Tag: The Faint

FINLAY SHAKESPEARE Interview

Influenced by the experimental side of Synth Britannia and the groundbreaking electronica of Warp Records, Bristol-based Finlay Shakespeare has presented one of the most impressive releases of 2020 in his second album ‘Solemnities’.

Passionate and intense in his vocal delivery, the music of Finlay Shakespeare is strangely pop, but his modular laden backdrop will satisfy those listeners seeking more of a colder mechanised edge. Reference points range from THE HUMAN LEAGUE and THROBBING GRISTLE to AUTECHRE and THE FAINT, while the socially conscious lyrics recall Paul Weller during his time in THE JAM.

Also an independent musical device manufacturer via his Future Sound Systems umbrella, ‘Solemnities’ captures the balance of melody and freaky angst that was showcased live to BLANCMANGE fans who arrived early when Shakespeare opened for Neil Arthur & Co in 2019.

Finlay Shakespeare encapsulates the spirit of early Mute Records and that’s probably just as well because he has just been signed by Mute Song for publishing. He kindly took time out and spoke to The Electricity Club about the making of ‘Solemnities’, its lyrical inspiration and gave a fascinating insight into the equipment involved in the album’s realisation.

Your new album ‘Solemnities’ is rather on point in the current situation, but what had been your original concept?

The majority of material that I write, at least lyrically speaking, tends to come from improvisation, and in the case of ‘Solemnities’, recording many iterations and honing in on a finished version. I’ve always tried to capture a sense of the present when writing and recording too – I like the idea that music can form a time capsule to be listened back to. Much of the subject matter across ‘Solemnities’ is politically motivated, and how I see the UK’s current political situation affecting me and others around me.

While you have said ‘Solemnities’ has a rawer approach, it appears to be a lot more focussed and disciplined than your debut album ‘Domestic Economy’?

Hugely – this predominantly came from returning to a more conventional writing form. The base material of ‘Domestic Economy’ comes from the total improvisation of the ‘Housediet’ sessions – no re-takes, simple edits, etc. – which was then fleshed out and reworked slightly for the album.

For ‘Solemnities’, it’s been more a case of overdubbing each individual element as a track comes together. These elements may be rather spontaneously recorded, but through allowing myself to edit and arrange more deeply, the songs became more rigidly structured.

‘Solemnities’ does capture more of what you’re like on stage, how did you find opening for BLANCMANGE?

The BLANCMANGE shows were a great experience – I had been hankering for more live appearances for a while, and was lucky to be given the chance through, not only Neil Arthur, but also Jez Bernholz and Steve Malins. Playing those support slots definitely made me focus more on my live practice. How do I get this modular synth to do what I want it to do? How do I make these songs come to life on stage?

Trying to answer those questions also informs the writing and recording process to a degree. It was also fantastic to spend some time with Neil, Liam Hutton, Oogoo Maia and Adam Fuest – they’re a great bunch of people and I hope to see them all again soon.

What had got you interested in making music with synthesizers? What was your first electronic instrument?

A childhood fascination with my parents’ record collection is really what kicked all this off. LPs and CDs by JEAN-MICHEL JARRE, VANGELIS, KRAFTWERK – I wanted to know where all these sounds came from. I remember staring at photographs of their studios, intrigued by all the equipment that surrounded these pioneers.

I took keyboard lessons from a young age and was lucky enough to be entering my early teens at the height of the ‘virtual analogue’ synth boom. My first synth was a Korg Electribe EA-1 – I have very fond memories of it, but sadly sold it a while ago to buy other gear!

You founded Future Sound Systems, so would you describe yourself as electronic musician first or second, or is it all embroiled and co-dependent?

It’s very much a co-dependent thing in my eyes – I got into designing and building equipment because I felt that might be a cheaper way of acquiring more gear. On one hand, that was very much incorrect, but the learning curve (which I’m still very much following) gave me some degree of knowledge that led to the day job I have now. Many of the designs that come from FSS are dreamt up whilst I’m playing music myself, and that music often incorporates some of the equipment we design and build, so it’s very much a feedback loop.

How did you develop musically as you sound like post-punk acts such as THROBBING GRISTLE and THE NORMAL meeting Warp Records? ?

