‘Men In A Frame’ is the new conceptual long player by Belgian duo METROLAND, celebrating the art form of photography.
Perhaps slightly confusingly, it does not contain ‘Man In A Frame’, their previous single release from earlier in 2018. But “Have you ever dwelled on the numerous occasions where you became an anonymous ingredient of countless, randomly taken pictures? Regardless the occasion or location, people tend to participate involuntarily in these momentums, clueless or lacking any grasp on further processing or broadcasting”
That thus is the idea behind ‘Men In A Frame’… Passenger S and Passenger A joined forces with five Belgian professional photographers from an art co-operative called F-8 (pronounced as ‘Faith’) whereby each photographer carefully relinquished two unique pictures with enigmatic and occasionally cryptic titles for METROLAND to add electronic soundtracks to produce ten ‘Pictures To Listen To’; the collaboration between fine art and music ultimately acted as an exhibitive launch platform for the album.
The sumptuous Renault yellow packaging contains a well-presented booklet of each photograph along with accompanying prose by each of the five photographers Bert Daenen, Kristel Nijskens, Patrick Verbessem, Steven Colin and Caroline Tanghe plus additional commentary from METROLAND themselves.
Opening number ‘Concrete Witness’ offers a windy atmosphere that grows within its percolating arpeggios and rhythmic build, while ‘B-old’ starts well with those classic METROLAND beats and synth melodies over its seven minutes.
Something a bit different, the vibrant ‘Shades of Pale’ pulses away with hiccup voice generations, but is spoiled by the growling rock flavoured “shade of pale” sample. The synthetic bass rumble of ‘Proiezione 41-828’ is almost EBM with a penetrating metronomic Schaffel beat, while ‘La Macchia D’Acqua’ percussively uses more aggressive sounds than listeners may have been used to previously with METROLAND.
Beginning with Sakamoto-like textural passages, ‘The Speed Of Life III’ has drama in its steadfast rhythms with frantic arpeggios adding to the fun. The enjoyable ‘Creative Rose’ could be KARL BARTOS collaborating with OMD, while the widescreen sweep accompanying the punchy and almost pentatonic ‘Trust’ is possibly the album’s best track.
Steadier with use of chipmunk vocal samples recalling JEAN-MICHEL JARRE and his ‘Zoolook’ sample opus, ‘Hope’ exhibits a pretty melodic interface. Closing ‘Men In A Frame’, ‘Next Choice’ electrifies with a hypnotic rhythmic backbone, the coda ringing and crashing in true METROLAND fashion with a clear female voice repeating “you have reached your destination…” – perhaps less immediate compared with previous METROLAND long players, what ‘Men In A Frame’ does have is development in its strength of conception, while maintaining the presentation standards of their back catalogue.
Belgium’s favourite passengers METROLAND marked their fifth anniversary in 2017 with ‘12×12’, a lavish 4CD boxed set celebrating their career to date, with each disc following a distinct curative path.
The journey began when their mechanised synthpop impressed audiences via the debut long player ‘Mind The Gap’, a conceptual celebration of the London Underground.
Indeed, it impressed so much that unscrupulous Russians bootleggers attempted to pass off several tracks as new KRAFTWERK demos on eBay! This undoubtedly was a back-handed compliment, especially as METROLAND had fans who included Andy McCluskey and Rusty Egan. This led to remix commissions from both Synth Britannia pioneers.
METROLAND kindly took time out from their studio for a chat with The Electricity Club about their new single ‘Man In A Frame’ and what they have planned for their first ever performance in the UK.
How do you think the ’12×12’ retrospective collection box has been received?
This 4-CD-compilation, a kind of best of or anthology, which ’12×12′ really is, was well thought over. We wanted to give something rare and new to the fans who have been following us since long, but also wanted to give a complete view of our trajectory so far for new fans. All in all, we did well and the reviews that we found online confirmed that.
METROLAND are prolific and amongst all the hits were the great B-sides and bonus tracks like ‘(We Need) Machines Without Romance’, ‘The Hindenburg Landing’ and ‘See You’, what do you get out of constructing these extras?
