Tag: Paul Humphreys (Page 1 of 5)

OMD Souvenir

OMD have been a recording unit for 40 years and The Electricity Club has been attending their gigs for 39 of them!

A recent cartoon meme went “I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things” and that sums up OMD in a nutshell.

The subjects in Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys’ music have included the suicide of a charismatic musician, the suicide of a woman who worked as a stripper because she had no other means of supporting herself, the racially motivated massacre of five innocent demonstrators by the Ku Klux Klan, the death of over 100,000 people by nuclear attack and most notably on two hit singles, the brutal execution of a teenage girl!

It’s been a glorious achievement so to celebrate their four decade anniversary, OMD have issued their ‘Souvenir’, a lavish deluxe boxed set containing 5CDs, 2 DVDs, a hardback book, a fold-out poster and a set of quality 10 inch silver-on-black art card reproductions of sleeves such as ‘Electricity’ and ‘Telegraph’.

However, for the more cautious consumer, the set is also available as a truncated 2CD 40 track singles collection concluding with the brilliant new song ‘Don’t Go’; a great grandchild of Klingklang and cousin of ‘Metroland’ from ‘English Electric’ refined for BBC Radio2 airplay, it captures the essence of OMD’s enduring electronic appeal.

With crystalline melodies from Paul Humphreys and a spirited vocal delivery from Andy McCluskey attached to a hypnotic Synthanorma backdrop, it is a better career spanning trailer than ‘Dreaming’ was for 1988’s first greatest hits ‘The Best of OMD’.

As a definitive singles anthology, also included are the superior single mix of ‘Shame’ produced by Rhett Davies, the under rated wintery soundscape of ‘Never Turn Away’ and the pretty ‘Pachelbel’s Canon tribute ‘La Femme Accident’. However, the inclusion of everything means that although OMD released that sublime singles series of ‘Messages’, ‘Enola Gay’, ‘Souvenir’, ‘Joan Of Arc’ and ‘Maid Of Orleans’, they were also capable of total stinkers like ‘Stand Above Me’ and ‘If You Want It’!

While the singles are known by many, when assisting with the remastering of the first four OMD albums at Abbey Road, a visit by Paul Humphreys to the huge EMI tape archive near Heathrow to check and annotate the correct versions, uncovered a treasure trove of shelved recordings and demos.

The reels of vintage tapes were then baked to minimise risk of breakage and after some thoughtful listening and reminiscing, he compiled and painstakingly mixed a selection of unreleased songs and ideas to become ‘Unreleased Archive Vol1’

Paul Humphreys told The Electricity Club: “I found 22 tracks, some of which are full songs and some are just experiments that were never developed, but I had great fun mixing them. I mixed them only using FX and E’s that we would have used at the period, spring reverbs, crappy delays and Eventide Harmonisers. I had so much fun doing them and there are a couple of absolute gems in there! The big take away for me in this whole exercise was to see how we used to work, pre-computers.”

Although it was known that OMD had a number of unreleased songs in the vaults and several featured on the 2014 reissue of ‘Junk Culture’, the revelation that there was enough material to make up a 56 minute CD was a surprise.

“We basically used to lay down 5 minutes of one idea, then when we wanted a change of chord, we’d drop in the new section on different tracks, so on the desk we’d have to hand mute the first idea so they wouldn’t play together.” elaborated Humphreys, “But of course I can’t remember where to mute things now as I barely even remember the songs themselves, never mind what our vision was at the time, so I was left with a giant puzzle working out what tracks have to be on or off at certain points of the song…”

It all begins with the wonderful ‘Brand New Science’ recorded in 1981, a gloriously haunting and minimal slice of synthpop. The lyrics “there’s a brand new science, for a brand new world, with no moral codes and no big words…” actually appeared in the ‘Dazzle Ships’ tour programme of 1983, which begs the question as to how a recording of such quality was left off the parent album? However, a bizarre interview by McCluskey and Humphreys for BBC Radio1 with Richard Skinner from the period highlighted that other distractions may have come into play.

Although Andy McCluskey states in the accompanying notes that “it didn’t work”, ‘Dumbomb’ from 1986 with its wordplay, symphonic synthetic strings and Shakuhachi samples coupled to a rousing chorus is actually very charming, despite obviously needing more work.

Born to hand jive, the superb 1985 vintage of ‘Liberator’ sees OMD doing electro rock ‘n’ roll with a rhythmic backbone like a collaboration with BOW WOW WOW! It is certainly better than ‘Maria Gallante’ which was released from the same sessions as a B-side to ‘So In Love’ and beats hands down most of the contents on the eventual 1993 McCluskey steered long player that was actually called ‘Liberator’.

Fully formed songs from ‘The Pacific Age’ era such as ‘Cut Me Down’ and ‘Cajun Moon’ reveal their Fairlighted origins and a mish-mash of styles; the former features an oddball mix of LA DÜSSELDORF and jazz, while the latter showcases a love of PRINCE but oddly sounds like DURAN DURAN offshoot ARCADIA and their ‘Say The Word’, a song that appeared in the film ‘Playing For Keeps’ to which OMD also contributed an early version of ‘We Love You’.

From the musique concrète inspired experiments of the ‘Dazzle Ships’ period, ‘Radio Swiss International’ (affectionately referred to  by OMD drummer Mal Holmes as “the ice cream song”) is coldly eerie with drifting synth drones and signal interference alongside the station call sign. Meanwhile of the earliest recordings from 1980, ‘Organ Ditty’ is just that, while ‘Ambient 1’ has the ringing melodic bones of 2013’s ‘Our System’ and the speedy ‘Unused 1’ was probably not developed due to its inherent similarity to the theme from ‘Stanlow’.

Fairlight driven demos from the ‘Crush’ and ‘The Pacific Age’ make up the majority of the actual songs on ‘Unreleased Archive Vol1’ and ‘Weekend’ shows potential; on closer scrutiny, it is actually not that dissimilar to ‘Final Song’ from 2013’s ‘English Electric’.

Understandably, not all the material is of such high quality but most of it is at least interesting. The motorik ‘Untitled 2’ from 1981 is undoubtedly a blueprint for ‘Genetic Engineering’, a song that itself influenced by Brian Eno’s ‘China My China’.

But the kosmische template is taken further on ‘Guitar Thrash’ from 1982 which sees OMD emulating NEU! in a more blatant manner. Continuing the Brian Eno connection, ‘Violin Piece’ is a 1982 recording of yes, Andy McCluskey trying to master a violin that comes over like an audition for THE PORTSMOUTH SINFONIA.

1990’s ‘American Venus’ from when Humphreys and McCluskey were drifting apart musically sees the front man playing around with vocoder dressing, which is at least closer to what could be considered as sounding more like OMD than the Latin brass-assisted romp of ‘Dynamo Children’ which sees them amusingly mutate into MODERN ROMANCE! Then there’s also the 1990 waltz of ‘Flamenco’ laced with its Spanish and blues guitar samples.

The bones of a percussive sketch come with 1984’s ‘Flutey’ before ‘Unreleased Archive Vol1’ closes with ‘Nice Ending’ which does exactly what it says on the tin with a choral typewriter collage constructed in 1981.

The labelling indicates there will be an ‘Unreleased Archive Vol2’ but what could be included on it? There is a Paul Humphreys song entitled ‘Suspicion’ which was discussed in the 1988 fan club newsletter, while McCluskey’s theme for the Danny Boyle directed political drama ‘For The Greater Good’ has yet to receive a formal release. Then there’s ballads such as ‘Kiss Of Death’ and Twins’ which were left off ‘Liberator’ due to their more introspective outlook.

Meanwhile from the same time as they recorded THE XX’s ‘VCR’ in 2010, there is also known to be a cover of ‘Shelter’ in the can as well. Plus there is a synthpop take on ‘If You’re Still In Love With Me’ which was mooted as a single in 1993 but then re-recorded with a string quartet for 1996’s more organic and traditional ‘Universal’ album and a slowed-down house number called ‘Resist The Sex Act’.

