Tag: Vangelis (Page 1 of 5)

MATT BELLAMY Behold, The Glove

MUSE’s use of glowing artwork by Kyle Lambert of ‘Stranger Things’ fame on their eighth album ‘Simulation Theory’ in 2018 sent sections of the Synthwave community into meltdown.

There were cries that they had “stolen the aesthetics and concept” and how “it’s not relevant to their sound”! But WHAM! had Peter Saville designed sleeves and never sounded like NEW ORDER or OMD. However, their touch paper is likely to be lit even further with the video to ‘Behold, The Glove’, an enjoyable solo synth instrumental by front man Matt Bellamy in the vein of Vangelis and Jean-Michel Jarre.

The video directed by Lance Drake is part of MUSE’s lavish ‘Simulation Theory’ film which “follows a team of scientists as they investigate the source of a paranormal anomaly appearing around the world. Blurring the lines between narrative and concert film, virtual and reality”.

Reminiscent of the closing scene from the 1968 film ‘Planet Of The Apes’ directed by Franklin J Schaffner, Bellamy is seen crawling around a desolate landscape when he finds what looks like a Nintendo power glove in the sand. Upon wearing it, it allows him to master the rather obscure and expensive Schmidt 8 Voice Polyphonic synth, a snip at 20,000 Euros!

One could be mistaken for thinking this is from ‘Live at the Necropolis: Lords of Synth’, the affectionate synth duel parody of Vangelis, Giorgio Moroder and Wendy Carlos. While MUSE are known for their pomp-laden stadium rock, there has always been a synthesizer enthusiast within Bellamy’s psyche.

While a Roland Juno 60 has been there since the band’s first album ‘Showbiz’, a Buchla 200e modular synthesizer was part of the armoury for the 2006 album ‘Black Holes & Revelations’ which featured ‘Map Of The Problematique’, a song quite clearly influenced by DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Enjoy The Silence’. More recently,

ERASURE’s lawyers were probably knocking on the door of their tour bus for the similarities between ‘Something Human’ and ‘A Little Respect’. But the synth-friendly combo who have been most key to the sound of MUSE has been ULTRAVOX. It’s not difficult to imagine Midge Ure singing ‘Starlight’ while ‘Vienna’ has been borrowed not once but twice, first on ‘Apocalypse Please’ where the middle eight bass synth section was more or less lifted note-for-note and the second time was more obviously with the drum intro to ‘Guiding Light’.


‘Behold, The Glove’ is available now on the usual digital platforms

The ‘Simulation Theory’ film is available digitally from http://muse.mu/film

https://www.facebook.com/muse

https://twitter.com/MattBellamy


Text by Chi Ming Lai with thanks to Peter Fitzpatrick
4th September 2020

WHITE DOOR The Great Awakening

If there is one person who has probably sparked the realisation of a long-awaited second WHITE DOOR album, then it has to be the synth Superswede Johan Baeckström.

A solo artist in his own right but also a member of synth duo DAILY PLANET, the young Johan Baeckström was a fan of the first WHITE DOOR album ’Windows’ released in 1983.

When he needed B-sides for the singles from his own 2015 solo debut ’Like Before, he covered ’Jerusalem’ and ’School Days’.

Although Baeckström has been unashamedly candid about the influence of Vince Clarke on his music, his musicality was also been shaped by the small catalogue of songs by Mac Austin, Harry Davies and John Davies.

While Mac Austin and Harry Davies have continued to perform in their prog combo GRACE over the years, Baeckström sowed the seeds of a WHITE DOOR reunion when he and DAILY PLANET bandmate Jarmo Olilia invited Austin to provide lead vocals on ‘Heaven Opened’ on their 2017 album ‘Play Rewind Repeat’.

That sparked a WHITE DOOR reunion and as a newly confugured quartet, Mac Austin, John Davies, Harry Davies and Johan Baeckström now present ’The Great Awakening’. Baeckström gives the pulsing Vince Clarke-isms a breather and swaps it for the more polyphonically formed keyboard interventions of his other heroes like Howard Jones.

A joyous tune that sets the scene, the exotic sophistication of ’Among The Mountains’ possesses the soaring windscreen poise of A-HA with a flawless vocal from Mac Austin while the soundscape is sweetened by flute, providing an interesting timbral contrast.

Acknowledging the theme of ’Get Carter’ but with a more brassy flair, ’Resurrection’ surprises with a bouncy Giorgio Moroder inspired stomp and the lift of a rousing chorus. Meanwhile Mac Austin manages to sound like a cross between Morten Harket and Chris De Burgh over some beautifully symphonic synth and subtle slapped bass in a guest appearance from Baeckström’s son Simon.

