Tag: Ryuichi Sakamoto (Page 2 of 2)

TEC’s 2017 End Of Year Review

Oscillate Mildly

The world found itself in a rather antagonistic and divisive state this year, as if none of the lessons from the 20th Century’s noted conflicts and stand-offs had been learnt.

Subtle political messages came with several releases; honorary Berliner MARK REEDER used the former divided city as symbolism to warn of the dangers of isolationism on his collaborative album ‘Mauerstadt’. Meanwhile noted Francophile Chris Payne issued the ELECTRONIC CIRCUS EP ‘Direct Lines’ with its poignant warning of nuclear apocalypse in its title song. The message was to unite and through music as one of the best platforms.

After a slow start to 2017, there was a bumper crop of new music from a number of established artists. NINE INCH NAILS and GARY NUMAN refound their mojo with their respective ‘Add Violence’ and ‘Savage (Songs From A Broken World)’ releases, with the latter recording his best body of work since his imperial heyday.

But the first quarter of the year was hamstrung by the anticipation for the 14th DEPECHE MODE long player ‘Spirit’, with other labels and artists aware that much of their potential audience’s hard earned disposable income was being directed towards the Basildon combo’s impending album and world tour.

Yet again, reaction levels seemed strangely muted as ‘Spirit’ was another creative disappointment, despite its angry politicised demeanour.

Rumours abounded that the band cut the album’s scheduled recording sessions by 4 weeks. This inherent “that’ll do” attitude continued on the ‘Global Spirit’ jaunt when the band insulted their loyal audience by doing nothing more than plonking an arena show into a stadium for the summer outdoor leg.

Despite protestations from some Devotees of their dissatisfaction with this open-air presentation, they were content to be short-changed again as they excitedly flocked to the second set of European arena dates with the generally expressed excuse that “it will be so much better indoors”.

By this Autumn sojourn, only three songs from ‘Spirit’ were left in the set, thus indicating that the dire record had no longevity and was something of a lemon.

Suspicions were finally confirmed at the ‘Mute: A Visual Document’ Q&A featuring Daniel Miller and Anton Corbijn, when the esteemed photographer and visual director confessed he did not like the album which he did the artwork for… see, it’s not just The Electricity Club 😉

Devotees are quick to say all criticism of DEPECHE MODE is unfair, but the band can’t help but make themselves easy targets time and time again. But why should the band care? The cash is coming, the cash is coming…

Luckily, veteran acts such as OMD and ALISON MOYET saved the day.

The Wirral lads demonstrated what the word spirit actually meant on their opus ‘The Punishment Of Luxury’, while the former class mate of Messrs Gore and Fletcher demonstrated what a soulful, blues-influenced electronic record should sound like with ‘Other’.

As Tony Hadley departed SPANDAU BALLET and Midge Ure got all ‘Orchestrated’ in the wake of ULTRAVOX’s demise, the ‘Welcome To The Dancefloor’ album directed by Rusty Egan, to which they contributed, became a physical reality in 2017.

Now if DM plonked an arena show into the world’s stadiums, KRAFTWERK put a huge show into a theatre. The publicity stunt of 2012, when Tate Modern’s online ticket system broke down due to demand for their eight album live residency, did its job when the Kling Klang Quartett sold out an extensive UK tour for their 3D concert spectacular.

No less impressive, SOULWAX wowed audiences with their spectacular percussion heavy ‘From Deewee’ show and gave a big lesson to DEPECHE MODE as to how to actually use live drums correctly within an electronic context.

Mute Artists were busy with releases from ERASURE, LAIBACH and ADULT. but it was GOLDFRAPP’s ‘Silver Eye’ that stole the show from that stable. LCD SOUNDSYSTEM returned after seven years with their ‘American Dream’ and it was worth the wait, with the most consistent and electronic record that James Murphy’s ensemble has delivered in their career.

To say Neil Arthur was prolific in 2017 would be an understatement as he released albums with BLANCMANGE and FADER while Benge, a co-conspirator on both records, worked with I SPEAK MACHINE to produce ‘Zombies 1985’ which was one of the best electronic albums of the year; and that was without the JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS stage play soundtrack ‘The Machines’.

Despite JAPAN having disbanded in 1982, solo instrumental releases from Steve Jansen and Richard Barbieri were particularly well-received, while David Sylvian made a return of sorts, guesting on ‘Life Life’ for ‘async’, the first album from Ryuichi Sakamoto since recovering from his illness. On the more esoteric front, BRIAN ENO presented the thoughtful ambience of ‘Reflection’, while THE RADIOPHONIC WORKSHOP had ‘Burials In Several Earths’.

2017 was a year that saw acts who were part of the sine wave of Synth Britannia but unable to sustain or attain mainstream success like BLUE ZOO, B-MOVIE, FIAT LUX and WHITE DOOR welcomed back as heroes, with their talent belatedly recognised.

Germany had something of a renaissance as veterans Zeus B Held and ex-TANGERINE DREAM member Steve Schroyder came together in DREAM CONTROL as another TD offshoot QUAESCHNING & SCHNAUSS offered up some impressive ‘Synthwaves’, while there actually was a new TANGERINE DREAM album, their first without late founder member Edgar Froese.

Eberhard Kranemann and Harald Grosskopf offered up some KRAUTWERK as other veterans like RHEINGOLD, DER PLAN, BOYTRONIC and DJ HELL also returned. Comparatively younger, 2RAUMWOHNUNG and KATJA VON KASSEL both offered up enticing bilingual takes on classic electronic pop.

The Swedish synth community again delivered with DAILY PLANET, PAGE, REIN, VANBOT, ANNA ÖBERG, 047 and LIZETTE LIZETTE all delivering fine bodies of work, although KITE were missed, with their German tour cancelled and release of their ‘VII’ EP postponed due to vocalist Nicklas Stenemo’s illness; The Electricity Club wishes him all the best in his recovery.

Across the Baltic Sea, Finnish producer JORI HULKKONEN released his 20th album ‘Don’t Believe In Happiness’ while nearby in Russia, a duo named VEiiLA showcased an unusual hybrid of techno, opera and synthpop and ROSEMARY LOVES A BLACKBERRY offered a ‘❤’.

One of the year’s discussion points was whether Synthwave was just synthpop dressed with sunglasses and neon signs but whatever, Stateside based Scots but MICHAEL OAKLEY and FM-84 made a good impression with their retro-flavoured electronic tunes.

It wasn’t all about the ex-pats and in a territory as big as North America, there came a number of up-and-coming home grown electronic artists with LOST IN STARS, PARALLELS, PATTERN LANGUAGE, SPACEPRODIGI, COMPUTER MAGIC, MATTHIAS, NTTX and BATTLE TAPES all gaining traction. Meanwhile, Canada’s PURITY RING infuriated some of their fanbase by working with KATY PERRY on three tracks for her album ‘Witness’. AESTHETIC PERFECTION’s new singles only policy was paying dividends and the Electro Mix of ‘Rhythm + Control’, which featured the promising newcomer NYXX, was one of the best tracks of 2017. South American wasn’t left out either and representation came via Argentina’s COSAQUITOS EN GLOBO.

