Tag: Stephen Hague (Page 2 of 3)

A Beginner’s Guide To CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN

act_claudiaWith her distinctive ice maiden delivery, CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN is the undoubted queen of cinematic avant pop.

She first came to prominence with PROPAGANDA and the Trevor Horn produced film noir drama of ‘Dr Mabuse’.

Together with Susanne Freytag, Michael Mertens and Ralf Dörper, the Düsseldorf based quartet released their acclaimed album ‘A Secret Wish’ on ZTT in 1985.

But despite the album being a favourite of musical figures such as Quincy Jones, Martin Gore, John Taylor and Jim Kerr, PROPAGANDA split following business and creative tensions as a result of their deal with ZTT.

Remaining with ZTT, Brücken formed ACT with early electronic pioneer Thomas Leer and released an album ‘Laughter Tears & Rage’ in 1988 which featured an array of lush synthetic dynamics glossed with a touch of starlet glamour. Not one to rest on her laurels, her first solo album ‘Love: & A Million Other Things’ came in 1991 on Island Records before she took a career break.

There was a brief reunion of PROPAGANDA in 1998, but when that came to nought, Brücken spent much of the new millennium’s first decade working and touring with OMD’s Paul Humphreys in ONETWO, supporting ERASURE and THE HUMAN LEAGUE along the way.

Since then, she has released two further solo albums and more recently been spotted in the studio with Susanne Freytag and Stephen J Lipson, while a new collaborative project with Jerome Froese is also in progress.

Although her catalogue is wide and varied, CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN is perhaps still very much regarded as a cult figure on the music scene. Certainly, she deserves greater recognition so with a restriction of one track per release, The Electricity Club offers a twenty track Beginner’s Guide to her work…


TOPOLINOS Mustafa (1982)

TOPOLINOSBrücken and Freytag first met in Düsseldorf around Die Ratinger Straße; “There was this interaction between art and music happening and everyone kind of knew one another” she said. Together they formed TOPOLINOS, literally translated as ‘The Mickey Mouses’! Using a rhythm unit, electric organ lines and Middle Eastern flavoured vocal phrasing, ‘Mustafa’ was a typical art school recording of the period and appeared on ‘Partysnäks’, the soundtrack to the film ‘Die Tanzbeinsammler’.

Available on the compilation album Electri_City 2 (V/A) via Grönland Records


PROPAGANDA p: Machinery (1985)

Propaganda ‎– pMachineryAt the suggestion of Freytag, Brücken was recruited into PROPAGANDA and their dynamic sound was marketed as “ABBA in Hell”! p: Machinery captured their Teutonic edge and the charm of state-of-the-art technology such as the PPG Wave and Synclavier systems. Produced by Stephen J Lipson, the song also had an unexpected contributor as Brücken recalled: “It was amazing when David Sylvian came in. On ‘p: Machinery there is this line he wrote on a little keyboard that he brought in…”

Available on the PROPAGANDA album ‘A Secret Wish’ via Union Square


GLENN GREGORY & CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN When Your Heart Runs Out Of Time (1985)

Glenn+Claudia When Your HeartWritten by Will Jennings, best known for ‘My Heart Will Go On’ for the film ‘Titanic’ and ‘Up Where We Belong’ from ‘An Officer & A Gentleman’, ‘When Your Heart Runs Out of Time’ was recorded for the film ‘Insignificance’ directed by Nicolas Roeg. Brücken and the HEAVEN 17 vocalist met during the Anton Corbijn directed video shoot for ‘Dr Mabuse’ when Gregory’s then-wife Sarah was doing the make-up. The song was produced by Midge Ure, under the pseudonym of Otto Flake Junior.

Available on the compilation album ‘The Art Of The 12 Inch’ (V/A) via Union Square


ACT Absolutely Immune (1988)

ACT Absolutely ImmuneAfter PROPAGANDA fragmented, Brücken formed ACT with Thomas Leer in 1987. Working again with Stephen J Lipson, alongside the technological marvels came a more playful, decadent glamour with some political flirtations. ‘Absolutely Immune’ was a commentary on the apathy of the nation at large with its “I’m alright Jack” selfishness. Unfortunately, with the sentiment lost on a British public still drowned in blue emotion, it failed to gain interest in a landscape dominated by the bland blue eyed soul.

Available on the ACT album ‘Love & Hate’ via Union Square


JIMMY SOMERVILLE Run From Love (1990)

jimmy_somerville-the_singles_collection_1984-1990While not a sales success, the acclaim and respect that ‘A Secret Wish’ attained among fellow artists led to Brücken being offered many opportunities to collaborate. One of the first came from Jimmy Somerville. ‘Run From Love’ was a lesser known BRONSKI BEAT number reworked in a more house directed fashion by S’EXPRESS producer Pascal Gabriel for the diminutive Glaswegian’s greatest hits collection and Ms Brücken provided backing vocals in the chorus.

