Tag: Kid Kasio (Page 3 of 5)

A Short Conversation with KID KASIO

KID KASIO B+WNathan Cooper, the man behind KID KASIO has been extremely busy of late.

As well as basking in the critical acclaim for his impressive second album ‘Sit & Wait’, the former frontman of THE MODERN has opened a recording complex in Central London with his actor brother Dominic.

The air conditioned Fiction Studios includes a 36 track Soundtracs IL 3632 desk, an ambient room and a library area to provide a relaxing writing space. Among the classic synths available for use are a Sequential Circuits Prophet 5, a Korg Poly 800 and a Yamaha DX7.

Meanwhile, KID KASIO will be performing at TEC004 alongside MARSHEAUX and RODNEY CROMWELL on SATURDAY 5TH NOVEMBER at Norwich Epic Studios, with a supporting DJ line-up of James Nice from Les Disques du Crépuscule and The Electricity Club’s very own Paul Boddy.

Unashamedly wearing his pop credentials on his sleeve as ever, Nathan Cooper chatted to The Electricity Club about attempting DEPECHE MODE covers, his sibling studio venture, the art of collaboration and his thoughts on the current music scene…

KID KASIO Sit and WaitNow you’ve had some distance, how do you think the ‘Sit & Wait’ album has been received?

Everyone who’s heard it seems to like it. The problem is, I don’t think many people have heard it. That’s the issue I have. I know that the songs are catchy and could appeal to a wide audience, but the vast majority of the population won’t ever hear it.

We seem to be drowning in this sea of music, the bulk of which is mediocre, and this is ruining it for the people who are actually creating something decent.

I can’t seem to get my head above the parapet in an ocean of people who think its ok to throw a beat down and then release it to the world on Soundcloud.

When I started out making music in my teens in the late 80s and early 90s, you had to have a certain amount of stamina and steely ambition to succeed in music. I’d practice hard with my band five nights a week. We’d go round London pasting our own posters up in the middle of the night.

the_modernThen we’d be organising our own gigs and invite record companies until we finally got management. Then there’d be the huge costs involved with hiring a professional recording studio so we could make a decent sounding demo.

We got to that stage because we were good. None of that would have happened if we’d been sh*t. We would have fallen at the first hurdle.

Now it seems anyone can make music, literally anyone can turn on a laptop and make it sound half decent and professional and then load it onto Soundcloud. They can effectively skip all the hurdles. None of the steps that used to sort the wheat from the chaff exist anymore, it’s just boom! And it’s out there for the world to hear.

I despise Soundcloud more than anything else. Who ever thought it was a good idea to look at the waveform of a piece of music?? It’s completely counter intuitive to how we should enjoy music. It completely ruins the enjoyment of a song knowing where the drops and the builds are before they’ve happened. I just don’t get it.

Anyway, in answer to your question I’m pleased with the response for the album, but I’ve also got to be realistic. It’s not going to set the charts alight which is a shame, but I had fun making it and that’s what counts and that’s why I do it.

‘Sit & Wait’ seems more relaxed and benefits from that stance?

I guess when I made the first album I had more to prove. I’d just left THE MODERN and felt like I had to validate myself, to show I could do it alone. I’d spent so many years in bands never really being able to follow my musical vision 100 percent without certain levels of compromise.

It was like “Yeah here I am! And yes I like HOWARD JONES! So f***ing what! And yeah I think NIK KERSHAW has a ton of better songs than JOY DIVISION! And yeah I actually think Stock Aitken and Watermen were good producers and songwriters! Put that in your f***ing pipe and smoke it!”, that’s actually what my whole first album was screaming.

I think I was just very angry, and making the whole album was a kind of purgative experience that I had to do.
By the second album I’d calmed down a lot, I just took my time with it. There’s a lot more collaborations on ‘Sit & Wait’ which is maybe what gives it a more relaxed feel. I’m probably the least relaxed person in the world so I think the energy of another person can help take off some of my neurotic edge maybe!!

kasiotoneIn hindsight, your debut album ‘Kasiotone’ almost feels like you may have been trying too hard?

I’ve not thought too much about this before but now you mention it, when I was making my first album between 2008-2011, I was quite keen to be involved in that wave of Synthpop that was emerging at the time with LA ROUX and FRANKMUSIK. By the time I’d started making ‘Sit & Wait’ in 2013, I didn’t feel like there was a particular bandwagon existing for me to jump on, so I was just doing stuff more instinctively and from the heart.

I guess that comes over as being more true to myself, and perhaps more relaxed with who I am. There was a ton of Autotune on my first album too, which I think in hindsight can make things sound a bit less natural and more forced sometimes.

‘Full Moon Blue’ is something of a triumph…

Why thank you! It came about in a kind of round about way that one. A friend of mine, Chris Smith (who’s part of THE MANHATTAN CLIQUE who’d done some remixes for, and managed THE MODERN), emailed me and said I should do a cover of the DEPECHE MODE song ‘Two Minute Warning’. I’ve really no idea why he suggested it, but I listened to the song and thought maybe if I did, that they’d remix my album for me or something! It really was just an experiment in self-promotion. I just did it in the hope I’d get something out of it!

I’m utterly ashamed to say I wasn’t that familiar with the song, but it instantly appealed to me because, although I thought the arrangement was fantastic, I kind of felt like it certainly wasn’t one of their best songs, and I only like to attempt a cover if I think I can improve on it in some way.

Anyway I started by copying it exactly, and then kind of started writing my own song over the top. A lot of my songs begin that way, where I’ll start by replicating something and then gradually manipulate it until it becomes my own. Unfortunately with that one it still retained a lot of the original DM flavour. To the point where I really ought to speak to Alan Wilder who penned that one! I’ll give him 50 percent when it goes straight in at number one!

I’m working on a track at the moment, which began by emulating ZARA LARSSON’s ‘Lush Life’ (which I love by the way!). The thing is, after I’ve had my way with it, its ended up sounding more like ‘Cruel Summer’ by BANANARAMA! That’s the hand of KID KASIO at work!

