Author: electricityclub (Page 2 of 363)

“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

I AM SNOW ANGEL Lost World

Singer, producer and sound designer Julie Kathryn reflects on a new life in a ‘Lost World’ for her latest body of work as I AM SNOW ANGEL.

Having relocated to the Hudson Valley with her infant son, her mind wandered as she dealt with the world’s pandemic sorrow by immersing herself in creativity at night.

Collaborating remotely with studio veteran Charles Newman whose credits have included THE MAGNETIC FIELDS and musician / composer JJ Appleton, the end result is a collection of dreamy pop with a narrative of reflection in isolation.

Beginning with ‘You’ve Been Telling Lies’, it is the sort of song that I AM SNOW ANGEL does best, quietly subversive with strange swooping sounds and faint pitched up voice samples applied to traditional song elements for something unusual.

The uptempo ‘Twisted Romance’ combines synths and ringing six string which are immediately appealing while coming over like a feminine U2, the deeper percussive resonances of the ‘Lost World’ title concoct a mood as suggested by the title and this is taken further with the spacey dub-inflected remix by David Sisko which comes as a bonus.

In a song about her son written while in quarantine, the trip-hop influenced ‘Sweet As You’ uses a minimal distorted Telecaster line as the constant while a range of textures and atmospheres work around it in an optimistic glimmer, but at the opposite end of the spectrum, the breathy ‘Tom’ is a bittersweet lament reflecting on a former beau in an impressionistic manner like a hazy awakening from a dream-afflicted sleep.

The understated pulsations of ‘Quiet & Bright’ make it sound like Karen Carpenter piloting an interplanetary craft on a trip that is both soothing and assuring. Developing the template further, ‘Bright Pink Skies’ possesses a cerebral quality with gentle vocally derived pads circulating for a lush cinematic cacophony.

The album ends with ‘Kaleidoscope’ brings a helping of hope on an acoustic six string love ballad where “everything seems so easy with you”.

Despite the melancholy and thoughts of hopelessness, ‘Lost World’ actually has gently sanguine quality about it.

Dreamy, comforting and exuding colour, this record demonstrates that in difficult times, inspiration and resourcefulness can triumph over pain and uncertainty.


‘Lost World’ is released on 6th May 2022, pre-save via https://onerpm.link/932079050122

http://iamsnowangel.com/

https://www.facebook.com/iamsnowangel

https://twitter.com/I_Am_SnowAngel

https://www.instagram.com/i_am_snowangel/

https://iamsnowangel.bandcamp.com/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photo by Carl Timpone
3rd May 2022

DESIRE Escape

‘Escape’ is the long awaited follow-up to the acclaimed debut album by DESIRE which was released in 2009. One of its tracks ‘Under Your Spell’ notably featured in the synthwave-tinged soundtrack of 2011’s ‘Drive’ starring Ryan Gosling.

Originally from Montreal, vivacious latex-clad front woman Megan Louise hasn’t been idle, continually releasing singles, collaborating and becoming president of Italians Do It Better. Produced by IDIB head honcho and beau Johnny Jewel, ‘Escape’ was mixed by Vaughn Oliver. Inspired by Italian Giallo horror films, the record was constructed in Los Angeles and Palm Springs.

‘Escape’ is multilingual singing in English, French, and Korean while Megan Louise plays the role of vixen and villain, opening proceedings with ‘Black Latex’, a spoken word art piece in French and English inspired by Andy Warhol. With pizzicato interventions and glorious synth salvos, ‘Telling Me Lies’ does that alluring moonlit driving thing over a tom-laden drum machine backbone where “you can run but you can’t hide”.

“All out of trying, all out of tears” while swathed in layers of electronic sounds and a wash of emotions, ‘Liquid Dreams’ echoes one-time label mates CHROMATICS and is boosted by a great frequency tuning solo. But featuring current label mates MIRAGE, ‘Love Is A Crime’ begins with an enigmatic and semi-spoken verse which is countered by a vocodered chorus. There are dense filtered tapestries where the processed voice declares “there’s no-one left to hold you” before the nostalgic tones of dial-up internet ring.

The wonderful ‘Zeros’ which was first released in early 2021 remains gorgeously dreamy and seductive with its sunset noir cinematics burying the past and “adding up to zero every single day”. Short, sweet and sans batterie, more spoken word is presented on the sparsely vibe laden ‘Dark Age’.

