Category: Reviews (Page 1 of 176)

METROLAND 4

Numbers! METROLAND are back and they have started counting…

While Passenger A and Passenger S are a duo, 4 is the classic line-up of KRAFTWERK, the classic line-up of DEPECHE MODE, the classic line-up of ULTRAVOX and the classic line-up of NEW ORDER.

The latest work from METROLAND is ‘4’, a rhythmic precursor to a new album acting as the first in a series of 4 singles and like ‘Enjoy The Silence – The Quad Mix’, the track has been reworked 4 times to tie together as one extended sonic adventure.

Counting down 4-3-2-1 with a darker approach compared to their previous artistic journeys and more in the vein of their B-side ‘(We Need) Machines Without Romance’, METROLAND crunched the numbers with ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK…

What is the power of 4?

You could say the elements of surprise in lots of ways. In fact, the song ‘4’ is cut up in 4 parts that blend as one, taking you over an epic playing time of 20minutes. Each part is actually the same arrangement, but every time from a totally different musical angle. And we took ‘4’ to an entire new dimension by allowing more experimentation in our soundscape. ‘4’ is also mixed as one song on the mixing desk, so it is not like we did recorded 4 different versions and glued them together. The goal was to deliver one entire song. And then there are the 2 remixes or call them “interpretations” by Passenger A & S, each done in their solitude and then brought together (a thing that will return in our next singles). To top it off, you get four edits of each of the parts as a download set.

Both these remixes and the 20 minute full version of ‘4’ are exclusive to a good old fashioned 12 inch vinyl. A vinyl coming up in 2 luscious colours holding a full version of ‘4’, each coming with a unique 30×30 poster (the size of an album sleeve ready to be framed).

So, yes, ‘4’ is absolutely our element of surprise.

The number 4 is the 8th most ‘winningest’ car number in F1 history, yet is considered unlucky in the Far East, but what is the significance of 4 to METROLAND?

Well, we can already say that it has nothing to do with cars, nor is it geography related.

‘4’ is the countdown towards a new album, an entire new concept, and a more profound definition of the next sound of METROLAND. The details of the new album and its concept will remain hidden for some time, as we still want to use some milestones to enhance them. All will be revealed in due time, but slowly the concept should become clear (‘4’ is already a huge chunk of it)

So ‘4’ has four parts, how was the work conceived and constructed?

In view of the new concept at hand, we wanted to emphasise it through and through from the start while not giving anything away yet.

Our crazy minds could not find a better way than having a track called ‘4’, calling the release ‘4’, cutting it up in 4 parts and topping it off with the 4 edits listed up from 4.1 to 4.4, and all this after 4 years from our former album (but that last one is a pure coincidence).

Is ‘4’ the launch of a new number themed METROLAND album?

We simply have to give 2 answers here: yes and no. ‘4’ is definitely the launch towards the new album and there is a countdown, but the concept is not numeric at all. Still, the concept holds a sequence in history. And by now you know everything and nothing 😊, that is what we always strive for, a thorough concept that from A to Z (or 4 to none maybe) is linked together.

Next will be 3 more singles, albeit digital, including some remixes by external bands and ourselves.


‘4’ is available as a download and red or transparent 12 inch vinyl single from https://www.808dotpop.com/shop.html

http://www.metrolandmusic.com/

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Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
24th June 2022

ZOLA JESUS Arkhon

Nika Roza Danilova, born Nicole Hummel, is the artist behind the ZOLA JESUS project.

Having debuted in 2009 with grossly underrated ‘The Spoils’ LP, Hummel continued to charm in an almost witchy fashion through her output. At times more poppy like ‘Taiga’ to the dark and hunting ‘Okovi’, her main instrument being the eerie, operatic voice around which she builds her song structures.

With deep admiration of Russian language, culture and landscapes, her productions ooze coldness and depth, showcasing the darkest corners of electronica.

Historically Danilova would prefer to have reins over all aspects of songwriting, production and instrumentation; she would be the one constructing the finished piece. With ‘Arkhon’ however, she hit a wall of not being able to create and desperately felt she needed to bring in new blood.

