Tag: The Invincible Spirit

TEC’s 2019 End Of Year Review

2019 was a year of 40th Anniversaries, celebrating the synth becoming the sound of pop when ‘Are Friends Electric?’ reached No1 in the UK chart in 1979.

While GARY NUMAN opted for ‘(R)evolution’ and two of his former sidemen RRussell Bell and Chris Payne ventured solo for the first time, OMD offered a 7 disc ‘Souvenir’ featuring a whole album of quality unreleased material to accompany a concert tour to celebrate four decades in the business.

That was contrary to DEPECHE MODE who merely plonked 14 albums into a boxed set in a move where the ‘Everything Counts’ lyric “the grabbing hands grab all they can” became more and more ironic…

MIDGE URE partied like it was 1980 with the music of VISAGE and ULTRAVOX, while SIMPLE MINDS announced an arena tour for 2020 so that their audience could show Jim Kerr their hands again. HEAVEN 17 announced some special showcases of the early material of THE HUMAN LEAGUE and got a particularly warm reception opening on tour for SQUEEZE as a trailer ahead of their own ‘Greatest Hits’ jaunt next year.

Celebrating 20 years in music, there was the welcome return of LADYTRON with a self-titled comeback album, while Swedish evergreens LUSTANS LAKEJER performed the ‘Åkersberga’ album for its 20th Anniversary and similarly GOLDFRAPP announced a series of shows in honour of their magnificent cinematic debut ‘Felt Mountain’.

Cult favourites FIAT LUX made their intimate live comeback in a church in Bradford and released their debut album ‘Saved Symmetry’ 37 years after their first single ‘Feels Like Winter Again’.

As a result, their fans were also treated to ‘Ark Of Embers’, the long player that Polydor Records shelved in 1985 when the band were on the cusp of a breakthrough but ended with a commercial breakdown.

Modern prog exponents Tim Bowness and Steven Wilson got back together as NO-MAN for their dual suite electronic concept record ‘Love You To Bits’, but an even more ambitious undertaking came from UNDERWORLD with their boxed set ‘Drift Series 1’.

Also making live returns were one-time PET SHOP BOYS protégé CICERO with a charity gig in his hometown of Livingston, WHITE DOOR with JOHAN BAECKSTRÖM at Synth Wave Live 3, ARTHUR & MARTHA at TEC005 and Mute Records veterans KOMPUTER at TEC006.

After a short hiatus, the mighty KITE sold-out three gigs at Stockholm Slaktkyrkan and ended the year performing at an opera house, while GIORGIO MORODER embarked on his first ever concert tour where his songs were the stars.

Although their long-awaited-as-yet-untitled third album was still to materialise, VILE ELECTRODES went back on the road in Europe with APOPTYGMA BERZERK and THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT. Meanwhile, Chinese techno-rock sextet STOLEN opened for NEW ORDER on their Autumn European tour and EMIKA performed in a series of Planetariums.

Despite the fall of The Berlin Wall 30 years ago, there were more evident swipes to the right than there had been for a long time, with the concept of Brexit Electro becoming a rather unpleasant reality. So in these more sinister times, the need for classic uplifting electronic pop was higher than ever.

To that end, three superb debut albums fitted the bill. While KNIGHT$ offered quality Britalo on ‘Dollars & Cents’, the suave presence of OLLIE WRIDE took a more MTV friendly direction with ‘Thanks In Advance’.

But for those wanting something more home produced, the eccentric Northern electronic pop of the brilliantly named INTERNATIONAL TEACHERS OF POP continued the artistic lineage of THE HUMAN LEAGUE.

QUIETER THAN SPIDERS finally released their wonderful debut album ‘Signs Of Life’ which was naturally more understated and Denmark had some worthy synthpop representation with SOFTWAVE producing an enjoyably catchy debut long player in ‘Game On’.

On the shadier side of electronic pop, BOY HARSHER achieved a wider breakthrough with their impressive ‘Careful’ long player but as a result, the duo acquired a contemporary hipster element to their fanbase who seemed to lack manners and self-awareness as they romped around gigs without a care for anyone around them. But with tongues-in-cheeks, SPRAY continued to amuse with their witty prankelectro on ‘Failure Is Inevitable’.

