Tag: Alice Hubble (Page 1 of 3)

A Short Conversation with ALICE HUBBLE

Synth earth mother Alice Hubble recently returned to follow-up her acclaimed 2019 album ‘Polarlichter’ with the similarly inspired ‘Hexentanzplatz’.

Previously best known for fronting cult favourites ARTHUR & MARTHA and COSINES, she has presented another mix of the forlorn avant pop and endearing instrumentals that characterised her debut, but with an expanded textural palette.

Released by Happy Robots Records, tracks from ‘Hexentanzplatz’ have already secured BBC radio airplay from the likes of Janice Long, Lauren Laverne, Cerys Matthews and Steve Lamacq. From auroras to mountains, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK spoke to Alice Hubble about the making of ‘Hexentanzplatz’ and retaining that mystic but accessible air within her work.

Judging by album titles, was ‘Hexentanzplatz’ very much a variation on the theme of ‘Polarlichter’?

I didn’t set out for the album to have a German title, it just sort of happened! I like the way the words feel in your mouth. The name of a mountain translates to mean “the Witches Dance Floor”, it was so perfect in its nature / disco / witchy connotations that I couldn’t help be drawn to it.

So it’s “a beautiful mountain” but did you actually get to visit Hexentanzplatz?

In Summer 2020, I was lucky to take a visit to Germany. As with everything in the pandemic, it was quite an ordeal getting there, our flights were cancelled three times, so when we got there I couldn’t quite believe it and it was quite a surreal visit. One day in our trip, we visited the Harz mountains to go to the Unicorn Cave, mainly because they filmed some of the TV series ‘Dark’ at the cave, but also I like a good cave (see ‘Ruby Falls’…) as much as I like a good mountain. This is where the back cover photo of the LP was taken.

On the drive to the cave, I learnt of Hexentanzplatz, the mountain is an old Saxon cult site known for its Walpurligsnacht celebrations. We were hoping to visit this summer but our visit is now planned for December. I’m so excited to visit the mountain, but I’m prepared for the reality to be a bit different to the mystical wonderland inclusive disco party I’ve imagined!

How was your overall approach to ‘Hexentanzplatz’ compared to ‘Polarlichter’?

A few tracks were started before, but the majority of the LP was written during the first lockdown. Though none of the tracks were explicitly about lockdown, I feel the anxiety of the time is so clearly captured in the music. With the first LP, I was working out what Alice Hubble is, whereas with ‘Hexentanzplatz’, my overall writing approach was more focussed and confident.

I went to the recording studio last October and I spent 10 days in Ramsgate working on additional recording and mixing with Mike Collins at Big Jelly Studios. It was really nice to have this concentrated time to focus on the record.

Did you have any new or different toys at your disposal? How was the recording process this time round?

I bought a Roland RS202 string machine which is quite prominent on some tracks. With this LP, everything happened a lot quicker and the record sounds more spontaneous as a result. With the first LP, I felt the need to be very much in control in every creative decision. With this record I felt a lot free-er and relaxed in working with a producer and open to external suggestions.

Your trusty Moog Prodigy still makes a fabulous noise…

Of course ??

You’ve continued to combine standalone instrumentals like ‘West Reservoir’ and ‘Gleichfalls’ alongside your songs, do you have any particular artists whose work is primarily instrumental that you have been inspired by?

Manuel Göttsching and Laurie Spiegel who have been big influences on my instrumental work. I’ve also been listening to Kitaro and early 80s library music records which my partner plays at home a lot.

The first single from ‘Hexentanzplatz’ was ‘Power Play’, how do you feel about recent events closer to home which have made the lyrical content even more poignant?

The lyrics to ‘Power Play’ were sparked from reading an article about the mass hex of Brock Turner, but also my comment on what happens in a post #metoo world, when the news stories have been had.

I’m not sure what particular recent events you’re referring to (there are sadly so many), but I think the whole system of sexual assault trials and convictions needs a reform, the “innocent until declared guilty” track doesn’t support victims in any way and one of the reasons why a lot of cases get dropped or don’t get to court in the first place.

