Tag: Imogen Heap (Page 1 of 2)

I AM SNOW ANGEL Desert EP

I AM SNOW ANGEL DesertThe 1980 Winter Olympics took place in beautifully picturesque setting of Lake Placid, a small village amidst Adirondack Mountains in New York State.

It is fitting that an ice maiden Julie Kathryn, who was born and bred in the very place, would call herself I AM SNOW ANGEL and would start experimenting with chilling auras of electronica as her preferred genre of choice. Having relocated to the Big Apple’s Brooklyn, she released her first self-titled EP, which heralded a change of direction for the previously folk interested artist.

The electronica experiment worked to such an extent, that Kathryn became “basically addicted to writing and producing music in this genre”. As the transition was purely organic, with I AM SNOW ANGEL starting to become a self-sufficient artist: writing, producing and engineering her own records, she also embarked on co-founding FEMALE FREQUENCY, a musical collective dedicated to empowering female musicians.

Her first long player ‘Crocodile’ was fantasy inspired, centring around the “predator and prey”, bearing gentle resemblance to Kathryn’s heroes, THE POSTAL SERVICE and paying homage to the classic Americana artist BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN amongst other influences. Sometimes described as appealing to the fans of ENYA, IMOGEN HEAP or KATE BUSH, I AM SNOW ANGEL has developed her own sound, using her personal electronic template of icy landscapes and cold melancholy.

I AM SNOW ANGEL #Desert-Carl Timpone‘Desert’ is her newest EP, where Kathryn is “continuing to explore the subtle complexities of desire, passion and longing”.

The announcement of warmer things to come heralds itself in the title track opening the sequence, an inspired atmospheric rendition with enhanced vocals, which I AM SNOW ANGEL describes as “part of the aesthetic” of synth music.

‘Fever’ certainly isn’t evocative of the snowy mountains of upstate New York, which itself announces a departure from the gloom of the cold and icy in favour of breezy and fresh, as if released from the chains of winter. “Body’s on fire but she shivers with the heat” nods to vintage ERASURE in the slightest of fashions, being über modern and sophisticated.

‘Keep You Out’ opens with a country-esque guitar sequel, giving homage to Kathryn’s roots. A slower paced, eerie number at first, bursts into a club ending, before ‘Dirty Love’; a SOUL II SOUL meets SNEAKER PIMPS style shines through this varied track.

The EP closes with ‘Losing Face’, which is a BJORK sounding story of desire, culminating in sensual sexual encounters, designed to prove “something I can believe in”, and instead leaving one empty and guilty.

The eclectic nature of the music of I AM SNOW ANGEL is staggering. She owns the writing, production and engineering process, much like GRIMES, and is a pioneer when it comes to helping women make their own tunes, whatever genre they may be.

The progression into synthscapes was something that happened naturally and Kathryn’s fans are truly grateful that the experiment wasn’t just a one-off. She was, after all, made to give life to the melancholy of electro. The style of electronica infused with country roots, creates an amalgamation difficult to resist and whether it’s the snowy Adirondack Mountains, or the heat of the “Desert”, I AM SNOW ANGEL shows off her brilliance and delivers.


The ‘Desert’ EP is available as a download from 20th May 2016 via the usual digital outlets

http://iamsnowangel.com/

https://www.facebook.com/iamsnowangel

https://soundcloud.com/iamsnowangel

http://www.femalefrequency.com/


Text by Monika Izabela Goss
Photo by Carl Timpone
12th May 2016

I AM SNOW ANGEL Interview

i am snow angel -julieThe Adirondack Mountains in Lake Placid is at the heart of the beautifully gentle soundtrack of I AM SNOW ANGEL.

The self-produced vehicle of the now Brooklyn based singer / songwriter Julie Kathryn, despite the sedate nature of her debut long player ‘Crocodile’, the mix of electronica and Americana Noir has been quietly subversive… after all, it’s not every day someone attempts a countrified drum ‘n’ bass cover of BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN’s ‘I’m On Fire’!

But I AM SNOW ANGEL has not just been about off-the-wall reinterpretations. From her self-titled debut EP, ‘Let Me Go’ was a Nordic styled tour de force that was rich in understatement and swathed in melancholy. Album highlight ‘Come With Me’ reimagined THE CARPENTERS produced by William Orbit while there was also the gentle vibey shuffle of ‘Fallen Angel’ and the more overtly percussive electro / Country + Western hybrid of ‘Turquoise Blue’. Then there was of course, the marvellously dreamy ‘Crocodile’ title track which was released as the album’s lead single.

Although comparable to IMOGEN HEAP, I AM SNOW ANGEL’s template is quite distinct from most electronic based pop music. Julie Kathyrn kindly spoke to The Electricity Club about her musical world of icy landscapes and crystalline hydro basins…

Your musical roots have been in Americana Noir, so what led you want to work in a more electronic sphere?