That led her to sending her demos to Randall Dunn and collaborating with Matt Chamberlain. The latter, who was well known for his work with Bob Dylan and David Bowie, helped to define the sound of ‘Arkhon’. Spurred by others’ contributions, her creative juices started flowing, where she could feel that her ideas expanded “into a sound that (she) never would have been able to think of on (her) own”.

Indeed the opening ‘Lost’ serves as a perfect example, where the layered urgent vocals, sparsely placed over native drums claim the voice of desperation, yet are embroiled in hope. ‘The Fall’ marries vintage Zola and modern pop, meandering between paced and urgent, vocals at times reminiscent of the late Aaliyah and otherwise very Grimes.

The album’s synth marvel comes in next, embodied in the magnificent ’Undertow’, with darker elements meeting a twisted take on synthwave. ‘Into The Wild’ is gentle and innately beautiful, sung from the depths of consciousness while ‘Dead & Gone’ featuring friend and touring violist Louise Woodward is an epiphany of healing amidst gloominess.

The pulsating ‘Sewn’ written in total collaboration with Dunn and Chamberlain is fast paced and native, juxtaposed with the bare ‘Desire’ with its simple piano and palpable pain expressed upon the end of a relationship. Perhaps it wasn’t Danilova’s ‘Fault’ who is “only human and some things don’t make sense”. Possibly the best track on the opus, this gem with cleverly placed electronic elements is reminiscent of instrumental DEPECHE MODE marvels circa ‘Music For The Masses’ and with exhilarating vocals, towers high over many of ZOLA JESUS’ contemporaries.

‘Efemra’ goes back to tribal before the closing ‘Do That Anymore’ is loaded with the feeling of the new found freedom; “There is a moment where you stop fighting with yourself. That’s when things can really happen”. And they did…

Having to change the perspective on music making and allowing others to share in the process, ZOLA JESUS “could enjoy being in the moment, putting that into the music and letting it unravel or evolve in its own way. To let it have its own story that I only had a part in telling”. 

‘Arkhon’ doesn’t only mean “power” or “ruler” in Ancient Greek but also translates into a Gnostic idea of power wielded through a flawed god, tarnishing the corrupted humanity with ZOLA JESUS firmly believing to be the sign of modern times.

Perhaps not as accomplished as ‘Okovi’, this latest representation of Danilova’s abilities certainly ushers a new era in her song making. And perhaps having finally shaken the shackles, she will enjoy future collaborations to enhance her enormous talents.


‘Arkhon’ is released on 24th June 2022 via Sacred Bones Records on CD, cassette and a variety of limited edition coloured vinyl LP variants via https://www.sacredbonesrecords.com/collections/zola-jesus

http://zolajesus.com

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Text by Monika Izabela Trigwell
Photo by Shervin Lainez
22nd June 2022

THE HEARTWOOD INSTITUTE & HAWKSMOOR Concrete Island

In their earlier incarnation, THE HUMAN LEAGUE had a song called ‘4JG’, that JG being James Graham Ballard, the English Sci-Fi novelist best known for dystopian works such as ‘The Drowned World’, ‘The Atrocity Exhibition’, ‘Crash’ and ‘High-Rise’.

Other post-punk synthesizer exponents such as John Foxx, Daniel Miller and Gary Numan were also inspired by the imagery of JG Ballard’s bleak brutalist backdrops while the short story ‘The Sound-Sweep’ was the inspiration behind THE BUGGLES’ No1 hit ‘Video Killed the Radio Star. The tradition of JG Ballard influenced electronic music continues today.

‘Concrete Island’ takes its name from the 1974 JG Ballard novel; an artistic collaboration between Jonathan Sharpe and James McKeown who make music respectively as THE HEARTWOOD INSTITUTE and HAWKSMOOR, the pair came together remotely to capture the claustrophobia of the worldwide lockdown, soundtracking a Ballardian drama that was actually a stark reality.

Tracks would begin as modular loops, basslines or rhythms which were then exchanged, deconstructed and reworked, with a harsh aesthetic emerging to seed the cohesive theme of escape from a desolate concrete jungle. Initially released a year ago as a cassette, ‘Concrete Island’ now gets the traffic cone orange vinyl treatment by Spun Out Of Control.