Available on the JIMMY SOMMERVILLE album ‘The Singles Collection 1984/1990’ via London Records


CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN Absolut[e] (1991)

Claudia Brucken Absolut(E)Despite ACT ending, Brücken signed a deal with Island Records which eventually spawned her debut solo album produced by Pascal Gabriel. The first single ‘Absolut[e]’ was very much dominated by Gabriel’s dancefloor instincts. But as the album was being recorded, all was not well within. “The MD from Island suddenly left and all the people who worked on my album left as well” she remembered, “A new guy came in and already I could sense what would happen, so Pascal and I decided to get really experimental”.

Available on the CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN album ‘Love: & A Million Other Things’ via Cherry Red Records


CHROME SEDUCTION Light The Way (1993)

Claudia+SusanneThe reaction to ‘Love: & A Million Other Things’ was muted and Brücken took a career break to bring up her daughter Maddy, emerging only occasionally to record the odd guest vocal. ‘Light The Way’ with CHROME SEDUCTION was a percussively frantic club number that also saw a reunion with former partner-in-crime Susanne Freytag. The project of Magnus Fiennes, brother of actors Joseph Fiennes and Ralph Fiennes, it first surfaced on an independently released 12 inch on Mother Alpha Delta.

Available on the CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN album ‘ComBined’ via Union Square


THE BRAIN I’ll Find A Way (1996)

THE BRAIN I'll Find A WayThe project of Düsseldorf based DJ Dietmar Andreas Maier, ‘I’ll Find A Way’ was typical of the frantically paced Euro-Trance of the period. Co-written with Michael Mertens, the seed of a PROPAGANDA reunion began with a number of songs including ‘Ignorance’, ‘No Return’, ‘To The Future’ and ‘Turn To The Sun’ being demoed. Although a video for ‘No Return’ was produced, the title proved poignant and Brücken later announced: “The reunion was worth a try, but did not work out.”

Available on THE BRAIN single ‘I’ll Find A Way’ via BMG


OCEANHEAD Eyemotion (1997)

OCEANHEAD EyemotionContinuing to contribute the occasional guest vocal, ‘Eyemotion’ was a co-write with John Etkin-Bell which coupled a shuffling drum loop with some beautifully chilled out atmospheres. Brücken’s breathy whispers and a muted synthetic brass motif à la PET SHOP BOYS provided the colourful sonics on an elegant piece of downtempo electronica. Blowing away the likes of ENIGMA and SACRED SPIRIT, the original CD single release was limited to just 2000 copies however.

Available on the OCEANHEAD single ‘Eyemotion’ via Land Speed Records


CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN & PAUL RUTHERFORD This Is Not America (2000 – not released until 2011)

After the aborted reunion of PROPAGANDA, Brücken accepted an invitation in 2000 to join Paul Humphreys on his solo tour of the USA; one of the first recorded fruits of their partnership was a cover of ‘This Is Not America’ featuring FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD’s Paul Rutherford intended for a film soundtrack. A beautifully crafted synthesized tribute to DAVID BOWIE & THE PAT METHENY GROUP, although shelved, it finally saw the light of day on her ‘ComBined’ career retrospective.

Available on the CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN album ‘ComBined’ via Union Square


APOPTYGMA BERZERK Unicorn – Duet Version (2002)

APOPTYGMA BERZERK HarmonizerEurope maintained a vibrant industrial music scene at the start of the new century and in a one-off collaboration with Norway’s cult electronic body merchants APOPTYGMA BERZERK, Brücken returned to the more Teutonic overtones that had been evident in PROPAGANDA. In an electronic rework of the heavier guitar focussed original, the combo provided a suitably aggressive but accessible backing track for her to duet with frontman Stephan Groth on ‘Unicorn’.

Available on the APOPTYGMA BERZERK album ‘Harmonizer’ via WEA


ONETWO Cloud 9ine (2004)

ONETWO ItemBrücken formalised her musical partnership with Paul Humphreys and together they named themselves ONETWO. They dusted off a track that had been demoed during the aborted PROPAGANDA reunion. The song in question was ‘Cloud 9ine’, a co-write with Martin Gore which also featured the guitar of DEPECHE MODE’s main songwriter. It was the stand-out song on ONETWO’s debut EP ‘Item’, but it would be a few years before their first album would be completed.

Available on the ONETWO EP ‘Item’ via There (there) at https://theremusic.bandcamp.com/album/item


ANDY BELL with CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN Delicious (2005)

ANDY BELL Electric BlueBrücken joined ERASURE’s Andy Bell to sing on two tracks for his debut solo album ‘Electric Blue’. More club oriented than ERASURE, the long player was produced by THE MANHATTAN CLIQUE who were also part of the ONETWO live band, and provided the introduction. The call-and-response Hi-NRG stomp of ‘Delicious’ saw Brücken in her most playful mood since ACT and in rare poptastic glory, despite the bittersweet, reflective lyrical nature of the song.

Available on the ANDY BELL album ‘Electric Blue’ via Sanctuary Records


CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN & ANDREW POPPY Libertango (2005)

ANOTHER LANGUAGEBrücken teamed up with former ZTT label mate Poppy to record a number of stripped back cover versions, with just piano or guitar as accompaniment for her first long form release since 1991. Among the reinterpretations were songs originally performed by RADIOHEAD, MARIANNE FAITHFUL, ASSOCIATES and KATE BUSH. One of the highlights was a suitably dramatic take on ‘Libertango’, better known as ‘I’ve Seen That Face Before’ made famous by GRACE JONES.

