Author: electricityclub (Page 1 of 407)

“I don’t like country & western, I don’t like rock music… I don’t like rockabilly! I don’t like much really do I? But what I do like, I love passionately!!”: CHRIS LOWE

“Good taste is exclusive”: NICK RHODES

A Short Conversation with PATRICIA WOLF

Photo by Gina Roberti

One of the new generation of ambient composers, Patricia Wolf releases her third album ‘The Secret Lives of Birds’ on Nite Hive, the experimental cassette imprint established by Penelope Trappes of THE GOLDEN FILTER for women and gender-expansive artists.

Patricia Wolf first became known as a member of acclaimed synth duo SOFT METALS. After the contrasting moods of her first two albums ‘I’ll Look For You In Others’ and ‘See-Through’, for ‘The Secret Lives of Birds’, she delves into her new found avian fascination which came from her nature field recordings which included the songs and calls of birds.

Patricia dives deep into her personal library of field recordings and birding experiences, writing songs that show the variety of emotions and wonders that birds bring. Using these field recordings and carefully crafted electronics, Wolf’s emotive instrumental compositions celebrate the avian world and the challenges these beautiful creatures face in the Anthropocene.

Presently an artist in residence at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Colorado to learn about the interplay among species and how climate change is impacting those species, Patricia Wolf kindly answered a number of questions from ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about ‘The Secret Lives of Birds’ and her wider conservation concerns.

‘The Secret Lives of Birds’ is like the soundtrack for an as-yet-unmade wildlife documentary, what inspired the concept?

It’s great that you picked up on the idea of an imaginary wildlife documentary. I did have that sort of mindset when the concept started taking shape. Over the past few years I’ve become increasingly interested in learning about birds (and all wildlife), ecology, conservation, and ecological restoration. It all started when I began my field recording practice. I love listening to and recording the sounds of wildlife in their natural habitats, but at first I wasn’t able to identify most of what I was hearing.

I started to analyse my recordings with Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s BirdNET and Merlin Bird ID apps. Once I was able to match the songs and calls to specific bird species I began studying their identifying features, behaviours, and habitat needs. My partner noticed that I was getting more and more interested in birds so he gave me a nice pair of binoculars. It was one of the best gifts that I’ve ever received! It opened up a whole new world to me. Once I could see birds in more detail and began to recognize specific species by their calls and songs I became a daily birdwatcher.

I’ve been collecting recordings of the birds that I hear on my walks and from my windows and thought it would be nice to do something with them. When Penelope invited me to make an album for Nite Hive, I saw it as a great opportunity to work on a project that expressed my love of birds. I also had recently finished working on my first soundtrack project for my friend Edward Pack Davee’s new film, ‘Hrafnamynd’ so I think being in the soundtracking mindset also influenced how this album came out. I really hope that I can evoke images of birds and nature when people listen to this work.

Photo by Gina Roberti

The album features field recordings of the birds but did you also film any to assist with your compositional process or did you rely on memory and passion?

I don’t have a telephoto lens for my camera which would enable me to get clear and crisp photos or videos of birds. Because they are often frightened of people, it’s difficult to get close enough to film them in detail without specialised equipment. Becoming a birder makes you a more detail oriented person because there can be subtle differences that you have to notice about a bird in order to identify them properly. You tend to remember brief observations well, too, after doing it for a while because sometimes a quick glimpse is all that you get. You learn what to look for so you can better confirm or deny a sighting. I’m sure that it’s great for one’s brain in terms of focus and memory. I guess you could say I rely on keen observation, memory, passion, books and field guides to make sure that I am correct about an observation. Those observations and learning experiences are what inspired the music on this album.

Compared with your most recent album ‘See-Through’ which was a soothing relaxed ambient work, ‘The Secret Lives of Birds’ captures a wider range of emotions and feelings including some quite dark ones?