With elegant airy movements in Korean from ETHER’s Soo Joo Park, the forlorn ‘Haenim’ is an electronically styled cover of the 1968 Kim Jung Mi folk song with its narrative about woman who carries a traumas from the past confirming that “some scars never heal”; the haunting synth noir reinterpretation could be considered akin to when MIRRORS covered ‘Something On Your Mind’ which was recorded by Karen Dalton.

“Fading slow” with a delightful burst of synthesized pop bliss, ‘Ghosts’ is not for when the room is quiet, especially during the blistering keyboard solos. Given a remix, the brilliantly naive escapist electronic disco of ‘Escape’ which imagined BANANARAMA fronting NEW ORDER doesn’t quite hit the spot in this new version which is a shame in its position as the title track; the original slice of pop perfection should have been the preferred inclusion

Based around Fender Rhodes, ‘The Young & The Restless’ sounds like a song from a lost French arthouse movie while 11. the absorbing nocturnal electro-disco ‘Days & Nights’ is a gorgeously enticing highlight that glistens as “stars are shining”. Preceded by the interlude ‘L’Amulette De Vie’, the GOLDFRAPP-like ‘Friends & Enemies’ utilises Mellotron flute tones to provide another sparse resigned ballad, concluding with a haunting chorus of children and a foreboding toll.

Featuring seven previously released singles and six new tracks, that’s slightly more than TEARS FOR FEARS ‘The Hurting’ which only featured four new tracks when it came out back in 1983. ‘Escape’ does as its title suggests, a synth-laden soap opera with an idealistic narrative to overcome the challenges that life brings. It has been a long wait but the second DESIRE album is finally here with moments to savour.

‘Escape’ uses the following instruments: MiniKorg 700s, Roland Jupiter 8, Roland TR909, Mellotron, Simmons Rhythm Modules, ARP Solina String Machine, Roland D-50, Fender Rhodes


‘Escape’ is released on 3rd May 2022 via Italians Do It Better, pre-order or pre-save the album via https://idib.ffm.to/desire-escape

https://www.facebook.com/PRIMITIVEDESIRE/

https://twitter.com/primitivedesire

https://www.instagram.com/desire_musicofficial/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
30th April 2022

RÖYKSOPP Profound Mysteries

When RÖYKSOPP released their most recent long playing opus ‘The Inevitable End’ in 2014, it was said to be their final album. Featuring the voices of Susanne Sundfør, Robyn, Jamie Irrepressible and Ryan James, it made a fine farewell.

But after various singles, archive releases and soundtrack commissions, Svein Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland have returned with some ‘Profound Mysteries’; the duo said: “As human beings, what we don’t know vastly overshadows what we do know. As teenagers, we would discuss our own fascination and preoccupation with the infinite and the impossible – the most profound mysteries of life.”

As a result, ‘Profound Mysteries is an ambitious mix of music and conceptual art with all the tracks accompanied by bespoke visuals, each directed by a contemporary creative talent.

With solemn piano and stark strings, the ambient ‘(Nothing But) Ashes…’ begins the album with a noirish incidental theme. More immediate though is the following instrumental ‘The Ladder’ which swirls sedately while minimal guitar provides some melody before the arrangement builds into something more synthy and squelchy.

But ‘Profound Mysteries’ starts proper with the delicious ‘Impossible’ featuring Alison Goldfrapp, a mighty avant disco excursion that is both seductive and functional. As the uplifting high soprano middle eight leads into a drifting intergalactic twist, it can be rightly considered one of the songs of 2022.

Another lady boasting a high soprano, Beki Mari leads ‘This Time, This Place…’ from its militaristic beginnings to a propulsive if spikey club tune stretching to nearly eight minutes. Utilising the more contralto talents of Pixx, ‘How The Flowers Grow’ is much moodier and cerebral.

‘If You Want Me’ sees the return of Susanne Sundfør who very much became an intentional star on the back of her RÖYKSOPP collaborations which began with a cover of the DEPECHE MODE B-side ‘Ice Machine’. It is a glorious cinematic ballad centred around the magnificently emotive vocals of the Norwegian songstress and wouldn’t sound out of place in any Scandinavian love story. With another soprano salvo, it acts as a reminder as to why the rest of Europe fell in love with her when she released the ‘Ten Love Songs’ album in 2015.