’Soundtrack Of Our Lives’ captures the joys of spring, with the English folk austere that was very much part of WHITE DOOR’s make-up playing a key role with the harmonious vocal arrangement.

A sparkling production with space for all the elements to shine, there’s even a few classic Linn Drum sounds thrown in too. Yes, they are more recollections of A-HA although of course, the ’Windows’ album came out a year before ’Hunting High & Low’.

Holding down the steadier mood with a synth arpeggio, the richly layered ’Lullaby’ makes what appears to be a simple arrangement sound grand and complex in a cleverly configured traditional tune that steadily builds and surprises with a burst of saxophone in the final third which also glistens ivory-wise in the manner of Howard Jones.

Beginning with a slightly stuttering rhythm, ’Angel Of Tomorrow’ bursts into life with a spacey buoyant pomp that captures an air of Vangelis.

An elated majestic tone ensues as staring mortality in the face, ’The Great Awakening’ celebrates an embracment of life and second chances with a range of complex synth motifs. All wondefully complimenting one another, it is akin to a casade of church bells ringing on a Sunday morning.

The spritely ’Simply Magnificent’ does as the title suggests and is pure sequenced synthpop in the vein of early ALPHAVILLE, the distant transistor radio ending acting a nice tribute to bygone listening experiences.

Ending the album, ’Beautiful Girl’ is classic WHITE DOOR and a song which Harry Davies describes as ”a wonderful song for making babies to”. Vocally like a modern hymn with patterns of hooky chimes, there’s even a surprising lilt of sax that suits the electronic backdrop, with a gorgeous sweeping polysynth conclusion that CHINA CRISIS would be proud of, recalling the feel of their appropriately titled tune ‘The Soul Awakening’.

Hopeful, mature and joyous, ’The Great Awakening’ grandly blows away the attempted sensitive synth overtures of the young pretenders almost half their age. It is twilight magic provided by the sorcerers and their apprenctice. Nearly four decades on, WHITE DOOR have again passed the test with commendation.

Of his role in ’The Great Awakening’, Johan Baeckström said to The Electricity Club: ”I really wanted to do my best to maintain the WHITE DOOR sound and spirit in the production on this album”.

Mission accomplished 😀

’The Great Awakening’ uses the follwoing synthesizers: Roland Jupiter 6, Roland Juno 106, Akai AX73, Minimoog, Korg Mono/Poly and ARP Odyssey


’The Great Awakening’ is released by Progress Productions on 17th April 2020, pre-order download from https://whitedoor.bandcamp.com/album/the-great-awakening

Pre-order CD or white vinyl LP from Progress Productions at https://mailchi.mp/9e7025e1bf26/whitedoor

https://www.facebook.com/whitedoorband/

https://twitter.com/Bstrommusic

https://open.spotify.com/album/3bU49HHzLHxEDQAeVpEROJ?si=ZwnqbshNQ-CB6C2P85HH9Q


Text by Chi Ming Lai
15th April 2020, updated 17th April 2020

A Short Conversation with ANI GLASS

‘Mirores’ is the excellent debut long player by Welsh synth songstress ANI GLASS and conceived around the idea of movement and progress around her hometown of Cardiff.

With enticing synthpop songs sitting together with more conceptual found sound adventures, it is one woman’s artistic vision celebrating her heritage and home, empowered by the freedom and democracy opened up via electronic music.

ANI GLASS released her first EP ‘Ffrwydrad Tawel’ in 2017 having served an apprenticeship under mentors such as OMD’s Andy McCluskey and the late Martin Rushent. She kindly chatted to The Electricity Club about realising her artistic vision and remaining true to her culture.

Your debut album ‘Mirores’ has been several years in the making, how did you keep focussed and motivated?

It’s been a real labour of love and I’ve really enjoyed the whole process. That’s not to say that it’s been a never-ending journey of joyful motivation; there have been heavy periods of down-time whilst I focussed on other things such as my Masters and PhD, but even during those times I was busy collecting ideas and building a narrative. I’ve always wanted to have created and crafted a strong body of work and so that was all the motivation I needed to make sure that I finished, no matter how long it took.

What were the main differences in approach for you with the album compared with your debut EP ‘Ffrwydrad Tawel’?

The main difference I would say is that my ideas, musicianship and skills have developed since writing and recording the EP and so my approach to making the album was more considered. Essentially, I would just say that I was far more confident in my ability this time around.

