Tag: Battle Tapes


It was a year when the veterans re-established their standing within electronic pop.

That was not to that comparatively newer acts weren’t making a good impression, it was just that a fair number of established acts gave their all and were producing some of their best work since their imperial heyday.

Great tracks by SPARKS, OUTERNATIONALE, SPACEPRODIGI, iEUROPEAN, PARALLELS, FEVER RAY, SOL FLARE, SOFTWAVE, KNIGHT$, 2RAUMWHONUNG, JORI HULKKONEN, FIFI RONG and KITE BASE made it onto the shortlist, but despite their quality, they did not make the final listing.

Also not included are songs from ‘Welcome To The Dancefloor’, the debut album from Rusty Egan; although gaining a physical release this year, it was reviewed by ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK in the Autumn of last year when download versions of the long player were distributed to those who had purchased it in advance via Pledge Music. Meanwhile, its closing track ‘Thank You’ was included in our 30 Songs Of 2016.

So restricted to purchasable releases only and one song per artist moniker, here are ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 30 Songs Of 2017 in alphabetical order…

AESTHETIC PERFECTION Rhythm + Control – Electro Mix

Additionally featuring NYXX and WILLIAM CONTROL on vocals, ‘Rhythm + Control’ saw Daniel Graves take AESTHETIC PERFECTION’s industrial pop to the next level via his new singles only policy. The magnificent Electro Mix successfully realised this oddball blend of Darren Hayes, Britney Spears and Marilyn Manson. With a mightily elastic bassline, when asked whether The Electricity Club had gone crazy coming up with the comparison, Daniel Graves replied “God no. Spot on, guys!”

Available on the single ‘Rhythm + Control’ via aestheticperfection.bandcamp.com/track/rhythm-control-electro-version-feat-william-control-nyxx



From only the third solo album in the long career of Richard Barbieri, ‘Solar Sea’ was a sleazy rhythmic excursion into another world. With the one-time JAPAN sound designer using a Roland System 700 for its bassline, the track’s atonal jazz feel was augmented by the haunting voice manipulations of Lisen Rylander Löve through a vintage Soviet submarine microphone and warping noises offset by soothing brass inflections and live drums.

Available on the album ‘Planets + Persona’ via by Kscope



The American electronic rock quartet BATTLE TAPES continued to develop from their 2015 debut album ‘Polygon’ via their ‘Form’ EP. The best track ‘Control’ hinged around a syncopated filtered synth bass and a brilliantly catchy chorus sung by Josh Boardman, with enough guitars for power and texture without distracting from the overall electronic aesthetic, and even coming over like a heavier Stateside version of SIN COS TAN.

Available on the EP ‘Form’ via battletapes.bigcartel.com



“International in flavour, cosmopolitan in style” and sounding like a long lunch followed by a round of cocktails, Australian duo CLIENT LIAISON roped in one-time TV talent show star Tina Arena to duet on a lush slice of romantic pop that also rode on the current fashion for Synthwave. ‘A Foreign Affair’ could have easily been a Rat Pack movie song.

Available on the album ‘Diplomatic Immunity’ via Remote Control Records


DAILY PLANET featuring MAC AUSTIN Heaven Opened

Johan Baeckström made positive waves with his debut solo album ‘Like Before’ in 2015 but reunited with his musical partner Jarmo Ollila, producing an excellent third album with more tempo variation than their 2014 offering ‘Two’. Featuring the guest vocals of Mac Austin from cult synth trio WHITE DOOR who were one of the inspirations for DAILY PLANET, ‘Heaven Opened’ was an uncomplicated but wonderfully poignant slice of classic synthpop.

Available on the album ‘Play Rewind Repeat’ via Progress Productions



ELECTRONIC CIRCUS is the musical vehicle of Chris Payne, the one-time Numan band member who also co-wrote ‘Fade To Grey’. With a symphonic theme bursting with melody and musicality like ULTRAVOX galloping across the plains of Normandy, the brilliant neo-instrumental ’The Trapeze’ was given a wondrous tone of humanistic unity when Payne’s wife and daughter joined in on the final straight in Latin.