We are both musicians that were mainly inspired during the 80s, where a 7” single (on vinyl) would always contain an extra track, a so-called B-side.
For us, any single that we release, downloadable or not, has to have this B-side which gives us an opportunity to experiment with other structures or sounds or use songs we believe are just not strong enough to appear on a full length. Knowing that we always work in concepts, it is also logical to us that both songs are entwined within the concept we’re working on. It is as logical as saying 1 + 1 equals 2.
One track that was missing from the collection was your brilliant “has to be heard to be believed” cover of ‘Close To Me’ originally recorded by THE CURE?
Thanks for the compliment. ‘Close To Me’ was fun or even a challenge to make it like we did, by not singing anything ourselves, but only using sampled voices to complete the lyrics. It was a completely unexpected appearance where we opted to make it a METROLAND interpretation rather than a cover version.
Truth be told, it was part of the demo-and-rarities CD within the ’12×12′ compilation, but our label wanted to keep this cover version exclusively for THE CURE ‘A Strange Play’ tribute CD that they released. We toyed with the idea for a while to make a new version, but that idea was discarded as we had plenty of other goodies to choose from.
Obviously, METROLAND’s output forms distinct concepts within each of their parent albums, but which five individual tracks would you recommend to people listening to METROLAND for the first time and why?
First of all, ‘The Passenger’ as the electronics used there, and the message within, sets the core idea of METROLAND: electronics with no boundaries and we are all Passengers (notice the capital letter).
Secondly, ‘Thalys’, our most epic, yet minimal track, up to date. It is clearly our ‘T.E.E’, but it also marks the moment where influences from Düsseldorf started to wither.
Thirdly, though not a single, would be ‘3 Directors’ from the ‘Triadic Ballet’ album. It gives clear insight in our musical vision to use both melodies and obvious more aggressive bass lines. It’s also a bliss to play on stage.
And finally ‘Cube’, as despite being an atypical song, it shows that METROLAND now and then dares to touch and explore unfamiliar grounds.
Which of the METROLAND long players do you still get a lot of satisfaction from?
Passenger A likes ‘Triadic Ballet’, as it’s still the album that has the most punch and pure electronics.
Passenger S still fancies all we did and cannot pick out one release he is particularly fond of. After each release you want to do better than the previous ones. That is the satisfaction we get.
‘Man In A Frame’ is the new single from METROLAND, what is at the centre of its genesis?
The title of the new single was actually the starting trigger about 2 years ago, but due to the album ‘Things Will Never Sound The Same Again’ that we created to commemorate Louis Zachert, our close friend and sound engineer that died too soon, and the fact that we existed 5 years in 2017 and made ‘12×12’, including a new track and video clip, the complete single and album was shifted severely.
The main idea in short, is that as an unknown person, a spot that can be ignored, you can be part of a photograph without knowing or without consent on so many locations and occasions. You are solely “a man in a frame” that travels the world without knowing where you end up. That sole moment, that sole focus, that static view. We built upon that idea to make the new album, to be released later in 2018.
What direction is the new METROLAND album heading in, is there anything you can reveal?
So our fourth album is called ‘Men In A Frame’… please notice the subtle change in the title of the ‘Man In A Frame’ single, so watch your writing.
The concept for the ‘Men In A Frame’ album is all about photography. The trigger was easy: a person never has a clue on how many occasions he ends up in a picture taken by someone else, getting framed (in the background by accidentally passing or being present) and ready to travel the world.
You should go and stand in your neighbourhood close to a monument and see for yourself how many times tourists take you home in that frame, thus the name of the album.
But the album is of course not just holding plain tourist pictures, like you might expect. For ‘Men In A Frame’, we co-operated with F-8, an art and photography collective of 5 professional photographers. They each provided us with 2 unique, arty pictures, gave each an apt title which we then used as inspirational trigger for our electronics. With some it was the picture itself, some the title or even sometimes it was the sentiment or interpretation of the artifact itself.