I think that this album is not too much of a departure from my first two albums in terms of how the music feels and sounds. The concept is referenced in the album and song titles and that surely influences what the listener is thinking about as they listen, but I wonder what the listener would imagine if the titles were referencing something more related to the human experience? Would they still think about birds or would they think about their relationships with humans and society or their internal thoughts and feelings?

With this album I wanted it to make something that is enjoyable and interesting to listen to from a musical standpoint, but nudge people into the world of birds and other animal species. Another aspect to this is that I strongly believe, as do many scientists (see: The New York Declaration on Animal Consciousness), that animals are conscious and emotional beings. Knowing this, I feel so much sorrow with how they are treated by many humans. My hope is that through my music I might open people’s minds and hearts to be kinder and more compassionate towards other species and the habitats that they need to live the lives that they evolved to live. I hope that we can blur the lines that separate us and focus more on the connections. We are animals, too and we have common ancestors. We are all relatives.

Photo by Michael Yun

A case in point would be ‘Mourning the Varied Thrush That Struck a Window and Died’ which was about an incident which you discussed on your social media?

That song is about a personal experience that I had with a Varied Thrush, hitting a window at my house and dying shortly after. It was heartbreaking for me and the bird’s mate who called for him for a long time afterwards. I’d regularly see them together in my yard before that incident. Once I was able to compose myself after his death, I recorded his mate calling for him and used it in this track. Their song is a simple one note whistle. It’s pure and a bit haunting to me. Both males and females make a variety of sounds. It was heartbreaking to hear her call for him and get no response. It went on for quite some time and I know that the bird was anxious, sad, and worried about its partner and its future as single bird. They rely on one another and a lot goes into a pair deciding to be together.

I felt so ashamed that this happened and immediately purchased the Acopian Bird Savers Zen Curtains to make all of my windows visible to birds. Birds are intelligent beings, but they have different adaptations to us. They can see ultraviolet light, colours that we cannot see, but they cannot see glass. They see what is reflected in it – the plants, the sky, or they see a room in a building that looks like an interesting place to visit. They often fly full force into windows thinking that they are flying to a safe place, but instead strike the hard surface and suffer a serious or life ending injury.

I wanted to share this experience in my music as a way to bring attention to this serious problem. It’s estimated that about 1 billion birds die each year from window strikes in the United States alone. There’s been a 90% decrease in bird populations in the US since 1970 which is shocking and disturbing. We as a species need to do something to make our buildings safer for birds. I hope with this song I can bring some awareness to this problem and inspire more people to apply one of the many often simple solutions to this problem on the buildings that they have some control over.

Photo by Edward Pack Davee

‘I Don’t Want to Live in a World Without Birds’ is quite haunting, a strong message using music?

That song is one of my field recordings processed through the Nuetone AI plugin tool that can transform an input sound source into a violin expression. The motivation behind this was borne out of the depressing thought of a world in the future where most or all wildlife has gone extinct in the wild and all the human world is left with are archives and maybe some remaining species kept in zoos or private collections. The idea of birdsong and wildlife disappearing in the wild makes me incredibly sad. I think of people trying to fill in the gaps with artificial bird sounds or something else artificially designed to fill in the sonic space.

I don’t think this song quite demonstrates what that might sound like, but the idea of field recordings or AI renderings of imaginary birdsongs, or artists trying to make birdsong-like music to relax too in an artificial nature was on my mind when I experimented with this AI tool. I think this song sounds interesting and I enjoy listening to it, but I still live in a world where I can hear and see birds. If I were left with only recordings of birds or artificial versions of them how sad that would be, especially having the memory as a child of birdsong waking me up in the morning and noticing them around me at all times of the day.

‘The Secret Lives Of Birds’ title piece sets the scene for the album, was that the pivotal track in the process which allowed the other tracks to emerge or had you already sketched ideas based on each of the different birds species you wanted to feature?

I had already sketched out a few ideas for this album before that song was written. ‘Rufous Hummingbird Dive Display’ and ‘Golden-Crowned Sparrow’ were the first songs that I wrote for this album and the concept unfolded from there. ‘The Secret Lives of Birds’ was a playful exercise to try to write a birdsong-like phrase on my synthesizer. I like how it came out and it also serves as a sort of theme song for my imaginary bird documentary.