By the time I had exhausted my parents’ LPs, I started getting into the acts that were recording and releasing at the time – I feel lucky to have been growing up when acts like ORBITAL, THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS, DAFT PUNK etc were at their prime.

I’d drag my family to record fairs and such, buying up what I could save with pocket money and going between various artist recommendations that we’d typically get from the stall holders.

I remember hearing APHEX TWIN’s ‘Come To Daddy’ and ‘Windowlicker’ amidst all this, and those were pretty monumental in terms of showing me that electronic music still had the potential to be very different. We also had a music library local to us, which proved to be a huge resource of harder-to-find music. I’ve still got a cassette of avant-garde works by Mimaroglu, Cage and Berio which I bought at one of their sales – that was ‘really’ eye-opening stuff to hear as a kid!

You also have been very vocal about your love of the ASSOCIATES album ‘Sulk’, why do you think this record is so special?

I’ve got a great deal of respect for artists and bands who really are totally unique, and ASSOCIATES are high up on that list, particularly the partnership between Alan Rankine and Billy Mackenzie. Typically, I find myself listening to ‘Fourth Drawer Down’ more so than ‘Sulk’, but ‘Sulk’ deserves legendary status simply because there’s no other record like it. It’s truly manic in every aspect – its musicianship is frantic, the lyrics are all over the shop, and the mix sounds like nothing else. There’s also the more archival aspect where seemingly no two issues of the album are the same!

So how did your intense fraught vocal style emerge?

I’ve never really thought that much about how I sing.

What I try to do is use my vocal as a way of expressing emotion, almost to bolster the atmosphere of a track, and I guess a lot of what I’m singing about is rather intense!

There’s always the aim of doing something a little bit calmer in the future, but I’m not sure that it’ll ever happen.

The ‘Solemnities’ opener ‘Occupation’ makes a real musical as well as lyrical statement and appears to recall THE FAINT, was it inspired by personal experience?

‘Occupation’ draws from various imagined scenarios given the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, particularly how the exit has been pushed by self-serving politicians, but also how it will prevent citizens of the UK from enjoying various freedoms and privileges that are about to be removed from them. The track began life exactly how it’s heard on the album – the drums came from a really aggressive patch I had going on an ARP 2600 clone and some Serge modular equipment, so vocally and lyrically it needed to reflect that.

‘The Information’ really showcases your love of the early period of THE HUMAN LEAGUE? It undergoes a few structural changes within its four and a half minutes, how would you have constructed this in the studio?

‘The Information’ dates back to tracks I was writing back when I was finishing school, so the majority of elements here are at least ten years old! When putting ‘Solemnities’ together, I wanted to revisit some old work of mine that was never really finished, so I loaded up ‘The Information’ and wanted to see where I could take it. It’s funny how it can take more than a decade to finish off a four-minute track!

What are your preferred tools at the moment? Is it modular all the way for you?

I’m in no way a purist – I end up making a lot of hybrid configurations of synths and other gear at the studio, which I like to think lends itself to finding new sounds and getting to a place that’s a little different from using separate pieces of gear stand-alone. For example, I have a Korg MS-20 and MS-10 which I often chain together to create, what I often label, an MS-30. There’s a lot of that on the album, as well as the aforementioned ARP / Serge combo. Since running the majority of the studio’s equipment into a patchbay, I can treat the entire studio as a patchable modular-esque set-up.

At the moment, I’m trying to get deeper into the Nord G2X that I’ve had for a while – it’s a digital modular environment which is still really powerful and flexible despite being a little old now! Again, there’s a lot of G2X on the new album, but used mainly to process other sounds.

‘Second Try’ appears to play homage to both THROBBING GRISTLE and KRAFTWERK?

‘Second Try’ actually came from powering the G2X up with a ‘mad’ patch on it – that’s what’s heard at the intro, then a couple of passes of that patch get looped to form the drums. ‘Second Try’ came together really quickly, and is actually a great example of how I try to work now – still working very quickly and not spending a lot of time on things, but managing to get a lot done in that session.

The poignant ‘Crisis’ features a range of fantastic textures, one set being the impactful spacey synthetic voices, how you set about sound designing those?

