Category: Transmissions (Page 1 of 10)


Photo by David Bailey

The renowned Japanese musician, composer, actor and environmental activist Ryuichi Sakamoto has tragically passed away at the age of 71. He was battling stage 4 cancer.

Sakamoto was best known as a member of YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA and for soundtracks to a number of films including ‘Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence’, ‘The Last Emperor’, ‘The Sheltering Sky’, ‘Little Buddha’, ‘Femme Fatale’, ‘Babel’, ‘The Revenant’ and ‘The Fortress’. A frequent collaborator, Sakamoto worked with Madonna, Iggy Pop, Bootsy Collins, Adrian Belew, Robin Scott, Youssou N’Dour, Robert Wyatt, Brian Wilson, Robbie Robertson, Roddy Frame, Holly Johnson, Virginia Astley, Laurie Anderson, Alva Noto, Akiko Yano, Masami Tsuchiya and David Sylvian.

Sakamoto graduated from the Tokyo National University For The Fine Arts & Music in electronic and ethnic music. Prior to joining YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA with producer / bassist Haruomi Hosono and drummer Yukihiro Takahashi, Sakamoto had already recorded his first solo album ‘Thousand Knives Of’. YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA was intended as a one-off project at the behest of Alfa Records who all three were signed to.

As the idea of an instrumental disco band with international potential was formulated, it was Sakamoto who crucially introduced the music of KRAFTWERK to Hosono and Takahashi for the trio’s Bento box of influences. The technology used on the 1978 eponymous debut album included the Moog III-C, Korg PS-3100, Polymoog, ARP Odyssey, Oberheim Eight Voice, Minimoog, Korg VC-10 Vocoder and the Roland MC-8 Micro Composer programmed by Hideki Matsutake who had worked with Sakamoto on ‘Thousand Knives Of’.

Known in Japan as Technopop, the crisp exotic sound of YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA scored a UK Top 20 hit single in 1980 with ‘Computer Game (Theme From The Invader)’ although the main section of the track was actually ‘Firecracker’, a cover of a 1959 composition by Martin Denny. The single also gained traction in the US where the band made a memorable appearance on the prestigious music show ‘Soul Train’. The Sakamoto penned ‘Tong Poo’ was another highlight from the album and despite its pulsing electronic disco bassline, in a sign of his future creative endeavours, the melody was inspired by the music of China’s Cultural Revolution.

1979’s ‘Solid State Survivor’ was to reinforce YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA’s position as one of the most successful Japanese bands on the world stage and included on it was a composition that was to become one of Sakamoto’s most lucrative. ‘Behind the Mask’ was initially put together for a Seiko watch commercial but ended up on ‘Solid State Survivor’.

Featuring a catchy vocodered chorus written by Tokyo based British composer Chris Mosdell, Michael Jackson loved ‘Behind the Mask’ so much that he penned additional lyrics to it during the ‘Thriller’ sessions. Unable to be released at the time by Jackson himself, he gave the reworked track to his musical director Greg Phillinganes who had a surprise Top 5 hit in the US R’n’B charts in 1985. Eric Clapton hit the mainstream with his rockier version in 1987 while the remixed MJ demo eventually appeared on the posthumous album ‘Michael’ in 2011.

Recorded partly at London’s Air Studios, Sakamoto released his second album ‘B-2 Unit’ in 1980. From it, ‘Riot in Lagos’ was often been seen as a pivotal track that influenced house music with a frantic but danceable rhythmic tension; it was a fine example of the visual narrative of Sakamoto’s compositional mind. Not included on the album, his first solo single ‘War Head’ was a quirky electronic dance number featuring vocals by Chris Mosdell that gained British radio airplay.

While he was at Air Studios, having previously been assigned by a Japanese magazine to interview David Sylvian, he visited the JAPAN front man during the recording of the band’s fourth album ‘Gentlemen Take Polaroids’. The meeting led a glorious collaboration entitled ‘Taking Islands In Africa’ which ended up closing the long player and cementing what became a long standing friendship.

1981 was to be Sakamoto’s most prolific year with two YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA albums ‘BGM’ and ‘Technodelic’ while there was to be his third solo record ‘Hidari Ude no Yume’ recorded with Robin Scott and Adrian Belew, as well as production work on his then-wife Akiko Yano’s ‘Ai Ga Nakucha Ne’ long player featuring JAPAN members Mick Karn, Steve Jansen and David Sylvian.

Despite their technological innovations, neither ‘BGM’ nor ‘Technodelic’ were considered particularly accessible so for YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA’s fifth full length album ‘Naughty Boys’, the trio lightened up by delivering the most commercial album of their career. This was highlighted by the massively popular and joyous lead single ‘Kimi Ni Mune Kyun’. In the ironic promo video, Takahashi, Hosono and Sakamoto appeared as the oldest J-Pop boy band in town. The song achieved ubiquity as the closing theme to the Anime series ‘Maria Holic’ sung by the cast while a YMO vs THE HUMAN LEAGUE EP featuring a remixed ‘Kimi Ni Mune Kyun’ with new English lyrics and vocals by Phil Oakey was released by Alfa Records in 1993.

Following a joint single with David Sylvian entitled ‘Bamboo Music’ and a guest appearance with JAPAN at their final concert at Nagoya-shi Koukaidou in 1982 , Sakamoto made his acting debut in 1983 alongside David Bowie in ‘Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence’ as Captain Yonoi, the commander of a POW camp in Japanese-occupied Java.

