Tag: Kirlian Camera

TEC’s 2018 End Of Year Review

2018 saw JEAN-MICHEL JARRE celebrate 50 years in the business and whether the world really needed another of his compilations, ‘Planet Jarre’ was probably one of the better collected representations of his work for casual admirers.

But not standing still and releasing his fourth new album in three years, ‘Equinoxe Infinity’ continued the story as the French Maestro tuned 70.

SOFT CELL made a totally unexpected return for a huge one-off farewell gig at London’s O2 Arena; and with it came a boxed set, the ‘Northern Lights’ single and other new recordings which have raised hopes for a new album.

From the same era, FIAT LUX announced plans for their debut album ‘Save Symmetry’ with an excellent lead track ‘It’s You’, while B-MOVIE came up with their most synth-propelled single yet in ‘Stalingrad’.

But one act who actually did comeback with a brand new album in 2018 were DUBSTAR; now a duo of Sarah Blackwood and Chris Wilkie, as ‘One’ they reminded audiences as to why they were the acceptable face of Britpop with their bridge to Synth Britannia.

IONNALEE finally released her debut opus ‘Everyone Afraid To Be Forgotten’ and her tour which included choice cuts from IAMAMIWHOAMI, proved to be one of the best value-for-money live experiences in 2018, one that was even endorsed by Welsh songstress Charlotte Church.

CHVRCHES offered up their third album ‘Love Is Dead’ and continued their role as international flagwavers for quality synthpop, while EMIKA presented her best album yet in ‘Falling In Love With Sadness’, an exquisite electronic record with a Bohemian aura.

JOHN GRANT was on an artistic roll both solo and in partnership with WRANGLER as CREEP SHOW with two new albums. However, he was beaten by Neil Arthur who managed three albums over a 12 month period as NEAR FUTURE and BLANCMANGE including ‘Wanderlust’, possibly the latter’s best body of work in its 21st Century incarnation.

It was a busy year for STEVE JANSEN with a new solo ambient work ‘Corridor’, the well-received vinyl reissue of JAPAN’s two Virgin-era studio albums and his epic, more organically flavoured band project EXIT NORTH with their debut long player ‘Book Of Romance & Dust’.

SARAH NIXEY went on some ‘Night Walks’ for her best solo album yet, a wonderful collection of everything she had ever been musically all wonderfully rolled into one.

Meanwhile TRACEY THORN went back to the ‘Dancefloor’ with her ‘Record’ which content wise was right up there with some of ALISON MOYET’s electronica output from the last five years.

Those who liked their electronic music darker were well served with NINE INCH NAILS, IAMX, KIRLIAN CAMERA and HELIX, but after experimenting with the single only format for a few years, Daniel Graves announced he was taking the plunge again with a new AESTHETIC PERFECTION album.

The Sacred Bones stable provided some quality releases from THE SOFT MOON, HILARY WOODS, ZOLA JESUS and JOHN CARPENTER. Meanwhile, providing some fierce socio-political commentary on the state of the UK was GAZELLE TWIN.

Hungary’s BLACK NAIL CABARET offered some noirish ‘Pseudopop’ and promising Norwich youngsters LET’S EAT GRANDMA got more deeply into electronica without losing any of their angsty teenage exuberance on their second album ‘I’m All Ears’.

Less intense and more dreamy were GLASSHOUSE, the new duo fronted by former TECHNIQUE singer Xan Tyler.

Aussies CONFIDENCE MAN provided some wacky dancey glitz to the pop world and after nearly four decades in the business, Canadian trailblazers RATIONAL YOUTH finally played their first ever concert in London at ‘Non Stop Electronic Cabaret’ alongside dark wave compatriots PSYCHE and Numan-influenced Swedish poptronica exponents PAGE.

Sweden was again highly productive with KARIN PARK, JOHAN BAECKSTRÖM, TRAIN TO SPAIN and VAL SOLO while Norway took their own approach with FARAOSOFT AS SNOW and ELECTRO SPECTRE setting their standard. Veteran Deutschlanders THE TWINS and PETER HEPPNER returned with new albums after notable recorded absences while next door in Belgium, METROLAND presented themselves as ‘Men In A Frame’.

While the new HEAVEN 17 album ‘Not For Public Broadcast’ is still to be finished, Glenn Gregory teamed by with live keyboardist Berenice Scott as AFTERHERE. Their long-time friend Claudia Brücken performed as xPROPAGANDA with Susanne Freytag and partnered up with one-time TANGERINE DREAM member Jerome Froese, releasing the ‘Beginn’ album in the process.

It was a year of interesting collaborations all-round with UNDERWORLD working with Iggy Pop, U96 linking up with Wolfgang Flür for an excellent single called ‘Zukunftsmusik’ and German techno pioneer CHRIS LIEBING recruiting POLLY SCATTERGOOD and GARY NUMAN for his Mute released album ‘Burn Slow’.

Based in Berlin, THE KVB offered up some brooding gothic moods with ‘Only Now Forever’ while Valerie Renay of NOBLESSE OBLIGE released her first solo album ‘Your Own Shadow’.

Highly appealing were a number of quirky Japanese influenced female artists from around the globe including COMPUTER MAGIC, MECHA MAIKO and PLASMIC. But there were also a number of acts with Far Eastern heritage like STOLEN, FIFI RONG, DISQO VOLANTE and SHOOK who continued to make a worthy impression with their recorded output in 2018.

Heavy synth rock duo NIGHT CLUB presented their ‘Scary World’ on the back of tours opening for COMBICHRIST and A PERFECT CIRCLE while also from across the pond, NYXX and SINOSA both showcased their alluring potential.

At the poppier end of the spectrum, Holger Wobker used Pledge Music to relaunch BOYTRONIC with their most recent vocal incumbent James Knights in an unexpected twist to once again prove the old adage to “never say never” as far as the music industry is concerned.

