Tag: ZTT (Page 1 of 3)

PROPAGANDA The Murder Of Love

A new fan-made PROPAGANDA video which founder member Ralf Dörper has described as “unglaublich” has just hit the web. Set against ‘The Murder Of Love’ from ‘A Secret Wish’, it reimagines a visit to New York by PROPAGANDA during their ‘Outside World’ tour in 1985 when they performed at the Irving Plaza.

With cinematography by Rick Martinez plus makeup by Connie Ojeda Smith and Jaelene Jaquez, the superb and affectionate visual presentation is directed and edited by Vlad Panov. A humorous and nostalgic tribute to PROPAGANDA, Hannah Fleming and Talia Shvedova as respectfully Claudia Brücken and Susanne Freytag are quite convincing, while Panov himself could pass for Michael Mertens in the way the actors who played Stephen Morris in ’24 Hour Party People’ and ‘Control’ did.

However, Vladimir Putin lookalike Michael DeGrandpre could do with a pair of stack heels or stilts as Ralf Dörper. As is always the way, these type of films play with artistic licence and in this instance, the very tall Düsseldorfer actually declined to be part of the ‘Outside World’ tour so was not even in New York on 26th September 1985.

Ralf Dörper told The Electricity Club in Autumn 2012: “I had a quite stubborn view on playing live as PROPAGANDA as I believed it would be not possible to give a proper impression without lifting the studio on stage. And I did not consider it an option to use guest musicians … especially no guitar player.” – their label ZTT just issued a press release to say he was at his day-job in a bank to cover for his absence!

While Dörper continues today touring and recording as a member of DIE KRUPPS, Brücken and Freytag will be opening as xPROPAGANDA for HEAVEN 17 on ‘The Luxury Gap’ tour this Autumn.

Meanwhile, Mertens continues as a successful freelance composer whose production company Escape Route has had commissions from Volkswagen, Renault, Ford, Autostadt and C&A.


‘The Murder Of Love’ is from ‘A Secret Wish’, available via BMG in vinyl LP, CD and digital formats

xPROPAGANDA open for HEAVEN 17 on ‘The Luxury Gap’ 35th Anniversary Tour, dates include:

Northampton Roadmender (Friday 9th November), Norwich UEA (Saturday 10th November), Bournemouth O2 Academy (Friday 16th November), Birmingham O2 Institute (Saturday 17th November), Glasgow O2 ABC (Friday 23rd November), Liverpool O2 Academy (Saturday 24 November), London O2 Shepherds Bush Empire (Friday 30th November), Bristol O2 Academy (Saturday 1st December), Manchester O2 Ritz (Friday 7th December), Sheffield O2 Academy (Saturday 8th November)

DIE KRUPPS go on ‘The Machinists United Tour’ with FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY in 2018, dates include:

London O2 Islington Academy (19th August), Paris La Machine (20th August), Utrecht De Helling (21 August), Krefeld Kulturfabrik (22 August), Gothenburg Truck Stop (24 august 2018), Stockholm Klubben (25 August), Wroclaw Stary Klasztor (29 August), Prague Lucerna Music Bar (30 August),
Budapest A38 (31 August), Bratislava Majestic Music Club (1st September), Vienna Viper Room (2nd September, Munich Backstage Halle (4th September), Frankfurt Batschkapp (5th September)

https://www.facebook.com/claudiaandsusanne/

http://www.diekrupps.com/

http://escaperoute.de/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
11th August 2018

xPROPAGANDA Live at The Garage

Released in 1985 on ZTT, PROPAGANDA’s ‘A Secret Wish’ is often hailed as a classic album of the electronic era which heralded the advent of sampling and digital synthesis. 

Among its fans were the likes of Martin Gore, John Taylor and Jim Kerr; over the years, ‘A Secret Wish’ has grown in stature with its influence felt on MICHAEL JACKSON’s ‘Bad’ produced by Quincy Jones.

Meanwhile, the quartet of Claudia Brücken, Susanne Freytag, Ralf Dörper and Michael Mertens dubbed “ABBA in hell” were a forerunner of acts such as LADYTRON.

