Tag: Black Nail Cabaret (Page 2 of 2)


Oscillate Mildly

The world found itself in a rather antagonistic and divisive state this year, as if none of the lessons from the 20th Century’s noted conflicts and stand-offs had been learnt.

Subtle political messages came with several releases; honorary Berliner Mark Reeder used the former divided city as symbolism to warn of the dangers of isolationism on his collaborative album ‘Mauerstadt’. Meanwhile noted Francophile Chris Payne issued the ELECTRONIC CIRCUS EP ‘Direct Lines’ with its poignant warning of nuclear apocalypse in its title song. The message was to unite and through music as one of the best platforms.

After a slow start to 2017, there was a bumper crop of new music from a number of established artists. NINE INCH NAILS and Gary Numan refound their mojo with their respective ‘Add Violence’ and ‘Savage (Songs From A Broken World)’ releases, with the latter recording his best body of work since his imperial heyday.

But the first quarter of the year was hamstrung by the anticipation for the 14th DEPECHE MODE long player ‘Spirit’, with other labels and artists aware that much of their potential audience’s hard earned disposable income was being directed towards the Basildon combo’s impending album and world tour.

Yet again, reaction levels seemed strangely muted as ‘Spirit’ was another creative disappointment, despite its angry politicised demeanour.

Rumours abounded that the band cut the album’s scheduled recording sessions by 4 weeks. This inherent “that’ll do” attitude continued on the ‘Global Spirit’ jaunt when the band insulted their loyal audience by doing nothing more than plonking an arena show into a stadium for the summer outdoor leg.

Despite protestations from some Devotees of their dissatisfaction with this open-air presentation, they were content to be short-changed again as they excitedly flocked to the second set of European arena dates with the generally expressed excuse that “it will be so much better indoors”.

By this Autumn sojourn, only three songs from ‘Spirit’ were left in the set, thus indicating that the dire record had no longevity and was something of a lemon.

Suspicions were finally confirmed at the ‘Mute: A Visual Document’ Q&A featuring Daniel Miller and Anton Corbijn, when the esteemed photographer and visual director confessed he did not like the album which he did the artwork for… see, it’s not just ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK 😉

Devotees are quick to say all criticism of DEPECHE MODE is unfair, but the band can’t help but make themselves easy targets time and time again. But why should the band care? The cash is coming, the cash is coming…

Luckily, veteran acts such as OMD and Alison Moyet saved the day.

The Wirral lads demonstrated what the word spirit actually meant on their opus ‘The Punishment Of Luxury’, while the former class mate of Messrs Gore and Fletcher demonstrated what a soulful, blues-influenced electronic record should sound like with ‘Other’.

As Tony Hadley departed SPANDAU BALLET and Midge Ure got all ‘Orchestrated’ in the wake of ULTRAVOX’s demise, the ‘Welcome To The Dancefloor’ album directed by Rusty Egan, to which they contributed, became a physical reality in 2017.

Now if DM plonked an arena show into the world’s stadiums, KRAFTWERK put a huge show into a theatre. The publicity stunt of 2012, when Tate Modern’s online ticket system broke down due to demand for their eight album live residency, did its job when the Kling Klang Quartett sold out an extensive UK tour for their 3D concert spectacular.

No less impressive, SOULWAX wowed audiences with their spectacular percussion heavy ‘From Deewee’ show and gave a big lesson to DEPECHE MODE as to how to actually use live drums correctly within an electronic context.

Mute Artists were busy with releases from ERASURE, LAIBACH and ADULT. but it was GOLDFRAPP’s ‘Silver Eye’ that stole the show from that stable. LCD SOUNDSYSTEM returned after seven years with their ‘American Dream’ and it was worth the wait, with the most consistent and electronic record that James Murphy’s ensemble has delivered in their career.

To say Neil Arthur was prolific in 2017 would be an understatement as he released albums with BLANCMANGE and FADER while Benge, a co-conspirator on both records, worked with I SPEAK MACHINE to produce ‘Zombies 1985’ which was one of the best electronic albums of the year; and that was without the JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS stage play soundtrack ‘The Machines’.