It actually happened organically. A few people had encouraged me to start producing my own tracks. When I did, they turned out much more electronic than anything I had done in the past.

snowangel- (1)Were the any particular acts that influenced you in this direction?

I was definitely influenced by THE POSTAL SERVICE. ‘Give Up’ is one of my favorite albums. The songwriting and the production are amazing. There were also a handful of semi-electronic artists I was listening to when I recorded this album — including PHOSPHORESCENT and THE XX.

How has the technology changed your approach to composition?

Sometimes I still write with just a guitar or keyboard. But now I often begin songs with the programming first, and then let the lyrics and melody develop as part of the production process. It’s been fun to mix it up.

What types of VST have you particularly enjoyed using?

On the ‘Crocodile’ record we definitely used a lot of plugins. Sound Toys Echo Boy and Air Vintage Filter are two favorites.

snowangel- (4)You use vocal processing treatments too. What would you say to observers who say singers should keep their voices pure and free from things like Autotune?

With this type of music, I think processing is part of the aesthetic. For example, I really like “glitchy” sounding backing vocals — especially when they’re understated, almost like instrument sounds. I’m not sure what I would say to people who are anti-processing. To each his own!

Despite the use of electronics, your music still maintains a distinctive American twang for a unique and quietly subversive sound… have you any thoughts on this?

I was raised in Lake Placid, which is in Northern New York. It’s a rural area, in the mountains. I grew up singing folk music. I can’t erase my country roots, even though my sensibilities have changed since then. Musically I’m kind of a hybrid.

When you first appeared as I AM SNOW ANGEL with the self-titled EP, it appeared to possibly be a one-off experiment? Was that how you saw it?

I wasn’t sure what would happen. Yes, it was kind of an experiment, but I quickly became really invested in it. And now I’m basically addicted to writing and producing music in this genre.

iamsnowangel‘Let Me Go’ from your first EP could be interpreted in many ways, do you think it suited a more synthetic treatment than perhaps a traditional one?

Well it’s actually a spiritually oriented song, as you might have gathered from the lyrics. I wrote it as more of a hymn, but to my surprise the electronic production worked really well. It feels very wintry and ethereal.

With artists moving more towards recording EPs, what inspired you to undertake a full length album?

I had a lot of songs and I really wanted to put them out there. And I liked the idea of creating a longer narrative.

The album is called ‘Crocodile’, why is that and what is the title track about?

I wanted to explore the dynamic between predator and prey. There aren’t many songs about this. On the surface I was describing a crocodile stalking its prey, but I meant this as a metaphor. At the end of the day, I think humans are basically governed by animal instincts, even though we pretend to be logical and reasonable. For me this song felt like the right opening track for the album — ethereal, breezy, otherworldly.

‘Walking On Wires’ has hints of THE POSTAL SERVICE?

Yes! Especially the percussion and the fuzzy bass sounds, and the subdued, under-emotional vocal delivery.

What are your own favourite songs on ‘Crocodile’?

‘Fantasy Fiction’ is definitely one of my favorites. I feel very connected to the song’s dynamic build and rhythm. I also like ‘Walking On Wires’. I really pushed myself musically, and I’m happy with how it turned out.

i am snow angel-crocodileTo close ‘Crocodile’, you covered BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN’s ‘I’m On Fire’ in an esoteric drum ’n’ bass style. How did this idea come about and what has the general reaction been to it, especially in the US where some synththobic attitudes still exist?

I think people like it! The original song is so eerie and organic — one of my favorite tracks of all time. Mine is definitely very different from the original, but I think that’s a good thing — it’s a devoted re-interpretation, not necessarily an imitation.

Of course, people tend to forget that The Boss’ ‘Born In the USA’ and ‘Tunnel Of Love’ albums are in their own ways, quite synthy…

That’s so true! He’s considered to be very rootsy / Americana now, but he had plenty of electronic sounds in his music in the 80s.

So what’s next for you, either as Julie or I AM SNOW ANGEL?

I’m recording more I AM SNOW ANGEL tracks right now, actually. I can’t wait to share them with you. And thank you for chatting with me!


The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to Julie Kathyrn

Thanks also to Julie Rene Tran at EiPR

‘Crocodile’ and the ‘I Am Snow Angel EP’ are available via Amazon, iTunes and the usual digital outlets

http://iamsnowangel.com/

https://www.facebook.com/iamsnowangel

https://soundcloud.com/iamsnowangel


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
28th January 2015

The Electricity Club’s 2014 End Of Year Review

Integrated Circuits

Photo by Jack Robinson / Getty Images

Photo by Jack Robinson / Getty Images

With 2013 having been one of the strongest years in electronic pop since its post-punk heyday, 2014 was always going to struggle to compete,

This was despite it being the 50th Anniversary of the Moog synthesizer’s first prototype demonstration at the Audio Engineering Society convention in October 1964.