Female solo artists had strong presence in 2017 as FEVER RAY made an unexpected return, ZOLA JESUS produced her best work to date in ‘Okovi’ and HANNAH PEEL embarked on an ambitious synth / brass ‘Journey to Cassiopeia’. Meanwhile, SARAH P. asked ‘Who Am I’ and MARNIE found ‘Strange Words & Weird Wars’ as ANI GLASS and NINA both continued on their promising developmental path.

Other female fronted acts like KITE BASE, SPECTRA PARIS, BLACK NAIL CABARET, AVEC SANS, EMT and THE GOLDEN FILTER again reinforced that electronic music was not solely about boys with their toys.

Respectively, Ireland and Scotland did their bit, with TINY MAGNETIC PETS and their aural mix of SAINT ETIENNE and KRAFTWERK successfully touring with OMD in support of their excellent second album ‘Deluxe/Debris’, while formed out of the ashes of ANALOG ANGEL, RAINLAND wowed audiences opening for ASSEMBLAGE 23.

A bit of smooth among the rough, CULT WITH NO NAME released a new album while other new(ish) acts making a positive impression this year included KNIGHT$, MOLINA, ANNEKA, SOFTWAVE, THE FRIXION and KALEIDA.

Despite getting a positive response, both iEUROPEAN and SOL FLARE parted ways while on the opposite side of the coin, Belgian passengers METROLAND celebrated five years in the business with the lavish ‘12×12’ boxed set

Overall in 2017, it was artists of a more mature disposition who held their heads high and delivered, as some newer acts went out of their way to test the patience of audiences by drowning them in sleep while coming over like TRAVIS on VSTs.

With dominance of media by the three major labels, recognition was tricky with new quality traditional synthpop not generally be championed by the mainstream press. With Spotify now 20% owned by those three majors, casual listeners to the Swedish streaming platform  were literally told what to like, as with commercial radio playlists.

It is without doubt that streaming and downloading has created a far less knowledgeable music audience than in previous eras, so Rusty Egan’s recent online petition to request platforms to display songwriting and production credits was timely; credit where credit is due as they say…

While The Electricity Club does not dismiss Spotify totally and sees it as another tool, it should not be considered the be all and end all, in the same way vinyl is not the saviour of the music industry and in physics terms, cannot handle the same dynamic range as CD.

Music is not as emotionally valued as it was before… that’s not being old and nostalgic, that is reality. It can still be enjoyed with or without a physical purchase, but for artists to be motivated to produce work that can connect and be treasured, that is another matter entirely.

However, many acts proved that with Bandcamp, the record company middle man can be eliminated. It is therefore up to the listener to be more astute, to make more effort and to make informed choices. And maybe that listener has to seek out reliable independent media for guidance.

However, as with the shake-up within the music industry over the last ten years, that can only be a good thing for the true synthpop enthusiast. And as it comes close to completing its 8th year on the web, The Electricity Club maintains its position of not actually promoting new acts or supporting any scene, but merely to write about the music it likes and occasionally stuff it doesn’t… people can make their own mind up about whether to invest money or time in albums or gigs.

Yes, things ARE harder for the listener and the musician, but the effort is worthwhile 😉


PAUL BODDY

Best Album: QUASCHENING & SCHNAUSS Synthwaves
Best Song: BATTLE TAPES No Good
Best Gig: SOULWAX at O2 Ritz Manchester
Best Video: SOULWAX Is it Always Binary?
Most Promising New Act: MARIE DAVIDSON


IAN FERGUSON

Best Album: OMD The Punishment of Luxury
Best Song: SPARKS Edith Piaf (Said it Better Than Me)
Best Gig: SPEAK & SPELL at Glastonbury
Best Video: ALISON MOYET Reassuring Pinches
Most Promising New Act: MICHAEL OAKLEY


SIMON HELM

Best Album: PAGE Det Är Ingen Vacker Värld Men Det Råkar Vara Så Det Ser Ut
Best Song: LAU NAU Poseidon
Best Gig: PAGE at Electronic Summer 2017
Best Video: PSYCHE Youth Of Tomorrow
Most Promising New Act: ANNA ÖBERG


KERSTIN KEY

Best Album: OMD The Punishment of Luxury
Best Song: GOLDFRAPP Systemagic
Best Gig: OMD at Düsseldorf Mitsubishi Halle
Best Video: GARY NUMAN My Name Is Ruin
Most Promising New Act: KATJA VON KASSEL


CHI MING LAI

Best Album: I SPEAK MACHINE Zombies 1985
Best Song: AESTHETIC PERFECTION Rhythm + Control – Electro Version
Best Gig: OMD + TINY MAGNETIC PETS at Cambridge Corn Exchange
Best Video: I SPEAK MACHINE Shame
Most Promising New Act: MICHAEL OAKLEY


RCHARD PRICE

Best Album: FADER First Light
Best Song: OMD Isotype
Best Gig: MARC ALMOND at London Roundhouse
Best Video: GOLDFRAPP Anymore
Most Promising New Act: NINA


STEPHEN ROPER

Best Album:  OMD The Punishment of Luxury
Best Song: DUA LIPA Be The One
Best Gig: HANNAH PEEL at Norwich Arts Centre
Best Video: PIXX I Bow Down
Most Promising New Act: PIXX


MONIKA IZABELA TRIGWELL

Best Album: ZOLA JESUS Okovi
Best Song: GARY NUMAN My Name Is Ruin
Best Gig: ERASURE at London Roundhouse
Best Video: GARY NUMAN My Name Is Ruin
Most Promising New Act: ANNA ÖBERG


Text by Chi Ming Lai
14th December 2017

OMD What Have We Done

In a strong year for albums, OMD have released one of the best of 2017 in ‘The Punishment Of Luxury’ and the campaign continues with a new single and video for one of its highlights ‘What Have We Done’.

With a Synthanorma sequence that retains the essence of their KRAFTWERK inspired roots, ‘What Have We Done’ features Paul Humphreys on lead vocals.

The life, love and loss lyrics for this waltzing lament came to him after having to put his dog Patsy to sleep.

However, this slice of passionate Modernen Industrielle Volksmusik could also act as symbolism for the end of any relationship, whether political or personal, and coupled to a beautifully sparkling melody recalling Ryuichi Sakamoto’s ‘Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence’, the song has deservedly become a live favourite on OMD’s current tour in support of ‘‘The Punishment Of Luxury’.

The observational video itself has a circle of life narrative that also recalls the ‘Powers Of Ten’ films directed by Charles and Ray Eames, where scenes are expanded out from the Earth.