Available on the CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN & ANDREW POPPY album ‘Another Language’ via There (there) at http://theremusic.bandcamp.com/album/another-language


ONETWO Anonymous (2007)

Onetwo_InsteadHumphreys and Brücken finally released a full length 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 fully rejoined McCluskey in his old band.

Available on the ONETWO album ‘Instead’ via There (there) at https://theremusic.bandcamp.com/album/instead


BLANK & JONES Don’t Stop (2008)

BLANK & JONES The Logic of PleasureIn between the aborted PROPAGANDA reunion and ONETWO, CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN guested with the popular German dance duo on ‘Unknown Treasure’, a most gorgeously shuffled electrobeat ballad. The parties reunited in 2008 but while ‘Unknown Treasure’ was in Brücken’s words, “a real collaboration”, “’Don’t Stop’ was in reverse, they gave me all the music and then I did the words and sent it back to them”. Despite the remote detachment of the recording, ‘Don’t Stop’ was still elegantly enticing.

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


CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN & THE REAL TUESDAY WELD The Things I Love (2011)

=LA NoireRockstar Games wanted a German singer for a new game called ‘LA Noire’ soundtracked by THE REAL TUESDAY WELD’s Stephen Coates who was known for producing jazzy cabaret-style music with subtle electronica influences dubbed Antique Beat. “I thought: why not?” said Brücken, “I heard the songs and thought they were so beautiful. I found it a really good challenge doing something I hadn’t done before”. ‘The Things I Love’ was the alluring highlight of three songs recorded.

Available on the soundtrack album ‘L.A. Noire’ (V/A) via Rockstar Games


CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN One Summer Dream (2012)

Claudia Brucken One Summer DreamThe B-side to ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA’s massive hit ‘Mr Blue Sky’, ‘One Summer Dream’ was the first song to emerge from Brücken’s reinterpretations project with producer Stephen Hague which also included material by DAVID BOWIE, PET SHOP BOYS, DUBSTAR, JULEE CRUISE and THE LILAC TIME. Beginning with a vintage gramophoned segment, it built to a dreamy John Barry influenced, ‘Felt Mountain’-era GOLDFRAPP string arrangement.

Available on the CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN album ‘The Lost Are Found’ via There (there)


OMD Kissing The Machine (2013)

OMD-English-ElectricAlthough this Andy McCluskey / Karl Bartos co-write first appeared in 1993 on the ELEKTRIC MUSIC album ‘Esperanto’, Paul Humphreys completely reworked ‘Kissing The Machine’ from scratch for OMD. “Paul had the idea of asking Claudia to do the vocal in the middle eight” remembered McCluskey, “but I suggested we start it with the ‘I want you to want me – I need you to need me…’ bit through a vocoder and went ‘y’know, could you ask Claudia to do it in German as well?’!” The result was electronic magic.

Available on the OMD album ‘English Electric’ via BMG


CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN Time To Make Changes (2014)

CLAUDIA BRUCKEN Where ElseThe biggest surprise musically on Brücken’s third solo album ‘Where Else…’ was her adoption of the acoustic guitar. Working with producer John Owen Williams whose credits also included BLANCMANGE, the songs dealt with the subjects of “emotion, beginnings, endings, past life and future hopes”. Almost like ABBA meeting MORRISSEY in a lush organic backdrop, ‘Time To Make Changes’ very much reflected her personal mindset following the end of her relationship with Paul Humphreys.

Available on the CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN album ‘Where Else…’ via Cherry Red Records


For further information on the upcoming projects of CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN, please visit her official website and Facebook page

http://www.claudiabrucken.co.uk

https://www.facebook.com/ClaudiaBruckenMusic


Text by Chi Ming Lai
30th July 2016

A Beginner’s Guide To STEPHEN HAGUE

STEPHEN HAGUE-01Portland born STEPHEN HAGUE first came to musical prominence in 1984 with his production of MALCOLM McLAREN’s ‘Madam Butterfly’, an incongruous blend of opera, soul, hip-hop and electropop.

Although an experienced hand having already notched up a hit with the breakdancing novelty record ‘(Hey You) The Rock Steady Crew’ in 1983, the cinematic arthouse resonance of ‘Madam Butterfly’ allowed Hague to be taken more seriously musically. As one of the first advocates of digital recording, he was seen as someone who could helm a modern polished sound to maximise the dynamics of the then new compact disc medium.

Two acts who were listening closely were OMD and PET SHOP BOYS. Hague’s first full album production was OMD’s ‘Crush’ in 1985 but it was with his re-recorded version of ‘West End Girls’ that PET SHOP BOYS hit No1 in both the UK and US in 1986.

Interestingly, the character of its distinctive bass synth was achieved by Hague coercing a reluctant Chris Lowe into hand playing the riff while the track fulfilled Neil Tennant’s concept of the duo sounding “like an English rap group”. Hague’s work on ‘West End Girls’ made him a producer-in-demand and started an imperial phase which mirrored that of PET SHOP BOYS themselves.