‘Crisis’ came almost completely from my Elektron Digitakt sampler/sequencer. I had been booked to play a show in Nantes and was terrified about checking my modular rig in to the hold in case it never made the connecting flight. The Digitakt was coming in my hand luggage, so I had prepared this back-up improvisatory set using that and the Mutable Shruthi synth that I also use live now. ‘Crisis’ was born out of that set, using the Shruthi for the bass then the Digitakt for almost all the other melodic elements, including that pitched Mellotron choir sample.

You may be pleased to know that the modular never disappeared, but ‘Crisis’ made an impromptu premiere as the encore to that Nantes show!

You show more of your understated side on ‘Fantasy’, had this been a conscious move as part of the album’s journey?

I was definitely trying to form more of an ‘arc’ for this album – two sides of vinyl that feel they have some degree of flow to both – and ‘Fantasy’ felt right in between two relatively more energetic tracks. This track was born out of two sessions coming together – powering up the studio after the recording of ‘Occupation’ and the drum patch falling over itself, hence the pounding bass drum that runs throughout, and a long take of overdubbed feedback guitars I had recorded a few years prior. I also wanted to experiment with building up a small choir of myself, making many overdubs of the same vocal with different harmonies.

You go for an extended banging adventure on ‘She Says / Nothing Ends’ to finish, was it originally two songs that morphed into one epic track?

Almost – it was always treated as one track, but I wanted the feel of two distinct sections to it, both of which would crescendo as much as they do, almost as though they ‘could’ be two individual tracks. However, the fluttery, glitchy chords of the latter half, and the distorted vocals ‘were’ recorded as part of another separate session, and brought in on top of the near-gabber that already existed.

Who do you hope ‘Solemnities’ might appeal to?

I’ve always wanted my music to be a bridge between what I’m influenced by and something more present, perhaps even futuristic. Therefore, I’m hoping ‘Solemnities’ would appeal to fans of the late 70s / early 80s greats who may have been there at the time, as well as younger electronic music fans who perhaps aren’t so aware of all those albums approaching their 40th anniversaries.

If my work puts people on to acts like THE HUMAN LEAGUE, CABARET VOLTAIRE, SEVERED HEADS, FAD GADGET etc. then I feel that I’ve definitely done my job.

Your music is released by Editions Mego in Austria, is it still important for modern independent artists to have some kind of label support in your opinion?

Very much so. Whilst self-releasing online is easier than ever, there are more and more people doing it, and with the lack of any curation, it can be really difficult to be found as an artist. I have huge respect for what Peter Rehberg at Mego does – he releases whatever he wants to put out on Mego, there are no stylistic boundaries that he’s following, so the label is truly in line with his tastes. There’s no nonsense.

If you’re into what is on Mego, it’s likely you’ll enjoy whatever the next release is. It’s that curation that is really important for being an artist released by a label – your work becomes part of a stream that can be followed by the label’s fans.

You recently signed to Mute Song, joining a renowned family, what does that bring to you which perhaps you were unable to do when handling your own publishing?

It’s still early days at the moment, but even talking to the Mute Song team has been hugely reinvigorating. It’s a similar story with getting to know Peter at Mego better – it’s really helpful being able to send people music and get an honest response back that you know you can trust. It’s akin to the whole Bowie-ism of never being truly comfortable in what you’re doing – there were things on ‘Solemnities’ that I wanted Peter’s thoughts on, simply because I wasn’t so sure of them at first.

Having a wider net of ‘primary ears’ can only be a good thing, particularly when those ears are working with the roster of artists that are with Mute Song. From an industry point of view, I’d say I still don’t really know what I’m doing, and being able to ask for advice from such an experienced team is a huge benefit.

Where do you think you might like to take your next album?

There are already some initial sketches, but it seems that I’m trying to push the studio further, incorporating more guitars and drums into the mix, but taking the synths into more abstract territory – trying to do weirder things but perhaps make them poppy. I’ve started trying to listen to how musicians whose work I love have played their instrument, and whether I can map any of that to completely different practices. I still want to be able to play a synth the way that Andy Gill played guitar, but conversely, what happens if you have a guitar made to sound like what Ian Craig Marsh was doing in the Human League?

What’s next for you? Is there anything interesting coming out from Future Sound Systems?

There are some really exciting collaborations in the works right now, both new and old, and I’m always striving to bring people together in the studio.

As I hinted at above, I’m really interested to see what happens when different styles and practices are brought together, and I hope I can continue that this year.

