Category: Reviews (Page 1 of 191)


Emerging from the ashes of X-RAY SPEX who disbanded in 1979, Jak Airport (guitar) and BP Hurding (drums + sax) founded CLASSIX NOUVEAUX with Mik Sweeney (bass + synth) and Sal Solo (vocals, guitar + synth)

The Hertfordshire-based Sal Solo, who had attended St Michael’s Catholic School in Stevenage, possessed a striking persona that echoed Nosferatu while his voice had an impressive range that could be ominously deep while also hitting a piercing falsetto at its top end.

Sharing bills with acts like THE CURE, FAD GADGET, THEATRE OF HATE, OUR DAUGHTER’S WEDDING and SHOCK gave CLASSIX NOUVEAUX their post-punk futurist credentials. But with the burgeoning New Romantic movement, the band found themselves associated with the likes of SPANDAU BALLET and DURAN DURAN; although more guitar-driven, electronics were part of their modernist dressing and Sal Solo would often brandish an EDP Wasp on stage while BP Hurding would later use Simmons drums.

By the time CLASSIX NOUVEAUX were signed to the EMI-affiliated Liberty Records to release their first album ‘Night People’ in 1981, Jak Airport had left to be replaced Gary Steadman. From it was their breakthrough single ‘Guilty’ which had a video directed by Russell Mulcahy; featuring colourful extras from The Blitz Club who were even more flamboyant than Sal Solo, the video was rotated on MTV in America. As a result, singer Kim Carnes became a fan and when she released her New Romantic friendly cover of Jackie De Shannon’s cult country tune ‘Bette Davis Eyes’, its video was heavily based on ‘Guilty’, using the same set and director.

CLASSIX NOUVEAUX finally got the hit they deserved when ‘Is It A Dream?’ reached No11 in the UK singles charts in 1982. From their second album ‘La Verité’ and more optimistic than their earlier work, its brassy Stevie Wonder-inspired synth riff and Mik Sweeney’s funky fretless bass kept things upbeat and immediate while Gary Steadman’s Roland guitar synths and a vocoder triggered from an organ rhythm unit also featured prominently.

The success led to Liberty Records increasing the budget for the third CLASSIX NOUVEAUX album ‘Secret’ to enable Alex Sadkin, who had worked with THOMPSON TWINS and DURAN DURAN, to produce. However, record company politics intervened and the band were dropped. Although the album was released in 1983 without much fanfare, ‘Secret’ captured a more exotic sound palette with the sumptuous ballad ‘Never Never Comes’ becoming a cult favourite in Eastern Europe.

With all the uncertainty and upheaval, Sal Solo re-embraced his Roman Catholic faith and following a pilgrimage to San Damiano in Italy where the Miracle of St Francis of Assisi took place, released ‘San Damiano (Heart and Soul)’ in 1984; it eventually hit the high of No15 in the UK and No1 in Poland. CLASSIX NOUVEAUX were no more, until now…

Thanks to the wonders of the world wide web and remote recording, the classic CLASSIX NOUVEAUX line-up of Sal Solo, BP Hurding, Mik Sweeney and Gary Steadman reunited in 2021. Initially testing the water with a new version of ‘Inside Outside’ from ‘Night People’, the quartet have recorded 7 new songs for ‘Battle Cry’, their first brand new studio album in 40 years.

Sal Solo said: “The reason this project came about after 40 years is really because of the fans. About 10 years ago, some of the Classix fans were making Facebook pages but it didn’t really come to our attention until a couple of years back. We realised these people are really dedicated and decided to give them a kind of birthday present. I said to the guys ‘Why don’t we do a recording together and surprise the fans?’ Everybody said yes… and so we did a quick remake of one of our old songs ‘Inside Outside’ and to our surprise everyone’s immediately talking about new material!”

Appropriately, that first fruit of labour ‘Fix Your Eyes Up’ opens the album and it is appealing as a mature but classic CLASSIX NOUVEAUX song. ‘Battle Cry’ though is 6/8 prog pop that could be IT BITES with evangelical messages that reflect Sal Solo’s continuing role in the church. With Gregorian overtones, the soft ‘Wretched’ continues the theme and explores spiritual concerns in the face of sin.

