Tag: Machinista (Page 1 of 4)

The Electricity Club’s 30 SONGS OF 2019

2019 was good for new music. The first two thirds of the year was particularly strong for up-and-coming talent, while a number of veterans returned to making music with synths for the first time in many years.

Inevitably, the quality of new releases couldn’t be sustained and things tailed off during the Autumn period as artists shifted their focus towards the live arena.

The launch of debut full-length releases by relative newcomers has tended to focus towards the winter in order to pitch to the deluge of tastemaker polls that are now prevalent both in mainstream and online media.

Of course, The Electricity Club is unable to include everything in its 30 SONGS OF 2019, so worthy mentions go to SHOOK, CIRCUIT 3, KANGA, FRAGILE SELF, NINA, THE HEARING, JAKUZI, TR/ST, SPELLLING, I AM SNOW ANGEL, PET SHOP BOYS, NO-MAN, RIDER, TINY MAGNETIC PETS, FRAGRANCE. and T.O.Y. for their output this year.

As per usual with a restriction of one song per artist moniker and presented in alphabetical order, these are The Electricity Club’s 30 SONGS OF 2019…


APOPTYGMA BERZERK A Battle For The Crown

Over the 25 years since his debut album ‘Soli Deo Gloria’ , Stephan Groth has straddled EBM, synthpop, futurepop, alternative rock and more recently instrumentals with APOPTYGMA BERZERK. For his first new material since 2016’s ‘Exit Popularity Contest’, the upcoming EP ‘Nein Danke!’ sees a return to the synthpop / new wave format. Part of a teaser single, ‘A Battle For The Crown’ offered a suitably matted austere but crucially did not forget the hooks or the melodies.

Available on the EP ‘Nein Danke!’ via Pitch Black Drive

http://www.theapboffice.com/


BOY HARSHER LA

Stark Massachusetts duo BOY HARSHER formed through an urgent need to produce and consume, so Jae Matthews and Augustus Muller utilised their minimal electronics and intense mindset to create a compelling narrative of deterioration. ‘LA’ featured a wonderfully incongruous mix of icy string synths and orchestra stabs for an enticing display of mutant electronic disco, all brilliantly sinister thanks to its varied use of effects and Matthews’ mournful demeanour.

Available on the album ‘Careful’ via Nude Club Records

https://boyharsher.com/


JORJA CHALMERS She Made Him Love Again

Jorja Chalmers is the sax and keys player for Bryan Ferry but while it was recorded in her boss’ studio, her first solo album ‘Human Again’ exuded a more sombre filmic disposition. Conceived and sketched in hotel rooms during the come down from playing to packed theatres around the world. ‘She Made Him Love Again’ was a song where Chalmers’ breathy vocals possessed a gorgeous forlorn allure and when the icy string machine and deep sax joined in, proceedings lifted to another level.

Available on the album ‘Human Again’ via Italians Do It Better

https://www.instagram.com/jorjachalmers/


LLOYD COLE Violins

Lloyd Cole had recorded an experimental electronic album ‘Selected Studies Vol 1’ with Hans-Joachim Roedelius of CLUSTER in 2013, while there was also a solo instrumental collection entitled ‘1D Electronics 2012-2014’. But he put all of that modular knowhow into a song based format with the charming synthy single ‘Violins’ which saw him turn into OMD! However the King of Glum Rock didn’t totally alienate his main fan base, with guitars making their presence felt in amongst all the machinery at the halfway point.

Available on the album ‘Guesswork’ via earMUSIC

https://www.lloydcole.com/


GARY DALY I Work Alone

CHINA CRISIS have been an unlikely influence on acts such as VILLA NAH and MIRRORS, but while these days their synthwork is less pronounced, front man and keyboardist Gary Daly took the plunge with a full length solo record entitled ‘Gone From Here’. The wonderful first single ‘I Work Alone’ acted as both a statement of intent and an affirmation in self-belief. A lovely whimsical piece of Casiotone folktronica, Daly said “it’s very much ‘Neon Lights’ meets ‘Autobahn’”

Available on the album ‘Gone From Here’ via https://www.musicglue.com/gary-daly

https://www.instagram.com/garydalymusic/


DAYBEHAVIOR Driving In My Car

With a range of tempo variation, ‘Based On A True Story’ was the undoubtedly the best album of Swedish trio DAYBEHAVIOR’s long if sporadic career. Including a number of more danceable numbers to counterpoint the more laid back aspects of their cinematic sound without losing any of their exquisite aesthetics, one of the best examples could be heard in the fabulous Europop number ‘Driving In My Car’. It was just one part of a priceless collection of quality Scandipop.

Available on the album ‘Based On A True Story’ via Graplur

http://www.daybehavior.com


FIAT LUX We Can Change The World

Nearly four decades is a long time to wait for a debut album, but with Wakefield’s FIAT LUX, it was been worth it. Recalling BLACK and CHINA CRISIS, the guarded optimism of ‘We Can Change The World’ provided a call to action in these turbulent times within an uptempo setting dressed with bubbling synths and rousing dual vocals sweetened by smooth sax. Steve Wright and David P Crickmore honoured their late band mate Ian Nelson in the best way possible with their recorded and live return.

Available on the album ‘Saved Symmetry’ via Splid Records

http://www.fiat-lux.co.uk/


GEORGIA About Work The Dancefloor

Georgia Barnes is the daughter of LEFTFIELD’s Neil Barnes and the former drummer for Kate Tempest. Although her eponymous debut album possessed a more urban DIY feel, her sound has recently moved into more accessible electronic pop territory. From upcoming second album ‘Seeking Thrills’, the gloriously throbbing workout of ‘About Work The Dancefloor’ took its lead from ROBYN with its rousing Scandipop sheen, offset by a creepy distorted vocal refrain.

Available on the album ‘Seeking Thrills’ via Domino Recordings

https://georgiauk.com/


GRETA White

A Copenhagen domiciled German, classically schooled Greta Louise Schenk teamed up with Norwegian producer FARAO to enter a dreamy synthpop universe. With its unusual rhythmic structure and chromatic overtones, ‘White’ could have been an art rock number? “I often wonder how this song came out of me” she said, “I actually wrote it on my Irish bouzouki, which may explain the chords. I was listening a lot to LANA DEL REY and it was quite a dark time in my life.”

Available on the EP ‘Ardent Spring – Part I’ via Celebration Records,

https://www.facebook.com/greta.geschenk/


HEAVEN Truth Or Dare

Another project of Johnny Jewel, HEAVEN first came to wider attention with the ‘Lonesome Town’ EP. Fronted by the enigmatic allure of singer and keyboardist Aja, the brilliant ‘Truth Or Dare’ perhaps unsurprisingly sounded like CHROMATICS but with more synths and drum machine. While on tour as keyboardist with DESIRE, Aja took the title literally when they performed a cover of NEW ORDER’s ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ and Jewel watched nearby…

Available on the single ‘Truth Or Dare’ via Italians Do It Better

https://www.instagram.com/heaven_idib/


ALICE HUBBLE We Are Still Alone

ALICE HUBBLE is the new solo project of Alice Hubley, previously best known for fronting ARTHUR & MARTHA and COSINES. Hubley’s synth earth mother demeanour came to the fore on the sub-OMD of ‘We Are Still Alone’. While the lilting bass and elegiac transistorised melody were glorious, when the synth strings responded in that ASHRA style, it became perfect avant pop with Hubley sadly resigning to herself that she “couldn’t find the way to make me better”.