‘Projections’ recalled NEW ORDER’s ‘Love Vigilantes’ with a quite rousing chorus?

This is probably the oldest song on the LP, it’s probably at least 5 years old, and was a song that I wrote to confront myself regarding past affections with woefully inappropriately located men. A lot of the time you write these songs and they’re actually too personal to put out there at the time. Having some distance from the song definitely helped me.

NEW ORDER was definitely a reference, though the ‘Republic’ era was what I was going for. ‘Love Vigilantes’ has definitely been a favourite through over the years though. The track also has a guitar solo on it, which feels quite adventurous for an Alice Hubble track!

You had an opportunity to reflect on your late parents with ‘My Dear Friend’ while the music was reminiscent of the earthier moods of LADYTRON when they made ‘Gravity The Seducer’?

I’m ashamed to say I don’t know that LADYTRON album, however ‘Witching Hour’ is definitely an LP I referenced a lot when making ‘Hexentanzplatz’. I do gravitate music that mixes the synthetic with the organic, ‘Seventh Tree’ is my favourite GOLDFRAPP LP.

Which tracks on ‘Hexentanzplatz’ are your own favourites?

Oh my it’s hard to say, I love ‘Make Believe’ cause it sounds so unsettled and heavy, and ‘Gleichfalls’, I know I made all the sounds on that record happen, but I’m still not sure how it happened!

You’ve expanded the line-up for your concerts, do you feel more confident with the challenges of live performance?

I’m glad I did play solo, but being the only person on stage is a lot for anyone to take on. I’d be trying to perform but also then would be worrying about all the tech stuff too, it was fun, but at times quite stressful, especially with a laptop which is on the brink of death!

Bringing in Tom Hilverkus to the live band was a natural choice, he’s already in the Hubble Bubble (he’s my partner), but also is a great musician and has a real calming influence on me and can look after some of the techy stuff. This gives me more mental space to focus on performing and also gives us more flexibility to make the live show more interesting sonically.

What’s next for you?

Looking to next year, there’ll be some UK and German dates and festival shows. There’s another EP at some point and I also need to find space to write some new tracks.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its sincerest thanks to Alice Hubble

‘Hexentanzplatz’ is released by Happy Robots Records in vinyl LP and digital formats, available direct from https://happyrobotsrecords.bandcamp.com/





Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Adrian Hextall
11th November 2021

RODNEY CROMWELL + MOOD TAEG Live at The Hope & Anchor

With Alice Hubble on DJ duties, the Hope & Anchor in Islington was the location for a Happy Robots Records family gathering that hosted the live return of label CEO Adam Cresswell in his Theatername of Rodney Cromwell and the debut gig of MOOD TAEG.

With his second Rodney Cromwell entitled ‘Memory Box’ now in the can and set to be unleased in Spring 2022, Cresswell and his band were keen to road test its contents in front of a receptive audience.

But for MOOD TAEG, it was a step into the unknown. The project comprising the enigmatic Düsseldorf pair of TDK and K’ko plus the absent Shanghai-based Lowell Freeman had never been conceived for live performance, but acclaim for the debut long player ‘Exophora’ and interest in its newly released follow-up ‘Anaphora’ has sparked demand.

However, nerves were undoubtedly kicking in, but after a few technical glitches were resolved, MOOD TAEG finally got the motorik on the move with ‘Deictics’ from ‘Exophora’ recalling the cosmic adventures of yore with a mind bending effect.

From ‘Anaphora’, ‘Happiness Fragment’ developed on its rhythmic groove with a pentatonic synthbass mantra although there were a few iffy moments on TDK’s borrowed guitar as it pierced the speakers on occasion. But for the HARMONIA inspired ‘Ohrwurm’, there was a move away from Apache beats with K’ko augmenting on violin.

Ending with an appropriate musical homage to Michael Rother, ‘2MR’ offered 10 minutes of Motorik Durch Technik as they say in Düsseldorf in the vein of NEU!