‘Final Symphony’ takes its lead from LED ZEPPELIN and latter day Gary Numan in a goth rocker laced with haunting synthetic tones. But despite lyrically referencing the hit song titles of their synth-led contemporaries, ‘No Do Overs’ is a surprise ballad that begins acoustic; a reflection of the days time erased, overtones of ‘A Whiter Shade Of Pale’ or JS Bach’s ‘Air On A G string’ are thrown in, depending on your way of thinking.

Lyrically inspired by the end of The Book of Revelations, ‘Revelation Song’ is a mid-paced synth-metal number with fantasia imagery and folk brass drama added to the pot while a rework of ‘Never Never Comes’ offers lento funk. Solo is known have wished that he recorded ‘Is It A Dream?’ at a much slower tempo and this has no doubt had a bearing on the 21st Century version of ‘Inside Outside’ which kickstarted the reunion. Turned into something more atmospheric with VST chorals, its ironically sounds more like the original ‘Never Never Comes’.

The lengthy album closer ‘Colour Me The Sky’ continues the steadfast mood of the two reworked Classix favourites but in true prog style, it takes an about turn into explosive heavy metal and traditional six string sections, complete with assistance from virtual choirs and orchestration.

CLASSIX NOUVEAUX fans the world over will be very happy that they have been gifted a new record by a band who undoubtedly should have had at least the same success and cultural recognition as the Grammy Award winning A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS. Vocally, the theatrics are dialled down and musically, this is largely not the Classix of the past. As Sal Solo says in the ‘Battle Cry’ CD booklet notes: “If the music can speak to the fans as they are today, then we’ll be happy. It can still be a soundtrack for their lives, but not their lives in adolescence, it’s their lives as mature adults.”

Those who may have perhaps passed over their canon back in the day or are new to CLASSIX NOUVEAUX can listen back online to some excellent music thanks to the wider profile that will be accorded thanks to the release of ‘Battle Cry’. The internet is the reason why this album exists and why the music of CLASSIX NOUVEAUX will still be talked about today.

‘Battle Cry’ is released by Cherry Red Records as a clear vinyl LP and CD, information at

Digital download available from

Text by Chi Ming Lai
16 November 2023


4 years since his ‘Dissolution’ mini-album and 5 years since the last album proper ‘Out Of Touch’, Jaakko Eino Kalevi releases a brand new double opus ‘Chaos Magic’.

“I was not planning to make a double album but somehow that is what it grew up to be” said the Finnish psych-pop voyager to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK, “I was just working on my song ideas and in the end didn´t want to drop anything out. I tried but it didn´t make sense to me.”

Inspired by his new home of Athens and the Greek word “kháos”, Jaakko Eino Kalevi has sought to find beauty in the chaotic nature of the everyday on ‘Chaos Magic’. Although written and recorded primarily in Greece, it was founded in collaboration at other locations including Germany, Estonia and Switzerland. The end result is a wide range of music covering sunny art pop, synthy new wave, cosmic jazz, electronic disco, space rock and darker baroque song experiments.

Starting it all off is the ‘Chaos Magic’ title track, a flauty jazzy instrumental with vibey reminiscences of AIR. Cut from a similar cloth, ‘Drifting Away’ does as the title suggests in a suitably sunny and breezy seaside jaunt about relaxing with wine and sax from fellow Finn Jimi Tenor.

The smooth but energetic synthpop of ‘Dino’s Deo’ recalls the Belgian electronic trio TELEX with great bubbling sequencer patterns while much more sombre in tone, ‘Hell & Heaven’ drops in phrases en Français from Franco-American anti-rock sibling duo FAUX REAL; “It was musically so dramatic so I had to go dramatically biblical in the lyrics” said Kalevi of this union. Swathed in haunting legacy of past relationships, Kalevi comes over spooked as a hypnotic bass Klangfarben and some classic European synth melodies dominate the marvellous ‘Night Walk’.

The classy mutant disco of ‘Palace In My Head’ displays a quite different demeanour from the bright start of the album with a darker claustrophobic atmosphere shaped by a demonic electronic bassline. However, French actress and singer Alma Jodorowsky who starred in the electronic music film ‘Le Choc Du Futur’ adds exquisite response vocals in the chorus recalling the central song from the film ‘Future Shock’ to offset proceedings perfectly.

An amusing comedown tune, the NEW ORDER flavoured ‘I Forget’ touches all the spectrums in its delivery with catchy synth riffs, an uplifting keyboard solo and wispy female vocals from Sigurlaug Gísladóttir who has released albums in her own right as Mr Silla. Meanwhile, ‘The Chamber Of Love’ pays homage superbly to ‘Everything She Wants’ by WHAM! in its arrangement. Less immediate but no less accomplished, ‘Cyborg’ takes the template into artier territory but still remains pop.