Add in a superb audio document of the 1983 ‘Dazzle Ships’ live presentation (minus ‘Genetic Engineering’ which OMD got badly wrong on that final night of the tour at Hammersmith Odeon), BBC video material like ‘Top Of the Pops’ appearances and the once only broadcasted ‘ORS’ 1985 concert special from Sheffield City Hall plus the documentary ‘Crush The Movie’, ‘Souvenir’ is a worthy manageable package with a wealth of hard-to-get and unreleased material to satisfy OMD enthusiasts.

Yes, OMD have not merely plonked 13 albums into a boxed set… 😉


The ‘Souvenir’ 5CD + 2DVD deluxe boxed set is released by Universal Music

OMD Souvenir 40th Anniversary 2019 – 2020 European + UK Tour, dates include:

Belfast Ulster Hall (23rd October), Dublin Olympia (24th October), Nottingham Royal Concert Hall (26th October), York Barbican (27th October), Hull Arena (28th October), Gateshead Sage (30th October), Glasgow Royal Concert Hall (31st October), Manchester Apollo (1st November), Sheffield City Hall (3rd November), Liverpool Empire (4th November), Birmingham Symphony Hall (5th November), Leicester De Montford Hall (7th November), Bath Pavilion (8th November), Oxford New Theatre (9th November), Guildford G Live (11th November), Portsmouth Guildhall (12th November), Watford Colosseum (13th November), Cambridge Corn Exchange (15th November), Ipswich Regent (16th November), Bexhill De La Warr Pavilion (17th November), Bournemouth Pavilion (19th November), London Hammersmith Apollo (20th November), Rostock Stadthalle (25th November), Dresden Kulturpalast (26th November), Leipzig Haus Auensee (28th November), Berlin Tempodrom (29th November), Hamburg Grosse Freiheit 36 (30th November), Saarbrücken Saarlandhalle (2nd December), Stuttgart Leiderhalle (3rd December), Düsseldorf Mitsubishi Electric-Halle (5th December), Frankfurt Jahrhunderthalle (6th December), Krakow Studio (3rd February), Warsaw Progresja (4th February), Oslo Rockefeller Musichall (7th February), Stockholm Berns (9th February), Malmo KB (10th February), Copenhagen Vega (12th February), Brussels Ancienne Belgique (14th February), Utrecht Tivoli (15th February), Paris La Cigale (16th February)

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

https://www.facebook.com/omdofficial/

https://twitter.com/OfficialOMD

https://www.instagram.com/omdhq/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
20th October 2019

A Beginner’s Guide To OMD

Celebrating their 40th Anniversary, OMD are one of the acts from the Synth Britannia era whose creative powers now are as strong as their chart heyday.

Setting a high standard of romantic retro-futurism with lyrical gists ranging from technology and war to deceased religious figures and long distance relationships, OMD released their debut single ‘Electricity’ in 1979, a statement about the environment that would have made today’s young campaigner Greta Thunberg proud.

Those who complain that OMD’s music is not dark enough often forget that within their highly melodic songs, subjects have included the suicide of a charismatic musician, the suicide of a woman who worked as a stripper because she had no other means of supporting herself, the racially motivated massacre of five innocent demonstrators by the Ku Klux Klan, the death of over 140,000 people by nuclear attack and most notably on two hit singles, the brutal execution of a teenage girl!

Founder members Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys began an impressive run of acclaimed albums and hit singles, starting with the Mike Howlett produced ‘Messages’ in 1980. The huge European popularity of the follow-up ‘Enola Gay’ captured the Cold War angst of the times under the spectre of Mutually Assured Destruction, while ‘Maid Of Orleans’ became the biggest selling single of 1982 in West Germany when Der Bundesrepublik was the biggest Western music market after the USA and Japan.

Long-time drummer Mal Holmes and live keyboardist Martin Cooper joined the fray as full band members for 1983’s ‘Dazzle Ships’ album, but things went creatively awry for OMD as McCluskey and Humphreys found themselves in an existential crisis, following journalistic criticism that songs about dead saints were not going to change the world. The more politically charged and experimental album failed to sell, but has since been re-evaluated in the 21st Century as a meisterwerk.

Bruised and under commercial pressure, OMD opted to pursue more conventional ambitions and traditions to stay in the black and scored the Top5 US hit ‘If You Leave’ from the John Hughes movie ‘Pretty In Pink’ in 1986. However a North American tour opening for DEPECHE MODE in 1988 failed to sustain momentum. In the backdrop of the resultant fallout and the inevitable musical differences, Humphreys, Holmes and Cooper departed, leaving McCluskey with the OMD brand name.

However, the split precipitated a number of interesting artistic and creative diversions for McCluskey and Humphreys which despite the triumphant reunion of the classic line-up in 2007 and the success of OMD’s most recent album ‘The Punishment Of Luxury’ in 2017 , continue in varying degrees today in parallel with band activities.

In his most recent interview with The Electricity Club, Paul Humphreys said: “I still find it utterly amazing and rather fantastic that after 40 years, OMD is still alive and well, selling out big tours and making what even our harshest critics consider to be relevant new records.”

By way of a Beginner’s Guide to showcase the diverse facets of OMD, The Electricity Club has selected a hefty 25 tracks of interest from their career, although largely eschewing those made famous by singular consumption.

But with so many tracks available and the list already being VERY long, links to the OMD family tree like THE ID as well as contributions to the soundtracks of ‘For The Greater Good’, ‘Eddie The Eagle’ and ‘The D-Train’ (which between them saw McCluskey working with notable names such as Danny Boyle, Gary Barlow, Hugh Jackman and Jack Antonoff) have been omitted.

With a restriction of one track per album project, they highlight how two lads from The Wirral have maintained their standing as a creative and cultural force four decades on, despite their numerous ups and downs.


OMD The Messerschmitt Twins (1980)

With their passion for military aircraft and German music, Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys were nicknamed ‘The Messerschmitt Twins’; this mournful Compurhythm driven synth ballad of the same name had mournful if cryptic lyrics which could be seen as the thoughts of aircrew during wartime missions, pondering whether they would return to home. The bleak fatalistic narrative was given further resonance by Andy McCluskey’s resigned vocalisation.

Available on the OMD album ‘Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark’ via Virgin Records

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


OMD 2nd Thought (1980)

The ‘Organisation’ album saw OMD purchase their first polyphonic synthesizer, a Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 which allowed Paul Humphreys to explore more haunting gothic timbres away from the cheesier chords of the Vox Jaguar organ. Shaped by eerie choir textures and a repeating two note synthbass motif set to Mal Holmes’ simple marching snare pattern, the beauty of ‘2nd Thought’ echoed the third section of KRAFTWERK’s ‘Autobahn’ and displayed a maturity in OMD’s developing sound.

Available on the OMD album ‘Organisation’ via Virgin Records

https://www.facebook.com/omdofficial/


OMD Sealand (1981)

Running at almost eight minutes, the nautical adventure of ‘Sealand’ demonstrated OMD’s mastery of the epic, mysteriously beginning with a ghostly collage of melodica and reed horns before sad synths and progressive sweeps made their presence felt. Featuring just a minute of vocals in the sparse middle section, the penultimate movement collapsed into a fit of industrial noise before a slow misty reprise of the main melodic theme, like a lost ship in the fog.

Available on the OMD album ‘Architecture & Morality’ via Virgin Records

https://twitter.com/OfficialOMD


OMD International (1983)

Like ‘Maid Of Orleans’, the harrowing ‘International’ was musically inspired by the skippy waltz of ‘Back In Judy’s Jungle’ by Brian Eno. The introductory news report about “a young girl from Nicaragua whose hands had been cut off at the wrists by the former Somoza guards…” acted as one of the fuels for Andy McCluskey to express his anger about economic corruption, political hypocrisy and torture in captivity, all topics which are still sadly relevant today.

Available on the OMD album ‘Dazzle Ships’ via Virgin Records

https://www.instagram.com/omdhq/


THE PARTNERSHIP Sampling The Blast Furnace (1984)

THE PARTNERSHIP was an unrealised side project of Peter Saville cohort and ex-SPOONS member Brett Wickens with Roger Humphreys (no relation) who recorded as CERAMIC HELLO. Produced by William Orbit,  the pulsatingly uptempo ‘Sampling The Blast Furnace’ featured guest vocals from Andy McCluskey alongside vocodered voices and chants by Martha Ladly. While this version remains unreleased, the slower McCluskey-less demo was on the reissue of CERAMIC HELLO’s only album.

