Author: electricityclub (Page 1 of 338)

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK aims to feature the best in new and classic electronic pop music. It doesn't promote bands or support scenes, it just writes about the music it likes, and occasionally some music it doesn't like...

With informed opinion and trivia, it embraces synthpop, ie pop music that uses synthesizers, while aiming to avoid lazy terms such as analogue, 80s and contemporary. It's like acid house never happened... AND WE'RE PROUD OF IT!

OH BABY Hey Genius

“We want it to sound like the truth, and we want it to be the sound of two people with a passion” say OH BABY.

Distant cousins, OH BABY are Rick Hornby and Jen Devereux who set up an outdoor home studio during the Summer of 2020’s lockdown. Acquiring an old Roland Juno, a Korg MS20 and Boss DR55 Doctor Rhythm, they began working by trial and error while making the most of the limitations of the equipment at their disposal. Although this was partly for financial reasons, they avoided being overwhelmed by choice, a trap that many fall into with the music software available today.

Fascinated by the fact that the human body has a very small electrical current running through it, the idea of electricity creating emotion became a compositional muse on ‘Hey Genius’, the five track follow-up to their more guitar led 2019 debut EP ‘The Art Of Sleeping Alone’.

Featuring an appealing vocal and occasional guitar to provide syncopation, the minimal synthpop of ‘Cruel Intention’ touches on the uncertainties of personal relationships and the dangers of not knowing someone until their mask is lowered when it is far too late! Meanwhile, with an electro-funky resonance, ‘I Need Somebody To Love Tonight’ throws in some airy moods for the dancefloor.

Despite featuring more prominent guitar, ‘L.I.A.R.’ heads towards nocturnal synthwave with its synthetic bass throbs sweetened by exotic percussive traits. ‘High-Teens’ adopts a metronomic groove towards a club friendly synthetic post-punk amalgam to offset the girly tone. With a processed drum box, ‘In Her Car’ works within a spacious collage of synths, bass sequencing and six string, with room to breathe vocally to come over like BLONDIE meeting THE CURE.

Extremely well produced and superbly sung, ‘Hey Genius’ is an accomplished body of work. While primarily electronic in construction, the use of guitar adds a twist that sets OH BABY apart from other modern British electronic duos and recalls a time when synths and conventional instruments sat side-by-side in the pursuit of pop. While not nostalgic by any means, OH BABY provide a fresh take on those past eras without actually sounding like anyone from that time at all.


‘Hey Genius’ is released by Burning Witches Records, available via the usual online platforms and on special limited edition gold colour vinyl with insert print and download card at https://burningwitchesrecords.com/releases/oh-baby-hey-genius

https://www.ohbabyband.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ohbabyband1

https://www.instagram.com/weareohbaby/

https://open.spotify.com/album/1d7iGlPacMFL1ZyoUWCPsr


Text by Chi Ming Lai
23rd July 2021

КЛЕТ Alconaut

КЛЕТ (or KLET when using the Roman alphabet) is a music project by the Bohemian-born composer and music producer Michal Trávníček.

Now based in Stuggart, Trávníček grew up in the Eastern Bloc behind The Iron Curtain. But when that came down, he had to deal with the sudden freedom now available to him. As capitalism and Western culture was encouraged, it was not all rosy for others. For some who were old enough to remember, the days of Soviet rule did have a number of positives; citizens had work and comradeship, while there was also the excitement of Star City where cosmonauts of the Космическая программа СССР were trained.

While in the West, the exploits of NASA have been rightly celebrated with the first manned moon landing, the Soviet space programme had an impressive series of even more firsts; first satellite, first animal, first man, first woman, first multiple orbit mission, first multi-crew mission, first mission without the use of spacesuits, first spacewalk, first man-made object to reach the Moon, first sample of lunar soil brought back to Earth and first space station. Meanwhile Gherman Titov was until very recently, the youngest person in space aged 25 at the time of his flight in Vostok 2.

But with such technological boundary pushing into the unknown, tragedies inevitably occurred with the first four deaths in space of Vladimir Komarov, Georgy Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Volkov and Viktor Patsayev. The Soviets abandoning their own manned moon mission and the Buran shuttle were further symbols to its decline, with the Chernobyl nuclear disaster being the turning point. But with variations of the Soyuz rocket family still launching humans into space 55 years on, there has been a lasting impact.

