Ever wanted to chase down the flesh eating zombies? Look no further but the latest animation from GUNSHIP, who have been bringing back post-apocalyptic horror nostalgia with the freshness of today.
GUNSHIP’s 2015 release of their eponymous album was eagerly received by the lovers of vintage gaming, films and sounds of the golden synth era and this Autumn is bringing the release of a follow-up long player ‘Dark All Day’. And here comes the first single, sharing its title with the record’s name.
The trio consisting of Dan Haigh, Alex Westaway and Alex Gingell collaborated with John Carpenter on their music video for ‘Tech Noir’, and are widely known for releasing too cool for school flicks which accompany their rock meets synth creations.
For ‘Dark All Day’, GUNSHIP proudly announced “the undisputed king of ’80s sax joins us to blow his horn — Mr Tim Cappello himself, reprising his role from the movie ‘The Lost Boys’ some 30 years later!”. Cappello made sax sexy by performing sans shirt for Peter Gabriel, Carly Simon and Tina Turner, amongst others and his extended solos on ‘Dark All Day’ bring back the feelings of the good lost days.
As if that’s not enough, GUNSHIP fortifies this one with Lauren Henson aka Indiana as well. Indiana has had a top 20 single with ‘Solo Dancing’ and her haunting Dolores O’Riordan-esque voice is widely recognisable and she certainly doesn’t disappoint on ‘Dark All Day’.
Gentle versus harsh, gracious versus pungent and sexy versus disgusting is what both the song and the video burst with. The zombies attack; they’re being decimated, animation style, and finally the band themselves get drenched with blood looking rain, where Cappello does his amorous sax thing and the scantily clad Indiana dances in the wetness of the red… what’s there not to love!?
The release of the follow-up to ‘Gunship’ LP can’t come quick enough, but for now let’s channel our inner geeks and enjoy ‘Dark Long Day’ in its glory. The album is set to feature vocals from Kat Von D who worked previously with IAMX on the ‘Alive In New Light’ opus and Una Healy from THE SATURDAYS, the girl group known for consistently mining the Vince Clarke catalogue during their hit heyday.
‘Dark All Day’ is available via the usual digital platforms and taken from GUNSHIP’s forthcoming second album also named ‘Dark All Day’ released by Horsie In The Hedge on 6th October 2018, pre-order direct from https://gunship.tmstor.es
In terms of his importance in regards to the timeline of electronic music, JOHN CARPENTER often gets overlooked in favour of the usual suspects like KRAFTWERK, DEPECHE MODE, THE HUMAN LEAGUE et al.
Carpenter was unique in that as well as directing his movies, he usually scored them too and in his canon has a huge range of influential works, ranging from the proto-slasher ‘Halloween’ to the pre-CGI horror-fest remake ‘The Thing’ and the unique and prescient political commentary ‘They Live’.
Rather than running chronologically, ‘Anthology: Movie Themes 1974-1998’ chooses to open with the theme to the Lovecraftian psychological horror film ‘In The Mouth of Madness’; unashamedly owing a huge debt to METALLICA’s ‘Enter Sandman’, the track is not typical of Carpenter’s most well-known soundtrack material, but still showcases a huge musical diversity at work.
‘Assault on Precinct 13’ features one of THE great synth basslines, latterly re-worked by BOMB THE BASS on their 1998 hit ‘Megablast’ and also re-interpreted by UK synthesist Mark Shreeve, it still sounds an utterly brilliant and minimalist electro track. Lesser known themes such as the ones to ‘The Fog’ and ‘Prince of Darkness’ are both paired-down atmospheric pieces which evoke a sense of menace and whilst the films they accompanied were not Carpenter’s strongest works, they still hold up as standalone pieces of music.
It could be argued that the theme to ‘Escape From New York’ almost single-handedly invented the Synthwave genre; with its TANGERINE DREAM influenced synth brass motif and unique chord progression, Carpenter and collaborator Alan Howarth were some of the first musicians to use a Linn Drum Computer on the original soundtrack and it’s hard to imagine films like ‘Drive’ sounding the same without their influence.
There is very little left to say about the iconic ‘Halloween’ theme, except that the version here remains relatively faithful to the original with the exception of an added prominent 4/4 kick drum and a more Moog-like bass sound. Equipment and budgetary limitations had a huge influence on the Carpenter sound, often resulting in a paired down minimalist feel with sometimes only a skittering hi-hat providing the only percussion; ‘Halloween’ remains a classic example of this.
