After decades of composing lengthy synth symphonies, there must have been times when Jean-Michel Jarre must have just wanted to do a four minute pop tune. The France maestro managed this in a quirky collaboration with Cyndi Lauper on ‘Swipe To The Right’ in 2016.

But before that there was Peter Baumann producing a whole long player for Leda in 1978 while a few years later in 1984, another former TANGERINE DREAM member and fellow Berlin School legend Klaus Schulze did a co-production for the only album by Jyl, released on his label Inteam GmbH.

With Donna Summer teaming up with Giorgio Moroder on ‘I Feel Love’ in 1977, a new trend was set to accompany female vocalists with artful electronics. While Peter Baumann’s production ‘Welcome To Joyland’ for Leda saw him conflicted about the more commercial ethos of the concept, Gina Kikoine and Zeus B Held had a colder vision and achieved acclaim for their first album ‘Nice Mover’ as GINA X PERFORMANCE.

The vehicle of American avant-songstress Jyl Porch who wrote the majority of the lyrics to nine of the self-titled album’s songs, the music was composed and arranged by Ingo Werner who had been a member of cult German band MY SOLID GROUND before fronting his own project BABA YAGA; his wife Angela, a Neue Deutsche Welle artist in her own right, provided lyrics to two songs and backing vocals.

Born in California, Jyl Porch went to Europe to work as a dancer and model, before ending up in Germany. Here she was introduced to Ingo Werner who was looking for a performance artist to collaborate with on some electronic compositions he was developing. Recorded over a period of about 5 years, Jyl saw lyrics as pictures which suited the predominantly electronic backdrop, creating a character for each song.

The opener ‘Mechanic Ballerina’’ featured glassy PPG textures and a scary gothic male choir while a nonchalant spoken lead vocal came in the verses; there was drama and even a salvo of rock guitar from Leo Leonhardt of JOST BAND. A sexy love song in outer space, ‘Universe’ took on an ominous funereal pace with deep and kooky Lene Lovich stylings in the chorus that captured a Fantasia presence.

Chugging along with something of a disco military march and not a KRAFTWERK cover, ‘Computer Love’ saw Jyl playing the part of an operatic robot programmed to please and with Gallic expression from Helene Vernant, it was one of the album’s highlights. The playful ‘Position’ was shaped by pretty pulses and appealing sweeps for a wonderfully saucy spoken and sung number on carnal preferences, although its actual lyrical gist was of fighting patriarchy and breaking with traditions

Hopping over to 6/8 with figures reminiscent of Giorgio Moroder’s ‘Ivory Tower’ including Euro-rock interventions from noted studio engineer Frank Wolf’s guitar, the Anglo-French ‘Dance & Death’ naturally provided sinister yet seductive contrasts.

Back onto technological themes and digital chimes, ‘Computer Generation’ was pacier and percussive with delightful varispeeded voices; predicting today’s world with ”we are the computer generation – time time time – new technology – hit hit hit -high activity -s um sum sum – computer memory – trigger trigger trigger- machine authority”, it was ahead of its time.

With a pulsing synthbass as its backbone, ‘Animation’ was shrouded in a Trans-Atlantic rock flavour despite being all electronic with musical pointers to WHITE DOOR who issued their debut ‘Windows’ album the year before. Meanwhile with the spectre of Gina Kikoine looming, the spacey influence of the New York electro scene was clearly behind ‘Silicon Valley’ although the mighty synth solo would have appealed to old school Berliners; Jyl proclaimed “A brand new world future age in the heart of the valley” but countered about its “future rage”.

Continuing the New York influence with synthetic claps and Christoph Haberer’s timbale rolls thrown into the bargain, the female empowering ‘Electric Lady’ saw our heroine declaring “I’ll ride your rocket”; quite art school in its approach with an unusual beat, however it appeared that things were running out of steam as it did not hit the heights of the rest of the album. Closing the album and more new wave than electronic, guitars were the dominant feature on ‘I’m A Machine’ along with drowning vocals; undoubtedly the outlier on the record, it was result of a jam at the end of the recording sessions.

Despite its Klaus Schulze credentials, ‘Jyl’ did not capture the public imagination when released but over the years, the recorded has become something of a lost classic with its prophetic themes adding to its legend. ‘Jyl’ was remastered and reissued in 2020 by Veronica Vasicka’s Minimal Wave Records and now being enjoyed by electronic music enthusiasts who were not aware of it previously. Ahead of its time, it can now been seen as yesterday’s tomorrow coming true.

Klaus Schulze would undertake further adventures in pop, working with ALPHAVILLE on a 1988 remix of ‘Big In Japan’ before producing their 1989 album ‘The Breathtaking Blue’. Meanwhile the classically schooled Ingo Werner would venture into classical electronic, new-age and soundtrack music.

Jyl Porch would co-write and provide vocal contributions on the Angela Werner tracks ‘Fantasy’ and ‘Gotta Little Love’ also from 1984. While she would not make another record of her own, she did make an eventual impact amongst the electronic cognoscenti with her enchanting collection of futuristic songs.

‘Jyl’ is available via Minimal Wave Records as a vinyl LP with 12 page booklet insert from or

Text by Chi Ming Lai with thanks to Jeff DeCuir
24 April 2024