Photo by Max Wolf

‘Golden-Crowned Sparrow’ and ‘The Ptarmigan and the Gyrfalcon’ both have this serene quality, how would these have developed when recording and what particular instruments did you use?

‘Golden-Crowned Sparrow’ is centered around a field recording of that bird that I took just outside my kitchen window. I adore their song. There’s something so tender and sweet about it. I wanted to write a piece of music that reflected what that I feel when I hear them. They walk and fly upon the earth in a gentle and kind way. They are social birds usually seen in a flock of their species as well as other sparrow and finch species. They get along harmoniously with others. The synth I used for this song is the UDO Super 6. I was improvising on it while listening to the recording of the ‘Golden- Crowned Sparrow’ song.

‘The Ptarmigan and the Gyrfalcon’ was inspired by a bit of Icelandic folklore that I was told about while in Reykjavik last fall. According to the tale, the Ptarmigan (a bird in the grouse family) and the Gyrfalcon (a bird of prey) were siblings, but one day Odin’s wife Frigg summoned all the birds to meet and she demanded that they all show their fealty to her by walking through fire. All of the birds did this except the Ptarmigan which is the folk explanation to why they have feathers on their legs and feet and the other birds do not.

As a punishment to the Ptarmigan for not proving its loyalty, Frigg cursed her to be the most defenseless of birds and to be hunted for eternity. Even her brother the Gyrfalcon now hunted her and after he kills her and realizes that she is his sister and cries out in sorrow and regret. It’s a tragic story, but it really stuck with me. It illustrates the painful aspects of the web of life in a mystical kind of way. This song was made with the Super 6, Pro-800, and Peak. I wanted to create an atmosphere to set the stage for this tragedy to play out.

Do you have a favourite bird and therefore a favourite track on the collection?

I don’t have a favourite bird. I love them all! They are all so fascinating and unique in their own ways which is why it’s so interesting to learn about them. I don’t have a favorite track. I see the album as a unit and I think it makes the most sense when experienced that way.

‘The Secret Lives Of Birds’ is being released by Nite Hive which is the label of Penelope Trappes, your career progressions have followed similar paths having both first become known in synthpop duos, how did you come to connect with her?

Yes, we both used to be in synthpop type duos at around the same time. I was a fan of THE GOLDEN FILTER back then when I was in SOFT METALS. It’s really cool that we are now doing solo projects and have become friends. I first connected with her in 2022 when my first solo album came out. I remember she played one of my songs on a BBC radio show that she made a mix for. I was honored! I thanked her and we began to talk and I got more acquainted with her music and was blown away by it. We’ve been keeping in touch and cheering each other on as we go about our creative lives. This past fall while on tour in Europe, I got a chance to meet her in person. We spent a few days together in Brighton and we immediately felt like we’d known each other for such a long time. When she and Steph created Nite Hive, they invited me to be a part of it and I gladly said yes.

It’s interesting the connection between music and birds, Robert Dean who was best known for being in the band JAPAN and has more recently been occasionally producing ambient music, is now a leading ornithologist and illustrator in Costa Rica, is this something you would like to venture into in the future?

Yes, definitely! I am very much interested in biology and ecology and have been interested in getting involved in projects that restore areas to their natural state to support biodiversity. I think I will eventually go back to school to get proper credentials to do this work and will begin volunteering on projects where I can lend a hand in this area. I really hope that my music can draw people in to the secret lives of birds and inspire them to be more sensitive to their needs.


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK give its warmest thanks to Patricia Wolf

‘The Secret Lives of Birds’ is released on cassette and digitally by Nite Hive on 28 June 2024, selected track previews and pre-order available on Bandcamp at https://patriciawolf.bandcamp.com/album/the-secret-lives-of-birds

https://www.facebook.com/patriciawolfmusic

https://twitter.com/patwolfmusic

https://www.instagram.com/patriciawolf_music/

https://soundcloud.com/patriciawolf_music

https://linktr.ee/patriciawolfmusic


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
19 June 2024

RODNEY CROMWELL Exercise Class

After the resigned acceptance of the “post-truth world” that loomed over his second album ‘Memory Box’, Rodney Cromwell is back with a lighter humorous commentary on midlife with his new single ‘Exercise Class’.