Photo by Johnny Jewel

Italians Do It Better kept things in house as CHROMATICS unexpectedly unleashed their first album for six years in ‘Closer To Grey’ and embarked on a world tour.

Main support was DESIRE and accompanied on keyboards by HEAVEN singer Aja, the pair took things literally during their cover version of ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ with a girl-on-girl kiss in front of head honcho Johnny Jewel.

Other ITIB acts on the tour dependent on territory included DOUBLE MIXTE, IN MIRRORS and KRAKÓW LOVES ADANA. But the best work to appear from the stable came from JORJA CHALMERS who became ‘Human Again’.

There were a variety of inventive eclectic works from FAKE TEAK, MAPS, FINLAY SHAKESPEARE, ULTRAMARINE, TYCHO, THE GOLDEN FILTER, FRAGRANCE. and FADER. Meanwhile VON KONOW, SOMEONE WHO ISN’T ME and JAKUZI all explored themes of equality while BOYTRONIC preferred ‘The Robot Treatment’.

But expressing themselves on the smoother side of proceedings were CULT WITH NO NAME and notably SHOOK who looked east towards the legend of YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA.

Dark minimalism reigned in the work of FRAGILE SELF and WE ARE REPLICA while no less dark but not so aggressive, WITCH OF THE VALE cemented their position with a well-received opening slot at Infest.

Touring in Europe with OMD and MIDGE URE, TINY MAGNETIC PETS unleashed two EPs ‘The Politburo Disko’ and ‘Girl In A White Dress’ as fellow Dubliner CIRCUIT3 got political and discussed ‘The Price Of Nothing & The Value Of Everything’.

2019 was a year of electronic instrumental offerings galore from NEULAND, RICARDO AUTOBAHN, EKKOES, M83, RELIEF, FEMMEPOP and OBLONG, although ERIC RANDOM’s dystopian offering ‘Wire Me Up’ added vocoder while BRIAN ENO celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing ‘For All Mankind’.

The King of Glum Rock LLOYD COLE surprised all with an electronic pop album called ‘Guesswork’ just as PET SHOP BOYS set an ‘Agenda’. HOWARD JONES released his most synthy work for years in ‘Transform’ and while CHINA CRISIS acted as his well-received support on the UK leg of his 35th Anniversary tour, their front man GARY DALY ventured solo with ‘Gone From Here’.

Among the year’s best new talents were IMI, KARIN MYGRETAGEISTE and ALICE HUBBLE with their beautifully crafted avant pop.

And with the media traction of artists such as GEORGIA, REIN, JENNIFER TOUCH, SUI ZHEN, THE HEARING, IONNALEE, PLASMIC, ZAMILSKA, IOANNA GIKA, SPELLLING, KANGA, FIFI RONG and I AM SNOW ANGEL, the profile of women in electronic music was stronger than ever in 2019.

Sweden continued to produce quality electronic pop with enjoyable releases from the likes of MACHINISTA, PAGE, COVENANT, OBSESSION OF TIME and LIZETTE LIZETTE. One of the most interesting acts to emerge from the region was US featuring the now Stockholm-domiciled Andrew Montgomery from GENEVA and Leo Josefsson of LOWE, with the catalyst of this unlikely union coming from a shared love of the late country legend Glen Campbell. Meanwhile, veteran trio DAYBEHAVIOR made the best album of their career ‘Based On A True Story’.

However, Canada again gave the Swedes a good run for their money as ELECTRIC YOUTH and FM ATTACK released new material while with more of a post-punk slant, ACTORS impressed audiences who preferred a post-post-punk edge alongside their synths. DANA JEAN PHOENIX though showed herself to be one of the best solo synth performers on the live circuit, but artistically the best of the lot was MECHA MAIKO who had two major releases ‘Okiya’ and ‘Let’s!’.

Despite making some good music in 2019 with their ‘Destroyer’ two-parter, the “too cool for school” demeanour of TR/ST might have impressed hipsters, but left a lot to be desired. A diva-ish attitude of entitlement was also noticed by The Electricity Club to be disappointingly prevalent in several fledgling acts.