Understandably since last performing 2 years ago, Rodney Cromwell was a bit stage rusty with a few leads left unplugged, but tonight was about embracing the fear and exorcising the ‘Age Of Anxiety’. Cresswell took some joy in reminding the almost full venue that when JOY DIVISION played the Hope & Anchor in December 1978, only three people turned up!

Recalling ‘Tanzmusik’ from ‘KRAFTWERK’s ‘Ralf & Florian’ album, ‘Cloud Catalogue’ from ‘Memory Box’ opened the set. While this delightful instrumental was quite cheery, the new album looks at the social and political tribulations of the past few years. Intended as a soundtrack to a sadly post truth world, it is very different to the melancholic but upbeat synthpop sensibility of ‘Age Of Anxiety’.

In a month that has ironically seen some of those who have been moaning about fake news on mainstream media also celebrating the 40th Anniversary of DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Speak & Spell’ album on the incorrect date of 5th October, the ‘Memory Box’ title song’s release as a single has been timely.

The hazy but appealing metronomic number reflects in Cresswell’s own words on “how do we believe anything in a world where truth and honesty are of so little worth?”.

There was a comparatively lighter moment with the pulsating fan favourite ‘Black Dog’ given the harmonics treatment by guitarist Richard Salt, but the grim moods of ‘Fluctuations’ were made more haunting by the spacey keyboard swirls of Martin J Langthorne.

But Cresswell brought his Stylophone, along with his best Bernard Sumner impression for the premiere of ‘Opus Three’, Rodney Cromwell’s very own ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ if ever there was one, although the tribute perhaps isn’t quite as blatant as NATION OF LANGUAGE’s ‘On Division Street’! To finish the main part of the set, Rodney Cromwell and his band of not-so-merry men formed a melodica orchestra for the sombre wordless newbie ‘Calculations’.

Remaining on stage, Cresswell shouted “Do you want an encore?” to acknowledge the pretence of that accepted walk off practice. As he got into this spirit of showmanship with some Citizen Smith cosplay, appropriately it was ‘Barry Was An Arms Dealer’ that was the oldie that got dusted off while the more recent vocodered ‘Comrades’ concluded the evening. While at times, both acts appeared a bit shaky and lost with long pauses between songs like on NEW ORDER’s ‘Taras Shevchenko’ live video, everyone including the audience just appeared to be happy be out mingling again.

Music was what got many through the last 18 months and as times are still uncertain, music in its live variant will help to get everyone through the next year and a half.

The new Rodney Cromwell album ‘Memory Box’ is released by Happy Robots Records on 18th March 2022, the single of the same name is available now as a download from https://happyrobotsrecords.bandcamp.com/





MOOD TAEG’s ‘Anaphora’ is released by Happy Robots Records in vinyl LP and digital formats, available now direct from https://www.happyrobots.co.uk/product-page/mood-taeg-anaphora-12-coloured-lp-bot24





Text and Photos by Chi Ming Lai
30th October 2021


Photo by Chi Ming Lai

At Folklore in London’s trendy Hoxton district, promoter Baba Yaga’s Hut gathered two of the UK’s most talented synth ladies for an intimate evening of live performance.

While both exhibit an earthy plaintive approach vocally, technologically they sit at quite different sides of the spectrum.

For Alice Hubble, the analogue warmth of vintage keyboards has always been a key DNA constituent of her sound.

To launch her second solo long player ‘Hexentanzplatz’, she had her trusty Moog Prodigy as part of an expanded live set-up also featuring Tom Hilverkus on the small but mighty Yamaha Reface CS mini-keyboard and Nord Lead 3. But for Hattie Cooke who uses just GarageBand for her take on synth, it was a MacBook with backing tracks and lyrics that augmented her first live performance for over two years. Hailed as one of the best new talents in Britain, despite the release of her third album ‘Bliss Land’, she had never played live in the capital before.