But it all ended acrimoniously and despite attempts to reform PROPAGANDA over the last 30 years, they have all come to nought, although the quartet performed together at the ‘Produced by Trevor Horn’ celebratory concert for The Prince’s Trust in 2004, while Freytag and Dörper joined Brücken for her career retrospective show at The Scala in 2011.

More recently, Claudia Brücken and Susanne Freytag have teamed up with Stephen J Lipson, producer of ‘A Secret Wish’ and have been using social media to introduce their new project named D:UEL; so it was something of a surprise when it was announced that the pair would be playing two London shows performing ‘A Secret Wish’ billed as xPROPAGANDA.

Despite the online protestations of Michael Mertens, the two shows quickly sold out and it was interesting to see Ralf Dörper at the bar as an interested observer to hear how the songs he co-wrote with Mertens would come over in the 21st Century. Squeezed onto the comparatively small stage at The Garage, Brücken and Freytag were joined by Stephen J Lipson on guitar, famed ZTT percussionist Luis Jardim, regular CB sidemen James Watson and Philip Larsen, drummer Paul Jones and Sam Tate on flugelhorn.

Performing ‘A Secret Wish’ in order, it was Freytag who took centre stage first with ‘Dream Within A Dream’, her spoken Germanic tones reciting the stark poem by Edgar Allen Poe. With Brücken on vibraphone, the pair were backed by a progressive soundtrack of hypnotic bass guitar from Watson and some synthetically layered drama from Larsen. While Lipson’s transient soloing maintained the tension, the solid dual percussive backbone of Jones and Jardim were unable to recreate the frenzied attack of the original’s middle section.

The machine rhythm of ‘The Murder Of Love’ welcomed Brücken’s first lead vocal of the evening with an enthusiastic response from the audience, although whether they appreciated Lipson’s jazz guitar work was debatable.

‘Jewel’ brought Brücken and Freytag into an appealing shouting match as a barrage of aggressive textures sourced from the original album were brought into play, before Freytag left the stage for Brücken to give a spirited rendering of ‘Duel’, joyfully accompanied by the crowd. A supreme pop song, Stock Aitken & Waterman loved it so much that they recorded a version of it with Mandy Smith in 1988, while Sophie Ellis-Bextor covered it in 2007!

Freytag returned to offer her shade next to Brücken’s light on ‘Frozen Faces’ before the volume went up a gear for a magnificently powerful rendition of ‘P: Machinery’. The electronic cover of JOSEF K’s ‘Sorry For Laughing’ continued the power trip before the unsettling cinematic glory of ‘Dr Mabuse’; it seems amazing now that this slice of avant pop noir could have even entered the Top 30 of the UK singles chart in 1984, but it was a much more open-minded and visionary time back then… to close the main set, Brücken and Freytag playfully bashed Simmons drums side-by-side to the coda of ‘The Chase’ before departing to the haunting endsay of ‘The Last Word’.

After a short interlude during which the love could clearly be felt in the room, Freytag returned for the encore brandishing a whip for the welcome performance art of ‘Disziplin’.

Acknowledging the contribution of Ralf Dörper, Michael Mertens and late founder member Andreas Thein to PROPAGANDA in her introduction, ‘Disziplin’ was once presented live on ‘The Tube’ back in the day; inspired by THROBBING GRISTLE’s rather stern ‘Discipline’, it was Dörper who wrote some new German lyrics and the demo got PROPAGANDA signed to ZTT.

Brücken swapped places with Freytag and for her encore contribution, she performed a fabulous version of ‘Femme Fatale’, the Lou Reed song originally voiced by German chanteuse Nico for THE VELVET UNDERGROUND’s debut album produced by Andy Warhol, which was the B-side to ‘Dr Mabuse’. With all the classic line-up PROPAGANDA material now performed, there was a reprise of ‘Duel’ to end proceedings on a nostalgic high.

Brücken and Freytag will have a busy year as they take xPROPAGANDA out on the road opening for HEAVEN 17 as well as playing select European festivals in the summer. But while Claudia Brücken celebrates her past, there is the mouthwatering prospect in June 2018 of her new collaborative album ‘Beginn’ with Jerome Froese (son of the late TANGERINE DREAM legend Edgar Froese) which is set to include electronic reimaginings of two FLEETWOOD MAC songs, ‘Sara’ and ‘Gypsy’.