Synthwave increased its profile further with the film ‘The Rise Of The Synths’ narrated by none other than John Carpenter. MICHAEL OAKLEY released his debut album ‘Introspect’, BETAMAXX was ‘Lost In A Dreamworld’, COM TRUISE came up with a ‘Persuasion System’ and NEW ARCADES were ‘Returning Home’.

Scene veteran FUTURECOP! collaborated with PARALLELS, COMPUTER MAGIC and NINA prior to a hiatus for the foreseeable future, while there were promising new talents emerging in the shape of POLYCHROME, PRIZM, BUNNY X and RIDER.

However, several of the sub-genre’s artists needed to rethink their live presentations which notably underwhelmed with their static motions and lack of engagement.

While promoters such as Outland developed on their solid foundations, others attempted to get too big too soon like the musical equivalent of a penis extension, leaving fans disappointed and artists unpaid. Attempting to turnover more than 10 acts during in a day with a quarter of an hour changeover has always been an odious task at best, but to try 15?!? One hopes the headliners were well paid despite having to go on at midnight when most of their supporters went home so as not to miss the last train…

Now at times, it was as if a major collective midlife crisis had hit independent electronic music in the UK during 2019.

It was not unlike how “born again bikers” have become a major road safety risk, thanks to 40somethings who only managed Cycling Proficiency in Junior School suddenly jumping onto 500cc Honda CMX500 Rebel motorcycles, thinking they were Valentino Rossi.

Something similar was occurring in music as a variety of posturing delusional synth owners indulged in a remix frenzy and visions of grandeur like it was normal behaviour, forgetting that ability and talent were paramount.

This attitude led to a number of poorly attended events where attendees were able to be counted on one hand, thanks to clueless fans of said combos unwisely panning their video footage around the venue.

Playing at 3:15pm in an empty venue is NOT performing at a ‘major’ electronic festival… “I’ll be more selective with the gigs I agree to in the UK” one of these acts haplessly bemoaned, “I’ve played to too many empty rooms!” – well, could that have been because they are not very good?

Bands who had blown their chance by not showing willingness to open for name acts during holiday periods, while making unwise comments on their national TV debut about their lack of interest in registering for PRS, said they were going to split a year in advance, but not before releasing an EP and playing a farewell show in an attempt to finally get validation for their art. Was this a shining example of Schrodinger’s Band?

Of course, the worst culprits were those who had an internet radio show or put on gigs themselves so that they could actually perform, because otherwise external promotors were only interested in them opening at 6.15pm after a ticket deal buy on for a five band bill. Humility wouldn’t have gone amiss in all these cases.

It’s a funny old world, but as The Electricity Club comes up to concluding its tenth year as an influential platform that has written extensively about not one or two or three or four BUT five acts prior to them being selected to open on tour for OMD, luckily the gulf between good and bad music is more distinct than ever.

Artwork by Heloisa Flores

The Electricity Club had a compilation released by Amour Records gathering some of the best music from the last 10 years and reached No2 in the German POPoNAUT charts.

It will be interesting to see if the high standard of electronic pop will be maintained or whether the influx of deluded poor quality artists will contaminate the bloodline.

So The Electricity Club ends the decade with a complimentary comment by a punter after TEC006 who had also been to TEC004: “You don’t put on sh*t do you…”

May the supreme talent rise and shine… you know who you are 😉


THE ELECTRICITY CLUB Contributor Listings of 2019

PAUL BODDY

Best Album: UNDERWORLD Drift Series 1
Best Song: MOLINA Venus
Best Gig: RAMMSTEIN at Milton Keynes MK Bowl
Best Video: SCALPING Chamber
Most Promising New Act: SCALPING


IAN FERGUSON

Best Album: NO-MAN Love You To Bits
Best Song: NO-MAN Love You To Shreds
Best Gig: RAMMSTEIN at Stadion Slaski Chorzow
Best Video: RAMMSTEIN Deutschland
Most Promising New Act: IMI


SIMON HELM

Best Album: PAGE Fakta För Alla
Best Song: PAGE Fakta För Alla
Best Gig: LAU NAU at London Cafe OTO
Best Video: LAU NAU Amphipoda on Buchla 200 at EMS Stockholm
Most Promising New Act: THE HIDDEN MAN