KID KASIO B+W-02Another highlight from ‘Sit & Wait’ is ‘One Chance’, what’s the story behind that one?

That was written with a friend of mine Liam Hansell. We’d actually met up one afternoon to write the poppiest song we could. That was the intention. We had some crazy notion we could sell it to a boy band or something, this thing was literally going to be our pension plan.

I wouldn’t normally recommend starting a session with such lofty ambitions. But it was working out ok and I think about halfway through recording, I felt like I wanted it for KID KASIO and it was too good to give to anyone else. The song was actually about Paul Potts and the whole X Factor/ Simon Cowell machine. It’s about someone auditioning and how they pin their whole life on this one moment.

The infuriating thing was, about six months after we wrote it, James Corden, who I’ve met several times on account of him being best friends with my brother, starred in a film playing the character of Paul Potts!!! And guess what the film was called? ‘One Chance’!! We were absolutely gutted! I’m absolutely positive if I’d told my brother about the song, he could’ve played it to James, whom he was flatmates with at the time, and we could’ve got it in the film. It would’ve been absolutely perfect for it.

Liam and I wrote another song together on the album which was called ‘Human Beings’. The original lyric I came up with in the studio was “We’re just European”, but we changed it to “We’re just Human Beings” although looking back now, I think with the original lyric, it could have been some kind of Anti-Brexit anthem!

KID KASIO+SPRAYYou’ve continued your working relationship with Ricardo Autobahn and collaborated on the track ‘It’s Not Enough’ for SPRAY’s album ‘Enforced Fun’. Are there any other artists you would be interested in collaborating with in the future?

I can’t help but collaborate with Ricardo. He’ll send me something and for some reason it will just immediately inspire me. He sent me ‘It’s Not Enough’ and wanted me to sing a bit of it. I tried but it was quite wordy, and I’m all lispy and can’t get my words out, so I kind of simplified it a bit.

I felt a bit cheeky sending it back and saying “I’ve sung it but I kind of changed a few words, and the melody a little bit, oh and can you change the key as well”, but he was gracious as always.

I don’t really have a list of people I’d like to work with. I’m such an anxious person, the thought of working with someone famous and successful just fills me with such fear and dread I just couldn’t do it. I think I’d prefer to work with someone new and up and coming so I could be the nurturing one. The old sage in the corner, offering my tuppence worth.

There’s a few new artists I like, but in general I’m just more of a song addict. There’s not one album on my iPod. I just listen to singles from the Top 20 – 1978 to 2016. I have to absolutely adore a band to venture into their album tracks. That’s reserved for DURAN DURAN, JAPAN and a small handful of others. In terms of new music, I just tend to go online and scour the different countries in Europe for what’s coming up in the charts.

Nathan, Rusty + SarahHaving said that, there are certain producers I’d love to work with, Trevor Horn obviously, and I’m always intrigued to see how Max Martin worked. I’ve been such a fan of his ever since I spied his name on the back of a Euro dance CD I bought in France in about 1994. Even then, I knew there was something really special about his writing. I’d bore people to death about his band E-TYPE. Now he’s the biggest songwriter in the world!

You’ve opened a new recording facility Fiction Studios in Central London with your brother, what brought this about?

We’d both been keen to do it for ages. In fact he’d been bugging me about it for about two years, and I was really reluctant to give up my home studio.

There’d been an incident while I was producing a track for the film ‘Miss You Already’ when the star Toni Colette had to come into my studio to sing some vocals. The problem was, myself and my writing partner Benjamin Todd had kind of augmented our credentials, shall we say, with the intention of getting the gig. We’d delivered on it in terms of what we’d put forward, but we knew our cover would be blown if she’d walked into my little flat in SE London and seen my studio in the corner of my bedroom!! It just wasn’t very Hollywood. I guess that was the turning point for me.

FICTION STUDIOS-synthsI’ve been there everyday since the 1st of January, wiring up mixing desks, painting, laying carpet, It was really somewhere I could put my own stamp on. Carpet everywhere!! I’m obsessed with carpet! Don’t invite me into your home if you don’t have carpet. I’ll just walk out again, I love carpet. It must be something to do with acoustics. I’ve even got carpet in my kitchen and bathroom!

I also spent days attaching velvet drapes to the ceiling! I bought so much velvet from ‘Rolls & Rems’ in Lewisham, I’m sure they think I’m opening a harem or something. The thing about the space that really attracted me right from the start were the books. The owners of the space had built a kind of film set of an old library in the corner with fake brickwork on the walls, fake piping going into a fake boiler in the corner, there’s even a fake staircase going nowhere!

And lots of books, literally thousands of them. They had intended to film a ‘Jackanory’ type thing down there, but the project had stalled. I just took one look and said this would be perfect! So you had this incredible ‘Harry Potter’ style film set in one corner but the rest of the room was in bad shape, it was just a store room really, so that’s where I got into Laurence Llewelyn Bowen mode.

The interior design paid off though because we invited Roland to come and have a look and as soon as they walked in, they said they would give us whatever we wanted as long as they could film in there every now and again.

I’m hoping the studio can offer a creative space to musicians in the heart of London where there’s not really that much else around. It’s all very exciting.

KID KASIO Shot B+WYou have a nice collection of synths of various vintages. What do you have and are there any interesting stories about any these?

Yeah I have a bit of a collection but there’s still plenty more I want! Obviously the collection won’t be complete without a Jupiter 8 and Oberheim OBX-a, but these things seem to be sky rocketing in price.

I remember going to Thornton Heath to buy an SH101 for £80 from someone in Loot and thinking that was a bit expensive, so I bought some chips on the way and only gave him £79!!!

My Juno 60 is like an old friend. My original one was purchased, again through Loot, in 1989 for about £150. In 1992, we were recording in the same studio as JESUS JONES, this grotty place on Commercial Road which isn’t there any more called Ezee Studios with a producer called Nick Tauber who’d produced TOYAH and MARILLION. I left the Juno there, thinking we’d be back the following week to finish the recording, and we didn’t return for about a year.