Meanwhile, at FSS, we are designing plenty of new equipment which I hope will pique other producers’ interest – there’s certainly a lot of it that I want to spend more creative time with! Watch this space!


The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to Finlay Shakespeare

‘Solemnities’ is released by Editions Mego in vinyl LP and digital formats, available from https://editionsmego.bandcamp.com/album/solemnities

http://finlayshakespeare.com/

https://www.facebook.com/FinlayShakespeareUK/

https://twitter.com/FinShakespeare

https://www.instagram.com/finlayshakespeare/

https://www.futuresoundsystems.co.uk/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
12th May 2020

FINLAY SHAKESPEARE Solemnities

For Bristol-based Finlay Shakespeare, his interest in synths came from his parents’ record collection, with music from the likes of JEAN-MICHEL JARRE, KRAFTWERK, THE HUMAN LEAGUE and JAPAN.

An independent musical device manufacturer, he founded Future Sound Systems, building modular synthesizer components, predominantly for the Eurorack format.

But with his own music, his complex modular construction and anxious theatrics were inspired by Warp Records stalwarts AUTECHRE.

With a crystal clear modular synth sound coupled to claustrophobic vocals like they were buried in a box in the manner of FAD GADGET, among those impressed was Neil Arthur who invited Shakespeare to tour with BLANCMANGE in 2019. Live, he possessed the persona of a restless IT technician, delivering a hybrid of THE FAINT, THE KILLERS and THE BRAVERY dreaming of wires rather than guitars.

The material on his debut album ‘Domestic Economy’ was initiated by improvisation whilst being recorded live, with one of its highlights ‘Amsterdam’ being an example in modern Motorik. But ‘Solemnities’ is a definite progression, offering more shape and structure than its predecessor, but maintaining a distinct post-punk anguish.

Finlay Shakespeare said on Twitter: “Many of these tracks are becoming weirdly prescient with the current situation. I hope it’ll bring some degree of comfort, but simultaneously bring about some kind of call to arms. Things have to change and soon.”

The opening track ‘Occupation’ is superb, a metronomic squelch fest about social injustice which sees an angry and impassioned Shakespeare conduct a raucous avant noise experiment in song with penetrating noise percussion and icy retro-futuristic string machines.

The following ‘Fortune’ sounds almost synthpop in comparison; rather like Daniel Miller, Eric Random, Chris Carter, Thomas Leer and Robert Rental morphed into one, it is cold enough to be credible but melodic enough to have been in the charts back in the day alongside John Foxx, Gary Numan and Dindisc-era OMD.

‘The Information’ recalls THE HUMAN LEAGUE when Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh were helming the instrumentation, particularly ‘The Path Of Least Resistance’ although with more of a percussive groove. However, as the synths starting ringing, it steadily mutates into Da League MkII with echoes of ‘Love Action’.

Moving at a more energetic pace and with Shakespeare’s honest vocals complimenting the backdrop, ‘Second Try’ makes good use of a tight pulsating bassline and synth generated rhythms like THROBBING GRISTLE reworking KRAFTWERK’s ‘The Robots’.

The banging techno punk of ‘Crisis’ is hypnotic and poignant to the current world health emergency, embroiled in a wall of thrusting energy, electronic voice approximations and screeching synths for something oddly euphoric. Its urgent on-message vocal charge isn’t far off from being an electronic take on THE JAM; an odd comment maybe but what’s not widely known is that Paul Weller was a fan of the John Foxx-led ULTRAVOX!

‘Fantasy’ is less shouty and more haunted vocally for what could only be described as an industrial ballad. The eerie electronic texturing and a multi-tracked choir of himself then mutates into a crystalline passage driven by heavy militaristic drum samples and ending with the blast of a deep synthetic kazoo section!

The metallic shiver of the frantic ‘She Says / Nothing Ends’ closes with a sub-eight minute epic. At times, it does sound like a range of crockery is being bashed in the manner of DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Shout’, but as the track builds with layers of sequenced electronics and Shakespeare’s snarling voices, it verges on being almost trippy like a banging trance version of THE FAINT.

Wrapped in a marvellous dynamic tension with a balance of melody and freaky angst, Finlay Shakespeare delivers a fresh take on the experimental side of Synth Britannia that is strangely pop, but will satisfy those seeking more of a colder mechanised edge.

