Author: electricityclub (Page 1 of 329)

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!

BETAMAXX Sarajevo

Like FM ATTACK, as one of the more accomplished figures in synthwave,  BETAMAXX explored goth and new wave on his most album ‘Lost In A Dreamworld’.

The musical vehicle of Pittsburgh based Nick Morey, the first BETAMAXX long player ‘Lost Formats’ came out in 2012.

Featuring VANDAL MOON, GLITBITER and MECHA MAIKO, ‘Lost In A Dreamworld’ was anything but and a confident affair boasting a catchy poptronic template with crossover potential. However, the new BETAMAXX record ‘Sarajevo’ is more reflective with no vocals or vocoder.

An instrumental concept album inspired by the Bosnian city that hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics, it was the games that made household names of skaters Katarina Witt, Scott Hamilton, Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean. At time, Sarajevo was part of the former Yugoslavia and had a chequered history as the starting point of the First World War. And eight years later, it found itself at the heart of the Bosnian War which lasted from 1992 to 1995 and saw the city divided in the longest siege in modern history.

Inspired by artists such as BOARDS OF CANADA, Morey has crafted a moody listening experience that takes a time machine back to that winter of 1984. As only the second Olympics held behind the-then Iron Curtain, there was much excitement in the city as Sarajevo celebrated its cultural co-existence with a spectacular opening ceremony. “It pays homage to its people, the athletes that competed, and aesthetics and design of the XIV Winter Olympic Games” said Nick Morey.

The opening drift of ‘Olympic City’ accompanies the poignant chatter of united children while the breezy ‘Winter Games’ provides punchy beats augmented by some quite funky synthbass and bright brassy tones. ‘Alpine’ follows along a similar path but is more AIR-like and sedate as it steadily embarks on a climb. On the decent, ‘Downhill’ is a something of a highlight in its building rhythmic exhilaration laced with the tension of ‘Stranger Things’ and archive TV commentary to celebrate Bill Johnson’s victory as the first American to win gold at an Olympic downhill skiing event.

‘Enchantment’ provides some rich haunting ambience but the stark backdrop of ‘Igman’ with its chilled beats aurally illustrate the brutalist architecture of the hotel designed by Ahmed Džuvić that provides the image to the album’s artwork and post-war now stands abandoned and derelict.

Meanwhile after some cascading arpeggios, the ‘Sarajevo’ title track morphs into a slice of shuffling Balkan dub echoing SABRES OF PARADISE before the ringing calls of ‘Horizon’ sculpt a downtempo journey towards closedown. With beautiful hints of Arvo Pärt’s ‘Spiegel Im Spiegel’, ‘Ceremony’ is a slow waltz embroiled in a moving melancholy with the knowledge that despite the collective optimism from hosting the games, the tragedy of war was to come.

Harking back to an era when the Cold War would often be played out in the Olympics, ‘Sarajevo’ is like a soundtrack to a film yet to be made. With exquisite analogue sound design and an intuitive sense of atmosphere, ‘Sarajevo’ should open out opportunities into the film world for BETAMAXX.

‘Sarajevo’ uses the following synthesizers: Sequential Circuits Prophet 10, Sequential Circuits Prophet 6, Roland Juno-60, Roland Juno-106, Roland SH-2, ARP Odyssey, ASM Hydrasynth, Roland RE-501, Strymon Big Sky


‘Sarajevo’ is released by Perfect View Records in vinyl LP, cassette and digital variants, available from
https://betamaxxmusic.bandcamp.com/album/sarajevo

https://www.facebook.com/betamaxx80s/

https://twitter.com/betamaxx80s

https://www.instagram.com/betamaxx/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
5th May 2021

GLITBITER Glass & Steel

GLITBITER is the musical vehicle of Los Angeles-based musician and vocalist Florence Bullock.

Classically trained with a love of esteemed songwriter Jimmy Webb, she describes her style as “Dreamy synthwave for the dark soul”.

One of her forays into the North American synthwave scene included her contribution to BETAMAXX’s ‘Lost In A Dreamworld’ album on ‘Skyhigh’, with the song’s vibrato treated vocal stabs on the coda being a particular delight. There was also a cameo in the video for another BETAMAXX track ‘Never Sleep Again’ which was fronted by gothwavers VANDAL MOON.

Meanwhile, when PARALLELS celebrated the 10 year anniversary of their debut album ‘Visionaries’ with some specially commissioned remixes, GLITBITER’s sparking rework of the song ‘Vienna’ was the best of the bunch. More recently, she joined DEAD ASTRONAUTS for the recently released ‘Silhouettes’ album with ‘Thorns’ being one of the highlights.