The theme to Carpenter’s version of ‘The Thing’ was intriguing because composer ENNIO MORRICONE was drafted in to provide the score and the music he came up with sounded exactly the kind of motif that one would imagine the director conceiving.
Unrelentingly dark, the music fitted the gloomy all hope is lost theme to the film, one of which took several years to gain appreciation.
At the time ‘The Thing’ was a box office flop and resulted in Carpenter being dropped from directorial duties on ‘Firestarter’ film adaptation.
Although ‘They Live’ remains one of Carpenter’s most original movies, its blues-inflected soundtrack is not one of his strongest and this re-recorded version still sounds at odds with the illuminati-themed film.
The closing track to the album sees a re-work of the theme to the Stephen King-penned ‘Christine’ with Carpenter returning to the director’s chair for a promo video which has nods to both ‘Drive’ and ‘The Thing’.
For a director that had admittedly lost his film-making mojo a long time ago, it was a logical, yet genius move to for him to revisit his musical back catalogue both here and with his live shows over the last few years.
When the orchestral score was the norm, both JOHN CARPENTER and TANGERINE DREAM showed that electronic music could work in a film soundtrack context and ‘Anthology: Movie Themes 1974-1998’ reinforces how influential the man is and helps to cement his place in electronic music history.
Purists would argue that it would have been essential to have copies of the original versions here as well, but this is a minor quibble when the interpretations here remain faithful and act as a wonderful reminder of what a superb back catalogue of music JOHN CARPENTER has produced.
JOHN CARPENTER tours the UK in 2018, dates include: London Eventim Apollo (16th October), Newcastle Tyne Theatre (18th October), Glasgow Barrowlands (19th October), Manchester Albert Hall (21st October)
“The natural way of the cultural wave: we generally experience that musical and cultural trends shift from an outstanding position within public opinion to near utter rejection, refusal and ridicule, through an ever-shortening period of time. However, if that period of time is extended, to often several decades, we can witness a renovation, a new heightened recognition – the rebirth of the wave. Through today’s global reach, powered by the internet, cultural waves and fascinations can resurface and manifest themselves, with an even much bigger fan impact than the original source.”
And so The Synths rise, to combat the ordinary, to get ahead, to prove that this isn’t a mere revival; it’s a continuation of the trend started a long time ago, a trend which has been bubbling away in the hearts and minds of many, the army of the underground, which is now unleashing its machines to show the world their supremacy.
‘The Rise Of The Synths’ is the definitive documentary about the electronic music of its mainstream heyday, the nostalgia of those years and the memorable atmosphere created by the likes of GIORGIO MORODER, EDGAR FROESE and JOHN CARPENTER.
The project, backed up by hundreds of modern synth music composers, alongside the daddies of electronica, is a journey in time from its origins, through to the most successful time for synth, into its grunge fuelled denial and the big comeback thanks to the newly discovered social media and its important role in propagating of new music.
Anyone can be an artist these days, the day job is one thing – but why not tinkle on your synths and computers in your spare time? And with the digital outlets sprouting up like mushrooms, anyone can have a chance to hear your music. nostalgia lives through, be it with the lovers of vintage games, computers, equipment, or clothing, to those who just can’t forget the musical excitement upon hearing what synthesisers could do.
JOHN CARPENTER loved the fact that “when synthesisers were first introduced into music, (he) could get a big sound with them, (…) like an orchestra.” And that’s why many got inspired into making fresh sounds which would be impossible to achieve otherwise.
The machines never sleep and 2011 saw ‘Drive’, with its magnificent synthy soundtrack, win the festival’s Best Director Award for Nicolas Winding Refn at the Cannes Film Festival. The movement continues with the superb Netflix series ‘Stranger Things’; not only showcasing the life in provincial America in the Reagan-era, but also a deliciously electronic score, full of analogue goodness straight from the onset intro, which is impossible to skip.
‘The Rise of the Synths’ continues that trend, with numerous lovers of analogue and digital from all around the globe, joining forces to stand against the ordinary and to prove that machines rule. They rule big…
Kicking off with the perfect arpeggios by CHROME CANYON on ‘Deckard Returns’, the compilation promises a perfect listening experience from the onset.
