Tag: Aspra

ASPRA Presents: Play For Tomorrow Vol1

Best known as one half of the Greek synthpop duo MARSHEAUX, Sophia Sarigiannidou launched her solo project ASPRA in 2022

Her first single was ‘Velvet’, an electronic rework of the 4AD cult shoegaze duo THE BIG PINK while on the flip was another cover in ‘Anoint’, a song originally by John Peel favourites THE FIELD MICE. While these choices were unexpected, it did point to Sarigiannidou’s own leftfield tastes. There was also two fabulous collaborations with veteran electronic composer Lena Platonos, prosed unexpectedly en Français.

“I started going to the neighborhood record store and asking them to write me tapes. I bought the ‘Machines’ compilation LP. The disc starts with ‘Messages’ by OMD. What a shock that was… within 3 minutes so many different tunes alternated, one better than the other.” she said, “Through this record, I discovered Fad Gadget, Gary Numan and John Foxx! That afternoon the living room of the house in Thessaloniki was transformed into a window into a future era! It was written everywhere that ‘the synthesizer is the sound of the future’. Mine certainly was!”

Compiling a collection of rare and less obvious post-punk and synth tracks in the spirit of ‘Machines’ from 1977-1985, ‘ASPRA presents: Play For Tomorrow Vol.1’ sees Sarigiannidou offer a snapshot into her creative outlook with songs that four decades on have shown themselves to be “timeless jewels that you can play for today or play for tomorrow…”

While OMD are among the better known acts in the selection with the wistful ‘Of All The Things We’ve Made’ along with ULTRAVOX’s superb ‘Just For A Moment’, the others are more obscure but no less essential. Complimenting these two choices, ‘Karussell’ by Michael Rother of NEU! highlights the German musician’s influence on the aural aesthetics of both.

With wispy vocals and joyfully handled keys, Chris & Cosey’s wonderful ‘October (Love Song)’ was the antithesis of their parent group THROBBING GRISTLE and covered by MARSHEAUX in Greek for their debut album ‘E-Bay Queen’ in 2004. Another highlight is the TB303 driven cinematic synthpop of ‘Mystery & Confusion’ by TUXEDOMOON leader Blaine L Reininger which exudes a Eurocentric spirit as per its title and deserves wider recognition.

But the collection begins with the spacey avant folk of ‘UFO Report No.1’ by THE GADGETS, a track recorded in 1979 and featuring a very young pre-THE THE Matt Johnson. Despite its dour vocal delivery, 1982’s ‘Love Disgrace’ from Italian duo AMIN PECK is immensely catchy with its pulses, chops and glorious synth lines. Meanwhile New Zealand’s CAR CRASH SET earn their place with ‘Fall From Grace’ where deep sombre vocals contrast with a sparkling but gritty mechanical roll over 8 minutes.

Mute Records founder Daniel Miller finds two of his productions included; the dystopian minimal synth of ‘Music To Save The World By’ was the B-side from a one-off single on Cherry Red Records by the little known Alan Burnham while planting the seed of KOMPUTER, ‘Still Smiling’ by I START COUNTING has an innocent charm with those distinctive metallic tinges circa 1985. From that same year, French trio RUTH are eccentric but stylish on their debut single ‘Polaroïd/Roman/Photo’ crossing the detached with the playful while another curveball is thrown when the muted brass kicks in.

Α new wave duo with hints of THE VELVET UNDERGROUND but with a heated Italian vibe rather than the Götterdämmerung of Nico, CHRISMA’s ‘Black Silk Stocking’ was a 1978 single was produced and co-written by Vangelis’ brother, Nikko Papathanasiou. THE BUGGLES maybe best known for ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’ but the duo of Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes actually made a second album ‘Adventures In Modern Recording’ in 1981; from it, ‘On TV’ is enjoyably oddball while employing exotic Eastern flavours not unlike LANDSCAPE.

Last but not least THE ELECTRONIC CIRCUS’ spirited anti-war anthem ‘Direct Lines’ is sadly still relevant 42 years after its release. In what turned out to be a one-off project led by Gary Numan keyboardist Chris Payne, the resigned hopelessness is captured by the vocals of Penny Heathcote, frontwoman of Brighton band CORVETTES who themselves only issued one single.

‘Play For Tomorrow Vol.1’ is a superb compilation that will appeal to long standing music fans who love discovering music from the imperial pioneering phase of electronic pop that may have fallen under the radar back in the day.

Sophia Sarigiannidou has done a fantastic curation job and it will be interesting to see how these influences might permeate into the soundscapes of the eventual debut ASPRA album.

‘Play For Tomorrow Vol.1’ is released as a CD, available from https://deejaydead.de/en/aspra-presents-play-for-tomorrow-vol-1-limited-cd-digipack-2022 and https://www.poponaut.de/various-artists-play-tomorrow-limited-edition-p-22006.html


Text by Chi Ming Lai
27th February 2023

Introducing ASPRA

ASPRA is the ethereal new project of Sophia Sarigiannidou, best known as one half of the Greek synthpop duo MARSHEAUX.

Although the last album of original material from MARSHEAUX was ‘Ath.Lon’ in 2016, she has been writing, compiling and recording songs over a number of years with the view to a solo release. Perhaps unexpectedly with her first single ‘Velvet’ in 2021, she tapped into her love of shoegaze via an electronic rework of the 4AD cult favourite by THE BIG PINK, a London duo with two long players to their name.

Sarigiannidou took the dense claustrophobic original and converted it into a more fragile atmospheric one. Swathed in crystalline electronics, it recalled mysterious otherworldly air of Julee Cruise and Jonna Lee. Backing the sold-out white vinyl single release of ‘Velvet’ was another cover in the shape of THE FIELD MICE song ‘Anoint’; originally part of a 1990 John Peel session which comprised of material that was written exclusively for it and never released, the alternative rock quintet were signed to Sarah Records but split up in 1991 after falling out during a tense tour in support their third album ‘For Keeps’. Both tracks were recorded during lockdown in Athens.

Although ASPRA’s account opened with a pair of cover versions, self-composed material is on the way with the OMD inspired instrumental ‘Experiment In Vertical Take Off’ being the first fruit of labour, accompanied by an appropriately abstract visual accompaniment.

In the meantime, two fabulous collaborations with veteran electronic composer Lena Platonos have just been released to digital platforms. The suitably enigmatic ‘Markos’ is a reworking of a track from the 1985 album ‘Γκάλοπ’ and prosed by ASPRA en Français, while more percussively swathed, ‘Kymata’ (meaning “Waves”) is a tense yet breathy slice of avant Hellectro pop.

Also in the works is ’Play For Tomorrow’, a various artists compilation curated by Sophie Sarigiannidou including tracks by artists such as Michael Rother, Chris & Cosey, Blaine Reininger as well as I START COUNTING, ELECTRONIC CIRCUS, OMD and CAR CRASH SET is set to be issued later in 2022.

The ASPRA portfolio to date can be listened to at https://open.spotify.com/artist/4zSybhZeWmCnRE73VSXmt8


Text by Chi Ming Lai
13th June2022