Although Hague was not involved in OMD’s massive American hit ‘If You Leave’ from the John Hughes teen flick ‘Pretty In Pink’, he was the music supervisor of Hughes’ next film ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’ which included PROPAGANDA and FURNITURE in the soundtrack. He then went through a particularly prolific period with a variety of synth flavoured acts such as NEW ORDER, ERASURE, COMMUNARDS and MARC ALMOND, while also working with artists as diverse as PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED, JANE WIEDLIN, ONE DOVE and BROTHER BEYOND.

One of the main criticisms of Stephen Hague’s sound was that his wash of digital synths and smoothed over percussion lacked edge. But as Hague would argue, pop music “carries certain traditions of structure and expectation”. Thus his work made considerations to the placement of instruments and voices, while giving any new technology an organic touch that still sounded positively futuristic.

Hague later got his foot in the door occasionally during the Britpop era with productions for DUBSTAR, BLUR, JAMES and even MANIC STREET PREACHERS. But it is electronic pop that Hague is best known for and his best work has certainly pointed to an affinity with synthetic textures.

So quite why REM asked him to produce a demo, only for them to then complain that the results were too synth heavy, remains a mystery.

When The Electricity Club first acquired a car, a mix tape conceived around Hague’s various productions was the first cassette created for its incumbent entertainment system. In effect, this was a various artists compilation but with a wonderfully cohesive sonic core.

So what eighteen songs would go on an imaginary compilation today as an introduction to the work of this under rated, but very gifted producer? Listed in chronological order with a restriction of one song per artist moniker, here are The Electricity Club’s choices…


MALCOLM McLAREN Madam Butterfly (1984)

MALCOLM McLAREN Madam ButterflyBased on Puccini’s iconic work, ‘Madam Butterfly’ became Stephen Hague’s production showcase with DX slap bass and a reverberating drum machine sitting next to haunting synth motifs and a highly emotive aria. With the late McLaren in the role of Colonel Pinkerton, the beautifully soulful vocal of Deborah Cole as Cho-Cho San and operatic stylings from Betty-Ann White provided a refreshing sound that was in its way, quietly subversive as one of the most beautiful records from the early digital era.

Available on the album ‘Fans’ via Charisma Records

http://www.discogs.com/artist/24495-Malcolm-McLaren


OMD (Forever) Live & Die (1986)

OMD ForeverInspired by the steadfast groove of GRACE JONES’ ‘Slave To The Rhythm’, ‘(Forever) Live And Die’ had been written alone by Paul Humphreys about missing his then wife Maureen who was away working on a ballet. A hit in both the UK and US, while the song pointed more towards the Trans-Atlantic aspirations of OMD following the success of ‘If You Leave’ in America, it still possessed elements of their Kling Klang inspired roots with KRAFTWERK’s melodic sensibilities and Vako Orchestron derived choirs looming in the mix.

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

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


PET SHOP BOYS & DUSTY SPRINGFIELD What Have I Done To Deserve This? (1987)

PET SHOP BOYS what have i doneOriginally slated for ‘Please’, ‘What Have I Done To Deserve This?’ sounded like three songs morphed into one, but that was because it actually was. Chris Lowe and Neil Tennant did their respective pop art sections while Allie Willis who co-wrote ‘Boogie Wonderland’ came up with the rather blissful chorus. The song went into another sphere once DUSTY SPRINGFIELD was brought out of semi-retirement to add her voice and ad-libs. The smoothness of Hague’s production provided the perfect backing.

Available on the album ‘Actually’ via EMI Records

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


NEW ORDER True Faith (1987)

true faith‘True Faith’ was a superb indicator of how Hague could transform a band without necessarily hindering their ethos. During recording, Hague insisted that Bernard Sumner laid down his lead vocal early on in the session so that the instrumentation could be built around his voice. The result was that there was a more subtle dynamic space in the finished track with the occasionally messy wall of sound effect that had been a characteristic of NEW ORDER’s self-produced recordings reduced.

Available on the album ‘Singles’ via WEA Records

http://newordernow.net/


CLIMIE FISHER Love Changes (1988)

CLIMIE FISHER Love changesIf a young ROD STEWART had joined PET SHOP BOYS, what would the end result have sounded like? It might probably have been like CLIMIE FISHER. The late Rob Fisher had Stateside success in NAKED EYES while Simon Climie had proved his worth with his No1 song ‘I Knew You Were Waiting’ for ARETHA FRANLKIN and GEORGE MICHAEL. ‘Love Changes (Everything)’ continued that latter tradition, but with slightly more synthesized backing.

Available on the album ‘Everything’ via Edsel Records

http://www.discogs.com/artist/112925-Climie-Fisher


ERASURE A Little Respect (1988)

ERASURE A Little RespectProbably Hague’s best known production worldwide, ‘A Little Respect’ was perfection from the off with its combination of Vince Clarke’s pulsing programming and strummed acoustic guitar. As the busy rhythmical engine kicked in, Andy Bell went from a tenor to a piercing falsetto to provide the dynamic highs and lows that are always omnipresent in all the great pop songs like ‘Dancing Queen’, ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore’ and ‘Careless Whisper’.