Despite JAPAN having disbanded in 1982, solo instrumental releases from Steve Jansen and Richard Barbieri were particularly well-received, while David Sylvian made a return of sorts, guesting on ‘Life Life’ for ‘async’, the first album from Ryuichi Sakamoto since recovering from his illness. On the more esoteric front, Brian Eno presented the thoughtful ambience of ‘Reflection’, while THE RADIOPHONIC WORKSHOP had ‘Burials In Several Earths’.

2017 was a year that saw acts who were part of the sine wave of Synth Britannia but unable to sustain or attain mainstream success like BLUE ZOO, B-MOVIE, FIAT LUX and WHITE DOOR welcomed back as heroes, with their talent belatedly recognised.

Germany had something of a renaissance as veterans Zeus B Held and ex-TANGERINE DREAM member Steve Schroyder came together in DREAM CONTROL as another TD offshoot QUAESCHNING & SCHNAUSS offered up some impressive ‘Synthwaves’, while there actually was a new TANGERINE DREAM album, their first without late founder member Edgar Froese.

Eberhard Kranemann and Harald Grosskopf offered up some KRAUTWERK as other veterans like RHEINGOLD, DER PLAN, BOYTRONIC and DJ HELL also returned. Comparatively younger, 2RAUMWOHNUNG and KATJA VON KASSEL both offered up enticing bilingual takes on classic electronic pop.

The Swedish synth community again delivered with DAILY PLANET, PAGE, REIN, VANBOT, ANNA ÖBERG, 047 and LIZETTE LIZETTE all delivering fine bodies of work, although KITE were missed, with their German tour cancelled and release of their ‘VII’ EP postponed due to vocalist Nicklas Stenemo’s illness; ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK wishes him all the best in his recovery.

Across the Baltic Sea, Finnish producer Jori Hulkkonen released his 20th album ‘Don’t Believe In Happiness’ while nearby in Russia, a duo named VEiiLA showcased an unusual hybrid of techno, opera and synthpop and ROSEMARY LOVES A BLACKBERRY offered a ‘❤’.

One of the year’s discussion points was whether Synthwave was just synthpop dressed with sunglasses and neon signs but whatever, Stateside based Scots but Michael Oakley and FM-84 made a good impression with their retro-flavoured electronic tunes.

It wasn’t all about the expats and in a territory as big as North America, there came a number of up-and-coming home grown electronic artists with LOST IN STARS, PARALLELS, PATTERN LANGUAGE, SPACEPRODIGI, COMPUTER MAGIC and BATTLE TAPES all gaining traction.

Canada’s PURITY RING infuriated some of their fanbase by working with KATY PERRY on three tracks for her album ‘Witness’. AESTHETIC PERFECTION’s new singles only policy was paying dividends and the Electro Mix of ‘Rhythm + Control’, which featured the promising newcomer NYXX, was one of the best tracks of 2017.

Female solo artists had strong presence in 2017 as FEVER RAY made an unexpected return, ZOLA JESUS produced her best work to date in ‘Okovi’ and Hannah Peel embarked on an ambitious synth / brass ‘Journey to Cassiopeia’. Meanwhile, SARAH P. asked ‘Who Am I’ and MARNIE found ‘Strange Words & Weird Wars’ as ANI GLASS and NINA both continued on their promising developmental path.

Other female fronted acts like KITE BASE, SPECTRA PARIS, BLACK NAIL CABARET, AVEC SANS, EMT and THE GOLDEN FILTER again reinforced that electronic music was not solely about boys with their toys.

Respectively, Ireland and Scotland did their bit, with TINY MAGNETIC PETS and their aural mix of SAINT ETIENNE and KRAFTWERK successfully touring with OMD in support of their excellent second album ‘Deluxe/Debris’, while formed out of the ashes of ANALOG ANGEL, RAINLAND wowed audiences opening for ASSEMBLAGE 23.