Whether working in the past or present, another hope feeds another dream…


xPROPAGANDA open for HEAVEN 17 on ‘The Luxury Gap’ 35th Anniversary Tour, dates include:

Northampton Roadmender (Friday 9th November), Norwich UEA (Saturday 10th November), Bournemouth O2 Academy (Friday 16th November), Birmingham O2 Institute (Saturday 17th November), Glasgow O2 ABC (Friday 23rd November), Liverpool O2 Academy (Saturday 24 November), London O2 Shepherds Bush Empire (Friday 30th November), Bristol O2 Academy (Saturday 1st December), Manchester O2 Ritz (Friday 7th December), Sheffield O2 Academy (Saturday 8th November)

http://xpropaganda.co.uk

https://www.facebook.com/propagandamabuse/

https://www.facebook.com/claudiaandsusanne/

http://www.claudiabrucken.co.uk

https://www.facebook.com/ClaudiaBruckenMusic/

https://twitter.com/ClaudiaBrucken1


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Richard Price
29th March 2018

DUDLEY – JECZALIK – LANGAN Live at The British Library

With THE ART OF NOISE’s influential and innovative reputation, this live gig was never going to be an ordinary one.

The British Library is certainly not your run of the mill venue either and this show was part of ‘A Season of Sound’, a celebration of the Library’s extensive Sound Archive which hosts in excess of 6 millions recordings.

With their reputation as early pioneers of sampling and use of the Fairlight to grab found sounds alongside more conventional drums and synth textures, this reboot of THE ART OF NOISE made a perfect fit to help celebrate the Library’s own collection of audio.

Special mention must be given to the show’s sound system, a sonically stunning Bowers & Wilkins set-up which throughout the evening delivered audiophile quality live sound, something which you rarely get at gigs these days. The sound system, a cut-down version of the one used at Primavera Sound Festival, which was apparently worth close to a million Euros became a real draw for crowds there.

The PA system was put to good use prior to the band coming on stage, with the audience being treated to a superb ‘Blessed Are The Noisemakers’ mixtape by Kevin Foakes aka DJ Food, with different AON-related tracks like remixes of SCRITTI POLITTI and FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD plus snippets of 10CC in ‘Life is a Minestrone’ and ‘I’m Not In Love’ in honour of Lol Creme who was a member of both acts.

As the band walked on stage, the screen behind became a Fairlight boot-up page, with each musician being ‘initialised’ in a kind of homage to KRAFTWERK who apparently shelved their ‘Technopop’ album after hearing AON’s pioneering sampling work.

Sadly there were no actual Fairlights on stage, but each member had Mac screens with the iconic green on black text to reference the machine which was so pivotal to the band’s sound. From left to right the set-up was Anne Dudley on synths / digital piano / electronic percussion, Gary Langan on mixing duties / percussion and JJ Jeczalik on Arturia Matrixbrute synth / Roland electronic percussion.

Also present but via a couple of pre-recorded video clips was ex-member Paul Morley… this was a bit of a surprise as the ZTT split with AON was very acrimonious. Although billed as an ‘In Visible Silence’ gig, the show was still very much a greatest hits set, with a few choice cuts taken from the trio’s aforementioned second album.

After introductory track ‘Instruments Of Darkness’, there was an early airing of ‘Beatbox’ from the band’s debut EP ‘Into Battle With…’ followed by an all-too-short rendition of ‘Camille’, the band’s ‘Moments in Love’ Part Two.

‘Paranoimia’ featuring Max Headroom was next to appear with suitably appropriate graphics behind the band before the stunningly beautiful ‘Moments In Love’.

This was preceded by an introduction from JJ on the various uses of the track, from a Brylcreem advert through to its usage at MADONNA’s wedding to Sean Penn!

To keep the sample trainspotters happy, there was an interesting mid-set diversion when JJ explained the background behind some of the AON samples used. This included the rhythm track for ‘Eye Of A Needle’ which samples the sound from a squash game; the ball being hit, the squeak of a training shoe on the court and the start of a groan from the impact of someone being hit by the ball. Also included was a special mention for the cash register sound which also ended up on ABC’s ‘Date Stamp’ from ‘The Lexicon Of Love’.