Available on the album ‘Polarlichter’ via Happy Robots Records

https://www.happyrobots.co.uk/alice-hubble


IMI I Feel Alright

Leeds based singer / songwriter IMI is gifted with a most glorious soprano but she applies that and her love of analogue synths to an intelligent avant pop aesthetic. ‘I Feel Alright’ with its sharp melodic call and ethereal voices headed into assertive optimism. This most promising young synth talent told The Electricity Club: “This song was written after a few years of struggling with some personal issues and it was a celebration of finally feeling ok and feeling hopeful about the future.”

Available on the EP ‘Lines’ via https://imimusicuk.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/imimusicuk/


INTERNATIONAL TEACHERS OF POP Love Girl

Hailing from Sheffield, INTERNATIONAL TEACHERS OF POP and their world of academia would make “eccentric Northern electronic pop” compulsory on the curriculum. From their vibrant and accessible self-titled debut album, the bubbly ‘Love Girl’ was a luscious cross between DUBSTAR and THE HUMAN LEAGUE. Cosmic but catchy, their intelligent musical escapism has been just the tonic in these turbulent times. One of their manifesto statements is “Smile at the neon and the mirrorball”.

Available on the album ‘International Teachers Of Pop’ via Desolate Spools

https://www.facebook.com/internationalteachersofpop/


HOWARD JONES Hero In Your Eyes

Producing his most synthpop work in ages, originally from the ‘Eddie The Eagle’ film sessions, Howard Jones said of ‘Hero In Your Eyes’: “I was really drawn to the part where his parents were amazing, continuing to believe in him when he was obviously not really very good at what he’d chosen to do, they kept supporting him. So him being a hero in their eyes always, that ‘I’ll be there for you’ feeling, I thought that it was something a lot of people could relate to”

Available on the album ‘Transform’ via Dtox Records

http://www.howardjones.com/


KNIGHT$ Hijack My Heart

Coming over like the love child of Richard Butler and Neil Tennant, KNIGHT$ made synthwaves with his sparkly Britalo on his energetic debut album ‘Dollars & Cents’. The Hi-NRG romp of ‘Hijack My Heart’ aped BRONSKI BEAT complete with a closing bursts of falsetto as the Winchester lad tightened his glitzy clubbing trousers to full effect and even dropped in a blistering synth solo to add to the fun. It was a highlight on one of the best albums of 2019.

Available on the album ‘Dollars & Cents’ via Specchio Uomo

https://knights101.com/


LADYTRON Deadzone

LADYTRON produced their last offering ‘Gravity The Seducer’ in 2011. Their recent heavier self-titled reboot saw the quartet of Helen Marnie, Mira Aroyo, Daniel Hunt and Reuben Wu entering the ‘Deadzone’. Unsettlingly percussive and full of tension but hitting the spot with the right dose of melodic elements intertwined with haunting grit and grime, LADYTRON were back with a sucker punch. All in all, it was a fantastic comeback.

Available on the album ‘Ladytron’ via !K7

http://www.ladytron.com/


LIZETTE LIZETTE Computer Game

LIZETTE LIZETTE is Lizette Nordahl, a gender neutral Swedish / Peruvian producer and performance artist whose first mini-album album ‘Queerbody’ was released 2017. The beautifully sad Nordic synth ballad ‘Computer Game’ was written in tribute to a departed friend. Showcasing Nordahl’s more emotive side, it was a quality that had not been obviously apparent in LIZETTE LIZETTE’s more danced-based recordings.

Available on the EP ‘Non’ via https://lizettelizette.bandcamp.com/

http://lizettelizette.com/


MACHINISTA Anthropocene

Reflecting gloomier times, ‘Anthropocene’ saw MACHINISTA produce their most consistent body of work yet. Vocalist John Lindqwister and instrumentalist Richard Flow took their time in a refinement of their anthemic signature sound and the addition of some conventionally flavoured twists. The title song took its lead from the dark electronic pop of Norway’s APOPTYGMA BERZERK and owed more than a debt to the haunting riff of ‘Burning Heretic’ in the ultimate sorcerer’s apprentice spell.

Available on the album ‘Anthropocene’ via Infacted Records

https://www.machinistamusic.com/


MECHA MAIKO Apathy

Behind the quirky avant pop of MECHA MAIKO‬ is the talented Canadian Hayley Stewart. ‘Apathy’ from her new album ‘Let’s!’ can only be described as delightfully nuts, with an inventive mix of a jazz swing Charleston vibe, frantic techno dance beats and vibrant synthpop hooks. It showed she was not afraid to blend seemingly incongruous influences to get an end result and with a slight sprinkling of Japanese instrumentation to close, the eclectic creative cycle was complete!‬‬‬‬‬

Available on the album ‘Let’s!’ via ORO Records

https://www.mechamaiko.com/


KARIN MY The Silence

Swedish songstress Karin My sang with veteran combo TWICE A MAN on their poignant environmental catastrophe warning ‘High In The Clouds’ in 2105. Her solo single ‘The Silence’ was one of the first truly great songs of 2019. Swathed in beautiful synths and embroiled in that wonderful Scandinavian melancholy, her gorgeous vocals evoked a forlorn abandonment just as a wintery chill set in with the sad dilemma of whether to give up…

Available on the single ‘The Silence’ via Ad Inexplorata

http://www.karinmy.net/


MICHAEL OAKLEY Left Behind

The mighty Italo Disco statement of ‘Left Behind’ came complete with obligatory orchestra stabs and a rousing chorus, gleefully fusing SAVAGE, RAF, PET SHOP BOYS and BEE GEES within a big Trevor Horn styled kitchen sink! But despite the fun laden octave shift frenzy, the lyrics were concerned with midlife reflection. Michael Oakley told The Electricity Club: “the song is about me feeling like everyone around me was getting settled in their career, getting married and taking out a mortgage.”

Available on the album ‘Introspect’ via NewRetroWave

https://www.facebook.com/MichaelOakleyOfficial/


OBLONG Echolocation

Every now and then, the world needs a lively unpretentious synth instrumental record. With the second OBLONG album ‘The Sea At Night’, the trio of Benge, Dave Nice and Sid Stronarch delivered a collection of rustic electro-acoustic organically farmed electronica! With mood and pace, ‘Echolocation’ was a classic synth instrumental with its crystalline textures and charming slightly off-key blips, aurally reflecting the remote moorland location in Cornwall where it was recorded.

Available on the album ‘The Sea At Night’ via Memetune Recordings

https://twitter.com/oblongtheband


OMD Don’t Go

OMD began their recorded career with a KRAFTWERK homage and four decades on, they came full circle. A great grandchild of Klingklang and cousin of ‘Metroland’ from ‘English Electric’ but refined for BBC Radio 2 airplay, ‘Don’t Go’ captured the essence of OMD’s enduring electronic appeal. With crystalline synth melodies from Humphreys and a spirited vocal delivery from McCluskey attached to a hypnotic Synthanorma backdrop, OMD continue to produce quality avant pop tunes.

Available on the album ‘Souvenir: The Singles Collection 1979 – 2019’ via Universal Music

http://www.omd.uk.com/


PLASMIC Famous

Feisty, fiery and on-message as “your abused Barbie doll from childhood”, Lauren Lusardi, better known as PLASMIC dropped yet another synth bomb with a vivid narrative on the fame game where women have to compromise and serve the male gaze to get to where they want. While pink is her colour, the rugged lo-fi cocoon of anxious sound penetrated the soul with a raging reminder that if “You wanna be famous?”, then really “Don’t be so f*cking brainless!”

Available on the single ‘Famous’ via CandyShop Recordings

https://www.facebook.com/plasmicpower/


QUIETER THAN SPIDERS Komarov

“Beautiful melodies telling me terrible things” said a cartoon meme… with echoes of OMD, the life and death of the tragic Soyuz 1 cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov was captured poignantly in this instrumental by QUIETER THAN SPIDERS from their brilliant debut album ‘Signs Of Life’; Yi Fan from the anonymous Chinese synth trio said: “we were moved by the human story behind it all together with the haunting backdrop of primitive space experimentation.”