Heading into their 40th anniversary as a performing unit when they played at Liverpool’s Eric’s in the Autumn of 1978 accompanied by Winston the tape recorder, the breadth of musicality, technological curiosity and lyrical wordplay of OMD is as strong as ever.

It’s a big lesson to those contemporaries of theirs, whose recent albums have not been particularly good, as to what spirit actually is…


‘What Have We Done’ is taken from ‘The Punishment Of Luxury’ released by 100% Records, ”The Punishment of Luxury: B Sides & Bonus Material’ featuring previously vinyl only tracks such as ‘Ha Ha Ha’ and ‘Lampe Licht’ plus extended mixes will be released as a CD on 15th December 2017

OMD’s ‘The Punishment Of Luxury’ 2017 UK tour with opening act TINY MAGNETIC PETS includes:

Bexhill Del La Warr Pavilion (15th November), Manchester Academy (17th November), York Barbican (18th November), Glasgow Royal Concert Hall (19th November), Birmingham Symphony Hall (21st November), Gateshead Sage (22nd November)

2017 European dates with opening act HOLYGRAM include:

Erfut Traum Hits Festival (25th November), Hamburg Grosse Freiheit (26th November), Berlin Huxleys (28th November), Leipzig Haus Auenesse (29th November), Munich Tonhalle (30th November), Offenbach Stadthalle (2nd December), Düsseldorf Mitsubishi Electric Hall (3rd December), Tilburg 013 (5th December), Antwerp De Roma (6th December), Lausanne Les Docks (8th December)

2018 two man shows featuring Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys only include:

Stockholm Vasateatern (5th February), Gothenburg Pustervik (6th February), Oslo Rockefeller (7th February), Copenhagen DR Studie 2 (9th February), Warsaw Progresja (11th February), Paris Bataclan (12th February), Barcelona Razzmatazz (14th February), Madrid La Riviera (15th February),
Lisbon Aula Magna (16th February), Isle of Man Douglas Villa Marina Hall (20th February)

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

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

https://twitter.com/OfficialOMD


Text and Photo by Chi Ming Lai
7th November 2017, updated 15th November 2017

SHOOK Tidal

SHOOK is a composer, producer and musician based in The Netherlands. 

Real name Jasper Wijnands, vintage keyboards within his studio set-up include a Polymoog, Siel Orchestra, Yamaha DX7 and Roland Juno 60, while there is also more modern hardware like the Dave Smith Prophet 12 and Nord Electro 4.

His electronically tinged work is influenced by jazz, funk and anime soundtracks; this led him to be commissioned to remix ELLIE GOULDING’s ‘Lights’ in 2011 and JAMIROQUAI’s ‘Lifeline’ in 2013.

Despite this, SHOOK’s most recent album ‘Continuum’ has captured a more moody virtuoso ambience, recalling AIR and RYUICHI SAKAMOTO’s ‘async’ long player which was released earlier this year.

A key track from the ‘Continuum’ album, ‘Tidal’ has been accorded its own visual presentation directed by Anise Mariko of mikineko productions, who was responsible for the ‘Been Waiting’ video for COMPUTER MAGIC. Filmed by Sony Ambassador Ivan Wong, it is a picturesque travelogue capturing the essence of Tokyo, Hong Kong and New York.

With a musical backdrop of gentle marimba-like textures and soothing synths, cityscapes, malls and markets are captured alongside more serene gardens, forests and cultural focal points.

Mariko said to The Electricity Club: “We explored rooftops and alleys around the world. Shook has been hospitalized for the past year and is a dear friend of ours – We wanted to dedicate the freedom and beauty of this video to him”.

Wijnands was diagnosed with Pancreatitis in 2016, but is determined to continue making music as he makes his recovery. ‘Tidal’ is a fine projection of his positive spirit in the face of adversity.


‘Tidal’ is from the album ‘Continuum’, available in CD, vinyl and digital formats via https://shook.bandcamp.com/album/continuum-album

https://www.shookmusic.com/

https://www.facebook.com/shookshookshook/

https://www.instagram.com/shookmusic/

http://www.mikineko.com/

https://twitter.com/radioclub_jp


Text by Chi Ming Lai
28th September 2017

A Beginner’s Guide To YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA

Yellow+Magic+Orchestra+ymoWhen YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA formed in 1978, it was intended to be a one-off project for producer / bassist Haruomi Hosono and the two session musicians he had hired: drummer Yukihiro Takahashi and keyboardist Ryuichi Sakamoto.

Prior to the group’s formation, the classically trained Sakamoto had experimented with electronic music at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.

Hosono had been involved in the recording of several early electronic rock records in Japan.

Meanwhile, Takahashi was in THE SADISTIC MIKA BAND, a prog outfit who were signed to PINK FLOYD’s label Harvest and had appeared on ‘Old Grey Whistle Test’. Hosono began formulating the idea of an instrumental disco band which could have the potential to succeed internationally. The format was formally defined when Sakamoto introduced the music of KRAFTWERK to the other two.

KRAFTWERK’s artistic outlook, along with acts such as TANGERINE DREAM, NEU! and LA DÜSSELDORF had helped restore a sense of Germanic identity in reaction to the Americanisation of European post-war culture. The trio were feeling this was needed in Japan too, so they endeavoured to make something very original using electronics. As Sakamoto remarked, this involved using the “very Japanese” approach of merging many different styles like a Bento box in a reliable, forward thinking fashion.

The technology used on their 1978 debut album included the Moog III-C, Korg PS-3100, Polymoog, ARP Odyssey, Oberheim Eight Voice, Minimoog, Korg VC-10 Vocoder and Roland MC-8 Micro Composer. With the latter programmed by fourth member Hideki Matsutake, the result was a crisp, exotic pop sound that was unusual and ahead of its time, even in the synthesizer heartland of Europe.

YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA scored a UK Top 20 hit single in 1980 with ‘Computer Game (Theme From The Invader)’ . Recorded in 1978, the main section of the track was actually ‘Firecracker’, a cover of a 1959 composition by Martin Denny. The single also gained traction in America where the trio made a memorable appearance on the prestigious music show ‘Soul Train’. It subsequently made an impact out on the block as it was later sampled by Hip-Hop godfather Afrika Bambaataa on ‘Death Mix’ and then in 2001, it was used again by Jennifer Lopez on ‘I’m Real’.

The international popularity of YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA (or YMO as they came to be known) coincided with the burgeoning synthpop scene in Britain which had embraced the affordable synthesizers from Japanese manufacturers such as Roland, Korg and Yamaha. VISAGE’s Rusty Egan in his dual role as DJ at the legendary Blitz Club in London had been spinning YMO tunes while acts such as GARY NUMAN, THE HUMAN LEAGUE, ULTRAVOX, OMD, SOFT CELL and DEPECHE MODE started achieving mainstream success.

YMO went on to be the one of the most popular bands in South East Asia, but despite this success, the trio went into hiatus in 1984, with each member continuing their already established parallel solo careers. While the trio said they were “spreading out” rather than splitting, they continued to play on each other’s recordings and made guest appearances at various live shows.