Meanwhile, Chris Payne co-wrote and co-produced the excellent ‘Walking In West Berlin’ EP with KATJA VON KASSEL while also revealing plans for an autobiography and opening for his old boss…

The surprise album of the year was CHRIS CARTER with his ‘Chemistry Lessons Volume One’ while using a not dissimilar concept with their second album ‘Hello Science’, REED & CAROLINE took their folk laden synthpop out on a US tour opening for ERASURE.

IMMERSION provided a new collection of their modern Motorik as SHRIEKBACK, FISCHERSPOONER, THE PRESETS, HEARTBREAK and QUEEN OF HEARTS all made comebacks of varying degrees with audiences still eager for their work.

STEVEN JONES & LOGAN SKY harked back to the days when GARY NUMAN and OMD would release two albums in one year by offering ‘Hans Und Lieselotte’ and ‘The Electric Eye’ in 2016. Those veteran acts themselves celebrated their 40th anniversaries by going orchestral, something which SIMPLE MINDS also did when they opted to re-record ‘Alive & Kicking’ for the ’80s Symphonic’ collection although Jim Kerr forgot how a third of the song went!

With SIMPLE MINDS also performing a horrible and barely recognisable ‘Promised You A Miracle’ during BBC’s ‘The Biggest Weekend’, making up for the live joke that his former band have become was one-time bassist Derek Forbes with the album ‘Broken Hearted City’ as ZANTi with Anni Hogan of MARC & THE MAMBAS fame. Other former members of high-profile bands were busy too with Ian Burden, formally of THE HUMAN LEAGUE returning with the Floydian ‘Hey Hey Ho Hum’ while A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS reformed briefly for an orchestral re-run of their catalogue.

With the release of their second album ‘Kinetik’, EKKOES handed over THE HUMAN LEAGUE support baton to SHELTER who came up with their best body of work yet in the more introspective shades of ‘Soar’

That darker approach manifested itself on singer Mark Bebb’s side project FORM with Keith Trigwell of SPEAK & SPELL whose debut long player ‘defiance + entropy’ also came out in 2018.

Having been championed by RÖYSKSOPP, Wales’ MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY returned with ‘Infinity Mirror’ while riding on the well-deserved momentum from opening for OMD, Ireland’s TINY MAGNETIC PETS embarked on their first headlining tour. Representing North of the border were RYAN VAIL and HANNAH PEEL, but hailing from Scotland were WITCH OF THE VALE who proved to be one of the most interesting new acts of 2018 having supported ASSEMBLAGE 23 on their most recent UK visit.

There was a good showing from UK acts in 2018 with RODNEY CROMWELL, ANI GLASS, THE FRIXION, NEW ARCADES, OLLIE WRIDE and FAKE TEAK all issuing some excellent synth tinged songs for public consumption. However, the side was let down by the conveyor belt of lame profanity laden offerings from a number of British acts afflicted with deluded normality.

NINA’s long awaited debut album ‘Sleepwalking’ was a fine hybrid of synthpop and the currently fashionable Synthwave aesthetic; her live double billing with Canadian synthpopsters PARALLELS was one of the hottest tickets of the year. The sub-genre was indeed making waves and there were some very enjoyable artists coming out of it like GUNSHIP, DANA JEAN PHOENIX and MICHAEL OAKLEY.

However, the endless AOR excesses, moonlight sax breaks and highly unimaginative band monikers using numbers between 80 to 89 affixed to an archaic technology reference, illustrated by yet another neon sunset, VCR grid and Lamborghini, were becoming tiresome.

As Synthwave cynics, The Electricity Club’s touch paper was being lit big time! The whole point of the synthesizer’s role during the Second British Invasion of the US was to fight against the insipid overtures of AOR like TOTO, CHICAGO and JOURNEY, NOT to make music coated with its horrid stench as THE MIDNIGHT did in 2018 with their long player ‘Kids’.

But there was naivety within some quarters too; electronic music did not begin in 2011 with ‘Drive’, an above average film with a good if slightly over rated soundtrack. However, its cultural influence has led to a plethora of meandering tracks made by gamer boys which sounded like someone had forgotten to sing on them; perhaps they should have gone back to 1978 and listened to GIORGIO MORODER’s ‘Midnight Express Theme’ to find out how this type of instrumental music should be done?

Many of the newer artists influenced by Synth Britannia that The Electricity Club has featured have sometimes been accused of being stuck in the past, but a fair number of Synthwave acts were really taking the soggy biscuit with their retro-obsession.

Rock band MUSE’s use of glowing artwork by Kyle Lambert of ‘Stranger Things’ fame on their eighth album ‘Simulation Theory’ sent sections of the Synthwave community into meltdown. There were cries that they had “stolen the aesthetics and concept” and how “it’s not relevant to their sound”! But WHAM! had Peter Saville designed sleeves and never sounded like NEW ORDER or OMD, while electropop diva LA ROUX used a visual stylisation for ‘In For The Kill’ that has since been claimed by Synthwavers as their own, despite it being from 2009 when Ryan Gosling was peddling graveyard indie rock in DEAD MAN’S BONES 😉

This was one of the bigger ironies of 2018, especially as MUSE have always used synths! One of Matt Bellamy and co’s biggest musical inspirations is ULTRAVOX, indicating the trio probably have a better understanding of the fusion between the synthesizer, rock and classical music, as proven by the ‘Simulation Theory’ bookends ‘Algorithm’ and ‘The Void’, than any static laptop exponent with a Jan Hammer fixation.

It is interesting to note today how electronic music has split into so many factions, but there’s still the assumed generalisation that it is all one thing and that synthpop fans must also like Synthwave, Deep House, EDM, Industrial and those tedious beach chill-out remixes.