Sakamoto also composed the soundtrack with the WWII drama’s haunting theme tune becoming particularly iconic. Featuring David Sylvian, the vocal version retitled ‘Forbidden Colours’ reflected the taboo love story of the Nagisa Oshima directed film and reached No16 in the UK singles chart. Another highlight of the soundtrack was ‘The Seed & The Sower’ which showcased Sakamoto’s use of organic textures alongside emotive electronic sounds in what was to be become his characteristic East meets West signature.

After the half songs / half comedy sketch album ‘Service’, YMO announced in 1984 that they were “spreading out” rather than splitting, continuing to play on each other’s solo recordings and making guest appearances at various live shows. Sakamoto’s next album ‘Illustrated Musical Encyclopaedia’ saw Sakamoto exploring a variety of styles and genres including jazz and soca although the album was altered for the international market with some new tracks including a catchy collaboration with Thomas Dolby entitled ‘Field Work’ which united both artists’ concerns for the environment.

But world of cinema came calling and in 1987, Sakamoto was commissioned by Bernardo Bertolucci to compose half of the music for ‘The Last Emperor’, a film in which he also had a minor acting role. With a larger budget, he was able to explore more of his classically trained instincts with an orchestra, as well have a young associate producer and Fairlight programmer by the name of Hans Zimmer to assist; the soundtrack which also featured music composed by David Byrne and Cong Su, won an Oscar for the Best Original Score while the film itself won 8 further Academy Awards.

Now in-demand in Hollywood, Sakamoto expanded his portfolio to include films such as ‘Black Rain’, ‘The Sheltering Sky’ and ‘Little Buddha’. Journeying into wider musical palettes, his ‘Heartbeat’ album reflected his soundtrack work and contained many eclectic world music influences. From it, the dreamy ‘Heartbeat (Tainai Kaiki II)’ saw David Sylvian return to give a raw passionate vocal performance which was counterpointed by a whispery spoken word passage from Ingrid Chavez.

Sakamoto’s burgeoning soundtrack success would lead to commissions for huge events such as the Opening Ceremony of the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona and following an album of his best known works rearranged for piano and string quartet called ‘1996’, he signed to Sony Classical. His first work for the label ‘Discord’ in 1997 was a four movement avant-garde composition exploring dissonant musical structures. There was also the solo piano ‘BTTB’ in 1999 but in 2002, Sakamoto began a series of experimental collaborations with German producer Alva Noto pairing his piano work with glitch programming, the first of which being the excellent ‘Vrioon’.

Sakamoto reunited with David Sylvian for the song ‘World Citizen’ in 2003 and would work with him again on what was the former JAPAN vocalist’s first recording for a number of years on ‘Life, Life’ for the 2017 album ‘async’, reciting a poem by Arseny Tarkovsky.

With regards reunions, a short YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA one took place in 1993 for the ‘Technodon’ album where the band had to be known as YMO, as the name was owned by Alfa Records. But there was no further activity until 2007 when Hosono, Sakamoto and Takahashi reunited for a light hearted Kirin Lager advertising campaign performing ‘Rydeen’ and played the 2007 Kyoto Live Earth event. In Summer 2008, the trio were part of the Meltdown Festival bill curated by MASSIVE ATTACK.

Sakamoto was a member of the anti-nuclear organization Stop Rokkasho and following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, organised the No Nukes 2012 concert which featured KRAFTWERK; the 2013 concert saw YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA covering ‘Radioactivity’ in a lounge jazz style.

In December 2022, Sakamoto streamed a pre-recorded concert that he announced “may be my last”. It was seen in over 30 countries and featured 13 of his compositions, edited together from separate performances made at the NHK Broadcasting Center in Tokyo. He released his final album ‘12’ in January, an elegiac ambient work that included the sound of Sakamoto’s own breathing.

With his bandmate Yukihiro Takahashi having passed away earlier in January, a void has not just been left in Japanese and electronic music but popular culture as a whole. The contribution of Ryuichi Sakamoto over the past 45 years cannot be underestimated.

Text by Chi Ming Lai
2nd April 2023


Photo by Kaoru Ijima

Yukihiro Takahashi, the drummer and lead vocalist of YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA has sadly passed away at the age of 70. 

In 2020, Takahashi had a brain tumour removed and undergone a course of treatment following surgery but he eventually succumbed to his illness.

Born in Tokyo, Takahashi first came to prominence as the drummer of THE SADISTIC MIKA BAND, a prog fusion outfit who were signed to PINK FLOYD’s Harvest label and appeared on ‘Old Grey Whistle Test’ in 1975.

He released his first solo album, the lounge-flavoured ‘Saravah!’ in 1978 which featured a cover of ‘Volare (Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu)’. But that same year, he was invited by producer Haruomi Hosono to form a primarily instrumental disco band with Ryuichi Sakamoto which could have the potential to succeed internationally; that band was YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA. While Hosono was schooled in jazz and funk, the classically trained Sakamoto bought in the influence of KRAFTWERK while Takahashi was something of an Anglophile with a love of ROXY MUSIC having toured with them as part of THE SADISTIC MIKA BAND. The end result was a very Japanese approach of merging many different styles like a Bento box in a reliable, forward thinking fashion.

Released in 1978, YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA’s wonderful self-titled debut album captured a crisp exotic electronic pop sound. Its key track was ‘Firecracker’, a cover of a 1959 composition by Martin Denny which became a surprise UK Top 20 hit single in 1980 while also gaining traction in America where the band made a memorable appearance on the prestigious music show ‘Soul Train’. The rest of the album featured original material including the Takahashi-composed ‘La Femme Chinose’.