Not officially released, alternate version available on the CERAMIC HELLO album ‘The Absence Of A Canary V1.1’ via Vinyl On Demand

https://www.studiobrettwickens.com/


OMD Apollo (1984)

After the critical mauling that ‘Dazzle Ships’ received, OMD were in debt to Virgin Records and realised that they would have to sell more records to survive. The commercial pressure led to a trip to the sunnier climes of AIR Studios in Monserrat and the musically diverse ‘Junk Culture’. A song about McCluskey’s intimate liaison with a local girl, the bizarre mix of carnival whistles, soca, Mellotron choir, rhythm guitar and 808 driven electro came over a bit like AZTEC CAMERA produced by Arthur Baker.

Available on the OMD album ‘Junk Culture’ via Universal Music

https://www.last.fm/music/Orchestral+Manoeuvres+in+the+Dark


OMD Stay (1986)

1985’s ‘Crush’ was Stephen Hague’s first full album production and opened the doors for OMD’s ambitions in the US. Following the success of ‘If You Leave’, ‘The Pacific Age’ continued the partnership and was intended to reinforce momentum. The opening song ‘Stay’ threw in the kitchen sink from Mal Holmes’ mighty drums to layers of synthetic strings plus the addition of soulful female backing singers, brass and heavy metal guitar. But the esoteric elements that made OMD so appealing were being wiped away.

Available on the OMD album ‘The Pacific Age’ via Virgin Records

https://www.setlist.fm/setlists/orchestral-manoeuvres-in-the-dark-73d6ba31.html


ETIENNE DAHO & OMD So In Love (1986)

The suave and sophisticated Etienne Daho was seen as France’s answer to George Michael. While OMD were in Paris recording ‘The Pacific Age’ at Studio de la Grande Armée, they took part in a ‘Les Enfants Du Rock’ French TV special also which also saw their French label mate interviewing his musical influences like Françoise Hardy and  Serge Gainsbourg. The DAHOMD duet saw Daho and McCluskey low voices blend well over the original Stephen Hague produced single from ‘Crush’.

Available on the ETIENNE DAHO deluxe album ‘Pop Satori’ via Virgin Records

https://dahofficial.com/

ARTHUR BAKER & THE BACKBEAT DISCIPLES Walkaway (1989)

Producer Arthur Baker gathered a studio collective to make a pop record tracing his love of soul, synthpop, disco, HI-NRG and Europop. His first since the fragmentation of OMD, Andy McCuskey contributed lyrics, keyboards and vocals to the electro-reggae of ‘Walkaway’ which threatened to turn into CULTURE CLUB’s ‘Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?’. The vocal cast of the ‘Merge’ album included Al Green, Martin Fry, Jimmy Somerville and Etienne Daho.

Available on the ARTHUR BAKER & THE BACKBEAT DISCIPLES album ‘Merge’ via A&M Records

https://twitter.com/arthurhbaker


OMD Walking On Air (1991)

Going it alone as OMD, Andy McCluskey became open to collaboration. Meeting Stuart Kershaw and Lloyd Massett from pop rap combo RAW UNLTD, the pair set about modernising the rhythmic elements of McCluskey’s new songs. The ghostly ‘Walking On Air’ referenced ‘Statues’ from ‘Organisation’ while the mechanical bossa nova evoked the mellow moods of Bryan Ferry. Kershaw has since taken over the drum stool from Mal Holmes who left OMD in 2014 for health reasons.

Available on the OMD album ‘Sugar Tax’ via Virgin Records

https://www.youtube.com/user/OMDenglishelectric


THE LISTENING POOL Where Do We Go From Here? (1993)

With bursts of sampled choir, electric piano and wah-wah guitar, ‘Where Do We Go From Here?’ came from THE LISTENING POOL’s only album ‘Still Life’ released in 1994. Driven by a gently percolating drum machine programmed by Mal Holmes, the understated air reminiscent of CHINA CRISIS was sweetened by Martin Cooper’s soprano set with Paul Humphreys vocally pondering their creative situation with the threesome having now departed the OMD camp.

Available on the THE LISTENING POOL album ‘Still Life’ via Telegraph Records

https://malholmes.com/the-listening-pool/


ELEKTRIC MUSIC Kissing The Machine (1993)

Recorded for his ELEKTRIC MUSIC project after leaving KRAFTWERK, Karl Bartos’ collaboration with Andy McCluskey featured one of his best melodies synth melodies. Bartos told The Electricity Club: “He suggested we do something together and I was up for it… We picked some cassettes and finally I found the opening notes of ‘Kissing The Machine’”. With fabulously surreal lyrics about a love affair with a sexy robot, the song was later resurrected with new backing from Paul Humphreys for ‘English Electric’.

Available on the ELEKTRIC MUSIC album ‘Esperanto’ via SPV Records

http://www.karlbartos.com/


OMD Best Years Of Our Lives (1993)

On a commercial roll and aiming for a younger pop market, ‘Liberator’ featured lots of busy modern dance effects but saw Andy McCluskey losing his way in the song department. Its confused schizophrenic nature was compounded by the pure genius of darker numbers like ‘King Of Stone’ and ‘Christine’. The symphonic string laden ‘Best Years Of Our Lives’ was another of the better tracks, borrowing its solemn topline from ‘Spanish Harlem’, a song made famous by Ben E King.

Available on the OMD album ‘Liberator’ via Virgin Records

https://www.youtube.com/user/OMDVEVO/videos


OMD The New Dark Age (1996)

After the muted reception for 1993’s painfully poppy ‘Liberator’, Andy McCluskey brought in a more conventional rock sound for 1996’s ‘Universal’. However, the OASIS sounding ‘Walking On The Milky Way’ failed to get major traction. One of its B-sides ‘The New Dark Age’ gave a haunting nod to ‘Statues’ using the auto-accompaniment on the Elgam Symphony organ and was the last great synth song of the solo era as the OMD vehicle was quietly retired by McCluskey… for now!

Available on the OMD single ‘Walking On The Milky Way’ via Virgin Records

https://www.discogs.com/artist/9462-Orchestral-Manoeuvres-In-The-Dark


ATOMIC KITTEN Right Now – Demo version (2000)

When Andy McCluskey joined Stuart Kershaw to make some dysfunctional pop for a girl group, most thought he had lost his marbles. The original project HONEYHEAD was stillborn, but when three girls from Liverpool were recruited to form ATOMIC KITTEN, it eventually led to a UK No1 single with ‘Whole Again’. However, the demo of the first single ‘Right Now’ sounded like disco evergreen ‘Never Can Say Goodbye’ arranged like ‘Sugar Tax’ era OMD, but with female vocals!

Available on the ATOMIC KITTEN single ‘Right Now’ via Innocent Records

https://www.atomickitten.com/


THE GENIE QUEEN What A Girl Goes Through (2005)

Having been ousted from Team AK by coup d’état, Andy McCluskey licked his wounds and recruited another three local girls to form THE GENIE QUEEN. Featuring soon-to-be WAG / top model Abbey Clancy and future TV presenter Anna Ord, ‘What A Girl Goes Through’ was an appealing pop R ’n’ B number based around samples of ‘Souvenir’. The project disbanded without being signed, but a track intended for THE GENIE QUEEN called ‘Pulse’ appeared on ‘History Of Modern’ featuring the girls.

Never officially released

https://twitter.com/anna_ord


ONETWO Anonymous (2007)

Paul Humphreys and Claudia Brücken released their only album as ONETWO in 2007 and from it was ‘Anonymous’, a song that began life as a demo from the aborted PROPAGANDA reunion and which had also been co-written with Andy McCluskey. The pretty ringing melodies and elegiac atmospheres were very reminiscent of classic OMD. But the collaboration had been unusual as at the time of the song’s conception, as Humphreys had not yet committed to rejoining McCluskey in his old band.