GUNSHIP with ‘The Vale Of Shadows’ takes the reigns next, presenting the London trio of Dan Haigh, Alex Westaway and Alex Gingell; the group have had a very successful release under their belt with the 2015 eponymous album.
POWER GLOVE are best known for writing the soundtrack to the retro-futuristic video game ‘Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon’; here, the two Australians plate up ‘Fatal Affair’; a futuristic flick with a twist. ‘Makita’ by GENO LENARDO imagines the machines picking up their weapons and marching against the enemy, all with industrial elements of fear inducing qualities.
Naming his project after the ‘Top Gun’ icon, COM TRUISE aka New Yorker Seth Haley has gathered a substantial following with his “mid-fi synth-wave, slow-motion funk” and here he presents his quirky ‘Idle Withdrawal’.
While DANIEL DAVIS is ‘Lost In Love’ with a melodious pop song, ROBERT PARKER is chasing his ‘Silver Shadow’, and WAVESHAPER are on a ‘Mission To Remember’. If it ever rains for CODE ELEKTRO, it has to be ‘Black Rain’. The drops of arpeggiated downfall descend upon the simple melody, creating an atmosphere of suspense and dread.
But there’s nothing like GERMAN ENGINEERING on ‘The Osbourne Effect’, an experimental Kraftwerkian with the elements of the glorious instrumentals DEPECHE MODE used to provide in the day. The magnificent ‘Triage’ by GIORGIO MORODER, who is joined by RANEY SHOCKNE, passes almost too quickly, before the heavy ‘Night Stalker’ by CARPENTER BRUT appears; the Frenchman wrote music for video games ‘Hotline Miami 2 : Wrong Number’ and ‘The Crew’.
JOHN BERGIN introduces his guitar heavy ‘Crash & Burn’ and calming ‘Fleshman’, both as if taken from a video game. ‘Dead Of Night’ by LA based DANCE WITH THE DEAD could have easily been used in the likes of ‘Footloose’ and is very ‘Eye Of The Tiger’.
LAZERHAWK takes over on ‘A Hero’s Journey’ with filigree synths and cinematic landscapes; Garrett Hays is a founding member of ROSSO CORSA and a very successful electronic producer with a considerable success during the days of MySpace.
OGRE ushers in the era of ‘Rebar (Prologue)’, from Exeter, UK, Robin Ogden is a composer, producer and sound designer. MEGA DRIVE open the ‘Stargate’, a cleverly put together track of sci-fi design, while VOYAG3R closes the album with ‘Appearance Of The Mysterious Traveler’.
Many other artists were involved in the production; music makers from Sweden, Denmark, Spain and Canada joined numerous composers from the US and UK, all to aid the cause and strengthen the position of synth worldwide.
It seems like the trend is catching. The mighty synth has risen and it’s hitting with revenge and its revenge is sweet.
Today, electronic instrumental music is everywhere, but often in the form of tedious dance tracks with no tunes all over Beatport and social media.
Luckily, there are still exponents of the classic synth instrumental, and thanks to the rise of the Synthwave sub-genre, there is currently a sympathetic environment for more esoteric and melodic musical offerings.
The key to a good instrumental is it either has to be very melodic to make up for the lack of vocals or very unobtrusive so that while the music is interesting enough to be listened to, it can also be ignored. Thus a Eurorack modular tutorial cannot credibly count as a valid release… 😉
As a follow-up to TEC’s 25 SYNTH INSTRUMENTALS Of The CLASSIC ERA, with a limit of one track per artist, The Electricity Club presents its 25 FAVOURITE SYNTH INSTRUMENTALS Of The 21ST CENTURY in chronological and then alphabetical order…
SYSTEM F Insolation (2000)
While Dutch producer Ferry Corsten hit paydirt with club hits such as ‘Out Of The Blue’ and ‘Cry’ as SYSTEM F, the debut album pointed towards the Trance’s link to electronic pop. As well as a collaboration with Marc Almond entitled ‘Soul On Soul’, the long player included the beautifully majestic classic instrumental ‘Insolation’ which took a breather from the usual four-to-the floor format.
PPK were a Russian trance duo comprising of Sergei Pimenov and Alexander Polyakov. The original melody of ‘ResuRection’ came from Eduard Artemyev’s synthesized theme from the epic 1979 Soviet movie ‘Siberiade’ which won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival. Easily mistaken for JEAN-MICHEL JARRE, the thrusting seven minute ‘Perfecto Edit’ in particular was like an exuberant rocket launch set to music.