Released in 1979, the excellent second album ‘Solid State Survivor’ featured Takahashi’s masterpiece ‘Rydeen’ and saw him feature more prominently as a vocalist as YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA moved away from solely instrumental compositions. While the next two albums ‘BGM’ and ‘Technodelic’ were darker and more experimental, Takahashi maintained a successful solo career in his homeland where his Ferry-ish vocal delivery naturally took centre stage.

His solo albums ‘Neuromantic’, ‘What, Me Worry?’, ‘Time & Place’ and ‘Wild & Moody’ featured notable British musicians such as Steve Jansen, Bill Nelson, Andy Mackay, Phil Manzanera, David Palmer and Tony Mansfield as well as Antiopdeans Zaine Griff and Iva Davies. Takahashi also got into production, notably working with the Franco-Japanese beauty Susan on the highly syncopated rhythmical number ‘I Only Come Out At Night’ which he also co-wrote.

YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA went on to be the one of the most popular bands in South East Asia; their fifth full-length album ‘Naughty Boys’ in 1983 delivered their most commercial release to date, exemplified by the joyous lead single ‘Kimi Ni Mune Kyun’; the song was later the closing theme to the Anime series ‘Maria Holic’ sung by the cast while it was also reworked with new English lyrics and vocals by Phil Oakey for a YMO versus THE HUMAN LEAGUE EP. Takahashi was later to work on the soundtrack of another Anime series ‘Nadia: Secret of the Blue Water’.

With each member continuing their already established parallel solo careers, YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA went into hiatus in 1984. Teaming up with kindred spirit Steve Jansen who shared a similar sense of humour, the pair released a superb one-off joint single ‘Stay Close’ in 1986. With Jansen doing a very able impression of his older brother David Sylvian and Takahashi providing his usual mannered vocals, it remains a true lost classic as possibly the best song that JAPAN and YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA never recorded.

A short YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA reunion took place in 1993 for the ‘Technodon’ album although the band had to be known as YMO  for legal reasons as their original record label Alfa Records owned the name. With Takahashi always one for an easy listening cover, it finished with a Japanese language interpretation of ‘Pocketful Of Rainbows’ made famous by Elvis Presley. While he continued with his prolific solo career and other business interests including fashion and publishing, there was no further group activity until 2007 when Hosono, Sakamoto and Takahashi reunited for a Kirin Lager advertising campaign.

Takahashi continued working with Hosono in SKETCH SHOW but when Sakamoto was invited to join, for recording purposes they combined names and became HASYMO. But in 2009, the trio finally performed again as YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA at the World Happiness festival in Japan. His final solo record of original material ‘Life Anew’ came in 2013 and featured James Iha of SMASHING PUMPKINS as a collaborator.

Last Autumn, two boxed sets ‘T.E.N.T Years Vinyl Box’ and ‘It’s Gonna Work Out ~ Live 82-84 ~’ were released while there was a special tribute show featuring Akiko Yano and Steve Jansen to celebrate his 50 years in music held at Tokyo’s NHK Hall, although the guest of honour was too ill to attend.

With his impeccably tight timing and a frenetic but controlled style of drumming with notable tone variation, Yukihiro Takahashi influenced the likes of David Palmer and Steve Jansen who in turn influenced top session players such as Gavin Harrison. A pioneer of electronic percussion and one of the first to use the Roland TR808 Rhythm Composer while also able to play guitar and keyboards, he challenged the perceived role of a drummer in pop music. And without YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA, there would be no Citypop…

Text by Chi Ming Lai
14th January 2023


Photo by Tapio Normall

It was hoped to be a year of positive electricity but with the oddball burst of negative waves, 2022 was summed up by the title of its best album.

The product of Finnish duo SIN COS TAN, ‘Living In Fear’ captured the anxieties of living with The Bear Next Door in a post-pandemic world. With billionaires taking over social media with the intent of allowing the extreme right wing an increased voice, it was as if the lessons of Trump and Bolsonaro had not been learned.

‘The Wolves Are Returning’ warned xPROPAGANDA on a track from their excellent album ‘The Heart Is Strange’, the message coming from two Germans whose grandparents’ generation “did nothing” and had made the mistake of opening up the door to the Nazis was extremely poignant.

It was as if The Cold War had never ended; the poetry of one who has escaped ethnic genocide and been separated from next of kin as a refugee has substance. So for Alanas Chosnau on his second album with Mark Reeder, this was ‘Life Everywhere’ and provided a deeper statement on life during wartime. Meanwhile China’s STOLEN presented their ‘Eroded Creation’ and explained ‘Why We Follow’.

Battles both worldwide and personal were being reflected in music everywhere with ‘War’ by I SPEAK MACHINE being another example. Things did not get much cheerier with Rodney Cromwell whose long-awaited second long player ‘Memory Box’ provided commentary on a sadly post-truth world, the so-called “alternative facts” as Donald Trump’s extremely dim advisor Kellyanne Conway liked to put it.

The decade so far has not been a barrel of laughs and the likes of UNIFY SEPARATE, BOY HARSHER, O+HER, NNHMN, VANDAL MOON and ADULT. captured the zeitgeist of the past 3 years.

Meanwhile, MECHA MAIKO maintained it was still ‘NOT OK’, I AM SNOW ANGEL felt it was now a ‘Lost World’ and Swedish duo SALLY SHAPIRO made their comeback by reflecting on ‘Sad Cities’.

As sardonic as ever, DUBSTAR presented their second collection of kitchen sink dramas since they reconfigured as a duo with ‘Two’ and reunited with producer Stephen Hague for their most acclaimed record since their 1995 debut ‘Disgraceful’.