Available on the album ‘Signs Of Life’ via https://annaloguerecords.bandcamp.com/album/signs-of-life-2cd-version-master

https://www.facebook.com/QTSpiders/


SOFTWAVE No Need To Hide

Danish duo SOFTWAVE have been gaining momentum with endorsements from luminaries such as ex-members of THE HUMAN LEAGUE Jo Callis and Ian Burden, while improving enormously since their 2016 debut EP ‘Together Alone’. Punctuated by machines of ice, ‘No Need To Hide’ was undoubtedly Clarkean, celebrating positivity in possibly SOFTWAVE’s finest moment yet with one of those rousing Scandipop choruses and coming over not unlike Celine Dion fronting ERASURE.

Available on the album ‘Game On’ via https://softwave.bandcamp.com/

http://www.softwavemusic.com/


FIFI RONG Way Out

The powerful electro R’N’B tinged ‘Way Out’ was the first English language taster from Beijing-born songstress’ ambitious new Anglo-Mandarin bilingual album project. Fifi Rong said of her concept to The Electricity Club: “I’m making a double album. One album in Chinese and the other in English. Not the typical type of translation type of bilingual album from one language to another… So the two albums are all individual songs interlinked in sounds, themes, vibes.”

Available on the single ‘Way Out’ via W Records

http://www.fifirong.com/


US Voyager

Andrew Montgomery, best known as the vocalist of GENEVA who scored hits with ‘Into The Blue’ and ‘Best Regrets’ in 1997, teamed up with Leo Josefsson of Stockholm trio LOWE to form the electronic duo US. If Jeff Buckley had dumped his Fender Telecaster for a Korg MS20, then that is the dark anthemic sound of US. ‘Voyager’ went all spacey avant trance in a wonderful cross-pollination of styles that came over a bit like MUSE at Gatecrasher.

Available on the album ‘First Contact’ via US Music Space

http://www.usmusicspace.com/


WITCH OF THE VALE Trust The Pain

It was a big year for WITCH OF THE VALE as their highly spirited otherworldly sound, deeply rooted in Celtic folklore and Wiccan beliefs, found a sympathetic audience at Infest 2019. The eponymous track from their second EP introduced serene, yet uncertain feelings channelled via clear but eerie vocals over the croon from a raven. This angelic ballad put all the fears to sleep and demonstrated how Erin and Ryan Hawthorne sound are like nothing else within the world of modern electronica.

Available on the EP ‘Trust The Pain’ via https://witchofthevale.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/witchofthevale/


OLLIE WRIDE The Driver

Although best known as the lead vocalist for FM-84 on ‘Running In The Night’, Ollie Wride unleashed his debut solo album in 2019. The Driver’ put into dynamic realisation as to what SIMPLE MINDS might have sounded like had Moroder-graduate Keith Forsey produced the 1985 ‘Once Upon A Time’ album instead of Jimmy Iovine and Bob Clearmountain. The superb grouchy synth rock saw the Brighton boy successfully pull off a cross between Jim Kerr and Billy Idol!

Available on the album ‘Thanks In Advance’ via NewRetroWave

https://www.facebook.com/olliewrideofficial/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
4th December 2019

A Short Conversation with MACHINISTA

The previous albums of Swedish duo MACHINISTA, ‘Xenoglossy’ and ‘Garmonbozia’, each had terrific highlights but new long player ‘Anthropocene’ is their most consistent body of work yet.

Like a cross between THE CURE and ALPHAVILLE producing a fusion of synthpop and rock n roll, vocalist John Lindqwister and instrumentalist Richard Flow have added conventionally flavoured twists like guitars and cellos.

Refining their anthemic signature sound as well as reflecting today’s darker times, MACHINISTA’s gloomy club-friendly template went down a storm recently with the regulars at alternative club night Exit The Grey when the duo, accompanied by versatile guitarist Mattias Johansson, supported Mexican aggro-tech duo HOCICO at Electrowerkz in London.

While they were in the city, MACHINISTA chatted to The Electricity Club about the genesis of ‘Anthropocene’ and much more…

The ‘Anthropocene’ album has been a long time coming, are there any particular reasons?

Richard: Oh yes, many reasons for this. We did switch to a new label, so we had to work this out. I did a lot of remix-work for other bands as well as producer-work with the Swedish band PAGE. John has a bunch of side-projects as well he did work on and also we had a lot of focus on gigs during these years. But all this time we did record songs and released some singles as well. We did participate on several tribute albums, re-releases and stuff. Also private-life comes between sometimes so yeah this album took many years to finish for many reasons. You won´t need to wait years for the next release *laughs*

Did record companies have any bearing, because each MACHINISTA album has been released on a different label?

Richard: With our first label, there was some problems for sure. After that label closed down, we signed to UK based label Analoguetrash. We really liked that label, very kind people and easy to work with, but at the same time we started to play a lot more in Germany. Germany is really the best country for our kind of music so when we did get an offer from Infacted Recordings, we jumped on that train and it feels really good! The guys at Analoguetrash understood our situation and a chance for us to go in the direction we needed. We still have good contact with Analoguetrash so no hard feelings there.

Does a modern electronic pop band with a niche audience actually need a record label these days?

Richard: I guess not. It’s easy nowadays to do it by yourself and promote with YouTube, Facebook and all that. But at the same time, we are traditional when it comes to releasing physical CDs and that is so much easier with a label running all that for you. Also our current label Infacted Recordings is an established label in our genre with good connections when it comes to distribution, promotion and all that. Of course these days as a band you have to promote a lot by yourself to reach out, but with a label doing this work as well we can focus much more on the main thing, to record new songs!

While MACHINISTA lyrics have never been exactly cheerful, they have taken on a darker, almost fatalistic tone on this new album?

John: Actually it’s not a conscious thing that it ended up like that, haha! Maybe my brain has sucked up too much negative stuff listening on the radio every day.

Well I write about dark stuff and difficulties in life, but I think I put hope in there as well. ‘Anthropocene’ indicates a rough image of the future but we can change that. I hope 😉

The overall sound has become harder, still electronic but with more guitars?

Richard: Yes that’s correct! From the start we never really had any rules when it comes to the sound. However, our first album had a lot synth-pop songs for sure. When we started to write songs for ‘Garmonbozia’, we wanted to go into a darker direction. Dark, moody songs are a lot more fun to write and make me more happy than sunny pop songs. During this time we also started to have a guitarist on stage and it fitted in a lot more to a harder, darker sound.

Norway’s APOPTYGMA BERZERK appears to have been a big influence?

Richard: Well, yeah you know I listen to a wide range of music and APOP has always been a favourite band. I like that Stephan Groth does whatever he wants every time they release a new album. No rules. It’s similar to what we do. Then of course they have a great back-catalogue of songs! MACHINISTA was also part of the APOPTYGMA BERZERK tribute album that was released some years ago.

The excellent ‘Anthropocene’ title song even slips in the haunting riff of APOP’s ‘Burning Heretic’?

Richard: Yes, it was meant to be a little “tribute” to that song in the intro of ‘Anthropocene’. From the beginning, it was almost identical but then I did change some of the notes.

Stephan Groth and MACHNISITA have developed a kinship over the last few years?

Richard: We have met a few times during the years. He did a remix of ‘Dark Heart Of Me’, I also did mastering for the APOPTYGMA BERZERK remix of the PAGE song ‘Krash’. Recently I did a solo-gig and performed a lot of cover-songs. Among them, the classic Apoptygma song ‘Eclipse’. Stephan was at this event so he joined me on stage on that one. Very good fun!