One of the more experimental pieces from the bands’ back catalogue, the Steve Reich-inspired ‘Opus’ with its looped / cut-up vocals was up next, followed by AON’s breakthrough hit ‘Close (To The Edit’). Complete with an extended and very comical three-way car not starting sample-off; this track received the best reception on the night and the now iconic “Hey!” vocal additionally recalled THE PRODIGY’s ‘Firestarter’ which sampled it. After a short break, the band came back on for an encore of ‘Peter Gunn’ with its Rik Mayall promo video projected behind, as the trio left the stage to a rolling set of credits behind them.

This gig was a real bucket list moment for many, the band had supported THE HUMAN LEAGUE last year in Liverpool, but live shows by the ex-AON members have been few and far between.

The deservedly rapturous reception that Dudley, Jeczalik and Langan received for their British Library gig should hopefully spur them into doing more dates as they are an utterly engaging live act with a pioneering back catalogue that is more than worthy of being re-visited.

If you get a chance to see this line-up (especially with a B&W sound system), don’t hesitate, it’s a timely reminder of how incredibly influential AON were and helps to cement their position in electronic music history.


‘Influence’ is still available as a double CD via Union Square

http://www.theartofnoiseonline.com

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https://twitter.com/artofnoiseoffic


Text and Photos by Paul Boddy
18th March 2018

IS THAT THE 12” REMIX?

An Interview with ROB GRILLO

First published in 2011, ‘Is That The 12” Mix?’ was author and music aficionado ROB GRILLO’s personal but well-informed history of the 12” single.

IS THAT THE 12 INCH REMIX book coverIn keeping with its story tracing the emergence of the extended remix as an artform in its own right, Grillo has now remade and remodelled his book in a new 2016 version.

Retitled ‘Is That The 12″ Remix?’, the new edition features contributions from the likes of Neil Tennant and Rusty Egan as well as more photos and an extra 20,000 words.

Among those words, The Electricity Club are interviewed in a chapter entitled ‘Providing a Service – The Fan(atic)s part one’ which discusses the rise of the independent music blog. Meanwhile, TEC’s 25 Favourite Classic 12 inch Versions listing also makes an appearance in the ‘Chartfile’ appendix.

ROB GRILLO chatted to The Electricity Club about why more can mean more…

What was the motivation behind a second edition of ‘Is That The 12” Mix?’?

Since the first edition came out, I’ve build up many more contacts and relationships in the music industry, so I was able to use some of them, and additional information to build a new edition. Plus there were one or two bits that needed updating or correcting.

I’d just helped Demon Music with a few Hi-NRG related album reissues, one of those being from MIQUEL BROWN. It bugged me that I hadn’t used an image of her in the first edition, so it inspired me to get some more permissions and start that new edition. I always felt that the first edition could have been promoted a little better, part of that being my own fault. It seemed right to change the title of the book from ‘12” MIX’ to ’12’’ REMIX’, reflecting the whole concept of what the book is about.

So the original book has enabled you to get involved in the ‘Disco Discharge’ reissues?

Miquel Brown 'Manpower-Close To Perfection'Yes. Sort of. When I discovered that the team were planning to put out Ian Levine related issues on the ‘Disco Recharge’ side project, my suggestions were probably taken more seriously because I’d done the book and written about Levine himself.

Then I got involved in sourcing of and identification of certain mixes, not easy when the US mix has tiny differences from the UK mix and that very few people have actually realised. It did help that I have an almost complete set of Record Shack 12” vinyl, that’s the label with which Levine enjoyed his 80s resurgence before starting his own labels.

Any good remix has edits and sections left out. Have you done anything to the book on that front?

Yes, every chapter has had a remix, so to speak. Many have been expanded, although I felt that odd bits needed shortening or leaving out entirely. Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards reworked their own production of SISTER SLEDGE ‘Lost in Music’ to great effect in 1984, it’s been a bit like that with the book, remixing and reworking it myself rather than calling up Ben Liebrand or Shep Pettibone to do the honours 🙂

What did you specifically want to include now, that you couldn’t do back in 2009?

Updated and corrected information in particular, and, as mentioned above a few more rights to use images – particularly from Ian Levine. Luckily Simon White, who I helped out with the ‘Disco Recharge’ releases was able to assist in that matter.