Available on the album ‘The Innocents’ via Mute Records

http://www.erasureinfo.com/


HOLLY JOHNSON Heaven’s Here (1989)

hollyjohnson-heavens-hereThe former FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD front man’s first hit ‘Love Train’ had been mixed by Hague but the producer was fully involved in the recording of ‘Heaven’s Here’, a stand out track from the ‘Blast’ album which also later came out as a single. A lush love ballad, ‘Heaven’s Here’ took a leaf out of ERASURE’s vocal sensitivity to allow Johnson to present a less in-yer-face vocal style that perhaps he had not really visited since ‘The Power Of Love’.

Available on the album ‘Blast’ via Cherry Red Records

http://http://www.hollyjohnson.com/


JIMMY SOMERVILLE Heaven Here On Earth (1989)

Jimmy-Somerville-–-Read-My-LipsHaving worked on COMMUNARDS’ ‘Red’ opus which spawned a rather fabulous cover of ‘Never Can Say Goodbye’, Stephen Hague was often a willing conspirator in aiding Somerville’s reputation as a falsetto Karaoke machine. However, ‘Heaven Here On Earth’ was a beautifully sumptuous layered self-composition from Somerville that was one of the best tracks on his debut solo offering ‘Read My Lips’. The staccato voice samples towards the song’s conclusion provided an enticing lift.

Available on the album ‘Read My Lips’ via Polygram Records

http://www.jimmysommerville.co.uk/


MARC ALMOND A Lover Spurned (1990)

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAWith an epic orchestration and the ghost of Brel deep within its arrangement, ‘A Lover Spurned’ could only have been a single by MARC ALMOND. A forerunner to the Trevor Horn assisted second side concept of ‘Tenement Symphony’ that was to come a year later, ‘A Lover Spurned’ was Almond at his narrative best with ‘The Life & Loves Of A She-Devil’ actress Julie T Wallace giving a stern spoken cameo as the title character that added a ‘Fatal Attraction’ menace to proceedings.

Available on the album ‘Hits & Pieces’ via Universal Music

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


BANDERAS This Is Your Life (1991)

BANDERAS This is your lifeBANDERAS were vocalist Caroline Buckley and instrumentalist Sally Herbert and ‘This Is Your Life’ with its sample from GRACE JONES ‘Crack Attack’ had a distinct Pet Shop Girls behavioural vibe to it. There was also the added bonus of Johnny Marr on rhythm guitar plus a terrific middle eight section featuring Bernard Sumner on backing vocals before an emotive synth solo. “There is no rehearsal, no second chance” sang Buckley and Sumner rather prophetically as there were sadly to be no more hits…

Available on the album ‘Ripe’ via London Records

http://www.discogs.com/artist/31185-Banderas


SIOUXIE & THE BANSHEES Kiss Them For Me (1991)

SIOUXSIE Kiss Them For MeIt seemed a strange pairing but what Stephen Hague brought to The Banshees was an exotic Middle Eastern sheen driven by synthesizers that was complimented by some sparkling rhythm guitar. Long standing fans were outraged but ‘Kiss Them For Me’ possessed an accessibility that prised away some of the perceived threatening spectres of their previous work. Siouxsie Sioux may have been unhappy with the ‘Superstition’ album overall, but it yielded a huge US hit.

Available on the album ‘Superstition’ via Universal Music

http://www.siouxsieandthebanshees.co.uk/


ELECTRONIC Disappointed (1992)

ELECTRONIC DisappointedThe join between NEW ORDER and PET SHOP BOYS became totally blurred with this Europop styled number inspired by the French pop hit ‘Désenchantée’ by MYLENE FARMER. The nucleus of Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr were joined by occasional member Neil Tennant on lead vocals for this interim single. The effect of Stephen Hague’s input can be heard markedly on the two versions offered on the CD single; ELECTRONIC’s original mix was effectively a high quality demo. However, Hague’s pop sensibilities transformed ‘Disappointed’ into a fully functioning hit single.

Available on the album ‘Get The Message’ via EMI Records

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


THE OTHER TWO Selfish (1993)

The-Other-Two-Selfish-102742From the side project of NEW ORDER’s Gillian Gilbert and Stephen Morris, ‘Selfish’ was another exquisite Stephen Hague production with its rich synthetic strings and lively but unobtrusive machine driven rhythms. Gilbert’s resigned vocal about “someone I hate” added to the inherent melancholy. Meanwhile the simulated acoustic guitar solo could easily have been represented by some Hooky bass had this number been a NEW ORDER recording, such was its melodic but understated quality.

Available on the album ‘And You’ via LTM Records

http://theothertwo.co.uk/


BLUR To The End (1994)

BLUR To The EndImagine MARC ALMOND impersonating ANTHONY NEWLEY with a Gallic twist? Like some obscure monochromatic Nouvelle Vague movie theme, the esoteric nature of ‘To The End’ needed a lusher orchestrated treatment than for BLUR’s usual mockney Britpop, so Hague was recruited to produce it. Given added authenticity by Laetitia Sadier from STEREOLAB’s sanguine “Jusqu’a la fin – En plein soleil” and Hague’s accordion playing, ‘To The End’ was popular with many casual listeners.