A bit of smooth among the rough, CULT WITH NO NAME released a new album while other new(ish) acts making a positive impression this year included KNIGHT$, MOLINA, ANNEKA, SOFTWAVE, THE FRIXION and KALEIDA.

Despite getting a positive response, both iEUROPEAN and SOL FLARE parted ways while on the opposite side of the coin, Belgian passengers METROLAND celebrated five years in the business with the lavish ‘12×12’ boxed set

Overall in 2017, it was artists of a more mature disposition who held their heads high and delivered, as some newer acts went out of their way to test the patience of audiences by drowning them in sleep while coming over like TRAVIS on VSTs.

With dominance of media by the three major labels, recognition was tricky with new quality traditional synthpop not generally be championed by the mainstream press. With Spotify now 20% owned by those three majors, casual listeners to the Swedish streaming platform were literally told what to like, as with commercial radio playlists.

It is without doubt that streaming and downloading has created a far less knowledgeable music audience than in previous eras, so Rusty Egan’s recent online petition to request platforms to display songwriting and production credits was timely; credit where credit is due as they say…

While ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK does not dismiss Spotify totally and sees it as another tool, it should not be considered the be all and end all, in the same way vinyl is not the saviour of the music industry and in physics terms, cannot handle the same dynamic range as CD.

Music is not as emotionally valued as it was before… that’s not being old and nostalgic, that is reality. It can still be enjoyed with or without a physical purchase, but for artists to be motivated to produce work that can connect and be treasured, that is another matter entirely.

However, many acts proved that with Bandcamp, the record company middle man can be eliminated. It is therefore up to the listener to be more astute, to make more effort and to make informed choices. And maybe that listener has to seek out reliable independent media for guidance.

However, as with the shake-up within the music industry over the last ten years, that can only be a good thing for the true synthpop enthusiast. And as it comes close to completing its 8th year on the web, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK maintains its position of not actually promoting new acts or supporting any scene, but merely to write about the music it likes and occasionally stuff it doesn’t… people can make their own mind up about whether to invest money or time in albums or gigs.

Yes, things ARE harder for the listener and the musician, but the effort is worthwhile 😉

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK Contributor Listings 2017


Best Album: QUASCHENING & SCHNAUSS Synthwaves
Best Song: BATTLE TAPES No Good
Best Gig: SOULWAX at O2 Ritz Manchester
Best Video: SOULWAX Is it Always Binary?
Most Promising New Act: MARIE DAVIDSON


Best Album: OMD The Punishment of Luxury
Best Song: SPARKS Edith Piaf (Said it Better Than Me)
Best Gig: SPEAK & SPELL at Glastonbury
Best Video: ALISON MOYET Reassuring Pinches
Most Promising New Act: MICHAEL OAKLEY


Best Album: PAGE Det Är Ingen Vacker Värld Men Det Råkar Vara Så Det Ser Ut
Best Song: LAU NAU Poseidon
Best Gig: PAGE at Electronic Summer 2017
Best Video: PSYCHE Youth Of Tomorrow
Most Promising New Act: ANNA ÖBERG


Best Album: I SPEAK MACHINE Zombies 1985
Best Song: AESTHETIC PERFECTION Rhythm + Control – Electro Version
Best Gig: OMD + TINY MAGNETIC PETS at Cambridge Corn Exchange
Best Video: I SPEAK MACHINE Shame
Most Promising New Act: MICHAEL OAKLEY


Best Album: FADER First Light
Best Song: OMD Isotype
Best Gig: MARC ALMOND at London Roundhouse
Best Video: GOLDFRAPP Anymore
Most Promising New Act: NINA


Best Album:  OMD The Punishment of Luxury
Best Song: DUA LIPA Be The One
Best Gig: HANNAH PEEL at Norwich Arts Centre
Best Video: PIXX I Bow Down
Most Promising New Act: PIXX


Best Album: ZOLA JESUS Okovi
Best Song: GARY NUMAN My Name Is Ruin
Best Gig: ERASURE at London Roundhouse
Best Video: GARY NUMAN My Name Is Ruin
Most Promising New Act: ANNA ÖBERG

Text by Chi Ming Lai
14th December 2017


Hungarian born BLACK NAIL CABARET have gathered a wide audience inside and outside their homeland.

