNDERGROUND finally released their debut albums.

Meanwhile the instrumental front, Texan couple HYPERBUBBLE provided some ‘Music To Color By’, Brussels duo METROLAND touchingly paid tribute to their late friend Louis Zachert with ‘Things Will Never Sound The Same Again’ and ULRICH SCHNAUSS went ‘No Further Ahead Than Today’. And MOBY offered a gift to profound relaxation with his free ‘Long Ambients 1: Calm. Sleep.’ download package.

PERTURBATOR James Kent - Photo David FittPERTURBATOR’s ‘The Uncanny Valley’ became a flag bearer for the synth wave movement, along with the acclaimed soundtrack by SURVIVE members Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein for the absorbing Netflix drama ‘Stranger Things’.

Less well-received though was ‘2Square’ by VINCE CLARKE & PAUL HARTNOLL with its banal experiments in electro swing.

This was a supposed new dance sub-genre that in reality was just computerised jazz… nice! But one artist who did manage to pull off fusing synthpop and jazz successfully was DISQO VOLANTE.

New material from veterans MESH, AESTHETIC PERFECTION, ASSEMBLAGE 23, DE/VISION, IAMX, COVENANT and ROTERSAND kept the black clad European audiences happy, while MARI KATTMAN and BLACK NEEDLE NOISE added some trip-hop and rock edges respectively to their already dark templates. Expressing slightly less intensity were two surprise packages in Germany’s DAS BLAUE PALAIS with ‘Welt Am Draht’ and Canada’s DELERIUM with ‘Mythologie’.

marc-almond-blueBut totally unexpected was ‘Silver City Ride’, a full length electro album from MARC ALMOND in collaboration with STARCLUSTER featuring his most synth laden body of work since SOFT CELL.

The biggest surprise of 2016 was ‘Fly’ the soundtrack souvenir to ‘Eddie The Eagle’, the light hearted biopic of the bespectacled Olympic ski jumper; featuring new material by members of FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD, SOFT CELL, SPANDAU BALLET, ULTRAVOX, ERASURE and OMD in collaboration with TAKE THAT’s Gary Barlow, this looked like a terrible idea on paper.

But it was brilliantly executed and the resultant album was a largely enjoyable collection of retro flavoured pop.

Electronic acts actually got to headline the Glastonbury Festival in 2016, albeit on The Other Stage as opposed the main event; NEW ORDER and CHVRCHES wowed the crowds when they shared the bill on the Saturday night. There were rumours that KRAFTWERK and DEPECHE MODE might feature in 2017 but this was not to be, although both acts sent social media into overdrive when they announced major tours.

Among those accorded career spanning multi-disc boxed sets were ERASURE, MARC ALMOND, DEAD OR ALIVE and THE HUMAN LEAGUE. Somehow though, SIMPLE MINDS managed to milk a six disc variant of ‘New Gold Dream’ in the third of their classic album deluxe box editions; it was an amazing feat seeing as only ten songs were completed during the original sessions! The collection boasted no less than twelve takes of the aptly titled ‘Promised You A Miracle’; but the latest incarnation of the Glaswegians combo’ first big hit with KT TUNSTALL for their ‘Acoustic’ album proved to be one version too many.

Associates-dempsey-mackenzie-rankine-getty2Much better value for the money for the discerning music fan were the four ASSOCIATES double CD reissues, supervised by Alan Rankine and Michael Dempsey. Based around their first three albums and a ‘Very Best Of’ compilation, each additionally featured a plethora of rare and previously unreleased songs; they were a fitting tribute to the late Billy MacKenzie.

Nostalgia was very much a part of 2016, with HEAVEN 17, OMD and PETER HOOK & THE LIGHT all touring popular albums. And following the success in recent years of retro festivals such as ‘Rewind’ and the strangely named ‘Let’s Rock’, classic synthpop finally found itself part of the holiday camp circuit.

Part of the Butlins Music Weekender series, ‘Electric Dreams’ featuring OMD, MARC ALMOND, HEAVEN 17, BLANCMANGE and HOLLY JOHNSON almost went badly off-piste with the addition of GO WEST and THE ZOMBIES (!?!) to the programme. But the organisers pulled an unexpected surprise and booked modern synth acts like MARSHEAUX and AVEC SANS to support the bill.

avec-sansHardened retro festival goers are notorious for not embracing new music, but this ethos has to be welcomed and could provide an interesting new model for the future of event based entertainment. However, based on photographic evidence, the presence of inflatable pink flamingos and coloured wigs indicated the crowd atmosphere might have been no different to any of the usual nostalgia outings, but with a roof and central heating added!

Elsewhere, the second ELECTRI-CITY CONFERENCE in Düsseldorf boasted yet another impressive line-up that read like a ‘Who’s Who?’ of electronic music with JOHN FOXX, DANIEL MILLER and MARK REEDER among those taking part in talks. One of the highlights of the weekend came with Mr Foxx chatting about working with the legendary Conny Plank.

And while TEC004 featuring MARSHEAUX, KID KASIO and RODNEY CROMWELL was not in the same league, it was a fine showcase for the best in independent synthpop.

john-foxx-marsheauxBoth events proved again that the best electronic music events are those actually curated by electronic music enthusiasts, something that is not the case with several other events.

In all, 2016 was not a vintage year for electronic pop. If there was a lesson this year, it’s been to cherish and appreciate great life’s moments where possible, especially with the number of music figures that have been lost in the last 12 months.

Things cannot go on forever sadly…


PAUL BODDY

Best Album: PERTURBATOR The Uncanny Valley
Best Song: SOULWAX Transient Program for Drums & Machinery
Best Gig: JEAN-MICHEL JARRE at London O2 Arena
Best Video: BATTLE TAPES featuring PARTY NAILS Solid Gold
Most Promising New Act: VOX LOW


IAN FERGUSON

Best Album: VILE ELECTRODES In The Shadows Of Monuments
Best Song: ASSEMBLAGE 23 Barren
Best Gig: ASSEMBLAGE 23 at Denver Oriental Theatre
Best Video: I AM SNOW ANGEL Losing Face
Most Promising New Act: VOX LOW


SIMON HELM

Best Album: ERIC RANDOM Words Made Flesh
Best Song: RATIONAL YOUTH This Side Of The Border
Best Gig: Troika! featuring KITE BASE, HANNAH PEEL + I SPEAK MACHINE at Shacklewell Arms
Best Video: I AM SNOW ANGEL Losing Face
Most Promising New Act: ZANIAS


CHI MING LAI

Best Album: VILLA NAH Ultima
Best Song: VILE ELECTRODES The Vanished Past
Best Gig: JEAN-MICHEL JARRE at London O2 Arena
Best Video: BEYOND THE WIZARD’S SLEEVE Diagram Girl
Most Promising New Act: ANI GLASS


STEPHEN ROPER

Best Album: MARSHEAUX Ath.Lon
Best Song: RODNEY CROMWELL Baby Robot
Best Gig: GARY NUMAN at Norwich UEA
Best Video: MARSHEAUX Like A Movie
Most Promising New Act: DISQO VOLANTE


MONIKA IZABELA TRIGWELL

Best Album: APOPTYGMA BERZERK Exit Popularity Contest
Best Song: KID KASIO Full Moon Blue
Best Gig: SPEAK & SPELL at Islington Academy
Best Video: BLACK NEEDLE NOISE featuring JENNIE VEE Heaven
Most Promising New Act: JOHAN BAECKSTRÖM


Text by Chi Ming Lai
17th December 2016

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