Tag: Alina Valentina


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 https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4Mw0Fn10yNZQcrGzod98MM

Text by Chi Ming Lai
22nd December 2022

ALINA VALENTINA Life Is Like A Fairytale

Dutch producer Alina Valentina began her career in 2020 with ‘L’Ascenseur’, a split release with Dim Garden which contained four of her instrumental tracks.

Although song based, the first full length Alina Valentina album ‘Works & Days’ was more Cosey Fanni Tutti than comfy synth, with a darkwave air akin to reverberant French duo MINUIT MACHINE.

But after the heavy disposition of ‘Works & Days’ with it fatalistic disposition, the swift follow-up ‘Life Is Like A Fairytale’ allows some light in but the occasional lyrical misanthropy still looms.

Self-produced in her home studio with a MicroKorg and Moog Grandmother on stand-by, it is the machinery of yesteryear like the Korg MS20, Korg Poly 800 and Roland TR808 that take their place on ‘Life Is Like A Fairytale’, while literally tattooed on her right hand, the Roland Juno 60 appears prominently.

Like a strident Europop anthem, ‘Once Upon A Timeline’ acts as the opening statement of a more optimistic if bittersweet album compared to ‘Work & Days’ with synths and vocoder flourishes to accompany Alina’s authentic vocoder delivery as she loses track of time.

With a percussive lilt and fuzzy vintage keys, ‘Lost Fellowship’ could be LADYTRON circa ‘604’ with the confession that “we are drifting apart” while shaped by an octave round and bubbling arpeggios, the NEW ORDER inspired ‘Queen Of The Darkness’ presents a resigned ice maiden declaration to counter misconceptions.

Doing away with any brightness, ‘Mystery’ is more sombre and acts as a bridge from ‘Work & Days’, as does ‘Fairytale’ where Alina declares “I wish I knew the spell…” while ‘Forgotten Land’ sees the F-expletives that coloured her solo debut reappear!

But the semi-joyous approach returns on ‘Magic’, a superb Italo-flavoured number that playfully parties away and morphs into Jean-Michel Jarre towards its climax.

Now is there a ‘Happily Ever After’? This album closer provides some downbeat reflection on the good times and bad times with wonderfully raw synth interventions and minimal guitar to compliment the mood. Providing a more open entry point to Alina Valentina’s detached electro noir universe, ‘Life Is Like A Fairytale’ improves on its predecessor.

As the world opens up again, will she head towards a full Italo blow-out next time? Watch this space!

‘Life Is Like A Fairytale’ is available from https://alinavalentina.bandcamp.com/album/life-is-like-a-fairytale

Alina Valentina opens for HEAVEN 17 at Poppodium Boerderij in Zoetermeer on 30th March 2022




Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Janice Renee
25th February 2022


Although distributed by Bordello A Parigi, the same Amsterdam label that recently released the uptempo ITALOCONNECTION album ‘Midnight Confessions Vol1’, the heavy disposition of ‘Works & Days’ from Dutch producer Alina Valentina could not be more different.

A product of solitary confinement and recorded during the worldwide pandemic crisis, the eight misanthropic tracks on ‘Works & Days’ reflect their era with a sci-fi noir atmosphere as if trapped in a space station with only occasional communication to keep in touch with the happening of the outside world.

It is unsurprising therefore with its use of vintage synthesizers like the Korg MS20 and Korg Poly 800 as well as newer ones such as the Moog Grandmother that John Carpenter has been an influence. This was particularly evident when Alina Valentina opened her account in 2020 with ‘L’Ascenseur’, a split release with Dim Garden to which she contributed four instrumental tracks and of which, ‘Blood’ owed more than debt to The Horror Master.

‘Works & Days’ takes a step forward by adding vocals and more song based structures although it is still very darkwave in nature. The detuned rings of ‘That Thing Behind The wall’ enhance its horror film atmosphere complete with sharp metallic bashes, while the doom and gloom of ‘The Visitor’ captures the dread of waiting for that knock on the door.

The album’s highlight ‘True Romance’ is an unusual love song which accepts the inevitability of being six feet under because “we eat, we sh*t, we die but we will have each other”; it’s a vibrant electronic statement that doesn’t shy away from darker resonances despite the wish to live longer! But the suitably titled ‘Horrible Place To Die’ captures more of that fatalistic mood with an appropriate vocal tone to “choose your ending right”.

The ‘Works & Days’ title song is representative of the whole album’s minimal lo-fi aesthetic with detached vocals accompanied by sombre drones that ably encapsulate the last year or so’s discontent.

Meanwhile, the metronomic bleep and rumble of ‘Babel Fish’ references the bright yellow fish from ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’ that acted as a translator when placed in an ear and is inventively used as a surrealist metaphor to highlight communication breakdown.

With an icy Eurocentric demeanour, speedy arpeggios and a primitive rhythmic snap pattern, ‘What You Are’ could actually be something from the Italians Do It Better stable while despite some unsettling deep synthbass, ‘Sick Of You’ possesses shinier passages to lighten the cavern despite the frustrated notion of its title.

There is an appealing aloofness in ‘Works & Days’ that reflects a desire to escape. This is all despite a personal existential crisis within due to the uncontrollable forces of nature being tilted over the edge by consumerism and greed. As a result, Alina Valentina’s opus is not a cheerful affair and a bit grim in places but it’s all part of her charm. Ultimately it will appeal to those electronic music aficionados who prefer Cosey Fanni Tutti to comfy synth.

‘Works & Days’ is self-released in digital formats, vinyl LP available via Bordello A Parigi in September from https://bordelloaparigi.com/shop/vinyl/alina-valentina-works-and-days-lp/





Text by Chi Ming Lai
18th July 2021