‘Solemnities’ contains a captivating mixture of flavours that work well together, capturing the intense spirit of his live performances.

There are a number of acts being hailed as the new saviours of electronic pop, but Finlay Shakespeare is the real deal, a gloriously wayward soul who simultaneously is also intriguingly disciplined.


‘Solemnities’ is released by Editions Mego in vinyl LP and digital formats, available now from https://editionsmego.bandcamp.com/album/solemnities

http://finlayshakespeare.com/

https://www.facebook.com/FinlayShakespeareUK/

https://twitter.com/FinShakespeare

https://www.instagram.com/finlayshakespeare/

https://www.futuresoundsystems.co.uk/

https://open.spotify.com/album/6ULuwiMRH1q4lm5scs6KHb


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Rob Davison and Chi Ming Lai
24th April 2020

B-MOVIE Interview

Named after an Andy Warhol painting, Mansfield’s B-MOVIE made their recorded debut with their ‘Take Three’ EP via the Lincoln-based indie label Dead Good in 1980.

Comprising of Steve Hovington (vocals + bass), Paul Statham (guitar), Rick Holliday (keyboards), and Graham Boffey (drums), the quartet followed it up with a five track 12 inch release ‘Nowhere Girl’ which not only featured an early version of the title track that would become their signature song, but also an embryonic take on ‘Remembrance Day’.

B-MOVIE’s synth dominated new wave brought them to the attention of Stevo Pearce, founder of Some Bizzare Records. He included them in his ‘Futurist’ chart for music paper Sounds and subsequently became the band’s manager. Their song ‘Moles’, alongside contributions from then-unknown bands such as DEPECHE MODE, SOFT CELL, BLANCMANGE and THE THE, was included on the now iconic ‘Some Bizarre Album’ released in early 1981.

Along with SOFT CELL, B-MOVIE were signed to Phonogram Records but unlike Messrs Almond and Ball, the quartet were unable to secure a major chart entry, despite releasing magnificent re-recorded versions of ‘Remembrance Day’ and ‘Nowhere Girl’ as singles.

The struggle for success coupled with internal tensions led to Boffey and then Holliday departing the band by the end of 1982.

After severing ties with Stevo Pearce, Hovington and Statham soldiered on with a revolving door line-up of session musicians in tow and finally released an album in 1985 on Sire Records entitled ‘Forever Running’.

With the album being something of a disappointment, Hovington and Statham went their separate ways with the guitarist becoming a successful songwriter, first in partnership for several albums with BAUHAUS singer Peter Murphy and latterly, with artists as diverse as DIDO, RACHEL STEVENS, THE SATURDAYS and SIMPLE MINDS!

Over the years, B-MOVIE’s music has attained a reverential cult status, particularly in the US with Nebraska electro-rock combo THE FAINT notably using ‘Remembrance Day’ as the basis for their own ‘Southern Belles in London Sing’ in 2004. At around the same time, B-MOVIE reformed with their original line-up and issued a brand new album ‘The Age Of Illusion’ in 2013.

Last year, there was the release of a third long player ‘Climate Of Fear’. A concept album of sorts, one of the poignantly titled highlights ‘Another False Dawn’ was a timely reflection on the world’s political environment.

With B-MOVIE playing further live shows this year, Steve Hovington, Graham Boffey and Paul Statham all kindly took time out to chat to The Electricity Club about the band’s past, present and future…

What was the impetus to reform B-MOVIE in 2004?

Paul: Friendship first, then the offer to play at the ‘Blow Up’ club night. Also the sense that the original line-up had never actually recorded an album together and on getting back together, our respective careers allowed this to happen.

Graham: Paul’s correct. We have too long a history together not to jump at the chance to play together again. Playing music becomes a way of life, sort of, so it was great to be playing again.

Steve: Ditto

You obviously found the experience positive as you’re still here?

Paul: Hahaha! It’s most definitely positive. We have known each other for so long and have an instinctive feel for what we all do best when we are playing together. Of course, we never change and when we are good, we are fucking awesome and when we are bad… well… another story!

Graham: The years roll back and we’re as juvenile as we ever were.

You’ve released two albums since your reformation, the most recent one ‘Climate Of Fear’ indicates there might be a politically themed concept?