On our return no-one knew where the Juno was! I still check the underside of every Juno I ever come across in the hope I’ll see my 14 year old etchings on the bottom: “Nathan Cooper, Belmont Hill Lewisham SE13”!! Anyway I gave up hope of ever finding it, and bought a new one in about 1994. It’s still with me to this day.It’s literally never gone wrong. It’s just the best synth ever.

You did well to find the Crumar Performer…

Myself and childhood friend Gabriel Prokofiev were in a band together, and were both massive fans of the first DURAN DURAN album. He bought his in about 1991 and a few years later, because I was renting a studio space from him in Hackney, I sneaked it off him and stashed it away in my studio for a long time until he wanted it back.

By the time I returned it to him, it was too late for me, I knew there was absolutely no way I could live without one. I was a Crumar addict!! It really is the most special sounding thing you’ve ever heard. It does a brass sound which is appalling, but those strings are to die for. I met Mark Ronson back stage at a Duran gig a couple of years ago and had a good chat with him about it. He’s even named a song on his first album after it!

kasio_simmonsThe studio has plenty to offer to musicians of all persuasions… what facilities does Fiction Studios have to tackle that tricky issue of recording live drums for example?

We did our first session with live drums the other day, which I was dreading, but it turned out brilliantly.

Fortunately we’ve got a massive collection of good mics and I was able to play around until I got a really good sound that the drummer and the client were really happy with.

We ended up recording in an area of the studio which isn’t carpeted and has a little more of a live sound.

Obviously if I had my way, every drummer in the world would just use a DMX drum machine or play a Simmons kit (both of which we also offer!). But I realise to make this venture work, we have to cater for all styles of music. Actually I’ve got to say, the live drums sounded so good, I may be using some on my next album. With lots of gated reverb obviously!

TEC004 - thumb May 2016You’re playing TEC004 with MARSHEAUX and RODNEY CROMWELL at Norwich Epic Studios in November, are you planning anything particularly for that show?

I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited about a gig. We were all on such a high after the iSynth Festival in Lille back in May that we literally can’t wait for this.

There’ll be lots of new songs from the ‘Sit & Wait’ album and definitely some serious keytar action. I’m thinking of resurrecting my ‘Brookside’ theme tune show opener! Last time I played it, none of the rest of my band knew what it was!! They thought it was a tune I’d composed.

It was only a few months later that my drummer called me up and said “they just played your tune on the telly, it was on a programme about 1982”, I said “were they talking about something called ‘Brookside’ by any chance?”.

Will the yellow Simmons drum kit be coming along to TEC004 with you?

Of course!! I retired the Simmons kick drum for the last gig in France because we were travelling in a tiny Ford Fiesta, but I’m hoping we’ll have something a bit more roomy for this gig so the whole kit can come along.

Synthpop is been going through a tricky period domestically at the moment, although CHRVCHES seem to be our saviours of synthpop. You’ve been in the music business a while, why do you think they succeeded while say, MIRRORS didn’t?

I think MIRRORS were fantastic and I think they befell a similar fate as THE MODERN. They didn’t have timing on their side and they suffered from a distinct lack of serendipity. The business is all about luck. It’s almost impossible to sustain a band at that semi-professional level. That point where things are teetering on the edge of full blown success. Every decision you make is so loaded. It becomes make or break at every juncture and it’s impossible to continue a creative relationship in that kind of environment, it’s too destructive, the band will eventually implode.

Kid Kasio press shot (no Logo)It’s fine at the other end of the scale, if you have no success.

If you’re a few mates rehearsing in your garage living in a constant state of expectation and hope you can go on for years like that. I certainly have!

It’s the same if you’re super successful, if everything’s going well that’s just fine. The problems come with that in-between stage; it’s that ‘almost ran’ situation that’s impossible to sustain.

CHRVCHES are great, I thought their Glasto set was excellent. I thought YEARS & YEARS were great too. While I don’t think it’s a particularly golden age for synthpop, I think there’s a general synth sheen to pop music at the moment, that isn’t a bad thing. It could be worse, it could be the bloody 90s!

What’s next for KID KASIO?

Fiction Studios has taken over everything for the last few months but now I’m back on track. I’m already planning the next video for the next single later in the year, possibly the last release from the album, we’ll see. I’m constantly writing, that’s the key. I’m mainly writing for other people, but I often come up with something and go “that’s a bit KID KASIO” and keep it for myself!


‘Sit & Wait’ is available as a download from the usual digital outlets

TEC004 Flyer - May 2016KID KASIO plays TEC004 on SATURDAY 5TH NOVEMBER 2016 at Epic Studios, 114 Magdalen Street, Norwich, Norfolk NR3 1JD – also appearing will be MARSHEAUX + RODNEY CROMWELL

Tickets are £16 in advance, £20 at the door – available direct from the box office on 01603 727727 or online at
https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/date/248712

http://www.kidkasio.com/

https://www.facebook.com/kidkasio/

http://www.fictionstudioslondon.com/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
TEC004 Artwork by Mark Walker @ MNW Visual Communications
11th July 2016

MARSHEAUX to Headline TEC004 on SATURDAY 5TH NOVEMBER

TEC004 - thumb May 2016The Electricity Club and The Touring Principle are pleased to announce that MARSHEAUX will be headlining TEC004 on SATURDAY 5TH NOVEMBER at Norwich Epic Studios.

It will be MARSHEAUX’s first UK live appearance since 2012, when the girls played TEC002 in London alongside The Blitz Club legend Rusty Egan. Also appearing will be KID KASIO and RODNEY CROMWELL.

MARSHEAUX-322-detailAthens based synth maidens MARSHEAUX, who are best known for exquisite synthpop numbers such as ‘Hanging On’, Dream Of A Disco’, ‘Radial Emotion’, ‘Breakthrough’ and ‘Come On Now’, covered the entire of DEPECHE MODE’s ‘A Broken Frame’ in 2015 as an album release on Undo Records. Their new album ‘Ath.Lon’ reveals a new subtle, aggressive side to MARSHEAUX. The duo’s celebrity fans include Jared Leto, Andy McCluskey, Tom Robinson and Mark Reeder.