A recent edition of the podcast ‘The Heritage Chart Show Show’ podcast presented by journalists Siân Pattenden and Peter Paphides referred to the music of Tony Hadley as “Peloton MOR”.

This amusing quip accurately described the current phenomenon of the nostalgia live circuit and its ‘Let’s Rock’ Festivals. Generally full of middle aged attendees lamenting the days of Thatcherism while wearing deeley boppers or mullet wigs, they are often fighting the flab guided by online Peloton home fitness classes while harbouring late aspirations of becoming a rock groupie or pop star…

All pumped up with this blast of disco indietronica influenced by NEW ORDER and LCD SOUNDSYSTEM, Rodney Cromwell chatted to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about ‘Exercise Class’, its accompanying video and more…

‘Exercise Class’, is this an example of “Peloton synthpop”?

Ha. I’ve never used a Peloton but perhaps that’s a good description. Even I’m not sure what sort of song this is; sometimes I think it’s a tongue-in-cheek homage to workout video music, but other times I see it as a straight send-up of the spoken-word alternative music you hear constantly on Radio 6 Music. I guess it is whatever you want it to be.

Are the lyrics to ‘Exercise Class’ a sardonic metaphor for life or autobiographical?

I can’t pretend there is any deep level of meaning or metaphor to it. It’s a knowingly stupid song. If it’s anything it is my comment on workout culture, or at least those cringe blokes you see at the gym coming onto women who are just minding their business trying to stay in shape. Rodney Cromwell could never sing from the perspective of a ripped gym-bro though, so obviously the narrator is a pathetic loser. And the story is pure fiction, I have other ways of channelling my mid-life crisis.

You said the video is a bit of a horror splatter fest, how does this relate to the song?

I just didn’t want to do a video with me in gym-gear so I gave my designer Martin, who also plays in the Rodney Cromwell band, carte-blanche to go crazy and do whatever he liked with it. I said of the video that if you’re a fan of Julian House, Terry Gilliam and / or Joe Wicks splatter movies, you’re going to love it. That description probably broke the trade description act, but it’s not a million miles off.

The B-side ‘Madeline Trip’ is a rather short instrumental, are you learning tricks from your label mate Roman Angelos?

Not at all. I’ve been putting out ‘micro-instrumentals’ as B-sides throughout the ‘Memory Box’ campaign. Most of them I don’t really think as songs, just moods. The first one ‘Memory Stop’ was just 51 seconds, so in comparison ‘Madeline Trip’ at 54 seconds is a prog-rock epic.

Is ‘Exercise Class’ a one-off or part of a new larger work in the offing?

It’s a one-off end of the ‘Memory Box’ era, I’ve entirely exhausted everything that I wrote in 2020-2021 which was probably the most fruitful period of my too long musical career. I needed one more uplifting song for side two so I wrote ‘Exercise Class’ and ‘Wristwatch Television’ back-to-back. ‘Wristwatch Television’ just fitted the mood of the album better, because it was a bit less stupid.

What else is on the horizon for you, musically or politically?

Politically, I’ll be out campaigning for Labour again over the next few weeks. I stick to doing that IRL rather than online though as it’s a lot more pleasant.