Originally released by Perfecto Records, currently unavailable
With a piercing synthphonic riff, scat vocoder, robotic bass and a rigid programmed beat, ‘Turn It On’ saw LADYTRON take a bleep forward with an attempt at a KRAFTWERK track for the 21st Century via Liverpool, Glasgow and Sofia. But as it headed towards its final third, it detoured back to Liverpool and turned into ‘Electricity’ in a cheeky homage to Merseyside’s original electronic trailblazers OMD.
A Norwegian electronic duo consisting of Aggie Peterson and Per Martinsen, FROST released their second album ‘Melodica’ to a positive response, thanks to some production assistance by RÖYKSOPP on two tracks. The beautiful Arctic serenity of ‘Klong’ featuring local trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær alongside layers of gorgeous crystalline synths was one of the album’s highlights that easily outdid anything by GROOVE ARMADA and didn’t rely on using samples either.
Available on the album ‘Melodica’ via Frost World Recordings
‘Destroy Rock & Roll’ was the well-received debut album by Scottish DJ Myles MacInnes that alongside DAFT PUNK and BASEMENT JAXX, summed up the sample laden dance music that was prevalent at the time. Produced on a computer in his own bedroo, the album’s best track however was the more downtempo, MOBY-esque richness of ‘Emotion 96.8’ with its beautiful sweeping synth melodies and unobtrusive rhythm structure. A follow-up to the long player has yet to appear.
With a hypnotic Motorik rhythm, pulsating bleeps and spacey whirs driving a moodier template along the lines of cult German experimentalists EMAK, Phil and Paul Hartnoll continued their primarily instrumental template on their ‘Blue Album’, although SPARKS contributed vocals to a totally unrelated track called ‘Acid Pants’. The brothers split shortly after the long player’s release, but returned in 2009 to play The Big Chill Festival.
From ‘Hymn’ to ‘First Cool Hive’ to ‘A Seated Night’, the man born Richard Melville Hall is a master of the instrumental. The solemn ‘Homeward Angel’ closed MOBY’s comparatively conventional and sample-less ‘Hotel’ album with a solemn yet uplifting slice of mood music that in retrospect, was incongruous with the main act. However, since leaving Mute in 2008, his more recent self-released albums such as ‘Destroyed’ and ‘Innocents’ have displayed this more esoteric quality.
A ten minute instrumental epic, ‘Alpha Male’ came from RÖYKSOPP’s under rated second long player, one that moved away from the chill-out climes of ‘Melody AM’ into much darker sonic territory. The track’s lengthy ambient intro was interrupted by a mighty metronomic beat and the sort of progressive synth overtures that would have made JEAN-MICHEL JARRE proud.
Since his musical return in 1997 with ‘Shifting City’, JOHN FOXX has practically had albums coming out of his ears in song-based, ambient and soundtrack formats, both solo and in collaboration with other artists. The spacey mechanical Schaffel of ‘Kurfurstdendam’ came from an imaginary soundtrack he called ‘Tiny Colour Movies’, inspired by a friend’s birthday screening of a private film collection comprising of random surveillance clips and offcuts from Hollywood.
Few acts actually genuinely sound like their name… SISTA MANNEN PÅ JORDEN, which translates as “the last man in space”, is the solo project of Swedish synthpop trailblazer Eddie Bengtsson, he of PAGE and S.P.O.C.K fame. The frantic ‘Space-Elevator’ with its swimmy string synths and Sci-Fi derived melody acted as an effective Moroder-esque interlude on his excellent sixth album ‘Tredje Våningen’.
Borrowing the distinctive bassline from SIMPLE MINDS’ 1981 single ‘Love Song’, the British duo put together this lively danceable instrumental for their debut TENEK EP. With a modern mechanical groove coupled to their trademark synth rock, the almost funky ‘Ice Fields’ became an early live favourite, although the duo have focussed on more song based adventures for their three albums to date, ‘Stateless’, ‘On The Wire’ and ‘Smoke & Mirrors’.
In 2007, Andreas Kleerup, producer and one-time drummer for THE MEAT BOYS, undertook his first mainstream collaboration with fellow Swede ROBYN. The success of ‘With Every Heartbeat’ led to the recording of his self-titled debut album which featured a number of brilliant instrumentals. ‘Hero’ was its perfect start and with a solid bassline and strong choral timbres, it had the vibe of how OMD might have sounded if they had formed in the 21st Century.
