Tag: Boytronic (Page 2 of 3)

KNIGHT$ Dollars & Cents

Coming over like the love child of Richard Butler and Neil Tennant, James Knights has been making synthwaves with sparkly Britalo!

Slicker and less intense than his previous band SCARLET SOHO, shiny disco pop is what his KNIGHT$ alter-ego is all about.

Combining the melodic Italo Disco spirit of SAVAGE and RAF with British exponents of the form such as PET SHOP BOYS and NEW ORDER, ‘Dollars & Cents’ is a joyous ray of sunshine. It opens perfectly with the catchy KNIGHT$ calling card ‘What’s Your Poison?’ that was first issued in 2017.

A dig at modern internet dating culture, he told ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK: “I guess I thought people would have a better idea of finding the perfect date by offering people drinks and judging them on their choice! Gotta be better than Tinder!”

KNIGHT$ has made a wise choice by including his first single, but it is the glorious ‘Gelato’ that affirms KNIGHT$’ Britalo aspirations with its unashamedly sun-kissed glitterball drive that gets all deliciously “Tutti Frutti”.

The soulful electro disco of ‘Julia’ comes complete with a Speak & Spell machine that counterpoints KNIGHT$’ sense of longing and there’s an unexpected key change too. Taking the pace down a bit for an artful street duet featuring Holger Wobker of BOYTRONIC, ‘Proving A Point’ comes over like spacey HEAVEN 17 as sheep bleat and synths bleep.

The ‘Dollars & Cents’ title track is a wonderfully charged HI-NRG romp with KNIGHT$ adopting a lower register Jimmy Somerville persona. Meanwhile continuing that theme, the equally energetic ‘Hijack My Heart’ apes BRONSKI BEAT, complete with a closing bursts of falsetto as the Winchester lad tightens his glitzy clubbing trousers to full effect and drops in a blistering synth solo to add to the fun.

The metallic Eurobeat of ‘Shadows’ offers no respite and keeps the feet shuffling on that dancefloor before the more steadfast ‘Running’; this one takes one more of an early MADONNA template but perhaps suffers next to the three songs preceding it, particularly as its rhythmic backbone is much more subdued in the mix. But it’s still a good song none the less.

Closing this primarily uptempo collection, the snappy electro-funk of ‘Alligator’ is an amusing observation on one-sided conversation with people who doesn’t listen which echoes LES RYTHMES DIGITALES but channelled in much more of a pop-oriented context.

The previously released B-sides ‘Playin’ It Cool’ and ‘What We Leave Behind’ come as welcome extras on the CD variant although the excellent ‘So Cold’ is missing; but almost everything you could want from a first full length body of work by KNIGHT$ is present and correct.

‘Dollars & Cents’ is a very immediate electronic pop record that is ideal for these turbulent and uncertain socio-political times. Whereas the coming years will decide whether it is a classic, for now it is simply perfect escapist pop music. So Britalo be thy name!

KNIGHT$ debut long player may be the antithesis of the intense and gloomy ‘Careful’ from BOY HARSHER, but sits alongside it as one of the first great albums of 2019.


‘Dollars & Cents’ is released by Specchio Uomo on 5th April 2019 in CD, vinyl LP and digital formats, available direct from https://knights101.bandcamp.com/

http://knights101.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Knights101/

https://twitter.com/JPSKNIGHTS

https://www.instagram.com/knights101/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
14th March 2019

HOLGER WOBKER: The Original BOYTRONIC Interview

BOYTRONIC began as a duo and honed their musical craft at sex shows in Hamburg’s red light district on the Reeperbahn.

Led by vocalist Holger Wobker, BOYTRONIC hit the big time when they scored a No10 German hit with ‘You’.

With their charged energetic synth-led sound, there were hit albums too with 1983’s ‘The Working Model’ and 1985’s ‘The Continental’. The latter long player included ‘A Man In A Uniform’ produced by Bobby Orlando who had worked with PET SHOP BOYS and DIVINE.