Despite the harder aesthetic, ‘Astrid’ is quite cinematic and orchestrated featuring the very talented Karin My on cello?

Richard: This song turned out really well! The original demo was more electronic but when John added the vocals, I heard something else in my head. I thought about for a long time to do a song a lot more like THE CURE, that alternative feeling and this one was perfect. Karin My is a brilliant musician and singer so we are really happy that she was part of this song. Also Mattias’ guitar-playing did add a new dimension to it.

Having previously covered ‘Heroes’, ‘Anthropocene’ closes with another Bowie connected cover in THE BEATLES ‘Across The Universe’? 

John: I wanted to do that cos it’s good song and as a small homage to my mother who named me after him and her being a big fan. And I’m a universe kind of guy!

You like your cover versions, you have been doing FRONT 242 ‘No Shuffle’ at recent gigs?

Richard: Yes, THIS London-gig actually! ?

John: There have been so many covers, it has to stop ?

The guitar has entered the live fray as well, although what Mattias Johansson does is complimentary and not overplayed, one minute he’s Midge Ure, then he uses an E-bow and then, it’s like THE SISTERS OF MERCY! *laughs*

Richard: We are more than happy to have Mattias with us! He is a great guitarist and always comes up with great melodies and stuff. The trick is to add a guitar that blends in good to the original music. Mattias does this and more! Also a great and funny guy to hang with, so we all have very fun together.

‘Anthropocene’ is probably your most consistent body of work to date, which are your own favourite songs on it and why?

Richard: Hmm. that changes from day to day. At the moment I would say ‘Astrid’. That song turned out almost exactly the way I wanted.

What’s next for you, either individually or as MACHINISTA?

Richard: We will play in Copenhagen on 30th August at Elektroland, that will be a lot of fun! At the moment we are also working on new songs that feel really nice. The sound will take a step in a different direction. We are exploring new dark territories. It will still sound MACHINISTA of course ?

John: I have CAT RAPES DOG and we are going to do a few shows, plus there’s the new project I have with Jonas from TRAIN TO SPAIN called FOLK ÄR FOLK. And Flow is in the live set with us. That will be fun.


The Electricity Club gives its grateful thanks to MACHINISTA

‘Anthropocene’ is released by Infacted Recordings in CD and digital formats, download available now from
https://infactedrecordings.bandcamp.com/

http://www.machinistamusic.com/

https://www.facebook.com/machinistamusic

https://twitter.com/machinistamusic

https://www.instagram.com/machinistamusic/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Simon Helm
10th August 2019

MACHINISTA Anthropocene

Like a cross between THE CURE and ALPHAVILLE, Swedish duo MACHINISTA are back with their third full-length album ‘Anthropocene’.

Vocalist John Lindqwister and instrumentalist Richard Flow have taken their time with this record and it’s all the better with a refinement of their anthemic signature sound plus the addition of some conventionally flavoured twists. In the album’s opening statement, ‘Seconds Minutes Hours’ offers a Eurodance triplet beefed up with guitars by BRD for more of that synthpop with a rock n roll edge which MACHINISTA have always prided themselves in.

Featuring a guest vocal appearance from PROJECT PITCHFORK’s Scheuber, ‘Let Darkness In’ is brilliant, taking its leaf from the dark electronic pop of Norway’s APOPTYGMA BERZERK; their main man Stephan Groth happily remixed 2015’s ‘Dark Heart Of Me’ and the APOP force looms even stronger on the album’s glorious ‘Anthropocene’ title song which owes more than a debt to the haunting riff of ‘Burning Heretic’ in the ultimate sorcerer’s apprentice spell.

‘Angel’ takes things down to scarf waving pace and adds piano to the counter melodies but it suddenly speeds up, aesthetic reinforced by percussive six string for some chantalong gothic disco. ‘Black Tide’ continues the mood but with a solemn disposition as per the title with Lindqwister giving his all with the Robert Smith stakes.

Singing of “darkness, despairs” and a “child of the golden age”, the chilling orchestrated cinematics of ‘Astrid’ are authentically supported by Karin My on cello while on ‘Universe Is Here’, the aesthetics can’t but help recall ‘The Policy Of Truth’ from the days when DEPECHE MODE combined their darkness with tuneful instrumental elements.

A stark observation on the human condition, ‘Pain Of Every Day’ with its poignant lyrics like “dying is certain… we die the same death” is probably one of the most poetically unsettling if danceable tracks of recent years, a sentiment also expressed in ‘The Scare’.

Back in 2013, MACHINISTA opened their account with a rousing cover of Bowie’s “Heroes”; and it is back to the Thin White Duke with a cover of THE BEATLES ‘Across The Universe’ which was covered on the ‘Young Americans’ album for the closer; it does sound exactly how you might imagine, like ALPHAVILLE doing John Lennon.

On ‘Anthropocene’, MACHINISTA have successfully integrated more traditional elements like guitar, piano and cello without throwing away their gloomy but club-friendly template.

Their past EPs and albums have always had terrific highlights, but ‘Anthropocene’ is their most consistent body of work to date.

Reflecting darker times, listeners will however need to choose which songs to hear carefully dependent on their moods as much of the personal expression on this album is very heavy if realistic.


‘Anthropocene’ is released by Infacted Recordings on 7th June 2019, pre-order CD from Poponaut at
http://www.poponaut.de/machinista-anthropocene-p-18504.html or download from Bandcamp at https://infactedrecordings.bandcamp.com/album/anthropocene

MACHINISTA open for HOCICO at London Electrowerkz on Saturday 3rd August 2019

http://www.machinistamusic.com/

https://www.facebook.com/machinistamusic

https://twitter.com/machinistamusic

https://www.instagram.com/machinistamusic/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Jorg Seiche
1st June 2019

TEC’s 25 21ST CENTURY SYNTH COVERS

“The medium of reinterpretation” as HEAVEN 17 and BEF’s Martyn Ware once put it, is still very much present in the 21st Century.

There have been albums of cover versions from the likes of SIMPLE MINDS, ERASURE, MIDGE URE and CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN celebrating their influences, as well as numerous various artists collections paying tribute to particular acts.

However, a newish phenomenon of covering an entire album has appeared in more recent years, something which MARSHEAUX, BECKY BECKY and CIRCUIT 3 have attempted on works by DEPECHE MODE, THE KNIFE and YAZOO respectively.

On the other side of the coin in recognition of the cultural impact of the classic synth era, the Anti-Christ Superstar MARILYN MANSON covered SOFT CELL’s cover of ‘Tainted Love’ but added more shouting, while DAVID GRAY took their own ‘Say Hello Wave Goodbye’ and turned it into a lengthy Dylan-esque ballad.

There has also been a trend for girl groups to cover songs from the period with GIRLS ALOUD, THE SATURDAYS and RED BLOODED WOMEN being among those introducing these numbers to a new younger audience.

So as a follow-up to TEC’s 25 Classic Synth Covers listing, here is a selection taken from reinterpretations recorded from 2000 to the present day, restricted to one song per artist moniker and presented in chronological order.


SCHNEIDER TM va KPTMICHIGAN The Light 3000 (2000)

Morrissey was once quoted as saying there was “nothing more repellent than the synthesizer”, but if THE SMITHS had gone electro, would they have sounded like this and Stephen Patrick thrown himself in front of that ten ton truck? Germany’s SCHNEIDER TM aka Dirk Dresselhaus reconstructed ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ to a series of minimal blips, blops and robotics to configure ‘The Light 3000’ with British producer KPTMICHIGAN.