Sakamoto achieved the highest international profile from his ventures into acting and soundtrack work. His Oscar winning success for ‘The Last Emperor’ in 1988 helped expand his soundtrack portfolio to include films such as ‘Black Rain’, ‘The Sheltering Sky’ and ‘Little Buddha’, while he also composed music for events like the Opening Ceremony of the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.

A short reunion took place in 1993 for the ‘Technodon’ album where the band had to be known as YMO, but there was no further activity until 2007 when Hosono, Sakamoto and Takahashi were reunited for a Kirin Lager advertising campaign, performing one of their most popular numbers ‘Rydeen’.

Hosono and Takahashi had been working together in a project called SKETCH SHOW and on a number of occasions, Sakamoto was invited to join in. As a result, he proposed that the group rename itself HUMAN AUDIO SPONGE (HAS) for whenever he was involved. Inevitably, YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA reformed again when they played the 2007 Kyoto Live Earth event, although for recording purposes they combined names and went out as HASYMO.

ymo1In Summer 2008, the trio played the Meltdown Festival curated by MASSIVE ATTACK billed as YMO, although only four YMO songs were played while the rest of the set comprised of SKETCH SHOW, HASYMO and solo material. However in 2009, the trio performed at the World Happiness festival in Japan and confirmed that YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA was their official name, while there was a further appearance at the 2010 event. Despite the confusion over names, it would appear YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA are still a going concern, although Sakamoto is presently taking an extended break recuperating from illness.

So with their place in electronic music history assured, what twenty tracks would make up an imaginary CD compilation album to act as Beginner’s Guide to the iconic trio? The Electricity Club made the following selections for its YMO Bento box…


YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA Tong Poo (1978)

YMOYELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA’s debut self-titled album was noted for its use of the then brand new computerised Roland MC8 Micro-Composer to control the synthesizers. With their use of modern technology, they became standard bearers for what eventually became known in Japan as technopop. Despite its pulsing electronic disco bassline, the Sakamoto penned ‘Tong Poo’ was inspired by Chinese music produced during the China’s Cultural Revolution.

Available on the YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA album ‘Yellow Magic Orchestra’ via Alfa Music

http://www.ymo.org/


YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA Behind The Mask (1979)

solid state survivorWith ‘Behind The Mask’, YMO’s influence touched rock, pop and soul. Michael Jackson loved the track so much, he penned additional lyrics to it during the ‘Thriller’ sessions. Unable to be released at the time by Jackson himself, he gave the reworked track to his musical director Greg Phillinganes who had a surprise Top 5 hit in the US R’n’B charts in 1985. This proxy collaboration was then later covered by Eric Clapton in 1987. The remixed MJ demo eventually appeared on the posthumous album ‘Michael’.

Available on the YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA album ‘Solid State Survivor’ via Alfa Music

https://www.facebook.com/YMOofficial


RIUICHI SAKAMOTO Riot in Lagos (1980)

riot in lagosBack from when Sakamoto spelt the alphabetical version of his first name as ‘Riuichi’, ‘Riot in Lagos’ off his 1980 ‘B-2 Unit’ album has often been seen as a pivotal track that anticipated the beats and pulses of house music. A frantic but danceable instrumental that conveyed the rhythmic tension and violence of the title, it was a fine example of the visual narrative of Sakamoto’s compositional mind. It was a talent that would serve him well in a burgeoning career that would eventually lead him to the cinema.

Available on the RIUICHI SAKAMOTO album ‘B-2 Unit’ via GT Music Japan

https://www.sitesakamoto.com/


JAPAN Taking Islands In Africa (1980)

japan-gentlemen-takeFollowing the success of JAPAN’s third album ‘Quiet Life’, Sakamoto was assigned by a magazine to interview David Sylvian. The meeting led to the beginnings of a long standing friendship and a magnificent collaboration entitled ‘Taking Islands In Africa’ which ended up closing the long player. The music was entirely Sakamoto’s while Sylvian contributed the worldly lyrics. There were to be further collaborations between the pair, the most recent being ‘World Citizen’ in 2004.

Available on the JAPAN album ‘Gentlemen Take Polaroids’ via Virgin Records

http://www.nightporter.co.uk/


YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA Camouflage (1981)

YMO BGM‘BGM’ was the first recording to use the now iconic Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer and a 3M 32-track digital recorder. However, as producer of ‘BGM’, Hosono did not like the latter’s aural sharpness and preferred to record the rhythm sections on analogue tape first before copying them to the 3M machine. This album’s best song ‘Camouflage’ was a curious beat laden blend of Eastern pentatonics and Western metallics… the German synth band CAMOUFLAGE took their name from this very song.

Available on the YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA album ‘BGM’ via Alfa Music

https://www.facebook.com/YMOofficial/


LOGIC SYSTEM Domino Dance (1981)

logic systemThe Roland MC-8 Micro-Composer programmed by fourth member Hideki Matsutake was a key part of YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA’s early production and live performances. In 1981, Matsutake formed his own project LOGIC SYSTEM. Inspired after hearing a playback of Wendy Carlos’ ‘Switched-On Bach’, he went on to be the technical assistant of TOMITA. ‘Domino Dance’ was the excellent lead single from the acclaimed ‘Logic’ and while less immediate, it was worthy of his better known employers.

Available on the LOGIC SYSTEM album ‘Logic’ via Express Japan / Toshiba EMI

https://www.facebook.com/logicsystem


SANDII & THE SUNSETZ The Great Wall (1981)

SANDII&THESUNSETZ Heat ScaleAfter guesting on ‘Absolute Ego Dance’ from ‘Solid State Survivor’, Hawaiian Japanese vocalist Sandy O’Neal began working with Hosono, who was producing a Japanese band called THE SUNSET GANG. Convincing the all-male combo that her Kate Bush influenced vocals would be ideal to front their brand of chunky music, SANDII & THE SUNSETZ were born. The highlight of the 1981 Hosono produced album ‘Heat Scale’ was ‘The Great Wall’, a song influenced by music of the Chinese Cultural revolution.

Available on the SANDII & THE SUNSETZ album ‘Heat Scale’ via Alfa Music

http://sandii.info/


YUKIHIRO TAKAHASHI Something In The Air (1981)

Yukihiro-Takahashi-Neuromantic-523610Being YMO’s main vocalist did not necessarily mean Takahashi-san was a great singer and indeed, it very much had a Marmite effect. With his solo albums of course, his voice took centre stage. And with his afflicted, semi-croon in the vein of Bryan Ferry, he showed his passionate side on ‘Something In The Air’. Not a cover of the THUNDERCLAP NEWMAN song, it came from ‘Neuromantic’, considered to be one of Takahashi’s finest solo albums; it featured Tony Mansfield, Phil Manzanera and Andy Mackay.