Available on the EP ‘Direct Lines 2017’ via https://www.electroniccircus.co.uk/store/


FADER 3D Carpets

FADER are the synth superduo featuring BLANCMANGE’s Neil Arthur and Benge; ‘3D Carpets’ captured an independent post-punk intensity, like JOY DIVISION or THE CURE but realised with analogue electronics rather than guitars. While the pair worked on their parts separately, their creative dynamic produced a great debut album in ‘First Light’.

Available on the ‘First Light’ via Blanc Check Records



From the Welsh synth songstress’ first EP, the fabulous ‘Geiriau’ was a driving sequential drama that had more than a passing resemblance to the first part of SPARKS’ ‘No1 Song In Heaven’. Revolving around ANI GLASS’ experience of flying the nest and returning years later to reconnect with her Welsh and Cornish heritage, it was a spacey and futuristic soundtrack for a wonderfully uplifting homecoming.

Available on the EP ‘Ffrwydrad Tawel’ via aniglass.bandcamp.com/



‘Volupsa’, the promising Nordic flavoured debut album from THE GOLDEN FILTER came out in 2010, but the Aussie American duo of vocalist Penelope Trappes and synth programmer Stephen Hindman took their time with the follow-up ‘Still//Alone’, having relocated to London after spending several years based in New York. The hypnotic pulse of ‘Rivers’ with its precise drum machine pointed to a female fronted OMD, complete with a catchy riff and synthy jabbing bassline.

Available on the album ‘Still // Alone’ via Optimo


GOLDFRAPP Systemagic

The immensely catchy ‘Systemagic’ was a prize electronic gem from the seventh GOLDFRAPP album ‘Silver Eye’, reminiscent of the lusty and beat laden electronic material from ‘Black Cherry’. But its riff asked the question as to whether you will always find Alison Goldfrapp in the kitchen at parties? In the event of Jona Lewie filing a lawsuit, the lucrative income from the song’s use in a BMW advert may ease any potential net payout.

Available on the album ‘Silver Eye’ via Mute Artists



After three acclaimed albums as IAMAMIWHOAMI with producer Claes Björklund, Jonna Lee went solo in 2017 although it was actually difficult to hear the join on the glorious ‘Not Human’, so seamless was the transition; there were still the icy electronic soundscapes, spacey dance beats and uplifting Scandipop vocals while the delightfully odd visuals were all present and correct.

Available on the download single ‘Not Human’ via To Whom It May Concern



I SPEAK MACHINE is the audio / visual collaboration between musician Tara Busch and filmmaker Maf Lewis. Soundtracking their film ‘Zombies 1985’, the story was one of greed and self-obsession in Thatcher’s Britain as a businessman drives home, oblivious to the zombie apocalypse going on around him. Co-written and co-produced with Benge, the brilliant ‘Shame’ with its cascading synths and noise percussion was a wonderful hybrid of THROBBING GRISTLE, THE HUMAN LEAGUE and GOLDFRAPP.

Available on the album ‘Zombies 1985’ via Lex Records


KATJA VON KASSEL In Little Rooms (Show Me Love)

After a number of years gigging around London, KATJA VON KASSEL finally unleashed released her electro Weimer Cabaret to the world. The pulsating ‘In Little Rooms (Show Me Love)’ captured an aesthetic which closely resembled that of RONNY, a former protégé of Rusty Egan. Attached to Alex Gray’s intricate filmic electronics, Fraulein von Kassel’s deep vocal detachment was art cool sexy.

Available on the EP ‘Katja von Kassel’ via katjavonkassel.bandcamp.com


KITE Demons & Shame

Swedish duo KITE unleashed their darkest offering yet in ‘Demons & Shame’. Shaped by a ritualistic drum mantra and brooding bass drones, as the title suggested, the song confronted the despair that life occasionally throws up while pursuing visions and dreams. If Ennio Morricone composed music for Nordic Noir dramas, it would sound a bit like this. Vocalist Nicklas Stenemo literally screamed his frustration over an epic synthetic soundscape from Christian Berg, laced with nocturnal Arctic overtones and the spectre of THE KNIFE.