KID KASIO Shot Blue-thumbKID KASIO is the project of Nathan Cooper. Formally of THE MODERN, his unashamedly synthpoppy tunes have gained a cult following over the past few years. He said “Whether I release it in 2013 or 2016, it’s still going to sound like 1985!” – now imagine if DEPECHE MODE was fronted by Nik Kershaw instead of Dave Gahan? With his song ‘Full Moon Blue’, that musical fantasy became fully realised. Melodic and lively, his most recent album was the excellent ‘Sit & Wait’.

RODNEY CROMWELL-BW‘Age Of Anxiety’ by RODNEY CROMWELL was an unexpected favourite of both critics and independent radio outlets in 2015. The musical project of Adam Cresswell, this concept album of sorts chronicled his problems with depression and anxiety. The honesty apparent in his dissonant vocal styling echoed the spectre of acts such as SECTION 25 and NEW ORDER, with songs like ‘Black Dog’, ‘Fax Message Break Up’ and ‘You Will Struggle’ embodying the album perfectly.

Epic Studios in Norwich is based at the former Anglia TV studios and was the location of “the quiz of the week”, ‘Sale Of The Century’ presented by Nicholas Parsons. In the last few years, the venue has played host to a number of key acts including WOLFGANG FLÜR, MIDGE URE, HOWARD JONES and THE RADIOPHONIC WORKSHOP.


TEC004 Flyer - May 2016TEC004 featuring MARSHEAUX, KID KASIO + RODNEY CROMWELL takes place on SATURDAY 5TH NOVEMBER 2016 at Epic Studios, 114 Magdalen Street, Norwich, Norfolk NR3 1JD

Doors open for the show at 6.45pm with the first band on stage at 7.30pm

There will be a free memorabilia display at the venue between 3.00pm – 5.00pm exploring the pioneering era of Synth Britannia, featuring acts such as DEPECHE MODE and GARY NUMAN

Tickets are £16 in advance, £20 at the door – available from the box office on 01603 727727 or online at
https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/date/248712

http://www.marsheaux.com/

http://www.kidkasio.com

http://www.happyrobots.co.uk/

http://www.epic-tv.com/events/tec004-the-electricity-club-ft-marsheaux-kid-kasio-rodney-cromwell/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
TEC004 Artwork by Mark Walker @ MNW Visual Communications
12th April 2016, updated 9th May 2016

SPRAY Enforced Fun

SPRAY ENFORCED FUNartworkJenny McLaren and Ricardo Autobahn (aka John Matthews) jokingly describe themselves as “Synth folk straight outa Lancashire”.

Having been members of THE CUBAN BOYS, with whom they topped the singles charts in the UK, the twosome took on an off-shot project, SPRAY.

Autobahn has also been involved in a venture called BARNDANCE BOYS with Daz Simpson aka Darren Sampson, infamous for their exaggerated papier-mâché heads.

Two albums have been released since, followed by further EPs. And now, the good mates of Nathan Cooper aka TEC favourite KID KASIO, have returned with a lengthy production mischievously entitled ‘Enforced Fun’.

The hilarious ‘Prologue’ by Jane Badler introduces the light hearted approach of this record, which is a happy and bright amalgamation of cheerful dance tracks, such as ‘Hit The Applause Light’, ‘Overdramatic’ (with vocals sounding like Sarah Blackwood’s), ‘Rotating The Square’ and ‘The Magic 8 Ball Lies’ (loaded with Eurovision worthy qualities and varying vocals).

‘You Show Me The Way’ slows the tempo somewhat, resembling DUBSTAR or CLIENT, thanks to the clear, competent vocals and pleasant melody.

KID KASIO features on ‘It’s Not Enough’; an über electric come back to the synthier years. A refreshing approach to the old style electronica is what’s expected of Nathan Cooper and this track certainly provides that in bunches.

‘Diabolical Mastermind’ provides political connotations interwoven within an efficient synthravaganza, while ‘It’s The Night Of The Long Knives, Charlie Brown’ musically turns into a more folk and reggae inspired number, laced with clubland rhythms.

SPRAY-02‘Into A Tunnel’ drifts away from the discotheque into a dream land and ‘The 80s Never Died’ is ERASURE in a can, followed by ‘Fake Controversy Coincidentally Moves Product’ and ‘The Biggest Pool In LA’ (a sarcastic answer to any problem).

HYPERBUBBLE feature on ‘The Very Nerve Centre of Art Video Cliché’, a song laced with ABBA’s ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!’ synth line and scarce guitar elements. The production closes with ‘The Final Song’, a measured ballad, peacefully wrapping this eclectic collection of “perfect songs for every mood”.

SPRAY are well regarded and part of many collaborations, some of them including Autobahn’s co-writing and production of ‘Teenage Life’ with Daz Sampson, which was UK’s 2006 Eurovision entry; others have McLaren performing guest vocals on club records. KID KASIO, as well as many others, like LOLLY POP, POP INC and HELEN LOVE pride themselves with having worked alongside the duo.

‘Enforced Fun’ is a masterful dance gem, but without the sugary beats and need of overbearing vocal enhancement. What you hear is what you get, get it?!


‘Enforced Fun’ is released as a CD and download on 29th April 2016 via
http://spray.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/spraynet/

https://twitter.com/spraypopmusic


Text by Monika Izabela Goss
7th April 2016

The Electricity Club’s 30 SONGS OF 2015

Loudness Contour Modifiers

In a far more productive year than 2014, many electronic music veterans returned to the fold in 2015 with their first new albums for many years.

There were plenty of releases from independent acts too, with Nordic Europe being a particularly strong territory once again. 45 quality songs made the shortlist and were eventually whittled down to 30.