Back in the day and even now, some fans of THE HUMAN LEAGUE didn’t like OMD, DEPECHE MODE fans only liked DEPECHE MODE and rock fans had a token favourite electronic band. Out of all the synth based pop acts of the Synth Britannia era, The Electricity Club had very little time for THOMPSON TWINS despite their huge international success, but their leader Tom Bailey’s 2018 solo recorded return ‘Science Fiction’ was warmly received by many.

Just as COLDPLAY and SNOW PATROL fans don’t all embrace ELBOW, it is ok to have preferences and to say so. Not liking the music of an artist does not make you a bad person, but liking everything does not make you a better person either… in fact, it shows you probably have no discerning taste! In 2002, SOFT CELL warned of a ‘Monoculture’, and if there is no taste differentiation in art and music, it will spell the end of cultural enhancement.

Taste is always the key, but then not everyone who loves chocolate likes Hersheys… and with that analogy, The Electricity Club bids farewell to 2018 and looks forward to a 2019 that includes the return of TEARS FOR FEARS and the first full live shows from GIORGIO MORODER, plus new releases by VILE ELECTRODESKITE, VILLA NAH, I AM SNOW ANGEL and LADYTRON.


THE ELECTRICITY CLUB Contributor Listings of 2018

PAUL BODDY

Best Album: MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY Infinity Mirror
Best Song: MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY Lafayette
Best Gig: TANGERINE DREAM at London Union Chapel
Best Video: THE SOFT MOON Give Something
Most Promising New Act: VOX LOW


IAN FERGUSON

Best Album: BLANCMANGE Wanderlust
Best Song: ELECTRO SPECTRE The Way You Love
Best Gig: OMD at Glasgow Kelvingrove Park
Best Video: NYXX Voodoo
Most Promising New Act: WITCH OF THE VALE


SIMON HELM

Best Album: DUBSTAR One
Best Song: PAGE Start (Poptronica Version)
Best Gig: DIE KRUPPS + FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY at O2 Academy Islington
Best Video: FIFI RONG Horizon
Most Promising New Act: ZANTi


CHI MING LAI

Best Album: EMIKA Falling In Love With Sadness
Best Song: FIAT LUX It’s You
Best Gig: SOFT CELL at London O2 Arena
Best Video: FAKE TEAK Bears Always Party The Exact Right Amount
Most Promising New Act: WITCH OF THE VALE


MONIKA IZABELA TRIGWELL

Best Album: GUNSHIP Dark All Day
Best Song: SHELTER Karma
Best Gig: IAMX at London Electric Ballroom
Best Video: JUNO REACTOR Let’s Turn On
Most Promising New Act: MECHA MAIKO


Text by Chi Ming Lai
8th December 2018

KIRLIAN CAMERA Interview

If you’re looking at all things Italian, why not combine delicious food, beautiful cities, stunning countryside, friendly locals with some eloquent electronica from the heart of the quaint city of Parma.

KIRLIAN CAMERA have been active in the dark synth genre since 1979, when Angelo Bergamini set off to create a project, which has lasted decades and gained fans with every release.

With very promising beginnings as the first ever Italian band signed to Virgin Records, the group went from strength to strength, but with the rightful addition of Elena Alice Fossi, the success has been complete.

With the recent opus ‘Hologram Moon’, a No1 in the German Alternative Charts, Bergamini and Fossi have really proven that KIRLIAN CAMERA still have it very much in them. Angelo Bergamini and Elena Alice Fossi chatted about their latest musical adventure with The Electricity Club.

Parma, a beautiful town that seems almost too quaint to produce such talent. What was the music scene like over there post-punk?

Angelo Bergamini: Well, I don’t remember so much about such a period, thanks to a memory blackout I did get in 2002. But I can recall something hazy about a very productive situation. I remember bands such as PALE TV, T.A.C, EAST WALL, RAW POWER, KOTO, BLITZ and so on, all more or less linkable to the city in question… Anyway, Parma didn’t offer that much to one who actually wanted to become a skilled alternative musician.

How can I say… I think the city is really beautiful, but my heart was and is elsewhere. I feel more “connection” to Germany, Tuscany and… Florida, for example. I’m not able to speak German (just a few words!) but always I appreciated their country and their culture, then Elena increased such a sensation, as she really loves those places and German people.

Being the first Italian act to be signed to Virgin Records must have been a big deal… what happened?

Angelo Bergamini: It was strange. One day before I was told that at Virgin they would like to offer me an agreement… it was impossible to even daydream about it, for any group, at the time!!! Impossible dreams, you know. Then… the day after, one of my collaborators came out with such news. My reaction was even weirder: I didn’t react. I was cold. Cold as an ice cube. Don’t know the reason why. Strange life, indeed…

You’ve changed labels on many occasions with your latest release outed on Dependent…

Angelo Bergamini: Yes, we feel like we are gypsies, AH AH AH!!! Some labels we worked with in the past, such as Out Of Line, Trisol and Virgin Records, offered us a kind of artistic freedom and some promotion, so I couldn’t tell anything so negative about them, but… well, now Elena has signed to SPKR, a Los Angeles-based entity managing Dependent and, once again, we’re just trying to do the best we can, offering our deepest soul to the audience. Then, who knows?

Keeping up this agreement with Dependent might turn out to be a good decision, you know. Sometimes, working with us is not that simple, as we perfectly know all of the possible mechanisms market and mafia offer, so… sometimes a label manager might feel “too observed”, kind of not at ease, you understand? They don’t realize we couldn’t give a damn about their manoeuvres and rackets. Simply, we are not dumb, come on! Really we are not. Label managers are often looking for idiots… and so many bands are there to offer such a precious quality…

Angelo, you had a very successful project of your own with HIPNOSIS, what made you drop that? The ‘Hologram Moon’ idea is of a conspiracy…

Angelo Bergamini: HIPNOSIS was a cover band, in its very early life, so in a way I had been feeling strangled, I suppose. Then, all in all, I perceived KIRLIAN CAMERA was kinda my life. HIPNOSIS got platinum discs and many awards, but I wanted KC to become even bigger, somehow or other.

