Despite what appeared to be an existential crisis within their domestic independent synth community in 2016, Sweden continues to be special.
As the New Year begins in earnest, one fine work to emerge from Scandinavia’s dark winter haze is ‘Collide (Krasnoyarsk)’, the new single by VANBOT.
The work of Ester Ideskog, this supreme slice of glacial elegance was written while Ideskog was travelling on the Trans-Siberian railway.
It was part of an adventurous 17 day journey from Moscow to Beijing with her collaborators Johannes Berglund and Petter Winnberg to compose a new full-length work. Signalling a move into the more delightfully odd Nordic Noir territory of artists such as IAMAMIWHOAMI, ‘Collide (Krasnoyarsk)’ acts as a fitting trailer for the album ‘Siberia’.
The finished recording successfully captures the atmosphere of its genesis and with a newly unveiled promo video to accompany the tune; the visuals capture the tension of the region’s extreme and expansive landscapes in the form of an abstract modern dance choreographed by Clara Björck and Eos Karlsson.
Already a veteran of two albums, it was “Late night bike riding and endless love for retro synthesizers” that inspired VANBOT into venturing into the world of electronic pop. Drawing comparisons with fellow Swedish songstress ROBYN, the driving standalone single ‘Got To Get Out’ gained her favourable attention and a slot at the SXSW Festival in Texas in 2012.
However, the enigmatic ballad ‘Trooper’ from her second album ‘Perfect Storm’ in 2015 showcased her developing avant ethos, with songs central to the core while utilising a wider cinematic spectrum.
Embracing the technological limitations of recording on a train compartment, the threesome purposefully made no additional recordings upon their return home to ‘Siberia’.
With constant motion and new locations looming throughout, ‘Siberia’ will be an interesting conceptual listening experience if nothing else.
Let’s face it, 2012’s ‘Highwire Poetry’ was always going to be a pretty damn hard act to follow.
Arguably one of the best electronic pop albums from the last five years, it managed to maintain a balance of quirky, original songs, wrapped up in a production template that kept synth fans happy, but with also nods to contemporary sonics too.
Tracks such as ‘Thousand Loaded Guns’ and ‘Fryngies’ even brought KARIN PARK to the attention of GARY NUMAN, who chose her as support on one of his UK tours. There must be an element of frustration in the Park camp that she hasn’t broken on a wider scale by now, on paper she has everything, astonishing model looks, a fantastic and charismatic live show (with her brother David accompanying her on drums) and with ‘Highwire Poetry’, an album that easily held its own against her contemporaries such as ROBYN, THE KNIFE and BJÖRK (comparisons which she’s probably getting tired of by now!).
This brings us to Park’s fifth album and second for Portsmouth-based label State of the Eye: ‘Apocalypse Pop’. The temptation would have probably been to stick with the format that worked so well on album four, but Park’s new set of songs has a distinctly different sound and vibe to them. The overall tone and production on ‘Apocalypse Pop’ is much more edgy both from a sonic point of view (distortion and rock dynamics are more prevalent here) and with some of the lyrical content (more on that later). If anything, the overall sound of this album is more homogenized and cohesive than the last, but this is not necessarily a good thing, with many of the tracks taking several listens to hit home, the stylistic mish-mash of immediate songs which filled ‘Highwire Poetry’ is to a large degree missing here.
Opening track and single ‘Look What You’ve Done’ sets the tone, each sound has been overdriven including Park’s vocals and the track bounces along to the familiar 6/8 Schaffel beat which has been used by everybody from DEPECHE MODE to RACHEL STEVENS. Another previously released single ‘Shine’ follows next, its understated feel adding to the rollercoaster feel of the album (one moment you’re up, the next you’re down).
‘Stick To The Lie’ follows a more traditional electronic format with its driving sequencers and arpeggiators and is far better for it, lyrically it also connects far more successfully, with Park injecting its “truth… hurts like a sharp knife” hook with real emotion. ‘Daemons’ is the real Marmite track on the album, Park bearing her soul with the “I know I’ve been a c***” lyric, whereas musically and vocally, the chorus takes the track into decidedly unwelcome R’n’B territory. Final track ‘Hurricane’ lifts things tempo-wise and has a wonderful elastic / portamento bass sound and finishes proceedings in a more hypnotic/dance manner, Park sharing lead vocals with Thomas Knights from UK act PANDORA DRIVE.