So mention must be made of ALICE IN VIDEOLAND, ANALOG ANGEL, BEBORN BETON, BECKY BECKY, CAMOUFLAGE, CLUB 8, ELECTROGENIC, EURASIANEYES, MACHINISTA, ME THE TIGER, HANNAH PEEL and SIN COS TAN who all released recordings in 2015 that would have easily made the listing in less competitive years such as 2012 and 2014. Even DURAN DURAN’s disappointing ‘Paper Gods’ yielded one decent track in ‘Face For Today’, but one swallow doesn’t make a summer.

So the decision has been made; with a restriction of one song per artist moniker, this alphabetical list comprises tracks released in physical formats, or digitally as purchasable or free downloads during the calendar year. Here are The Electricity Club’s 30 SONGS OF 2015…


A-HA She’s Humming A Tune

A-HA Cast In SteelHaving played what appeared to be their farewell concert at the Oslo Spektrum in December 2010, A-HA reunited in a relaxed manner that recalled their days as a fledgling band. On ‘She’s Humming A Tune’, there were hints of 1986’s ‘Scoundrel Days’ in a lower key with sweeping synths, bottle neck six string and live drums moulding the chilling soundscape with that exquisite Nordic allure. ‘Cast In Steel’ was the antithesis of the misguided EDM blow-out that DURAN DURAN attempted on ‘Paper Gods’

Available on the album ‘Cast In Steel’ via Universal Music

http://a-ha.com/


BLACK NAIL CABARET Satisfaction

blacknailcabaret_harry_meFeeling gloomy? Then take heed of the advice from BLACK NAIL CABARET and “Don’t be sad! Don’t be whiney!” – this brooding slice of Gothtronica was the lead single from the Hungarian duo’s second album ‘Harry Me, Marry Me, Bury Me’. Laden with a delicious synth bassline like DEPECHE MODE reimagined for a Weimar Cabaret set piece and topped with eerie string machine, ‘Satisfaction’ was the duo’s best individual offering to date. The pair also made a worthy impression opening for CAMOUFLAGE.

Available on the album ‘Harry Me, Marry Me, Bury Me’ via Basic Unit Productions

http://www.blacknailcabaret.net/


BLANCMANGE Useless

BLANCMANGE UselessFrom Neil Arthur’s first BLANCMANGE album without long time bandmate Stephen Luscombe, ‘Useless’ was a brilliant hybrid of BRIAN ENO circa ‘Here Come The Warm Jets’ with LCD SOUNDSYSTEM. “It’s about anyone who thinks they might be useless” said Arthur, “This song is about that whole idea that we’re all flawed and you’re ‘useless as you are’… there are just times when you think ‘f*cking hell, I couldn’t organise a p*ss up in a brewery’ or that whole thing about confidence”.

Available on the album ‘Semi Detached’ via Cherry Red Records

https://www.blancmange.co.uk


CAMOUFLAGE Count On Me

Although launch single ‘Shine’ indicated it was business as usual, as hinted at with the title, CAMOUFLAGE’s long awaited long player ‘Greyscale’ was their most mature artistic statement yet. The mellow and warm ‘Count On Me’ saw Marcus Meyn duet with Peter Heppner of WOLFSHEIM fame. The lush blend of vocals and atmospherics showcased two of Germany’s most highly regarded electronic acts at their best.

Available on the album ‘Greyscale’ via Bureau B

http://www.camouflage-music.com/


CHVRCHES Clearest Blue

chvrches-every-open-eyeCHVRCHES stuck to the synthpop template of their debut and delivered what LITTLE BOOTS, LA ROUX, and LADYHAWKE and HURTS all failed to do… a decent second album! The propulsive four-to-the-floor action of ‘Clearest Blue’ shows how far CHVRCHES developed. Although not unlike an amalgam of ‘Gun’ and ‘Science / Visions’, ‘Clearest Blue’ is even more accomplished, wonderfully held in a state of tension before WHACK, there’s a dynamic surprise that recalls the classic overtures of Vince Clarke.

Available on the album ‘Every Open Eye’ via Virgin Records

http://chvrch.es/


RODNEY CROMWELL Black Dog

BlackDogcover170x170RODNEY CROMWELL is Adam Cresswell, formally of ARTHUR & MARTHA. ‘Black Dog’ recalled the pulsing post-punk miserablism of SECTION 25 and was embellished some Hooky styled bass. Cresswell told TEC: “It’s all broadly linked to experiences in my life over the last ten years; themes of love, loss, depression, redemption”. As with NEW ORDER’s ‘Temptation’, despite the inherent melancholy, there was light at the end of the tunnel that made ‘Black Dog’ a most joyous listening experience.

Available on the album ‘Age Of Anxiety’ via Happy Robots

http://www.happyrobots.co.uk/


DAYBEHAVIOR Cambiare

daybehavior-change-front-small-2000Utilising her Italian heritage, DAYBEHAVIOR’s lead singer Paulinda Crescentini gave a suitably alluring performance on ‘Cambiare’, the B-side of the Swedish trio’s single ‘Change’. Remixed to poptastic effect, the joyous yet melancholic tune took the best elements of Italo disco with an expression of sorrow and happiness that recalled imperial phase PET SHOP BOYS. With a catchy chorus and seductive topline, Linguaphone language lessons were never this much fun…

Available on the single ‘Change’ via Graplur

http://www.daybehavior.com


DESTIN FRAGILE Run Away

DESTIN FRAGILE Halfway To NowhereAn offshoot of Swedish EBM veterans SPETSNAZ, DESTIN FRAGILE are a very different animal with hints of CAMOUFLAGE and DEPECHE MODE in their sound. ‘Run Away’ opened their ‘Halfway To Nowhere’ opus, an album which some observers have hailed as one of the best of 2015. Featuring a fine vocal from Pontus Stålberg resembling MESH’s Mark Hockings, this is what modern synthpop should be like; pop music with synths and melody as well as dynamic synth solos.