Available on the YUKIHIRO TAKAHASHI album ‘Neuromantic’ via GT Music Japan

http://intenzio.co.jp/yukihiro/room66plus/


YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA Neue Tanz (1981)

technodelicYMO’s experimental fourth long player ‘Technodelic’ was notable for its use of an LMD-649, a hand-made sampler developed by Toshiba EMI engineer Kenji Murata. Although ‘Neue Tanz’ was a tribute to KRAFTWERK, Hosono played bass guitar on the track, adding a dark funkiness that once merged with the Indonesian Kecak chanting samples, recalled David Byrne and Brian Eno’s ‘My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts’ album. KRAFTWERK borrowed back the concept in 1986 for ‘Musique Non Stop’.

Available on the YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA album ‘Technodelic’ via Alfa Music

http://www.sonymusic.co.jp/Music/Info/ymo/


SUSAN I Only Come Out at Night (1982)

SUSAN I Only Come Out At NightFranco-Japanese beauty SUSAN was a protégée of Takahashi and ‘I Only Come Out At Night’ was produced and written by him with lyrical assistance from the now-regular YMO collaborator Peter Barakan. Gloriously detuned and pentatonic, this was a fine example of how new technology was allowing the smarter than average drummer to challenge their perceived role in pop. Takahashi certainly provided a heavier, more leftfield sound compared with Hosono’s production work for Idol singers such as Seiko Matsuda.

Available on the SUSAN album ‘Complete’ via Sony Music Japan

http://www.susanweb.jp/


YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA Kimi Ni Mune Kyun (1983)

naughty boys‘Naughty Boys’ was YMO’s most commercial album of their career. This was highlighted by the massively popular and joyous lead single ‘Kimi Ni Mune Kyun’. Takahashi, Hosono and Sakamoto were the oldest J-Pop boy band in town, looking like ARASHI’s great uncles! A YMO vs THE HUMAN LEAGUE EP featuring a remix with new English lyrics and vocals by Phil Oakey was released in 1993. Meanwhile in 2009, the song was the closing theme to the Anime series ‘Maria Holic’, sung by the voice cast.

Available on the YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA album ‘Naughty Boys’ via Alfa Music

http://www.discogs.com/artist/22061-Yellow-Magic-Orchestra


DAVID SYLVIAN & RIUICHI SAKAMOTO Forbidden Colours (1983)

Sylvian+SAKAMOTO-Forbidden-Colours-Following a joint single with David Sylvian at the height of JAPAN’s fame entitled ‘Bamboo Music’ in 1982, Sakamoto made his 1983 acting debut alongside David Bowie in ‘Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence’. He also composed the soundtrack with Sylvian providing lead vocals on the single version of the WWII drama’s haunting theme tune. Retitled ‘Forbidden Colours’, the lyrics reflected the taboo love story of the Nagisa Oshima directed film. Since then, the track has been covered in various languages.

Available on the RYUICHI SAKAMOTO album ‘Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence’ via Editions Milan Music / BMG

http://www.davidsylvian.com/


YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA You’ve Got To Help Yourself (1983)

YMO ServiceLike the polarising ‘∞Multiplies’ mini-album from 1980, ‘Service’ contained YMO songs alongside various skits, performed by the comedy combo SUPER ECCENTRIC THEATER (SET). Whether the inclusion of the SET material was an ironic act of cultural subversion is a mystery to Western ears, as the sketches were all in Japanese! The best song on ‘Service’ though was the poppy ‘You’ve Got To Help Yourself’ which tellingly had previously featured in instrumental taster form on ‘Naughty Boys’.

Available on the YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA album ‘Service’ via Alfa Music

http://www.factmag.com/2015/01/22/the-essential-yellow-magic-orchestra/


HARUOMI HOSONO Gaplus (1984)

HOSONO Super XeviousHosono was one of the first people to acknowledge the appeal of video game sounds and arranged an album containing Namco arcade game music. Simply titled ‘Video Game Music’, it was acknowledged as being the first chiptune record. A subsequent maxi single release ‘Super Xevious’ had Hosono actually composing and performing around original game music by Yuriko Keino and Junko Ozawa. ‘Gaplus’ with its phased gunshots, blips and classical overtones was the undoubted highlight.

Available on the HARUOMI HOSONO EP ‘Super Xevious’ via Scitron Digital Content

http://www.daisyworld.co.jp/


RYUICHI SAKAMOTO featuring THOMAS DOLBY Field Work (1986)

fieldworkMost of the tracks for what was to become ‘Illustrated Musical Encyclopedia’ were originally recorded in 1984 and as the title suggested, saw Sakamoto exploring a variety of styles and genres including jazz and soca. Initially only released in Japan, the album was altered for the international market with some new tracks. One of these was this great collaboration with Thomas Dolby. Entitled ‘Field Work’, it united both artists’ concerns for the environment.

Available on the RYUICHI SAKAMOTO album ‘Illustrated Musical Encyclopedia’ via 10 / Virgin Records

http://www.thomasdolby.com/


YUKIHIRO TAKAHASHI & STEVE JANSEN Stay Close (1986)

STEVE JANSEN & YUKIHIRO TAKAHASHI Stay CloseTakahashi’s solo albums featured JAPAN’s bassist Mick Karn and drummer Steve Jansen. In 1986, Jansen and Takahashi released a brilliant joint single ‘Stay Close’. Additionally featuring the talents of legendary rhythm guitarist Carlos Alomar, Jansen in particular did a very able impression of his older brother David Sylvian, while Takahashi provided his usual mannered “will he make it – won’t he?” vocals. It remains a true lost classic as possibly the best song that JAPAN and YMO never recorded.

Available on the YUKIHIRO TAKAHASHI album ‘Once A Fool…’ via Pony Canyon

http://www.stevejansen.com/


SYLVIAN / SAKAMOTO Heartbeat (1992)

heartbeatThe dreamy ‘Heartbeat (Tainai Kaiki II)’ saw David Sylvian return to give a raw passionate vocal performance which was counterpointed by a whispery spoken word passage from Ingrid Chavez. The two emotionally connected in real life and got married after the recording. More organic than previous Sylvian / Sakamoto collaborations, the bed of the song was Sakamoto-san’s eerie piano and ‘Twin Peaks’ strings, while out of nowhere came a rousing solo from noted jazz guitarist Bill Frisell.

Available on the RYUICHI SAKAMOTO album ‘Heartbeat’ via Virgin Records

https://www.facebook.com/ryuichisakamoto


YMO Pocketful Of Rainbows (1993)

YMO TECHNODONFor their comeback album ‘Technodon’, the band were forced to release it under the moniker YMO as the name YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA was owned by former record label Alfa Records. Songs like ‘Hi-tech Hippies’ had more straightforward techno arrangements than any of the trio’s more recent solo work. The album was also sample free to save any potential copyright infringements. ‘Pocket Full Of Rainbows’ was a Japanese language cover of the tune made famous by Elvis Presley in ‘GI Blues’.