Continuing that higher range vocal aesthetic, ‘There, Beyond The Trees’ makes use of a soprano vocal sample as well as RÖYKSOPP’s own voices with a stuttering percussive backbone to throw off the scent. Still stuttering but in a more punchy uptempo fashion, one-time Norwegian ‘Pop Idol’ contestant Astrid S brings an airy Scandipop flavour to ‘Breathe’. Meanwhile ‘The Mourning Sun’ with Susanne Sundfør can only be described as a haunting electronic requiem before a computer vox humana gives instructions to ‘Press «R»’ to continue.

With its focus on wondrous female vocals and particularly angelic ones, ‘Profound Mysteries’ evokes something of a profound elegiac quality.

Although quite different, it is a worthy successor to ‘The Inevitable End’ that will be savoured.


‘Profound Mysteries’ is available as a CD, cassette and digital formats

http://royksopp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Royksopp

https://twitter.com/royksopp

https://www.instagram.com/royksopp/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photo by Stian Andersen
28th April 2022

KLAUS SCHULZE 1947 – 2022

The German electronic music legend Klaus Schulze has sadly passed away at the age of 74 after a long illness.

Despite this, his passing was unexpected as Schulze was set to release a new album ‘Deus Arrakis’ this summer on SPV. He had collaborated with Hans Zimmer on ‘Grains of Sand’ aka ‘Herbert’ for the end credits of the new ‘Dune’ 2021 film adaptation directed by Denis Villeneuve.

Trained as a classic guitarist, Schulze took up the drums and was a member of TANGERINE DEAM and ASH RA TEMPEL, remaining with them for only their debut albums.

Disillusioned with both drums and guitars, he embarked on a solo career using keyboards and electronics, simply because it would take him on a creative journey into the unknown. Coinciding with the advent of synthesizers and sequencers to free him from the constraints of a conventional band where the discussions that went on were often longer than any music being played, his own improvised compositions lasting for almost half an hour at a time were the antithesis of modern pop songs and more akin to his musical hero Richard Wagner.

Schulze saw synthesizers as an opportunity to develop original tone colours and saw little point in using them to imitate real instruments like trumpets as Keith Emerson had done, reasoning that if he wanted to have the sound of an orchestra, he would then use one. He even occasionally donned a full face helmet for live appearances in the days when DAFT PUNK were still in short trousers!

Whenever cultural commentators talk about vintage synthesizers stacked up like telephone exchanges in the formative years of electronic music, Klaus Schulze is likely to be one of the key figures they are referring to. Unlike his contemporaries, Schulze had a playful approach with a physical element that encompassed a minimalist groove, a legacy of his earlier explorations as a drummer. During his concerts where he usually performed new material, he would sit crossed legged in front of his complex with his back to the audience while the cosmic trance-like soundscapes poured out.

His 1972 debut solo album ‘Irrlicht’ had been organ driven but its follow-up ‘Cyborg’ brought an EMS VCS3 into the armoury. Acquiring an ARP Odyssey, ARP 2600 and assorted Crumar keyboards, the wider breakthrough came with 1975’s ‘Timewind’ which was released internationally via Virgin Records and its associated imprint Caroline.

Winning the prestigious Grand Prix Du Disque International in France, the success of ‘Timewind’ allowed Schulze to up-the-ante with the purchase of a Moog IIIP modular system and the opportunity to record 1976’s ‘Moondawn’ in a multi-track studio having used just two-track equipment previously; the album was also notable for featuring Harald Grosskopf on drums with the union sparking the WALLENSTEIN sticksman’s own interest in synthesizers to record his acclaimed 1980 solo debut ‘Synthesist’.

Schulze was by now well into what many consider his imperial phase and adding PPG modules to his set-up, released his wintery 1977 masterpiece ‘Mirage’ on Island Records, supported by two lavish concerts at the London Planetarium and planting the seed for New Age in the process.

