Category: Carry On Synthpop (Page 1 of 3)

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

Text by Paul Boddy
27th April 2021

Carry On Synthpop: How Drum ‘N’ Bass Is Made…

Founded in 1958 by Desmond Briscoe and Daphne Oram, THE RADIOPHONIC WORKSHOP at the BBC was set up to provide “special sound” for radio and TV programmes.

So to celebrate 60 years of THE RADIOPHONIC WORKSHOP in Autumn 2017, members of the pioneering collective held a panel discussion at The British Library prior to an impressive concert at the venue.

As well as using audio stems of the component parts to discuss how Delia Derbyshire constructed the original ‘Dr Who Theme’, Peter Howell (who was at the BBC between 1974–1997) mentioned how ‘The Music Arcade’, an old schools programme which he had made demonstrating the Fairlight CMI to children, had been re-edited by a prankster into a YouTube video entitled ‘How Drum ‘N’ Bass Is Made’.

With the combination of Howell’s well-spoken manner, the varied facial expressions of the children and ‘Lose Control’ by REDPILL painstakingly dropped in, the results are hilarious!

Peter Howell said at The British Library that “equipment can either be our servant or our partner”; he is best known for his 1980 reworking of the ‘Dr Who Theme’ using a Yamaha CS80, ARP Odyssey and vocoder, while he still uses a Yamaha DX7 as his master keyboard during THE RADIOPHONIC WORKSHOP’s various concerts around the world.

“Thank you Peter, that was fascinating…”

‘Doctor Who: The 50th Anniversary Collection’ is still available as a 4CD set or download via Silva Screen Records

Text by Chi Ming Lai
28th December 2017


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK has recently been gaining much enjoyment from a video which brutally satirises TRENT REZNOR and NINE INCH NAILS.

‘This is a Trent Reznor Song’ by FREDDY SCOTT hits the proverbial nail (sorry couldn’t resist it) on the head in deconstructing the various elements that make up a NINE INCH NAILS song.

Based around ‘A Copy Of’ from the last NIN album ‘Hesitation Marks’, Scott’s rather hilarious track is structured in such a way that it wickedly pokes fun at many of the trademarks of Reznor’s act – including the “random percussion”, “weird guitar” and several knowing references to their lead singer’s vocal production techniques.

What makes the song so successful is the attention to detail, like the little delays in the verse and the use of the “Weird sound” FX pedal before the song’s bridge. The video itself contains what have now become recognisable tropes in certain NIN promos, the silhouette shot, the creepy sepia dead animal shot and the intercut band performances with Scott perfectly aping Reznor’s stage posture.

Comedian Scott had previously caused a bit of a stir with his RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS aping ‘Abracadabralifornia’, which although semi-fooling some into thinking it was a new Chili’s track, in places actually came across more like a MORRISSEY sound-a-like than lead vocalist Anthony Keidis.

This more recent parody is far more on the money and although there’s been no public reaction from Reznor to the track, what is certain is that you’ll find it hard to get the chorus out of your head…

Altogether now: “This is a Trent Reznor song / Yeah it’s still going on / Seriously it’s the same song / But it’s very awesome!”

‘This Is a Trent Reznor Song’ by FREDDY SCOTT is available from the usual digital outlets

Text by Paul Boddy
3rd March 2016

Carry On Synthpop: DAVID BOWIE, BRIAN ENO & TONY VISCONTI Record Warszawa

A hilarious animation satirising the Château d’Hérouville studio sessions for DAVID BOWIE’s legendary ‘Low’ album has been gaining traction on the internet.

bowie-low-animationProduced by The Brothers McLeod, the short film captures Bowie, Brian Eno and Tony Visconti recording the album’s lengthy doom laden instrumental ‘Warszawa’ using a witty script and authentic voice characterisations by comedian Adam Buxton, himself no stranger to sending up the music scene via ‘The Adam & Joe Show’.

At West Berlin’s Hansa Studios where the ‘Low’ sessions were being mixed in 1976, the guards in the watch towers in East Berlin could look into the windows of the building! Although named after the Polish capital, ‘Warszawa’ accurately captured the post-war tensions within the divided city without the need for overt lyricism. However, Buxton’s send-up reimagines what Bowie may have had in mind lyrically, insecure in the fact that Eno had totally composed and realised the track!

The animation also accurately highlights Tony Visconti’s often under appreciated role in co-producing ‘Low’ plus the subsequent ‘Berlin Trilogy’ albums ‘Heroes’ and ‘Lodger’; the frustrated New Yorker is seen to be ranting about “doing a lot of co-production, probably more than people think…”, a credit which has frequently been incorrectly attributed to Eno.

But what gives this animation the ultimate credible edge is Buxton’s spot-on Bowie impersonation and his affectionate references to fan trivia.

‘Warszawa’ is available on the album ‘Low’ via EMI Records

Text by Chi Ming Lai
1st November 2014


Look Around You’ was a BBC2 comedy series which parodied vintage schools TV programmes like ‘Experiment’ and shows such as ‘Tomorrow’s World’ which showcased new advances in science and technology.