The result is an album with 10 tracks, that are, and to put it in the words of our label boss “epic and filmic”. As we were dealing with photography, we decided to extend the concept and asked each F-8 member to make promotional pictures of us, humble passengers, so we ended up being models in 5 totally different settings with a superb visual result.
During the creative process, we concluded that in fact we would be delivering 10 pictures that you can listen to. This triggered us to organize a vernissage with 2 goals: 1 is to bring the new album into the picture (pun intended), the other is to present all 10 album pictures in a highly qualitative medium, hanging on a wall, where the audience can use their smartphone to access the corresponding song that they can listen to with headphones.
So we will have an audience of listening viewers, which is unique, we think. This exposition will be called ‘Pictures To Listen To’. At his moment, we have already 1 expo like this planned, but we are conducting discussions with art exhibitionists to take this event to other big cities. That is on the art part.
Musically, we decided not to use any album track as a single, as it simply would not fit the concept of a song linked to a photograph anymore. Hence, we opted for a first single, called ‘Man In A Frame’, which was initially the first trigger for this concept altogether.
2017 has been a big year for electronic albums, so what are your thoughts on the year’s offerings by DEPECHE MODE, ERASURE, GOLDFRAPP, LCD SOUNDSYSTEM, OMD, GARY NUMAN and BLANCMANGE?
For Passenger A, that is a difficult and very personal question, to be honest, as it comes down to personal taste. Only OMD was convincing enough with some very good tracks, although ‘English Electric’ was more impacting. ERASURE and GOLDFRAPP was not the first disappointment. LCD SOUNDSYSTEM and GARY NUMAN were never on the radar at all, and BLANCMANGE needs a first listen.
For Passenger S, it is a personal matter of taste indeed, because he feels as an artist himself, he is not to judge albums in interviews. Every release by a band has got a certain place and meaning in their history and it needs to be respected for that. There will always be people / fans that like or dislike a release.
The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to METROLAND
‘Man In A Frame’ is released by Alfa Matrix on 2nd February 2018, download bundles including the B-side ’F-8’ plus remixes by THE FRIXION and MASCHINE BRENNT available from https://alfamatrix.bandcamp.com/
“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.
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.
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’.
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
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.
In 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.
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.
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.
LITTLE 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’.
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!”
No 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.
This 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.
‘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.
On 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.”
Indie 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
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
‘12×12’ sees Belgium’s favourite passengers reach the five year mark in their musical journey…
It’s the story of METROLAND so far, celebrated in a lavish 4CD boxed set with 14 beautifully informative art cards and the carefully crafted conceptual presentation that came with their second album ‘Triadic Ballet’. It is a beautiful art piece on its own, but the music contained is of a high quality as well.
The journey began when their mechanised synthpop impressed audiences via the debut long player ‘Mind The Gap’, so much so that unscrupulous Russians bootleggers pirated several of the tracks and attempted to pass them off as new KRAFTWERK demos on eBay!
This undoubtedly was a back-handed compliment, especially as fans of METROLAND included Ralf, Florian, Karl and Wolfgang aficionados like Andy McCluskey and Rusty Egan. Certainly with KRAFTWERK today seemingly residing in 3D electro-cabaret, Passenger A and Passenger S have certainly filled a gap in the market. But without doubt, METROLAND have proved themselves more than just KRAFTWERK imitators over the last 60 months.
With each of the 4CDs following a distinct curative path, the ‘12≠12’ volume compiles the radio edits and short versions for an easily digestible introduction to the Mechelen duo. One thing METROLAND have especially managed better than KRAFTWERK, even in full length album form, is an understanding that tracks do NOT necessarily have to go on for ages.
‘12≠12’ is ideal for a cautious introduction with a listen over a cup of hot chocolate with friends. Beginning with the brilliance of ‘The Passenger’, a robotic number inspired by the tune which the former James Newell Osterberg wrote and recorded with a certain David Bowie, this has to be heard to be believed.
The ‘small’ version of the most recent single ‘Cube’ proves that METROLAND have moved on with the spectre of ORBITAL looming, while ‘Re-design’ acts as a fine bite-size sampler of the epic three part 11 minute adventure of ‘Design’ from ‘Triadic Ballet’.