On a more optimistic note, Italians Do It Better brought their cinematic world to London with headline shows by DESIRE and MOTHERMARY who each had new long form releases to air, while shyness was nice for the most promising breakthrough act of the year Gemma Cullingford who got all ‘Tongue Tied’ on her second long player. Meanwhile DAWN TO DAWN, ULTRAFLEX and H/P offered electronically escapist solutions to the year,

But KID MOXIE was happy to ‘Shine’ with the best video of 2022 while CZARINA got mystical with ‘Arcana’, Karin Park looked back at her ‘Private Collection’ and Patricia Wolf explored ambience on ‘See-Through’. Other female talent that shone brightly in 2022 included Norway’s SEA CHANGE, Sweden’s Hanna Rua, Alina Valentina from The Netherlands, Mexican Valentina Moretti and Anglo-French avant songstress Julia-Sophie but sister / brother duos MINIMAL SCHLAGER and SPRAY proved siblings could continue to work well together in synth.

40 years after the release of their debut album ‘Happy Families’, BLANCMANGE returned home to London Records for a ‘Private View’ while mainman Neil Arthur was keeping himself busy with FADER too. Having being shelved for 30 years, the second ELECTRIBE 101 album ‘Electribal Soul’ finally saw the light of day. And some 39 years after it was first conceived, the lost Warren Cann and Hans Zimmer opus ‘Spies’ was released in a new 21st Century recording by the HELDEN Project’s lead vocalist Zaine Griff.

Although PET SHOP BOYS celebrated their career with the magnificent ‘Dreamworld’ tour for the best live event of 2022 and joined SOFT CELL in the ‘Purple Zone’, Marc Almond and David Ball presented the disclaimer ‘*Happiness Not Included’ before announcing that they would be performing at a run of outdoor events in 2023 despite having stated their 2018 O2 extravaganza would be their last.

Also having declared a final album in 2014, RÖYKSOPP returned with the triple volumed ‘Profound Mysteries’ that featured Susanne Sundfør and Alison Goldfrapp.

Veterans Howard Jones, William Orbit, Jean-Michel Jarre and Wolfgang Flür as well as long-standing Nordic combos LUSTANS LAKEJER and A-HA released new albums but while the quality across the releases was mixed, fans were loyal and happy. After various trials and tribulations, TEARS FOR FEARS returned with ‘The Tipping Point’ and erased memories of the lacklustre 2004 comeback ‘Everybody Loves A Happy Ending’, but the duo were unable to capitalise when the majority of the UK concert tour of stately homes was cancelled due to an unfortunate accident that befell Curt Smith.

Creating a dehumanised technologically dependent Sci-Fi world, DIE KRUPPS opted for more machine than metal under their EBM pseudonym DIE ROBO SAPIENS. With NASA making its first steps back to the moon with the Artemis project, fittingly Italian producer EUGENE spent ‘Seven Years In Space’ and Ireland’s CIRCUIT3 looked back at space travel’s past on ‘Technology For The Youth’. Back on earth, THE WEEKND was still being accused of stealing from synthwave while coming up with the song of the year in ‘Less Than Zero’. In the meantime, having infuriated audiences by saying “f*ck that ‘synthwave’ stuff as u name it” in 2018, KAVINSKY was ‘Reborn’ with a second album that had much less of the wave and expanded into broader electronically generated templates with the occasional funkier overtones.

Celebrating ‘40 Years Of Hits’ on a sell-out arena tour and issuing a new album ‘Direction Of The Heart’ which featured a guest appearance by Russell Mael of SPARKS on the single ‘Traffic’ with the obligatory ‘Acoustic Mix’, as the excellent book ‘Themes For Great Cities’ by Graeme Thomson highlighted, the best years of SIMPLE MINDS are now well behind them. They are a poor facsimile of the great band they once were and as a special Summer concert in Edinburgh in honour of ‘New Gold Dream’ proved, Jim Kerr and Co can’t even play their best album properly.

Music-related books continued to be popular with Martyn Ware and Karl Bartos respectively writing their memoirs ‘Electronically Yours Vol1’ and ‘The Sound Of The Machine’. In a wider historical context, that crucial 1978-1983 period where electronic pop was more or less invented got documented in the encyclopaedic ‘Listening To The Music The Machines Make’ by Richard Evans.

2022 saw several prominent figures depart for the jukebox in the sky; Vangelis, Manuel Göttsching, Angelo Badalamenti, Julee Cruise, Dave Smith, Herb Deutsch, Terry Hall, Robert Marlow and Andy Fletcher will be sadly missed but ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK was particularly devasted by the passing of German electronic legend Klaus Schulze only 4 days after he gave a rare interview to the site.

Meanwhile Dave Gahan and Martin Gore announced yet another tour of underwhelming arena shows plonked into stadiums for an as-yet-unfinished album that at least had a title ‘Momento Mori’. Ticketscalper took advantage with so-called dynamic pricing (or legalised touting) as hapless Devotees were fleeced thousands of dollars in North America… all this just to see a continually ungrateful frontman (who didn’t even sing is own words on a DEPECHE MODE song until 2005) gesture with a microphone in the air on a catwalk rather than actually singing on it and to possibly hear a pre-1985 song performed that will inevitably ruined by The Drumhead and The Noodler!

As Juls Garat of Massachusetts goth band PILGRIMS OF YEARNING observed via social media: “If you’re spending a kidney on DEPECHE MODE tickets and not attending a local show this weekend, I don’t wanna see you complaining that there’s no scene, local venues or new music anymore”. With the lack of curiosity amongst audiences who were content with nostalgia and the like, it was a difficult year for independent acts.