Now a fully established darker synth act, Emese Illes-Arvai who partnered with Sophie Tarr in 2008, debuted with a surprising version of Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella’ to kick off their musical journey. Their sound took electronica listeners by storm, mainly due to the eloquent use of hardware and interesting melodies, making BLACK NAIL CABARET very distinguished.

Tarr left at the beginning of 2016, but Illes-Arvai continued writing to release the third opus, ‘Dichromat’ before Christmas, this time joined by Krisztian Arvai on keyboards and production.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK chatted to BLACK NAIL CABARET about their past, present and future with the news that they will be performing at London’s Electrowerkz on SATURDAY 6TH MAY 2017.

Your first proper outing was with Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella’. An interesting song to be covered by a synth band?

Emese: I loved the chorus of the song and I was craving to do my own interpretation of it, to give it an 80’s synthpop feel. I was also testing my ability to put together a song from start to finish as that was one of my very first creations. It was a lot of fun.

‘Emerald City’ was your first album. With tracks like ‘Hangman’ and ‘Veronica’, you certainly made few heads turn. Did you expect that reaction?

Emese: Not really, we were simply hoping for the best. Those were also experiments with sound, trying to find our way and niche and I wasn’t even sure whether the album will be coherent at all. Emerald City was a good lesson, but to be fair, all albums are lessons to some extent.

Krisztian: Those were the first two songs I heard and those made my head turn too, this is when I came into the picture as a producer.

‘Satisfaction’ on your follow-up opus ‘Harry Me Marry Me Bury Me Bite Me’ showcased a big sonic leap into darker spheres?

Emese: Definitely, which is due to Krisztian joining the songwriting process for Harry Me. We were listening to a wide range of stuff at that time, getting inspiration from new sources, which I believe comes across quite nicely.

Krisztian: This was the first song with which I wanted to showcase the direction I thought BNC should move toward, without losing the general BNC mood. In other words, to push the borders.

Not many newish acts get to support CAMOUFLAGE or COVENANT, how did that come about?

Emese: We were at the right place in the right time I guess. We were lucky to support CAMOUFLAGE and COVENANT in Hungary thanks to a few enthusiastic and hands-on organisers who saw us performing before and thought we were a good match. The guys from Camouflage liked our show and invited us to their upcoming German tour to support them along with SOLAR FAKE. We had an amazing time!

Releasing the ‘Steril’ EP in your native Hungarian was a brave step too?

Emese: I’ve always played with the thought of writing a Hungarian song or songs, but I found that I sound way too pompous when singing in Hungarian. It requires a different kind of phrasing and it is easy to sound ridiculous.

Since we have a great fan base in Hungary, but also loyal followers from many other countries, the time felt right for at least an EP on our mother tongue.

I think I also matured enough to produce Hungarian songs without sounding awkward, at least for myself.

Krisztian: I was intrigued by the task as I always wondered what BNC would sound like on our mother tongue.

Your live performances are accompanied by artistic, sometimes erotic visuals and interesting costumes, it all adds to the mystery…

Emese: …and it helps me to transform into someone or something that is different from my normal self. It’s hard to name it and it is constantly changing from concert to concert.

Krisztian: I wear black.

Emese, how was your collaboration with the master of production that is Daniel Myer?

Emese: It was great fun, I got to do what I like to do the most: writing words and coming up with ideas for speech and/or vocals and playing with the structure. It was a truly inspiring process. Daniel then turned the songs inside out and I was amazed to hear the final versions which in many cases had nothing to do with the demo I worked with. There’s a mystic vibe when performing these pieces live.