Beginning with a sat down solo guitar take of ‘One Foot Out The Door’, a tinge of folk illustrated its roots but also how it was more or less structured before electronic textured for ‘Bliss Land’. Standing up after this sedate start, Hattie got upbeat and electronic with the glorious ‘I Get By’, a song that wouldn’t sound out of place in the Italians Do It Better catalogue. She amusingly added that her more recent electronic pop material was “less suicidal” than her previous work; “I’ve always been a hoot” she quipped, “but I wasn’t so happy back then…” – the forlorn strum of the semi-ironic ‘Happy Today’ from her self-titled debut record was a sign of how far she had moved on.

Photo by Adrian Hextall

Cooke promised jokes and her one about Dr Who having Dalek bread as a side order to pizza highlighted her charm. Although tinged with melancholy, songs such as drum machine dominated ‘Lovers Game’ and the much sparser ‘Summer Time’ use appealing arrangements that harmonise well with her voice.

Her focus on writing songs first has set her apart from the boys with their toys whose equipment is used as the excuse for the songs rather than the other way round.

The mechanised tension ‘Mistaken’ offered Hattie’s own quirky interpretation of a dancefloor filler before closing with the reflective ‘Youth’. Although Hattie Cooke has more aurally expansive in her productions, she might have benefitted from undertaking some live synth soloing during the instrumental sections as she looked slightly lost during these moments; in her delightful stage banter, she did admit to forgetting to pack the correct lead for it. There is room for improvement in the live presentation so as her audiences grow, she could do a lot worse than to follow the lead of the evening’s headliner.

Alice Hubble opened her longest live set to date with the watery wash of ‘West Reservoir’, while visually enhanced by shades of misty red and billowing smoke. The wonderful ‘My Dear Friend’ provided a touching ode to Alice’s late parents while the synthetic glam of ‘Kick The Habit’ was boosted by bursts of the Prodigy, the synth, not the band; this classic Moog also provided some further elegiac resonance to ‘Goddess’, a number that became a favourite of BBC 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq at the time of its release in 2019.

Photo by Adrian Hextall

Dreamy Mellotron tines and more Moog Prodigy bedded the rousing indie synthpop of ‘Projections’, the undoubted standout of the ‘Hexentanzplatz’ opus, while the strident title track and ‘Power Play’ pointed to the weightier developments in the Alice Hubble sound, both musically and lyrically.

The progressively constructed ‘Still’ from ‘Polarlichter’ came over as spacey as ever before the motorised soundscape of ‘Gliechfalls’ acted as an exhilarating cosmic jam to finish.

One notable absentee from the set was ‘We Are Still Alone’, the best song on ‘Polarlichter’ and its presence would have been more preferable to the lengthy instrumental ‘Atlantis Palm’ which although a beautiful album track, unnecessarily stalled momentum mid-show. But minor quibbles aside, it was an entertaining show that even prompted energetic dancing from a young hipster couple new to Alice Hubble and who enthusiastically visited the merch stand afterwards.

Electronic pop may not ever hit the mainstream heights of 1981 again although four decades on, its understated feminine variant is making its presence felt in the enchanting songs of Alice Hubble and Hattie Cooke.

Alice Hubble’s ‘Hexentanzplatz’ is released by Happy Robots Records in vinyl LP and digital formats, available from https://happyrobotsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/hexentanzplatz





Hattie Cooke’s ‘Bliss Land’ is released by Castles In Space in CD, red vinyl LP and digital formats, available from https://hattiecooke.bandcamp.com/album/bliss-land-2





Text by Chi Ming Lai
9th October 2021

ALICE HUBBLE Hexentanzplatz

Literally meaning “Witches’ Dance Floor” in German, ‘Hexentanzplatz’ is the evocative title of the second album from Alice Hubble, formally of ARTHUR & MARTHA and COSINES.

Channeling her inner Delia Derbyshire, Daphne Oram and Sally Oldfield, ‘Polarlichter’ was a fine avant pop debut that captured an earthy musical aurora. Named after a mountain located just over 70km south west of Magbeburg located in what was the former DDR, ‘Hexentanzplatz’ begins with a gorgeous filmic set piece entitled ‘West Reservoir’ that could be best described as a watery wash of aural morning dew.

But the album gets serious with ‘Power Play’, an statement on the #MeToo movement reflecting Alice Hubble’s embracement of collective digital activism and serves as an electro-organic protest song.