Elena Alice Fossi: The idea behind ‘Hologram Moon’ turns out to be a metaphor, as I actually couldn’t realize whether the Moon is a hologram, an abandoned planet, an abandoned spacelab, or it’s simply a small planet looking like a bizarrely perfect sphere…

The curious thing is that many people out there “know” what it is. In fact, some say it’s a hologram, some say it is not, some are losing their mind desperately trying to prove that satellite is real and they even quote scientists becoming embarrassingly purple in the attempt to discredit other people. I’m talking about “persons” who know absolutely nothing and never will know anything at all. I know nothing, but I’m looking for truth. Simple.

In the meantime, OASIS’ Noel Gallagher is coming out with an album titled ‘Who Built The Moon?’, more or less regarding the same theme and… the question, as we notice, is just interesting an increasing number of people. We’ll be soon asking Noel whether he has got any news in regard to such a matter…

So on the new album, Eskil Simonsson visits to help out too!

Elena Alice Fossi: Collaborating with Eskil is not a casual fact, as well as he is not casual. He is not a casual being. I actually feel that giving life to the songs we worked on together was coming out from a combination of natural factors. We are so delighted with this result.

We first met in Magdeburg on the occasion of a charity festival in 2014, as I decided to perform there with some friends; Angelo suggested me to invite a guest, giving me the name of Eskil. It was just a perfect idea, as I think KIRLIAN CAMERA and COVENANT both belong to a cold romantic / dramatic electro world. I feel there is some kind of sense of loss often crossing the music lines of both projects.

Yes, that’s pop and I do not want to dignify mainstream at all costs, but… the point is that – whether we want it or not – our electro pop music is not regular mainstream, you know. It may turn out to be a boom or a boomerang… but we could not care less about that, as we love it , so won’t stop dreaming through those melodic humanoids we are creating. Creating ourselves. Recreating ourselves on new birth days, along with different parents and friends…

You never felt really aligned with a dark synth genre, you just like doing your own thing?

Angelo Bergamini: Our music is made of several layers, various echoes, shreds of movie soundtracks and it’s often crossed with different mood. Depends on when it’s been composed. Not seldom does it evoke dramatic visions, but couldn’t disdain humourous inputs and alien needs!

While working on a new KIRLIAN CAMERA album, we happen to create a single for the African rising star FAKEBA, a very determined singer, then we happen to listen to THE ELECTRIC PRUNES or THIRD EAR BAND and go back to Ligeti or the Strauss’ waltzes. Out of the blue, we might happen to make a dance track, just for fun… as even fun is important, in music!

We recently have been asked to sell our sounds to a sampling company, for example and it may happen we find ourselves working on a laughing gnome who has to kill a dragon!!!

You will easily understand that one genre in particular couldn’t be our fixed cup of tea, then we like to bring our musical ideas into several areas.

No, we definitely are not so linkable to an exact scene, although Elena in particular feels special love for electronic music, so our last performances are giving massive room to synthetic sounds and I think such trend will be even increased and developed.

We must follow our own visions, regardless of what is the “right thing”, as we suppose the right thing comes out when you couldn’t give a damn about mere nostalgia and assembly line standard music. Listeners are increasingly looking for straight atmospheric works, they want “that” exact product without any complications and so creativity ain’t that necessary, as no real variation will be admitted! Today’s listeners are making me nostalgic of the progressive era!!!

Are the side projects now retired?

Elena Alice Fossi: We are now on the STALINGRAD VALKYRIE project, once called STALINGRAD, kind of martial music sometimes being crossed with some “distant humour”. Angelo is daydreaming about a new SPECTRA PARIS chapter, as he is the glamour entity here, but I think such an idea will turn into a strange collection being filled with unreleased material. KIRLIAN CAMERA is anyway requiring relatively long lead times, due to particular love involved!

Elena, you’re doing famously well with SPECTRA PARIS…

Elena Alice Fossi: Thank you, Monika! SPECTRA PARIS gives me a lot of satisfaction, whether it becomes something bigger than now, or it remains trapped into a dark pop limbo being reserved for the few! This is because every time I get into the “Spectra-spaceship”, then I have a sensation I am growing up a bit. Maybe it happens because I let a good amount of time pass between one album and another, so whenever I approach a new work, my mind no longer is in the same place it was at the time of the previous album.

This doesn’t mean I deny the older solutions, although I admit I notice a kind of naivety in my old treatments. And yet, such a mechanism generates a kind of space-time map of my life and each album, like a magnetic point, tries to tell me who I was, who I am and where I’m going. However, ‘Retromachine Betty’, the latest album I released, gave me a safer journey, where I feel good in a most synthetic and electronic side which always belonged to me, but I never had managed to express with such naturalness before.

I don’t know the reason why – strange magic or pure nonsense – the sounds of machines have always moved me, so, in this album that has been recently by Dependent Records, I wanted to introduce my own computer-creature, giving it a name, a sensitivity, an identity, even a sexual one. I wanted it to be born in the beginning of the ‘80s and to visit future places and ages, like a time machine, through an evolutionary system that goes beyond our days.

Both of you have worked with the legendary John Fryer… Angelo, your collaboration dates back a while…

Angelo Bergamini: Yes, we met in London at Blackwing Studios, January 1988, kinda sanctuary as far as Mute and 4AD were concerned. Everything was so filled with enthusiasm and on that occasion, I had a chance to collaborate with Suzanne Reddington-Gardner a very talented singer, as our vocalist was… lost somewhere!

John’s co-production succeeded in giving us some more spotlight, even if our label at the time managed to mess everything up. Let’s say some press focused on us a little more, after paying dues for eight years, surrounded by some hostile silence, in Italy. So, we definitely set route to another area, after some confused stories with Virgin and EMI.