But the touching ‘soul mix’ of ‘Brother’ is where METROLAND reveal an unexpected emotiveness in a fine tribute to their departed engineer and friend Louis Zachert aka Passenger L, thanks partly to a manipulated voice sample with echoes of angels and ghosts…
The ’12×12’ disc collects the longer versions and assorted extended remixes. Particularly enjoyable is the 12inch ‘Subway version’ of METROLAND’s tribute to Harry Beck, the London Underground’s map designer, and the previously unavailable ‘Troisieme Etape’ take on ‘Thalys’. Meanwhile, the toughened up ‘Headphone’ mix of ‘Under The Roof’ provides a powerful accompaniment on any peak time commute.
Best of all, as far as the concept curation on ‘12×12’ goes, is the ‘12+12’ disc featuring various B-sides and non-album songs. Here, some of METROLAND’s bolder experiments outside of the long playing format come into play.
The haunting trauma of ‘The Hindenburg Landing’ contains the harrowing report by journalist Herbert Morrison recorded at the time of that fiery airship disaster in New Jersey.
Meanwhile the brilliant uptempo attack of ‘(We Need) Machines Without Romance’ imagines a fantasy collaboration between GARY NUMAN and KRAFTWERK.
Despite these darker offerings, METROLAND can do sunny side up too as on ‘Vers La Cote D’Azure’, while the brilliant non-album single ‘2013’ is embroiled in the bright and cheery optimism of a new annum.
‘See You’ is Passenger A and Passenger S having fun with electronic improvisations based around a vocal sample from a MARSHEAUX cover of the early DEPECHE MODE tune and while not strictly a B-side as such, the tightly packaged 7 inch version of ‘Inner City Transport’ is sheer synthetic joy.
The fourth disc bears the title ‘x+≠’ and features assorted rarities such as demo versions, unissued songs and unreleased remixes, all of which are only available in this physical format. The amusing ‘Smoking Is Not Permitted’ and the sparkling technopop of ‘The Elephant’ are among some of the great melodies previously discarded, while the more austere ‘Space Age’ offers a hazier approach that differs from what became ‘The Manifesto’.
Passenger S said: “We wanted to do something more than just a best of, we wanted to tell a story… and I hope we achieved what our fans expect from us, and that the compilation gets picked up by many others as well…”
Definitely more than just a best of, ’12×12′ presents an anthology with side anecdotes and “what if” scenarios. There is something for everyone who is a fan of European electronic music, especially those blessed with an appreciation for something more tangibly visionary.
“A cube is also a square parallelepiped, an equilateral cuboid and a right rhombohedron. A cube has 6 faces, 12 edges, and 8 vertices”
Belgium’s favourite passengers METROLAND are back to celebrate their fifth anniversary with a lushly packed, supremely designed 4CD boxed artefact entitled ’12×12′.
To launch it, the duo have released the ORBITAL-like spy drama technopop of ‘Cube’ as a single.
Captive in symmetry, ‘Cube’ comes with a corresponding video which director Passenger N says is “about how it’s useless to look around everywhere, all you have to do is to think about who you are and you’ll find people like you that will help you to be yourself”
Of the upcoming ‘12×12’ set, Passenger S told The Electricity Club: “We toyed with a ‘best of’ for some time, but compilations tend to be boring, adding not much interesting to people who already know you as a band. And so we exchanged ideas for 8 months and the result is the 4CD box ’12×12’”.
Each CD will follow a concept, with ’12×12’ collecting the duo’s 12 inch versions, ‘12+12’ featuring various B-sides or non-album songs and ‘12≠12’ compiling radio edits. However, the 4th CD with the title ‘x+≠’ will feature rarities such as demo versions, unreleased songs and unreleased remixes that will be available in physical format only. That said, the download version will include three exclusive mixes.
Passenger S concluded: “we wanted to do something more than just a ‘best of’, we wanted to tell a story. This is something for the true fans…”