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

http://www.claudiabrucken.co.uk/


BLANK & JONES featuring BERNARD SUMNER Miracle Cure – Paul Humphreys Onetwo remix (2008)

Having worked with THE CURE’s Robert Smith, trance duo Piet Blank and Jaspa Jones had Bernard Sumner of NEW ORDER high on their list of vocalists for their album ‘The Logic Of Pleasure’, which also featured Claudia Brücken. The German duo remixed ONETWO’s ‘Kein Anschluß’, so naturally the gesture was reciprocated when Paul Humphreys offered his smooth offbeat atmospheric rework of ‘Miracle Cure’ in what could be seen as the nearest thing to a NEW ORDER vs OMD collaboration.

Available on the BLANK & JONES single ‘Miracle Cure’ via Soulfood

http://www.blankandjones.com/


OMD Green (2010)

Of this ‘History Of Modern’ highlight, Paul Humphreys told The Electricity Club: “It was a song Andy did many, many years ago with Stuart and I think it was done in the 90s. He played it to me and it sounded a bit like a rock ballad. I said ‘I think the vocal tune’s great, but everything else has to go. Give me the vocal stem and I’ll do a whole new track for it’, so I came to my studio and completely reworked it.” – the result was mesmerising and even dropped in ROXY MUSIC’s ‘If There Is Something’ at the close.

Available on the OMD album ‘History Of Modern’ via Blue Noise

https://twitter.com/stukershaw


MIRRORS Secrets – Andy McCluskey remix (2011)

Mal Holmes once said that “MIRRORS do OMD better than OMD do OMD!”… originally a ten minute epic split into three movements, ‘Secrets’ closed MIRRORS’ outstanding ‘Lights & Offerings’ long player, driven by an intense percussive tattoo and a shifting octave bass riff that was pure Klingklang. While pushing forward the synthetic claps, Andy McCluskey stripped down and the backing and shortened proceedings, making it much less claustrophobic and militaristic than the original.

Originally on the MIRRORS deluxe album ‘Lights & Offerings’ via Undo Records, currently unavailable

https://www.facebook.com/theworldofmirrors/


PAUL HUMPHREYS & DOUGLAS COUPLAND Electric Ikebana (2012)

A collaboration between ‘Generation X’ author Douglas Coupland, and Paul Humphreys, ‘Electric Ikebana’ was an audio visual installation to act as the voice of the network for French telecoms company Alcatel-Lucent. The beautiful piece had conceptual hints of KRAFTWERK’s ‘The Voice Of Energy’ while there was also a charming mathematical formula recital “x = [-b +- √(b² -4ac)] / 2a” to the tune of the nursery rhyme ‘Pop Goes The Weasel’ which recalled ‘ABC Auto-Industry’ from ‘Dazzle Ships’.

Not officially released

https://www.coupland.com/


OMD Helen Of Troy (2013)

Of ‘Helen Of Troy’, Andy McCluskey said to The Electricity Club: “George Geranios and Nick Bitzenis of FOTONOVELA were our label bosses in Greece via their Undo Records and they sent me this track…the demo had Nick going “Helen Of Troy – Helen Of Troy” so I took his vocal off as you do, chopped it all up and rearranged it… it’s gorgeous! I have used some of Nick’s backing vocals… I love it to bits! And ‘Helen Of Troy’ is much more of a metaphor than either of the ‘Joan Of Arcs’ were.”

Available on the OMD album ‘English Electric’ via BMG

https://www.facebook.com/undofotonovela/


ERASURE Be The One – Paul Humphreys remix (2014)

Andy Bell’s debut solo album ‘Electric Blue’ had been produced by ONETWO’s backing band THE MANHATTAN CLIQUE and featured two duets with Claudia Brücken. ‘The Violet Flame’ album saw ERASURE express an infectious zest for the future with songs beginning as pre-recorded dance grooves from Vince Clarke. But the best number from the sessions was ‘Be The One’ remixed by Paul Humphreys who added some of the beautiful Synthwerk magic that characterised ‘English Electric’.

Available on the compilation album ‘The Electricity Club’ (V/A) via Amour Records

http://www.erasureinfo.com


VILE ELECTRODES The Vanished Past (2016)

The avant pop approach of VILE ELECTRODES is reminiscent of early OMD, with ‘Deep Red’ capturing Andy McCluskey’s interest enough to invite the duo to support the German leg of the ‘English Electric’ tour. With its potent drama, ‘The Vanished Past’ came complete with a mighty drum climax like ‘Navigation’. Bleak and wonderful, “not everything is as it seems” as a forlorn stranger joins in after five minutes. As the adventure unfolds like a lost OMD epic, that stranger reveals himself to be Mr McCluskey!

Available on the VILE ELECTRODES album ‘In the Shadows of Monuments’ via https://vileelectrodes.bandcamp.com/album/in-the-shadows-of-monuments

http://www.vileelectrodes.com/


OMD Don’t Go (2019)

OMD began their recorded career with a KRAFTWERK homage and four decades on, have come full circle. A great grandchild of Klingklang and cousin of ‘Metroland’ from ‘English Electric’ but refined for BBC Radio 2 airplay, ‘Don’t Go’ captures 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 OMD album ‘Souvenir: The Singles Collection 1979 – 2019’ via Universal Music

https://open.spotify.com/artist/7wJ9NwdRWtN92NunmXuwBk


The ‘Souvenir’ 5CD + 2DVD deluxe boxed set is released on 4th October 2019 by Universal Music

OMD Souvenir 40th Anniversary 2019 – 2020 European + UK Tour, dates include:

Lisbon Aula Magna (15th October), Porto Casa da Musica (16th October), Madrid Riviera (19th October), Barcelona Apolo (21st October), Belfast Ulster Hall (23rd October), Dublin Olympia (24th October), Nottingham Royal Concert Hall (26th October), York Barbican (27th October), Hull Arena (28th October), Gateshead Sage (30th October), Glasgow Royal Concert Hall (31st October), Manchester Apollo (1st November), Sheffield City Hall (3rd November), Liverpool Empire (4th November), Birmingham Symphony Hall (5th November), Leicester De Montford Hall (7th November), Bath Pavilion (8th November), Oxford New Theatre (9th November), Guildford G Live (11th November), Portsmouth Guildhall (12th November), Watford Colosseum (13th November), Cambridge Corn Exchange (15th November), Ipswich Regent (16th November), Bexhill De La Warr Pavilion (17th November), Bournemouth Pavilion (19th November), London Hammersmith Apollo (20th November), Rostock Stadthalle (25th November), Dresden Kulturpalast (26th November), Leipzig Haus Auensee (28th November), Berlin Tempodrom (29th November), Hamburg Grosse Freiheit 36 (30th November), Berlin Tempodrom (2nd December), Stuttgart Leiderhalle (3rd December), Düsseldorf Mitsubishi Electric-Halle (5th December), Frankfurt Jahrhunderthalle (6th December), Krakow Studio (3rd February), Warsaw Progresja (4th February), Oslo Rockefeller Musichall (7th February), Stockholm Berns (9th February), Malmo KB (10th February), Copenhagen Vega (12th February), Brussels Ancienne Belgique (14th February), Utrecht Tivoli (15th February), Paris La Cigale (16th February)


Text by Chi Ming Lai
29th August 2019, updated 16th April 2020

PAUL HUMPHREYS: The OMD 40th Anniversary Interview

Paul Humphreys and Andy McCluskey were two lads from The Wirral who creatively realised their passion for European electronic music following the purchase of a Korg M500 Micro-Preset synthesizer.

Having formed a more conventional outfit called THE ID, they grew frustrated with the band format and felt they could better pursue their more experimental leanings inspired by their love of KRAFTWERK, NEU! and LA DÜSSELDORF as a duo.

Backed by a TEAC tape recorder named Winston owned by Paul Collister who became their first producer and manager, Humphreys and McCluskey played their first gig as ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVRES IN THE DARK at Liverpool’s Eric’s in Autumn 1978. Roger Eagle who ran the club liked what he heard, leading to more gigs and visits to other cities.