However success led to friction with BOYTRONIC’s management claiming ownership of their name and a new line-up continued without Wobker who had performed under the alias of Bryllyant Berger. He returned for a stint between 2002-2008 but the tensions remained.

Now after a ten year hiatus, Wobker returns with former BOYTRONIC frontman James Knights to release a new album entitled ‘The Robot Treatment’.

Holger Wobker discussed the return of the original BOYTRONIC and gave his side of the story…

For those who may not be aware, what was your involvement originally in BOYTRONIC?

I was the founder along with Peter Sawatski back in 1983. We wrote the songs together and I provided the vocals.

Do you have some favourite BOYTRONIC songs from that time?

‘You’re The One Who Stays’; I didn’t sing this one, as it didn’t work with my voice so well, but I think that’s natural and most people don’t like the sound of their own voices anyway.

What for you was your proudest moment when BOYTRONIC became a success?

When I went to the club I usually went to, and they played BOYTRONIC without begging the DJ to do it. Everybody went to the dance floor, jumped around and screamed. I think that was one of my happiest moments!

But then, the story of BOYTRONIC becomes complicated? What happened?

It’s a harsh story and it’s a bit traumatic, but I will try to explain. In those days we weren’t signed to a record company directly. We signed to a small production company and they had the deal with the record company. We only had an initial contract for one album.

First it seemed we would be not that successful, but then we had some TV shows and it exploded. The week after the first appearance we went top ten in Germany, and this was exactly the day the production company registered BOYTRONIC as their own trademark. We didn’t know about that at the time. We didn’t even know that it’s possible to do that!

Soon after we wanted to leave the company cause we weren’t so happy with them. We had offers from Warner and EMI London, and we really wanted to move, but we couldn’t now the company owned the name. After nearly two years in court, the question was “Who invented the name?”

In the end, all the owners of the company witnessed they did it together as a team (which was lies). But we were f*cked. German law was like this at that time. These days they would have no chance.

Peter left immediately after that and didn’t want to go on. He wouldn’t be forced to carry on with people who would do this. I tried for half a year or so before quitting too. After that ,the company had the name but no band!

They then took three new people and presented a brand new BOYTRONIC, but this had nothing to do with us.

Years later, I got a call from one of them and was asked me to do another BOYTRONIC LP. So we made ‘Autotunes’ together in 2002. I couldn’t work in this way again, but it’s something I had to try at that time.

The most recent BOYTRONIC album ‘Jewel’ came out in 2017 without your involvement, what were your feelings about this? What did you think of this album?

What do you think? I was p*ssed off. At first I didn’t know about this at all. Then I saw a new video on YouTube and an announcement for live shows. I thought to myself… this is the last time! To make it short, I went to a lawyer and fought to get the name back. Yes, the lawyer made some money along the way, but it was worth it in the end. They are allowed to use the name until 07.02.2019. So that will be the next time I’ll get drunk!

I can’t say anything about the musical quality of ‘Jewel’. Let the people decide. When you hear the first 5 seconds of ‘The Robot Treatment’, you will know who is BOYTRONIC.

In an interesting twist, you’ve teamed up with ‘Jewel’ vocalist James Knights of KNIGHT$ for the new BOYTRONIC album ‘The Robot Treatment’… now this would be like John Foxx and Midge Ure teaming up to do a new ULTRAVOX album, or even David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar coming together to be VAN HALEN, how is your collaborative partnership coming along so far?

We spoke last year and he was anxious with how it was panning out, and where it was going. I liked him and suggested we could do something together. It wasn’t meant so serious. He was back with KNIGHT$ in Germany months on, so I played him ideas that I had, and we began to work on them.

It’s early days, but what is the creative dynamic between you two so far?