CHI MING LAI

Best Album: KNIGHT$ Dollar & Cents
Best Song: OMD Don’t Go
Best Gig: KITE at Stockholm Slaktkyrkan
Best Video: NIGHT CLUB Your Addiction
Most Promising New Act: IMI


RICHARD PRICE

Best Album: KNIGHT$ Dollar & Cents
Best Song: OMD Don’t Go
Best Gig: MIDGE URE + RUSTY EGAN at The London Palladium
Best Video: IMI Margins
Most Promising New Act: PLASMIC


MONIKA IZABELA TRIGWELL

Best Album: MECHA MAIKO Let’s
Best Song: KANGA Burn
Best Gig: DANA JEAN PHOENIX, KALAX + LEBROCK at London Zigfrid von Underbelly
Best Video: IONNALEE Open Sea
Most Promising New Act: PRIZM


Text by Chi Ming Lai with thanks to Ian Ferguson
16th December 2019

THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT Interview

The musical vehicle of Thomas Lüdke, German EBM veterans THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT first gained wider recognition in Europe with ‘Push! in 1986.

THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT’s debut album ‘Current News’ featuring songs like ‘Make A Device’ became a cult favourite, inspiring Norwegian electro rockers APOPTYGMA BERZERK along the way.

Meanwhile, Thomas Lüdke’s towering stage presence and dark alternative club sound made THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT an appealing concert proposition.

Beginning life as THE INVINCIBLE LIMIT, Thomas Lüdke has also been involved in side projects such as GOD IS LSD, SOMA and THE MAO TSE TUNG EXPERIENCE. Although currently very active on the live circuit with a notable opening slot with APOPTYGMA BERZERK on their recent Summer tour, THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT’s last album ‘Anyway’ came out in 2015.

A single entitled ‘Nein!’ was issued in 2017, but with the release of possibly his most accessible song yet in ‘Coming Home’, Thomas Lüdke has promised a new album very soon. In a break from recording, Thomas Lüdke spoke to The Electricity Club about the past, present and future of THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT.

How did THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT come to its tense Teutonic electronic sound?

I never had the impression of sounding particularly Teutonic. But the harder electronic bass sounds, I liked very much when I started to make music. Maybe it’s the influence of the dark basement where I started. 🙂

Many people also claimed the early TIS sound was very grim. I, on the other hand, always had a positive attitude. Probably you cannot just deny its origin. 🙂

Was it always your intention to work solo in THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT?

No, in the beginning I always wanted a band. And I formed this band for my first project. But since there were different opinions in the approach, I decided to start a second project with THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT. There I composed the music alone and had only guest musicians for live performances.

Had DAF and DIE KRUPPS been much of an influence on you?

DIE KRUPPS rather less, but mostly it was FAD GADGET, KRAFTWERK, DAF and JEAN MICHEL JARRE (in that order). In addition, during my childhood I was influenced by Rock ‘n’ Roll (Beatles, Buddy Holly) and Country (Johnny Cash). My dad liked to hear this music and he also played me DAF for the first time. 🙂

How did you decide that you would express yourself in English rather than German?

I think English words sound better with my music. Maybe I’m also negatively influenced by Deutsche Schlager music, I do not really like this kind of music. 🙂

Your breakthrough was with ‘Push!’, can your remember what happened from recording the song to it getting heard?

When the song was finished in one night, I went to my favourite nightclub the next day and the DJ played the song. The response was immediately very good. Many people came to the DJ and wanted to know if this is already available. Also my record label Last Chance Records was immediately enthusiastic and released the record in a short time. It was almost an instant success.

How do you look back on the ‘Current News’ album released by ZYX Records?

I did ‘Current News’ under a certain pressure of time. After the success of ‘Push’, the label wanted to quickly release a long-playing record. I was very dissatisfied with some songs and especially the studio sound. This could have been better. Nevertheless, it seems to have been received well by many people.

What synthesizers and machines were you using then? Did you have a favourite?

I have worked a lot with Kawai SX-210, Casio CZ-5000, Yamaha TX-802, Yamaha TG-77 and Yamaha RX-5. I first used the built-in sequencer of the CASIO CZ-5000 for ‘Push!’ and ‘Make A Device’. Later I used the Atari ST with the Notator / Creator software. The TX-802 is still one of my favourites. Except for the RX-5 drum machine, I still have all the devices.