Available on the album ‘Binokular’ via https://mirrorworldmusic.bandcamp.com/

http://www.cityslang.com/schneider-tm/biography


GOLDFRAPP Yes Sir (2003)

A breathy Euro disco classic made famous by sultry Spanish vocal duo BACCARA, Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory’s take on this cheesy but enjoyable disco standard came over like The Cheeky Girls at The Nuremburg rally! Now that’s a horrifying vision! All traces of ‘Yes Sir I Can Boogie’ apart from the original lyrics were rendered missing in action as the stern Ms Goldfrapp played the role of the thigh booted dominatrix on this highly original cover.

Available on the single ‘Twist’ via Mute Records

http://goldfrapp.com/


INFANTJOY featuring SARAH NIXEY Ghosts (2005)

When BLACK BOX RECORDER went on hiatus, Sarah Nixey recorded a beautifully spacey cover of JAPAN’s Ghosts with INFANTJOY whose James Banbury became her main collaborator on her 2007 debut solo album ‘Sing Memory’. Meanwhile the duo’s other member was none other than ZTT conceptualist Paul Morley.  A POPULUS remix appeared on the ‘With’ revisions album while MIDI-ed up and into the groove, Nixey later also recorded THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s ‘The Black Hit Of Space’.

Available on the album ‘With’ via serviceAV

http://infantjoy.com


DIE KRUPPS featuring CLIENT Der Amboss (2005)

Of this mighty industrialised cover, Ralf Dörper said to The Electricity Club: “When I first heard ‘The Anvil’ (‘Der Amboss’) by VISAGE, I thought: “what a perfect song for DIE KRUPPS” – it just needed more sweat, more steel. And it was not before 2005 when DIE KRUPPS were asked to play a few 25-year anniversary shows that I remembered ‘Der Amboss’… and as I was a big CLIENT fan at that time, I thought it would be a good opportunity to ask Fräulein B for assistance in the vocal department”.

Available on a self-released CD single for the band’s 25th anniversary tour, currently unavailable

http://www.diekrupps.de/


FROST Messages (2007)

Comprising of Aggie Peterson and Per Martinsen, FROST have described their music as “upbeat space-pop”. Much of their own material like ‘Klong’, ‘Alphabet’ and ‘Sleepwalker’ exuded a perfect soundtrack for those long Nordic nights. Meanwhile their ultra-cool cover of OMD’s ‘Messages’ embraced that wintery atmosphere, while providing a pulsing backbone of icy synths to accompany Peterson’s alluringly nonchalant vocal.

Available on the album ‘Love! Revolution!’ via Frost World Recordings

https://www.facebook.com/frostnorway/


ONETWO Have A Cigar (2007)

Onetwo_InsteadIn this “Pink Floyd Goes To Hollywood” styled rework, Claudia Brücken revisited her ZTT roots with this powerful and danceable version of Roger Waters’ commentary on music business hypocrisy. ‘Have A Cigar’ showed a turn of feistiness and aggression not normally associated with the usually more serene timbres of Claudia Brücken and Paul Humphreys’ ONETWO project. But by welcoming pleasure into the dome, they did a fine cover version.

Available on the album ‘Instead’ via https://theremusic.bandcamp.com/album/instead

http://www.theremusic.com/onetwo/onetwo


BLACK NAIL CABARET Umbrella (2008)

Budapest’s BLACK NAIL CABARET began life as an all-female duo of Emese Illes-Arvai on vocals and Sophie Tarr on keyboards, with their first online offering being a darkwave cover of RIHANNA’s ‘Umbrella’. Already very synthy in the Barbadian starlet’s own version, it showcased their brooding form of electro which subsequently impressed enough to earn support slots with COVENANT, DE/VISION and CAMOUFLAGE while producing three albums of self-penned material so far.

Available on the album ‘The Covers’ via https://blacknailcabaret.bandcamp.com/album/the-covers

http://www.blacknailcabaret.com


CHINA CRISIS Starry Eyed (2008)

Liverpudlian easy listening crooner Michael Holliday was the second person to have a UK No1 written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, the first being Perry Como with ‘Magic Moments’. His second UK No1 penned by Earl Shuman and Mort Garson was a romantic guilty pleasure. CHINA CRISIS pledged their Scouse Honour with this jaunty synth / drum machine driven rendition of ‘Starry Eyed’ layered with reverbed synthbass warbles and harmonious vocals from Messrs Daly and Lundon.

Available on the album ‘Liverpool – The Number Ones Album’ (V/A) via EMI Records

www.facebook.com/pages/China-Crisis/295592467251068


LITTLE BOOTS Love Kills (2009)

LittleBootsEPLITTLE BOOTS gave a dynamically poptastic rendition of Giorgio Moroder and Freddie Mercury’s only collaboration from 1984, retaining its poignant melancholic quality while adding a vibrant and danceable electronic slant. The recreation of Richie Zito’s guitar solo on synths was wondrous as was the looser swirly groove. While Victoria Hesketh didn’t have the voice of Mercury, her wispy innocence added its own touching qualities to ‘Love Kills’.

Available on the EP ‘Illuminations’ via Elektra Records

www.littlebootsmusic.co.uk


PET SHOP BOYS Viva La Vida (2009)

Yuck, it’s Chris Martin and Co but didn’t Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe do well? Merging possibly COLDPLAY’s best song with the synth riff from their own Latino disco romp ‘Domino Dancing’, ‘Viva La Vida’ was turned into a stomping but still anthemic number which perhaps had more touches of affection than PET SHOP BOYS‘ marvellous but allegedly two fingers Hi-NRG rendition of U2’s ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’. So altogether now: “Woah-oh, ooh-ooah!”

Available on the album ‘Yes: Further Listening 2008-2010’ via EMI Records

http://petshopboys.co.uk


DURAN DURAN Boys Keep Swinging (2010)

WeWereSoTurnedOnNo strangers to raiding the Bowie songbook having previously tackled ‘Fame’ in 1981, DURAN DURAN however blotted their copy book with their 1995 covers LP ‘Thank You’. They refound their stride with the return-to-form album ‘All You Need Is Now’ but just before that, this superb reinterpretation of ‘Boys Keep Swinging’ reconnected them to their New Romantic roots with washes of Nick Rhodes’ swimmy Crumar string machine, held down by a danceable beatbox and John Taylor’s syncopated bass runs.

Available on the album ‘We Were So Turned On: A Tribute To David Bowie’ via Manimal Vinyl

http://www.duranduran.com


LADYTRON Little Black Angel (2010)

LADYTRONThis frantically paced cover of controversial neofolk band DEATH IN JUNE was recorded for the LADYTRON ‘Best Of 00-10’ collection and purposely uncredited. The antithesis of the midtempo atmospherics of ‘Gravity The Seducer’, this cutting four-to-the-floor romp was the last of the quartet’s in-yer-face tracks in a wind down of the harder ‘Velocifero’ era. With the multi-ethnic combo subverting the meaning of ‘Little Black Angel’, it deliberately bore no resemblance to the acoustic laden original.

Available on the album ‘Best of 00-10’ via Nettwerk Records

http://www.ladytron.com


GAZELLE TWIN The Eternal (2011)

‘The Eternal’ from ‘Closer’, the final album by JOY DIVISION, was one of the most fragile, funereal collages of beauty ever committed to vinyl. But in 2011, Brighton based songstress GAZELLE TWIN reworked this cult classic and made it even more haunting! Replacing the piano motif with eerily chilling synth and holding it together within an echoing sonic cathedral, she paid due respect to the song while adding her own understated operatic stylings.