Steve: It’s a sort of concept album (I’m a prog rocker at heart!), this human being (me) struggling to cope with the sensory overload of the info age like on the title track. The last album ‘Age of Illusion’ also had a similar theme. In fact, B-MOVIE have always been politically aware as opposed to political. The subject matter of ’Remembrance Day’, ‘All Fall Down’ and even ‘A Letter from Afar’ probably cost us a play or two on the Simon Bates radio show. The lyrics articulate an unease and anxiety about the world. I can’t ignore what’s happening in the world but do in a subtle, tongue-in-cheek way that doesn’t beat people over the head.

‘Corridors’ from ‘Climate Of Fear’ is classic B-MOVIE?

Paul: Difficult to tell as a classic is many years in the making before we can tell if it stands the test of time! Classic guitar solo though!

Steve: Yes, I think it maybe. It’s another one about the mind and trying to find peace with yourself. I think it ends quite optimistically with a sweet melody that signifies the light. And there’s that guitar solo too!

Is ‘Feeling Gothic’ inspired by anything particular?

Steve: It’s about revealing your true nature. By day you conform, by night you are whatever you want to be. There’s always been a dark, Gothic twist to our music. ‘Nowhere Girl’ has connected with people all over world who don’t conform. I sometimes think of our music as ‘outsider rock’ and come at things from that angle.

Has any of the creative motivation for ‘The Age Of Illusion’ and ‘Climate Of Fear’ albums been driven by the general dissatisfaction of the debut album ‘Forever Running’?

Paul: Personally not for me. It was so long ago and I’ve been extremely lucky to continue recording a lot of albums in between (about 20 of them). Although getting rid of the ‘producer… session man’ mentality that was on that album was indeed a blessing.

Graham: I didn’t play on ‘Forever Running’ so have no history with that. My motivation was being able to be creative together and almost complete some unfinished business.

Steve: No, not really, as Paul says it was so far in the past to have any relevance. We were motivated by a shared passion to make new music. The long hiatus meant we returned to fresh to a place where we had left off. Playing together again as the original line-up was inspiration enough. None of it was forced, it was a natural progression.

Of course, it started off promisingly with the Dead Good releases, the ‘Some Bizzare Album’ and those acclaimed Phonogram singles?

Paul: Very promising… that would be on our school reports!

Graham: Or possibly not living up to potential?

Steve: Yes, we were the band most likely to succeed according to the press! It might be a tad arrogant but perhaps we were just too good! Perhaps we weren’t throwaway enough to get played on daytime Radio 1? We got a bit fixated on having chart success and the notion of success and failure that comes with that, when perhaps we should have taken our own path, recorded that album and been ourselves more?

Your contemporaries like SIMPLE MINDS, A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS and TALK TALK were having hits in 1982, and it looked like ‘Nowhere Girl’ was going to be your breakthrough Top40 single but it was not to be, despite radio play. What do you think happened?

Paul: It sounded too good!! Seriously that song hasn’t dated… there is a dispassionate and icy feel that maybe didn’t grab the younger fans like DEPECHE MODE jigging about to ‘New Life’ and it took SIMPLE MINDS five albums to break. TALK TALK mutated into a great art project for Mark Hollis and we fell apart as we were a little juvenile in how we dealt with each other. A proper manager would have helped bat us into shape and grow up a little but we had Stevo… he loved chaos and chaos ultimately destroys!

In hindsight, did the split of the original band shortly after ultimately stall momentum, or was it something (or someone) else?

Paul: Absolutely!

Graham: I’d obviously have to agree 😉

Steve: Yes. It felt like game over. We were 21!

‘A Letter From Afar’ was a promising electronic single produced by Jellybean when you signed Sire Records, why did you not continue this direction?

Paul: We were dropped by Sire and the need to actually begin to live a life took over. It was down to Steve and myself, living together with very little money or support and we both needed to move on and try different things.

Apart from the odd compilation licence for ‘Remembrance Day’ and the 12 inch of ‘Nowhere Girl’, the Some Bizzare era tracks have yet to be made available in the digital age. Is there a contractual issue?

Paul: Possibly due to Stevo and numerous deals, the contracts are so complex and a lot of those companies now no longer exist, so getting to the bottom of it all is a thankless task.

Steve: It’ll happen one day – but probably not in my lifetime!