‘L’Horizon’ offers a full electronic funk workout with a prominent slap bass riff and Alma Jodorowsky adding more of her enticing Gallic allure. But even better is the brilliant Far Eastern flavoured ‘Galactic Romance’ sung by Yu-Ching Huang in Taiwanese Mandarin to provide an intriguing and hypnotic highlight as a romantic Moroder-esque space song.

‘Trouble Man’ stomps with more Far Eastern resonances with the rhythmic palette recalling the obscure CHINA CRISIS B-side ‘Cucumber Garden’ and in an outlier to the album’s other tracks, even features a rousing guitar solo.

Closing with the 13 minute synth and sax rock epic ‘Let’s See How Things Go’, Jimi Tenor returns along with another Finn Mikko Viljakainen aka Vilunki 3000; edited from an even longer version, with oddball girly choir chants to boot, the length creates suspension although it may be too much for casual listeners.

Cool yet catchy, this is a wondrous album and while it is a little bit long, ‘Chaos Magic’ contains some of the best music released in 2023. Eclectic and escapist, Jaakko Eino Kalevi might have even released the album of the year.

‘Chaos Magic’ is released by Weird World / Domino Recording Co on 17 November 2023 as a CD, double LP + download

Jaakko Eino Kalevi 2023 live dates include:

Berlin Arkaoda (16 November), Köln Eigelstein Torburg (17 November), Amsterdam Cinetol (18 November), Brussels Rotonde (20 November)*, Paris Point Ephémére (21 November)*, London Two Palms (22 November)*, Stockholm Stadsgårdsterminalen (13 December), Oslo Parkteatret (14 December), Copenhagen Ideal Bar (15 December), Helsinki Korjaamo (16 December)

*Special guests MINIMAL SCHLAGER

Text by Chi Ming Lai
14 November 2023

CURSES Presents: Next Wave Acid Punx DEUX

Berlin-based musician and DJ Luca Venezia, better known as CURSES, presents ‘Next Wave Acid Punx DEUX’, his second curated compilation exploring the darker side of club music though the decades. The first volume had been a lockdown inspired exploration of his own record collection.

Released by Eskimo Recordings and featuring 49 tracks, the music is split into three distinct chapters with more than half being previously unreleased; “Many of these songs come from friends close of mine, or artists I perform with and tour with a lot, whose music and craft I admire and champion.” Luca Venezia told ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about the set, “We are all making a very niche style of music, and everyone is approaching it in their own unique way, it is only natural we migrate to be friends and share the stage together… like a primal instinct.”

Conceived with his ideal night out in mind, compiling such an compilation was not without its headaches; “Fortunately with the help of Eskimo and N.E.W.S., the licensing team are an absolute powerhouse” recalled Venezia, “It wasn’t easy, especially the older material, like Malcolm McLaren’s ‘Madame Butterfly’… and yes, there was SO much music I wanted but couldn’t get the rights to. Not because the artists said no, but because it was impossible to find WHO owned the rights now. Members in bands split up, some pass away, some vanish… it’s a puzzle at times to license the 80s underground electronic gems”.

Chapter 1 contains the pioneering acts of the past that were occasionally signed to major labels and even flirted with the mainstream pop charts. The set opens with ‘Distant Dreams Pt 2’, a wonderful suitably obscure 1980 B-side from THROBBING GRISTLE, while another lesser known gem comes from BIG AUDIO DYNAMITE with ‘The Big V’, the instrumental variant of the 1986 single ‘V. Thirteen’.

The first name likely to be recalled when dark club music comes to mind, especially to Taylor Swift fans, are CABARET VOLTAIRE and they fit like a glove on this compendium with ‘Blue Heat’ from ‘Micro-Phonies’, as do Dutch band CLAN OF XYMOX with ‘Obsession’, an excellent example of classic electro-goth disco.

Of course, NITZER EBB are present and correct with ‘Hearts & Minds’ while DAF stand firm with their declaration as ‘Brothers’ in their appealing but less heralded English language disco phase.