Available on the single ‘Demons & Shame’ is released by Progress Productions



James Murphy returned as LCD SOUNDSYSTEM after seven years with this widescreen musical statement reflecting on the political situation in the US. Glancing across the Atlantic and back to the Winter Of Discontent, this 3/4 synth laden tune that had more than a passing resemblance to THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s ‘Circus Of Death’. So did “The Clown” referred to in that song remind Murphy of someone in particular?

Available on the album ‘American Dream’ via DFA Records



Having started out in a more rave inclined environment, Lizette Nordahl ventured into more synthy climes and her debut mini-album had the air of KITE is all over it, which was not entirely surprising as its co-producers were Nicklas Stenemo and Christian Berg from the acclaimed duo. ‘Rest’ with its swirling synth sounds and widescreen Nordic atmosphere had an optimistic air of acceptance despite the melancholic tone and majestic growls.

Available on the EP ‘Queerbody’ via lizettelizette.bandcamp.com/releases



Led by British born musician Dylan Willoughby, LOST IN STARS is a floating ensemble which also includes Elena Charbila aka KID MOXIE and producer/songwriter Darren Burgos. The latter takes the lead vocal on the spirited electronic pop of ‘Sky’; now if NEW ORDER were from Los Angeles instead of Manchester, they would have sounded like this.

Available on the album ‘Lost In Stars’ via lostinstars.bandcamp.com/



After releasing her first solo album ‘Crystal World’ in 2013, Helen Marnie added more prominent choruses and guitar onto her second, resulting in a catchy Scandipop style. ‘Bloom’ was an optimistic burst of synth laden pleasure and while not totally dissimilar to LADYTRON, it was without their usual hardness or gothic gloom.

Available on the album ‘Strange Words & Weird Wars’ via Disco Piñata



Having worked successfully in 2013 with Guy Sigsworth on ‘the minutes’, an acclaimed album which saw ALISON MOYET return to the synthesized music forms to compliment her powerful and self-assured voice, the follow-up ‘Other’ was a natural progression. The startling orchestrated electro-dub drama of ‘Alive’ gave Moyet’s two former classmates in DEPECHE MODE a stark lesson in how to actually fully realise electronic blues. Indeed, it was ‘In Chains’, the lame opener from ‘Sounds Of The Universe’ gone right…

Available on the album ‘Other’ via Cooking Vinyl


GARY NUMAN When The World Comes Apart

With the narrative of ‘Savage’ provoked by Donald Trump’s withdrawal of the United States of America from the Paris Climate Accord, the mighty apocalyptic rock of ‘When The World Comes Apart’ was something of a revelation for GARY NUMAN. Using synths as the dominant instrument and having guitars less obviously prominent in the mix, with its richly anthemic chorus, this was the magnificent crossover song that both old and new Numanoids had been waiting for.

Available on the album ‘Savage (Songs From A Broken World)’ via BMG


MICHAEL OAKLEY Rabbit In The Headlights

MICHAEL OAKLEY is a talented Glaswegian who describes his music as “Melancholic postcards from my heart wrapped up in synthesisers and drum machines”. The melodic ‘Rabbit In The Headlights’ came complete with Italo “woah-oh” chants and whether it was Synthwave, synthpop, electropop, Italo or whatever, it showcased Oakley’s fine songwriting abilities, regardless of genre.

Available on the EP ‘California’ via michaeloakleysynthwave.bandcamp.com


OMD One More Time

The excellent ‘One More Time’ was a classic bittersweet OMD stomper, where “everything you gave me didn’t last”. Using electronic percussion as opposed to drum machines, the enticing verse and uplifting bridge were set to a plethora of gorgeous textures and distorted synth to add a touch of enigmatic weirdness. While Andy McCluskey cried “you can break my heart just one more time”, the track’s star was Paul Humphreys with his crystalline synth sounds laced with some portamento bounce.