While 2014 was nowhere near in terms of the high profile releases of 2013 or even 2011, it certainly surpassed the comparatively quiet year of 2012. But there were still a lot of live shows as momentum continued in support of the previous year’s releases with NINE INCH NAILS, GARY NUMAN, DEPECHE MODE, CHVRCHES, FEATHERS, GOLDFRAPP, COVENANT and SOFT METALS among those doing the rounds.

Electronic pioneer KARL BARTOS began the year with his first concert tour since 2003 in Germany. His ‘Off the Record’ live presentation highlighted the best of his KRAFTWERK co-compositions alongside excellent new material.

Karl Bartos-Koeln2014-03Coincidentally, on the same night Herr Bartos opened in Cologne, Ralf Hütter picked up a Lifetime Achievement Grammy on behalf of KRAFTWERK, thus finally validating electronic music in the traditionally synthphobic territory of the USA. And by the end of the year, there was even a belated nomination for The Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall Of Fame.

Staying in Germany, cult trio CAMOUFLAGE celebrated over 30 years in the business with a lavish package ‘The Box 1983-2013’ and a best of CD ‘The Singles’ to which The Electricity Club contributed liner notes. CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN though surprised everyone by strapping on an acoustic guitar for her third solo album ‘Where Else?’, but its mix of electronics and six string proved to be well received by her fans.

And on the subject of Germanic influences, Belgian duo METROLAND returned with their Kling Klang flavoured technopop courtesy of the multi-formatted single ‘Thalys’, a tie-in with the European high speed train operator and a rather original cover of ‘Close To Me’ for ‘A Strange Play – An Alfa Matrix Tribute To THE CURE’. Meanwhile, iEUROPEAN teamed up with Wolfgang Flür for some ‘Activity Of Sound’. Flür himself delighted KRAFTWERK fans by announcing he would be playing London gigs in the New Year.

MemeTune Studio in London’s trendy Shoreditch proved to be a hotbed of electronic activity throughout 2014. Already the location for the largest array of vintage synthesizers in the UK, from the complex emerged fabulous music from the likes of HANNAH PEEL, GAZELLE TWIN and WRANGLER featuring ex-CABARET VOLTAIRE frontman Stephen Mallinder. MemeTune even found time to curate its own live event ‘MUS_IIC.01’.

Well known for his connections with that stable, JOHN FOXX came back from a break (by his recent prolific standards) with the audio / visual collaboration ‘Evidence Of Time Travel’ in partnership with STEVE D’AGOSTINO.

Other Synth Britannia stalwarts were in action too. OMD celebrated their ‘Dazzle Ships’ era with a pair of concerts at the Museum Of Liverpool and SIMPLE MINDS continued their grandiose demeanour with ‘Big Music’. Meanwhile, MIDGE URE released a fine collection of songs entitled ‘Fragile’, his first of original solo material in 12 years; it also featured a great collaboration with MOBY entitled ‘Dark Dark Night’. As well as that, he worked on a track with Dutch composer Stephen Emmer for an orchestral laden crooner album called ‘International Blue’ which additionally featured his pal Glenn Gregory.

Mr Gregory wasn’t idle either, recording ‘Pray’ b/w ‘Illumination’, HEAVEN 17’s first new material since 2005’s Before After’. He even found time to impersonate DAVID BOWIE for some special live shows performing ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ with Tony Visconti and Woody Woodmansey as HOLY HOLY.

And to cap it all, HEAVEN 17 presented ‘The Tour Of Synthetic Delights’ with BLANCMANGE, proving that heritage events could be both nostalgic and credible if the line-up was right.

After last year’s seasonal offering ‘Snow Globe’, ERASURE made a full return in 2014 with ‘The Violet Flame’, the marriage of Andy Bell and Vince Clarke showcasing their best work since 2005’s ‘Nightbird’. Interestingly, ‘The Violet Flame’ was launched via the crowdfunding platform Pledge Music, although this appeared to be more as a promotional tool and fan networking opportunity.

CHINA CRISIS went the Pledge Music route too, announcing their first album in 20 years entitled ‘Autumn In the Neighbourhood’ while also crowdfunded, YELLO’s Boris Blank delivered ‘Electrified’, a solo box set of unreleased material. Not to be outdone, his YELLO bandmate Dieter Meier responded with his grouchy solo offering ‘Out Of Chaos’ which appeared to be a tribute to Tom Waits. And unexpectedly on the back of ‘Don’t You Want Me?’ becoming a terrace chant for Aberdeen FC’s Scottish League Cup victory, ex-HUMAN LEAGUE member Jo Callis launched a new project called FINGER HALO.