While most of the ‘Tron Legacy’ soundtrack album was arranged and orchestrated by Joseph Trapanese, DAFT PUNK’s spiky electronics and drum machine were kept in alongside the epic strings for the end titles of the sequel to the 1982 movie ‘Tron’. There were nods to Wendy Carlos who composed the score to the original film, with Thomas Bangalter focusing on the heroic themes while Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo was more inclined to generating the darker elements.
Available on the soundtrack album ‘Tron Legacy’ via Walt Disney Records
Forming in 2001, Swedish duo 047 began their chiptune experiments thought a mutual appreciation of vintage video games. But after their debut long player, Peter Engström and Sebastian Rutgersson began to incorporate melodic song based elements and vocals into their music. The end results led to the impressive second album ‘Elva’, but they celebrated their chiptune influenced roots with the jolly YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA salute of ‘Kanpai!’
‘The E-Bay Queen Is Dead’ was collection of rarities from the MARSHEAUX archives. While Marianthi Melitsi and Sophie Sarigiannidou have done a fair number of cover versions in their time, they are not really known for doing instrumentals. But the electro-boppy ‘Now & Never’ was a very promising wordless demo that Vince Clarke would have approved of; as one of his former DEPECHE MODE colleagues once sang: “words are very unnecessary…”
Fusing Detroit techno with more European experimental forms, Patricia Hall and Ian Hicks’ second SOFT METALS album ‘Lenses’ featured the fabulous instrumental ‘Hourglass’. As Hall put it: “I really wanted to write lyrics for that one, but was never quite satisfied with what I came up with. I decided it would be better to let that one be an instrumental. I think it holds up on its own. It’s nice to give the listener a chance to interpret its meaning on its own rather than direct them with words”.
Available on the album ‘Lenses’ via Captured Tracks
Anais Neon and Martin Swan’s tribute to ‘Assault On Precinct 13’, ‘The future through a lens’ was a moody but booming instrumental that began their excellent debut longer player of the same name, which later netted a Schallewelle Award for ‘Best international Album’ in 2014. With their vast array of analogue synthesizers and exquisite taste for sound textures, it won’t be too surprising if VILE ELECTRODES aren’t offered some soundtrack opportunities in the near future.
Although making his name within EDM circles, the Norwegian producer born Todd Olsen paid a musical tribute to ‘Back To The Future’ and its futuristic gull-wing doored Delorean DMC-12 car with this suitably driving Synthwave instrumental. Unlike other so-called dance producers, Terje is conversant with electronic music history and possesses a wry sense of humour, as evidenced by the witty wordplay of track titles like ‘Inspector Norse’ and his own DJ moniker.
After the first phase of BLANCMANGE, Neil Arthur and Stephen Luscombe worked within the TV and film industry, scoring soundtracks and incidental music. Although best known for his voice, Neil Arthur’s instrumentals have been a continual form of expression. The brilliant ‘Cistern’ comes over like an imaginary Bond Theme for a retro-futuristic world. The wordless wonder that is the parent album ‘Nil By Mouth’ is an unsung masterpiece.
Adam Cresswell’s sombre vocals and the darker lyrical themes on his debut RODNEY CROMWELL album ‘Age Of Anxiety’ took a breather with the bright and breezy ‘Baby Robot’. With sweet synthesizer melodies, pretty glints of glockenspiel and a bouncy beatbox, the instrumental was inspired by birth of his son. “Yes, ‘Baby Robot’ is the one track on the album that’s 100% upbeat as it is about the experience of being a father” he gleefully told The Electricity Club.
While Danish duo DARKNESS FALLS are better known for their melancholic Nordic vocals and neo-gothic overtones on songs like ‘The Void’, the dark synthy instrumental ‘Thunder Roads’ proved to be one of the most striking tracks on their second album ‘Dance & Cry’. With a punchy drum machine mantra and menacing reverberant sequence, it was augmented by guitar screeches and sombre six string basslines reminiscent of JOY DIVISION and THE CURE.