With a subtle similarity in theme but bursting with assorted electronic moods and rhythmic pulses, the ‘Hexentanzplatz’ title song recalls some of the more recent work of Sarah Nixey on ‘Night Walks’, while our heroine stares in awe at the named mountain and surroundings, although using the view as a metaphor about fighting the patriarchy.

One of the glistening highlights on ‘Hexentanzplatz’ comes with the rousing indie synthpop of ‘Projections’, successfully combining emotive Mellotron strings and a catchy countrified chorus like NEW ORDER’s ‘Love Vigilantes’ but without the ghostly war story, instead a love song for the confused.

The laid back ‘Summer Smoke’ provides another of Alice Hubble’s earthy yet otherworldly offerings, while ‘Make Believe’ plays within a magical cavern of its own that is all strange off-beats and wobbling synths.

Another highlight comes with the optimistically romantic ‘My Dear Friend’ where subtle drums and a whirring cacophony of varyingly tuned synths recalls LADYTON and ‘Mirage’ in particular.

Meanwhile, ‘Numb’ musically comes over like a carousel ride run by The Brothers Grimm before the closing instrumental ‘Gleichfalls’ motorises itself into an enjoyably frantic NEW ORDER stylisation.

A worthy follow-up to her similarly Pagan spirited ‘Polarlichter’, Alice Hubble has immersed herself in the mystic air of the old Saxon cult site that is ‘Hexentanzplatz’ and emerged with a melancholic but positive body of work celebrating nature, inclusivity and acceptance.

‘Hexentanzplatz’ is released by Happy Robots Records in vinyl LP and digital formats on 10th September 2021, available from https://happyrobotsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/hexentanzplatz

Alice Hubble 2021 live dates include: London Folklore (7th October), Nottingham Old Cold Store (8th October), Leeds Wharf Chambers (15th October), Brighton West Hill Hall (23rd October), Cardiff The Moon (31st October)





Text by Chi Ming Lai
4th September 2021


Following her acclaimed 2019 debut album ‘Polarlichter’ which was released on Happy Robots Records and gained the support of Lauren Laverne, Steve Lamacq and Gideon Coe from BBC 6Music, synth earth mother Alice Hubble will issue its follow up ‘Hexentanzplatz’ this Autumn.

Named after a Harz mountain located just over 70km south west of Magbeburg, Hexentanzplatz literally means “Witches’ Dance Floor” in German and accurately captures the mystic air of the old Saxon cult site where legend has it, ancient fertility rites were practiced and sacrifices took place.

However, the second single from the album ‘My Dear Friend’ is more optimistically romantic having been inspired by the discovery of a collection of love letters written by Alice Hubble’s mother to her father around the time that they first met. “My mother passed away when I was in my teens” she said, “these letters gave me a real insight into who she was as a person, her ‘newly in love’ giddiness jumping off the page”.

The hazy kaleidoscopic black and white video for ‘My Dear Friend’ directed by Alice Hubble herself captures an immersive hazy feeling while the song itself, with its combination of understated drums from Matt Kelly and a whirring cacophony of varyingly tuned synths, recalls the electro-organic pagan ritual of LADYTON’s ‘Mirage’ from the ‘Gravity The Seducer’ long player which is now 10 years old.

While the already premiered ‘Power Play’ with its important statement on the #MeToo movement reflects Alice Hubble’s embracement of collective digital activism and serves as her protest song, one of the glistening highlights on ‘Hexentanzplatz’ comes with the rousing indie synthpop of ‘Projections’.

‘My Dear Friend’ is available via Happy Robots Records on the usual online platforms including https://happyrobotsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/my-dear-friend

‘Hexentanzplatz’ will be available in vinyl LP and digital formats on 10th September 2021, pre-order from https://happyrobotsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/hexentanzplatz

Alice Hubble 2021 live dates include: London Folklore (7th October), Nottingham Old Cold Store (8th October), Leeds Wharf Chambers (15th October)





Text by Chi Ming Lai
8th July 2021

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