The enduring legacy of many of these veterans was celebrated in ‘Mad World: An Oral History of the New Wave Artists and Songs That Defined the 1980s’, possibly the best book of its kind about that musical era which the Americans like to refer to as New Wave. Featuring brand new interviews with key protagonists like GARY NUMAN, OMD, NEW ORDER, DURAN DURAN, YAZOO, ULTRAVOX, A-HA and HEAVEN 17, it was a high quality publication that made up for some previously clumsy attempts by others at documenting the period.

Also a good read was Bernard Sumner’s memoirs ‘Chapter and Verse’ which covered his career to date with JOY DIVISION and NEW ORDER. Coincidentally, Mark Reeder, the man often credited with introducing electronic dance music to Sumner, had a career spanning compendium called ‘Collaborator’ issued containing his earlier work as a member SHARK VEGAS, right up to his more recent remixes of DURAN DURAN’s John Taylor and Sumner’s various projects with BLANK & JONES and WESTBAM.

It was a particularly active year for the industrial scene; AESTHETIC PERFECTION toured Europe with their more accessible but still aggressive ‘Til Death’ opus while ASSEMBLAGE 23 frontman Tom Shear continued developing his SURVEILLANCE side project with ‘Oceania Remixed’. Swedish trio LEGEND gained acclaim for their live performances in support of their debut album ‘Fearless’, Texan duo IRIS released a new album ‘Radiant’ and DIE KRUPPS blasted their way into the South East of England for their first UK dates since 2008.

In more contemporary circles, LA ROUX finally released a second album, appropriately named ‘Trouble In Paradise’. Singer Elly Jackson had split with silent partner Ben Langmaid due to good old fashioned musical differences and as expected, the songs were less synthpoppy than the self-titled debut. Reaching for more disco orientated leanings such as CHIC, GRACE JONES and TOM TOM CLUB, this was if nothing, a more superior offering to either what LITTLE BOOTS or LADYHAWKE managed with their sophomore albums. North of the border, MARNIE did her bit for the Scottish Independence Campaign with the rousingly anthemic ‘Wolves’.

imogen + taylorThe delightfully eccentric IMOGEN HEAP showcased her innovative collaborative developments in music technology via her new album ‘Sparks’ and even squeezed in a collaboration with pop princess TAYLOR SWIFT for the latter’s million selling album ‘1989’.

TEC commented in 2012 about how CHVRCHES‘ ‘The Mother We Share’ sounded like “Taylor Swift gone electro”, so in a give some, take some back move, the young songstress came up with ‘Out Of The Woods’, a ditty quite obviously influenced by the Glaswegian trio and a synth laden tune entitled ‘New Romantics’ on the bonus edition. By coincidence with her slight passing resemblance to Miss Swift, QUEEN OF HEARTS launched her debut musical charter ‘Cocoon’ after several years in the making to confirm that pop was indeed not a dirty word.

In the leftfield electronica arena, Warp Records issued ‘High Life’, a collaboration by KARL HYDE and BRIAN ENO while there was also the long awaited new album from APHEX TWIN entitled ‘Syro’. And former MASSIVE ATTACK producer DAVIDGE released an impressive debut collection of songs ‘Slo Light’ that featured SANDIE SHAW, CATE LE BON and EMI GREEN among its vocalists.

One act establishing themselves as major players in the modern electronic scene were Canada’s TR/ST. Led by the polarising “Eeyore gone goth” moodiness of Robert Alfons, the ironically titled ‘Joyland’ was an excellent second album that captured the sleazy nature of a 21st Century SOFT CELL and attached it to the grumpiness of Leonard Cohen.

Meanwhile, Brooklyn minimal duo XENO & OAKLANDER gave the world ‘Par Avion’, possibly their most accessible and colourful work yet. Also from the area came the shadowy huskiness of AZAR SWAN and the alternative mystique of REXXY.

Over in LA, NIGHT CLUB showed further promise with their best offering yet in their third EP ‘Black Leather Heart’ while in San Antonio, HYPERBUBBLE launched an ‘Attack Of The Titans’.

Baltimore’s FUTURE ISLANDS however divided opinion; their fans included Andy McCluskey, Vince Clarke, Martyn Ware, Rusty Egan and Jori Hulkkonen, but their unintentionally amusing live appearance on ‘The David Letterman Show’ performing ‘Seasons’ came over to some observers like a ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit on the 80s. However, with two sold out dates at London’s Roundhouse in March 2015, Samuel T. Herring and Co are the ones having the last laugh.

The Nordic region proved itself again to be the centre of electronic creativity.