Your love of DEPECHE MODE shines through not only your music, but also your ‘Violator’ tattoo…

Emese: Haha, nice observation! We have lots of things to thank DEPECHE MODE for; friendships, music, our relationship and the list goes on. It is no secret that we’re coming from the synthpop/darkwave/goth subculture. However, there are many other great artists who have constant influence on our music.

Krisztian: Depeche mode and synthetisers came into my life at the same time, and all of their albums taught me a new trick, which confirmed that there are boundaries or rules that can be breached

Krisztian had been involved with BNC prior to Sophie’s departure and now he’s a full time member. Why did Sophie leave such a successful project?

Emese: She felt that she could not be part of a dark synthpop kind of project any longer, and that her role had lost authenticity so to say. She has been into completely different kind of music for some time now – more guitar-oriented, experimental stuff.

I respect her for that, for standing up for herself in that way. I think this is probably the best for the both of us, as now I can play with my weird dark characters on stage freely. It is also no secret that she is going to be a mommy soon.

Has moving to London opened any new doors for the band?

Emese: Well, we got to know amazing people and artists here in the UK. It’s a new wave of inspiration, also in the multicultural sense. I don’t think we’d ever be played on a British internet radio show if we were still living in Hungary.

Krisztian: It is also worth mentioning that it became easier to develop our technical background and gear, which is essential with such band activity. This has been a huge help for live shows as well as for studio work. Nevertheless, we get less bookings in Europe as it is hard to travel with the full stage setup.

‘Dichromat’ views matters in a colourless, simplified manner…

Emese: I love the mechanical sounding of the word. The songs are dichromatic imprints of reality – I tend to say.

All that I perceive from reality comes through my own filter, and goes into the music and lyrics.

It always lacks a colour from the whole picture, because it is my own experience, which I put down in words and melodies. The listeners will add the extra colour; their own interpretation.

Your use of analogue shines throughout the latest production, and that, coupled with Emese’s vintage vocal, adds to a synth success story!

Emese: Thank you very much! It comes across quite clearly that we have more hardware now than before, and we use them as much as possible.

Krisztian: It is important to improve and learn from others. You can get away with only using software synths but in the end you will find that the raw sound of analog synths makes the production work much easier and enjoyable.

‘Minor Panics’ proved to be the most popular song from the opus, did you think that’d be the case?

Emese: To be honest, no. We both had our own favourites from the album, but for me it wasn’t Minor Panics. It’s an honest, sentimental song, it might be a little awkward to admit that I got emotional during the chorus so I had to stop recording for like 20 minutes because my voice became too shaky. Not sure if that contributed to its success.

Krisztian: We didn’t pay much attention to write a particularly popular song to the album, we only felt that it’s going to be a strong material altogether.

‘We Like To Suffer’ is accompanied by a monochromatic video with a masochistic existence in mind; nothing ever ends well in the works of BNC?

Emese: I try very hard here to come up with an objection, but I can’t. No, seems like nothing ends nicely. The bare fact that all the inspiration comes from frustration explains how BNC is functioning. I find it hard to write songs about happiness as I rather just enjoy it when it occurs. Frustration on the other hand wants to be written out, this is how I deal with it.

You play in London in May. What have you planned for that?

Emese: This is going to be our belated UK ‘Dichromat’ launch gig, so we plan to play as many new songs as possible!

Are you planning to gig ‘Dichromat’ outside the UK and your native Hungary?

Emese: We already did an album launch in Budapest, and we have a few shows booked in Prague, Leipzig (Wave Gotik Treffen) and some further gigs in Hungary and Switzerland (Eine Nacht im Bergwerk Festival) in the second half of the year. We are always on the lookout for new cities and dates, so promoters are welcome to get in touch!


‘Dichromat’ is available from https://basicunitproductions.bandcamp.com/album/dichromat in CD or download formats



Text and Interview by Monika Izabela Trigwell
Promo photos by Raphael Preston
Live photos by infinitebeat.hu and Richard Price
1st April 2017


With their brooding form of electro, the Hungarian duo BLACK NAIL CABARET impressed the fans of darker synthpopia while previously supporting established acts such as COVENANT, CAMOUFLAGE and DE/VISION.