The darker and more understated feel throughout has undoubtedly been informed by the illness of Park’s partner last year. This is not a bad album, but in places, it treads water rather than taking the standards previously set to a higher level. ‘Stick To The Lie’ is easily the most immediate track here and should act as the in point for fans of Park’s previous work. Meanwhile, the use of explicit language misfires badly, nobody really wants to hear the ‘C’ word in an electronic pop record and in many ways it seems to suggest that Park and her collaborators are trying a little too hard here to get themselves noticed.
For maybe a little too long now, KARIN PARK has been electronic pop’s best kept secret, and she certainly warrants a much larger demographic than what’s she’s achieved so far. Hopefully ‘Apocalypse Pop’ will help maintain the momentum she has generated and she will get a wider degree of success that she so richly deserves.
‘Apocalypse Pop’ is released by State Of The Eye Recordings on CD, download and vinyl.
With a less intense release schedule than last year, it was a bit more straightforward for The Electricity Club to choose its songs of 2014.
Whereas 2013 had a short list of 45 songs, 2014 was closer to 35 although not the struggle to find 30 as was the case in 2012. So just missing out are CLIENT, KLEERUP and TODD TERJE featuring BRYAN FERRY, although not by much.
As usual, they are listed in alphabetical order and all have been released either in physical formats, or digitally as purchasable or free downloads during the calendar year. Thus although the excellent video for LIEBE’s ‘I Believe In You’ gained traction on MTV Europe in 2014 as well as being a favourite at TEC HQ, the song was actually released in 2013.
Tracks which are exclusive to streams, videos or DJ only promos are also not included; so QUIETER THAN SPIDERS ‘The Land Of Lost Content’ is not eligible. Limited to one song per artist moniker, here are TEC’s 30 Songs of 2014…
ANALOG ANGEL The Last Time
The transformation of Glaswegians ANALOG ANGEL in the last 18 months has been startling. From their third album ‘Trinity’, its closer ‘The Last Time’ was a big surprise, featuring a cinematic arrangement involving an orchestra cascading into an epic Pan-European journey heading eastwards. Recalling THE SISTERS OF MERCY’s ‘This Corrosion’, the virtual symphonic strings and gothic choirs gave an indication as to what OMD might have sounded like if Jim Steinman had been producing!
‘Scream’ launched MARGARET BERGER’s first album ‘New Religion’ since 2006’s ‘Pretty Scary Silver Fairy’ although as yet, the new opus has yet to emerge. The Norwegian Idol finalist effectively revived her career with ‘I Feed You My Love’ which came fourth in Eurovision 2013. ‘Scream’ saw her continuing the ROBYN meets DEPECHE MODE template of her Eurovision smash and possessed an inherent industrialised darkness in an approach to quality pop that set itself apart.
Available as a download single via iTunes Norway through Macho Records
The original first lady of cinematic electronic pop surprised everyone when she appeared on the cover of her third album ‘Where Else…’ with a guitar strapped to her back. But while the record had a folk and blues influence, the synthesized textures that Ms Brücken has been best known for were still very much part of the package. The launch single ‘Nevermind’ could be seen as a musical reply to OMD’s ‘Stay With Me’. A lovely mix of electronics and acoustic, she appears to be driven by a new artistic zest.
Available on the album ‘Where Else…’ via Cherry Red Records
DAVIDGE is best known for his work with MASSIVE ATTACK and has been involved in game and film soundtracks for many years. His first solo album ‘Slo Light’ was an impressive debut, containing many of the elements that marked his work with the Bristolian triphoppers. ‘Sleepwalking’ was a haunting number beautifully voiced by EMI GREEN which recalled the ethereal quality of COCTEAU TWINS’ Elizabeth Fraser and the electronically assisted Weimer Cabaret of ‘Felt Mountain’ era GOLDFRAPP.