Available on the YMO album ‘Technodon’ via Toshiba EMI

https://twitter.com/ymo


RYUICHI SAKAMOTO Anger – Rare Force 2 Meg Remix (1998)

Sakamoto-AngerSakamoto’s soundtrack success led him to sign with Sony Classical. His first work for the label ‘Discord’ was a four movement avant-garde composition exploring dissonant musical structures. Two of the tracks ‘Anger’ and ‘Grief’ were given out to remixers, thus cementing the link Sakamoto had with dance culture since ‘Riot In Lagos’. The aggressive, almost industrial ‘Anger’ was given a dark breakbeat treatment by Skint Records signings RARE FORCE which got the adrenaline pumping.

Available on the RYUICHI SAKAMOTO album ‘Moto.tronic’ via Sony Music

https://twitter.com/ryuichisakamoto


HASYMO Rescue (2007)

HASYMO rescueProducing a single ‘Rescue’ for the Anime film ‘Appleseed Ex Machina’, Hosono, Sakamoto and Takahashi utilised a leftfield jazz techno sound and the pretty female voice of Chiho Shibaoka. The film’s soundtrack featured two further HASYMO tracks ‘Method’ and ‘Weather’ as well as a large number of solo contributions from Hosono. The recorded reunion put YMO back into the public eye and led to invitations for a variety of prestigious events including Meltdown.

Available on the HASYMO single ‘Rescue’ via Commmons ‎/ Avex Trax

https://myspace.com/hasymo


Text by Chi Ming Lai
4th June 2015, updated 8th June 2020

TEC’s 25 FAVOURITE ARTIST COLLABORATIONS

Artist collaborations can be seen in several ways.

LoweSumnerMarrTennantThey are either a chance to take the best elements of great bands to form an even greater supergroup, or as has happened in many cases, there is a watering down of prime concepts which results in a fragmented mess of little interest to anyone.

So here are 25 artist collaborations that actually worked; the list is restricted to one song per main act, defined as being the one who released the parent album.

That means PET SHOP BOYS, who have been among the most ubiquitous and willing of conspirators, get to appear as themselves and as guests of ELECTRONIC and DAVID BOWIE while NEW ORDER’s Bernard Sumner appears as part ELECTRONIC as well as also moonlighting for THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS and Philip Oakey of THE HUMAN LEAGUE gets in there twice as a guest.

Over more recent years, there appears to have much more freedom for artists to collaborate, notably with SPARKS recently unveiled collaboration with Glasgow based art rockers FRANZ FERDINAND, named rather straightforwardly FFS. And this is reflected by this list here which has a bias towards new millennium recordings, although The Electricity Club is pleased to say, this is a CALVIN HARRIS free zone 😉


SYLVIAN SAKAMOTO Bamboo Houses (1982)

Sylvian SakamotoBoth David Sylvian and Ryuichi Sakamoto were beginning to make their artistic presence felt outside of JAPAN and YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA, and having collaborated on ‘Taking Islands in Africa’, another project was always on the cards. ‘Bamboo Houses’ expanded on the electro-acoustic textures of ‘Tin Drum’ over a catchy percussive framework courtesy of Steve Jansen. Sylvian delivered his usual mournful vocal but Sakamoto’s monologue and marimba gave the track that extra ethnic authenticity.

Available on the DAVID SYLVIAN compilation ‘A Victim of Stars 1982-2012’ via Virgin Records

http://www.davidsylvian.com/

http://sitesakamoto.com/


MIDGE URE & MICK KARN After A Fashion (1983)

MidgeUre+MickKarn‘After A Fashion’ was a blistering sonic salvo that crossed the best of JAPAN’s rhythmical art muzak with ULTRAVOX’s ‘The Thin Wall’. However, it stalled at No39 in the UK singles charts and sadly, there was to be no album. But Karn later played on Ure’s ‘Remembrance Day’ in 1988 and Ure briefly joined JBK, the band formally known as JAPAN sans David Sylvian for an aborted project in 1992 that resulted in two songs ‘Cry’ and ‘Get A Life’. Sadly Karn passed away in 2011 after losing his battle against cancer.

Available on the MIDGE URE album ‘No Regrets’ via Music Club Deluxe

http://www.midgeure.co.uk/

http://mickkarn.net/


SHARPE & NUMAN Change Your Mind (1985)

Sharpe+Numan-Change-Your-MindVery much seen as the odd couple, the duo’s promotional photos captured the curly haired jazz funk aficionado with The Iceman! Bill Sharpe was pianist with jazz fusion group SHAKATAK. Together with their drummer Roger Odell, they had written a piece of computerised electrofunk that needed a vocal. Engineered by Nick Smith who had also been working with GARY NUMAN, he suggested that the former Mr Webb would be ideally suited to the futuristic backing. ‘Change Your Mind’ reached No17 in the UK.

Available on the SHARPE & NUMAN album ‘Automatic’ via Cherry Pop

http://www.numan.co.uk

http://www.billsharpe.com


LES RITA MITSOUKO & SPARKS Singing In The Shower (1990)

singing in the showerIn France, LES RITA MITSOUKO became unlikely pop stars thanks to danceable hit singles such as ‘Marcia Baïla’ and ‘C’est Comme Ça’. Vivacious singer Catherine Ringer and oddball instrumentalist Fred Chichin were influenced by the eccentric overtures of SPARKS and with a moniker in a similar vein to the Mael Brothers’ breakthrough LP ‘Kimono My House’, an artistic union was inevitable. With the two duos “feeling dirty and feeling clean”, the catchy ‘Singing In The Shower’ was a hit in Europe.

Available on the LES RITA MITSOUKO album ‘Marc & Robert’ via Virgin France

http://www.catherineringer.com/

http://allsparks.com/


ELECTRONIC featuring PET SHOP BOYS The Patience Of A Saint (1991)

electronic‘The Patience Of A Saint’ from ELECTRONIC’s debut was undoubtedly the highlight of that album. Featuring the involvement of both PET SHOP BOYS, the witty exchange between Bernard Sumner and Neil Tennant was accompanied by a gorgeous backing track of drum machine, swimmy string synth and minimal guitar. Incidentally, the song was premiered in front of 60,000 people when ELECTRONIC, with Tennant and Lowe in tow, supported DEPECHE MODE at Dodger Stadium in August 1990.

Available on the ELECTRONIC album ‘Electronic’ via Warner Music

http://www.feeleverybeat.co.uk/

http://www.petshopboys.co.uk/


808 STATE featuring IAN McCULLOCH Moses (1993)

808State-GorgeousFollowing the departure of founder member Martin Price, ‘Gorgeous’ was 808 STATE’s first album as a three piece. Featuring early mash-up experiments based around UB40, THE JAM and JOY DIVISION, one of the wholly original compositions though was ‘Moses’, a rare electronically backed outing by ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN’s Ian McCulloch. Sounding like NEW ORDER with a Scouse snarl, the unusual but enjoyable partnership was the highlight of the album.