Available on the album ‘The Punishment Of Luxury’ via 100% Records


HANNAH PEEL Goodbye Earth

As well as keyboards and violin, HANNAH PEEL can also play the trombone. Featuring an array of analogue synthesizers and a 29-piece colliery brass band, ‘Mary Casio: Journey to Cassiopeia’ was her instrumental story about a fictional elderly musical stargazer. Beginning with the lift-off of ‘Goodbye Earth’, Miss Peel’s electronic arpeggios and synthetic noise built up to a crescendo of brass and timpani for a quite unusual combination of two very different musical worlds.

Available on the album ‘Mary Casio: Journey to Cassiopeia’ via My Own Pleasure



From the ashes of ANALOG ANGEL came forth RAINLAND. Their self-titled calling card was a vibrant synthpop statement, embroiled in a musicality that provided a journey through the Grampian Mountains. Ian Ferguson had already proved himself a worthy vocalist in his previous combo with dulcet tones not dissimilar to a certain Midge Ure and this was allowed to reign free on ‘Rainland’. Meanwhile, the ivories of Derek MacDonald stylistically aped the symphonic overtones of ULTRAVOX’s Billy Currie.

Available on the EP ‘Touch’ via rainland.bandcamp.com/


RHEINGOLD Paradieshafen

Between 1980 to 1984, RHEINGOLD were at the forefront of Die Neue Deutsche Welle, releasing three albums and achieving their first domestic hit ‘3klangsdimensionen’ in 1981. Led by Bodo Staiger, ‘Im Lauf Der Zeit’ was their first album of new material for many years. The melodic synth of ‘Paradieshafen’ drove along a beautiful instrumental that came over like a dream collaboration between OMD and Michael Rother.

Available on the album ‘Im Lauf Der Zeit’ via Lucky Bob Records / Soulfood



With hypnotising hints of Kate Bush and percolating Ryuichi Sakamoto style textures, ‘Who Am I’ by electropop goddess SARAH P. was an ode to “humanity, the world we live in and our importance (or unimportance) as individuals and/or as a whole”. And as the Greek-born songstress announced that “I don’t know where I come from… do you know my name?”, a metronomic beat kicked in to lead a dramatic house-laden climax.

Available on the album ‘Who Am I’ via EraseRestart Records



The normally flamboyant Welsh duo SHELTER surprised all with their darkest and most accomplished song yet in ‘Karma’. “What you want is what you’ll get…” sang Mark Bebb, “…you will get a lot more that you planned”. A vibrant but edgy production from Rob Bradley complimented the sentiment as the message was relayed loud and clear…

Available on the single ‘Karma’ via Ministry Of Pop


SOULWAX Conditions Of Shared Belief

From ‘From Deewee’, the first new SOULWAX album since 2004’s ‘Any Minute Now’, ‘Conditions Of A Shared Belief’ was a modular synth lover’s wet dream from the Dewaele brothers. With a retro-futuristic collage of detuned blippy sounds and a backbone of smashing white noise percussion recalling THE HUMAN LEAGUE in their Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh phase, it was complimented by some suitably abstractly pitched TALKING HEADS inspired vocals.

Available on the album ‘From Deewee’ via PIAS



TINY MAGNETIC PETS had their best year yet with a UK tour opening for OMD and to accompany it was their second album ‘Deluxe/Debris’. Featuring Wolfgang Flür, the album’s best song ‘Never Alone’ sounded appropriately like SAINT ETIENNE fronting KRAFTWERK. Paula Gilmer has one of the best voices in modern synthpop and her alluring tone no doubt added to the song’s breezy dreamlike state.

Available on the album ‘Deluxe/Debris’ via Happy Robots Records


VANBOT Collide (Krasnoyarsk)

The adventurous third VANBOT album ‘Siberia’ was composed and recorded during a 17 day journey on the Trans-Siberian railway. The crystalline ‘Collide (Krasnoyarsk)’ though captured a more Nordic vibe with its gorgeous melodies, while the surrounding rhythmic pace of a train ride made its presence felt. An aural exploration of the relationship between time, location and emotion, ‘Siberia’ was a bold musical experiment.