Having issued a promising three track EP ‘Short Stories’ in 2017, GLITBITER has taken the next step with a six song mini-album called ‘Glass & Steel’. This title is an appropriate pointer to its contents and the first thing instantly noticeable is the leap in sonic progression compared with her earlier work.

The melancholic folk-laden opener ‘Out of the Wasteland’ adopts a slow swing template and recalls Scotland’s WITCH OF THE VALE or Sweden’s Karin My but enhanced by speedy arpeggios and prominent synthbass drones. More four-to-the-floor with a driving bass triplet, ‘Turn’ gallops into the sunset with a rich display of vocal prowess.

Featuring a soaring sweeping synth solo that is a total delight, ‘Blade’ reveals an angelic crystalline quality to a more archetypical synthwave template although GLITERBITER puts her own stamp on the form, learning lessons from her association with BETAMAXX.

Much more ringy in tone, ‘Girl In A Storm’ applies an interesting use of stuttering rhythm at its start before embarking on its syncopated journey while swathed in folky overtones.

With a meaty rhythmic construction that doesn’t overbear, ‘Follower’ pulsates wonderfully while also providing space to breathe for the gloriously emotive vocals. ‘Glass & Steel’ ends with ‘Fights & Fears’, a lush set piece that includes bright and bent synth passages to take the listener into another zone.

With all the songs written, produced, performed and primarily mixed by GLITBITER except for ‘Turn’ and ‘Follower’ by Mike Balboa, ‘Glass & Steel’ is an impressive debut long form release that avoids most of the synthwave clichés to showcase GLITBITER as an electronic talent for the future.

Dark without being doomy and eschewing the shoegaze distortion or tune aversion that mars the majority of dreampop, ‘Glass & Steel’ provides an appealing feminine air to the synth form with a few traditional elements for that crucial facet of musicality.


‘Glass & Steel’ is available as a download via the usual digital platforms including
https://glitbiter.bandcamp.com/album/glass-steel

https://www.facebook.com/glitbiter

https://twitter.com/glitbiter

https://www.instagram.com/glitbiter/

https://open.spotify.com/album/3zormHJrj6eZdjAFE7ljZs


Text by Chi Ming Lai
3rd May 2021

ERIC RANDOM Interview

A veteran of Manchester’s influential post-punk movement, Eric Random has been making music for over 40 years and while he remains something of a cult figure, his curriculum vitae is impressive.

Eric Random’s musical journey began as a roadie for BUZZCOCKS and with their late frontman Pete Shelley, they formed THE TILLER BOYS who opened for JOY DIVISION at The Factory as emblazoned on Peter Saville’s iconic “Use Hearing Protection” FAC1 poster.

When Eric Random released his first solo record ‘That’s What I Like About Me’ in 1980, it was via BUZZCOCKS’ New Hormones label. He also appeared as a member of JELL on the ‘Some Bizzare Album’ with the track ‘I Dare Say It Will Hurt A Little’.

Meanwhile THE TILLER BOYS mutated into FREE AGENTS which led to him meeting CABARET VOLTAIRE. In 1984, with the production input of Stephen Mallinder and Richard H Kirk at their Western Works studio, Random released the alternative club favourite ‘Mad As Mankind’, a slice of soulful tabla-infused electro.

As one of THE FACTION, Random backed Nico, best known as the chanteuse of THE VELVET UNDERGROUND, on her final studio album ‘Camera Obscura’, produced by former Velvet John Cale in 1985.

Although he continued with sporadic FREE AGENTS releases produced by Martin Moscrop of A CERTAIN RATIO, by the start of the 21st Century, Eric Random had gone into hiatus.

In 2014, he made his comeback with the ‘Man Dog’ album on Austrian label Klanggalerie Records and returned to the live circuit, opening for A CERTAIN RATIO and WRANGLER, as well as performing at the 2016 Electri_City_Conference in Düsseldorf.

2019 saw Random release ‘Wire Me Up’, an excellent double album of predominantly electronic instrumentals while his new recently issued long player ‘No-Go’ develops on its dance template with a reintroduction of vocal textures, both natural and sampled as well as robotic.

Echoing FAD GADGET, NEW ORDER, CABARET VOLTAIRE and KRAFTWERK, despite the sinister if melodic nature of ‘No-Go’, a high groove factor is present within the programmed rhythmic lattice, a likely consequence of Random’s period of studying percussion in the Himalayas back in the day.