James understands exactly what BOYTRONIC is about. I don’t have to say much when we’re communicating ideas, it all comes naturally. Even when I’m drifting away, he puts me on the right track. We both have a vision how it’s got to be, and that’s great. It’s almost like working with Peter, but he’s more friendly!

How would you describe the sort of songs you are producing?

We want to be authentic! That’s why we will use no digital plug-ins except if absolutely necessary. We work with analogue synths to create a full and groovy electronic sound. That’s what we both like. The songs are catchy melodic pop songs with a huge Italo touch, and plenty of drama! Like BOYTRONIC should be.

What are your hopes and fears in this real relaunch of BOYTRONIC?

I hope people like what we do. People may be confused because they don’t know the full story, but most of the fans do by now. I’m not really afraid of anything. I had so much trouble with BOYTRONIC in the past… in that case I’m unsinkable! I hope I can go on for a long time yet…

Are you interested in performing live again?

Sure, yes. We will do that next year when the record comes out. Maybe a few dates before. This is our bread, sure we will perform live, it makes no sense otherwise.


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to Holger Wobker

Special thanks to Mirror Man Agency

A selection of BOYTRONIC releases are available at https://boytronic01.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/BoytronicOriginal/

https://twitter.com/boytronicorigi1

https://www.instagram.com/boytronicoriginal/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
27th August 2018, updated 19th May 2019

A Short Conversation with KNIGHT$

Photo by Tanya Raffety

Shiny danceable electronic pop is what KNIGHT$ is all about and as the vehicle of James Knights, formally of SCARLET SOHO, his ethos is to make synthwaves with his brand of sparkly Britalo!

It’s been a busy time for the Winchester based singer/songwriter, with his first two releases ‘What’s Your Poison?’ and ‘Alligator’ gaining airplay on internet radio. Meanwhile, he also provided lead vocals for the current incarnation of veteran German electropopsters BOYTRONIC on their comeback album ‘Jewel’. Coming over like the love child of Richard Butler and Neil Tennant, the crowd pleasing nature of James Knights himself has made him a must-see live act, while the music of KNIGHT$ has that unashamedly glitterball disco drive.

Having just returned from a successful German tour opening for WOLFSHEIM’s Peter Heppner, James Knights unpacked his suitcase and kindly chatted about his upcoming plans for KNIGHT$…

You’ve described the music of KNIGHT$ as Britalo, what led you to pursue your new poptastic direction?

When my previous project went on a break, it was important to take some time out and think about what to do.

I knew I would be the main writer/performer in KNIGHT$, so I wanted to create an alter ego to hide behind, someone very different from me in real life.

I toured mainland Europe a few years ago, and I was introduced to some older pop music we never had over here in the UK. This Italo sound inspired me for sure, along with so many US one-hit wonders and some Synthwave tracks, plus FALCO, GAZEBO, STEPHEN FALKEN etc. At the time, I needed something to drag me away from all the music I knew before, and this captured my imagination and inspired me to be creative again.

There’s an air of ‘American Gigolo’ both aurally and visually within your music?

What can I say? It’s not intentional, but I guess there’s something about that kind of vibe I like to take with us on the stage. Every time you perform you have a chance to change the whole ambience of a venue. I see this as a challenge. I love it!

You appear to place as much importance on videos and a good live presentation as the music, what’s your thinking behind this?

We’re in such a visual time. I consume music with my ears and eyes and hope other people do the same! I know I can write a song, but that’s just one part of the role.

Photo by Mark Holloway

Your first two releases ‘What’s Your Poison?’ and ‘Alligator’ were quite a bit more sparkly than some of your previous work with SCARLET SOHO? What are the stories behind the title tunes?

‘What’s Your Poison?’ and ‘Alligator’ were some of the first tracks I wrote as KNIGHT$. ‘Alligator’ is just a little anecdote about something we all experience from time to time, the one-sided conversation with someone who doesn’t listen! ‘What’s Your Poison?’ was a bit of a slight on today’s dating culture.