Eventually the single ‘Electricity’ b/w ‘Almost’ was released in June 1979 on Manchester’s Factory Records, housed in a black-on-black thermographed sleeve designed by Peter Saville illustrating the two songs as avant garde music notation. Gary Numan heard the single at his label Beggars Banquet and the rest as they say is history…

With OMD currently on a huge world tour to celebrate their 40th Anniversary, Paul Humphreys took time out to speak to The Electricity Club from California about their past, present and future…

Who’d have thought when you were recording ‘Electricity’ in Paul Collister’s garage, you’d still be doing it after 40 years!?

I still find it utterly amazing and rather fantastic that after 40 years, OMD is still alive and well, selling out big tours and making what even our harshest critics consider to be relevant new records. We’ve said this many times but we really only planned to do one concert at Eric’s club in Liverpool in 1978, as kind of a dare to each other.

So it was the series of chance meetings of important people that followed that led to an incredible series of doors opening for us that led the way to our success, probably the most important of which was Tony Wilson at Factory Records. We considered ourselves an art project, Tony saw us as pop music. Time then proved that we could actually end up being both. I remember a confused executive at Virgin Records once saying, “What exactly are you trying to be, Stockhausen or Abba?” We said, “Can’t we be both?”

When was the moment you thought OMD might have legs, was it the Gary Numan tour, signing to Dindisc or was it much further in?

It took us a long while before we realised that OMD could actually have a future. We tried not to believe some of our friends on the Wirral who thought we were a bit crap and thought we made weird and mostly unnaccessible music, and in the back of our minds we always thought “hmmm… perhaps they are right…” to the point where after we signed a 7 album record deal, we still budgeted for failure by spending nearly all of our signing on advance money, building a modern studio in the centre of Liverpool.

The deal we signed with them, gave them the right to terminate at any time, yet we couldn’t, so our rational was to at least have a recording studio as a viable business, if and when Dindisc / Virgin ripped up the contract.

I think it was when we stood on the stage at Top of the Pops for the first time, playing ‘Messages’, that we had a little inkling that maybe, just maybe, we are doing something good…

But yes you mentioned Gary Numan. We love Gary and he did give us a massive opportunity to play on big stages, frighteningly big stages for 2 kids who weren’t even 20 years old!

At that time we couldn’t have dreamed that only a few years later, we would be playing the very same stages but this time as the headline act selling them out. I saw Gary only recently when he played a fantastic concert at the Royal Albert Hall, and after we had a little reminisce about what a fantastic tour that was, don’t forget that for Gary, that was his first major tour too, which went on to define him as a fantastic live artist.

It’s not like OMD has stood still. After a tentative recorded return, ‘English Electric’ in 2013 was perhaps stylistically the album that many had been waiting for since 1984, how do you look back on it all now?

It was a scary thing making a new OMD album after so much time had passed. We hit a point where we had had several years of touring since we all got back together. The touring was very successful, and it was wonderful to be touring with Andy, Martin and Mal again (and now of course with Stuart) and we really enjoyed taking picks from our career catalogue, and playing the whole of ‘Architecture & Morality’ live was so much fun.

But, after several years of this, we thought, is this it? Do we really want to just be considered a retro band just trading on our former glories? Don’t get me wrong, for some bands that’s absolutely fine and in no way am I criticising them for doing it because songs are like little time capsules and when you play them people are transported back to the time they were released and remember the people they were at that time and they people they were with, and associated feelings, events and emotions of the time. That is essentially the power of music, and we recognise this, and we really really love playing and picking songs from our big catalogue.

So why not just give new songs a try, after all moving forward and looking to the future was the band’s original remit? So, without announcement we went back into the studio to just see if we still had something relevant to say, in the voice of OMD.

‘History Of Modern’ was the album that we look back on as getting the OMD engine running again, and I think it has some really great tracks on it. It certainly was very well received by fans and critics alike.

For me, despite the fact that I think it’s a great first offering after many years, it doesn’t quite have the sonic and stylistic cohesion that ‘English Electric’ or ‘‘The Punishment of Luxury’ has, I think largely to do with the fact that the songs were selected from the ideas we’d both had collected over several years independently and we worked them up together. We did try being very modern sending ideas to each other via the internet and working independently as I live in London and Andy lives on the Wirral.

But you had a bit of a re-think?

When we realised that it really didn’t work to our satisfaction, we changed the way we worked for the following 2 albums, kind of going back to how we used to write and create in the very beginning, being in the same room at the same time throwing ideas into it and seeing what happened…

There is no replacement for that, it sounds bloody obvious really as its most creative way to interact, so now we mainly write up in Andy’s house and finish, overdub and mix in my studio in London.

‘The Punishment Of Luxury’ album maintained the standard, audiences didn’t think you could get any more electronic but you did!

Yes, ‘The Punishment Of Luxury’ was a definite return to our original roots. In deciding to play some of ‘Dazzle Ships’ at the Museum of Liverpool and the whole of ‘Dazzle Ships’ at the Royal Albert Hall, we found the preparation for them utterly fascinating.

We needed access to, and to be able to deconstruct our original recordings to retrieve all the mad radio samples and FX that were so randomly generated at the time as they couldn’t possibly be recreated, and, in listening to these old recordings in their multi-track form, we realised just how simple and how very electronic they were. It was a real ‘eye opener’ to be honest, and therefor made the remit for ‘POL’, to try to go back to a “less is more” philosophy, the discipline to be as simple and as electronic as we could make it yet also trying to sound ‘modern’…

You made good use of the Omnisphere VST on ‘Isotype’, what are your preferred creative tools these days?

We made almost the entire last 2 albums completely in the box so to speak, inside the computer with Protools using a lot of modelled analogue synths from the early days such as the Jupiter 8, Prophet 5, Virus, ARP etc, but also using new synths that have never previously existed in the physical world that provided colours and sounds that we found new and inspirational, namely the Omnisphere (great for melody sounds such as the one in ‘Isotype’) and also Waves have a great synth / sequencer called Element which we used extensively.

The problem these days is that there are so many sound possibilities that unless you’re really careful, you can get so completely lost in your choices and exhaust yourself exploring all those possibilities, you can forget the initial goal which is to write a good song! We call this ‘the tyranny of choice’. These days we find it important to reduce the choices by deciding on a sound palate, in the same way a painter decides his colour palate for a particular painting.

For ‘POL’ for instance, we decided that we should only use small electronic sounding drums and percussion, and only drew from that palate… between us Andy and I literally have a library of thousands of kick drums and thousands of snare drums, unless you reduce that into small categories, you’re completely lost.

The live set-up has changed from Roland Fantoms X8s to Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S88s, how have those been to use on tour?

Yeah, when we first got back together in 2006, Roland had a great synth / sampler out called a Fantom X8, so I sampled all of our sounds into that machine for myself and Martin to play, it took me months and months, I had to sample Mellotrons, Fairlights, organs, and sounds from all of our analogue synths we used to use.

Some of those early synths we had to find a re-buy from Ebay as we’d either lost them or they were broken beyond repair. There was a night when Andy and I were both bidding against each other on Ebay for the same synth, a Korg Micro Preset. Idiots! We could have got it for so much cheaper if we’d spoken on the phone first… DOH!

Anyway, the Fantoms got old, they started to develop problems, and Roland stopped making new ones. One day Roland called to say they had a new version of Fantom called a G8 about to come out and asked if we wanted to try it out , I said great, can you talk me through how to export all my sounds into the new machine from the old? To which they replied, oh you can’t do that, you’ll have to resample everything… yeah sure, another 3 months’ work… NOOO!

Not an option, so we kept buying Fantom X8s on Ebay to replace broken ones until THEY started to fail and finally decided to switch to a system that has built-in redundancy, the world of laptops and Native Instruments Kontakt running in MainStage. It still meant that we had to spend months importing all the sounds them into the new system, but for the last time!!! I have to confess something, we employed a tech geek to do it for us, I couldn’t face doing it again myself!! *laughs*

Have you any thoughts on these hardware synth reissues like the Korg ARP Odyssey and Korg MS20 Mini, the new Prophets or those Behringer clones? Are they something that would interest you?