I wanted to do on a feature on The Electricity Club in particular as your site started just as the first edition came out, and one of the other featured sites changed its name completely, so that needed updating too.

12inch_bookSince the first edition was published, there’s been a resurgence in vinyl. Is it something you’re still into today?

Yes, absolutely. There’s not much I regret in life, but one thing I really can’t get my head around is why I got rid of loads of vinyl about 20 years ago. I’ll never fathom out why I did that.

A couple of months ago, I had a rummage around an absolutely cracking second hand vinyl record shop in nearby Huddersfield and arrived back home with no less than 23 12” inch singles from the 1980s.

I went back last month and bought 29 more. I had no idea the shop existed this time last year.

There’s still a load of old vinyl I need for my collection, much of which I prefer to stumble across in stores or car boots rather than hunt down more easily online on sites such as Discogs. I haven’t bought much new vinyl, although I should do really.

What you do feel about the phenomenon of youngsters buying vinyl, but not actually playing it and listening to the download instead?

I guess it’s a bit of a novelty among the younger generation. It’s nice that they have the physical product, because you tend to cherish it a bit more compared with a download that you can’t see, or hold, or smell, and can delete when you’ve got bored of it. It’s all about immediate gratification these days, so when you’re bored of a download you just delete. They won’t throw away their records the same way.

Hopefully they will appreciate the artwork and the physical product the way our own generation does, but I don’t really think we’re going to see another generation of ‘record collectors’.

RobGrillo3An interesting paradox of the popularity of the multiple twelve inch remix phenomenon pioneered by labels like ZTT, is that deluxe CD reissues are now often packed to the brim…

Is that a paradox? It’s great that lots of mixes that have been hard to find have been put together to complement a remastered album or compilation.

It’s a bugger when the labels don’t get it right though as there are so many instances of wrong mixes and poor remastering on many CD reissues. Take ALTERED IMAGES ‘Don’t Talk To Me About Love’ – the 12” mix has never appeared on CD, only some slightly butchered version that was used on an ALTERED IMAGES compilation several years ago. Every subsequent compilation using that song has used the same, incorrect master. That’s just lazy.

I liked the SWING OUT SISTER ‘It’s Better To Travel’ deluxe set because the band listened to the fans and changed the tracklisting, and the mixes they used, when it was pointed out that the set could be improved.

What was your favourite chapter to write and why?

I don’t really have a favourite chapter. Some are about the music scene in the 1980s, while others are about my own childhood – the long gone Greenhead Youth Club (Keighley’s very own Blitz club) for instance, so each chapter was something I enjoyed putting together (and in this case, remixing).

FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD Two Tribes - Annihilation Mix 12Your top 10 five favourite 12” remixes and why?

‘Two Tribes (annihilation)’ by FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD, which is among most people’s favourite mixes.

‘It’s My Life (Steve Thompson’s US remix)’ by TALK TALK… how to remix a song properly; Thompson had a knack of making a great song sound even better in remixed form.

I adore his mix of A-HA’s ‘The Sun Always Shines on TV’ too, although I notice you prefer the original 12” to his mix.

NEW ORDER’s ‘The Perfect Kiss’ is pretty perfect, although that’s really a full-length mix rather than an extended version.

‘Indestructible (Phil Harding & Ian Curnow mix)’ by THE FOUR TOPS, one of the best mixes to come out of the PWL studios. Not everyone’s cup of tea I know. The rest you’ll read about in the book 🙂

FICTION FACTORY Feels Like Heaven remix 12And the remix that on paper should have been brilliant, but turned out to be rubbish?

FICTION FACTORY ‘Feels Like Heaven’.

A straight extended version would have been great, but in the pre-digital age, new mixes were often created instead.

It worked for DURAN DURAN, but the 12” mix that the label commissioned for ‘Feels Like Heaven’ seemed to lack all the vibrancy of the original 7” mix.

Also, have you heard the alternative 12” remix of ‘Indestructible’ that Arista put out in the UK, the ‘Infinity dance mix’? It’s the worst remix ever in the history of the world. Even worse than any of those awful 90s techno remixes that sounded nothing like the original mixes. Someone should have been shot for approving it for release.

Like writing and photography, has the easy accessibility of technology made the remix less of an artform these days, with a lower quality acceptability threshold than in the past?