Available on the album ‘Slo Light’ via 7Hz Recordings
Following the disappointment of 2011’s FRANKMUSIK driven ‘Tomorrow’s World’, ‘The Violet Flame’ produced by Richard X saw ERASURE express an infectious zest for the future. The songs began with pre-recorded dance grooves from Vince Clarke as represented by the euphoric opening track ‘Dead Of Night’. The best number from the package turned out to be a ballad remixed by Paul Humphreys who added some of the beautiful Synth-Werk magic that characterised OMD’s ‘English Electric’ to ‘Be The One’.
Available on the boxed set edition of ‘The Violet Flame’ via Mute Artists / Pledge Music
Released in time for their DEPECHE MODE support tour in Europe, ‘Wild Love’ was far more dance-oriented than anything FEATHERS attempted on their debut album ‘If All Now Here’. While a heavy beat dominated, the essential component of a song remained, building to a suitably epic chorus providing that euphoric lift. The gated trance elements in the second chorus were a particular highlight, especially when backed by a screeching falsetto counterpoint. But just as it got going, it faded out!
The moniker of Elizabeth Bernholz, GAZELLE TWIN has acquired an impressive host of admirers including JOHN FOXX, GARY NUMAN and CLINT MANSELL. Her second album ‘Unflesh’ has allowed the Brighton based songstress to extract her demons with some artistic violence. One of the highlights ‘Exorcise’ was an impressively aggressive cross between PINK FLOYD’s ‘One The Run’ and KRAFTWERK’s ‘Home Computer’. Its uneasy resonance was aided by Bernholz’s harsh, deadpan commentary.
Available on the album ‘Unflesh’ via Anti-Ghost Moon Ray
This mysterious combo with their lo-fi noise and motorik beats have revealed a series of energetic singles over the past two years including ‘Jessica 6’, a frantic salvo sounding like THE PIPETTES fronting an OMD assisted JOY DIVISION. But GIRL ONE & THE GREASE GUNS revealed a much softer side with ‘No Longer Spellbound’. With its beautiful atmospheric quality smothered in icy synth strings and grainy vox samples, if ‘Twins Peaks’ had been set in The Lake District, then the theme tune might sound a like this.
Available on the download EP ‘No Longer Spellbound’ via Squirrel Records
HERCULES & LOVE AFFAIR feat JOHN GRANT I Try To Talk To You
Imagine Jim Morrison getting it on down at The Danceteria circa 1982! ‘I Try To Talk To You’ featuring the expansive baritone vocals of JOHN GRANT combined the best of classic New York electro disco and grand piano theatrics with an emotively soulful vocal. The courageous lyrics found Grant recalling when he discovered he was HIV positive. “I asked John to dig deep with his lyrical contribution” recalls HERCULES & LOVE AFFAIR mainman Andy Butler, “I had no idea he would dig so deep”.
Available on the album ‘The Feast Of The Broken Heart’ via Moshi Moshi
‘I Can’t Figure You Out’ sounds like another product of Scandinavia but in fact, HUGH hail from South London. The captivating, naive lead vocal from Izzy Brooks states “you know just how I feel” as she makes handle with care pleas like “don’t toy with me” and “careful with my heart” while the intensity builds like a pressure cooker. And this is all before a time signature change and some frustrating despair is released with her spirited jazzy refrain of “No, I can’t figure you out!” Now, who hasn’t been here before?
Available on the download EP ‘I Can’t Figure You Out’ via Hughlovehugh
IAMAMIWHOAMI, the electronic multimedia project fronted by Jonna Lee and produced by Claes Björklund returned with their second opus ‘Blue’. ‘Hunting For Pearls’ featured wonderfully pulsing sequences and trancey atmospheres, coupled with a beautifully rich vocal from Lee. With a mysterious falsetto reach, the air may be cold outside but inside, things are warm. If KATE BUSH made a modern electronic dance record at ABBA’s Polar Studios, it would probably sound like this.