Musically, if you like folktronica and the sound of vintage Moogs, finally my very old band SALOON from the early noughties will have our Peel Sessions released on LP in October. Very excited about that. Also I’m writing again, this time with Martin and another friend so it’s a lot more collaborative. Despite the odd Moog moment, the new stuff is not all that synthy (I describe it as gothgaze) so this might well be my last ever appearance on ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK! Who knows! *laughs*


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to Adam Cresswell

‘Exercise Class’ is released by Happy Robots Records and can be heard on the usual online content providers but can be downloaded at https://rodneycromwell.bandcamp.com/album/exercise-class

‘Memory Box’ is still available as a yellow vinyl LP and download from https://rodneycromwell.bandcamp.com/album/memory-box-2

https://www.happyrobots.co.uk/rodney-cromwell

https://www.facebook.com/rodneycromwellartist/

https://twitter.com/robot_rocker

https://www.instagram.com/robot_rocker/

https://open.spotify.com/album/2V2yEhD7jH1jUKSHCf8XOQ


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
15 June 2024

FINLAY SHAKESPEARE Directions Out Of Town

‘Directions Out Of Town’ is being touted as possibly the last album by Finlay Shakespeare.

The Bristolian synth builder and producer already has several long playing releases to his name, the best of which so far have been ‘Solemnities’ from 2020 and 2023’s ‘Illusion + Memory’. With his overwrought vocal delivery and fierce electronic backing like THROBBING GRISTLE and THE NORMAL meeting Warp Records, Finlay Shakespeare has an engaging post-punk energy to his DIY sensibilities.

Neil Arthur is a Finlay Shakespeare fan and has not only invited him to open for BLANCMANGE but be part of the live set-up and join in the collaborative project THE REMAINDER who released their debut album ‘Evensong’ last year. But this creative journey does appear to have taken its emotional toll and ‘Directions Out Of Town’ reflects turbulent times. Embroiled in anguish, it sees our hero dealing with personal, geographical, political and cultural loss.

At over 8 minutes, opener ‘Away’ sees the frantic rhythmic tension of past creations transferred into embittered vocals over a sparse anxious backdrop. But that archetypal Finlay Shakespeare template returns on ‘Get’; a boisterous barrage of blipping synths, snappy drum machine and fraught story telling that is “hoping for a future now!”, as it turns out, it’s something of an album outlier.

Returning to the minimalism set by ‘Away’, ‘Direction’ adopts reversed textures before a sequence drops in halfway through. Using industrialised rhythms and distortion at a funereal pace, ‘I Go For A Walk’ is full-on distress and not a comfortable listen. More abstract and drone-laden, ‘Face Value (Trio Mandala)’ sits over a cacophony of seemingly random bleeps.

The sharp ‘International’ picks up the pace but retains an intensity with ominous bass tones that continue on the elegiac ‘Go Back’; this though takes the minimalism to its zenith, capturing a solemn mood where a steady build towards a delightful music box ring adds contrast and makes proceedings even more haunting. With sirens calling, there’s a fatalistic aura about ‘Poli’ where “I’m ready to fall” and “tired of running in circles”. And as a sea of noise signals the end, Shakespeare declares he’s “lucky to be on my feet and still alive…”

A more challenging listen as “a deeply effective journey through machines of the human experience” than his two previous works, ‘Directions Out Of Town’ brings out the complex character of Finlay Shakespeare. “I essentially don’t know where I belong any more” he said, “This record is the precursor to that.”

With other domestic acts continually being overrated and testing the patience of the more discerning music enthusiast who wants intelligent musicality and not just a voice, it shows once again what a strange place the UK is and has been for quite a while. As he considers relocating personally, geographically, politically and culturally, it is a shame he is not a more widely acknowledged artist when he is one of the few younger British synthesists offering something musically, melodically and lyrically compelling in modern electronic pop.


‘Directions Out Of Town’ is released by Editions Mego in black vinyl LP and digital formats on 14 June 2024, pre-order direct from https://finlayshakespeare.bandcamp.com/album/directions-out-of-town

http://finlayshakespeare.com/

https://www.facebook.com/FinShakespeare/

https://twitter.com/FinShakespeare

https://www.instagram.com/finlayshakespeare/

https://www.futuresoundsystems.co.uk/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
12 June 2024

Lost Albums: LEDA Welcome To Joyland

In 1978, Peter Baumann had left TANGERINE DREAM and pondering his next move.