Available on the 808 STATE album ‘Gorgeous’ via ZTT Records

http://www.808state.com/

http://www.bunnymen.com/


ELEKTRIC MUSIC featuring ANDY McCLUSKEY Kissing The Machine (1993)

ElektricMusic-EsperantoRecorded for his ELEKTRIC MUSIC project after leaving KRAFTWERK, Karl Bartos’ collaboration with OMD’s 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’. A month later he sent me a demo”. With fabulously surreal lyrics about a love affair with a sexy robot, it became a cult favourite. OMD resurrected the song in 2013.

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

http://www.karlbartos.com/

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


LEFTFIELD LYDON Open Up (1993)

Leftfield_Open_UpJohn Lydon had shown himself to be open to collaboration following 1984’s ‘World Destruction’ as TIME ZONE with electro rap pioneer Afrika Bambaataa. But ‘Open Up’ with the then relatively unknown dance duo LEFTFIELD came as something of a surprise. Lydon was suitably angry as he reflected on the tensions of his adopted home with a screaming “Burn Hollywood, burn!” over an intense electronic soundtrack. LEFTFILELD would later work with Afrika Bambaataa themselves on ‘Afrika Shox’ in 1999.

Available on the LEFTFIELD album ‘A Final Hit’ via Sony Music

http://www.leftfieldmusic.com/

http://www.johnlydon.com/


DAVID BOWIE featuring PET SHOP BOYS Hallo Spaceboy (1996)

hallo_spaceboyBLUR’s Alex James once remarked that having a PET SHOP BOYS remix was like having your dog being taken for a walk, but then, when it came back, it was a different dog! PET SHOP BOYS certainly re-produced this Bowie/Eno composition from ‘1.Outside’ into a much more commercial proposition, even utilising the cut-up technique to decide which words Neil Tennant would sing. Reaching No12, ‘Hallo Spaceboy’ became Da Dame’s biggest UK hit since ‘Jump They Say’ in 1990!

Available on the DAVID BOWIE album ‘Nothing Has Changed’ via EMI Music

http://www.davidbowie.com/

http://www.petshopboys.co.uk/


THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS featuring BERNARD SUMNER Out Of Control (1999)

Chemical Bros-Out_of_control‘Out Of Control’ was THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS’ sonic template actually fulfilling its potential within a song based format with Bernard Sumner as the willing conspirator. ‘Out Of Control’ had everything from a bombastic backbeat and cerebral sequences to bizarre lyrics, especially when Sumner resigned that “maybe my moustache is too much…”. The association with Sumner continued when they produced NEW ORDER’s terrific ‘Here To Stay’ for Factory Records biopic ’24 Hour Party People’.

Available on THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS album ‘Singles 93-03’ via Virgin Records

http://www.thechemicalbrothers.com/

http://www.neworder.com


SYSTEM F featuring MARC ALMOND Soul On Soul (2001)

marc almond+system fFerry Corsten had a huge international hit in 1999 with ‘Out Of The Blue’ under his SYSTEM F moniker. It highlighted the spiritual connection between synthpop and trance so to substantiate the link further, the Rotterdam based producer recruited MARC ALMOND to guest on the blinding ‘Soul On Soul’ for a spirited, club friendly workout. This all tied in nicely with SOFT CELL’s comeback album ‘Cruelty Without Beauty’ which finally arrived in Autumn 2002.

Available on the album ‘Out Of The Blue’ via Tsunami Records

http://www.ferrycorsten.com/

http://www.marcalmond.co.uk/


X-PRESS2 featuring DAVID BYRNE Lazy (2002)

lazyThe Dumbarton born TALKING HEADS frontman was back in the mainstream limelight for the first time since the band disbanded in 1991 with this superb online collaboration with British DJ duo X-PRESS2. David Byrne gave his best afflicted ‘Psycho Killer’ meets ‘Once In A Lifetime’ warble for what became a No2 UK chart hit. He later reworked ‘Lazy’ with orchestral embellishments for his 2004 solo long player ‘Grown Backwards’.

Available on the X-PRESS2 album ‘Muzikizum’ via Skint Records

http://www.skintentertainment.com/artists/skint/x-press-2

http://davidbyrne.com/


JUNKIE XL featuring DAVE GAHAN Reload (2003)

RadioJXL‘Reload’ was a welcome relief after DEPECHE MODE’s paradoxically titled ‘Exciter’. The brief sojourn with Dutch producer Tom Holkenborg aka JUNKIE XL proved once and for all how well Dave Gahan’s voice worked on uptempo electronic dance tracks. He may be more interested in  MUMFORD & SONS these days, but frankly, over a lively synth laden backbone is where he sounds best. The ‘Radio JXL: A Broadcast from the Computer Hell Cabin’ album also featured guest vocals from GARY NUMAN!

Available on the JUNKIE XL album ‘Radio JXL: A Broadcast From the Computer Hell Cabin’ via EMI Music

http://www.junkiexl.com/

http://www.davegahan.com


ERASURE featuring CYNDI LAUPER (2007)

erasure-storm-chaserMs Lauper was heading towards a career renaissance with her excellent ‘Bring Ya To The Brink’ album in 2008 so her collaboration with ERASURE in 2007 was quite timely. A soulful slice of Trans-Atlantic synthpop, ‘Early Bird’ was an enjoyable duet between her and Andy Bell that turned out to be the one of the more memorable tracks that emerged from ERASURE’s rather lukewarm ‘Light At The End Of The World’ sessions.

Available on the ERASURE EP ‘Storm Chaser’ via Mute Records

http://www.erasureinfo.com/

http://www.cyndilauper.com


LITTLE BOOTS featuring PHILIP OAKEY Symmetry (2009)

untitledAt the time ‘Symmetry’ was unveiled, THE HUMAN LEAGUE had not released any new material since 2001. With a fabulous chorus, this was the nearest thing to a new HUMAN LEAGUE track with Victoria Hesketh doing her best Susanne Sulley impression. So when it was Phil talking, it was magic. “Tell me your dreams and I’ll tell you all my fears” he announced, as they complimented each other in a way that had not really even been heard on a League record before.

Available on the LITTLE BOOTS album ‘Hands’ via 679 Recordings

http://www.littlebootsmusic.co.uk

http://www.thehumanleague.co.uk


MY ROBOT FRIEND featuring ALISON MOYET Waiting (2009)

my robot friend+moyet-waitingMY ROBOT FRIEND aka Howard Rigberg famously created the song ‘We’re The Pet Shop Boys’ in honour of Messrs Tennant and Lowe, who subsequently covered it by way of a reverse compliment. Rigberg went recruited ALISON MOYET for her first purely electronic adventure since the YAZOO days on ‘Waiting’. This welcome union with its off-kilter synth sounds alongside her voice no doubt helped ignite her interest in working within the genre again, the result of which was 2013’s ‘the minutes’.