Available on the album ‘Blue’ via towhomitmayconcern
Deep from within the Adirondack Mountains comes the beautifully gentle electronica of I AM SNOW ANGEL. The self-produced vehicle of singer / songwriter Julie Kathryn, the music evokes images of icy landscapes and crystalline hydro basins. The best track from her debut EP, ‘Let Me Go’ is rich in understatement and a Nordic styled tour de force swathed in melancholy, full of dreamy escapism. The full length album ‘Crocodile’ released in the Autumn did not disappoint either with its quietly subversive nature.
Available on the download EP ‘I Am Snow Angel’ via Amazon
With a breathier, more continental direction towards cinematic pop, The Kid effectively grew up with her second album ‘1888’. KID MOXIE’s widescreen soundscapes and dreamy demeanour saw a much more focussed work. ‘Lacuna’ means “an empty space” yet this song is filled with an enigmatic mystery as Elena Charbila applied some of the je nais se quoi first piloted on 2008’s ‘La Romance D’Hiver’ to the drifting, almost abstract electronic soundscape… and then there’s the pretty isolated piano ending!
Available on the download album ‘1888’ via Undo Records
Having delivered one of the best synth based debut albums in recent years, any new KLEERUP recording now lives with a high degree of expectation. ‘Let Me In’ featuring SUSANNE SUNDFØR, who voiced several tracks on RÖYKSOPP’s ‘The Inevitable End’ album, came over like KARIN PARK if she had joined latter day ROXY MUSIC. Retaining the original appeal of KLEERUP’s debut, ‘Let Me In’ was brilliantly classic and yet modern with its more organic template and even funky template.
Available on the download EP ‘As If We Never Won’ via Warner Music
MACHINISTA’s pairing of John Lindqwister and Richard Flow specialise in synthpop with a rock’n’roll edge. Their best offering from their debut album ‘Xenoglossy’ was the schaffel propelled ‘Pushing The Angels Astray’. Despite discussing the spectre of immortality, the sombre aura was balanced with a marvellous melodic line and fabulous chorus like ALPHAVILLE in their prime. The Nordic region continually shows how electronic music is done and many could do a lot worse than to observe how MACHINISTA go about their craft.
Available on the download album ‘Xenoglossy’ via Juggernaut Music Group
Released in the week of the Scottish Independence Referendum, MARNIE’s ‘Wolves’ was an appropriately soaring anthem “for anyone that doesn’t believe in sticking with the status quo, for anyone who has the heart to try and make a difference”. Certainly, the positive response she received for her debut long player ‘Crystal World’ and a return to her homeland has no doubt inspired her own independence. But with MARNIE due to release a second solo album in 2015, what does this all mean for LADYTRON?
Available as a download single via Les Disques du Crépuscule
‘Trans Europe Express’ 21st Century style as Belgium’s favourite passengers METROLAND embarked on a maroon coloured rail journey through France and Germany via the Benelux basin on ‘Thalys’. The full length 11 minute version rhythmitised metal on metal while there were also London, Paris and Düsseldorf edits in this musical tie-in with the Thalys high speed train operator.
Available on the download EP ‘Thalys (London)’ via Alfa Matrix
Frisky vocalist Emily Kavanaugh and moody producer Mark Brooks began writing songs as NIGHT CLUB with the goal of creating dark – yet commercially accessible – synthpop. Developing on the Britney gone electro goth sound of their glorious 2013 single ‘Poisonous’, ‘She Wants To Play With Fire’ treaded on the darker, sleazy side of life and dysfunctional relationships with Kavanaugh out to take on her demented love rival.
Available on the download EP ‘Black Leather Heart’ via Gato Blanco
Issued as a trailer for her new album ‘Apocalypse Pop’, ‘Look What You’ve Done’ is a feisty development of ‘Restless’ from KARIN PARK’s previous album ‘Highwire Poetry’. Wrestling within a fiery glam schaffel and a catchy chorus like an angry GOLDFRAPP, with THE KNIFE venturing into more uncompromising climes, the ‘other’ Karin ably fills the void now left vacant by the Drejers in avant pop. ‘Look What You’ve Done’ is a fine example of the Swede’s ambition to fit into both pop and experimental worlds.