Available on the EP ‘I Am Shell I Am Bone’ via Anti-Ghost Moon Ray Records

http://www.gazelletwin.com


MIRRORS Something On Your Mind (2011)

lightsOn their only album ‘Lights & Offerings’, MIRRORS revealed an interesting musical diversion with this haunting take of a rootsy country number originally recorded by Karen Dalton. Written by the late Dino Valenti of psychedelic rockers QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERVICE, ‘Something On Your Mind’ was a touching ballad with its tortured yearning suiting the quartet’s pop noir aspirations. Ally Young told The Electricity Club: “It was very nice for us to be able to apply our aesthetic to someone else’s song.”

Available on the album ‘Lights & Offerings’ via Skint Records

http://mirrorsofficial.bandcamp.com/


OMD VCR (2011)

OMD vcrIndie stoners THE XX had a minimalist approach to their sound which Andy McCluskey told TEC was “really quite impressive”. This bareness made their material quite well suited for reworking in the style of classic OMD. ‘VCR’ had Paul Humphreys taking charge of the synths while McCluskey dusted off his bass guitar and concentrated on vocals. McCluskey added: “People go ‘how did OMD influence THE XX?’… but have you listened to ‘4-Neu’? Have you listened to some of the really simple, stripped down B-sides?”

Available on the EP ‘History Of Modern (Part I)’ via Blue Noise

http://www.omd.uk.com


I SPEAK MACHINE My Sex (2013)

As I SPEAK MACHINE, Tara Busch has been known for her haunting and occasionally downright bizarre live covers of songs as diverse as ‘Cars’, ‘Our House’, ‘The Sound Of Silence’ and ‘Ticket To Ride’. For a JOHN FOXX tribute EP which also featured GAZELLE TWIN, she turned ‘My Sex’, the closing number from the debut ULTRAVOX! long player, into a cacophony of wailing soprano and dystopian synths that was more than suitable for a horror flick.

Available on the EP ‘Exponentialism’ (V/A) via Metamatic Records

http://www.ispeakmachine.com


NOBLESSE OBLIGE Hotel California (2013)

French theatrical performer Valerie Renay and German producer Sebastian Lee Philipp are NOBLESSE OBLIGE. Together, they specialise in a brand of abstract Weimer cabaret tinged with a dose of electro Chanson. Their lengthy funereal deadpan cover of THE EAGLES’ ‘Hotel California’ highlighted the chilling subtext of the lyrics to its macabre conclusion! The synthesizer substitution of the original’s iconic twin guitar solo could be seen as total genius or sacrilege!

Available on the album ‘Affair Of The Heart’ via Repo Records

http://www.noblesseoblige.co.uk/


I AM SNOW ANGEL I’m On Fire (2014)

I AM SNOW ANGEL is the project of Brooklyn based producer Julie Kathryn; her debut album ‘Crocodile’ was a lush sounding affair and could easily be mistaken as a product of Scandinavia were it not for her distinctly Trans-Atlantic drawl. Already full of surprises, to close the long player, out popped a countrified drum ‘n’ bass take of BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN’s ‘I’m On Fire’! Quite what The Boss would have made of it, no-one is sure but it was quietly subversive and it certainly delivered the unexpected.

Available on the album ‘Crocodile’ via I Am Snow Angel

http://iamsnowangel.com/


MACHINISTA Heroes (2014)

Reinterpreting any Bowie number is fraught with the possibility of negative feedback and MACHINISTA’s take on ‘Heroes’ set tongues wagging. Recorded as the duo’s calling card when experienced Swedish musicians John Lindqwister and Richard Flow first came together, electronic pulses combined with assorted synthetic textures which when amalgamated with Lindqwister’s spirited vocal, produced a respectful and yes, good version of an iconic song.

Available on the album ‘Xenoglossy’ via Analogue Trash

http://www.machinistamusic.com


NIGHT CLUB Need You Tonight (2014)

Comprising of frisky vocalist Emily Kavanaugh and moody producer Mark Brooks, NIGHT CLUB simply cut to the chase with their enjoyable electronic cover of INXS’ ‘Need You Tonight’. Here, the familiar guitar riff was amusingly transposed into a series of synth stabs before mutating into a mutant Morse code. It wasn’t rock ‘n’ roll but we liked it! Purists were horrified, but history has proved the best cover versions always do a spot of genre and instrumentation hopping.

Available on the EP ‘Black Leather Heart’ via http://nightclubband.com/album/black-leather-heart

http://www.nightclubband.com


MARSHEAUX Monument (2015)

The MARSHEAUX reworking of DEPECHE MODE’s second album ‘A Broken Frame’ shed new light on Martin Gore’s first long form adventure as songwriter and affirmed that numbers such as ‘My Secret Garden’ and ‘The Sun & The Rainfall’ were just great songs. But ‘Monument’ was an example of a cover outstripping the original and given additional political resonance with the economic situation close to home that the Greek synth maidens found themselves living in at the time of its recording.

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

http://www.marsheaux.com/


METROLAND Close To Me (2015)

Needing to be heard to be believed, this rather inventive and charming cover of THE CURE’s ‘Close To Me’ by Belgium’s favourite passengers METROLAND utilised a selection of male and female computer voice generators to provide the lead vocal, in a move likely to upset the majority of real music purists. Meanwhile, the hidden melodies shone much more brightly than in the goth-laden original, thanks to its wonderful and clever electronic arrangement.

Available on the album ‘A Strange Play – An Alfa Matrix Tribute To The Cure’ (V/A) via https://alfamatrix.bandcamp.com/album/a-strange-play-an-alfa-matrix-tribute-to-the-cure

http://www.metrolandmusic.com/


JOHAN BAECKSTRÖM Jerusalem (2016)

One of DAILY PLANET’s main inspirations was cult UK synth trio WHITE DOOR, who released just one album ‘Windows’ in 1983. So when their chief synthesist Johan Baeckström was needing tracks to include on his ‘Like Before’ EP, the almost choir boy overtures of ‘Jerusalem’ was a natural choice for a cover version. Of course, this was not the first time Baeckström had mined the WHITE DOOR back catalogue as the more halcyon ‘School Days’ adorned the flip of his debut solo single ‘Come With Me’.

Available on the EP ‘Like Before EP’ via Progress Productions

https://www.facebook.com/bstrommusic/


THE FRIXION Under A Cherry Moon (2017)

Forming in 2016, seasoned vocalist Gene Serene and producer Lloyd Price’s combined sound delightfully borrowed from both classic synthpop and Weimar Cabaret on THE FRIXION’s self-titled EP debut. From it, a tribute to The Purple One came with this touching take of his ‘Under The Cherry Moon’, highlighting PRINCE’s often hidden spiritual connection to European pop forms and recalling ‘The Rhythm Divine’, YELLO’s epic collaboration with Shirley Bassey.

Available on the EP ‘The Frixion’ via https://thefrixion.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/TheFrixion/


KALEIDA 99 Luftballons (2017)

Moody electronic duo KALEIDA first came to wider attention opening for RÓISÍN MURPHY in 2015. Covers have always been part of Christina Wood and Cicely Goulder’s repertoire with ‘A Forest’ and ‘Take Me To The River’ being among them. KALEIDA’s sparse rendition of NENA’s ‘99 Luftballons’ earned kudos for being very different and was included in the soundtrack of the Cold War spy drama ‘Atomic Blonde’, hauntingly highlighting the currently relevant nuclear apocalypse warning in the lyric.

Available on the album ‘Tear The Roots’ via https://kaleida.bandcamp.com

http://kaleidamusic.com


Text by Chi Ming Lai
1st January 2018, updated 3rd June 2019

TEC’s 25 SVENSKA SYNTH SONGS

Like Germany and the UK, Sweden has an established history in electronic music.