Self-described as “full of nostalgia for a future that has never happened”, Michal Trávníček uses space travel and the end of Soviet rule in Eastern Europe as the conceptual metaphor for his debut album ‘Алконавт’ or ‘Alconaut’; the title is a portmanteau of alcoholic and cosmonaut to reference to “any human being who can either achieve the highest high becoming an astronaut or dropping to the lowest low as an alcoholic…”

The album’s pivotal track is its opener ‘Gagarin’s Start’ which honours the handsome hero who was the first man in space as he prepares for lift-off with a suitably spacey slice of Sovietwave comprising of chromatic ivory hooks and an absorbing synthbass backbone. The sparkling sparseness of ‘Eternity’ with its stuttering vintage drum machine provides another highlight.

As the floaty mood of ‘Sputnik’ acts as a pretty travelling companion, ‘Yearning’ offers a reverberant pulse of hope. Moving away from total atmospherics, ‘Black Heaven’ offers some percussive tension while a pitched up voice sample adds an eerie quality to ‘Computer Love’, not a cover of the KRAFTWERK tune.

However, ‘Sound With Soul’ and the uptempo ‘Vostok 1’ both falling prey to more typically North American synthwave approaches which dilute the overall Europeanness of the work slightly. But closing ‘Alconaut’, the elegiac ‘Laika’ presents a gently ringing sound painting to illustrate the sad realisation that school teachers hid the fact that the beloved space dog never actually returned from her adventure around the Earth on Sputnik 2.

Thematically, ‘Alconaut’ has much in common with BETAMAXX and his most recent long player ‘Sarajevo’ which also documented a positive landmark in the history of the Eastern Bloc before things turned sour. This combined celebration of achievement and sadness captured in the weightless melancholy of ‘Alconaut’ is a fine tribute to those who weren’t able to get along after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the groundbreaking exploits of the Soviet space program.

While Michal Trávníček prefers a more enigmatic personal image (although he’s not immune to posing in a Feyenoord football shirt on his Instagram), the considered presentation of ‘Alconaut’ with its Cyrillic scripture, space travel imagery and videos edited from the Russian biopic ‘Gagarin: First In Space’ all work a treat meaning that in this case, the book really can be judged by its cover.


‘Alconaut’ is available on the usual online platforms including https://claat.bandcamp.com/album/-

https://twitter.com/aestheticKLET

https://www.instagram.com/kletwave/

https://soundcloud.com/aestheticclaat

https://open.spotify.com/album/1wvHFv4OLZaRgv2gWYOOUC


Text by Chi Ming Lai
21st July 2021

CULT WITH NO NAME Nights In North Sentinel

No strangers to beautifully textured electronic ballads, London based CULT WITH NO NAME return after their previous release ‘Mediaburn’ with their tenth opus entitled ‘Nights In North Sentinel’.

Erik Stein and John Boux apart from popping out studio albums, contributed to soundtrack productions and around their fifth long player ‘Above As Below’ started extensive collaborations with the likes of Kelli Ali (the voice of SNEAKER PIMPS), Blaine L. Reininger, Bruce Geduldig and Luc van Lieshout of TUXEDOMOON, ex-STRANGLERS and Peter Gabriel guitarist John Ellis and Meg Maryatt of 17 PYGMIES.

At the invitation from David Lynch himself, CWNN were commissioned by German filmmaker Peter Braatz to produce the soundtrack for ‘Blue Velvet Revisited’; Both TUXEDOMOON and John Foxx were also involved.

Kelli Ali and Blaine L. Reininger return on the latest offering, with the former present on the opener ‘All Those Things I Admire’, which sets the melancholic mood with a superbly gentle ballad; simplistic yet wholesome, full of scant electronic elements pleasing the most discerning listeners. The following ‘Noa’s Arc’ has WOLFSHEIM-like connotations over its bustling darkwave; a more urgent rhythm, evocative of ‘The Sparrows & The Nightingales’ meeting early PET SHOP BOYS.

‘The Automatic Day’ is mournfully OMD-ish, while ‘Fight or Flight’ borrows Eastern sounds, to weave them into bluesy patches, reminiscent of Leonard Cohen’s greatest achievements. ‘You’re All You Ever Needed’ picks up the tempo with scrumptiously pulsating electronica, stripped to simplistic elements. Although minimalistic, the piece is larger than life, built up with stunning backing vocals and wistful melody.

Blaine L. Reininger joins in on the magnificent waltz ‘After The Storm’. Heart pulling strings, mournful piano and touch of gloom create sadness and longing, leading into ‘(Some Things Are) Better In Groups’. Oh hello, ERASURE-esque elements placed alongside moderate calmness, blossoming into an ear-friendly piece of positivity.