Straight from the Hungarian capital Budapest, Emese Arvai-Illes on vocals and Sophie Tarr in charge of keyboards, came into existence in 2008 with a surprising darkwave cover of Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella’. Their debut album ‘Emerald City’ was aired in 2012, with a twisted gothic trance pop of ‘Hangman’ and the single ‘Veronica’.

The follow-up to the first opus was ‘Harry Me, Marry Me, Bury Me, Bite Me’, showcasing the pair’s sonic leap forward into darkness with a synth noir gem ‘Satisfaction’. And now, just in time for the New Year, comes the third long player, the pigment missing ‘Dichromat’. Tarr departed earlier in 2016 so this could be considered Emese Illes-Arvai’s first solo record, partnered by Krisztian Arvai on keyboards and production.

‘Dichromat’, which is a term transcending a two-dimensional colour defect, describes the band’s intention to avoid colour and view the subject of the songs in a more matter-of-fact manner.

With this in mind, BNC go back to analogue equipment and champion the use of hardware over soft synths, with the opening ‘Sister Sister’ being a true testament to the theory of musical rawness being best depicted, when created on analogue. Continuing with the vintage sounding ‘CO’, it is harsh and very monochromatic, especially when accompanied by the almost vintage voice of Arvai-Illes.

‘Comfort Zone’ is everything but; punctuated with piercing electronica and nearly shouted out lyrics, while ‘Decay Avenue’ screams with the decapitation of human existence. Perhaps ‘Therapy’ is the answer, transcending the aura to a dance induced pluripotent mechanism. ‘Session’ enters with minimal synth fluctuations a la KRAFTWERK, developing into a GAZELLE TWIN-like concoction of sounds; the vocal, periodically laced with the tonality similar to that of FIFI RONG’s during “breathe in, breathe out”, is as marked as ever.

‘Freak Of Fancy’ underlines the black and white feel and ‘Lower The Shutters’ plays within the boundaries of hardware. ‘Orgasm’ is monogamously analogue, à la the latest outing from APOPTYGMA BERZERK, but with words. While everyone experiences ‘Minor Panics’, BLACK NAIL CABARET float above the hard beats with a soft, ballad-like melody, arpeggiated to perfection. ‘We Like To Suffer’ has a notion of masochistic existence in mind, powered by interesting bass and Mode-esque sequences.

Everything needs to end well, except it doesn’t: the closing ‘Soon’ depicts the drama of emotional distress, over haunting cries and the uncertain instability of human survival. Still, deceptively uplifting and loaded with a surprising danceability factor, the tracks on ‘Dichromat’ remain dark and capably soulful.

So “BLACK NAIL CABARET deliver another round of refreshingly contemporary dark pop music, intertwined with a smattering of 80s gothic, and electronic nostalgia” – the avoidance of colour has certainly achieved the desired effect of rawness, yet roundness.

‘Dichromat’ is released by Basic Unit Productions and available as a CD or download from https://basicunitproductions.bandcamp.com/album/dichromat



Text by Monika Izabela Trigwell
Photo by Raphael Preston
23rd December 2016


BLACK NAIL CABARET’s debut London gig reinforced why European acts are ahead of the game with regards darker flavoured synthpop.

It was a fine, charismatic performance by singer Emese Illes-Arvai and keyboardist Sophie Tarr, accompanied by some beautiful and occasionally erotic arthouse visuals.

In a passionate set which comprised highlights from their second long player ‘Harry Me, Marry Me, Bury Me, Bite Me’ including ‘Hair’, ‘Blonde’ and ‘Lovely Girl’, it was evidence of how BLACK NAIL CABARET have made a sonic leap forward since their promising debut ‘Emerald City’ in 2012.