Available as a download single via State Of The Eye Recordings
With LITTLE BOOTS having gone dance and LA ROUX veering away from synthpop, there is now a vacancy for a new kooky homegrown female synth talent. One of the possible candidates is PAWWS, otherwise known on her passport as Lucy Taylor. She has labelled her music “upsetting disco” and ‘Give You Love’ lives up to that description. Certainly those who prefer their music with rough edges and are averse to female fronted synthpop will have their touch paper lit even further with this exquisite pop number.
Available on the download EP ‘Sugar’ via Best Fit Recordings
Since playing with JOHN FOXX, HANNAH PEEL’s own music has used more electronics alongside her beloved violin, musicbox, piano and trombone. ‘Fabricstate’ starts as a beautiful understated number before being bolstered by an unexpected but amazing whirring synth solo around a series of percussive clusters. When the warmth of the synthesizer is exploited and coupled with a classically trained background, the hybrid can result in a quietly subversive organic and technological fusion.
Available on the download EP ‘Fabricstate’ via My Own Pleasure
One musician taking electronic music into some intriguing fusions is Beijing born FIFI RONG. ‘Next Pursuit’ crosses the vocal mystery of KELLI ALI and the quirkiness of MOLOKO while throwing in a touch of LANA DEL REY and MAZZY STAR too. Crucially, the intriguingly soulful ‘Next Pursuit’ also adds in rhythmical variation as the rhythms click into action during the higher register vocal refrains while the verses are held together with a smokey allure.
Available on the download EP ‘Next Pursuit’ via Ditto Music
ROBYN & RÖYKSOPP Monument (The Inevitable End Version)
Edited and rethought for ‘The Inevitable End’ album, ‘Monument’ was originally a spacey 10 minute epic now tightened to a more bite size and dare one say it, more enjoyable format sans saxophone over a hypnotic two chord structure. As usual, ROBYN’s vocals are edgy and nonchalant while RÖYKSOPP’s electronic soundtrack ably hit the spot with its energized octave-jumping bassline.
Available on the album ‘The Inevitable End’ via Dog Triumph / Cooking Vinyl
With their third album in as many years, Finnish duo SIN COS TAN went the concept album route for ‘Blown Away’, a midlife crisis story of a man who becomes a drug courier and goes on a journey of excess, fast money and hedonism. First single ‘Love Sees No Colour’ dressed NEW ORDER’s love technique in an OMD stylee with the result being a kaleidoscopic tune that managed to mix sunshine with melancholy.
Available on the album ‘Blown Away’ via Solina Records
The Nordic vocalist of the moment has to be SUSANNE SUNDFØR who has worked with M83 and KLEERUP. But she is probably best known for her work with fellow Norwegians RÖYKSOPP. Propelled by a pulsing electronic backbone, ‘Fade Away’ from Sundfør’s forthcoming album ‘Ten Love Songs’ sees her in rousing form with a tune that at times sounds almost like Scandinavian gospel. Meanwhile, a fabulous synth solo gets thrown into the bargain too.
Available as a download single via Sonnet Sound / Kobalt
One act establishing themselves in 2014 were TRUST from Toronto. Led by the polarising “Eeyore gone goth” moodiness of Robert Alfons, the ironically titled ‘Joyland’ was a excellent second album that captured the sleazy nature of a 21st Century SOFT CELL and attached it to the grumpiness of LEONARD COHEN. ‘Peer Pressure’ was a frantic but funky uptempo number featuring Alfon’s trademark vocal pitch shift technique that proved misery and dancing could actually go together.
Available on the album ‘Joyland’ via Arts & Crafts
Touchingly melancholic with classic Weimar Cabaret melodies and vibrant Kling Klang interplay, TWINS NATALIA conjured up memories of holiday romances with pretty German frauleins and flirty French mademoiselles. Debut long player ‘The Destiny Room’ was many years in the making and did not disappoint. With the PET SHOP BOYS styled neo-orchestrated statement of ‘Set Love Free’, the song theatrically climaxed like a pomped up ‘Rent’ as a wonderful slice of joie de vivre to finish the main act.