Available on the album ‘The Best Of’ via Food Records

http://www.blur.co.uk/


DUBSTAR Stars (1995)

DUBSTAR StarsGlorious string synths, rich bass and contemporary beats accompanied Sarah Blackwood’s girl-next-door vocal on DUBSTAR’s biggest UK hit single. The lyrical kitchen sink dramatics fitted well with the lush backing of ‘Stars’ as the trio stood on the bridge between synthpop and Cool Britannia. Hague produced a second album ‘Goodbye’ for DUBSTAR while he also continued his association with Blackwood later on when she formed CLIENT.

Available on the album ‘Disgraceful’ via Food Records

http://dubstarofficial.co/


TECHNIQUE You & Me (1999)

The brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Kate Holmes, TECHNIQUE were a female interpretation of PET SHOP BOYS crossed with NEW ORDER’s post-punk edge. The usual Hague poptastic trademarks were present on ‘You & Me’ and while not a hit in the UK, it was in the Far East via a cover version by COCO LEE. TECHNIQUE were booked to support DEPECHE MODE in Europe but when singer Xan Tyler went left, DUBSTAR’s Sarah Blackwood was recruited… that duo morphed into CLIENT…

Available on the mini-album ‘Pop Philosophy’ via PopTones

http://www.discogs.com/artist/Technique


A-HA You Wanted More (2002)

a-ha_Lifelines-coverA-HA were undergoing a career renaissance following ‘Minor Earth:Major Sky’. Stephen Hague produced four tracks on the follow-up ‘Lifelines’, the best of which was ‘You Wanted More’. Morten Harket had actually worked with Hague previously on a cover of ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You’ for the ‘Coneheads’ soundtrack. So with A-HA’s lush melancholic pop drama, the artistic union with Hague was particularly apt. Harket hit his marvellous falsetto in the chorus while a gospel sample added a strange twist.

Available on the album ‘Lifelines’ via WEA Records

http://a-ha.com/


CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN Thank You (2011)

CLAUDIA BRUCKEN Thank YouOne of two tracks Hague co-wrote and recorded for Ms Brücken’s ‘ComBined’ retrospective collection, ‘Thank You’ was like a Bond Theme reimagined by MASSIVE ATTACK, held together by a sumptuous percussive mood. The fruitful partnership led to a full album of reinterpretations entitled ‘The Lost Are Found’ which came out in 2012. Interestingly, it saw Hague revisit two of his original productions ‘Kings Cross’ and ‘The Day I See You Again’ for PET SHOP BOYS and DUBSTAR respectively.

Available on the album ‘ComBined’ via Salvo / Union Square Music

http://www.claudiabrucken.co.uk


Text by Chi Ming Lai
24th April 2014, updated 13th November 2018

CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN Everyone Says Hi

Claudia says HILast Autumn saw the release of ‘The Lost Are Found’, an emotive body of songs recorded by CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN in collaboration with top producer Stephen Hague, best known for his work with PET SHOP BOYS, OMD, NEW ORDER and ERASURE.

Each of the compositions came from their very own world and were respectively adopted to form an eleven episode triste drame. One of the album’s highlights Everyone Says Hi’ has just been released as a single ahead of Claudia’s upcoming UK and German tour.

CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN’s lively reinterpretation of one of DAVID BOWIE’s latterly compositions from ‘Heathen’ is dressed with catchy synth riffs and fuzzy shades. And the fabulous accompanying promo video could be interpreted as a visual dramatisation of Major Tom’s final voyage from ‘Space Oddity’.

Claudia only features halfway through but also look out for cameos from Glenn Gregory, Andrew Poppy, Paul Humphreys and even Claudia’s dog Patsy… joyous it may be but poor Major Tom is ultimately doomed, left to drift in space’s wilderness. So “Tell my wife I love her very much…”

As well as touring in March. Claudia will be making a very special guest appearance on the new OMD album ‘English Electric’, to be released on 8th April 2013. She will feature on a new version of ‘Kissing The Machine’, a track written by Andy McCluskey with the electronic godfather Karl Bartos in 1993 for the ELEKTRIC MUSIC album ‘Esperanto’ which has been reworked by her ONETWO partner and OMD founder member Paul Humphreys. The track which could be perceived by many to be KRAFTWERK vs OMD vs PROPAGANDA is eagerly awaited.


‘Everyone Says Hi’ and ‘The Lost Are Found’ are released by There (there)

CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN’s 2013 Spring tour includes:

Glasgow O2 ABC2 (12th March), Birmingham O2 Academy 3 (13th March), Manchester Academy 3 (15th March), London Borderline (16th March), Brighton Concorde 2 (17th March)

http://www.claudiabrucken.co.uk

http://www.theremusic.com


Text by Chi Ming Lai
26th February 2013

CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN The Lost Are Found

‘The Lost Are Found’ is an emotive body of songs, each from their very own world, but together blending to form an eleven episode triste drame.

The journey started when CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN teamed up with the top producer Stephen Hague whose credits have included MALCOLM MacLAREN, PET SHOP BOYS, OMD, ERASURE, MARC ALMOND, COMMUNARDS, NEW ORDER and A-HA. Recording two brand new songs ‘Thank You’ and ‘Night School’ for her ‘Combined’ retrospective in 2011, they bookended that phase of her career which began of course with PROPAGANDA.