With a cold disconnect and gradual build, ‘The Architect (An Arrogant Protagnonist)’ fittingly echoes John Carpenter. But ‘Through The Crash Barrier’ grinds in an industrial swirl of hypnotic noise that is strangely alluring. Just as ‘Crash’ featured a narrative about car crash sexual fetishism, people today still camp out at Die Nordschleife on track days in the hope of seeing car crashes to the point of it being almost primal.

Expanding on the vehicle collision theme, ‘Rainstorm / Burning Car’ brings conventional instrumentation into the mix but ‘Median Strip’ is covered in noise echoes for a mysterious air of unsettlement. Flipping over, ‘Fire Signal’ rises and reverberates with four string bass working in tandem with the repeating electronic variant within an icy cocoon. ‘Beast & Rider’ mind-bendingly throbs in its cosmic undulations but relief comes temporarily with the bass guitar inflected austere of ‘Delirium’.

‘A Pavilion Of Doors’ opens up a menacing spiral of sound while the weirdly danceable bonus track ‘Maitland’ acts as a sharp amalgamation of screech and bubbles. Fittingly dense, the dark moods of the closer ‘Escape’ drone, spike and clatter to recall THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s ‘4JG’ phase but at a much more funereal pace.

An enjoyably tense listen with an anxious Ballardian gloom, the dystopian soundscapes captured on ‘Concrete Island’ tap into the fears of an uncertain futureworld. Things might be bleak but they are real too and in these strange times, reality has shown itself to be merciless.


‘Concrete Island’ is released on 24th June 2022 by Spun Out Of Control as an orange vinyl LP, available direct from https://spunoutofcontrol.bandcamp.com/album/concrete-island-2022-re-master

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Text by Chi Ming Lai
20th June 2022

TIM BOWNESS Butterfly Mind

Accomplished musician Tim Bowness celebrates four decades of playing in bands and working with the likes of Robert Fripp, Phil Manzanera and Richard Barbieri by presenting his seventh solo album ‘Butterfly Mind’.

Co-produced by long-time collaborator Brian Hulse and mixed by NO-MAN bandmate Steven Wilson who he began his recording career with, ‘Butterfly Mind’ has been hailed as Bowness’ most surprising release yet. Eclectic it certainly is and this is not to be unexpected given his vast knowledge of music history as articulated on ‘The Album Years’ podcast with Wilson.

The success of his Burning Shed label and online retail platform has only driven his own artistic integrity even further; Tim Bowness said to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK in 2019: “The good thing about the success of Burning Shed is that it’s meant that I’ve become even more bloody minded and idealistic concerning my own music. I only ever release what I believe in and what I believe deserves to be heard in the wider world.”

After ‘Late Night Laments’, ‘Butterfly Mind’ is not that much more cheerful and begins with ‘Say Your Goodbyes, Pt. 1’, an intense art rock barrage with flute from Ian Anderson of JETHRO TULL and additional vocals from Peter Hammill of VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR. Meanwhile, ‘Always The Stranger’ funks up it with noted bassist Nick Beggs in tow as Bowness comes over vocally like a cross between Thomas Dolby and Paddy McAloon.

‘It’s Easier To Love’ exudes the chill of winter featuring sax from one-time David Sylvian and Harold Budd collaborator Nicola Alesini, but as ‘Lost Player’ offers a haunting atmospheric ballad, ‘Only A Fool’ surprises as a brilliantly feisty synth driven number swathed in a Cold War presence with “so much blood on our hands”.

Continuing that aesthetic theme, ‘Glitter Fades’ crosses forlorn piano with a light but dramatic synthetic rhythm construction while the lengthy ‘Dark Nevada Dream’ imagines THE BLUE NILE meeting TALK TALK with MAGAZINE’s Dave Formula working his magic on a Hammond organ and Ben Coleman providing the solemn violin.

Given the quality of its supporting cast, the musicality of ‘Butterfly Mind’ cannot be faulted while Bowness remains as intense and grumpy as ever. Despite the forlorn melancholy expressed, as with all good popular music, there is some hopefulness too.