Available on the single ‘Collide (Krasnoyarsk)’ via Lisch Recordings


Text by Chi Ming Lai
11th December 2017


‘Form’ is the brand new five track EP from Los Angeles-based BATTLE TAPES.

‘Form’ continues the hybrid rock / electronic sound that the band so successfully cultivated on 2015’s ‘Polygon’ and which went onto become a firm favourite..

Cryptically titled opening track ‘Last Resort & Spa’ is a loping / swaggering beast, built around a huge octaved synth riff and multi-layered vocal by frontman Josh Boardman.

The combination of compressed live drums and electronics works incredibly well, giving the track just the right amount of human feel and complimenting the emotionally driven “If I can hold you tonight” chorus hook.

The previously released ‘No Good’ has a double whammy of a catchy DM-ish synth hook and the kind of chorus vocal which lodges itself into the listener’s brain after a single listen. The DM connection is maintained with a sly reference in the “I couldn’t help what I overheard, blasphemous rumors I know how absurd” lyric which appears a couple of times during the song.

Worthy of a mention is the fact that the band took a DIY approach to making the promo video; self-directed and produced using Final Cut software, an iPhone video rendering app Glitche and a gimble camera stabilizer, and all for the princely sum of $500.

‘Control’ hinges around a syncopated filtered synth bass and another catchy chorus vocal from Boardman, whilst ‘Rhyme Or Reason’ lowers the tempo and takes things in a more reflective direction. ‘Alive’ is another synth bass driven anthem but with the addition of a fabulous SUPERTRAMP-style electric piano gatecrashing the party at 2:43. Additional layers of sequencers drive the track towards the end and round off what is a really strong collective of songs.

There is that old adage, “If something ain’t broke, don’t try and fix it” and all of the tracks here could fit seamlessly on to ‘Polygon’. In terms of progression in sound there is little (if any) guitar here (which had a greater presence on the debut album) and there is definitely more of an overall electronic aesthetic, plus the vocal production levels have been raised a notch.

BATTLE TAPES are criminally overlooked and if they can maintain this level of quality it is surely only a matter of time before they manage to break through the glass ceiling to a much wider audience.

An upcoming EP ‘Function’ will be released later in the year to complement ‘Form’ and if it’s anything like its current predecessor will be an essential release to seek out.

‘Form’ is released by Battle Arts in CD and digital formats, available from http://battletapes.bigcartel.com/



Text by Paul Boddy
18th July 2017


battle-tapes-korgLos Angeles’ BATTLE TAPES, who last year released their debut album ‘Polygon’, a sleek fusion of electronics and rock have just promo-ed a video for the album track ‘Solid Gold’.

Featuring the vocals of PARTY NAILS’ Elana Belle Carroll, the track itself hinges around a Bowie-esque ‘Fame’-inspired guitar lick with fizzing synths and a blinding middle eight which showcases some quite outstanding songwriting.

The video features Carroll being kidnapped and bundled into the back of van (which features a handy karaoke set-up) and proceeds to get driven around the streets whilst vocalling her own song. The band themselves have a cameo appearance with clips of them performing projected within the van along with karaoke-style song lyrics.

BATTLE TAPES’ vocalist Josh Boardman kindly told ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK: “Part of the concept for the ‘Solid Gold’ video was a 90s style performance karaoke / music video. One of our favorite things about doing performances for videos is that we get to use the actual gear that we used on the record. If you blink you might miss it (photo from the Raw Hi-8 footage at top), but towards the end of the video you can see Riley (Keyboardist) rockin’ the Juno 60 (with… a JSQ-60 sequencer) and the Korg MS-20 which make up the bulk of the synths on the track. It’s always fun when you can get the older fellas out of the studio and into the spotlight!”