There is no easy answer and as the old saying goes, you can take a horse to water but you can’t force it to drink. But one promoter that did hit on an innovative idea was Duskwaves who came up with afternoon synth gigs. Hosted at various locations in the South East of England with the aim of drumming up daytime weekend business at venues, events started at 2.00pm and ended by 6.00pm to allow for an easy journey home or possibly dinner afterwards. Artists such as YOUNG EMPRESS, INFRA VIOLET, STRIKE EAGLE and AUW joined in the family friendly fun and while the concept was unusual, with classic synth audiences not getting any younger, it has potential.

While the worldwide situation remains uncomfortable and unsettling, for The Cold War generation, it all seemed strangely familiar. As Jori Hulkkonen of SIN COS TAN said in an interview with ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK recently: “It feels kind of comfortable to be back in that same state of mind that you grew up in!! It’s like you grew up in not a nice place, but you get 20-30 years out of it and then you get drawn back into The Cold War state of mind. It’s where I come from and there’s nothing good about it, but somehow feels very familiar so you can handle it in a different way”.

The Cold War inspired songs such as ‘Enola Gay’, ‘Fireside Favourite’, ‘All Stood Still’, ‘Let’s All Make A Bomb’, ‘I Melt With You’, ‘Dancing With Tears In My Eyes’ and ‘Five Minutes To Midnight’ which encapsulated the nuclear paranoia of the times. So if the current tensions go on any longer, how will artistic expression be affected and driven?

But as Synthesizer Patel actor Sanjeev Kohli wittily remarked of the UK’s 41 day Prime Minister aka Mad Lizzie following her successful leadership bid: “Liz Truss has now been trusted with the nuclear button. I honestly wouldn’t trust her with the bossanova button on a broken Yamaha keyboard”.

In a year which saw the bizarre scenario of a black vicar worshipping Enoch Powell on the repulsive gammon TV channel GB News and the truth about Tory PPE scandals becoming clearer, Richy Sunak, Ugly Patel, Cruella Braverman and Krazi Kwarteng continued to be the ultimate race traitors in their Westminster tribute band A FLOCK OF SIEG HEILS. Failing to look in the mirror, their role as collaborators was all as part of a wider self-serving mission to help keep the whites Reich and line the pockets of their already loaded banker mates instead of paying nurses a fair wage. Nurses are for life and not just for Covid. So what did happen to that £350 million promised for the NHS by that pompous lying posh boy Boris Johnson if Brexit happened? As Tim Burgess of THE CHARLATANS summed it all up rather succinctly on Twitter: “Worth remembering that the real enemy travels by private jet, not by dinghy” ✊😉

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 2022 playlist ‘Stay Negative To Be Positive’ playlist can be listened to at

Text by Chi Ming Lai
22nd December 2022


During lockdown, electronic music displayed its emotional empathy with isolation and solitary working.

But as during The Cold War in its breakthrough years, it read the room again with the onset of worldwide and domestic conflicts, both armed and political. There were times in 2022 that were as if The Cold War had never ended and in amongst the turmoil, artists reflected their anxieties on top of those already existing.

Jori Hulkkonen of SIN COS TAN said: “Overall, this decade has been a real downer with the pandemic and now the war, so if we are trying to look for silver linings here, I think it will be interesting for the creative community to get something out of it, the frustration, the fears and all that.”

As further pandemic songs were released as well, what emerged were songs of varying moods and while there was fresh optimising in the air, there were calls to arms and resignation looming too. Overall, 2022 saw many great individual tracks issued and mention must be made of NNHMN, NATION OF LANGUAGE, O+HER, DIE ROBO SAPIENS, DESIRE and MOTHERMARY who were among those shortlisted for this year’s listing.

As ever on ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK, rules help control the fun… so restricted to tracks available on the usual online retail platforms with a limit of one song per artist moniker, here are the 30 SONGS OF 2022 in alphabetical order by artist…

ANNIEE featuring VON HERTZOG Danger Electricity

Bubbling with a dynamic thrust, the angelic voice of Anniee evoked the excitement of a night clubbing while Von Hertzog provided the hypnotic backing and beautiful soundscape. “I was jogging in London and came across the words in the sidewalk ‘danger electricity’” she said, “I had always wanted to create a dance track – something that reflected my love for EDM”.

Available on the single ‘Danger Electricity’ via Anniee and Von Hertzog


For Alanas Chosnau and Mark Reeder, the ongoing world tensions were a symbol of ‘Life Everywhere’. Like a Harry Palmer film given an electro soundtrack and hidden behind the facade of love songs, they poignantly made a statement on life during wartime. With a speedy conga mantra and a dominant digital clap, ‘All You Need Is Love’ entered funky electronic disco territory.

Available on the album ‘Life Everywhere’ via MFS


Despite questioning selective memories on his second album ‘Memory Box’, with ‘The Winter Palace’, Rodney Cromwell was wanting to forget a former beau because “I dream of you regardless, whether I am asleep or awake”. With hints of classic NEW ORDER and OMD, the wonderfully icy number embraced motorik mechanisation and a glorious synth solo for a hopeful uplift.

Available on the album ‘Memory Box’ via Happy Robots Records

BOY HARSHER Machina featuring Ms. BOAN

BOY HARSHER made a short horror movie ‘The Runner’ and a soundtrack to go with it. Although comprising of their usual dark and danceable electronic pop, it featured several special guests. Sung in Spanish and English, ‘Machina’ featuring Ms. BOAN aka Mariana Saldaña was aimed at the dancefloor, recalling the Latino electronic disco of Bobby Orlando, particularly PET SHOP BOYS ‘A Man Could Get Arrested’.