He had released his first solo album ‘Romance 76’ while still a member of TANGERINE DREAM but in 1977, electronic music had changed when Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’ produced by Giorgio Moroder pointed towards the future. Baumann had his new Berlin-based Paragon Studio to maintain while his next solo album ‘Trans Harmonic Nights’ was still a year off, so needed to earn some money quickly.

Inspired by ‘I Feel Love’, he hit upon the idea of doing a disco flavoured electronic record with an alluring female voice that had commercial promise. His musical collaborator in the project would be ethnomusicologist Hans Brandeis while providing the vocals was a mysterious Italian girl. While Leda has often assumed to be her name, this was never confirmed.

With his customised Project Elektronik modular system used during the shows featured on TANGERINE DREAM’s ‘Encore’ live album, Baumann came up with eight electronically-based sequenced songs and one instrumental for ‘Welcome To Joyland’.

The opening sequencer laden ‘Welcome To Joyland’ title song made a fine statement of intent with the vocals coming over very natural and complimentary to the sparkling electro Weimar cabaret aesthetic. With an archetypical TANGERINE DREAM styled bassline, ‘Endless Race’ took an icy journey of its own thanks to angelic vocals as if calling from the Alps as synthesized gulls boosted the atmospheric effect.

Further arpeggiated sparkles came from ‘White Clouds’ although the drumming put it into prog territory while the vocals were wispier and more child-like. The brilliantly cosmic ‘Movin’ On’ sat on a steady 3/4 time signature and the vocals even got soulful while the freeform synth solo provided by Baumann was a total delight.

Photo by Jerome Froese

Beginning in a much more discordant fashion, ‘City Of Light’ throbbed like Moroder although pointing more to his MUNICH MACHINE work with Chris Bennett rather than Donna Summer, but its Sci-Fi resonances were spoilt slightly by the recorded distortion. With pipey textures and minimal synthbass, ‘Space Ride’ offered an instrumental interlude in the vein of Baumann’s first solo record ‘Romance ‘76’. However, veering towards synthesized folk music, ‘Caroussel’ was something of an odd outlier and even brought flutes in!

In acknowledgement of ‘I Feel Love’ which had been signalling the future of pop, the mighty ‘Future’ completely aped it with enticing combination of throbbing electronics, cosmic solos and high pitched vocals. Closing with the mystical prog waltz of Stardust’, ABBA-like vocal phrasing was adopted although the backdrop of white noise waves indicated this was anything but the Swedes. Oddly though, this track had stylistic similarities to ‘Bent Cold Sidewalk’ from his former band’s long playing vocal experiment ‘Cyclone’ also released in 1978.

Clocking in at just under 34 minutes, ‘Welcome To Joyland’ was an accessible and melodic work with disco flirtations and sweet vocals but despite this, there was an esoteric quality about the majority of the songs and with a number of strong highlights, this was a far better and more appealing record than TANGERINE DREAM’s ‘Cyclone’.

But with misgivings about its perceived commercial nature, Peter Baumann took on the alias of Hacoon Mail while Hans Brandeis used the Franco pseudonym Cyril Claud for the ‘Welcome To Joyland’ credits and its release on the European multi-national label Metronome was accompanied by virtually non-existent promotion to retain a mystery and stimulate the press curiosity… however, the strategy backfired and the album flopped.

Baumann went back to making the instrumental music that he made his name with on 1979’s ‘Trans Harmonic Nights’, but he introduced a vocalised aesthetic albeit using vocoder as Moroder had done on his acclaimed Giorgio electronic albums.

‘Welcome To Joyland’ remains something of a curio in the Peter Baumann portfolio, but it is a pointer to the pop song based direction he launched on the 1981 Robert Palmer produced ‘Repeat Repeat’. It proved to be an even bigger surprise to TANGERING DREAM fans but that is another story…


‘Welcome To Joyland’ is available via Private Records on most online platforms


Text by Chi Ming Lai
8 June 2024

BLANCMANGE + THE REMAINDER Live at Islington Assembly Hall

BLANCMANGE were originally a duo comprising of Arthur and Stephen Luscombe with a brace of hit singles and three albums before disbanding in 1986. On their 2011 return, Luscombe sadly had to withdraw for health reasons so since then, Arthur has carried the BLANCMANGE torch.