‘Home Again’ drags one onto the dance floor unexpectedly, followed by ‘Bulletproof’, with its sorrowful lyrics and adequately downcast musicality. In true NEW ORDER style, ‘This Means War’ oscillates rapidly, to weave away towards the tongue-in-cheek ‘Cult With No Name’, culminating in climactic ‘Ruins’.

The closing track, true to CWNN’s form, is nutritiously full of synth, gloriously flowing in and out of consciousness and wraps the product beautifully.

While for some, it’s difficult to marry electronica with easy listening popular music, CULT WITH NO NAME do it with experience and know how, connecting perfect songwriting skills with apt lyrics and stunning musicality.

‘Nights In North Sentinel’ is dreamy, calming and wistful, leading away from life’s surprises and making the receiver float out of their consciousness and transcend above, never quite to return to reality. This is for anyone wishing to forget themselves for a while and dream, dream, dream…


‘Nights In North Sentinel’ is released as a CD and download on 30th July 2021

https://www.cultwithnoname.com/

https://www.facebook.com/cwnnofficial/

https://twitter.com/cultwithnoname

https://www.instagram.com/cultwithnoname/


Text by Monika Izabela Trigwell
19th July 2021

ALINA VALENTINA Works & Days

Although distributed by Bordello A Parigi, the same Amsterdam label that recently released the uptempo ITALOCONNECTION album ‘Midnight Confessions Vol1’, the heavy disposition of ‘Works & Days’ from Dutch producer Alina Valentina could not be more different.

A product of solitary confinement and recorded during the worldwide pandemic crisis, the eight misanthropic tracks on ‘Works & Days’ reflect their era with a sci-fi noir atmosphere as if trapped in a space station with only occasional communication to keep in touch with the happening of the outside world.

It is unsurprising therefore with its use of vintage synthesizers like the Korg MS20 and Korg Poly 800 as well as newer ones such as the Moog Grandmother that John Carpenter has been an influence. This was particularly evident when Alina Valentina opened her account in 2020 with ‘L’Ascenseur’, a split release with Dim Garden to which she contributed four instrumental tracks and of which, ‘Blood’ owed more than debt to The Horror Master.

‘Works & Days’ takes a step forward by adding vocals and more song based structures although it is still very darkwave in nature. The detuned rings of ‘That Thing Behind The wall’ enhance its horror film atmosphere complete with sharp metallic bashes, while the doom and gloom of ‘The Visitor’ captures the dread of waiting for that knock on the door.

The album’s highlight ‘True Romance’ is an unusual love song which accepts the inevitability of being six feet under because “we eat, we sh*t, we die but we will have each other”; it’s a vibrant electronic statement that doesn’t shy away from darker resonances despite the wish to live longer! But the suitably titled ‘Horrible Place To Die’ captures more of that fatalistic mood with an appropriate vocal tone to “choose your ending right”.

The ‘Works & Days’ title song is representative of the whole album’s minimal lo-fi aesthetic with detached vocals accompanied by sombre drones that ably encapsulate the last year or so’s discontent.

Meanwhile, the metronomic bleep and rumble of ‘Babel Fish’ references the bright yellow fish from ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’ that acted as a translator when placed in an ear and is inventively used as a surrealist metaphor to highlight communication breakdown.

With an icy Eurocentric demeanour, speedy arpeggios and a primitive rhythmic snap pattern, ‘What You Are’ could actually be something from the Italians Do It Better stable while despite some unsettling deep synthbass, ‘Sick Of You’ possesses shinier passages to lighten the cavern despite the frustrated notion of its title.

There is an appealing aloofness in ‘Works & Days’ that reflects a desire to escape. This is all despite a personal existential crisis within due to the uncontrollable forces of nature being tilted over the edge by consumerism and greed. As a result, Alina Valentina’s opus is not a cheerful affair and a bit grim in places but it’s all part of her charm. Ultimately it will appeal to those electronic music aficionados who prefer Cosey Fanni Tutti to comfy synth.


‘Works & Days’ is self-released in digital formats, vinyl LP available via Bordello A Parigi in September from https://bordelloaparigi.com/shop/vinyl/alina-valentina-works-and-days-lp/

http://alinavalentina.com/

https://twitter.com/AlinaValentina_

https://www.instagram.com/alinavalentinaja/

https://alinavalentina.bandcamp.com/music


Text by Chi Ming Lai
18th July 2021

JOON Dream Again

JOON is the artist formally known as YEWS and the musical vehicle of Maltese producer Yasmin Kuymizakis.