With a melodic tradition rooted in traditional Nordic folk music and the region’s long dark nights causing bouts of melancholy, the Swedes are more than well suited to stay indoors and further the art of synthpop.

In addition, Clavia Digital Musical Instruments, founded in 1983 and based in Stockholm, have emerged as a world leader in modern virtual analogue subtractive synthesizers with its distinctive red Nord Lead series.

Probably the most influential act to come out of Sweden are THE KNIFE. Their influence internationally on countless acts such as GAZELLE TWIN, GRIMES, AUSTRA, THE HORN THE HUNT and BECKY BECKY to adopt darker colours and mess with the very fabric of sound, has held a flag for inventive artful experimentation.

Meanwhile, COVENANT maintain an audience across the Atlantic for their resonant futurepop and ROBYN has become so much part of the mainstream that her songs are regularly murdered by reality TV talent show wannabes.

The iconic Energy Rekords provided a platform for modern electronic music in the country while today, labels such as Progress Productions, Labrador and Wonderland have maintained their support for domestic talent.

As KITE lead the way with their upcoming second tour of the US, Swedish synthpop continues to impress with acts like TRAIN TO SPAIN, 047, PRESENCE OF MIND, SILENT WAVE, THE SOUND OF ARROWS and COMPUTE among those with the potential to breakout of their domestic scenes.

So what’s so special about Sweden then? Listed chronologically and then alphabetically from its UK perspective with a restriction of one song per moniker, here are The Electricity Club’s 25 SVENSKA SYNTH SONGS…


LUSTANS LAKEJER Diamanter (1982)

With a shortened title, ‘Diamanter’ was a more synth driven re-recording of their second single. LUSTANS LAKEJER were labelled Sweden’s answer to DURAN DURAN and like the Birmingham combo, Johan Kinde and Co were heavily influenced by JAPAN. Their third album ‘En Plats I Solen’ was produced by Richard Barbieri with Mick Karn popping up with his sax on three of its tracks.

Available on the album ‘En Plats I Solen’ via Universal Music

https://www.facebook.com/LustansLakejer/


PAGE Dansande Man (1983)

Founded in 1980 by Eddie Bengtsson and Marina Schiptjenko, PAGE are often credited with bringing the more purer form of synthpop as pioneered by Vince Clarke to Sweden. Their debut single ‘Dansande Man’ was a frantically percussive excursion suitable for dancing to as the title suggested. Bengtsson and Schiptjenko were to become key figures on the Swedish music scene in many guises, as we shall see…

Originally released as a single via Eskimo, currently unavailable

https://www.facebook.com/PageElektroniskPop/


THE MOBILE HOMES Feeling Better (1989)

With their name inspired by a JAPAN song, THE MOBILE HOMES were another Swedish band adopting purer synthpop colours . For their second single ‘Feeling Better’, they signed to Sonet, a Scandinavian independent who coincidentally handled the early publishing of Martin Gore and Vince Clarke. Eschewing the quirkiness of PAGE, THE MOBILE HOMES reflected the more pessimistic side of life often associated with Sweden.

Available on download bundle ‘Feeling Better’ via Universal Music

http://www.themobilehomes.se/


ARMY OF LOVERS Obsession (1991)

An almost cartoonish trio originally comprising of Alexander Bard, Jean-Pierre Barda and La Camilla, ARMY OF LOVERS countered their outlandish visual presence with catchy electronic dance tunes influenced by the hippy musical ‘Hair’. While the epic ‘Crucify’ was the huge worldwide hit, the musically more subtle ‘Obsession’ offered a softer side while still maintaining the cinematic drama.

Available on the album ‘Massive Luxury Overdose’ via China Records

https://www.facebook.com/armyofloversofficial/


S.P.O.C.K Never Trust A Klingon (1992)

In parallel with PAGE, Eddie Bengtsson joined vocalist Alexander Hofman  to write and perform some ‘Star Trek’ themed songs for a friend’s Trekkie themed birthday party. . Originally called MR SPOCK, the band name was changed to an acronym for ‘Star Pilot On Channel K’ after threats of legal action from Paramount Studios. ‘Never Trust A Klingon’ is still their crowning moment, a genius combination of deadpan vocals, bubbling synthpop and samples from Captain James T Kirk.

Available on the album ‘Five Year Mission’ via Energy Rekords

http://www.subspace.se/spock/


ELEGANT MACHINERY Hard To Handle (1993)

Founded in 1988, ELEGANT MACHINERY were another act who preferred a purer synthpop stance; they even covered SPANDAU BALLET’s ‘To Cut A Long Story Short’ in the style of Vince Clarke for an excellent 1995 Energy Rekords tribute collection of the same name. Many consider ‘Hard To Handle’ their finest song, an excellent blend of dance friendly beats and blippy melodies.

Available on the album ‘Shattered Grounds’ via Energy Rekords

http://elegantmachinery.se/


COVENANT Bullet (2002)

Formed in 1986 in Helsingborg, the Eskil Simonsson fronted COVENANT managed to gain a footing in both synthpop and EBM camps, achieving great success in North America from touring the alternative electronic club network established following the stateside success of DEPECHE MODE. Still going strong, 2016 saw the release of their ninth long player ‘Blinding Dark’.

Available on the album ‘Northern Light’ via Metroplis Records

http://www.covenant.se/


THE KNIFE Pass This On (2003)

Sibling duo THE KNIFE are probably the acclaimed electronic act to emerge from Sweden. Their uncompromising approach has won them many plaudits. But there was a time when with their experimentation came a tune too. The wonderful ‘Pass This On’ took Karin Dreijer’s unsettling pitch shifted vocals and placed them over brother Olaf’s soundtrack of primitive string machine and uplifting steel drums. Things got much darker after this…

Available on the album ‘Deep Cuts’ via Braille Records

http://theknife.net/


ROBYN Who’s That Girl? (2005)

Tired of her label BMG trying to turn her into the Swedish CHRISTINA AGUILERA, ROBYN took began taking an interest in the electronic movement closer to home. Inspired by THE KNIF, she collaborated with them to produce what is now possibly the key song which transformed Robin Miriam Carlsson into the successful independently minded artist she is today.

Available on the album ‘Robyn’ via Konichiwa Records

http://robyn.com/


EMMON Rock D’Amour (2007)

Best known as a member of the cult Swedish indie band PARIS, singer and keyboardist Emma Nylén had aspirations to produce something that was more decisively electronic. Her first recordings immediately showcased a catchy dance friendly sound as exemplified by ‘Rock D’Amour’. Subsequent albums ‘Closet Wanderings’ and ‘Nomme’ have maintained the standard, although EMMON is currently on a career break to raise a family.

Available on the album ‘The Art & The Evil’ via Wonderland Records

https://www.facebook.com/Emmon-240551649322636/


SISTA MANNEN PÅ JORDEN Allt Är Klart (2007)

Eddie Bengstsson’s solo project, also referred to as SMPJ, saw him unafraid to mine his Synth Britannia influences. ‘Allt Är Klart’ was an ULTRAVOX tribute and effectively a Swedish vocal version of the instrumental B-side ‘Alles Klar’. The hard, staccato synth bassline was borrowed from the original, but the track was bolstered by some superb whirring synths in the tradition of Billy Currie’s adventures with the ARP Odyssey.

Available on the album ‘Tredje Våningen’ via Energy Rekords

http://www.moonbasealpha.space/


ASHBURY HEIGHTS Spiders (2008)

Combining dual male / female vocals with a danceable electro goth backdrop, Anders Hagström and Yasmine Uhlin achieved success in Germany as well as Sweden with ‘Spiders’. ASHBURY HEIGHTS came out of hiatus in 2015 with a new female vocalist Tea F Thimé and a new album ‘The Looking Glass Society’ after a settling a despite with their label Out Of Line.