Collecting superb tracks from various acclaimed cult acts, ‘The Murder Of Love’ by PROPAGANDA and the I Dream Of Jeanne Mix of ‘Modigliani (Lost In Your Eyes)’ by BOOK OF LOVE demonstrate how the developing digital technology enabled powerful sampled sounds effectively at the flick of a switch. However, best of all are former SOFT CELL backing singers VICIOUS PINK who really should have had a huge worldwide hit with the brilliant Tony Mansfield produced ‘Cccan’t You See’

Chapter 2 moves the night on starting with ‘Voloczny’, an unreleased song from back in day by BOYTRONIC towards the present with modern day electronic producers such as Jennifer Touch and Kris Baha. In a new 2023 version, THE KVB come over like THE JESUS & MARY CHAIN with synths on ‘Still Warm’ while YEARS OF DENIAL capture plenty of stark menace on ‘It Sucks.

Canadian wife-and-husband duo ESSAIE PAS provide enigmatic prose en Français over a cascade of pulsing synths on ‘Retox’ while Berlin-based trio DINA SUMMER update the gothic disco template on ‘Darkness’. Affirming the international cast of ‘Next Wave Acid Punx DEUX’, Spain’s DAME AREA go on a heavier industrial club excursion via ‘Buon Cittadino’ but on the opposite side of the coin and Atlantic, DESIRE offer enigmatic coyness on ‘Love Races On’ outside of their Italians Do It Better stable.

Chapter 3 is the part of the night you probably should go home but don’t… a wilder, harder and more aggressive energy is here if you so desire. There is naturally a Dark Remix of ‘Machina’ from BOY HARSHER with guest vocals by Mariana Saldaña. But utilising tense triplets and brassy melodramatic stabs, CURSES revamps J.W.B. HITS THE BEAT’s ‘Body On Body’. CURSES returns to remix NUOVO TESTAMENTO’s ‘Heartbeat’ and there is an enjoyable instrumental in ‘Non Fiction’ by SILENT SERVANT.

Two of the best tracks come via Australia; ‘Burning Eyes’ is a Hi-NRG romp with wispy voice ad-libs courtesy of NEU-ROMANCER and ZANIAS’ ‘Tryptamine Palace’ is a tremendous textural dance track. ANDI VS RANDOLPH & MORTIMER make their presence felt with big beats on ‘Formidable Truths’ while Michel Amato aka THE HACKER does not disappoint with the previously unreleased ‘Monopoly’. To end, Greek synth duo PARADOX OBSCUR make a beefy contribution in ‘Evo-Devo’ that recalls French art pop duo LES RITA MISOUKO.

On the spiritual and musical thread that helped make this cohesive collection, Luca Venezia surmised: “Every artist involved has their own personal and unique take on the timeless love affair between human and machine. All the music on ‘DEUX’ also embraces the punk and DIY raw energy of live music into electronic music; artists LIKE YEARS OF DENIAL, BOY HARSHER, NUOVO TESTAMENTO, NITZER EBB, BOYTRONIC and DINA SUMMER are all good examples of how the music is very personal, verse chorus verse song-based concert music, yet can also be DJ’d in a club at 4am in a dusty thriving warehouse rave.”

Music from the past and present can sit comfortably together in the same place and ‘Next Wave Acid Punx DEUX’ proves it.

With thanks to Luca Venezia and Mirren Thomson at Eclectica

‘Next Wave Acid Punx DEUX’ is released by Eskimo Recordings, available now as three separate chaptered double vinyl albums, a three chapter vinyl combo pack, a triple CD box set and high quality download direct from

Text by Chi Ming Lai
7 November 2023

KNIGHT$ $auna Mu$ik EP

After a successful tour opening for DRAB MAJESTY and numerous live dates in Europe as part of BOYTRONIC as well as solo, Britalo king James Knights is back on home soil with a new EP ‘$auna Mu$ik’.

Containing his first new music since ‘Boom Bang Boom!’ in 2021, the lead track of the ‘$auna Mu$ik’ EP is the vibrant hook-laden Eurobeat romp of ‘What Planet Did You Come From? (Baby)’, a tune that was premiered during his live shows in 2023.

Throwing in the kitchen sink with synth, sax and vocoder, it has shades of Patrick Cowley’s work for Sylvester and Bobby Orlando’s Divine productions. Mexican producers Ant-People who remixed ‘Boom Bang Boom!’ is back again to provide a more metronomic disco take while Franz Scala provides a body rhythmic instrumental reconstruction.

KNIGHT$ has previously displayed his love of BRONSKI BEAT via his own trouser tightening number ‘Hijack My Heart’ so it is no surprise that he has faithfully covered ‘Hit That Perfect Beat’ for the vinyl edition of ‘$auna Mu$ik’.