JEAN-MICHEL JARRE & BOYZ NOISE The Time Machine (2015)
JEAN-MICHEL JARRE’s first album for since ‘Teo & Tea’ in 2007 was a two volume opus entitled ‘Electronica’; it features collaborations with a number of synth pioneers and modern day dance artists including BOYZ NOISE aka Berlin DJ Alexander Ridha. This climactic track took on a new life as the set closer on the French synth maestro’s ‘Electronica’ world tour, with a lasered 3D visual feast that required no special glasses! BUT BEWARE OF FLASHING IMAGES! 😉
Available on the album ‘Electronica 1 – The Time Machine’ via Columbia Records
The horror film king recorded his ‘Lost Themes’ series in collaboration with his son Cody and his godson Daniel Davies as standalone pieces, without the pressure of having to put the music to moving images. The second volume was completed on a tighter schedule to accompany a world concert tour and thus replicated some of the challenging moods in his soundtrack work with tracks like ‘Utopian Façade’ recalling his classic movie soundscapes.
Dixon and Stein are members of the Texan group SURVIVE and their accompanying music to ‘Stranger Things’, a cross between ‘ET’, ‘The Goonies’ and ‘Alien’, sent electronic music fans into online meltdown with its use of vintage analogue synths. With a soundtrack influenced by the horror flicks of Dario Argento and of course John Carpenter, the one minute opening title music to the acclaimed drama series said all that was needed to be said in its brooding dissonant tones.
As would be expected from a title like ‘Klangfarben’, this vibrant instrumental from Dublin trio TINY MAGNETIC PETS is an enjoyable homage to Germanic music forms, with a loose percussive feel that still maintains that vital degree of Motorik. A word meaning “soundcolour”, it refers to a technique whereby a musical line is split between several instruments, rather than assigning it to just one instrument, thereby adding timbre and texture to proceedings.
For the last eight years, French synthesist JEAN-MICHEL JARRE has mainly focused on his live work and reworking past glories, touring the world with a greatest hits set featuring most of the iconic pieces of equipment that were used on the holy trinity of albums he is most associated with – ‘Oxygène’, ‘Equinoxe’ and ‘Magnetic Fields’.
Despite nearly pushing 70, the creative urge has sparked JEAN-MICHEL JARRE to release some new material and ‘Electronica 1: The Time Machine’ sees his welcome return with 16 tracks and 15 collaborators.
Whilst for other artists (hello DURAN DURAN!), the collaboration option is often one which is resorted to a) when the creative fire has started to splutter out and b) when you cynically try to “get down with the kids” to attract a new audience, for Jarre it is the obvious and perfect route to take.
The album was a lengthy four years in the making, mainly because of his insistence to work in the same space as the collaborators, avoiding the internet route preferred by many electronic artists. All of the guests featured here are either ones who Jarre admires or who have been influenced by him, some of them are obvious choices, others are a little left of field, but more on that later.
The opening title track created with BOYS NOIZE is classic Jarre, both compositionally and sound wise, a very hooky melody with driving drums and sequencer parts that keep the piece moving throughout.
Entertainment for some can be had on this album by playing synth-spotting and seeing which sounds have been previously been used by Jarre. ‘The Time Machine’ features the Laser Harp sync bass sound used on the second half of the epic ‘Second Rendez-vous’ and works brilliantly here on what is an excellent album opener.
Unfortunately, the M83 song ‘Glory’, as well as being desperately mistitled, kills the momentum generated by the opener and still feels as plodding and pedestrian as when it was released as one of the lead-off tracks of the album earlier in the year. It’s not a bad song per se, it would surely have been preferable to have placed it towards end of the album… so for those of you that love to generate custom Spotify playlists, you know what to do!
The AIR pairing is a musical no-brainer, the duo being arguably the best electronic act to come out of France since Jarre first broke through. ‘Close Your Eyes’ features typical AIR chord progressions and ethereal vocals, both live and vocodered. But the surprise here is the rhythm track which lopes along like something from ‘Autobahn’; this is a good thing though and there are enough musical ideas in this piece which could easily have seen it extended by another 3-4 minutes.
The outro features classic pitch modulated synths and burbling EMS sound effects (both Jarre trademarks) and the song itself is sung from the perspective of a synthesizer “Switch me on, play my song and close your eyes”. On the strength of this track, one can only wish that there could be a whole collaboration album in the pipeline, it’s easily one of the most cohesive fits here and works beautifully.