In a similar epiphany that Brian Eno had with ambient music, Kuymizakis was involved in a car accident and while recuperating, she appreciated how precious life was and decided to make music her vocation.

She opted for synths as her tools of self-expression, buying a Stylophone, Moog Sub Phatty and a Korg Poly800 while also teaching herself how to use recording software and VSTs, with the Novation MiniNova being the most recent addition to her armoury.

Without any electronic music role models locally to look up to, Kuymizakis co-founded the Malta Sound Women Network with composer and academic Jess Rymer in 2017 to bring like-minded women together on the island.

This brought focus to JOON and the attracted the attention of Italians Do It Better, home to CHROMATICS, DESIRE and GLÜME. While there was a considered approach to her music, Kuymizakis also had a sense of fun as exemplified by her NEW ORDER meets MARSHEAUX styled cover of BANANARAMA’s ‘Cruel Summer’.

So the debut JOON long player ‘Dream Again’ arrives after a 10 year musical journey, capturing a shimmering stream of consciousness towards escape and self-fulfilment with a template of mostly angelic vocals and otherworldly auras.

With many voices in her head, the blippy avant pop ‘ET’ comes over like an oddball variant on Berlin-based Nordic duo ULTRAFLEX; with wonderfully eerie Theremin tones that make the concoction creepy yet fun, this inviting lo-fi number was used in a digital fashion show for the Nintendo simulation game ‘Animal Crossing’, adding to its aural surrealism.

The electro-funky ‘Watch The Sky’ is a bouncy club tune inspired by Róisín Murphy and its ending kicks courtesy of a wonderful distorted synth solo accompanied by a burst of cowbells. However, while JOON’s sense of fun and escapism comes over in a girly cover of DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’, apart from putting more cash into the bank account of Vince Clarke, it seems an unnecessary inclusion on ‘Dream Again’ when she has quality material of her own.

There’s a charming innocence to ‘Good Times’ with a wonderful Mediterranean take on Japanese city pop about more carefree pre-pandemic times with fewer responsibilities, but with a gentle canter, ‘Whisper’ is classic Italians Do It Better and has the vulnerable air of label mate GLÜME looming on this wonderfully atmospheric set piece with a hypnotic arpeggio.

Built around a waltzing church organ, the Bjork-like ‘Meaningful Life’ provides the Gospel of St Joon but featuring almost screaming monologues with our heroine sounding rather cocooned, ‘Wait’ captures an uneasy tension, although relief is provided by the sung chorus for a hybrid of shade and light.

‘Home’ recalls Laurie Anderson’s ‘O Superman’ being dropped into The Bang Bang Bar from ‘Twin Peaks’, while sung in Maltese and meaning “sleep”, the gentle lullaby of ‘Orqod’ is gorgeous and reflects on the need to let go but just as the ethereal mood is about induce near sleep, the darker consciousness acts as a reminder of harsh realities.

A quirky rhythmic percolation shapes the instrumental ‘I.You’, showing JOON’s diverse musicality with gliding portamento hooks and drones provide a suitably gothic soundtrack that could easily work in film.

The nautical jaunt of ‘Me & My Sea’ comes with an artful allure but then takes an unsettling turn with layers of pitch shifted vocals in the manner of FEVER RAY as seagulls swoop by. Closing with the blurry Julee Cruise inspired ‘Feathers’, a wispy falsetto and crystalline textures capture a South East Asian winter rather than a Mediterranean summer.

Melancholic but ultimately positive with a mix of upbeat tracks and more personal songs, JOON looks hopefully forward without forgetting the lessons of the past. ‘Dream Again’ is an optimistic dose of inspiration and a universal message for everyone as to how to overcome. As Yasmin Kuymizakis herself says “Even if I’m sad or heartbroken, I remain optimistic. I want to grow old with no regrets”

Yes, the time is now right to be able to ‘Dream Again’.


‘Dream Again’ is released by Italians Do It Better on the usual online platforms

https://italiansdoitbetter.com/joon/

https://www.facebook.com/templeofjoon

https://twitter.com/templeofjoon

https://www.instagram.com/templeofjoon/

https://open.spotify.com/album/6dPScfhsWMpufwaCK1ZoED


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Maria Galea
16th July 2021

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