Eric Random spoke to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about ‘No-Go’ and his refocus on electronic music over the years since his return.

Having been involved in post-punk, early electronica and world music, working with people like Pete Shelley, Richard Kirk, Stephen Mallinder, Nico, John Cale and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, when you returned from hiatus in 2014, you opted to focus on electronic music, what had been the motivation?

My return to releasing music and live performance in 2014 was concentrated on a more electronic aspect. The motivation being that as I would be working as a solo artist once again, I wanted to revisit my earliest influences. Not just to rekindle my love of music from a certain era, but to take a fresh contemporary look.

Had the technology improved to the point that it was a no-brainer?

Although the influx of new technology was exciting, I also relied (and still do) on some old favourites, such as Roland, Korg and Yamaha analogue synths and drum machines.

What was your first synthesizer and what was it like to use?

The first two synths that I owned were a Korg MS10 and I also had a Crumar Trilogy. This was a huge Italian-made synth, really nice but incredibly heavy to cart around.

What equipment set-up do you opt for these days in the studio, are there any particular tools of choice?

As I mentioned earlier, when in the studio I still go to my analogue gear along with a mix of modular units also some Moog, Electron and MFB gear.

At around the same time, had you been aware that Stephen Mallinder was making a return as part of WRANGLER, did you maintain a kinship with each other over the years?

As friends for more than 40 years, we did lose touch for a while, both being off on travels in different parts of the world. Then we met up again when asked by Walter Robotka to do a ‘Double Vision’ event in Vienna. With Stephen being such an easy going guy, we took up again as though we had only just recently seen each other. He also went straight back to being an inspiration with my first taste of a WRANGLER performance.

How do you look back on those first three comeback albums ‘Man Dog’, Words Made Flesh’ and ‘Two Faced’?

I see the first three Klanggalerie albums as somewhat of a re-learning curve, not only on the technical side of recording but also in writing the kind of work I want to produce. ‘Man Dog’ being the transition between the kind of music I was making just previous, which still showed some of the ethnic and slight jazz influences to the now purely electronic.

Your recent music has featured guest singers, ethnic vocal samples, your own voice and vocoder treatments, how do you decide what suits particular tracks, if at all?

The vocals on these albums are mainly through vocoders or various effects. Not usually starting out with a definite sound in mind, sometimes a case of trial and error. Mostly working my voice into something that’s textured and sinuous.

2019’s ‘Wire Me Up’ was a primarily instrumental set and had less “vocals” than on ‘Two Faced’, had there been any particular reasons for this direction?

‘Wire Me Up’ was intentionally more instrumental orientated as it was a vinyl release for Sleepers which is a club inspired label. The song format for me seems to, not restrict but can contain the accompanying music to a degree. So purely instrumental tracks allow the different kinds of sounds to open up and expand, giving certain parts more significance.

Was ‘Systematic’ from ‘Wire Me Up’ a nod to KRAFTWERK?

My appreciation of KRAFTWERK is quite evident when listening to ‘Systematic’, but there was no actual conscious decision to pay homage.

Also from ‘Wire Me Up’, the lengthy ‘You Seem The Same’ managed to fuse colder sounds with a real groove which was an interesting contrast?

Yes, I find fusing darker emotional, more unsettling sounds that have a sense.

You opted to release ‘Wire Me Up’ on Sleepers Records, after the previous three were on Klanggalerie. But you have now returned to Klanggalerie for ‘No-Go’, so is a label still important for an independent artist of your standing?

For playing their part in keeping physical formats alive and staving off complete digitisation of the industry. This and the discomfort I feel at the thought of selling myself, even after all these years of releasing albums make labels very much important to me.

‘No-Go’ continues your pursuit of a techno-based dance direction, but although the Detroit influences are there rhythmically, your music continues to maintain a Northern Industrial vibe. So the surroundings you grow up in never really leave your psyche?

I suppose the experience of growing up in a bleak industrial city in decay that was Manchester in the 60s will be part of me forever. Along with the sense of alienation and paranoia often felt in the 70s as a teenager when on the city streets. All of which must play a part in what I still produce today.

‘Synergy’ is a great opener that signals a natural progression from ‘Wire Me Up’, had your approach altered much while making ‘No-Go’?

Compared to ‘Wire Me Up’ in which I kept to a very immediate, raw almost improvised approach which just naturally progressed. ‘No-Go’ was written with more definition of process, more sculptured and manipulated over a period of time.