‘Thank You’ in particular captured a Bond Theme meets MASSIVE ATTACK vibe and planted the seed for an intriguing project which was the idea of her daughter Maddy.

Claudia told The Electricity Club back in July: “The theme is melancholy songs…they’re sad but they don’t make you slash your wrists. I recorded it in four months with Stephen Hague and we had this real clear vision of what we wanted to do”. Despite the varying eras of the compositions, memories and emotions within the human condition exist whatever the period. So by default, songs of love and heartbreak are generally timeless. And because many of these carefully chosen songs are semi-obscure, even within the catalogues of some of their more high profile writers, this album can be approached with fresh ears, like an adventure that has been previously uncharted. In that respect, ‘The Lost Are Found’ does exactly what it says on the tin.

The journey begins with the ethereal ‘Mysteries of Love’ written by David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti. Layers of treated voices climb over synth mountains as lonesome ivories and glacial atmospheres bring Middle America to Alpine Europe. As featured in the film ‘Blue Velvet’ in its JULEE CRUISE version, also on the soundtrack was ROY ORBISON’s ‘In Dreams’, another song which Claudia has previously recorded. One suspects this surreal film noir might be one of her favourites.

Following it, ‘Memories Of A Color’ from Nordic avant songstress STINA NORDENSTAM is a mix of acoustic and electric guitars with distorted organ over a mid-tempo percussive jazz shuffle as Claudia’s vocals provide an approachable counterpoint. Although ‘The Lost Are Found’ features a technological base, this is probably the most organic collection CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN has ever recorded.

Although her excellent ‘Another Language’ long player with ANDREW POPPY was acoustic, that relied on stark, minimal theatre for its effect. ‘The Lost Are Found’ combines the ice maiden chill with a fuller naturalistic warmth for an artful but accessible sound.

One nice surprise is ‘The Day I See You Again’ from DUBSTAR’s first album ‘Disgraceful’; Claudia’s reinterpretation of the kitchen sink drama about a man who has grown to be “more Morrison than Morrissey” is done Düsseldorf style with Weimar piano and beautiful flügel tones complimenting the resigned frustration. Then one of the albums highlights arrives with ‘Everyone Says Hi’, a brilliantly lively take on one of Bowie’s more recent numbers dressed with catchy riffs and fuzzy shades.

Lesser known ELO B-side ‘One Summer Dream’ was the first song to emerge from these sessions and begins with a vintage gramophoned segment before building to a pretty John Barry influenced, ‘Felt Mountain’-era GOLDFRAPP arrangement which is frankly quite wonderful.

Interestingly, Jeff Lynne himself has recorded his own album of classic tunes recently called ‘Long Wave’.

Another STINA NORDENSTAM work ‘Crime’ emerges with its pizzicato colours, subtle bass and sparring six string. It acts as a steadfast mid-album interlude in almost hushed resonance before it all snaps back into place with THE LILAC TIME’s ‘The Road To Happiness’. Here Stephen Duffy’s ironic ditty kisses Claudia within an idyllic setting of angelic chorals, spritely strums and French accordion courtesy of Stephen Hague. Salute!

Perhaps thanks to Stephen Hague’s production duties on the original, Claudia’s reworking of PET SHOP BOYS’ ‘Kings Cross’ retains the song’s melancholic edge, the metaphor of capitalism is actually very much still intact. But how it differs is the pressure now rises to a dramatic climax and adds a rush not previously apparent in the song. On the album’s singular new composition from The Burt Bros called ‘No One To Blame’, hints of ‘Spiegel Im Spiegel’ like an antique music box flit in while the electronic orchestration lifts the tune into a dreamboat setting as Claudia’s timbres alternate between innocence and worldliness.

As ‘The Lost Are Found’ steps to its conclusion, the revamp of ‘And The Sun Will Shine’ rom BEE GEES’ 1968 album ‘Horizontal’ is marvellously majestic with rousing string stylings, the neo-Riviera flavour sitting well with the soaring chorus. The album closes with Robbie Robertson and Richard Manuel’s rustic ‘Whispering Pines’ from which ‘The Lost Are Found’ title comes from. With spacey synth forte not unlike THE KORGIS ‘Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime’ sitting alongside percussive brushes, it’s not quite how one would imagine THE BAND to sound but that’s the point…

The character spectrum which Stephen Hague has crafted for ‘The Lost Are Found’ is a hopeful, soothing experience that is not at all overbearing; Hague is known for placing his emphasis on vocals and by working the music around them, all the instruments have their place.

As a result, there is plenty of room for Claudia to breathe and manoeuvre. While obvious electronic references are perhaps more muted than what one would normally expect from her work, the varied organic embellishments add an enjoyable lounge dimension to Claudia’s repertoire which matures with each listen.


With thanks to Rosie Johnstone and David Lawrence at Impressive PR

‘The Lost Are Found’ is released by There (there) on 5th November 2012

http://www.claudiabrucken.co.uk

http://www.theremusic.com


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Andrew Catlin
29th October 2012

Lost Albums: ONE DOVE Morning Dove White

ONE DOVE were a moody Glaswegian trio comprised of Ian Carmichael, Jim McKinven and Dot Allison. Their only album ‘Morning Dove White’ took its title from the Native American name of Elvis Presley’s grandmother.