I think it’s great that they are made available again, but they are not all exactly the same as the originals, most of the core engines and oscillators are different and are digitally controlled. I’m actually more interested in new hardware synths that I’ve never used. I’m gonna buy an Arturia MatrixBrute when the tour is over, it has a fascinating and versatile modulation matrix with a brilliant sequencer. I have a friend who owns one and is total love with it. I also want to buy a Moog, the Moog One Poly looks amazing but it’s like £6k I think… ouch! Amazingly, we’ve never owned a Moog. Not sure why really, we were more drawn to Roland, Korg and Sequential Circuits synths as they seemed more suited to our needs.

While there were classic styled OMD songs like the title track, ‘One More Time’ and ‘What Have We Done?’, there were more harder rigid numbers like ‘Robot Man’ and ‘Art Eats Art’?

As with all our albums, we like to remove ourselves from our comfort zone and explore new ways of writing songs, experimentation is our remit, and stylistic repetition can become boring, it’s very easy to fall into “Verse, Bridge, Chorus, repeat, then Middle 8, then Chorus to fade” arrangements of songs… sometimes that works fine, but I think we fell into that trap a little too much in the mid-80s. ‘Art Eats Art’, is basically a list of our favourite artists, designers etc. played over a tough electro track that’s bonkers and follows no standard arrangement format, as many of the songs on ‘‘The Punishment of Luxury’ and ‘English Electric’ do.

The 40th Anniversary ‘Souvenir’ tour is coming up, have you got a large pool of songs ready to perform depending on which territory OMD visits?

Yeah, there will be some surprises on the tour, it’s hard with so much to choose from, but we’re also limited by the amount of available time for all of us to programme and rehearse things that we’ve hardly ever or even never played before. There will be a few lovely surprises though! Can’t say anything else ?

And yes we do play a different show in other territories and that makes things a little more complicated for us. America didn’t properly accept OMD until ‘Junk Culture’ times and songs like ‘If You Leave’, ‘Dreaming’, ‘So in Love’, ‘Secret’ are really huge in the USA and there would be a riot if we didn’t play any of these, not so in Europe though.

The 2017 tour saw you bring in a pre-show online poll for fans to decide one song to perform out of a shortlisted three? How practical was that to implement as a band and will the system return?

We have no plans to do that on the next tour, it was kinda fun though and kept us on our toes every night, the crew didn’t like it much though as all the computers for stage and screen images, had to all be reordered at the very last minute!!

You personally got involved in the Abbey Road remasters of the first four OMD albums released in 2018, how did you find that experience? Did it prompt any interesting memories for you?

It was an amazing experience to work in Abbey Road doing the mastering, and it did bring back a lot of memories. It was a bit stressful though, as there have been so many different versions / mixes and edits of all the songs, choosing the right ones wasn’t an easy exercise!

What was more interesting to me was for the ‘Souvenir’ box set extras, I found 22 unreleased songs / ideas which I mixed and compiled into one album.

It started by me going to the EMI archive near Heathrow, it’s a temperature controlled vault, with a giant foot thick steel door with an enormous wheel that you spin to open it, like you see in movies. All THE BEATLES tapes are in there, Bowie, Stones etc. It’s absolutely massive!

Everything OMD ever recorded is in there and I pulled out all the tapes I could find that I didn’t recognise the title for.

It was difficult though as many times, we used working titles for songs that we’ve used that were changed at the last minute. I spent several days there taking tapes out and sending pictures of tape boxes to Andy for ideas and to jog each other’s memories. I ended up taking out tapes from around 1980 to 1990 period.

The problem I also had is that tapes from that era degenerate and actually you can’t actually play them now. The glue they used to put the oxide on the tapes starts to lose its stick so you have to bake the tapes in a special kiln oven to re-glue the oxide back on to the plastic tape, sounds completely mad I know, but it works!

So, I found 22 tracks, some of which are full songs and some are just experiments that were never developed, but I had great fun mixing them. I mixed them only using FX and E’s that we would have used at the period, spring reverbs, crappy delays and Eventide Harmonisers. I had so much fun doing them and there are a couple of absolute gems in there! The big take away for me in this whole exercise was to see how we used to work, pre-computers.

We basically used to lay down 5 minutes of one idea, then when we wanted a change of chord, we’d drop in the new section on different tracks, so on the desk we’d have to hand mute the first idea so they wouldn’t play together.

But of course I can’t remember where to mute things now as I barely even remember the songs themselves, never mind what our vision was at the time, so I was left with a giant puzzle working out what tracks have to be on or off at certain points of the song… it was great fun, I hope you enjoy it…

In 2015, OMD did series of gigs featuring ‘Dazzle Ships’ and ‘Architecture & Moraility’. As 2020 is the actual 40th Anniversary of the ‘Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark’ and ‘Organisation’ albums, are there any plans to do a similar type of special showcase?

I’m not so sure if we’ll play those albums in their entirely again, but we do have some future ‘specials’ planned and one is actually booked… That’s all I can say at this stage…

Would you consider trying to write a new song around the limited functions of the Korg Micro-Preset as a kind of “four decades on” experiment?

That would be an interesting experiment. Although the Micro-Preset was a totally limited synth and actually sounded pretty shit until you put the original signal through a long chain of FX processors, then it became an interesting synth. I think we may have already exhausted every possible sound that synth can ever make though!


The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to Paul Humphreys

The ‘Souvenir’ 5CD + 2DVD deluxe boxed set is released on 4th October 2019 by Universal Music and can be pre-ordered from the OMD official store at https://store.omd.uk.com/collections/40th-anniversary/products/souvenir-5cd-2dvd-deluxe-boxset

OMD Souvenir 40th Anniversary 2019 – 2020 European + UK Tour, dates include:

Lisbon Aula Magna (15th October), Porto Casa da Musica (16th October), Madrid Riviera (19th October), Barcelona Apolo (21st October), Belfast Ulster Hall (23rd October), Dublin Olympia (24th October), Nottingham Royal Concert Hall (26th October), York Barbican (27th October), Hull Arena (28th October), Gateshead Sage (30th October), Glasgow Royal Concert Hall (31st October), Manchester Apollo (1st November), Sheffield City Hall (3rd November), Liverpool Empire (4th November), Birmingham Symphony Hall (5th November), Leicester De Montford Hall (7th November), Bath Pavilion (8th November), Oxford New Theatre (9th November), Guildford G Live (11th November), Portsmouth Guildhall (12th November), Watford Colosseum (13th November), Cambridge Corn Exchange (15th November), Ipswich Regent (16th November), Bexhill De La Warr Pavilion (17th November), Bournemouth Pavilion (19th November), London Hammersmith Apollo (20th November), Rostock Stadthalle (25th November), Dresden Kulturpalast (26th November), Leipzig Haus Auensee (28th November), Berlin Tempodrom (29th November), Hamburg Grosse Freiheit 36 (30th November), Berlin Tempodrom (2nd December), Stuttgart Leiderhalle (3rd December), Düsseldorf Mitsubishi Electric-Halle (5th December), Frankfurt Jahrhunderthalle (6th December), Krakow Studio (3rd February), Warsaw Progresja (4th February), Oslo Rockefeller Musichall (7th February), Stockholm Berns (9th February), Malmo KB (10th February), Copenhagen Vega (12th February), Brussels Ancienne Belgique (14th February), Utrecht Tivoli (15th February), Paris La Cigale (16th February)

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Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
14th August 2019

THE ELECTRICITY CLUB… The Next Generation?

Sitting on the sofa with my now thirteen year old daughter, who over the years has acquired a rather sarcastic sense of humour (who on Earth does she get that from?!) and pondering how to approach this task of reviewing ‘The Electricity Club’ compilation, makes us both burst out with hearty laughter.

After all, she wants to rise to the occasion properly, and review things “just like Mummy does”, or maybe not, as “Mummy always says it as it is!”

Children have the innate ability to always tell the truth; my daughter, however, has an uncontrollable need to please people, so this could really go either way. She will either be pulling her disgusted face, saying “what a load of rubbish!”, or candidly praise, without certainty.

My own adventure with music dates back many years indeed. I was brought up within, what they used to call in communist Poland, “an intelligence family”, meaning both my parents were white collar workers, rather than working class.