You opted to self-produce the album, what were the pros and cons you uncovered along the way?

The only con I can think of was that it probably took far longer than it may have had someone else produced it, but the list of pros is pretty endless to be honest. I learnt the skill of production, I learnt how to fully realise my ideas from start to finish, I felt more ownership over my music and could work at my own pace and it encouraged me to listen to music in a different and more observant way. It also made me realise the amount of work involved and I now fully understand why Martin Rushent took over a year to finish the second PIPETTES album!

What hardware or software synths were you using, have you been tempted by any of those affordable Behringer clones?

I tend to stick to hardware synths, the ones I used on the album include a Juno 106, Waldorf Blofeld, Fender Rhodes and a Korg Minilogue. There maybe one or two software synths but mainly incidental or background stuff and absolutely no Behringer clones!

The album is an observational electronic travelogue with pop songs and conceptual interludes, that appears to be reminiscent of OMD’s ‘Dazzle Ships’ or ‘English Electric’? What were you main pointers influence-wise?

My main sonic influences were Vangelis, Martin Rushent, Giorgio Moroder, Jean-Michel Jarre and Arthur Russell. I do love OMD so I’m quite happy if anything I make resembles their work! The album is a journey – based around a day in the life of a Cardiff girl – and journeys tend to vary in pace, mood and tone and so I made an album that I felt would represent this.

The ‘Mirores’ title song has a very liberating quality about it, what was its genesis?

It was one of the last songs from the album that I wrote, and I certainly began to feel liberated knowing that I had nearly finished it! I wanted the song to capture how moments of doubt and despair can evolve into ones of clarity and realisation.

You play with Euro-disco on ‘Ynys Araul’, do you ultimately still have a pop heart within the messages you are looking to convey?

To me, I find pop music to be the most versatile when it comes to freedom of narrative. I’ve never felt restricted by its more traditional format, this structure allows me to experiment with lyrical themes and ideas. I’m generally quite conceptual and often a little vague when it comes to lyrics which then allows me to discuss almost anything. OMD’s ‘Enola Gay’ is a classic example of how a well-crafted song can be both pop and poignant.

You use sample of Welsh newsreader Huw Edwards within the voice collage on ‘Peirianwaith Perffaith’?

This recording is taken from a news report during the 1997 Welsh devolution referendum results. This momentous event in the social, cultural and political calendar of Wales has played a huge part in the development of Cardiff as a European capital city. What was once the largest exporter of coal in the world, the place where the first million-pound cheque was signed felt like a pretty grey and dreary place during the 80s and 90s.

Despite this, there were a lot of exciting things happening in various pockets around the city and most of all, the people were kind and generous.

The city is unrecognisable today, in part due to the devolution process which has weaved its way into the minds and mechanics of Welsh life, and although we have all the problems of other cities – it’s home.

There’s a gospel flavoured interlude called ‘I.B.T’ which appears to sound familiar?

The recording is of my Mum’s choir CÔR COCHION CAERDYDD (Cardiff Reds), who are a socialist street choir. They sing every Saturday in Cardiff city centre to raise money for great causes and have done for the best part of 40 years. The song itself ‘Freedom Is Coming’ is a South African protest song, but this version is called ‘I.B.T’ which reads in Welsh ‘I Beaty’ (To Beaty). Beaty was a choir member and a wonderful woman and friend, and I recorded the choir singing this song at her funeral.

What was the idea behind including both English and Welsh in ‘Agnes’?

The words spoken at the beginning are taken from an interview done with the artist Agnes Martin as part of a documentary and the Welsh passages that follow depict my feelings about her work (basically, I love her). Her work stops you from thinking or worrying about things, it’s very calming and hugely inspiring – most certainly one of my greatest inspirations.

Do you have any personal favourite tracks on the album, or is it one thread of work for you?

I don’t think I do – they each have specific meanings that are equally important to me. They are reflective of different places, feelings and experiences and I suppose I value them all. I most certainly have songs which fall into the more traditional ‘pop’ category (and I really love pop), but I don’t think I would say that I like them more.

You’re going to be touring the ‘Mirores’ album first in Wales, what have you got planned as far as its presentation is concerned and will you be taking it further afield?

I’ve recently picked up the bass again – I hadn’t played it since I was a member of GENIE QUEEN a long time ago – so that will make an appearance. Andy McCluskey bought this bass for me (as he managed the band at the time) and so the whole process of learning to play it again has been quite an emotional experience… probably realising that I’m not 19 anymore! I will most certainly be travelling across the border and further afield later in the year so I’m very much looking forward to that.