Available on the MY ROBOT FRIEND album ‘Soft-Core’ via Double Feature/Worried Rainbow

http://www.myrobotfriend.com/

http://www.alisonmoyet.com/


PET SHOP BOYS featuring PHILIP OAKEY This Used To Be The Future (2009)

pet_shop_boys_yes_etc_50‘This Used To Be The Future’ was a dream trioet, exclusive to ‘Yes etc’, that featured Neil Tennant, Philip Oakey and Chris Lowe. With Lowe actually singing as opposed to just speaking, this triumphant celebration of yesterday’s tomorrow saw Oakey deadpan in that classic disappointed tone that things didn’t quite turn out how Raymond Baxter predicted on ‘Tomorrow’s World’! In that much loved HUMAN LEAGUE style, he finally resigns himself and at grunts“AMEN!”.

Available on the PET SHOP BOYS album ‘Yes: Further Listening 2008-2010’ via EMI Music

http://www.petshopboys.co.uk/

http://www.thehumanleague.co.uk


RÖYKSOPP featuring ROBYN The Girl & The Robot (2009)

girl&therobotThe centrepiece of RÖYKSOPP’s third album ‘The Girl & The Robot’ was perhaps the culmination of ROBYN’s steady rise as a truly independent female artist. Despite having gained success in 1997 with the R’n’B tinged ‘Show Me Love’, ROBYN’s superiors at BMG reacted negatively to her new electropop aspirations inspired by fellow Swedes THE KNIFE. Frustrated, ROBYN bought herself out of her contract and set up her own Konichiwa Records, giving her the freedom to work with whoever she wanted.

Available on the RÖYKSOPP album ‘Junior’ via Wall Of Sound / PIAS

http://royksopp.com/

http://robyn.com/


BLANK & JONES featuring CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN Don’t Stop (2010)

The Logic Of PleasureThe German dance duo had previously worked with Miss Brücken on ‘Unknown Treasure’, a most gorgeous electrobeat ballad from 2003. ‘Don’t Stop’ was a progression on that but with a wider texture pallet and more abstract electronic overtones. Despite being less song based, vocally it is classic Claudia with its spoken verse and sexy ice maiden delivery in chorus.

Available on the BLANK & JONES album ‘The Logic Of Pleasure’ via Kontor Records

http://www.blankandjones.info

http://www.claudiabrucken.co.uk


CRYSTAL CASTLES featuring ROBERT SMITH Not In Love (2010)

notinloveRe-recorded for single release, Alice Beer took a breather to allow guest Robert Smith from THE CURE to take lead vocals on ‘Not In Love’, a dark but accessible number from CRYSTAL CASTLES’ second album. Smith more than fitted in with the Canadian duo’s aggressive and occasionally chaotic electronic template on this frantic uncovering of a song originally recorded by obscure Toronto new wave combo PLATINUM BLONDE.

Available on the CRYSTAL CASTLES featuring ROBERT SMITH single ‘Not In Love’ via Last Gang/Fiction Records

http://www.crystalcastles.com/

http://www.thecure.com


MOTOR featuring MARTIN L GORE Man Made Machine (2012)

MOTOR’s electro stomper ‘Man Made Machine’ featured vocals by DEPECHE MODE’s Martin Gore in a collaboration which came over a bit like a camp IGGY POP. Gore certainly sounded a touch nervous and uneasy, luring over the duo’s brand of harder edged schaffel techno which only enhanced its appeal. Incidentally, the same titled parent album also featured guests such as GARY NUMAN, BILLIE RAY MARTIN and NITZER EBB’s Douglas J McCarthy.

Available on the MOTOR album ‘Man Made Machine’ via CLR

http://www.wearemotor.com

http://www.martingore.com


FOTONOVELA featuring MIRRORS Our Sorrow (2013)

tonofloveNot content with producing MARSHEAUX and collaborating with OMD on ‘Helen Of Troy’, Greek duo FOTONOVELA released a more song based second album featuring a number of prominent international vocalists entitled ‘A Ton Of Love’. One of the numbers ‘Our Sorrow’ featured James New from the much missed MIRRORS. In the vein of classic OMD, New’s majestic vocal touching the heartstrings, the wonderful melancholy was perfect, soulful electronic pop.

Available on the FOTONOVELA album ‘A Ton of Love’ via Undo Records

http://www.facebook.com/undofotonovela

http://www.facebook.com/theworldofmirrors


JOHN FOXX & JORI HULKKONEN Evangeline (2013)

John_Foxx_Jori_Hulkkonen_-_European_Splendour_CDFoxx and Hulkkonen had worked together previously on various one-off songs like ‘Dislocated’ and ‘Never Been Here Before’ but had never before attempted a body of work with a conceptual theme. When the two finally found some collaborative time together, he result was ‘European Splendour’, an EP with a grainier downtempo template than before. The lead track ‘Evangeline’ was full of depth, coupled with an anthemic chorus and vibrant exchange of overworldly character throughout.

Available on the JOHN FOXX & JORI HULKKONEN EP ‘European Splendour’ via Sugarcane Records

http://www.metamatic.com/

http://www.jorihulkkonen.com


SIN COS TAN featuring CASEY SPOONER Avant Garde (2013)

sin cos tan+casey spoonerSIN COS TAN’s Jori Hulkkonen first found fame as part of TIGA & ZYNTHERIUS back in 2001 at the height of the Electroclash movement. Partly recalling that era, ‘Avant Garde’ saw Casey Spooner from the scene’s flag bearers FISCHERSPOONER make a guest appearance on the duo’s second long player ‘Afterlife’. The track itself though was more like THE CURE produced by PET SHOP BOYS with Spooner providing a suitably cynical snarl to contrast Juho Paalosmaa’s impassioned lost boy cry.

Available on the SIN COS TAN album ‘Afterlife’ via Solina Records

http://sincostan.net/

http://www.fischerspooner.com


iEUROPEAN featuring WOLFGANG FLÜR Activity Of Sound (2014)

iEuropean+WolfgangAlthough Wolfgang Flür ’s last full album project was as YAMO with ‘Time Pie’ back in 1997, there was this marvellous electronic number entitled ‘Activity Of Sound’, recorded in collaboration with iEUROPEAN. The project of Dublin based artist Sean Barron, the additional female monologue  was provided by Barron’s wife, Izabella. The track sees Herr Flür quoting an archive interview with the late avant garde composer John Cage to a soundtrack of hypnotic synthetic bliss.

Available on the iEUROPEAN featuring WOLFGANG FLÜR download single ‘Activity Of Sound’ via Subculture Records

https://www.facebook.com/pages/iEuropean/149564838461817

http://www.musiksoldat.de


Text by Chi Ming Lai
25th May 2015, updated 15th April 2018

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