‘Everything Is Connected’ and celebrating four decades of BLANCMANGE, Neil Arthur had a novel idea for this Very Best Of tour… he would support himself!

Augmented for both sets by percussionist Liam Hutton and synthesist Finlay Shakespeare, THE REMAINDER featuring Neil Arthur opened to a packed Islington Assembly Hall. All clothed in turquoise T-shirts emblazoned with a “Re” logo, how THE REMAINDER differ from BLANCMANGE is that the music is a three way collaboration between Arthur, Hutton and Shakespeare.

After the LCD SOUNDSYSTEM resonances and talk of “calcium build-up” of ‘Broken Manhole Cover’, ‘Hoarfrost’ entered more spacey midtempo territory and saw Arthur ironically quip “I don’t do nostalgia”. The ‘Evensong’ title song of their album released last year threw in some hypnotic motorik while to close an engaging set, ‘Dead Farmer’s Field’ offered angst in the vein of THE CURE; “the lot after us are a right rabble” amusingly announced Arthur beforehand, “their singer’s a diva!”

With the same trio on stage but wearing different hats, BLANCMANGE began their set with the proto-synth punk of ‘Again, I Wait for the World’; a song which was written in 1979 by Arthur’s art-school band L360, despite the 45 years since, it more than fitted in with the aural aesthetics of 21st Century BLANCMANGE.

With ‘Reduced Voltage’ representing BLANCMANGE in the present day via its groovy CAN precision, the first oldie of the evening came with ‘I’ve Seen The Word’, swiftly followed by ‘Feel Me’ where Arthur gave the enthused audience an invitation to dance to the tense TALKING HEADS meets JOY DIVISION amalgam.

What was most impressive was the sound in the venue and how well suited it was to rhythmic electronic music while adding an impressive new dimension with his waveshaping synth trickery was Finlay Shakespeare on his Nord Modular G2X based set-up. Meanwhile, Liam Hutton recreated the familiarity of the machine derived percussive mantras but gave proceedings a tidy looseness.

There was the welcome return of the first BLANCMANGE single ‘God’s Kitchen’ while ‘The Western’ and ‘Drive Me’ were recalled to represent the 2011 comeback long player ‘Blanc Burn’ and the beginning of this now highly prolific second phase. Also welcome was ‘Distant Storm’, possibly the best BLANCMANGE song of this era which despite being dream-like in its trance disposition revealed its spiritual kinship with ‘Feel Me’.

A “Heroes”-like stomp came on ‘Some Times These’ before the main set ended with BLANCMANGE’s two classic bangers ‘Living On The Ceiling’ and ‘Blind Vision’, the former’s exotic sitar hook now replaced by a massed football terrace chant. After some gentle persuasion, the encore presented a minimal cover of ABBA’s ‘The Day Before You Came’ using pizzicato-emulating patches before concluding with the final of BLANCMANGE’s three Top10 hits ‘Don’t Tell Me’

At the end, a humble Neil Arthur expressed his gratitude and namechecked his circle but saved his biggest thanks for the audience. As he surmised, the initial success and continued longevity of BLANCMANGE could not have happened without them.

In fine voice throughout while occasionally stoic in demeanour, this double dose of Neil Arthur including BLANCMANGE evergreens, new material and a recent side project was a fine evening’s entertainment that was appreciated by all.


Special thanks to Steve Malins at Random Management

‘Everything Is Connected’ is released by London Records as a 38 track double CD, 38 track download + 10 track coke bottle green vinyl LP

http://www.blancmange.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/BlancmangeMusic

https://twitter.com/_blancmange_

https://www.instagram.com/neilarthur/


Text and Photos by Chi Ming Lai
4 June 2024

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