Available on the EP ‘Morningstar In A Black Car’ via Out Of Line Records

https://www.facebook.com/ashbury.heights/


BWO Lay Your Love On Me (2008)

BODIES WITHOUT ORGANS or BWO saw PAGE’s Marina Schiptjenko teaming up Alexander Bard from ARMY OF LOVERS in a project that has probably come closest to exploiting the musicality of ABBA for the 21st Century. Fronted by the extremely handsome Martin Rolinski, the classic pop tradition of the original Super Swedes was more than obvious on the mightily bonkers ‘Lay Your Love On Me’ which they entered for Eurovision.

Available on the album ‘Pandemonium’ via Capitol Records

https://www.facebook.com/bodieswithoutorgans/


KLEERUP Longing For Lullabies (2008)

Producer Andreas Kleerup hit paydirt with ‘With Every Heartbeat’, a collaboration with ROBYN. A marvellous self-titled album followed with ‘Longing For Lullabies’ featuring Neneh Cherry’s sister Titiyo being the tearful highlight. Despite being driven with raw mechanical beats, the simple vocal melody was simple, almost keyboard-like going up and down the ivory scale in the best tradition of OMD while Titiyo’s vocal range made it a bit Agnetha and Annifrid too!

Available on the album ‘Kleerup’ via EMI Records

https://www.facebook.com/kleerupmusic/


KARIN PARK Ashes (2009)

One established artist who made a volte face in the wake of THE KNIFE was KARIN PARK. It was on more her ROBYN-esque third album ‘Ashes To Gold’ that she sowed the seeds of her current electronic template. The synthpop disco of ‘Ashes’ fused electronic counterpoints and a live bass guitar with an incessant groove while Miss Park provided her enticing vocal presence.

Available on the album ‘Ashes To Gold’ via Young Aspiring Professionals

https://www.facebook.com/karinpark/


NIKI & THE DOVE DJ, Ease My Mind (2010)

Another act formed under the spectre of THE KNIFE, Stockholm duo Malin Dahlström and Gustaf Karlöf released ‘Mother Protect’ as a free download to launch NIKI & THE DOVE. Then came ‘DJ, Ease My Mind’; shaped by a ritualistic percussive mantra and whirring sub-bass, Dahlström’s witchy mannerisms provided the surreal scenario of what the Dreijers might have sounded like if they had decided to enter Eurovision.

Available on the album ‘Instinct’ via Mercury Records

http://www.nikiandthedove.com/


DAYBEHAVIOR Silent Dawn (2011)

Having issued their first album ‘:Adored’ in 1996 and their second ‘Have You Ever Touched A Dream?’ in 2004, ‘Silent Dawn’ was a single released as part of DAYBEHAVIOR‘s much vaunted comeback. The song was an exploration in laid back filmic pop and breathy continental vocals that wouldn’t have sounded out of place in Italian art movie. Indeed their most recent single ‘Change’ was also released in an alternative Italian language version, naturally titled ‘Cambiare’.

Available on the album ‘Follow That Car!’ via Graplur

https://www.facebook.com/DayBehavior/


KITE Step Forward (2011)

KITE have been called “Sweden’s best kept pop-secret”; Nicklas Stenemo and Christian Berg have undoubtedly been producing some of the best electronic pop of the last few years. Only releasing EPs, things started to truly come together on their fourth release ‘IV’. From it, ‘Step Forward’ with its sharp percussive drama and pentatonic overtones was the undoubted highlight. More recently, the duo have been commissioned to provide a song for a new Steven Segal film.

Available on the EP ‘IV’ via Progress Productions

https://www.facebook.com/KiteHQ/


CLUB 8 Stop Taking My Time (2013)

With Karolina Komstedt’s dramatically assertive vocal and a bursting bassline from Johan Angergård, CLUB 8 showed in a crisp 180 seconds with ‘Stop Taking Time’ that a danceable electronic tune didn’t have to be a journey into death by four-to-the-floor. Formed in 1995 as a more conventional pop act, CLUB 8’s most recent album ‘Pleasure’ celebrated 20 years for the duo.

Available on the album ‘Above The City’ via Labrador Records

http://www.club-8.org/


MACHINISTA Molecules & Carbon (2014)

MACHINISTA are seasoned hands, John Lindqwister was part of CAT RAPES DOG while Richard Flow was in VISION TALK with the late Krister Petersson. Their mantra is produce synthpop with a rock’n’roll edge. Like THE CURE gone electronic, or ALPHAVILLE crossed with SUICIDE, ‘Molecules & Carbon’ is both catchy and danceable with some suitably rousing elements too.

Available on the album ‘Xenoglossy’ via Analogue Trash

http://www.machinistamusic.com/


IAMAMIWHOAMI Chasing Kites (2014)

First launched via a set of mysterious viral videos with alphanumeric code titles, IAMAMIWHOAMI helmed by vocalist Jonna Lee and producer Claes Björklund premiered a delightfully odd cinematic electronic sound. From the second album ‘Blue’, the rich Scandipop of ‘Chasing Kites’ sees Jonna Lee hitting those ABBA-esque high notes with ablomb before adopting a huskier register for the second half.

Available on the album ‘Blue’ via To Whom It May Concern

http://towhomitmayconcern.cc/creators/iamamiwhoami


JOHAN BAECKSTROM Synth Is Not Dead (2015)

A touching tribute to Messrs Clarke, Gore, Hütter and Schneider, JOHAN BAECKSTROM said “I guess I just wanted to reflect on the fact that there still IS a synthpop scene with some really great bands, both old and new. In another way, the song is sort of my ‘thank you’ to some of the artists that inspired me for several decades – some of them are mentioned in the lyrics, but far from all of course”.

Available on the EP ‘Come With Me’ via Progress Productions

https://www.facebook.com/bstrommusic/


TWICE A MAN High In The Clouds (2015)

Founded by Dan Söderqvist and Karl Gasleben, TWICE A MAN were the opposite to many Swedish acts in that they used synths and electronic effects for more sombre atmospheric soundscapes rather than performing outright pop. Still operating as a unit, their 2015 album ‘Presence’ featuring epic environmental message songs like ‘High In The Clouds’ showed their talents have not waned over the years and indeed have become more accessible.

Available on the album ‘Presence’ via Ad Inexplorata

http://www.twiceaman.com/


VANBOT Trooper (2015)

After her inconclusive self-titled debut album in 2011, VANBOT aka Ester Ideskog had a rethink and started venturing into artier climes with the dreamy and enigmatic ‘Trooper’. With layers of vocals and rushes of lush synth, it started a journey towards the otherworldly template of IAMAMIWHOAMI. Her icy journey continues on her next album ‘Siberia’ which was written and recorded on a 17 day trip aboard the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Available on the album ‘Perfect Storm’ via Lisch Recordings

http://www.vanbotmusic.com/


REIN I Don’t Get Anything But Sh*t From You (2016)

Feisty, ambitious and not to be messed with, REIN has certainly caused a stir with Europe’s male dominated EBM scene. A true Rebel Girl as suggested by one of the highlights from her self-titled debut 2016 EP, even within the inherent shouty nature of the genre and Joanna Reinikainen’s debut song ‘Can’t Handle Me’ effectively being a mission statement, things are ramped up to 11 on ‘I Don’t Get Anything But Sh*t From You’. She’s an artist to watch for sure…

Available on the single ‘I Don’t Get Anything but Shit from You’ via Playground

https://www.facebook.com/reinelectronic/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
18th February 2017, updated 3rd November 2018

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