The dream partnership of ROBYN and RÖYKSOPP reconvened after the success of 2010’s ‘The Girl & The Robot’ to ‘Do It Again’ while RÖYKSOPP themselves released what they announced to be their last album, appropriately titled ‘The Inevitable End’.

Also featuring on that album was Nordic vocalist of the moment SUSANNE SUNDFØR who has her own new eagerly awaited long player ‘Ten Love Songs’ out in 2015. KARIN PARK and MARGARET BERGER provided another united Scandinavian front when they performed together at Norway’s Melodi Grand Prix while Finnish duo SIN COS TAN delivered their third long player in as many years with a concept album called ‘Blown Away’.

From Sweden came the welcome return of KLEERUP with ‘As If We Never Won’, the first of two new EPs before an album to follow-up the brilliant self-titled debut from 2008. Meanwhile, EMMON delivered her fourth album ‘Aon’ as well as a baby. There was more glacial oddness from IAMAMIWHOAMI with her second album ‘Blue’ while the brooding Nordic Noir pop of stunning identical twins SAY LOU LOU started to gain a foothold in readiness for their first long player ‘Lucid Dreaming’.

Nordic friendly music blog Cold War Night Life curated possibly the best electronic event of the year with ‘An Evening With The Swedish Synth’ at London’s 93 Feet East.

In a bill supported by the promising TRAIN TO SPAIN and synth rock duo MACHINISTA who delivered one of the best debut albums of the year in ‘Xenoglossy’, the event was headlined by synthpop veterans PAGE.

Incidentally, Eddie Bengtsson of PAGE’s solo project SISTA MANNEN PÅ JORDEN produced some interesting covers of OMD and DEVO, both reworked i Svenska. And all this while TEC bore witness to a puzzled British musician who actually asked with a straight face “What’s so special about Sweden then?”!!

‘An Evening With The Swedish Synth’ was a fine example of what could be achieved when an electronic event was actually curated by electronic music enthusiasts, as this was not always the case in several instances during 2014.

Following a four year hiatus, CLIENT rebooted and released ‘Authority’ with new singer Client N doing a fine impersonation of MARNIE on the single ‘Refuge’. After a long gestation period, Anglo-German collective TWINS NATALIA released their debut long player ‘The Destiny Room’ and pleasantly wallowed in the neu romance of classic synthpop, dressing it with the vocal styles of GRACE JONES and ABBA.

TWINS NATALIA’s ‘The Destiny Room’ was released on Anna Logue Records who in 2015 will issue ‘Signs Of life’, the debut album from enigmatic South East Asian combo QUIETER THAN SPIDERS. Possibly the best new synthpop act to emerge in 2014, as befitting their name, they made their music, edited some videos and just discretely got on with it, thus proving the theory that those who shout loudest are not always necessarily the best…

kid moxie-twin peaksMARSHEAUX celebrated ten years in the business with a compilation called ‘Odyssey’ on the prestigious Les Disques Du Crépuscule label.

They also announced an unusual project for 2015, an album covering DEPECHE MODE’s ‘A Broken Frame’ in its entirety.

Also on Undo, KID MOXIE released her second album ‘1888’ featuring a collaboration with acclaimed film score composer Angelo Badalamenti to compliment her new cinematic pop approach.

Meanwhile, one-time Undo label mates LIEBE started getting traction on MTV Europe and MIKRO maintained their position as Greece’s premier power pop band with their seventh album ‘New’ despite the departure of singer Ria Mazini following its unveiling.

From Dublin came the filmic ambience of POLYDROID while cut from a similar cloth, there was the haunting soundscapes of Trans-Belgian pairing MARI & THE GHOST. There were also several other promising female led talents ranging from the sugary pop of PAWWS and the quietly subversive electro of I AM SNOW ANGEL to the soulful moodiness of HUGH and the mysteriously smoky allure of FIFI RONG.

VILE ELECTRODES confirmed their position as the best independent electronic act in the UK currently when they snared not one, but two Schallwelle Awards in Germany.

To celebrate the first anniversary of their brilliant debut album ‘The future through a lens’, the sparkling duo of Anais Neon and Martin Swan played TEC003 alongside DEPECHE MODE tribute act SPEAK & SPELL for a wonderful evening that also featured SARAH BLACKWOOD.

Miss Blackwood gave spirited live vocal performances of several songs from her own career as part of a singing DJ set including ‘Justice’, her recent collaboration for the FOTONOVELA album ‘A Ton Of Love’. There was additionally the bonus of her duetting with SPEAK & SPELL on ‘A Question Of Time’ during their ‘101’ performance celebrating the film’s 25th anniversary.