Harald Grosskopf rejoined Schulze for the ambitious 1978 double opus ‘X’ which also incorporated strings in a record comprising of “Six Musical Biographies” in honour of figures such as philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, King Ludwig II of Bavaria, composer Friedemann Bach and ‘Dune’ author Frank Herbert. Interest in the latter was developed further on an actual album called ‘Dune’ featuring Arthur Brown on vocals in 1979.

The next two albums ‘Dig It’ and ‘Trancefer’ saw Schulze embrace new digital technology and the Crumar GDS system while 1991’s ‘Beyond Recall’ brought in sampling. A reunion with Manuel Göttsching of ASH RA TEMPEL came on the appropriately titled ‘Return Of The Tempel’ on 1995’s ‘In Blue’. Then released in 1996 on the Eye Of The Storm label founded by the production team behind SNAP!, ‘Are You Sequenced?’ saw Schulze venture into dance music in his own inimitable way with perceptively shorter pieces – “My style of music is always the same” Schulze once said, “but the expression is different with each piece…”

With almost as many live documents as studio recordings, soundtracks, classical, opera and his alias Richard Wahnfried, Schulze’s portfolio contained over 130 albums in many guises including collaborations such as ’The Dark Side Of The Moog’ series with the late Peter Namlook and the supergroup GO with Steve Winwood, Michael Shrieve and Stomu Yamashta, as well as productions for ALPHAVILLE and DEAD CAN DANCE’s Lisa Gerrard.

Schulze even made a cameo appearance in the 2001 German TV murder mystery ‘Klassentreffen – Mordfall Unter Freunden’ as a member of a fictional band THE WANDERING STARS performing at the school reunion, alongside KRAFTWERK’s Florian Schneider on double bass and ALPHAVILLE singer Marian Gold for a cover of ‘Those Were The Days’!

Literally never one to sit still, ‘Deus Arrakis’ was his next musical salute to Frank Herbert, remaining true to his characteristic style and dreamy sheen while remaining open to sonic experimentation. The crystal lake is somewhat emptier tonight but somewhere up there right now, Klaus Schulze is probably having one almighty synth jamming session with Florian Schneider, Edgar Froese and Peter Namlook…


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photo by Guido Harari
27th April 2022

CHINA CRISIS Live at The Stables

CHINA CRISIS, THIS IS YOUR LIFE!

It was to Laurie Johnson’s iconic TV theme tune that Gary Daly and Eddie Lundon walked onto the stage to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of CHINA CRISIS as a recording act with the ‘Classic Crisis – Greatest Hits’ show.

The location was The Stables in Wavendon, a village just on the edge of Milton Keynes; the venue had been originally established by jazz legends Sir John Dankworth and Dame Cleo Laine in 1970, within the former stables block of their home, hence the name.

The entertainment began with a few anecdotes from Daly; an engaging raconteur who could probably get a spot on BBC comedy showcase ‘Live At The Apollo’, he apologised for the lack of visuals which has been seen at other shows, as the laptop containing them had been stolen from his car along with some stage clothes. But the story didn’t end there as Daly had thoughtfully placed a tracker on the computer and told of how the band gave chase and ended up at a local supermarket. They spotted the thief dumping the stage clothes into a charity recycling bin before legging it with the laptop!

It was an evening filled with laughter and music as Daly continued about how he and Lundon had met at St Kevin’s Catholic Boy School in Kirkby near Liverpool and began making music together, partly because they just about hated everyone else who attended! Similarly to OMD, the duo purchased their first synthesizer from a Kays mail order catalogue belonging to Lundon’s mother; it was familiar to Daly as he recalled, for the ladies’ underwear section, which ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK would like to add, was always easy to find as it was after the ladies shoes section!

Settling on a monophonic Yamaha CS10, Lundon used it to play just three notes on their debut single ‘African & White’.

It was at this point that the musical part of the show began with regular sidemen Jack Hymers on synth and saxophonist Eric Animan joined by a drummer, backing vocalist, bassist and another two guitarists (including Stuart Nisbet who played with CHINA CRISIS in 1986-87) to become Merseyside’s answer to BLAZIN’ SQUAD!

In true ‘This Is Your Life’ style, the setlist was primarily chronological as CHINA CRISIS ran through the highlights of their career and told the stories that behind them. Daly took joy in reminiscing about how they were signed by Virgin Records and became a “threat” to label mates and rival Merseyside duo OMD; “When Paul Humphreys and Andy McCluskey saw our photos, they must have thought ‘the game’s over’” Daly delightfully quipped.