Was ‘Make A Device’ a reflection of the Cold War tensions of the period?

Of course, like many people back then, I was also worried that somebody would “push the button”. But otherwise I was and am rather an apolitical person. But ‘Make A Device’ is more about not falling into lethargy and getting your life under control. But of course, it cannot be ruled out that the “Basic Sadness” was created by the signs of the times. 🙂

You recorded two more albums ‘The Rollercoaster Revolution’ and ‘Can Sex Be Sin’, but then things went comparatively quiet for THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT until the ‘Faster Life’ EP, what happened?

There was a burden of ‘Push!’. My music for some time was always reduced to this song. Also the record label and the management wanted me to do something like ‘Push!’ again. Also in this business, you often meet people who just want to take advantage of you. When I realised this, I needed a break and distance from these people. I still played live and composed new songs. But I just did not publish these songs anymore.

What made you decide on a ‘comeback’?

As I said, I did live performances all the time. The spark was only in the year 2012, it flared up again at a performance at the WGT in Leipzig. The audience’s resonance was so overwhelming that I decided to get really active again, but this time with the plan to take everything completely in my own hands, without a record label or management. So in 2015, I founded my own record label.

The 2015 album ‘Anyway’ had a lot of songs, it was like you had a lot of feelings bottled up to channel into music again?

On ‘Anyway’, there are many songs that have emerged over the years, but these usually were only in a demo song character. For ‘Anyway’, I picked it up again and composed it to the end. As a result, the album became very varied. I’ve never followed just one musical genre anyway. I like being diverse.

Was the mighty ‘Hate You’ based on personal experience? Had making the song been cathartic?

‘Hate You’ is more to be seen with a smile. I did not really felt hate for anyone or anything when I wrote the song. But of course, it’s fun to let out the feelings during live performances. In addition, ‘Hate You’ for me is the official successor to ‘Push!’. So for live performances, I mix the songs a bit together. 🙂

Do you feel that the modern environment of social media, downloading and streaming makes things easier or more difficult for an artist like yourself?

Well, on the one hand, it makes me a bit more independent of the music industry. On the other hand, the ways a song distributes itself on the internet are hard to control for a small label.

YouTube and Facebook etc are difficult to contact. When I uploaded ‘Push!’ to my YouTube channel for the first time in 2015, the channel was closed for a few weeks and I was accused of copyright infringement. I then clicked through YouTube for a long time and also clicked the hook for a legal dispute. Then it was quiet again and they finally understood. 🙂

What is ‘Irregular Times’ which was recorded as THE MAO TSE TUNG EXPERIENCE about?

It is about a teacher who despairs of the increasing lack of interest in his students. And he holds that out to them, in an ironic way. The original singer of the song Wilfried Peffgen was a teacher. Unfortunately, he died a few years ago, at the age of 70.

The new single ‘Coming Home’ has already been performed live and is maybe lighter than some of your other material, what was it inspired by and how did it develop as a song?

Actually, I had been working on a different song when I had the idea to the main melody of ‘Coming Home’. I stayed with it and finished the song in one day. The text basically treats the feeling of coming home from a few concert days and looking forward to seeing the familiar faces again.

You recently remixed ‘Backdraft’ for APOPTYGMA BERZERK and toured with them, how did this kinship begin and continue?

It was Per Aksel Lundgreen, who wrote me a few months ago on Facebook and made me the offer for the remix. Back then, he told me the story of how Stephan Groth of APOPTYGMA BERZERK became inspired to make music himself after hearing the ‘Current News’ album. Stephan liked my remix and he offered me, to support APOP on the German tour.

What do you think has been your proudest moment as THE INVISIBLE SPIRIT, either with an occasion, or a song or an acknowledgement?

This was the moment at the E-Tropolis in Oberhausen, when Stephan from APOP first told the story that he became a musician himself through my music.

I have already been told this by some bands, but no-one has publicly stated so far. That made me very proud. 🙂

What’s next for THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT?