My father, a respectable judge, had loved his music greatly and was an avid guitar player himself, while my mum, a teacher, enjoyed listening to pretty much anything within the popular genre (usually via her radio, which, to this day, is always on).

Recalling the baby book entry, which my mum recorded when I was at the tender age of five, saying “Monika loves listening and dancing to records, she could spend all day doing so”, makes me try and remember the old record player and hundreds of vinyl albums which my parents owned.

All this said, I hold my older by ten years brother solely responsible for my eventual music choices. As I was growing up, I just had to endure what he was listening to (at great volume, may I add!).

As legal copies of western music were incredibly hard (or, simply, impossible) to get, his room was full of pirate cassette tapes of everything from THE HUMAN LEAGUE to MICHAEL JACKSON and anything and everything in between.

He would take great pride in inviting me into his musical cave and fed me with DEPECHE MODE, ERASURE, ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA and OMD.

And all this worked… during his absence, I’d sneak in and put my favourites on, which would primarily include the works of DEPECHE MODE, with the vinyl of ‘Black Celebration’ and maxi-single vinyl of ‘Stripped’ being the firm first choices. And that’s how I acquired the electronic music bug. From then on, not much else mattered but coming home from school and playing the entire back catalogue of the Basildon boys, dotted with the works of YAZOO and ERASURE.

My Allie has had little choice, since her musical adventure dates back to being in my womb. At the age of three she would sing ERASURE’s ‘You Surround Me’ on top of her little baby voice, and her sweet childish vocal was sampled and recorded by a well-known UK electronic duo.

Her first gig was at the age of five, and she went to see ERASURE at six and DEPECHE MODE twice at the grown-up age of seven, keenly taking part in the experience.

Although since she’s found love for KATIE PERRY, ARIANA GRANDE and TAYLOR SWIFT, and electronic music hasn’t been on her radar much lately, she absolutely loved ASHBURY HEIGHTS’ ‘The Looking Glass Society’. She also has a lot of vintage DEPECHE MODE on her Spotify playlist, interestingly enough none of it past ‘Songs Of Faith & Devotion’, and plays it at least twice a week.

Having heard that, I would include her opinion in the tongue-in-cheek review of The Electricity Club compilation, she keenly decided to be a serious contributor, and so it goes…

MAISON VAGUE Synthpop’s Alive

Allie: I don’t like it but I like it…

Mon: Bit GARY NUMAN this is! But a tad laboured and rough and ready.

Allie: I like the synth sounds, the voice sounds a bit weird.

KID KASIO Full Moon Blue

Mon: Ah, my favourite of Nathan’s! Love it, love it, love it!

Allie: I like the sounds, the first bit sounds a bit like DEPECHE MODE!

Mon: Yeah, a tribute to ‘Two Minute Warning’!

Allie: That’s it! I like it a lot. I like his voice.

ELECTRONIC CIRCUS Roundabout

Allie: Oh my God! Rubbish!

Mon: Why? *cannot contain the laughter*

Allie: It’s just rubbish!

Mon: Erm, the synth is good, not sure about the vocal…

DAYBEHAVIOR It’ s A Game – Marsheaux remix

Mon: I like this, analog synth! Lovely…

Allie: I like it, like the vocal, but it’s not something I’d listen to if I had a choice.

Mon: Oh, I would. Very good song and well produced by MARSHEAUX.

MARNIE The Hunter

Allie: Reminds me of something but I don’t know what. I like it, love the vocal.

Mon: I hear a bit of LADYTRON, BJÖRK and MARSHEAUX. It’s fresh and enticing.

Allie: Yes, LADYTRON! That’s it!

NIGHT CLUB Cruel Devotion

Allie: Ohhhh, I like that!

Mon: You’ve met them last year Allie! Very good!

Allie: Oh yes, I do like this! I like the background sound and the vocals. I’d play that in my room… She doesn’t sound American! Is she American?

Mon: Yes! *laughs*

Allie: I’d make music like that!

ELEVEN ELEVEN Through The Veil

Mon: I like the beginning, bit of KYLIE there.

Allie: I don’t know who that is! I like the vocals!

Mon: I like the sound! (Note to self: “must educate Allie on KYLIE”).

QUEEN OF HEARTS United

Mon: Oh I’m liking this, fat synth and decent voice…

Allie: I like it, both synth and the vocal.

KATY PERRY Hot N Cold – Marsheaux remix

Allie: It’s KATY PERRY! I like this! I like this remix, it’s different from the original! *singing out loud*

Mon: I never liked the original and this doesn’t do it for me either.

Allie: What?! I love it! But her voice is a bit screechy, like on the normal version!

ERASURE Be The One – Paul Humphreys remix

Allie: Sounds like ERASURE…

Mon: It is!

Allie: Ah, I knew it! Is it a remix?

Mon: Yep.

Allie: I love ERASURE, this is lovely.

Mon: Totally agree.

KID MOXIE The Bailor

Allie: I don’t like her vocals.

Mon: I do, it’s a good song.

Allie: I like the music, the melody is nice.

Mon: It’s a grown up song, very atmospheric and cinematic. Great use of synth. My kind of electronica.

KEEP SHELLY IN ATHENS Oostende

Allie: I like it! The vocals are great. I’d listen to it in the car.

Mon: Yes, it’s good, both vocally and musically.

FOTONOVELA featuring JAMES NEW My Sorrow

Allie: I’ve heard it before.

Mon: Really? I haven’t! You must be thinking of something else.

Allie: It’s ok, reminds me of something you’ve played before.

GIRL ONE & THE GREASE GUNS Jessica

Allie: I don’t like it, vocals aren’t great, don’t like the music.

Mon: It’s not my cup of tea either, but I’m sure it’ll appeal to few people.

AUTOMATIC WRITING Continuous

Mon: Interesting start! It’s different, I shouldn’t like it but I do.

Allie: It’s ok, again, it reminds me of something.

METROLAND Thalys – London edit

Mon: Oh I like that. Simple arrangement and that’s all you need. Not sure about the voice sample though.

Allie: It’s very robotic, like science fiction. It’s like something from another planet. It’s KRAFTWERK!

RODNEY CROMWELL Black Dog

Allie: Yeah! That’s ok! *does a little dance*

Mon: Hmmm, not sure. It’s not unpleasant.

SIN COS TAN Trust

Allie: Don’t know, not sure about that one.

Mon: It’s ok.

Allie: Bored now!

POLLY SCATTERGOOD Other Too Endless – Vince Clarke remix

Mon: Good synth on this one. Liking this a lot. Competent vocals and arrangement, a real stand out.

Allie: Not my cup of tea.

TENEK What Do You Want?

Allie: Is that MESH? Sounds like it!

Mon: No, it’s not, it’s TENEK. It’s a good song.

Allie: Yes, I really like it. I like the instruments.

ANALOG ANGEL We Won’t Walk Away

Allie: It’s fast. Not my kind of thing.

Mon: It’s very well written. It needs more oomph! Very OMD.

ARTHUR & MARTHA Autovia

Allie: It’s not in tune… I don’t know, I don’t like it.

Mon: It’s different, not me either…

MARSHEAUX Suffer The Children

Mon: A cover. Good.

Allie: It is good, bouncy.

SECTION 25 My Outrage

Mon: Oh dear, messy! Too candied for me, bit all over the place.

Allie: Yes, I don’t think it’s good. I can’t describe it but it’s not something I’d listen to.

047 featuring LISA PEDERSEN Everything’s Fine

Allie: Clubby! Like it. Yes, I do! *bounces away*

Mon: Good, isn’t it? I like the club feel to it. A good dance song.

TAXX Is It Love?

Mon: Oh yes, good stuff! Progressive. Decent vocal too.

Allie: It’s ok, but I wouldn’t listen to it in the car. At a disco, maybe…

LIEBE I Believe In You

Allie: You know the ding-ding sounds? They remind me of PET SHOP BOYS!

Mon: “Ding-ding sounds!” To me the vocal technique resembles NEW ORDER. It’s good.

QUIETER THAN SPIDERS Shanghai Metro

Mon: It’s ok.