But while OMD were affectionately the butt of the humour throughout the evening with the CC33 front man stating “we wrote about our girlfriends, but Andy McCluskey wrote about atomic bombs and genetics, typical pretentious sixth former…”, CHINA CRISIS were capable of haunting anti-war commentary too, as their first hit ‘Christian’ taken off the ‘Difficult Shapes & Passive Rhythms’ album proved. Meanwhile ‘Here Comes A Raincloud’ was an emotive observation on the plight of the working classes in Merseyside as it was ripped apart under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher.

Given a slight Mexican flavour, CHINA CRISIS’ biggest UK hit ‘Wishful Thinking’ was followed by its sister song ‘It’s Never Too Late’, a rare number even in the wider Crisis Canon and deservedly given a platform on this 40th Anniversary tour.

Written by Daly in response to the Lundon-penned ‘Wishful Thinking’, it was originally recorded as part of the ‘Working With Fire & Steel’ album sessions produced by Mike Howlett.

However ‘It’s Never Too Late’ was dropped from the tracklisting for having a similar Emulator I string aesthetic and arrangement despite being of equal quality; it ended up being a bonus song on the limited edition second 12” of ‘Black Man Ray’ so was hardly heard even by CHINA CRISIS fans until it showed up on the 2017 deluxe reissue of third album ‘Flaunt The Imperfection’. “We should have released it after ‘Wishful Thinking’, we would have had another international hit and wouldn’t be here!” bantered Daly, “Like how many times have OMD played The Stables??? Like NEVER!”

‘Black Man Ray’ closed the first half of the show, with Daly recalling the excitement of working with the late Walter Becker of STEELY DAN who was bowled over by the song’s catchy simplicity. But he warned the audience that the second half would feature less hits but still lots of good songs; this was delivered with ‘It’s Everything’ from ‘What Price Paradise’ and the 1986 album’s lead single ‘Arizona Sky’, a song which today sounds like the massive hit it never actually was.

After ‘Sweet Charity In Adoration’ off 1989’s ‘Diary Of A Hollow Horse’ which had been recorded in Hawaii with Walter Becker and passing over the 1994 long player ‘Warped By Success’, CHINA CRISIS quickly moved onto songs from their crowdfunded comeback record ‘Autumn In The Neighbourhood’ issued in 2015.

Following the smooth ‘Fool’, a tune developing on the soulful moods of ‘You Did Cut Me’ featuring Lundon on lead vocals, the show concluded with what Daly termed “a Saturday Night Disco”.

After the mature audience stood and danced to the bouncy pop grooves of ‘King In A Catholic Style’ and ‘Tragedy & Mystery’, the final wind down came with ‘My Sweet Delight’ from ‘Autumn In The Neighbourhood’ as a poignant dedication to loved ones who have passed on…

While CHINA CRISIS didn’t achieve quite as many hits as their Virgin label mates OMD, THE HUMAN LEAGUE and SIMPLE MINDS did, they still had enough of them to enable them to work with their musical heroes, see the world and are today still popular enough to tour regularly with North America as well as their first shows in Australia and New Zealand now on the 2022 itinerary.

With a 50th Anniversary tour unlikely as Daly joked to everyone present that “half of you won’t be here!”, this was an enjoyable and entertaining celebration of possible pop songs, savouring not just the music but the enlightening and comical stories that helped to inspire them as well.


‘What Price Paradise’ is reissued as a 3CD deluxe set by Virgin Records

The ‘Classic Crisis – Greatest Hits’ live DVD is released on 22nd July 2022, pre-order from https://www.musicglue.com/chinacrisis/

CHINA CRISIS tour North America in June / July 2022 and Australia / New Zealand in December 2022 while they will be opening for Kim Wilde on her ‘Greatest Hits’ UK tour in September 2022

https://www.facebook.com/chinacrisisofficial/

https://twitter.com/ChinaCrisisUK

https://www.instagram.com/garydalymusic/

https://open.spotify.com/artist/0WUphJOGHE5i95IeR87hsO


Text and Photos by Chi Ming Lai
25th April 2022

« Older posts Newer posts »