The wonderfully dark and blippy demeanour to ‘Compulsion’ is like a doomy PET SHOP BOYS, how did that come together?

I can see where you’re coming from suggesting these comparisons. I first wrote it as a brooding, dark groove track. Then I had the idea to do a vocal which was less processed than my usual style, which gave it that dreamy kind of retro feel.

‘Dirt’ does do what it says on the tin with them rather gritty sounds, what were you doing to construct those?

The overall sound and texture of ‘Dirt’ comes from running a sequence into modular VCOs then feeding them through a bitrazer and delays to achieve a gritty chaotic feel.

The Sci-Fi disco of ‘Fundamental Phenomena’ has an enjoyably futuristic quality, are you a fan of those kind of books and films? Any particular ones?

Sci-Fi disco, definitely my kind of thing, I love the greats like Philip K Dick, Isaac Asimov and Harlan Ellison. One of my all-time favourite movies is ‘Fahrenheit 451’, watching this as a youngster on TV was a game changer.

‘What Does It Feel Like’ is a bit more unusual and goes away from the dance template of the other tracks on ‘No-Go’ with that creepy arpeggio line, had the track been inspired by anything particular?

Wanting to briefly step away from dance type rhythms, I began working on this track by experimenting with the bass sequence producing an almost uneasy feeling of imminent threat. Then added to this the excitement and chaos of the synth lines that cut across the rhythm.

Which are your own favourite tacks on ‘No-Go’?

My two personal favourites are ‘Dirt’ for its lyrical relevance and being the first thing I wrote just as the lockdown in March 2020 occurred. The other, ‘Is The Sun Up’ because it has that cold space to it and is set to strong hypnotic beats, then goes on an aggressive tangent at the end.

What’s next for you, is live work still of interest or has everything that’s been going on made you think being stuck indoors is not such a bad thing after all?

As for the future, a couple of projects that were postponed or had to be rethought due to the situation of the past year will hopefully see daylight. First of all, a track I wrote with THE POP GROUP’s Mark Stewart should see the light of day. Coming out on the Texas based label Emergency Hearts also, a track featuring a vocal trio from Mark, Stephen Mallinder and myself. As for performing again, well it’s a very uncertain. I actually had gigs in LA, SF and across Europe which were cancelled last year. Apart from the pandemic there is also the political climate and Brexit all piling on the difficulties of travelling to do gigs in Europe. We shall see.


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to Eric Random

‘No-Go’ is released by Klanggalerie Records as a CD and download, available direct from https://klanggalerie.bandcamp.com/album/no-go

https://www.facebook.com/theericrandom/

https://twitter.com/theericrandom

https://eric-random.bandcamp.com/

https://www.ltmrecordings.com/eric_random.html


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
1st May 2021

GLÜME The Internet

Described as “black lodge music for the blue youth of the internet age”, GLÜME is the Los Angeles-born “Walmart Marilyn Monroe”.

Like a tattooed Norma Jeane Mortenson dropped into Twin Peaks, having been a child actress and studies music before being diagnosed with a serious heart condition, GLÜME often reflects on her fragile hold onto life and how it keeps her detached from the real world in which she has live in.

But while her music often projects a tragic heartfelt quality, it is also strangely engaging and delightful.

Beginning with the forlorn Marilyn homage ‘Arthur Miller’, the afflicted drama accompanied by electric piano, organ, solemn strings and music box signals the forgotten yesterday mood that colours her first long player ‘The Internet’. Meanwhile ‘What Is A Feeling’ places GLÜME into a synthwave backdrop of sombre staccato bassline sand melancholic counter melodies. Highlight her own insecure emotions with the world are “my undoing”, this contrast of Norman Jean meeting ‘Drive’ only makes the scenario even more otherworldly and engaging.

The indie synth anxiety of ‘Nervous Breakdown’ dials largely down the Marilyn coos for some appealing melancholic pop while more off-kilter and detuned is ‘Crushed Velvet’ which recalls Nordic artists such as FARAO and GRETA.

Constructed around a distorted synth arpeggio, the haunting ‘Body’ reflects on illness with an emotive resigned acceptance with further tension provided by electric guitar. But things get glorious for the brilliant roller coaster of ‘Get Low’, the combination of rumbling synthbass and electronic stabs musically not that far off an experimental OMD B-side or LADYTRON!

The eerie chill of ‘Blossom’ outlines American suburban wifey aspirations like a ‘Twin Peaks’ song that Lana Del Rey wouldn’t shy away from and as the dream decays, GLÜME asks “which god do you prey to?” before stating “you can be really mean?”. 