John Fryer was particularly popular, those exact days, as his single as M/A/R/R/S ‘Pump Up The Volume’ was about to become a massive hit. He wasn’t one of those guys who are obsessed with a particular genre. That’s the best starting point, when one goes to work with KIRLIAN CAMERA, especially nowadays.

And Elena, you lent your vocal wizardry on John’s own project BLACK NEEDLE NOISE…

Elena Alice Fossi: It was a nice moment of fun for me, as well as a real pleasure! Experiences like those can only enrich, both as a musician and humanly, because they leave an indelible mark inside. And I must admit that I feel proud to take part in such a big party, in fact I couldn’t help noticing how each singer perfectly fits in her/his own role, thanks to John’s skilful orchestration

How difficult is it to sell music now, comparing to back then?

Angelo Bergamini: I must say it’s always been an uneasy deal, when one doesn’t go to agree with certain tyranny created by some ludicrous label managers. Then, working along with women in a band turns things even more complicated! I mean… when you’re working with and for a beautiful woman. Explaining what I mean would be nothing but stupid. Everybody knows everything, although many would like to prove times are changing. So, given I like challenges, I love to work with beautiful and talented women, kind of love for suicide!!!

Joking aside, you know that today music has become a sort of background to distract listeners. So, given that I love challenges (part 2), I love making pop music to be possibly listened to with attention!!! So when you decide you wanna sell your music you’re just going to hit the jackpot, especially when you come from some real low-life. Selling – real – music in the 80s was less complicated, thanks to the New Wave support and a relatively new adventure into the underground maze.

I must add that label managers and operators in general are grumbling about poor sales since… time immemorial! So, I don’t know whether anything actually changed. OK, now you sell less physical material but you can sell yourself, your identity, your social one.

One will value whether that’s good or not, then… and as for Kirlians, once again… you know we love challenges (part 3)!!!

Having gained cult status, do you expect your releases to be an instant success?

Elena Alice Fossi: We never expect anything particular, even though we always have natural high hopes once we start again working on a new chapter! Many people like to say “better the devil we know”, but I don’t seldom accept facing new adventures, even when some clouds are peeping over the horizon. Now, this moment looks notably crowded with good sensations and we so often have a chance to perceive some real good feeling coming out of the audience’s hat!

We are veterans without nostalgia; we never give up, always feeling glad to be on stage, even when performing mini clubs in front of, say, 200 fans! Well, 2000 are similarly welcome, you know… we always try turning listeners’ enthusiasm on, till reaching together a magical place, so far from any standard and lifeless performance! A party aboard a spaceship surrounded by millions stars might give you the gist.

Angelo Bergamini: Elena is a real force of nature on stage! Difficult to see anything like that, today in particular, as she’s completely involved in a trance, a trance that rules out mummy-like fixedness, though! She intensely lives a sort of personal drama, up there. She smiles, cries, laughs, gets serious, runs, gets down on the floor. Some teardrops probably appeared in her eyes, during a concert when playing ‘Sky Collapse’ and the tears she was perhaps holding back choked her throat, and I must say that Elena is not a whiner at all!

Intensity is the word, during Elena’s performances, so I’m sure she’s able to spread such sensations, doing that by means of the most genuine, honest and potent language. KC need it! That’s what we like to call success!

Then, if God or whoever wants us to take the place of Rihanna by playing our music instead of bare mainstream pop, well… we’re ready!!!

How’s Italy treating electronic music these days? Apart from a handful of bands hailing from the Tricolore, the synth scene seems to be rather shy there?

Elena Alice Fossi: Italy… Italy! You can come to Italy to eat, enjoy the morning sun at the end of May, admire the sea that bathes that picturesque boot, but please, if you want to listen to good music, run away as far as you can!

Move your ass away, hurry up and don’t look back! Just like KIRLIAN CAMERA did! Beloved Germany welcomed us, adopted us… but also a lot of other countries have been able to show actual sympathy for this musical genre.

Even in Senegal, when we performed our music to open the way to European electronica for the first time in the West Africa history, doing that for two years in a row, we could see an interest and a warmth for that synth pop essence that maybe was new to them, it being sometimes dark, dreamy, sometimes danceable, so different from their great rhythms… yet they have listened, danced, understood, in spite of the fact they never attended any concert like that before. But Italy, damn… have I already told you that there are some beautiful sunsets?

Are you likely to play live in the UK to promote ‘Hologram Moon’?

Elena Alice Fossi: Live shows are my natural element; it’s kind of absolutely vital point, where I feel in my actual home. Oh yes, how much I love performing on stage! And, as for UK goes, we notice an increasing interest, for the first time, something special, I mean, so, I know some ideas concerning touring your country are taking shape, little by little. It’s a question of selecting requests and considering some new ones, then we’ll come there with pleasure. Electropop and electronica are living quite a good moment, in GB too, so… hopefully, it’ll be happening soon!


The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to KIRLIAN CAMERA

Special thanks to Gary Levermore at Red Sand PR

‘Hologram Moon’ is released by Dependent Records, also available from https://kirliancamera.bandcamp.com

KIRLIAN CAMERA headline Synthetic Orange at Substage Café in Karlsruhe on Saturday 14th April 2018, tickets available from https://www.reservix.de/tickets-synthetic-orange-kirlian-camera-in-karlsruhe-substage-am-14-4-2018/e1171967

http://www.kirliancamera.com

https://www.facebook.com/kirliancamera.official/

http://en.dependent.de/artists-dependent/kirlian-camera/

https://soundcloud.com/kirliancamera


Text and Interview by Monika Izabela Trigwell
Photos by Studio Migliorini and Angelo Bergamini
7th March 2018

KIRLIAN CAMERA Hologram Moon

The quaint Italian city of Parma is possibly best known for three things: ham, cheese and KIRLIAN CAMERA.

The latter, of the inedible kind, unless one salivates upon the deliciousness of Elena Alice Fossi, has been a celebrated dark electronica pursuit since late 1979. Angelo Bergamini is the man responsible for the rise of the project, which took many line-up changes to become the enormous success that it is now, almost 40 years after.