Available on the album ‘The Runner’ via Nude Club / City Slang

CIRCUIT3 Valentina Fly

For his third CIRCUIT3 album, Peter Fitzpatrick presented a retro-futuristic narrative on the world before the space shuttle. Valentina Tereshkova whose 1963 adventure in Vostok 6 made her the first woman in space was celebrated with ‘Valentina Fly’, the wonderful piece evoking OMD. “She’s not a celebrated as Yuri Gagarin” said the Dubliner, but “in some respects, what she achieved was much greater.”

Available on the album ‘Technology For The Youth’ via


If Yoko Ono’s ‘Walking On Thin Ice’ had been reconfigured as a Balearic friendly electronic disco number, then it would have come out like ‘Tongue Tied’, the title track of the second album by Gemma Cullingford. With a nonchalant but sensual vocal style reminiscent of Sarah Nixey, ‘Tongue Tied’ exuded a positive if nervous energy in a purer metronomic adoption of electronics. Shyness is nice…

Available on the album ‘Tongue Tied’ via Elmo Recordings


Canadian danceable dreampop trio DAWN TO DAWN celebrated the joy of music in times of adversity with ‘Stereo’. Driven by a Roland TR909, the song touched on the acceptance of confinement where “I wait for no one to ask ‘when do we go?’”. In its romantic reflection of good times, a breezy infectious allure was captured with a promise of better things to come.

Available on the album ‘Postcards From The Sun To The Moon’ via SSURROUNDSS


Since Sarah Blackwood and Chris Wilkie reconfigured DUBSTAR as a duo, there was always the impression that the comeback album ‘One’ was a warm-up. Opening album ‘Two’  was ‘Token’; co-produced by Stephen Hague, it pointed to his work with PET SHOP BOYS and ERASURE. Its narrative about leaving behind abusive relationships and minor gestures was a topic that many could relate to.

Available on the album ‘Two’ via Northern Writes

EMMON The Battle

Since releasing her first sassy pop album ‘The Art & The Evil’ in 2007, Emma Nylen has got progressively darker and harder while still retaining an enigmatic presence. While most of her ‘Recon’ album headed in an EBM direction, synthpop was the sound on the ‘Black Celebration’ inflected mission that was ‘The Battle’, a timely commentary on world and deomestic events.

Available on the album ‘Recon’ via Icons Creating Real Art

FADER Serpentine

As with previous FADER works, Benge worked alone on the instrumentation in Cornwall while Neil Arthur did his lyrics and vocals. Their third album together ‘Quartz’ was inspired by incidental atmospheric music used in vintage TV shows. Minimalistic structures provided a reflective and elegiac backdrop. The icy waltz ‘Serpentine’ opened the album with its sparse keys like Gary Numan meeting Brian Eno.

Available on the album ‘Quartz’ via Blanc Check Records


A reinterpretation of THE CARS’ mournful classic’, this chilling version of ‘Drive’ by THE GOLDEN FILTER simply captured the zeitgeist in amongst the turmoil of world events… the work of Penelope Trappes and Stephen Hindman, the duo defied people not to well up on hearing the words “Who’s gonna tell you when it’s too late? Who’s gonna tell you things aren’t so great?”.

Available on the single ‘Drive’ via The Golden Filter

H/P Vicinities

H/P were formally known as HAPPINESS PROJECT, issuing their first album in 2008. For their H/P debut ‘Programma’, the trio not only shortened their moniker but also adopted a minimal synth approach. Acknowledging the debt of influence to cult French act MARTIN DUPONT, ‘Vicinities’ appled a complex spiral of delicate blips, while was enclosed is an emotional centre that recalled OMD.

Available on the album ‘Programma’ via BOREDOMproduct


Adopting the dishevelled persona of a satanic Libertas, ‘War’ by I SPEAK MACHINE was another album that captured the zeitgeist. With hints of Gary Numan, the screeching title song set the scene. “It definitely has ‘Metal’ in there as an influence” she said, “It came about from me messing with my Casio SK1 and then running that through a Moogerfooger ClusterFlux to make it all bendy and provide actual notes from the feedback.”

Available on the album ‘War’ via

KAREN HUNTER Don’t Call My Name

Karen Hunter was a Gary Numan live band member between 1984-85 and recorded a wonderful cover of the ballad ‘Don’t Call My Name’ in support of The Ced Sharpley Drumming Bursary. The original was on the 1988 album ‘Metal Rhythm’ and given a serene feminine twist. Produced by music veteran Steve Hunter, Numan associates Chris Payne and Andy Coughlan also contributed.

Available as a digital single ‘Don’t Call My Name’ via Living Ornaments


Vincent Belorgey aka Kavinsky made his name with ‘Night Call’. But it was featured in the cult movie ‘Drive’, the Frenchman found it was an albatross around his neck. He upset people when he said “f*ck that ‘synthwave’ stuff as u name it”.  Now ‘Reborn’, channelling his inner Moroder circa ‘Midnight Express’, ‘Outsider’ was a magnificent instrumental laced with orchestrated drama and tension.

Available on the album ‘Reborn’ via Record Makers / Protovision


Taking both musical and lyrical inspiration from DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Never Let Me Down Again’, there were darker and harder aesthetics at play on ‘Shine’ with KID MOXIE assertively declaring “I’m taking the lead in the back seat”. “We definitely channelled some DM vibes” she remembered, “it was even a running joke while we were in studio recording it with FADERHEAD”.