For many, the VINCE CLARKE collaboration is a match made in synthetic heaven, and fans will be rewarded with two tracks here – ‘Automatic Part 1’ and ‘Automatic Part 2’. ‘Part 1’ is centred around an electro drum beat before leading seamlessly into ‘Part Two’ which goes 4/4 with the energy level being raised with another classic Jarre melody. Both pieces feature wonderful interlocking sequencer parts and they are everything that a follower of both musicians could hope for.
LITTLE BOOTS, whose recent profile in the UK has waned significantly, pops up with a typical piece of electropop fluff – ‘If..!’ sounds very MARSHEAUX-like in its conception with an ultra-hooky chorus and is only let down by some dubious tuning on some of Miss Hesketh’s ad-lib vocals. ‘Suns Have Gone’ featuring MOBY starts off like a long lost PHILIP GLASS piece, interlocking arpeggios recall the iconic minimalist composer before the former Richard Hall’s world-weary vocals and a solid beat take the track into more into EDM territory, but still with a melancholic feel to it.
‘Travelator’ is probably the biggest surprise on ‘Electronica 1’; despite being well known for his electronic experiments with THE WHO, few would expect Pete Townsend to appear on a Jarre album. The result is more successful than the pairing would suggest, although the sound of the rock vocalist surrounded by driving synths takes a few listens to get used to!
‘Zero Gravity’ is one of the other collaborations here that got fans of instrumental electronic music excited, it features TANGERINE DREAM and possibly one of the final pieces that Edgar Froese contributed to before sadly passing away earlier this year. Full of classic TD sequencer parts, it takes a few listens to truly appreciate, but once it has sunk in, acts as a fitting memorial.
In many eyes, Jarre is recognised as The Godfather of Trance, so a joint venture with a current artist from that genre would seem like a safe bet. ‘Stardust’ featuring ARMIN VAN BUUREN sounds pretty much as you would expect it to, very melodic with a thumping kick, descending synth melody and a hands in the air breakdown section.
The last couple of tracks on ‘Electronica 1’ will be welcomed by those that prefer Jarre’s mainly instrumental work, both the pieces with JOHN CARPENTER and LANG LANG are truly superb; ‘A Question of Blood’ (given its co-creator’s background) is a movie theme waiting to happen whilst the latter (‘The Train & The River’) combines classical piano over an extended electronic backdrop with one of Jarre’s classic sequencer riffs.
At approximately 4 minutes into ‘The Train & The River’, you WILL get goosebumps when Jarre drops in a descending phased Eminent string chord and just for good measure brings back THAT sync bass sound again… again this is another collaboration that is crying out for more pieces.
The only missed opportunity with ‘The Time Machine’ is that despite many of them being well known in their field, none of Jarre’s collaborators here could be classified as exceptionally strong vocalists; it would have been intriguing to have (for example) someone of the calibre of SUSANNE SUNDFØR vocalling, but it’s understandable why he chose the people he did.
Jarre has an embarrassment of musical riches here and with more saved up in the bank, a second volume is due next year due to the sheer volume of artists agreeing to work with him like HANS ZIMMER, SEBASTIEN TELLIER and GARY NUMAN.
This work, and hopefully ‘Volume 2’, will be a wonderful addition to the tradition and provides what is one of the best electronic albums that you will hear this year. As Jarre himself mentions in his sleeve notes, “Electronic music has a family, a legacy and a future…” and ‘Electronica 1: The Time Machine’ comfortably ticks all three boxes with consummate ease…
‘Electronica 1: The Time Machine’ uses the following electronic instruments: ARP 2600, EMS AKS, EMS VCS3, Fairlight CMI, Minimoog, Memorymoog, Moog Modular 55, RMI Harmonic, Roland Jupiter 8, Korg Micro-Preset, Theremin, Korg MS20, Roland AXS, GRP Modular, Elka Synthex, Laser Harp, Eminent 310, Mininova Vocoder, DigiSequencer, Coupigny GRM, Swarmatron, ARP Omni, ARP Pro-Soloist, ARP Odyssey, Waldorf Blofeld, Alesis Ion, Roland VP330, Virus Access, Clavia Nord Lead 1, Clavia Nord Lead 2, Clavia Nord Lead C2D, Emulator II, Korg PA500, Moog Taurus, Farfisa Pro 2, Vox Continental, Mellotron, Keio Minipops, Korg KR55, Roland TR808, Roland TR909, Roland CR8000, Eko ComputeRhythm, Keio Doncamatic, Linn LM-1, Linn LM-2, Metasonix D1000, Native Instruments Maschine