Work on a new album is in full swing. Unfortunately, everyday life occasionally throws you back a little. Otherwise, it would already be finished. But I’m still in a good mood 🙂


The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to Thomas Lüdke

‘Coming Home’ is released as a digital single via the usual platforms, while the album ‘Anyway’ is also still available

THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT play 6 Jahre KatzenCLUB-FESTIVAL in Munich with DIVE + TYING TIFFANY on Saturday 2nd November 2019

https://www.the-invincible-spirit.de/

https://www.facebook.com/InvincibleSpiritOriginal/

https://twitter.com/invinciblesp

https://www.instagram.com/the.invincible.spirit/

https://open.spotify.com/artist/5leTuVWMEcXFeyMuFeCv5J


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
14th October 2019

APOPTYGMA BERZERK, THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT + VILE ELECTRODES Live In Cologne

An electric line-up was gathered at Cologne’s Essigfabrik covering various mutations of synthesizer driven music as part of APOPTYGMA BERZERK’s 2019 European tour.

Also featuring THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT + VILE ELECTRODES, when APOPTYGMA BERZERK mainman Stephan Groth spoke to The Electricity Club earlier in the year, he explained: “It’s very important to have a whole evening that makes sense and which will tell a story.”

That story began with British South Coast duo VILE ELECTRODES. New favourite artists of Stephan Groth’s, Anais Neon and Martin Swan have rarely ventured out live in the last two years, but the opportunity to reach a new audience familiar with the darker vein of electronics was not to be missed.

Using a portable Eurorack set-up which was still quite hefty in comparison to other live acts and almost obscuring the diminutive Swan, there was also a tiny Yamaha Reface and compact Arturia MicroBrute included in the Viles armoury.

As well as familiar tunes such as a reworking of ‘Empire of Wolves’ and ‘Proximity’, there was also ‘Red Bead’ and ‘Incision’ from the epic if bleak second album ‘In The Shadows Of Monuments’.

Meanwhile, there was new material in the shape of two modular derived songs ‘We Are A Prism’ and ‘The Kill The Cure’ which hinted that for VILE ELECTRODES at least, their future is perhaps not yet so bright that they’ve got to wear shades.

Closing with the arpeggio-laden ‘Re-Emerge’, its frantic synthesized throb warmed up the steadily building throng at Essigfabrik.

In the vein of DAF and DIE KRUPPS but with a tighter electronic backbone, EBM veterans THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT produced the sort of alternative club music that would have been popular at The Jolly Joker in Braunschweig and the like. The project of Thomas Lüdke, the debut album ‘Current News’ became a cult favourite after its release in 1987 on ZYX Records with tracks like ‘Make A Device’ and ‘Push!’

Accompanied by Anja Vorel on synths, the towering presence of Lüdke loomed over the audience as they became captivated by the energetic body of ‘Irregular Times’. But the powertrain entered a new gear with the magnificent of ‘Hate You’, the lead single from the 2015 comeback album ‘Anyway’.

Such frenzy could only be followed by the Teutonic tension of ‘Push!’, a mighty statement that other acts now try attempt to imitate, but who inevitably fall at the first fence.

A great new number ‘Coming Home’ kept up the pace and the action, but there was the surprising inclusion of JOY DIVISION’s ‘Atmosphere’ as an uptempo cover to end, which worked well in the former factory complex that forms Essigfabrik.

As the crowd squeezed up to the barrier in anticipation of APOPTYGMA BERZERK, what was noticeable that save three or four goth boys of varying ages, the entire front row was female. First on stage was cheerleading keyboardist Jonas Groth, while sticksman Ted Skogman quietly followed over to the drum stool.

As the electronic pulse of ‘Weight Of The World’ began and the younger Groth vocodered “pleased to meet you”, guitarist Audun ‘Angel’ Stengel joined his bandmates before wearing a leather jacket with “YAZOO” emblazoned on the back, Stephan Groth ran to greet his excited fanbase. The industrial pop of ‘Unicorn’ continued the adrenaline rush and prompted chorus singalongs, before moving towards the anthemic rock overtones of ‘In This Together’.

Over the years, Stephan Groth has straddled EBM, synthpop, futurepop, alternative rock and more recently instrumentals with APOPTYGMA BERZERK, and the upcoming EP ‘Nein Danke!’ sees a return to the synthpop format.

From it, the excellent ‘Atom & Eve’ with its mechanised rhythms saw drummer Ted Skogman leave his kit to assist on backing vocals.