‘Butterfly Mind’ is released 5th August 2022 by InsideOutMusic / Sony Music as a limited 2CD and vinyl LP+CD editions via https://timbowness.lnk.to/ButterflyMind

The album launch gig takes place at The Everyman On The Corner in London’s King’s Cross on Monday 8th August 2022, tickets available now from https://burningshed.com/store/timbowness/tim-bowness_chilvers_everyman-on-the-corner-kings-cross_e-ticket

https://timbowness.co.uk/

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Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photo by Mark Wood
15th June 2022

KID MOXIE Better Than Electric

For Elena Charbila, the talent behind KID MOXIE, her new album ‘Better Than Electric’ is a statement of personal and emotional liberation while also “a blending of everything I love to listen to, every song is a cinematic scene, and the lyrics are there to ideally serve the picture”.

With two albums ‘Selector’ and ‘1888’, several EPs including ‘Perfect Shadow’ and ‘Love & Unity’ plus the soundtrack for ‘Not To Be Unpleasant, But We Need To Have A Serious Talk’ which included a stark cover of ALPHAVILLE’s ‘Big In Japan’, ‘Better Than Electric’ is her most honest work to date.

Developing on her brand of continental cinematic pop, ‘Better Than Electric’ is more inspired by Charbila’s adopted home of Los Angeles and its Downtown skyline, an imagining of night calls in a retro-futurist setting where unrequited and forbidden love finally get to be realised.

Compared with previous KID MOXIE’s works, there are darker and harder aesthetics at play and these are all epitomised by the opener ‘Shine’ in collaboration with German EBM producer FADERHEAD. Declaring that “I’m taking the lead in the back seat” in a fine homage to DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Never Let Me Down Again’, the mood is assertively provocative.

Issued as the first single from the album, the ‘Better Than Electric’ title song in collaboration with James Chapman of MAPS (who can be very audibly heard harmonising) is in retrospect, something of a red herring.

Reflecting on the distance that can keep lovers apart, it reimagines the Roy Orbison song ‘A Love So Beautiful’ and Puccini’s ‘Nessun Dorma’ for a trip to Twin Peaks.

With a driving gothic allure, ‘At The End Of The Night’ channels THE CURE with THE KILLERS’ cover of JOY DIVISION’s ‘Shadowplay’ while something of a sister song to ‘Shine’, ‘Unbroken’ thrusts and stutters delightfully. The filmic glory of ‘Thunderstruck’, a cover of the AC/DC rocker, mesmerises with virtual pizzicatos and even tinges of psychedelia but adopting an uptempo electro flavour with cutting strings and sombre voice samples, the instrumental ‘Miss Robot’ is ultimately hypnotic.

Industrialised to the core, ‘Lost In Time’ sees KID MOXIE in previously uncharted territory with what is more of a thumping and throbbing art piece than an actual song, while thematically acknowledging her Greek roots, ‘Odyssey’ is a tense but euphoric declaration of love and finding the one with a meaty synthy cascade full of aggro and the knowledge that she may never be let down again. Like THE SISTERS OF MERCY but without the scary baritone, the drum machine propelled ‘Black Flower’ plays with some guitar intervention as the anxiety of nightfall is accompanied by haunting pitch shifted voices.

Way down the lane away and living for another day, Charbila takes on the role of the world’s sexiest Uber driver as ‘On A Sunday Night’ takes the nocturnal synthwave route. As the droning engine throbs in time to a beating heart while roaming the neon-lit sidewalks of Hollywood, this is a shimmering ode to Tinseltown and yearning. She said “this is my version of ‘Together In Electric Dreams’, both in context and in feeling… I’m definitely channeling my most romantic 80s neon-self in this one … one of my favourite videos and concepts of the 80s is ‘The Chauffeur’ by DURAN DURAN and in this video, I found a way to recycle it in a more colourful, playful, Hollywood way…”

Something of an empowering record, ‘Better Than Electric’ is the best KID MOXIE album yet, one that realises Elena Charbila’s vision of combining her emotional and sonic sensibilities into one lush opulent sonic sandwich. The kid has now come of age…


‘Better Than Electric’ is released by Pasadena Records as a CD and download on 10th June 2022, available from https://kidmoxie.bandcamp.com/

http://www.facebook.com/kidmoxie

https://twitter.com/KIDMOXIEMUSIC

https://www.instagram.com/kid.moxie/

https://kidmoxie.musicmerch.eu/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Neil Kryszak
9th June 2022

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