Available on the album ‘The Destiny Room’ via Anna Logue Records
While the romantically uptempo ‘Become’ was inevitably the focal point of MIDGE URE’s ‘Fragile’ album, there were other songs that were easily its equal. The most notable of these was ‘Dark, Dark Night’, an online collaboration with MOBY. Though derived from ‘Rockets’ on MOBY’s ‘Destroyed’ opus, Ure exploited the original’s rich symphonic string sounds and chilled vibes. Building to an amazing climax with melodic screeches and a tremendous guitar solo from Ure, this was a partnership made in heaven.
Available on the album ‘Fragile’ via Hypertension Music
VILE ELECTRODES capitalised on their profile from supporting OMD’s German tour in 2013 by snaring prestigious Schallwelle Awards for Best International Act and Best International Album for their debut ‘The future through a lens’. ‘Pandora’s Box’ was an excellent previously unreleased song full of wobbling analogue vigour that initially came with the lavish ‘Pack Of Wolves’ three CD package and set the scene for a much anticipated follow-up long player.
WRANGLER’s manifesto is to harness “lost technology to make new themes for the modern world”. And their signature track is ‘Lava Land’, a superb cross between CABARET VOLTAIRE and prime ‘Metamatic’ era JOHN FOXX but with a modern twist. Stephen Mallinder’s voice manipulations range from demonic gargoyle to stern drowning robot. The frantic pace is strangely danceable, but the mood is distinctly unsettling and dystopian when the screeching steam powered Logan string machine kicks in.
With a typical gap of 4-5 years between most of their albums, RÖYKSOPP fans would certainly feel like its birthday and Christmas arriving all at once with the release of ‘The Inevitable End’.
The new collection comes hot on the heels of the ROBYN collaboration mini-album ‘Do It Again’ which was favourably reviewed here at TEC only 4 months ago.
In the accompanying press release, ‘The Inevitable End’ (the clue’s in the title) has been announced as the final RÖYKSOPP album, although one half of the duo Svein Berge explains that “We feel like this is a goodbye to the traditional album format… we’re not going to stop making music, but the album format as such, this is the last thing from us”. So with that intriguing signing off statement, how does ‘The Inevitable End’ sound?
The overture to the album ‘Skulls’ combines a swung rhythm pattern with spiky analogue synth percussion and unlike most of the other album tracks, relies exclusively on heavily vocodered vocals, almost an evil twin to those much loved by DAFT PUNK. ‘Monument’ first made its appearance on ‘Do It Again’ in an epic 10 minute incarnation featuring AIR-like textures and live sax, but the version here is more energized with an edgy octave-jumping bassline. The lyrics “this will be my monument, this will be a beacon when I’m gone” take on a deeper significance bearing in mind the intention of this being (potentially) RÖYKSOPP’s swansong…
The MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY collaboration ‘Sordid Affair’ recalls THE BELOVED with its restrained and lush synthetic textures, the bitter-sweet lyrics recalling a doomed love affair, heartbreakingly soundtracked with a beautiful descending sixteen note melody. Jamie McDermott from THE IRREPRESSIBLES takes vocal duties on a third of the album tracks, ‘You Know I Have to Go’ is the aural equivalent of taking the central section of 10CC’s ‘I’m Not in Love’ and stretching it over 7 and a half minutes, whilst the more uptempo ‘I Had This Thing’ introduces a 4/4 kick drum into the proceedings but again features another melancholic vocal motif over a chord progression recalling ‘Do It Again’.
Susanne Sundfør, who vocalled RÖYKSOPP’s superb cover of ‘Ice Machine’, guests on ‘Save Me’ which conjures up a blend of Giorgio Moroder’s ‘The Chase’ combined with one of Timbaland’s productions with his trademark gated “du-du-dah” synth chord present throughout.
‘Rong’, the other track to showcase ROBYN, is pretty bizarre, a short two minute track who’s main vocal hook is “What the f*** is wrong with you?”… and at this point in the album (if you hadn’t clocked it before) the realization kicks in that this really isn’t going to be an uplifting party album. The other Susanne Sundfør song ‘Running to the Sea’, which was a single last year, is a more piano-led track which builds to a snare driven climax, yet still retains the overall wistful and downbeat atmosphere of the tracks that preceded it.