Available on the album ‘Better Than Electric’ via Pasadena Records

KITE Panic Music

“Sweden’s best kept pop-secret” returned with ‘Panic Music’ and exuded a fierce anxiety with front man Nicklas Stenemo presenting his characteristic screaming delivery. Over an epic neo-gothic backdrop now associated with KITE, Christian Berg continued his fascination for electronic drones and swoops while there was also the surprise of a guitar solo. The stress and strain of the past two years was captured in song.

Available on the digital single ‘Panic Music’ via Astronaut Recordings


From Vancouver in British Columbia, ACTORS keyboardist Shannon Hemmett continued with her more synth focussed solo project LEATHERS. Not completely divorced from the main band family, frontman Jason Corbett acts as producer and collaborator, just as Daniel Hunt did with Helen Marnie on her solo work during the LADYTRON hiatus. ‘Runaway’ was gorgeous dreamy synthpop to elope to.

Available on the digital single ‘Runaway’ via Artoffact Records

MECHA MAIKO Sunny, Softly (I Feel Love)

Hayley Stewart returned as MECHA MAIKO with ‘NOT OK’ to highlight the social-political flashpoints that emerged during the pandemic. But focussing on warmer moments and feeling the force of some mighty electro, ‘Sunny, Softly (I Feel Love)’ threw in the iconic throb from the Giorgio Moroder produced Donna Summer hit for a glorious beat driven statement enhanced by an angelic delivery.

Available on the album ‘NOT OK’ via New Retro Wave


Sister and brother duo MINIMAL SCHLAGER began in 2020 as a consequence of the pandemic. Based between London and Berlin, Alicia Macanás and Francisco Parisi began to develop a brand of synth heavy dreampop. While bubbling with glistening synths, ‘Submission’ was a more of a new wave number with subtle guitar and a rhythmic bounce that set it apart from the other songs on their first album.

Available on the album ‘Love, Sex & Dreams’ via Duchess Box Records

R.MISSING New Present City

Fronted by enigmatic Sharon Shy, having released some fabulously ethereal singles in the past 18 months, New York-based darklings R. MISSING presented the sinister beauty of ‘New Present City’. In their embracement of the fragility of life with gently propelled soundscapes swathed in icy melancholia, this slice of electronic pop noir fittingly filled a gap left by the now disbanded CHROMATICS.

Available on the digital single ‘New Present City’ via Terminal Echo


‘The Inevitable End’ in 2014 was said to be the final RÖYKSOPP album but after various singles and soundtracks, they returned with the ‘Profound Mysteries’ trilogy. Featuring Alison Goldfrapp, the delicious ‘Impossible’ was a mighty avant disco excursion with a seductive high soprano middle eight drifting into an intergalactic twist.

Available on the album ‘Profound Mysteries’ via Dog Triumph

HANNA RUA Light In Your Dark

Swedish songstress Hanna Rua has a dreamy electronic pop sensibility with the emphasis on the pop, but her debut EP ‘Light Up Your Dark’ also demonstrated her scope and capability using darker aesthetics. With a wonderfully gritty austere, the title song played with gothier influences while remaining melodic, coming over like a Nordic NINA in her more recent work in a battle against the demons.

Available on the EP ‘Light Up Your Dark’ via Aztec Records


Although they announced a retirement of sorts in 2016, Swedish duo SALLY SHAPIRO joined the Italian Do It Better family in 2021 to make an unexpected return. ‘Fading Away’ was an epic dance tune where an atmospheric template was merged with a relentless disco synthwave hybrid, utilising a glorious plethora of trancey electronics and thumping rhythms across its seven minutes.

Available on the album ‘Sad Cities’ via Italians Do It Better


With the bear next door, the title of SIN COS TAN’s fourth album ‘Living In Fear’ resonated with anyone resident in Finland or anywhere in the civilised world; “Do you fear the dark, love, war, or yourself? Whatever the answer, you can be certain: Fear is a powerful thing.” The windswept electro-motorik of ‘Endless’ used the melodic synthy highs of OMD to counter the melancholic expression.

Available on the album ‘Living In Fear’ via Solina Records

SOFT CELL Nighthawks

The tense industrialised pulse of ‘Nighthawks’ recalled the sweaty alternative club overtures of one-time Some Bizzare stable mates CABARET VOLTAIRE. Featuring a deranged expletive laden rap from drag performance artist Christeene, SOFT CELL fans were even treated to the deep growly voice of Mr Ball himself alongside Marc Almond while ‘Staying Alive’ backing vocals provided another counterpoint.

Available on the album ‘*Happiness Not Included’ via BMG


Documenting a period of personal struggle, the new UNIFY SEPARATE album attempted ‘Closure’ which set the scene with a building atmospheric trance tune that simply mesmerised, especially when front man Andrew Montgomery hit his trademark falsetto. Instrumentalist Leo Josefsson cited influences such as MODERAT, NITZER EBB, UNDERWORLD and FRONT 242.

Available on the album ‘Music Since Tomorrow’ via How Music Group


With shades of Alison Goldfrapp, Hannah Peel and the often forgotten Stella Grundy, the positively feline and angelic ‘Cold Breeze’ was the London-based Aussie Bella Unwin’s best song yet. The additional production and mix by Finlay Shakespeare boosted the punchy and immediate machine funk that was laced with wispy and alluringly coy vocals.