Available on the album ‘Halfway To Nowhere’ via Dark Dimensions

https://www.facebook.com/destin.fragile.pop


EAST INDIA YOUTH Carousel

EAST INDIA YOUTH Culture of YouthEAST INDIA YOUTH’s debut ‘Total Strife’ pointed towards William Doyle’s potential to pen sublime pop, and with the follow-up ‘Culture Of Volume’, this was more than realised. But the album’s centrepiece was ‘Carousel’. Imagine the start of OMD’s ‘Stanlow’ reworked during BRIAN ENO’s sessions for ‘Apollo: Soundtracks & Atmospheres’. With no percussive elements and over six minutes in length, Doyle gave a dramatic vocal performance resonating in beautifully crystalline melancholy.

Available on the album ‘Culture of Volume’ via XL Recordings

http://eastindiayouth.co.uk/


EMIKA My Heart Bleeds Melody

EMIKA DreiBerlin-based EMIKA is one of the dark horses of the UK electronic scene. A combination of her classical training, Czech heritage and use of modern technology has made for a provoking, brooding sound that has attained critical acclaim over the last few years. From her third album, helpfully named ‘Drei’, ‘My Heart Bleeds Melody’ was its highlight, a concoction of intricate pulsing layers and solemn detachment that provided a captivating listening experience.

Available on the album ‘Drei’ via Emika Records

http://emikarecords.com/


FFS P*ss Off

FFS_cover_artFFS proved collaborations do work. A total triumph, ‘P*ss Off’ was possibly the album’s most outstanding number. With the vibrancy of ‘Kimono My House’ and ‘Propaganda’ era SPARKS, there were plenty of jaunty ivories and camp vocal theatrics in the vein of classics like ‘Something For The Girl With Everything’ and ‘BC’. “It’s inexplicable” they all growled as the multi-track phrase of “HARMONISE” kicked in! A total joy, ‘P*ss Off’ was the ultimate two fingered art school pop anthem.

Available on the album ‘FFS’ via Domino Records

http://www.ffsmusic.com/


WOLFGANG FLÜR Cover Girl – The Ninjaneer Mix

Eloquence CoverOne of the highlights in Herr Flür’s DJ sets has been The Ninjaneer Mix of ‘Cover Girl’, a swirling synthpop track that the former KRAFTWERK percussionist has described as ‘The Model MkII’. He told TEC: “Her story goes on and unfortunately shows her going downhill. She had bad experiences with drugs, alcohol and other things so had to dance in night clubs for earning money at least. A true story, a bad life… that’s sometimes the way how super models are knitting their career”

Available on the album ‘Eloquence’ via Cherry Red Records

http://www.musiksoldat.de


JOHN GRANT featuring TRACEY THORN Disappointing

JOHN GRANT Grey Tickles, Black PressureJOHN GRANT’s adventure into a solemn electronic template on ‘Pale Green Ghosts’ not only won him a BRIT Award nomination too. Meanwhile his collaboration with HERCULES & LOVE AFFAIR showed he understood the disco as well. ‘Disappointing’ combined the two approaches and added some funk for an enjoyable Bowie meets YAZOO styled workout. In a song full of surprises, not only was there the presence of slap bass, but there was the dulcet tones of EVERYTHING BUT THE GIRL’s Tracey Thorn too.

Available on the album ‘Grey Tickles, Black Pressure’ via Bella Union

http://johngrantmusic.com


GWENNO Calon Peiriant

Gwenno_Y_DYDD_OLAFGWENNO’s Welsh and Cornish heritage has allowed her to develop a unique brand of lo-fi electronica. Her full-length Welsh language debut ‘Y Dydd Olaf’ came out on Peski Records in October 2014. Now reissued in 2015 by Heavenly Recordings, GWENNO has deservedly gained an increased profile for her music. With beautiful, traditionally derived melodies placed in a spacey yesterday’s tomorrow setting, the spacey ‘Calon Peiriant’ was one of the more immediate delights on offer from a wonderful album.

Available on the album ‘Y Dydd Olaf’ via Heavenly Recordings

http://www.gwenno.info/


IAMX Happiness

IAMX HappinessDepression despite apparent material success has been an ongoing lyrical theme for Chris Corner as IAMX. And with ‘Happiness’, his craving for a mind to be free of bad news, negative influences and jealousy was countered with his line of “Everywhere hypocrisy!” as pulsing arpeggios kicked in for the final third’s gentle but drama laden climax. Highly poignant in the current economic and political climate, Corner’s move from Berlin to Los Angeles certainly did his music no harm.

Available on the album ‘Metanoia’ via Caroline International

http://iamxmusic.com/


JEAN-MICHEL JARRE & VINCE CLARKE Automatic Parts 1 + 2

Jarre-electronica-coverThe French synth maestro’s first album for since ‘Teo & Tea’ in 2007 was an opus entitled ‘Electronica 1 – The Time Machine’ featuring collaborations with TANGERINE DREAM, JOHN CARPENTER, LITTLE BOOTS, MASSIVE ATTACK among many. But the two part ‘Automatic’ with VINCE CLARKE was the highlight, taking in the best of the tune based elements of both artists while not letting one party dominate. VCJMJ was certainly a more artistically realised proposition than the polarising techno of VCMG!

Available on the album ‘Electronica 1: The Time Machine’ via Columbia Records

http://jeanmicheljarre.com/


KID KASIO Full Moon Blue

KID KASIO Sit and Wait“Whether I release it in 2013 or 2016, it’s still going to sound like 1985!” said KID KASIO main man Nathan Cooper. A man whose is plainly honest about where his influences lie, his love of classic synthpop permeates throughout his work. Now imagine if DEPECHE MODE was fronted by Nik Kershaw instead of Dave Gahan? With ‘Full Moon Blue’, that musical fantasy became fully realised with a clever interpolation of ‘Two Minute Warning’, one of Alan Wilder’s songwriting contributions from ‘Construction Time Again’.

Available on the album ‘Sit & Wait’ via Kid Kasio

http://www.kidkasio.com


KITE Up For Life

Kite-VI-2015-EPDespite having been around since 2008, Swedish synth duo KITE have tended to be overlooked internationally. But Nicklas Stenemo and Christian Berg’s wonderfully exuberant array of sounds and rugged, majestic vocals deserve a much larger audience. Issuing only EPs and never albums, KITE’s most recent release ‘VI’ opened with the magnificent progressive electronic epic ‘Up For Life’. The passionate and sublime first half mutated into a beautifully surreal journey of VANGELIS-like proportions for the second.