Analog Angel-in-profilePossibly the best independently released album of 2014 came from Glasgow’s ANALOG ANGEL who freed themselves of their industrial shackles to produce a collection of sophisticated synthpop entitled ‘Trinity’. Having been around since 2009 and with two albums already to their name, the Scottish trio put their money where their mouths were. Their decision to avoid crowdfunding and invest in their own music was an applaudable decision, especially when other bands, who were still yet to prove themselves, were out with the begging bowls.

Indeed, 2014 was a strange year in which ego appeared to overtake ability and none more so than on the live circuit, where that old adage about needing to learn to walk before running ran true. Wanabee promoters with no notable experience bit off more than they could chew by playing Fantasy Festival, as was proven by the Alt-Fest debacle.

Despite a much publicised crowdfunding exercise, the simple use of a pocket calculator would have shown that an event of such magnitude could not be underwritten by such a comparatively small amount of cash and anticipated ticket sales. When rumours abounded that Alt-Fest was to be cancelled due to a lack of funds, the organisers’ silence and lack of resolve caused much resentment. Risk is all part of the game, but live ventures require solid finance, spirited commitment and an attempt at least to get in the black.

Alt-Fest-cancelledHowever, a few promoters appeared to want to make life difficult for themselves from the off. In its investigations, TEC found that with one poorly attended event back in 2013, there was no way the event could have balanced its books, even if it had sold out its ticket capacity!

Meanwhile, there was another gig in 2014 publicised so covertly with restricted social media and bizarre pricing structures, it was as if the promoters didn’t want anyone to attend! Of course, there was also that tactic of announcing an event almost a year in advance without confirming any of the acts for several months, as if the event was more important than any of the music!

As Whitby Goth Weekend’s Jo Hampshire pointed out: “Alt-Fest had put its tickets on sale while still booking acts including headliners, which is potentially disastrous”! Despite the general feeling that independently curated live initiatives should be anti-corporate, everything is about business at the end of the day.

However, a number of promoters at this end of the market failed to realise this. Any artists performing must be paid their expenses and fees as per any agreement, regardless of the final ticket sales unless terms such as door percentages or ticket sale buy-ons have been arranged.

But as one-time TECHNIQUE singer Xan Tyler pointed out to TEC: “Musicians get ripped off at every turn, online stores take a huge cut, Spotify don’t remunerate artists properly, venues expect you to play for bugger all (and in some case they expect you to pay to play). If you want to make money from the music industry, don’t be a musician!”

The Electricity Club is coming into its fifth anniversary and continues to maintain a readership of discerning music fans, despite protestations in some quarters to the contrary.

TEC’s manifesto has always been about celebrating the best in new and classic electronic pop music. It has never made claims about supporting unsigned acts or any music that happens use a synthesizer.

As Client A put it frankly to TEC in the Autumn: “in the electronica age, anyone can be a musician but that also makes it a free for all with every tom, dick or curly clogging up the internet with their crap music…”

Meanwhile, NIGHT CLUB added: “People forget about things so quickly these days because the internet is so inundated with crap…”

So TEC considers what music it features very, very carefully. TEC may not manage to be first, like many so-called buzz blogs try to be, but it has always had longevity in mind, even if that is difficult to predict.


THE ELECTRICITY CLUB Contributor Listings of 2014

PAUL BODDY

Best Album: TODD TERJE It’s Album Time
Best Song: RÖYKSOPP & ROBYN Do It Again
Best Gig: NINE INCH NAILS at Nottingham Arena
Best Video: MAPS You Will Find A Way
Most Promising New Act: TODD TERJE


KAREN BUXTON

Best Album: ERASURE The Violet Flame
Best Song: VILE ELECTRODES Empire Of Wolves
Best Gig: HEAVEN 17 at London Jazz Café
Best Video: NIGHT CLUB Not In Love
Most Promising New Act: EURASIANEYES


DEB DANAHAY

Best Album: RÖYKSOPP The Inevitable End
Best Song: RÖYKSOPP featuring JAMIE IRREPRESSIBLE Something In My Heart
Best Gig: COVENANT + LEGEND at Gothenburg Electronic Summer Festival
Best Video: PRINCESS CENTURY Das Schlimmste
Most Promising New Act: LEGEND


IAN FERGUSON

Best Album: MIDGE URE Fragile
Best Song: MIDGE URE Dark, Dark Night
Best Gig: THE RADIOPHONIC WORKSHOP at Glasgow Quayside
Best Video: IMOGEN HEAP The Listening Chair
Most Promising New Act: WRANGLER


MONIKA IZABELA GOSS

Best Album: ERASURE The Violet Flame
Best Song: ANALOG ANGEL Drive
Best Gig: DEPECHE MODE at Strasbourg Zénith
Best Video: DIE KRUPPS Robo Sapien
Most Promising New Act: PAWWS