Available on the single ‘Cold Breeze’ via GOTO Records

THE WEEKND Less Than Zero

THE WEEKND again reminded the mainstream of the emotive beauty that can come from classic synthpop with ‘Less Than Zero’. ‘Less Than Zero’ itself sounded not unlike Michael Jackson produced by Tony Mansfield. The cross of catchy hooks, glorious counter-melodies and acoustic strums were reminiscent of Mansfield’s own combo NEW MUSIK who went produced most of A-HA’s debut album.

Available on the album ‘Dawn FM’ via by XO / Republic Records

xPROPAGANDA The Wolves Are Returning

Porduced by Stephen J Lipson, a stark warning on rise again of the far right was highlighted on ‘The Wolves Are Returning’. The message coming from two Germans whose grandparents’ generation had made the mistake of opening up the door to the Nazis and “did nothing” was poignant. Claudia Brücken and Susanne Freytag provided a worthy follow-up to ‘A Secret Wish’ as xPROPAGANDA.

Available on the album ‘The Heart is Strange’ via ZTT Records

A selection of ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s favourite music of 2022 is featured in its ‘Stay Negative To Be Positive’ playlist

Text by Chi Ming Lai
12th December 2022


The pioneering German musician Manuel Göttsching sadly passed away peacefully on 4th December 2022 aged 70.

During a career spanning over five decades, he released over 30 albums in a variety of guises, working with the likes of Conny Plank, Harald Grosskopf, Lutz Ulbrich and the late Klaus Schulze who died earlier this year. His website simply said in tribute: “When your fingers touched the strings of a guitar, the world stood still. May it stands still and bring you back to us whenever we hear you play. The void he leaves behind we want to fill with his music and loving memories.”

Having studied classical guitar from an early age but with ambitions to be a drummer, Göttsching began his recorded career with Klaus Schulze in ASH RA TEMPEL; their self-titled album in 1971 was engineered by Conny Plank and seeded from sessions of free-form improvising. Comprising of just one track per side of vinyl, the building eerie atmospheres of ‘Traummaschine’ and the noisier rock of ‘Amboss’, the record was hailed as a Kosmiche landmark.

After Schulze departed, Göttsching continued ASH RA TEMPEL with other musicians and collaborated with psychedelic advocate and acid guru Timothy Leary on ‘Seven Up’ in 1972. But it was obvious that the Berlin-based multi-instrumentalist felt restricted by the band format, as evidenced by a solo record ‘Inventions For Electric Guitar’ which was billed as the sixth ASH RA TEMPEL album.

Signing to Virgin Records in 1977 who also had other German acts like FAUST and TANGERINE DEAM on their roster, he shortened the moniker to ASHRA and released what many consider to be his first masterpiece ‘New Age Of Earth’. Exploring more progressive instrumental territory, Göttsching used an Eko Rhythm Computer, ARP Odyssey and his signature keyboard, a Farfisa Synthorchestra to compliment his meditative transient six string style that was for texture as much as it was for melody. The wonderful 20 minute ‘Nightdust’ and the gently percussive ‘Sunrain’ were just two of the jewels on this beautiful treasure trove of a record while ‘Ocean Of Tenderness’ captured a glorious widescreen ambience.

While Göttsching continued solo on 1978’s worthy follow-up ‘Blackouts’, he expanded the line-up of ASHRA to include drumming synthesist Harald Grosskopf and guitarist Lutz Ulbrich on the next two Virgin albums ‘Correlations’ and the more rock and vocal-led ‘Belle Alliance’. In a 2020 interview with ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK, Harald Grosskopf remembered: “We never talked about commercial intentions. Our main interest was having fun and producing something original. I liked the freedom of not thinking about whom we could reach or sell to what we had made. The combination of the three of us simply made it what it was. Everybody had ideas and had the chance to put them into the album. Manuel played a very melodic guitar. In those days, maybe Carlos Santana was a bit of an influence on him.”

Göttsching’s next masterpiece came almost by accident; having reunited with Klaus Schulze for a concert tour and returned home, he decided to improvise an extended piece based around an understated Prophet 10 sequence as something to listen to on his recently purchased Walkman for an upcoming flight. Influenced by minimalist trailblazers Steve Reich and Philip Glass, the end result was the hour long ‘E2-E4’ which was eventually released in 1984.

Using a gentle but hypnotic backbone and an extended guitar solo in the second half, despite press criticisms on its initial release that it was inconsequential muzak, ‘E2-E4’ became an influence in the development of Balearic house and ambient techno, so much so that it was sampled for the club track ‘Sueño Latino’ in 1989 which was a favourite at New York’s Paradise Garage. Manuel Göttsching also composed music for fashion designers such as Claudia Skoda and Wolfgang Joop as well as theatre productions like ‘Dracula’ while continuing to perform live; an ASHRA band reunion in Japan with Harald Grosskopf and Lutz Ulbrich resulted in the release of two live documents in 1998.

Previously unreleased archive recordings such as the wonderful ‘Dream & Desire’ collection and the six volume series ‘The Private Tapes’ would also attract interest. 2000 saw Manuel Göttsching and Klaus Schulze return as ASH RA TEMPEL to play the Royal Festival Hall in London for Julian Cope’s Cornucopea Festival and release an album ‘Friendship’. A few years later, there were live performances of ‘E2-E4’ including one at the esteemed Berlin techno club Berghain in 2006 to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of its recording. In 2013, Göttsching returned to London to perform at Oval Space with deep house producer Henrik Schwarz.

Manuel Göttsching appeared live as recently as September 2022 performing with Hans-Joachim Roedelius of CLUSTER at the Zodiak festival in Berlin.

Text by Chi Ming Lai
12th December 2022

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