The Electricity Club gives its grateful thanks to ANI GLASS

Special thanks to Bill Cummings at Sound & Vision PR

‘Mirores’ is released as a CD and download by Recordiau Neb, available direct from http://www.recordiauneb.com/siop

ANI GLASS 2020 live dates:

Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach (6th March), Caernarfon Railway Station (7th March), Wrexham Tŷ Pawb (14th March), Carmarthen Tangled Parrot (21st March)

https://www.facebook.com/aniglasscymru/

https://twitter.com/Ani_Glass

https://www.instagram.com/ani_glass/

https://soundcloud.com/aniglass

https://aniglass.bandcamp.com/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
7th March 2020

ANI GLASS Mirores

Following her acclaimed first EP ‘Ffrwydrad Tawel’ in 2017, ANI GLASS releases her long-awaited debut album ‘Mirores’.

It is an observational electronic travelogue based around the idea of movement and progress in her hometown of Cardiff.

That might sound overly conceptual but this is a melodic pop record that also gathers ambience of the urban landscape, traffic, people and nature, all coming together to create the score of a city’s symphony.

Fluent in Welsh and Cornish, ANI GLASS uses a play on words for the album’s title which incorporates the name of one of her favourite artists Joan Miró – along with the Cornish word ‘miras’ which means “to look”. Therefore, ‘Mirores’ essentially translates as “Observer”.

An experienced hand who has previously worked with OMD’s Andy McCluskey and the late Martin Rushent, ANI GLASS opted to self-produce ‘Mirores’; she said to The Electricity Club: “I’m really excited about curating the presentation of this album; conceptually and visually. I have a lot of ideas about how I might involve and engage with people who may not be instinctively interested in Welsh electronic music.”

Beginning with ‘The Ballet Of A Good City’ and a folk choir, the subtle arpeggios paint an ambient air which recalls Vangelis, one of the album’s main sonic influences that also includes Martin Rushent, Giorgio Moroder, Jean-Michel Jarre and Arthur Russell.

With the dulcet tones of Welsh newsreader Huw Edwards within the voice collage, an eerie uplifting quality permeates on ‘Peirianwaith Perffaith’; translated as ‘Perfect Machinery’ and with the vibe of Autumnal discontent, the haunting detuned backdrop is perfect for her socially conscious Welsh expressionism and a celebration of devolution. With a wonderfully swirling leadline reminiscent of THE FALLOUT CLUB’s ‘Dream Soldiers’ and a suitably penetrating bass pulse, it is a search for identity in a moving city that is starkly industrial.

With a lovely higher vocal register, the Euro-disco of ‘Ynys Araul’ is rich in traditional melody, offering a pop sensibility and a wonderful triplet bassline. More mature and earnest in tone, ‘Y Cerrynt’ is unusual in having an almost minimal bass presence which gives it a unique quality. But ‘Cariad’ is a solemn set-piece, with sparse contemplative backing like one of OMD’s experiments in vertical take-off.

Following a short taped gospelly interlude ‘IBT’, the ‘Mirores’ title song itself is pure Cmyru synthpop brilliance with wonderful harmonies and a fabulously liberating vocal middle eight. It depicts the journey from dark desperation to motivation and inspiration, so despite the inherent melancholy, the newly married songstress gets to radiate an inspired mood of optimism..

Playing off a claustrophobic soundscape and a bouncy off-beat in the vein of GRIMES, some fabulous icy strings make their presence felt on ‘Goleuo’r Sêr’. Singing in English over a staccato bassline and bell-like rings, ‘Cathedral In The Desert’ is an affectionate reminder musically of what EURYTHMICS once sounded like before they went all rock ‘n’ roll. Continuing in English but in a spoken word fashion, ‘Agnes’ swiftly returns to Welsh with its deeper resonances rich within the sparse synthscape as a touching tribute to artist Agnes Martin .

Closing with ‘The Rising Of The Moon’, a collage of male speech and ANI GLASS’ own layered voices counterpoint as night time covers the city.

Taking a leaf out of her mentor Andy McCluskey and OMD albums such as ‘Dazzle Ships’ and ‘English Electric’, ‘Mirores’ has enticing synthpop songs sitting together with more conceptual found sound adventures.

It is one woman’s artistic vision celebrating her heritage and home, empowered by the freedom and democracy opened up via electronic music.