The beginnings of KIRLIAN CAMERA were promising from the onset, with the band being the first Italian act signed to Virgin Records, and rubbing shoulders with such legends as John Fryer, known for working with COCTEAU TWINS, DEPECHE MODE and NINE INCH NAILS.

With the instability of vocalists, the real change occurred when the multi-talented, Susanna Rigacci’s protégé, Elena Alice Fossi came on board.

The group’s sound progressed to one of much darker undertones, while Fossi and Bergamini enjoyed their side projects, STALINGRAD (with the pair indulging with monumental size musicality), as well as Fossi’s own ALICE NEVE FOX, SPECTRA PARIS and SIDERARTICA.

‘Hologram Moon’ is the latest offering from the pair, proving that KIRLIAN CAMERA isn’t ready to retire yet. Indeed ‘Hologram’ sees Fossi’s clear voice lead into a world of spectacular sound and unparalleled musical know how.

Joined by Sweden’s own Eskil Simonsson on the very vintage COVENANT sounding ‘Sky Collapse’ and quirky ‘Polar-IHS’, the multifaceted Elena showcases her vocal ingenuity, intertwined with a magnificent marriage of synth and strings.

‘Lost Islands’ is deliciously loaded with bass heavy synthesis, romantically meandering in the foreign worlds, to reach The Moon, the ‘Hologram Moon’.

The haunting instrumental ‘Helium 3’ introduces ‘Kryostar’, a sci-fi inspired piece of mantric electronic disco, while ‘I Don’t Sing’ presents a male vocal option over super poignant lyrics. ‘The Storm’ smoothes the atmosphere, but we are far from comfort, what’s hidden out there? The ‘Eyes Of The Moon’, they see the truth in the hypnotic rhythm, with arpeggiated “spreading of wings” and bubbling electricity.

Is it the darkness of the ‘Haunted River’ that’s drawing into its synthy depths, delving into the plethora of ubiquitous sounds, all very gothic influenced and rather black? Or is it the simplistic piano of the closing ‘Traveller’s Testament’, bearing the faint signs of hope nearly whispered by Fossi?

We are all travellers of the world, searching for answers. Is the Moon a mere hologram? Are we fed untruths and if so, who is benefiting from the lies?

Will we ever learn, who can tell?

Perhaps KIRLIAN CAMERA don’t have all the answers… what they have however, is a superb album to shake the beliefs, electronic style.

Earthly or not, ‘Hologram Moon’ proves the Italians have cooked it up fresh, juicy and ready for consumption, so go ahead… inhale the atmosphere and revel in the deliciousness of Bergamini and Fossi.


‘Hologram Moon’ is released by Dependent Records in CD, deluxe 2CD and double vinyl LP formats

http://www.kirliancamera.com

https://www.facebook.com/kirliancamera.official/

http://en.dependent.de/artists-dependent/kirlian-camera/


Text by Monika Izabela Trigwell
21st January 2018

SPECTRA PARIS Interview

Elena Alice Fossi has her fingers in so many pies.

One wonders where the multitalented singer, model and producer finds the time to oscillate between her front woman job for KIRLIAN CAMERA, her side project STALINGRAD with band mate Angelo Bergamini and SIDEARCTICA.

Then, there’s her two own enterprises SPECTRA PARIS and ALICE NEVE FOX.

With her latest release as SPECTRA PARIS, the brilliant supersonic gem ‘Retromachine Betty’, proved that Fossi has many faces and is truly capable to bending genres in the directions suitable for her palate.

The Italian songstress kindly chatted to The Electricity Club about her busy, busy life…

It’s truly amazing as to how many projects you’re involved with…how do you keep up?

Headache, headache, headache…!!!! Well, joking aside, passion for music is just something like a boa serpent, positively said. My dreams never stop recreating themselves and Angelo, my comrade, is just a dreamer like me! Together we have created a real different world into which it’s possible to resist to the world, as well as to our fierce sensitivity!

Coming out from the working class gave us the tools to generate everything starting at level zero, so everything is today a an actual alternative universe, as told before. Strange dimensions being totally opposite to – say – people’s concept of time, so believe me…. my/our stress is even larger… but this is not enough to make us defeated….!!!

Would you say it’s true to state that being involved in so many different projects fulfils your chameleon nature?

Yes, that’s the point! It is not my fault if I love rainbows… I’m aware that’s not the most popular attitude today, despite many people are posing that way, trying to convince other people they’re cool and inspired… I think I like chameleons and shapeshifters more than ever, as they’re just the last resources of an era having no real identity nor will. So, in spite of the fact I’m shyer than a shrinking violet, I try to stay strong and go… the joy of music is stronger than any inner block…

It’s been a good few years since you joined KIRLIAN CAMERA, would you say that move opened many doors for you?

KIRLIAN CAMERA is a strange alien thing. Really. It doesn’t remind me of anything like, willy-nilly. It manages to open and close doors at once! I only know it was my favourite band ever, so I guess I didn’t even realize what had been happening at the time when I was asked to join the project.

It has never been a picnic, for me. Always I had to go over myself, never giving up, never running away, always accepting to having to deal with a glorious past. Now it is my home, the one I live along with that magic person that’s Angelo Bergamini or Hal Bergmann, whatever his real name is!! All in all, today I don’t know whether KC opened any doors, but it led to an audience I love and have a great relationship with, at last!

Very few electronic pop acts emerge from Italy… why do you think that might be?

Italy, Italy… Italians are not seldom working against themselves. I actually couldn’t know why electronic acts don’t come out in a country that gave life to so many techno, disco, electropop projects (some names: Giorgio Moroder, Benny Benassi, Krisma!). Musical brainwashing got some real success in Italy, I’m sure. Sense of defeat seems to always lurk around behind the corner.