STEVE GRAY

Best Album: RÖYKSOPP The Inevitable End
Best Song: RÖYKSOPP featuring JAMIE IRREPRESSIBLE I Had This Thing
Best Gig: GARY NUMAN at Hammersmith Apollo
Best Video: KID MOXIE Lacuna
Most Promising New Act: TWINS NATALIA


CHI MING LAI

Best Album: MIDGE URE Fragile
Best Song: ANALOG ANGEL The Last Time
Best Gig: KARL BARTOS at Cologne Live Music Hall
Best Video: LIEBE I Believe In You
Most Promising New Act: QUIETER THAN SPIDERS


SOPHIE NILSSON

Best Album: ERASURE The Violet Flame
Best Song: SISTA MANNEN PÅ JORDEN Stadens Alla Ljus
Best Gig: ANDY BELL in ‘Torsten The Bareback Saint’ at London St James Theatre
Best Video: ANDY BELL I Don’t Like
Most Promising New Act: PULSE


RICHARD PRICE

Best Album: ERASURE The Violet Flame
Best Song: POLLY SCATTERGOOD Subsequently Lost
Best Gig: PET SHOP BOYS at Brighton Dome
Best Video: JOHN FOXX B-Movie
Most Promising New Act: PAWWS


Text by Chi Ming Lai
9th December 2014

I AM SNOW ANGEL Crocodile

i am snow angel-crocodileHot on the heels of IAMAMWHOAMI’s album ‘Blue’ comes the debut long player from I AM SNOW ANGEL.

The project of Brooklyn based singer / songwriter Julie Kathryn, ‘Crocodile’ is a lush sounding affair and could easily be mistaken as a product of Scandinavia and her sisters were it not for her distinctly Trans-Atlantic drawl. Originally from the Adirondack Mountains in Lake Placid which hosted the 1980 Winter Olympics, it is therefore not surprising that I AM SNOW ANGEL’s music evokes images of icy landscapes and crystalline hydro basins, but with a North American twist.

Her debut ‘I Am Snow Angel EP’ contained enticingly understated numbers like ‘Grey White December’ and ‘Let Me Go’ which showcased her dreamy, whispery world but these are absent from the ‘Crocodile’ album. Instead, there are nine new recordings where Kathryn attempts to “zero into the deep-rooted struggle between our animal instincts and human reasoning”. It all begins wonderfully with the title track, a beautifully layered synthetic piece given a twist via an almost countrified vocal, drawing on Julie Kathryn’s roots within Americana Noir.

The Americana Noir link is enhanced further on ‘Falling In Love’, a pretty duet with John Carlson. The 6/8 sway of ‘Night Time’ is positively anthemic with a good blend of synthetic and organic textures that inevitably points towards the soundtracks of Angelo Badalamenti for David Lynch. The swirly influence of William Orbit makes its Modern Style presence felt on the pretty waltz of ‘Come With Me’. At times, it veers close to being a Nordic styled reimagining of THE CARPENTERS and this only highlights the strength of Julie Kathryn’s rich vocals.

i am snow angel -julieThe artist I AM SNOW ANGEL can perhaps be most compared to is IMOGEN HEAP, in that traditional song elements are set to varying tempos and expansive textures sourced from whatever technology can offer to achieve the desired result. This approach is evident in songs such as the gentle vibey shuffle of ‘Fallen Angel’ and the more overtly percussive electro / Country + Western hybrid of ‘Turquoise Blue’. Then there is the more frantic surprise of ‘Walking On Wires’ which recalls THE POSTAL SERVICE and the building drum driven ‘Fantasy Fiction’. But just when you think there can be no more surprises, out pops a drum ‘n’ bass take of BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN’s ‘I’m On Fire’ to finish!

I AM SNOW ANGEL’s template is quite distinct from most electronic based music and her sophisticated self-produced work is ideal listening as the world’s evenings get darker and the air gets that little bit cooler. Quietly subversive, it certainly delivers the unexpected.


‘Crocodile’ is available via Amazon, iTunes and the usual digital outlets

http://iamsnowangel.com/

https://www.facebook.com/iamsnowangel

https://soundcloud.com/iamsnowangel


Text by Chi Ming Lai
24th November 2014

IMOGEN HEAP Sparks

Imogen_Heap_-_Sparks

IMOGEN HEAP, it is important to note, is not a songwriter, she is a composer.

As such, she inhabits a world somewhere between female fronted groups such as GOLDFRAPP or FLORENCE & THE MACHINE (who would kill to have Heap’s musical chops) and LAURIE ANDERSON and because of the challenging nature of her work, she isn’t as big as she should be. This is clearly demonstrated with ‘Sparks’, her first album in five years. This has been a work which has had a very public gestation with various tracks released as singles over the past two and a half years.