Over the last couple of years, BATTLE TAPES music has been featured in computer games ‘Grand Theft Auto V’ and ‘Need for Speed’ which has resulted in a wider exposure for the band.

battle-tapes-solidgoldThe Electricity gives its sincere thanks to BATTLE TAPES

‘Solid Gold’ is released as a 7 inch single by Battle Arts or a 4 track digital EP featuring remixes by THE BETA MACHINE and STORY OF THE RUNNING WOLF. The album ‘Polygon’ is still available through the usual online outlets




Text by Paul Boddy
28th November 2016


Los Angeles band BATTLE TAPES have managed to inject a well-needed energy boost into a scene which was sorely lacking an act that could deliver a hybrid rock / electronic / dance sound. 

Their debut long player ‘Polygon’ was one of the most consistently thrilling albums of 2015.

Comprising of Josh Boardman (vocals / guitar / synth), Riley Mackin (synths / programming / vocals), Stephen Bannister (bass) and Beak Wing (drums / percussion), BATTLE TAPES fill a genuine gap in the market for an electronic-based act that isn’t overly self-conscious and isn’t afraid to rock out with their synths…

Taking their cues from several favourite artists, Josh and Riley kindly spoke about the challenge of integrating electronic elements with live ones and how BATTLE TAPES tick.

Who are the band’s main influences?

Josh: We all grew up listening to different things. Everything from KRAFTWERK and T.REX to MASSIVE ATTACK and PANTERA. For the live execution we looked to DEPECHE MODE, NINE INCH NAILS, LCD SOUNDSYSTEM, SOULWAX and maybe even a little ARCADE FIRE – those acts have always had the feel of a rock band. It sounds like humans performing to me.

The lyrics to ‘Valkyrie’ are quite cryptic, what is the song about?

Josh: I try not to be too specific when asked about song meanings. I like the audience to have some room to make it their own.

That being said, roughly it’s about how modern technology has revealed some of our more unflattering behaviors and shifted our cultural values in an unexpected way. Celeb-u-lust, out-rage-of-the-week, self-obsession and so on.

How easy or hard do you find integrating electronic instruments into a band context?

Riley: It depends, but usually it’s pretty easy. There are a couple of sounds we use that are harder to work with. Live, we used to just use soft synths but we ran into some stability issues. So now we just try and recreate most of the sounds with sampler instruments as much as possible. It saves on CPU and is a bit more straightforward.

Josh: Yeah, it’s a case by case kind of thing. When writing, it’s more about “Is the instrument doing the job I need it to do? Does it convey what I’m trying to say?” On stage the sonic bandwidth of what you can get across clearly is more narrow, so you have to scale back a bit and try to say the same thing with less.

What are you viewpoints on artists that over rely on computers and sequencing for their live shows?

Riley: Computers on stage seems to be a touchy subject for some people. I mean in a way, you could say we over rely on the computer. We use our computer to run our lights, process vocals, and host all of our software and sampler instruments. Sometimes we’ll use hardware synths on stage, but most of the time it’s sampler instruments and soft synths. However, I do feel that when some artist just play tracks and sing along to them…. well that’s just professional karaoke.

Josh: I’m fairly neutral. Don’t get me wrong, like Riley said, there is a point with some artists where it can feel like you’re watching Synth Karaoke. But at the end of the day, if people are entertained and people are having fun, who gives a s***!

Has the United States’ embracing of EDM helped or hindered the band?

Josh: Bit of both. It’s definitely encouraged your average listener to give electronic music an honest listen, but at the same time we don’t really fall into what I would typically call EDM, so I don’t think we are really reaping the benefits of its current popularity.

BATTLE TAPES tourHow does the songwriting process work in BATTLE TAPES?

Riley: One of us usually comes up with an idea and we throw it back and forth until something comes of it. Or Josh just puts together a banging track. Josh does all the vocal writing, for the most part. With ‘Solid Gold’ things were a bit more collaborative in regards to lyric writing just because we were doing things differently while working with Elana Belle Carol of PARTY NAILS.