But I still try to paddle upstream even on this field and so I’m planning a whole album based on Italian lyrics. It’ll be our first time. I feel that exciting, although many people are looking perplexed. Anyway, I think that mixing technology and love for machines to that beautiful language won’t be but a fascinating story!

You had Susanna Rigacci who worked with Ennio Morricone as your vocal trainer, that sounds impressive. What a start to a whirlwind singing career…

I got lucky, that’s true. Some years back in time, my first singing teacher – a great person with a great voice – told me time had come to take it to the next level! She took me to the Conservatory that Lady Rigacci was teaching and where I had to audition to be accepted. I honestly must admit I didn’t know who Susanna was and what awards she would have gained in the future. But already I had a sensation that I found myself walking into something special, surrounded by a shiny light, no matter what way I would go after it… as already I was aware classical singing was a means and not an end, as for myself.

Often singers, especially in the lyrical music field, tend to confuse their empty seriousness with professionalism. Fortunately, Susanna does not have this attitude. So, she transmitted me that kind of purity in music.

Do you think a gothic electronic reinterpretation of ‘The Ecstasy Of Gold’ with your vocal would ever work?

I think that kind of music Ennio Morricone works on is suitable to being reinterpretated via darker ways. It’s powerful, epic, sometimes positively decadent and filled with nostalgic mood. It may evoke melancholic ghosts. So, what may I ever do with my voice? A fine colourful cemetery!!!

Let’s talk a little about ‘Retromachine Betty’, what gave it the base?

At some point, I realized that the adventure of SPECTRA PARIS was not exactly over. For a long time I was surrounded by images of old robots, small shattered computers and so much music from the 80s was floating in the air of that black bunker in which I live!

I started thinking that trying to recreate a retro-electronic, romantic, almost adolescent music world and blend it with new technologies, new softwares, and so much “passion for the future”… could give some push to an interesting formula, far from any wide nostalgia ending in itself, as well as from advanced technology used too coldly.

Toys, in my mind I saw so many colored musical toys scattered on the ground, all to be reshaped with a new sound spirit, something that was not necessarily already heard, although it draws from the past, as far as “poetic” reference is concerned, rather than music itself.

It would be strange to define this work as a New-Wave or even 80’s Disco thing! This work comes out from a dusty workshop, which has now been restored after having got a big injection of futuristic design!

Imagine the world in 2037: well, an apocalyptic scenery is an acceptable projection and I’m supposedly there, now, but… I can listen to some pop music as well, instead of depressive tunes, even though I’m surrounded by zombies and hallucinated smurfs!!! I started with such a basic idea for “Betty”. If the base is good, then with such energy… even an old android can become the winner of the Olympic Games of Mars! So, I started working with those little old android toys and the story started…

‘Star Bubbles’ features an interpolation of ‘Moonlight Shadow’. So Mike Oldfield and Maggie Riley did something right back then?

Bubbly, lively, enthusiastic… there’s something vital in this track. It’s like a joyful energy… Mike Oldfield too makes sure his audience is not used to repetitions!

The album in itself is fairly eclectic, would you say?

And to think I was afraid of having written an excessively amalgamed work! That’s my fault, especially once one is going to analyze today’s music scene: chameleons are taken for lunatics! It actually looks like there’s no effective chance to be freely creative, as the audience are getting step by step unpracticed in getting the music they like.

Many people are listening to the music with electroshocked ears, those artificial ears they’ve given by this new little bunch of overpaid morons who are managing digital distributions, publishing companies and so on. Real creativity is a young alien child; she shouldn’t be surrounded by stoned geezers and pedant hamburgers on two legs… We should probably try to wean her off humans!

What are your own favourites from ‘Retromachine Betty’ and why?

I love that lost world wrapping the album into a kind of funny nostalgia.

I love such future-retro stories being told by “wise devices”, kind of naive pioneers coming from the past, who are just enchanting little children with their anedoctes, now in this 2017’s prehistorical future world!

So, I feel some special love for ‘Star Bubbles’ as it never bores me, as I find it fresh, light-hearted, mindless of painful moments. It gives me hope.

‘Ludovico Tecnique’ is just another chapter I particularly like, with its electronics filled with some glitter-esque glamour. ‘Lux Industries’ was born in a world orbiting between SPECTRA PARIS and KIRLIAN CAMERA, as you’ve noticed. I love its hypnotising and motionless character, as it takes me to some kind of ecstatic dream, a little like ‘Universal’ is doing.

The last song of the SPECTRA PARIS album is a strange cover of ‘Una Furtiva Lagrima’ taken from the opera ‘L’Elisir D’Amore’ by Gaetano Donizetti, written in 1830 approximately. The voice one listens to is a non-human synthetic sound. It’s kind of an unpretentious and relaxed homage to Wendy Carlos…

You like to work with the best, including COVENANT or John Fryer, it must be great to pick from the best?

I think the electronic scene is a bit too overcrowded with “casual musicians”, so working with artists who put some real spirit and enthusiasm into their work is just an essential, unavoidable necessity. Both John Fryer and COVENANT are perfectly going to hit that special target. It’s just a question of natural magic, I think. They’ve got some special purity, a purity that goes to be added to ability, experience and anti-trivia bombs! I feel that need in music, in them, so yes, I feel at home and happy like a child-machine!

John Fryer invited you do quite a few songs for his own latest project BLACK NEEDLE NOISE, you must be his favourite? How would you describe your collaboration dynamic?

Well, John was just at work on the SPECTRA PARIS album, when he asked me to collaborate to a song then called ‘Behind the 4th Door’. I guess he wasn’t too disappointed about the result, as a few days later he told me he had in mind a further collaboration, driving more to that more glamorous Spectral-zone I was just working on… He had something in mind regarding a ‘Naughty Girl’, so we started writing down some funny words, always trying to keep two worlds – disquiet and humour – well balanced as much as possible. I think that’s a simply fantastic cocktail.