Available on the EP ‘VI’ via Progress Productions

https://www.facebook.com/KiteHQ


MARSHEAUX Monument

marsheaux_a_broken_frame_LPA worthy of re-assessment of DEPECHE MODE ‘A Broken Frame’ has been long overdue and MARSHEAUX have certainly given a number of its songs some interesting arrangements. Their version of ‘Monument’ borrowed its bassline from latter day DM B-side ‘Painkiller’. Combined with some wispily resigned vocals, it provided a tense soundtrack that could be seen as metaphoric commentary on the economic situation in Greece. It’s not often that cover versions are better than the originals, but this is one of them.

Available on the album ‘A Broken Frame’ via Undo Records

http://marsheaux.com/


METROLAND (We Need) Machines Without Romance

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

Available on the EP ‘Zeppelin’ via Alfa Matrix

http://www.metrolandmusic.com/


MURICIDAE Away

muricidae-Songs From A Silent OceanStudio legend John Fryer has been busy and the project that perhaps harks closest to THIS MORTAL COIL is MURICIDAE. Featuring the exquisite vocals of Louise Fraser, she and Fryer apparently “met on the beach searching for mermaids”… the sea is very much the visual theme for their music, with Fryer cultivating “sonic sculptures to musically embody the exquisite Muricidae Shell itself”. The tranquil beauty of ‘Away’ captures a shimmering soundscape that compliments Fraser’s plaintive lament.

Available on the EP ‘Tales From A Silent Ocean’ via Muricidae Music

https://www.facebook.com/muricidaemusic


NEW ORDER Plastic

NEW ORDER PlasticAfter the guitar dominated proceedings of the last few NEW ORDER albums, Bernard Sumner promised a return to electronic music for the Mancunians’ first album of new material without estranged founder member and bassist Peter Hook. That was certainly delivered on with ‘Plastic’, a full-on throbbing seven minute electro number mixed by Richard X with blippy echoes of ‘Mr Disco’. Dealing with the issue of superficiality, it declares “this love is poison, but it’s like gold”… yes, beware of anything plastic and artificial!

Available on the album ‘Music Complete’ via Mute Artists

http://www.neworder.com/


KARIN PARK Stick To The Lie

KARIN PARK Stick_To_The_LieIn 2015, the Norge domiciled Swedish songstress’ KARIN PARK finally released her fifth album, the profanity laden fifth ‘Apocalypse Pop’. While less harsh in sound to some of the other tracks on the long player, ‘Stick To The Lie’ was no less angry. The most overtly synthpop track on the collection, this accessible yet emotive song was one of the highlights on a collection that affirmed KARIN PARK’s place in modern electronic pop.

Available on the album ‘Apocalypse Pop’ via State Of The Eye

http://www.karinpark.com/


PURITY RING Begin Again

With CHVRCHES having borrowed PURITY RING’s electro template and pushed it into the mainstream, the direction taken on the Edmonton duo’s sophomore album ‘Another Eternity’ was going to be watched with interest. Certainly it was more focussed than its predecessor ‘Shrines’. Still utilising glitch techniques, booming bass drops and Corin Roddick’s rattling drum machine programming, the album’s best song ‘Begin Again’ made the most of Megan James’ sweet and dreamy voice.

Available on the album ‘Another Eternity’ via 4AD Records

http://purityringthing.com/


SISTA MANNEN PÅ JORDEN All The City Lights

SMPJ TranslateSweden’s SISTA MANNEN PÅ JORDEN (translated as “The Last Man on Earth”) are led by Eddie Bengtsson, best known for his work with S.P.O.C.K and PAGE. The themes of space travel and Sci-Fi are regular lyrical gists and while all of SMPJ’s songs are voiced i Svenska, Bengtsson opened up his Vince Clarke influenced synthpop to the English language in 2015 with the ‘Translate’ EP. Brilliantly produced, ‘All The City Lights’ (a version of his 2014 single ‘Stadens Alla Ljus’) was its highly enjoyable opening gambit.

Available on the CD EP ‘Translate’ via SMPJ

http://www.moonbasealpha.space/


SUSANNE SUNDFØR Delirious

Susanne_Sundfor_tenlovesongsSUSANNE SUNDFØR and her acclaimed ‘Ten Love Songs’ album developed on the electronic focus of its predecessor ‘The Silicone Veil’. With an eerie, droning intro with echoes of THE WALKERS BROTHERS’ ‘The Electrician’, ‘Delirious’ thundered with some fierce electronics bolstered by dynamic orchestrations like THE KNIFE meeting DEPECHE MODE. It captured love as a reluctant battle of the emotions while our heroine announced with emotive resignation “I’m not the one holding the gun”.

Available on the album ‘Ten Love Songs’ via Sonnet Sound

http://susannesundfor.com/


TRAIN TO SPAIN Passion – Machinista Club mix

TRAIN TO SPAIN Keep On RunningTRAIN TO SPAIN’s developing brand of uptempo, energetic pop utilises classic synthesizer sounds in the vein of Vince Clarke coupled to a metronomic rhythm structure akin to the 1985 ‘Philip Oakey & Giorgio Moroder’ album. Coming over like LANA DEL REY fronting YAZOO, Wigeborg’s cooingly vulnerable vocals on ‘Passion’ let rip over a suitably complimentary electronic backbone from Rasmusson, while a superb remix by MACHINISTA added some beefy gothic disco goodness.

Available on the download single ‘Keep On Running’ via Sub Culture Records

http://www.traintospain.se/


TREGENZA The Partisan

TREGENZA Into The VoidManchester based Ross Tregenza is an experienced hand having co-written ‘Diaries Of A Madman’ with Dave Formula and Steve Strange when he was a member of VISAGE II in 2007. He surprised electronic music audiences with a Spartan cover of ‘The Partisan’, a song made famous by LEONARD COHEN. While many may despair at the very mention of the droll Canadian, his work has strong parallels with many Gothic veined musical forms, especially with this harrowing tale of fighting for La Résistance.