As the evening continued and other drum machine led tracks were performed, as with another terrific ‘Nein Danke!’ number called ‘A Battle For The Crown’ or material from Groth’s FAIRLIGHT CHILDREN synth side-project, Skogman simply walked off the stage as the songs did not need the interference of live drums. It begs the question as to why Christian Eigner can’t voluntarily disappear for half of DEPECHE MODE’s concert set for the sake of authentic art?

With smoke machines on overdrive and huge blocks of flashing lights from across the spectrum set to stun, this was a dense display of visuals that worked well in extremes. Presenting all aspects of the APOP catalogue, the 1997 vintage ‘Love Never Dies’ revisited Groth’s grandiose futurepop adventures while from the same ‘7’ album, ‘Deep Red’ kept the body strong with Angel adding power via his chunky flanged guitar, mutating into metal when necessary.

‘Stitch’ from debut album ‘Soli Deo Gloria’ took the form of respite as Groth performed totally alone in a moody whispered Numan-esque manner, before ‘Dead Air Einz’ saw the band return for some steadfast Schaffel.

No stranger to the cover versions, Groth’s choices have been eclectic to say the least, ranging from KIM WILDE to THE CURE and METALLICA with OMD, PETER SCHILLING and KRAFTWERK caught some place in between. APOPTYGMA BERZERK’s cover of THE HOUSE OF LOVE’s ‘Shine On’ was a German hit in 2006 so when its familiar riff revealed itself, the crowd indulged in a spot of goth dancing.

Aesthetically akin to THE KILLERS, the energetic ‘Asleep or Awake’ which followed most definitely kept them all awake. Off ‘Welcome To Earth’, the gothic rave of ‘Kathy’s Song’ with its call-and-response interplay between the Groth brothers maximised audience involvement, even during Kathy Macintosh’s Mac OS voice centrepiece.

One thing about Stephen Groth is that he is humble gentleman who is free of ego, so it was a touching moment for him to leave brother Jonas on stage to perform ‘Nearest’; an update of ‘Near’ from ‘7’, this has been the younger Groth’s lead party piece for the last two years at APOP shows and is due for inclusion on the Nein Danke!’ EP.

Opting for the OK MINUS remix, the dark vibrant electro of ‘Eclipse’ maintained the smiles and rave friendly atmosphere. However, best of all was the superb JEAN-MICHEL JARRE meets SIMPLE MINDS trance rock fusion of ‘Until The End Of The World’ from 2002’s ‘Harmonizer’ to complete the main set; prompting a massed hands in the air moment, Stephan Groth even threw in a few Jim Kerr mannerisms during this slice of euphoric dystopia!

The appreciative crowd didn’t have to wait long for an encore, and they were rewarded with a long one, beginning with an extended ‘Starsign’ and an electro-rock cover of METALLICA’s ‘Fade to Black’. Onto the home straight, it was now time to party like it was 1993 with two final songs from ‘Soli Deo Gloria’.

Styled around the sweaty new SUBSTAAT treatment, ‘Bitch’ provided some aggressive enthralment while Stephan Groth ended the night by paying tribute to the influence of THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT on APOP and asked Thomas Lüdke to join him onstage for a redux duet of ‘Backdraft’.

Generous in spirit, as Stephen Groth took the curtain call with his band, he beckoned VILE ELECTRODES to join the ensemble on stage to accept the roaring approval of those all gathered at Essigfabrik.

Those hoping for a rendition of ‘Burning Heretic’ would have been slightly disappointed but overall, it was an exhilarating live presentation with superb sound quality providing a fine balance of power and clarity for all three acts.

Small in stature but big in stage presence, as Stephen Groth once said: “Take the red pill and join our ranks, the truth has its rewards!”


The Electricity Club gives its special thanks to Per Aksel Lundgreen

APOPTYGMA BERZERK + VILE ELECTRODES play Oslo Parkteatret on Saturday 24th August 2019

http://www.theapboffice.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ApoptygmaBerzerk/

https://www.the-invincible-spirit.de/

https://www.facebook.com/InvincibleSpiritOriginal/

http://www.vileelectrodes.com/

https://www.facebook.com/vileelectrodes/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Grit Cheraka and Chi Ming Lai
22nd August 2019