This is a very Heap approach, one that she started with 2009’s ‘Ellipse’, used to gather fan feedback and help shape the final product. She calls these works in progress ‘Heapsongs’ and they are greatly anticipated by her fans who then give feedback via Twitter.

The opening four tracks layout the various musical styles used on the album. Opener ‘You Know Where To Find Me’ is a typical densely layered piece with a classically influenced piano motif accompanied by multi-tracked and effected vocals, all perfectly placed in the arrangement. ‘Entanglement’ is a more straightforward electro track with 808 percussion and synth bass underpinning a beautiful vocal and lyric. As always however Heap throws in tonal surprises, in this case a string section which adds a sense of melancholy to the song.

‘The Listening Chair’ has Heap breaking out her well-known quirkiness. This starts as a vocal list of the things that help her “better sleep at night”. The breathtaking leaps taken in the song’s arrangement, from the top of happy to the depths of sadness at the end of a relationship, a theme that occurs over and over again in the album, highlights most why you should listen to IMOGEN HEAP and also why many listeners find her a challenge.

Imogen_Heap01

Travelling the globe, in a Stewart Copeland style, during the writing has infused the instrumental tracks on the album with a world music flavour, best shown with fourth track ‘Cycle Song’, a thundering temple drum driven piece which in the electronic context of the album shouldn’t work. But like much of her work, it does due to the juxtaposition against the other tracks and also the listeners expectations from a pop album.

These tracks are used throughout as breaks from the more traditional songs and the expect the unexpected continues with ‘Telemiscommunications’ which first featured on collaborator’s DEADMAU5’s ‘> album title goes here <‘ from 2012. A heart melting electro-ballad, which has been reworked slightly for ‘Sparks’, it sits as well in this set as it was surprising in the Canadian house artist’s set.

The album continues apace with ‘Lifeline’ and ‘Neglected Space’, the intro of which sees the influence of aforementioned LAURIE ANDERSON as Heap uses her voice, once again layered and effected, as the main instrumental thrust. This isn’t a lyric, it is a poem with a soundtrack which builds to the final question “Can We Discuss?”. As with every other track on ‘Sparks’ it demands repeated listening to allow a full discussion to take place.

Minds Without Fear’ is an Indian influenced piece featuring vocals from superstar film music directors Vishal-Shekhar. A number of artists have tried to fuse east and west before with varying degrees of success, in this case Heap has clearly given her collaborators a free hand and it shows, this could easily come from one of their own productions and this give a sheen of authenticity lacking in many other’s attempts. As a lover of Indian film music and the likes of Vishal’s band PENTAGRAM, this is one of the highlights of the album.

Imogen-HeapIMOGEN HEAP hasn’t just been working on music and travelling in the intervening half decade since ‘Ellipse’. She has also been working with electronic engineers on a body suit that will allow her to control Abelton and turn her movements into a performance. This was first demonstrated two years ago at a Wired magazine event and is used to incredible effect on ‘Me The Machine’.

What could have been very much a mechanical exercise is once again breathed upon and given life with an arrangement that carries the listener along with Heap’s enthusiasm for a new way of working and realizing her music? Look for the video of the suit in action, you’ll see that enthusiasm in action… at one point she squeals excitedly “It’s the sustain! It’s never done that before!”

‘Run-Time’ is probably the most pop friendly track on the album and a successor to ‘Clear The Area’ from the stunning 2005 release ‘Speak For Yourself’, a benchmark in British electronic music. It once again features all the usual Heap care and attention to soundscape, vocals and arrangement. This is no ordinary pop song, yes you can dance to it, as Heap herself shows in the accompanying video, but once again its layers demand repeated visits.

Imogen_Heap03A further instrumental, ‘Climb To Sakteng’ and the dark menace of ‘The Beast’ bring us to the penultimate ‘Xizi She Knows’. Another travel influenced number, it gallops along throwing so many musical ideas at the listener it becomes almost a breathless exercise to keep up.

The addition of a Chinese vocal further spins expectations out of orbit. Closer ‘Propeller Seeds’ pulls all the elements from the previous thirteen tracks together from electronica to just weird (random jazz lounge piano anyone?).

The two disc deluxe edition of the album is the one to get if contemplating purchasing ‘Sparks’, and honestly you should, as it highlights just how incredible Heap’s arrangements are. They stand as pieces on their own only given added dimension with the accompanying lyrics. At the end of ‘The Listening Chair’, Imogen asks “Who am I?”. On the strength this release, she is a singular talent that deserves more recognition.

A thoroughly recommended release.


‘Sparks’ is released by Megaphonic Records and available in CD, deluxe CD, vinyl and box set formats from http://imogenheap.backstreetmerch.com/

http://www.imogenheap.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/imogenheap


Text by Ian Ferguson
25th August 2014

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