Originally from the EP ‘Stolen Thunder’, alternate version available on the album ‘Into The Void’ via Tregenza Music

https://www.facebook.com/tregenzamusic


VILE ELECTRODES Captive In Symmetry

VILE ELECTRODES Captive In SymmetryOn VILE ELECTRODES’ mesmerising ‘Captive in Symmetry’, “Filmic” is indeed a very apt description with the booming synth bass motif possessing echoes of the ‘Twin Peaks’ theme tune ‘Falling’. As beautiful sequences, eerie strings and Anais Neon’s hauntingly alluring vocals take hold, it all comes over like a dreamboat collaboration between JULEE CRUISE and OMD that could easily be considered for use in the proposed revamp of the surreal North American drama.

Available on the EP ‘Captive In Symmetry’ via Vile Electrodes

http://www.vileelectrodesco.uk/


VIVIEN GLASS Black Magic

VIVIEN GLASS Jura Final Cover - Josh BrandaoVIVIEN GLASS took a major bleep forward in 2015 with a well-produced album ‘Jura’. ‘Black Magic’ was a good example of their dark but melodic synthpop. With a catchy riff, syncopated percussive bass grunt and piercing synth pads like LITTLE BOOTS meeting GARY NUMAN at The Batcave, Melissa Glass’ gothic laden vocal provided an additional enticing allure. The bonus of an engaging co-ordinated live presentation also put the trio ahead of the domestic competition.

Available on the album ‘Jura’ via Vivien Glass

http://www.vivienglass.com/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
9th December 2015

KID KASIO Sit & Wait

KID KASIO, or Nathan Cooper, formerly of THE MODERN and subsequently MATINEE CLUB, debuted as a solo artist with his 2012 album ‘Kasiotone’.

KID KASIO Sit and WaitThe idea of going bandless has always appealed to him, as it meant that his concepts were implemented into the music he produced, without having to answer to anyone or explain the reasons. If anything went wrong, he “only had myself to blame”.

Having previously worked with Stephen Hague, who produced ERASURE, NEW ORDER and PET SHOP BOYS, THE MODERN enjoyed a brief period of popularity with a few chart singles. Cooper and his partner-in-crime, Chi Tudor-Hart were subjected to some animosities resulting from the poor management and problems with the label, before he decided to go on his own.

Citing DURAN DURAN, JAPAN, NEW ORDER, OMD, HOWARD JONES and most of “80s music because I play synths, and that’s the era when synths dominated popular music” as influences, Cooper isn’t a stranger to vintage synthesisers such as the Roland Juno 60, Prophet 5, Korg Poly 800, SH101, Crumar Performer or DX7. Turning out, what only can be described as true synthpopia tunes, it’s been nearly four years since his last album. However, Cooper busied himself with contributing music to Drew Barrymore, his brother Dominic and Toni Collette’s film ‘Miss You Already’. Now KID KASIO is returning with his newest production ‘Sit & Wait’. The album took a few years to come to fruition, bearing in mind it was mastered back in 2013.

KID KASIO Shot Blue 1It was the video to ‘The Kodo Song’ that pushed back the “mixed bag”, which had to be “refreshed”. But as he muses: “whether I release it in 2013 or 2016, it’s still going to sound like 1985!!” – not minding how long the long player took, given “I don’t have Simon Cowell beating my door down demanding a product”, and not too keen on the idea of just releasing an EP, Cooper embraced the concept of “an album as a chronological story with a beginning, middle and end”.

‘The Kodo Song’ opens the opus utilising the South African vibe “with an air of melancholy (….) through the story of the Anglo-Zulu war”, describing a relationship between two friends fighting on the frontline. With one of them dying, the other remembers his comrade through the song. The ethnic sounds on this production punctuate the story, which itself is an epic production, having taken two years to turn out with the accompanying video.

‘Letters Of Love’, an excellently synth driven piece of candy, bursts with boyish charm and magnificent vintage sounds, while ‘Full Moon Blue’ displays all the correct NIK KERSHAW characteristics, being timeless and superbly modern at the same time. But it’s also a younger brother of ‘Two Minute Warning’, so much so that it even has an ALAN WILDER co-writing credit!

If EIFFEL 65 had good enough voices to produce a track without the overkill of melodyne, it could have sounded something like ‘Blood Red Skies’; while the ballad-based ‘The Story of Kid Charlemagne’ probes the synth sounds to perfection, without indulgence. The title track kicks in, reminiscent of HOWARD JONES‘ signature vocals over something VINCE CLARKE would have produced for early DEPECHE MODE.

‘One Chance’ and ‘Drive (Some Kind Of Love)’ further explore the eclectic talents of Cooper, with the latter sounding as if it’s been a soundtrack to ‘Foot Loose’ or ‘Flashdance’. ‘One More Time’ could have easily been written for Eurovision, and it would probably win, carrying the biggest chorus ever. The trials to “capture the sound of that era, albeit with a 2015 slant” are continuing to be palpable on ‘Human Beings’, while the closing ‘The End’ is a coagulation of everything that was amazing during the best periods of DEPECHE MODE.

‘Sit & Wait’ is simply inspired. For those missing the lost tracks of the post-Synth Britannia; to those who simply cannot move on from the era when synthpop was at its best, with big hair, colourful clothes and camp moves, this is like going back in time, but still keeping it fresh and current. Many an electronica listener would have been waiting for an album like this, something to compare to the good, old classics; something that could easily have been written 30 years ago.

Congratulations KID KASIO; while many others are going into undefined directions resulting in mediocrity, you’ve achieved perfection, while going back to your roots. Your “mixed bag, albeit made out of that black, grey and red striped material that all 80s duvet covers were made out of” is straightforwardly genius.


‘Sit & Wait’ is released as a CD and download, please visit http://www.kidkasio.com/ for more deatils

https://www.facebook.com/kidkasio/


Text by Monika Izabela Goss
1st December 2015

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