The ‘BBC Radio Sessions 1981-84’ released in 2001 on Cherry Red plugged the gap, with the majority of the songs not featuring on ‘Forever Running’. If a debut album had been completed in 1982, what songs do you think would have made the tracklist?

Paul: It would have been a brilliant album. It would have stood the test of time as have the songs we still play. Definitely ‘Remembrance Day’, ‘Nowhere Girl’, ‘Marilyn Dreams’, ‘Welcome To The Shrink’, ‘Polar Opposites’, ‘All Fall Down’, ‘Disturbed’, ‘Love Me’, ‘Escalator’, ‘The Devil In Me’!! All would have been on my 1982 choice.

Graham: ‘Scare Some Life into Me’ would be in with a shout too.

Steve: Agree with all of those. We also recorded some demos of new songs around the time of ‘Remembrance Day’ which are still in a vault somewhere. I’d love to hear them but again may have to hire Inspector Poirot to track them down.

At the time though, it was like ‘Polar Opposites’ was always the bridesmaid, never the bride?

Paul: Yep… a shortened version with great production would have put us in ‘classic’ post punk GANG OF FOUR type ‘pop’.

Steve: It would have made a great single or album opener. Still, the Peel session version is pretty perfect.

Where do you want to take B-MOVIE now?

Paul: I’m not sure what’s coming next. Steve is always writing good stuff for B-MOVIE. I did a lot co-writing on ‘Age of Illusion’ but very little on ‘Climate of Fear’. Both are very different albums so maybe it will again be led by Steve, or Rick or Graham.

Graham: I think we can continue to make great records and who knows, this time next year we could be number one in the hit parade. Is that what the kids call it these days?

Steve: Yes, I’m always writing new stuff and we’re on a bit of a roll now, so would be a shame not to keep it going. I have in mind an EP called ‘Illuminations’ but I haven’t told the rest of the band yet 🙂


The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to B-MOVIE

‘Climate Of Fear’ is available on CD, vinyl and download via Cleopatra Records from https://b-movie.bandcamp.com/album/climate-of-fear

B-MOVIE play the ‘Like Totally 80s Festival’ with A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS, BERLIN and MEN WITHOUT HATS on Saturday 13th May 2017 at Huntington Beach in California

http://b-movie.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/B.MovieMusic/

https://twitter.com/bmovieuk


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
29th April 2017

Introducing DISQO VOLANTE

disqo-volanteDISQO VOLANTE is Korean-American multi-instrumentalist Matthew Booth, a sax virtuoso with a penchant for synthpop.

Originally from Seoul but now based in Carrboro, North Carolina, the hybrid of his musical and cultural heritage has produced a familiar yet unusual sound with a modern aesthetic. Indeed, the inclusion of sax does set DISQO VOLANTE apart from the competition, recalling aspects of DAVID BOWIE.

Inspired by his return to South East Asia since leaving as a child following his adoption, the single ‘Pretend For A Day’ successfully pulls off a jazz / synthpop integration without descending into the banality of the horrible electro swing sub-genre.

Meanwhile, the pentatonic melodies provide a marvellous uplifting quality, with only some overdriven drums slightly spoiling the fun. The template recalls the legendary YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA who showcased some jazz leanings on their eponymous debut album with tracks like ‘Simoon’ and ‘Cosmic Surfin’.

DISQO VOLANTE’s debut EP ‘re: lit’ is a musical homecoming journey via Tokyo, Osaka and Seoul. From it, the excellent synth stabbing ‘Never Said’ comes over like an EDM tinged version of THE FAINT, while the arpeggio laden ‘Love Game’ recalls a club friendly version of cult Merseyside duo DALEK I LOVE YOU reborn for the 21st Century. On both tunes, the sax breaks really sound like they shouldn’t be there, but they work!

‘re: lit’ reveals an artist not afraid to experiment, but willing to maintain a musicality to catch the attention of the listener. While not yet fully formed, DISQO VOLANTE possesses crossover potential.


disqo-volante-re-lit‘Pretend For A Day’ is available as a free download at https://soundcloud.com/disqo-volante/pretend-for-a-day

The ‘re: lit’ EP can be downloaded via https://disqovolante.bandcamp.com/album/re-lit

http://disqovolante.com/

https://www.facebook.com/disqovolante/

https://soundcloud.com/disqo-volante/sets/re-lit


Text by Chi Ming Lai
4th December 2016

THE FAINT Capsule: 1999-2016

When the new millennium began, things were grim for the electronic pop fan…

the-faint-capsuleThe mainstream music scene had been infiltrated by the tedium of landfill indie pioneered by the likes of TRAVIS.