The album ends with the instrumental ‘Coup de Grace’ and then ‘Thank You’, the latter’s vocoder eerily echoing ‘Europe Endless’ with the vocal hookline providing a fitting closing melody of gratitude to a person or person(s) unknown – it could be speculated this is parting gesture aimed at their fans, but the interpretation is left to the listener to make their minds up as to who the recipient is.
In summary, this is a VERY introspective album, if you are going through any sort of emotional turmoil, then ‘The Inevitable End’ is a pretty hard ride from start to finish. There are glimmers of light here, but the overriding ambience is that of despair, heartbreak and desolation, but wrapped up in some really beautiful downbeat electronic textures.
The ‘Marmite’ factor is also provided by Jamie McDermott’s vocals, listeners will either love the downbeat crooning or will quite possibly be reaching for some LEONARD COHEN for some light relief… it will certainly be interesting to see what RÖYKSOPP do next.
They have certainly left behind a superb body of work, from their early chilled out selections through to the more electronic pop direction of their ROBYN collaborations. Whatever pathway they choose to take next, they will surely be followed by those with an interest in quality electronic music, and despite the downbeat album title, this may be ‘The Inevitable End’ of one era and the start of a new one…
‘The Inevitable End’ is released by Dog Triumph through Wall Of Sound and Cooking Vinyl in CD, vinyl and download formats on 10th November 2014
The dream team of RÖYKSOPP & ROBYN have worked together before with ROBYN guesting on the 2009 single ‘The Girl & The Robot’ and then the Norwegian duo produced ‘None Of Dem’ for her 2010 ‘Body Talk’ project.
This time around there are five new tracks to appreciate which range from the more adventurous/experimental (‘Monument’) through to out-and-out dancefloor electronica (‘Do It Again’) and with two tracks clocking in at nearly ten minutes, you are given value for money with the music on offer here.
The mini-album opener ‘Monument’ is an epic and lush introduction, the track starts in a fairly traditional electronic song format, a two chord pattern building hypnotically with ROBYN imploring a lover to “make a cast of my body”, and then seven minutes in, like a film with a major plot twist, the track takes an unexpected detour – rolling live drums and a live saxophone (which recall French act AIR) come centre-stage and take the track to an atmospheric conclusion.
‘Say It’ starts more like a traditional dance-floor electronica track, based around a rising, almost Kraftwerkian bassline with sharp as a knife 909 hi-hats driving the track along. Nowhere near as song-based as ‘Monument’, ‘Say It’ comes across more like a remix, at its heart an intriguing conversation set up between ROBYN and what sounds like a vintage Speak and Spell unit. This dialogue transforms what could have been a pretty standard electronic dance track into something which has a much greater depth and substance.
Standout track and new single is ‘Do It Again, this is the sort of electronic dance pop track that MADONNA would give her muscular right arm for, the MADONNA comparison goes a bit deeper with lyrics suggesting an almost updated ‘Into the Groove’ concept with ROBYN intoning “Wait for the build-up” before we “Do it again”, lyrically suggesting the scenario of a typical club track. The song also sees the welcome return of a retro-vibed gated synth chord stab which recalls the classic Jam and Spoon remix of ‘The Age Of Love’.
‘Every Little Thing’ and ‘Inside The Idle Hour Club’ slow the tempo down after the more energetic earlier numbers. The latter is an entirely instrumental piece with almost classical MICHAEL NYMAN-style textures on top of an extended ambient piece.
In a climate jammed full of identikit female-fronted electro-pop, ROBYN still has an instantly recognisable vocal and the link-up with RÖYKSOPP really makes this an irresistible combination.
Both the music and vocal production are faultless throughout and the only real shame is that this just a mini-album rather than a full-length one.
Those left wanting more can console themselves with the possibility of seeing both acts on their upcoming co-headline tour which the official RÖYKSOPP website promises will give each act a separate spot and then join each other on stage for their collaborative works.
‘Do It Again’ is released by Dog Triumph through Wall Of Sound and Cooking Vinyl in CD, vinyl and download formats.