‘Mirores’ is released on 6th March 2020 by Recordiau Neb, available direct from http://www.recordiauneb.com/siop

Download version available from https://aniglass.bandcamp.com/album/mirores

http://www.recordiauneb.com/ani-glass

https://www.facebook.com/aniglasscymru/

https://twitter.com/Ani_Glass

https://www.instagram.com/ani_glass/

https://soundcloud.com/aniglass


Text by Chi Ming Lai
26th February 2020

GEORGIA Seeking Thrills

Signed to Domino Records, home of FRANZ FERDINAND, ARCTIC MONKEYS and AUSTRA, over the last year, GEORGIA has been the artist that everyone is talking about.

Comparisons with LITTLE BOOTS are hard to avoid though; both got a profile boost on ‘Later With Jools Holland’ thanks to unusual live presentation. In LITTLE BOOTS’ case, it was her use of a Stylophone alongside a Yamaha Tenorion while with GEORGIA, it was her standing drum ‘n’ synth. And that all without mentioning the BBC Sound nominations.

Gaining mainstream radio airplay in 2019, her singles ‘About Work The Dancefloor’ and ‘Never Let You Go’ were great, mining ROBYN and CHVRCHES respectively in the process, the former stating “I have no material gifts for you”. Here were the signs of a promising breakthrough artist.

But before that, there was ‘Started Out’ with its much groovier vibe with soulful influences and neo-ragga inflections going over the electronics, while the quirky R ‘n’ B pop of ‘Feel It’ was not that far from the urban DIY austere heard on her self-titled debut.

All four songs appear on ‘Seeking Thrills’, the second album by GEORGIA, the daughter of LEFTFIELD’s Neil Barnes who first found her musical feet drumming for Kate Tempest among others. So unsurprisingly, ‘Seeking Thrills’ is a showcase for rhythm, twelve tracks of exuberance with a bittersweet tinge.

With a definite move into more accessible pop territory, the new single ‘24 Hours’ does as the album title suggests, celebrating the thrill of night life and finding love with a bass rumble and a hint of PURITY RING. With throbbing synths and a drum machine backbone, our heroine declares with excitement that “If two hearts ever beat the same, we could be it”.

However, ‘Mellow’ with rapper SHYGIRL goes the opposite direction with some deadpan art school hip-hop while ‘Ray Guns’ explores similar territory although for The Electricity Club at least, neither quite hit the spot.

Back to avant electro, ‘The Thrill’ with its hypnotic shuffling beats, vocal layers, glistening arpeggios and gorgeous synths sees GEORGIA trying to stop herself “feeling so blue”, but a sudden switch to techno brings with it an extra lift for a terrific album highlight.

The remaining songs get more reflective as GEORGIA enters ballad territory. As with any hedonistic adventure however exhilarating, its inherent Ying and Yang leads to the inevitable and never welcome comedown. ‘Till I Own It’ is quite sorrowful and while ‘I Can’t Wait’ sparkles in places, it is tinged with melancholy.

Providing another of the album’s highlights, the gently crystalline ‘Ultimate Sailor’ delightfully comes over like a cosmic collaboration between VANGELIS and ROBYN. But appropriately closing the eclectic range of ‘Seeking Thrills’, the nocturnal cinematic soundscape of ‘Honey Dripping Sky’ is interrupted by an unexpected reggae-flavoured end section.

Yes, half of this album has already been issued as singles of some sort, but with an opportunity to potentially catapult her music to a wider audience, then why not? To have an interesting and varied body of work in one place helps an artist build a bond with their fanbase.

The mainstream audience are NOT hipsters (who are notoriously fickle anyway), so time must be allowed for them to catch up and savour. While some of these songs were released in 2017, this should not spoil things for the listener because good songs will last.

With a three year gestation period, ‘Seeking Thrills’ is a solid and varied pop statement. But for the next record, will she go the full pop hog like CHVRCHES or retreat to the underground? It’s going to be an interesting year for the Londoner.


‘Seeking Thrills’ is released by Domino Records in vinyl LP, CD, cassette and digital formats

GEORGIA 2020 UK + Ireland live dates include:

Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach (3rd March), Glasgow King Tuts (4th March), Manchester Yes (5th March), Liverpool Phase 1 (6th March), Dublin The Workman’s Club (7th March), Leeds Brudenell Community Room (9th March), Birmingham Mama Roux’s (10th March), Bristol Thekla (11th March), London Heaven (12th March)

https://georgiauk.com/

https://www.facebook.com/GeorgiaUK/

https://twitter.com/_georgiauk

https://www.instagram.com/georgiauk/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
10th January 2020

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