Meanwhile on the dance front, as great as singles by THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS and LEFTFIELD were, their albums left a lot to be desired, as tracks went on for far too long with minimal song based structures.

However, there were new beacons of hope in LADYTRON and GOLDFRAPP, while synthpop was to become the rogue element of rock bands such as THE KILLERS and THE BRAVERY. But before the latter pair emerged, there was THE FAINT.

‘Capsule: 1999-2016’ sees THE FAINT’s catalogue gathered over seventeen songs from five albums, including the excellent 2016 single ‘Young & Realistic’ and two new tracks ‘Skylab1979’ and ‘ESP’.

Formed in Omaha, Nebraska by Todd Fink (vocals + keyboards), Clark Baechle (drums) and Joel Petersen (bass), THE FAINT began as a conventional skateboarding rock act named NORMAN BAILER.

After changing their name and signing to Saddle Creek for the debut album ‘Media’, they began taking an interest in using more prominent electronics with the addition of keyboard player Jacob Thiele. The resultant 1999 album ‘Blank Wave Arcade’ featuring ‘Call Call’ and ‘Worked Up So Sexual’ showcased a mix of live drums, punky guitars and squelchy synths in the vein of early ULTRAVOX! and WIRE.

But it wasn’t until 2001’s ‘Danse Macabre’ that THE FAINT really found their sound. While Petersen took to programming bass sequences, one crucial element was the recruitment of a death metal guitarist nicknamed Dapose. In much the same way DURAN DURAN were essentially a synthpop band with a heavy rock guitarist bolted on, this unusual hybrid gave THE FAINT a unique template for the time, sounding like BLUR and Birmingham’s most famous boat crew rolled into one!

The deep attack of ‘Agenda Suicide’ from ‘Danse Macabre’ still stands up and indicative of the parent album’s title, with the second half sounding like Marilyn Manson gone electro. Meanwhile from the same breakthrough long player, ‘Glass Danse’ and ‘The Conductor’ took swirling synths and hard dance rhythms into indie rock territory, while still embracing the imperfections of the analogue machinery associated with Synth Britannia. There was also the delightfully odd swing of ‘Posed To Death’

2004’s ‘Wet From Birth’ album saw orchestrations entering the equation although overall, it was less immediate than its predecessor. But THE FAINT’s spiritual connection with Britain’s new wave and in particular, Some Bizzare came with the superb ‘Southern Belles In London Sing’, a fine interpolation of the now-classic 1981 anti-war song ‘Remembrance Day’ by B-MOVIE, the Nottingham quartet who appeared on the ‘Some Bizzare Album’ alongside SOFT CELL, BLANCMANGE, THE THE and DEPECHE MODE.

the-faintThe buzzing string embellished groove of ‘Desperate Guys’ from ‘Wet From Birth’ also deserves its place on this collection, but one glaring omission from this period would be the superb ‘Symptom Finger’, a hypnotic ‘Zoo Station’ styled romp.

Leaving ‘Saddle Creek’ in 2008, THE FAINT issued ‘Fasciinatiion’ on their own blank.wave imprint and rather fittingly toured with LADYTRON.

But like many acts at the time, the onset of illegal downloading and reduced demand for physical product saw the band give the CD away on tour with sales of T-shirts. The stuttering electronic funk of ‘The Geeks Were Right’ proved the band still had it, although it would be 2014 before they released another album in ‘Doom Abuse’, represented on ‘Capsule: 1999-2016’ by the appropriately foreboding climes of ‘Damage Control’.

‘Capsule: 1999-2016’ is a good introduction to THE FAINT, with its bias towards the band’s best two albums ‘Danse Macabre’ and ‘Wet From Birth’. While almost destined to remain a cult proposition, THE FAINT deserve recognition for their part in keeping the sound of the synthesizer alive during a period when it had almost been hounded to extinction.


‘Capsule: 1999-2016’ is released by Saddle Creek in CD, double vinyl and digital formats

http://thefaint.com/

https://www.facebook.com/thefaint/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
7th November 2016