McKinven was best known for his stint in ALTERED IMAGES during their ‘Happy Birthday’ and ‘Pinky Blue’ period. This project couldn’t have been more different, especially when compared with his former band mate Johnny McElhone who formed TEXAS with Sharleen Spiteri.

Producer Andrew Weatherall signed them to his Junior Boys Own label after hearing their independently released single ‘Fallen’ and became involved in the recording process, along with Gary Burns and Jagz Kooner from SABRES OF PARADISE who both later went on to form THE ALOOF.

Seasoned by the icy but angelic voice of Dot Allison, ‘Morning Dove White’ was something truly unique in the sphere of post-Acid House electronic dance music. Dot Allison’s resigned opening line on ‘Fallen’ of  “I don’t know why I’m telling you any of this…” is simply seductive. The accompanying groovy rhythm section on a slight off-beat makes it the most club flavoured track on here with the reggae-inflections of LEFTFIELD’s ‘Release The Pressure’ as its backdrop.

Although often referred to as a dance act, ONE DOVE’s sound was actually characterised by primarily electronic textures with heavy processing influenced by laid back Jamaican dub and Eno-esque ambience.

This recalled the work of former PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED bassist Jah Wobble who incidentally guested on ‘Morning Dove White’ and later recorded an album with Brian Eno called ‘Spinner’.

The single versions of ‘Breakdown’ and ‘White Love’ reworked by Stephen Hague are actually quite brilliant, accessible and are far less intimidating than the full-on dub attack of the lengthy album cuts. But even as radio mixes, they are hardly the glossy pop of SAINT ETIENNE.

London Records had taken over the Junior Boys Own label and wanted to make ONE DOVE’s music more radio friendly. The band may have been unhappy about the commercialisation of their sound and there is something to be said about fighting for your art, but what is the point if people can’t access your work through conventional media and grow into it, especially if it is relatively radical? In hindsight, London Records were being well intentioned, but this led to a dispute which delayed the release ‘Morning Dove White’ for a full year until 1993.

A compromise was reached with ONE DOVE working with Stephen Hague in the studio during the remix sessions. ‘White Love’ is wonderfully dreamy with its subtle piano and gospel salvo predating MOBY’s ‘Play’ by several years. Their biggest hit ‘Breakdown’ has a surprising VAN MORRISON influence, taking its chorus from THEM’s ‘Here Comes The Night’. In both, Dot Allison’s sexily whispering vocals are the distinctive key.

But the album’s crowning glory is the Phil Spector in the 23rd Century mystique of the stupendous ‘Why Don’t You Take Me?’ featuring Wall Of Sound effects galore and reverbed steel drum samples, it is almost funereal but actually possesses an uplifting quality. Although there was a Stephen Hague assisted mix sans steel drums available on the single release, in this case it was Andrew Weatherall’s original vision that is won the day.

Of the supporting features on ‘Morning Dove White’, ‘There Goes The Cure’ is very ‘Twin Peaks’ in atmosphere, punctuated by Dot Allison’s chants of “he’s gone”. Constructed around some tinkling piano and deep ambient drones, its heart is suddenly invaded by Jah Wobble’s distinctive bass run before returning full circle with the aid of a dramatic percussive climax.

Both ‘Sirens’ and ‘My Friend’ recall Weatherall’s work on PRIMAL SCREAM’s ‘Screamadelica’ while ‘Transient Truth’ is a superb instrumental with an ‘Ipcress File’ meets KING TUBBY twist. The echoey drum machine and the various incessantly repeated spy film riffs provide a suitably hypnotic soundtrack.

With a promising debut album greeted by enormous praise and critical approval, a follow-up was eagerly anticipated.

A reworking of DOLLY PARTON’s ‘Jolene’ and the song ‘Skanga’ which were included as B-sides to’ Why Don’t You Take Me?’ gave an indication of the heavier dub reggae sound that was being pursued. There was even rumours of a cover version of SIMON DUPREE & THE BIG SOUND’s ‘Kites’, the concept of which had the potential to be amazing.

But there was no second album. It was recorded but never released. Frustrated and drained by business politics, ONE DOVE disbanded in 1996. Dot Allison went on to release a series of acclaimed solo albums including ‘Afterglow’ and ‘We Are Science’ as well as working with DEATH IN VEGAS and MASSIVE ATTACK.

‘Morning Dove White’, like THE ALOOF’s ‘Sinking’, is infinitely superior to the over rated trip-hop albums such as PORTISHEAD’s ‘Dummy’ or TRICKY’s ‘Maxinquaye’ which dominated the mellow coffee-table dance niche of the time. Some of the full on dub excursions have degrees of over-indulgence and may not be to everyone’s taste, but one of the beauties of modern digital formats is the ability to compile a version of the album to suit the mood.

It may not have been the journey that the band intended but this collection is a challenging and rewarding listen that deserves reappraisal.


‘Morning Dove White’ is still available on CD via London Records

www.onedove.net

www.dotallison.com


Text by Chi Ming Lai
23rd June 2012

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