In its heyday, ‘Tomorrow’s World’ featured a number of musical items, famously introducing the Moog Modular in 1969 and KRAFTWERK in 1975.

There were later also items on the Fairlight CMI and an in-studio piece with producer Stephen J Lipson demonstrating the Synclavier during an ACT recording session with Claudia Brücken.

‘Look Around You’ and its first series of eight 10-minute shorts was shown in 2002 while a second series of six 30-minute episodes broadcast in 2005. The first programme in Series 2 was entitled ‘Music 2000’ and featured a synth enthusiast named Synthesizer Patel, played by Glaswegian actor Sanjeev Kohli.

The inventor of the Easitone ‘Play-In-A-Day’ 50, Synthesizer Patel discusses the amazing possibilities of the synthesizer but bemoans its inability to recreate the sound of the bassoon; this was to become a running gag throughout the series.

The episode featured a ‘Top of the Pops’ styled introduction, even using Phil Lynott’s 1981 theme tune ‘Yellow Pearl’ for added authenticity to its period set piece. There was also a song contest in the episode where songs for the imagined futureworld such as ‘Machadaynu’, ‘Theoretical Physicist’ and ‘The Rapping Song’ were entered.

Sending up the straight laced but almost patronising nature of programmes of that era, ‘Look Around You’ also featured another musical item on the boîte diabolique which was a box at the top of a piano scale that housed “the 19 forbidden notes”.

Although Sanjeev Kohli only appeared briefly as Synthesizer Patel, he became a cult figure within the electronic music community.

An eyewitness reported that when Kohli went to see Thomas Dolby play a gig at the Glasgow Film Theatre and met the synth pioneer afterwards, Dolby was so excited that he asked to have a photo taken with Kohli! Meanwhile, Hannah Peel and Helen Marnie are among his Twitter followers.

So please remember the best piece of advice from Synthesizer Patel… activate the burglar alarms on your synths “because crime’s so bloody bad and these b*stards, they steal your synthesizers!”

Sanjeev Kohli kindly took time out from a busy schedule to answer a few questions about Synthesizer Patel.

How was the character conceived?

You would have to ask the writers / producers / stars Robert Popper and Peter Serafinowicz.

All I know is that they auditioned quite a few people for it, so I was incredibly chuffed to get the part. ‘Look Around You’ Series 1 was outstanding, beautifully observed and wonderfully absurd – in fact I had bought the DVD about a week before I got the call for the audition. I would have called it fate, but I don’t believe in that sh*t.

Were you a fan of synthesizers before this and what synth bands did you like?

I do play the keyboards a bit. Very badly. Bruno Martelli ruined synths for many of my generation. I got a Yamaha for my 20th birthday which my kids play on now. And yes it has a bossanova function, which is GREAT for dinner parties. My big hero was Jon Lord from Deep Purple – mainly for his Hammond work, but he unveiled a Moog around 1973.

In terms of Synth Bands, I would plump for Depeche Mode, OMD, Kraftwerk and Moroder. And, of course, Giraffe. Word of advice to OMD; if you want to make an impact on the whatever generation, change your name to Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Gark.

What inspired Synthesizer Patel’s obsession with bassoons and alarms?

Again, you’d have to ask Robert and Peter. I think maybe they’d seen an oblique reference to it in a documentary. As in a guy who actually took steps against synth theft. (I may have got this completely wrong. I inadvertently started that whole ‘Bob Holness was Marilyn Manson’ thing, which was actually a misheard conversation)

Do you actually have a favourite synthesizer?

I couldn’t be more of a synth interloper, but I’m going to say the Minimoog. Three oscillators? I think so!

Synthesizer Patel only ever appeared on a few occasions. When did you realise he had become a bit of a cult hero?

When the band WILCO namechecked him in a song ‘You Never Know’ and then asked me to join them on stage in character at the Royal Festival Hall. Doesn’t get any better than that. They even sourced me a keytar, which keyboard player Mikael Jorgensen ‘Tronned up’ with fluorescent tape. I fired imaginary laser beams from the neck of the keytar into the audience… 90% of whom, I explained to the band, probably had no idea who Synthesizer Patel was and thought I was either care in the community or a genuine alien.

What happened when you met Thomas Dolby?

Went to see him performing in Glasgow. Great gig. Bought a CD from him in the foyer. A lovely, friendly fella. Naturally he had no idea who I was.

Do you think the Synthesizer Patel character could have evolved? What do you think he would be doing in 2014?

He would constantly be trying to make futuristic music, but because of the great technological leaps in the last 10 years, he would find this harder and harder. By this point his music would only be futuristic by about a week. He would also still be trying to make gaseous music – an ongoing project – while still gigging in the Bedfordshire area with his band ATTACK SUSTAIN DECAY RELEASE.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its sincerest thanks to Sanjeev Kohli

Special thanks also to Ian Ferguson

’Look Around You’ Complete BBC Series 1 and Complete BBC Series 2 are available on DVD via 2 Entertain Video

Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
18th March 2014

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