The vibey ‘Don’t @ Me’ is a metronomic spoken word piece with echoes of JOY DIVISION’s ‘Decades’ in its repeated riff while utilising real strings blended with sparkles of synth, the finger-clicking album title song confronts online trolls and stalkers with references to a “worldwide bitch”.

A burst of a brass ensemble punctuates the film noir atmosphere of ‘Heatwave’ with some frantic if understated guitar work to accompany GLÜME’s Lana-like delivery albeit without the rasp. ‘Porcelain’ offers Trans-Atlantic trip-hop, before the orchestrated ballad ‘Chemicals’ closes ‘The Internet’ with the frustrations of medication and wanting them to “play nice”.

While it does not include her marvellous chilling cover of THE FLEETWOODS’ ‘Come Softly To Me’, ‘The Internet’ will satisfy anyone intrigued by GLÜME’s singles. With a variation of atmospheres and tempos plus an aura of charming vulnerability, featuring one of the best songs of the year in ‘Get Low’, the album is more than consistent with the Italians Do It Better brand identity and showcases GLÜME as their shimmering new star.


‘The Internet’ is released by Italians Do It Better on 30th April 2021

https://italiansdoitbetter.com/glume/

https://www.facebook.com/babyglume

https://twitter.com/babyglume

https://www.instagram.com/babyglume/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
29th April 2021

Carry On Synthpop: LIVE AT THE NECROPOLIS Lords Of Synth

“There is only one hope for humanity… the synthesizer!”

Adult Swim is the night time wing of the Cartoon Network and frequently airs adult animation, mockumentaries and sketch comedy. Although ‘Live At The Necropolis: Lords Of Synth’ first aired in 2016, this little gem of a video is the gift that keeps giving for any fan of electronic music, especially the originators: Vangelis, Wendy Carlos and Giorgio Moroder.

For those that haven’t had the pleasure of seeing it, the skit adopts a wonderfully droll US sports commentary-style approach to a ‘synth-off’ (or as they word it, a “battle of fingoric dexterity”) between Xangelix, Carla Wendos and Morgio Zoroger. Each of the synth heroes are lovingly characterised with Zoroger being portrayed as a hard-drinking Italian (who harbours a long-running grudge against Xangelix and an ex-relationship with Wendos), Xangelis (a reclusive musician who is rarely seen in public) and Carlos Wendos (previously known as Carlton Wendos).

Also worthy of mention are the two US sports-style commentators, both named in homage to German electronic pioneers TANGERINE DREAM (Edgar Tangram and Zedd Centuari) who oversee the musical scoring of the return of Halley’s Comet to earth. The winner being subsequently crowned ‘Lord Of Synth’.

The parody was inspired by Greek-American musician Yanni’s extravagant 1993 ‘Live At The Acropolis’ concert which was seen in 65 countries and Public Broadcasting Service who originally promoted it. What adds to the overall enjoyment factor of ‘Live at the Necropolis’ is the attention to detail throughout, there are so many fantastic touches that it’s impossible to highlight all of them.

For a start, the synth equipment on stage is all appropriate to the individual ‘synth lords’ with Wendos having a Moog modular system, Moroger with a Jupiter 8 (fed through guitar pedals a la Johannes Schmoelling of TANGERINE DREAM) and a variety of other classic synths (including an Emulator I and a Prophet 5).

When it come apparent that Halley’s Comet is going to destroy earth and none of the Synth Lords (individually) will be able to halt its deadly trajectory, our trio combines forces and after sending a synth Morse Code to each other, metamorphosize into a streamlined all-white wearing synth ‘power trio’ with new keyboards to match.

With their collaborative performance, the “sheer coolness of the jam” cuts the heat from Halley’s Comet, a star constellation of Pegasus is summoned and a final triumphant chord sends a beam of light to the heavens and freezes the comet before it obliterates the Earth. Once it becomes apparent that humanity has been saved, former US President Gerald Ford returns (he had previously evacuated in a space pod) to bestow gold medals on our three Synth Lords.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK can’t recommend ‘Live At The Necropolis: Lords Of Synth’ highly enough, it is a joy from start to finish and repeated viewings reveal many fantastic comedic touches that may get missed first time around.


The Adult Swim YouTube channel is at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgPClNr5VSYC3syrDUIlzLw

https://www.adultswim.com/

https://www.facebook.com/adultswim

https://twitter.com/adultswim

https://www.instagram.com/adultswim/


Text by Paul Boddy
27th April 2021

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