But an extra treat comes in the tongue-in-cheek new wave political observation ‘Hi-NRG Crisis’. With shades of THE FRESHIES but with electronic backing, it documents a Brexit Britain ruled by a revolving door of rich narcissists who nothing of real life or the plight of their citizens. ‘Hi-NRG Crisis’ will make the perfect soundtrack to the next video montage made to highlight the vile self-serving nature of this Tory government…

While dealing with the themes of infatuation, ‘$auna Mu$ik’ is also not afraid to highlight more existential issues closer to home now that ice cream season is over…

The ‘$auna Mu$ik’ EP is released by Specchio Uomo available as a limited edition white 5 track 12″ vinyl EP and download from

Text by Chi Ming Lai
3 November 2023

OMD Bauhaus Staircase

‘Bauhaus Staircase’ is the fourth album of original material from OMD since the original nucleus of Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys reunited in 2007. It is also being mooted as possibly their final album.

Driven by “the creative power of total bloody boredom”, like many albums out at the moment, ‘Bauhaus Staircase’ was a consequence of the worldwide pandemic and lockdown. Pieced together remotely, Andy McCluskey worked from his home studio in Wirral while Paul Humphreys was in France also juggling becoming a father again. A thematic concept is the key to any good OMD LP and for ‘Bauhaus Staircase’, it is the fight against the rise of extreme right wing politics and the self-destructive age of Brexit.

However, when the first three tracks from ‘Bauhaus Staircase’ emerged, things did not look promising; the title track sounded mighty but was not much of a song with the topline seemingly inspired by ‘So You Wanna Be A Boxer’ from the film ‘Bugsy Malone’. Then kissing the strict machine, ‘Slow Train’ opted for a puzzling GOLDFRAPP pastiche that went on for far too long. However ‘Veruschka’, inspired by the German supermodel whose father Count Henrich von Lehndorff-Steinort attempted to assassinate Hitler, was a melancholic ballad that recalled PET SHOP BOYS indicating that all was not lost.

But appearing in the first half of ‘Bauhaus Staircase’, ‘Anthropocene’ and ‘Look At You Now’ are much more in keeping in what one would expect quality wise from OMD, the former being what KRAFTWERK would sound like if they did spacey trance while the latter is bursting with hooks and perhaps only missing a Paul Humphreys lead vocal. Released as a single in 2019 for the ‘Souvenir’ compilation and given a very subtle remix, ‘Don’t Go’ is a magnificent stand out with beautiful melodies telling the listener terrible things in that classic OMD vein.

‘GEM’ offers a Germanic rhythmic lollop while ‘Kleptocracy’ goes for the Motorik jugular with live bass guitar in an attack on destructive capitalism and fascist narcissists like Trump, Johnson, Farage and Bolsonaro, the message being that the citizens are innocent, other than voting for these obviously despicable characters in the first place… meanwhile there appears to be a recurring shouting sample from DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Boys Say Go!’

Photo by Ed Miles

As well as new compositions from the past few years, ‘Bauhaus Staircase’ has also given OMD an opportunity to finish off various works in the vaults and one of those is ‘Aphrodite’s Favourite Child’; from a 2011 demo provided by Greek duo FOTONOVELA who had been behind ‘Helen Of Troy’ on ‘English Electric’, McCluskey plays again with ancient Hellenic imagery for a song about personal relationships while Humphreys provides a great whirring solo. On the closing run, ‘Evolution Of Species’ is computer voice generated piece that wouldn’t have gone amiss on a Jean-Michel Jarre album and questions whether humankind has actually intellectually progressed.

‘Bauhaus Staircase’ is on a par with its predecessor ‘The Punishment Of Luxury’ but does not hit the consistent highs of ‘English Electric’, OMD’s best long player since the reunion and up there with the classic first four albums. With this album, OMD will play London’s O2 Arena for the very first time in March 2024 and it will be a prestigious moment for a band who have contributed some of the best music of Synth Britannia, yet have been largely overlooked in music history when compared to their contemporaries DEPECHE MODE, SOFT CELL and THE HUMAN LEAGUE.

‘Bauhaus Staircase’ is released by 100% Records in the multiple formats

OMD play London O2 Arena on Sunday 24 March 2024 with special guest Howard Jones, for other worldwide tour dates, visit

Text by Chi Ming Lai
28 October 2023

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