‘Satisfaction’ magnificently stole the show while proceedings were nicely rounded out with first album faves ‘Let Me In’ and ‘Veronica’, as well as a lively electronic rendition of STARSAILOR’s ‘Tell Me It’s Not Over’.

Having supported CAMOUFLAGE, COVENANT and DE/VISION, the confidence of BLACK NAIL CABARET is on such a high right now that the duo have just released a four track EP in their native Hungarian. Entitled ‘Steril’, the title track is a moodily percussive composition that adds further to their enigmatic demeanour, thanks to the unfamiliar language tone.

Of the other tracks on the EP, ‘Fekete’ adds some viola by Celine Righi to bring some rich Lisztian spirit into the equation while ‘Reggel’ uses harmonium textures to procure a sparse, haunting soundtrack. But ‘Mágia’ provides a more obvious synthpop template from which listeners who enjoyed ‘Harry Me, Marry Me, Bury Me, Bite Me’ can reference from.

With songstress Gwenno having had her Welsh language album ’Y Dydd Olaf’ recently reissued by Heavenly Recordings, electronic pop in something other than English is steadily gaining ground. But historically, this is nothing unusual as prior to the Synth Britannia dominance of the classic era, the UK first became enlightened to popular music of electronic origin thanks to ‘Autobahn’, a record that was of course, recorded in German! On Facebook, the duo said: “There are several reasons why we wrote these on our mother tongue, one of them was that the rhythm of the lyrics suited better in Hungarian, it was a lot easier to express these feelings which are partly about our home and being away from it”

With the general open mindedness of many electronic music fans, the ‘Steril’ EP is timely. It is also an indication of BLACK NAIL CABARET’s willingness to experiment and push artistic boundaries.

‘Steril’ is available as a download EP from





Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Richard Price
23rd November 2015


Fresh from supporting German veterans CAMOUFLAGE on their recent tour are Hungarian duo BLACK NAIL CABARET. Having previously supported COVENANT and DE/VISION, the pair have been impressing audiences with their brooding form of electro.

Hailing from Budapest, Emese Illes-Arvai (vocals) and Sophie Tarr (keyboards) formed in 2008 and one of their first recordings was a darkwave cover of RIHANNA’s ‘Umbrella’. They released their debut album ‘Emerald City’ in 2012 with one of the highlights being the gothic trance pop of ‘Hangman’ and the single ‘Veronica’.

Unleashed last Autumn as a taster for their second album ‘Harry Me, Marry Me, Bury Me, Bite Me’, ‘Satisfaction’ is a magnificently moody example of how BLACK NAIL CABARET have made a sonic leap forward since their debut.

While the darkness remains, there is clarity amongst the melancholy as the lyrical couplet “Don’t you cry, don’t be whiney” demonstrates. Like DEPECHE MODE reimagined for a Weimar Cabaret set piece, ‘Satisfaction’ is wonderful synth noir laced with eerie string machine and a steadfast mechanical beat.

The new album develops on the promise of ‘Emerald City’ by being stern and unsmiling, yet embroiled in cautious optimism. This is best represented by the vibrant Marilyn Monroe tribute ‘Blonde’ which attaches some Casiotone bleeps to a template that is akin to THE CURE gone synthpop.

The appealing European melancholy of ‘Lovely Girl’ is bolstered by pizzicato violins and fizzy electronics while the Schaffel flavoured ‘Down Again’ will connect with anyone whose favourite track on ‘Delta Machine’ was ‘Should Be Higher’.

BLACK NAIL CABARET’s rich character undoubtedly comes from the deep vocal tones of Emese Illes-Arvai, but without Sophie Tarr’s intuitive backing, they would not have the sympathetic backdrop to prosper, as the solemn Gregorian allure of the excellent album closer ‘The Burial Party’ proves. It is a rather good period for dark female duos at the moment.

‘Harry Me, Marry Me, Bury Me, Bite Me’ is released by Basic Unit Productions on CD and download, available from http://basicunitproductions.bandcamp.com/





Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Zsolt Ficsor and Josef Stapel
23rd May 2015

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