NEW ORDER Complete MusicYes. It was always nice to have an extended version, and often an extended remix.

ZTT did the multiple remix thing really well in the 80s, but I haven’t time for the multiple remixes that you might get on PET SHOP BOYS or NEW ORDER CD singles these days. They are iconic bands, with iconic 12” mixes, but their new output, as good as it is, is just remixed to death.

Saying that, the latter’s ‘Complete Music’ set does contain some great straight extended versions of the tracks from ‘Music Complete’.

What style of remix do you enjoy these days?

As I’ve alluded to earlier, a straight extended version, or remix that keeps most of the original.

With regards electronic music, there seems to be a lot of books on the dance scene but few on say, synthpop. Does synthpop still have a general credibility issue in your view?

Synthpop seems to have more credibility now than it did in the 1980s. Today’s acts are not afraid to talk about their 80s influences. Credibility seems to have been more forthcoming since LA ROUX’s brief surge to the top of the tree a few years back…

How do you see music blogging these days? What is the difference between a site that gets it right, and a site that gets it wrong?

Let’s just say that sites that get it wrong don’t tend to last very long or attract many readers.

What new acts do you rate today as being as good as those heritage acts we loved back in the day?

I don’t pay enough attention to today’s bands. MARSHEAUX are still making great music, although I still prefer to buy new music from old bands… ABC, DURAN DURAN, OMD, NEW ORDER… their output is every bit as good as much of their output back in the day. Saying that, I daren’t tell you which acts I’ve seen live recently. I would lose all credibility….

What’s next for you?

Good question… well the novel ‘Picture This’ has had some amazing reviews, although we could do with a lot more sales if there’s going to be a sequel to that. I get a lot of requests and offers from book companies to do sports books, which is where I started out, but I have no interest in pursuing that any more. Let’s just see how well the new edition of ‘Is That The 12” (Re)Mix’ does.

I have a great idea for some 12” CD compilations (of which there are very many these days) that offers something a bit different… and there is a possible new music book in the pipeline, but that depends on a lot of complicated copyright issues….watch this space on that one…


The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to ROB GRILLO

‘Is That The 12″ Remix?’ is available from Amazon UK, priced at £9.99

Extracts from the original book can be read at http://www.electricityclub.co.uk/is-that-the-12-mix/

http://www.robgrillo.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/Is-That-the-12-Remix-601399720039018/

https://twitter.com/robgrillo


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
10th September 2016

A Beginner’s Guide To CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


TOPOLINOS Mustafa (1982)

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

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


PROPAGANDA p: Machinery (1985)

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

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


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

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

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


ACT Absolutely Immune (1988)

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

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


JIMMY SOMERVILLE Run From Love (1990)

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

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


CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN Absolut[e] (1991)

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

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


CHROME SEDUCTION Light The Way (1993)

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

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


THE BRAIN I’ll Find A Way (1996)

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

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


OCEANHEAD Eyemotion (1997)

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

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


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

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

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


APOPTYGMA BERZERK Unicorn – Duet Version (2002)

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

Available on the APOPTYGMA BERZERK album ‘Harmonizer’ via WEA


ONETWO Cloud 9ine (2004)

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

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


ANDY BELL with CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN Delicious (2005)

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

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


CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN & ANDREW POPPY Libertango (2005)

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

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


ONETWO Anonymous (2007)

Onetwo_InsteadHumphreys and Brücken finally released a full length album as ONETWO in 2007 and from it was ‘Anonymous’, a song that began life as a demo from the aborted PROPAGANDA reunion and which had also been co-written with Andy McCluskey. The pretty ringing melodies and elegiac atmospheres were very reminiscent of classic OMD. But the collaboration had been unusual as at the time of the song’s conception, as Humphreys had not yet fully rejoined McCluskey in his old band.

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


BLANK & JONES Don’t Stop (2008)

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

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


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

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

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


CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN One Summer Dream (2012)

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

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


OMD Kissing The Machine (2013)

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

Available on the OMD album ‘English Electric’ via BMG


CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN Time To Make Changes (2014)

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

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


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

http://www.claudiabrucken.co.uk

https://www.facebook.com/ClaudiaBruckenMusic


Text by Chi Ming Lai
30th July 2016

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