The gap between the release of the first EP and ‘Polygon’ was a pretty big one, was there a particular reason for that?

Josh: We set out with a certain idea of what we wanted our first record to be. And up until recently we were all working day jobs or hustling to get studio work to keep the lights on. So between that, steady performing and stealing studio time in the middle of the night to track drums or whatever, that’s just how long it took to make this record. I’d love it if with the next LP we could pull some two week studio blitz and be done with it. The idea of not having time to overthink it is really appealing at the moment. 🙂

BATTLE TAPES Polygon floppyThe limited edition floppy disk sleeve concept for ‘Polygon’ is a similar one to the original Blue Monday 12” sleeve, can you tell us about it?

Josh: When we first started talking about releasing our original EP ‘Sleepwalker’, I mentioned to a friend about the idea of packaging our CDs in old 5¼ inch floppy disks. Coincidentally her dad happened to have boxes of them in their garage from back in the day. We had custom labels printed, CDs pressed and ran with it. People’s reactions are great. It’s nostalgia for some and an artefact of tech folklore for others.

What are your favourite bits of technology live and in the studio?

Riley: In the studio, I would have to go with Logic Pro music software itself. It does so much and can be a very creative utility. For live, my Roland System 1 has been an awesome work horse. Like I said we do a lot of our instruments as sampler instruments in the computer, but the System 1 gives me a bit more confidence on stage, having a hardware synth there to be utilized if something happens to the computer.

Josh: On stage, we are loving the MOTU AVB line. That protocol is revolutionary. The Eventide H9 is a favourite. Our bass player, Stephen, has a few of them on his pedalboard. I personally have been loving the Kemper Profiler Amp. A friend loaned me one for our last tour and I was sold after our first rehearsal with it.

Roland System 1Do you use any vintage gear?

Riley: Yeah, Initially we did a lot of the writing for the record using soft synths, but then we took time to go back and replace a lot of that stuff with the real deal.

I think we actually ended up using a bit of both in the final mixes.

Is the availability of cheap synth apps / technology a blessing or a curse?

Josh: Blessing. The thought that right now there is some kid on his family computer using stock software making us look foolish is terrifying as much as it is exciting. Things are evolving and shifting so fast I can’t wait to hear what people are going to be doing 5 years from now

Riley: I think it’s a blessing. It helps keep things exciting by always having new sounds or a different GUI to mess with. I feel like anyone who disagrees would also think that the guitar ruined stringed instruments… I mean c’mon the piano was already holding it down for years.

Grand Theft Auto VHow important was the exposure you got when the band’s tracks got featured in the ‘Grand Theft Auto V’ computer game and the ‘Need for Speed’ film / game?

Riley: The GTA exposure has been super big for us. It is such a big game and the way people find new music on there is really very cool.

So we gained a lot of new fans from that. The ‘Need For Speed’ game is more recent, but we are seeing quite a bit of new fans from the game as well. The comments section of YouTube has been a big indicator of where people are finding us.

Do you have any European dates on the horizon?

Josh: Nothing set in stone. But we are definitely working towards it. We’ve had so much love from the EU. I think it would be awesome to go and reciprocate.

What are the future plans in 2016 for BATTLE TAPES?

Josh: Remixing and writing with other artists. Going to do some touring and maybe some Techno / DJ sets. It’s going to be fun to go back to the drawing board with new inspiration and see what happens. I’m excited about having the time and space to write new stuff and explore new ideas.

Riley: Yeah, you know, one leg at a time just like everybody else.

Finally or a more light-hearted note, how do you feel about being described on another blog as “synth sex rockers”?

Riley: I’d probably feel okay about it, if wasn’t so hard to say. Doesn’t really roll off the tongue, does it?

Josh: Sounds kinda like an oxymoron, right? I always felt like our synth love solidified our place in the dorkisphere. But who doesn’t like being called sexy? So, we’ll take it!