Our collaboration is relaxed and filled with ideas at once… I never perceived any bad mood’s ghost in the air… That’s special! So, John, Angelo and myself are just starting to work together again on the new KIRLIAN CAMERA album and singles, these days, with some help from COVENANT on a couple tracks! Italy – California – Sweden is today a quite easy route, fortunately!

You list GOLDFRAPP’s ‘Felt Mountain’ as one of your top albums, what is special about it for you and what do you think about their latest album ‘Silver Eye’?

GOLDFRAPP never wallow in the past, they so often went to totally disorientate the lazier part of their audience, so that’s just the most admirable attitude in an artist, in my opinion. I love the vast richness of the first album. It really brought something absolutely personal to the surface, in that period overfilled with trip-hop, lounge, cocktail, jazzy music.

Elegance, yes… they’ve got such an elegance! They keep on spreading it everytime they produce a new work. This new album is the one I love mostly, along with their debut work, exactly. Strange, they sometimes remind me of some John Fryer’s atmospheres, that’s natural, I think… I love GOLDFRAPP ‘s last album, yes… I want to collaborate with her!!! I’m sure!!!!! No possible doubt… It is written, you know…

Sometimes I feel like I’m living into a mental clinic crowded by comics, or into a scene of the flick ‘Angel Heart’, but… I know what I say!

What is the immediate future for all your projects?

I’ll start performing new live shows during summertime. By the way, SPECTRA PARIS will make its “new debut” at the CSD Gay Festival (Gay Pride) on August 26th in Magdeburg, Germany.

In the meantime, Angelo, John Fryer, Eskil from COVENANT and I are working intensively on ‘Hologram Moon’, the new album from KIRLIAN CAMERA.

It’s a very special chapter, for us… something that will definitely mark our love for electronic music and “other worlds”, having no need to exploit old paths. Many songs, there are many tunes, in the forthcoming work. Less guitars, more synths and more “space beat”. 100% KIRLIAN CAMERA improved style, without any waste of time nor fillers: it’s a very concentrated album, no doubt. However, I feel 2018 will take us by the hand, leading us to a totally different life…


The Electricity Club gives its warmest thansk to Elena Alice Fossi

Additional thanks to Stefan Herwig at Dependent Records

‘Retromachine Betty’ is released by Dependent Records in CD and digital formats, available from http://en.dependent.de/artists-dependent/spectra-paris/spectra-paris-retromachine-betty-cd-digipak.html

https://www.facebook.com/spectraparis.official/

http://en.dependent.de/artists-dependent/spectra-paris/


Text and Interview by Monika Izabela Trigwell
7th June 2017

SPECTRA PARIS Retromachine Betty

SPECTRA PARIS is a side project of the multitalented Elena Alice Fossi, also known as the enigmatic singer of the celebrated Italian act KIRLIAN CAMERA and Alice Neve Fox.

Fossi, born in Miami but bred in Tuscany, was vocally trained by the Oscar-winner Ennio Morricone’s most famous singer, soprano Susanna Rigacci.

Well known for her collaborations, among them is the legendary producer John Fryer on whose eclectic collection of tunes for BLACK NEEDLE NOISE she featured no less than three times.

As a result, the accomplished artist invited Fryer to be in charge of the executive production of her third album ‘Retromachine Betty’. The long player promises to “breathe and live the spirit of 80ies electronic Pop and Wave and the almost forgotten vibe of bands like VISAGE or DESIRELESS”.

Opening the outing, ‘Star Bubbles’ is sweet and light happy German disco pulled away from the retro synth era. Featuring a sample from Mike Oldfield and Maggie Reilly’s ‘Moonlight Shadow’, it must be the definite return to the good old classic era!

‘Alice (Geistersterne)’ changes the tempo, into a subdued, mystical number to start off with, blossoming into a fast paced extravaganza of house synth with vocal a la FIFI RONG. A heavy change is brought about with ‘Ludovico Technique’, which is bass and guitar loaded and more reminiscent of Fossi’s projects with KIRLIAN CAMERA.

While ‘Machinedream’ is indeed dream inducing, ‘Universal’ is a captivating disco visit, with vintage electronica references, embedded into the curious use of vocals and mantra-like sequences. ‘Lux Industries’ slows the flow once again, leading into a sci-fi cover of THE KINKS’ ‘You Really Got Me’. Interestingly enough, the techniques used on this one resemble ERASURE’s ‘Rock Me Gently’ synth and the added ominous use of guitars make it a worthy, if not quirky cover of the classic.

‘Metrolynx’ brings about the heavy electro pop darkness once again, with vocals resembling a fusion between vintage MADONNA and GOLDFRAPP. Is that because ‘Felt Mountain’ is one of Fossi’s top ten albums? Either way, this is a true example of Spectra’s abilities; a real artistic chameleon.

The metallic qualities and sparse noises of ‘E-Girl Song’ could have been easily practised before by GAZELLE TWIN, before we enter the boot stomping territory of industrial beats and the closing ‘E-Kitsch Souvenir Of Italy’, with its paralysing weirdness, sums up the long player.

To say that Fossi has many faces would be an understatement; she’s fearless and endlessly talented, tackling many a genre change and surfing through the rough waters of today’s music industry.

‘Retromachine Betty’ is “a retrospective of excitement and familiarity, old memories and young melodies with its retro-kitsch catchyness”. Joining the likes of GRIMES, the Italian songstress shows off quite how electronic music can be bent to suit all palates.

It’s effortlessly perfect.


‘Retromachine Betty’ is released by Dependent Records in CD and digital formats on 12th May 2017, pre-order from http://en.dependent.de/artists-dependent/spectra-paris/spectra-paris-retromachine-betty-cd-digipak.html

https://www.facebook.com/spectraparis.official/

http://en.dependent.de/artists-dependent/spectra-paris/


Text by Monika Izabela Trigwell
4th May 2017