Allie: Too poppy, way too poppy. Chow mein? *laughs*

iEUROPEAN feat WOLFGANG FLÜR Activity Of Sound

Mon: That’s it! The synth is all there. Semi-modular synth? Very tidy!

Allie: I do actually like it! It’s club but different.

TWINS NATALIA Destiny

Mon: Not me vocally but decent synth I suppose.

Allie: I like the vocals! I don’t know, all confused now, too many songs!

Mon: No, that’s awful.

MESH Tuesday

Mon: YAZOO cover Allie!

Allie: I knew that I knew it! Is that MESH?!

Mon: Yes!

Allie: Thought so. I like anything MESH!

Mon: Now, there’s a surprise!

Allie: You know me!

MIRRORS Between Four Walls

Allie: Like this one, nice music.

Mon: Bit laboured… it’s not bad though.

OMD Time Burns – Fotonovela rework

Allie: Very robotic.

Mon: Not me!

VILE ELECTRODES Deep Red

Allie: I like the vocals, sounds a bit like Sarah Blackwood!

Mon: It’s Jane actually!

Allie: Ahhhh! Doh! I like that a lot. It’s slow! *laughs*

Mon: It is good, but no surprise there.

Allie: Is that the last song?!

Mon: Yes…

Allie: Thank god, I’m tired now!

She will sleep well! I have to say, she did surprise me with some songs and disappointed with others but that just proves to me, that tastes do indeed vary, and even if I’m vehemently against something, others will find it enticing.

‘The Electricity Club’ compilation is a marvellous collection of tunes, and that’s a given. There’s something for everyone here and what a cross-section of all electronica. Still, I come to conclusion that thirteen year olds are probably not mature enough to fully appreciate certain synth music…

Will she follow in my steps? Not for a while… if ever! The one thing we certainly have in common: WE SAY IT AS IT IS!


‘The Electricity Club’ is released on 3rd December 2018 by Amour Records / Minos EMI / Universal Music in collaboration with Undo Records as a 34 track 2CD set in a deluxe 6 panel digipak with track-by-track commentary and ‘O’ card; the compilation can be pre-ordered from the following retailers:

Europe http://www.poponaut.de/various-artists-electricity-club-p-18056.html

North America https://stormingthebase.bandcamp.com/merch/various-the-electricity-club-2cd

Please note this product is NOT on sale through The Electricity Club website and only via retailers

A Spotify sampler of the compilation can be listened to at: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7xwTYTeH6b5vgCqjZudfGE

http://www.amour-records.com

https://www.facebook.com/amour.records/

https://twitter.com/Amour_Records

https://www.instagram.com/amour_records/

https://www.minosemi.gr/

https://www.facebook.com/MinosEmi/


Text by Monika Izabela Trigwell
1st December 2018

THE ELECTRICITY CLUB 2CD Compilation

Amour Records / Minos EMI / Universal Music in collaboration with Undo Records are to release a 2CD compilation compiled by The Electricity Club.

Capturing its ethos to feature the best in new and classic electronic pop music, this compilation is the culmination of a period which has seen the resurgence of the genre. Over the years, The Electricity Club appears to have reflected the interests of people who love the Synth Britannia era and have a desire to hear new music seeded from that ilk.

Little did The Electricity Club know when it launched on 15th March 2010, it would go on to interview many of the key players in Synth Britannia, get granted an audience with two former members of KRAFTWERK and be influential in helping some of the best new synthesizer talents gain a profile within a reinvigorated scene. So it is highly apt that WOLFGANG FLÜR should make an appearance on this collection.

The Electricity Club is pleased to showcase its ethos in the form of this tangible audio artefact. Among the impressive cast, there are prime movers from the classic era like PAUL HUMPHREYS and VINCE CLARKE. Without the influence of the bands they respectively co-founded, OMD and DEPECHE MODE, electronic pop as The Electricity Club likes it would not exist.

Meanwhile the next generation are represented by acts such as KID MOXIE, NIGHT CLUB, RODNEY CROMWELL and VILE ELECTRODES. Incidentally, the latter were invited to support OMD on their 2013 German tour following ANDY McCLUSKEY’s discovery of the duo while perusing The Electricity Club’s virtual pages. The bloodline from ‘Radio-Activity’ to ‘Romance Of The Telescope’ and then to ‘Deep Red’ is easily traceable and deeply omnipresent.

The Electricity Club has always relished its diverse taste credentials. It doesn’t do retro or contemporary, just good music. No other compendium could dare to include the spiky post-punk of GIRL ONE & THE GREASE GUNS and the rousing electro-rock of MESH alongside pop princesses such as QUEEN OF HEARTS or KATY PERRY. Be it Glasgow’s ANALOG ANGEL and MARNIE, Manchester veterans SECTION 25 or Essex boys TENEK, it all fits into The Electricity Club’s avant pop playground.

With international representation also from Gothenburg’s DAYBEHAVIOR and 047, Shanghai synthpoppers QUIETER THAN SPIDERS, Texan dance duo ELEVEN: ELEVEN, Belgium’s own passengers METROLAND and the self-explanatory KEEP SHELLY IN ATHENS, the tracks gathered capture a special moment in time where innovative musical aspirations and good tunes have again manifested themselves in the same context.

The collection features a number of covers including MESH’s take on YAZOO’s ‘Tuesday’ and MARSHEAUX’s reinterpretation of TEARS FOR FEARS’ first single ‘Suffer The Children’. In addition, tracks such as MARSHEAUX’s stomping remix of KATY PERRY’s ‘Hot ‘N’ Cold’ and MIRRORS’ ‘Between Four Walls’ make their premiere in CD format.

The tracklisting is:

CD1

01 MAISON VAGUE Synthpop’s Alive
02 KID KASIO Full Moon Blue
03 ELECTRONIC CIRCUS Roundabout
04 DAYBEHAVIOR It’s A Game (Marsheaux remix)
05 MARNIE The Hunter
06 ELEVEN:ELEVEN Through The Veil
07 NIGHT CLUB Cruel Devotion
08 QUEEN OF HEARTS United
09 KATY PERRY Hot ‘N’ Cold (Marsheaux remix)
10 ERASURE Be The One (Paul Humphreys remix)
11 KID MOXIE The Bailor
12 KEEP SHELLY IN ATHENS Oostende
13 FOTONOVELA featuring JAMES NEW Our Sorrow (Original mix)
14 GIRL ONE & THE GREASE GUNS Jessica 6
15 AUTOMATIC WRITING Continuous
16 METROLAND Thalys (London Edit)
17 RODNEY CROMWELL Black Dog

CD2

01 SIN COS TAN Trust
02 POLLY SCATTERGOOD Other Too Endless (Vince Clarke remix)
03 TENEK What Do You Want? (Alternate TEC version)
04 ANALOG ANGEL We Won’t Walk Away
05 ARTHUR & MARTHA Autovia
06 MARSHEAUX Suffer The Children
07 SECTION 25 My Outrage
08 047 featuring LISA PEDERSEN Everything’s Fine
09 TAXX Is It Love?
10 LIEBE I Believe In You
11 QUIETER THAN SPIDERS Shanghai Metro
12 iEUROPEAN featuring WOLFGANG FLÜR Activity Of Sound
13 TWINS NATALIA Destiny
14 MESH Tuesday
15 MIRRORS Between Four Walls
16 OMD Time Burns (Fotonovela rework)
17 VILE ELECTRODES Deep Red


‘The Electricity Club’ is released by Amour Records / Minos EMI / Universal Music in collaboration with Undo Records as a 34 track 2CD set in a deluxe 6 panel digipak with track-by-track commentary and ‘O’ card; the compilation be purchased from the following retailers:

Europe http://www.poponaut.de/various-artists-electricity-club-p-18056.html

North America https://stormingthebase.bandcamp.com/merch/various-the-electricity-club-2cd

Please note this product is NOT on sale through The Electricity Club website and only via retailers

http://www.amour-records.com

https://www.facebook.com/amour.records/

https://twitter.com/Amour_Records

https://www.instagram.com/amour_records/

https://www.minosemi.gr/

https://www.facebook.com/MinosEmi/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
12th November 2018, updated 16th January 2020

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