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its sincere thanks to BATTLE TAPES

‘Polygon’ is released by Battle Arts via the usual digital outlets



Text and Interview by Paul Boddy
11th February 2016


Let’s set one thing straight first, any band that has a song in their catalogue called ‘Sweatshop Boys’ is bound to have some sort of potential and thankfully Los Angeles four piece BATTLE TAPES have come storming out of the blocks with a fine (and long overdue) debut album in ‘Polygon’.

Although the said Tennant / Lowe parodying song is not present here (it was the title track on an EP released in 2012), there are ten tracks which do an excellent job at filling an electronic musical void that’s existed for quite a while now.

SOULWAX, SPLEEN UNITED, INNERPARTYSYSTEM and LCD SOUNDSYSTEM have all successfully managed the often tricky task of mixing live instruments with synths and sequencers in a seamless fashion, but with the former two in hiatus and the latter artists no longer around, there is a genuine gap in the market for an electronic-based act that isn’t overly self-conscious and isn’t afraid to rock out with their synths…

‘Polygon’ starts with a statement of intent in ‘Belgrade’, a high-octane track with a Motown backbeat and distorted synths which ape the NEW ORDER sampling ‘Operation Blade’. With a blistering opening which deploys the track’s breakdown section before the vocals kick in, ‘Belgrade’ gives a pretty implicit idea of the musical content that awaits the listener inside…

Following closely on its heels is the single ‘Valkyrie’ which has one of those earworm chorus melodies which once embedded in your skull will quite possibly keep you awake at night. Bass sequencers are let loose in the second verse and the oblique nature of the lyrics with reference to “swinging of d***s” and “dancing with the devil sweating gasoline” mean that repeated listens don’t diminish the appeal of the song one iota. An uplifting and ascending instrumental EDM-style middle eight helps break away from the Wall of Sound before the chorus returns at the end.

The cowbell-tastic ‘Solid Gold’ features guest vocals from PARTY NAILS singer Elena Belle Carroll and has more combined swagger than DAVID BOWIE and LOU REED at a seedy 70s Berlin nightclub.

Built around a ‘Fame’-style guitar riff, the track grooves along seductively before hitting a wonderful middle eight / outro section giving the song a more contemporary edge and ending with a squealing synced oscillator synth solo.

‘Private Dancer’ takes some of its cues from French duo JUSTICE and also throws some vocoder into the mix. Once it fully reveals itself, the “You give me all your money, I’ll be your private dancer” vocal sounds like one of KRAFTWERK’s robots getting jacked up on cheap booze and moonlighting for extra Euros at a lap dance club.

The first of two instrumentals ‘Dreamboat’ is all rippling arpeggiators, whilst the other, the epic ‘Mulholland’ has the sort of Synthwave sound which wouldn’t have been out of the place on the ‘Drive’ soundtrack. Low slung Reese bass lines, handclaps and retro synth sounds put both of these tracks in the same sort of (electronic) club as CARPENTER BRUT and PERTURBATOR.

‘Graveyard Shift’ is probably the most conventionally rock track here, albeit with the sort of swampy guitar figure which Martin Gore would have been more than happy to have written – whilst the chorus and general vocal sound recall Josh Homme from QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE. Closing track ‘Again’ is a bit of a curveball, starting off low-key fashion and not unlike a long-lost ‘Golden Age of Wireless’-era THOMAS DOLBY track, building gradually with half-time drums before hitting the 4/4 button and climaxing with a formant vocal synth part.

BATTLE TAPES are SO needed right now, especially from a live perspective… too many synth-oriented acts have little or no idea how to translate their studio sound into a viable format that can be delivered to a live audience.

Unless you happen to be lucky enough to have the stage presence and songs of, say EAST INDIA YOUTH, a singer accompanied by a synth player looking apologetic whilst prodding buttons behind a laptop does not an entertaining live show make.

Although it’s taken a while to emerge (the band were formed in 2010), the wait has been worth it for ‘Polygon’ with what is one of the most consistently thrilling albums you’ll hear this year.

Let battle commence…

‘Polygon’ is released by Battle Arts



Text by Paul Boddy
3rd December 2015