I guess I thought people would have a better idea of finding the perfect date by offering people drinks and judging them on their choice! Gotta be better than Tinder!

Songs like ‘Gigolo’ and ‘Two Steps From Heartache’ indicate that what became the KNIGHT$ sound was omnipresent in SCARLET SOHO. How do you look back on that period and what the band achieved?

SCARLET SOHO was a way of life for anyone involved. For almost 15 years, we were making music together. We were very young when we started the project, and learned a lot about writing, recording, live shows and the business. You could look back and say mistakes were made along the way of course! I’m very proud to have done it.

What have been the main differences for you creatively between working solo and within a band format?

I think working alone has made the process a bit slicker perhaps.

I’m always on the move when I demo tracks, and I like writing music on the train and stuff. With a band, you can deliberate over ideas for too long.

Are you a softsynth or hardware man? Has there been too much over romanticisation of vintage gear maybe?

I programme everything on my laptop with some approximated sounds. Then, when the arrangement is complete, I take the demo, all the vocals, and all the MIDI files to a studio so we can bounce the synth sounds through vintage synths and begin mixing. If you have access to the real gear you should use it. I mean, why not?

NEW ORDER’s ‘Subculture’, which appears to be the inspiration for ‘So Cold’, is their most under rated song? Discuss!

Love it, great track of course and I love NEW ORDER! I hope I don’t disappoint you here though… the biggest influence on ‘So Cold’ was 70s disco!

You’re known for performing covers which have ranged from ‘Uncivilized’ by dark Canadian trailblazers PSYCHE to PET SHOP BOYS ‘Heart’, you’ve even sung U2’s ‘New Year’s Day’ with BOYTRONIC. How do you choose your cover versions and are there any others you would like to attempt?

If it sounds good I’ll have a go! There are loads I’d like to try… it’s just finding the time. ‘Don’t Cry Tonight’ by SAVAGE would be a good one, ‘Monday Morning’ by FLEETWOOD MAC I like to sing, and the Spanish version of ‘Toy Soldiers’ by MARTIKA, topped off with ‘I.O.U’ by FREEEZ!

You have a close bond with Germany and a number of its veteran electronic acts, why do you think this has managed to develop over the years?

I performed in Germany for the first time in 2006, shortly after that SCARLET SOHO signed to a German label and we spent more time over there. So naturally we met more people and were introduced to music and bands we hadn’t heard before which was really exciting. We always felt very at home.

Photo by Michael Gamon

For those who have not witnessed a KNIGHT$ live performance, what can they expect from you?

The stage show grows in strength the more time I rehearse with the band, I hope to have some new songs in the set and play for a little longer than usual! Maybe a costume change or two midway through, or a special guest.

What’s next for KNIGHT$ on the release schedule? Does the album format figure in your plans or are EPs the way to go in the future?

I would like to make an album as most of the songs are ready now. I’m talking to some labels and we’ll see what happens. If not, I will continue with EPs on vinyl!


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to James Knights

The ‘Alligator’ and ‘What’s Your Poison?’ EPs are available in vinyl and digital formats from https://knights101.bandcamp.com/

http://knights101.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Knights101/

https://twitter.com/JPSKNIGHTS

http://knightstore.bigcartel.com


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
4th January 2018, updated 9th February 2018

2017 End Of Year Review

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

PAUL BODDY

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


IAN FERGUSON

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


SIMON HELM

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


CHI MING LAI

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


RCHARD PRICE

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


STEPHEN ROPER

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


MONIKA IZABELA TRIGWELL

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

BOYTRONIC Jewel

BOYTRONIC certainly have been through many line-up changes, hiatuses and disappearances and reappearances from the German synth scene since 1983, but now it’s the time for the big return.

‘Jewel’ marks the 2017 reincarnation of the trio, with Ingo Hauss, Hayo Lewerentz and James Knights.

Since Hauss and Lewerentz have approached the project in a fluid manner, rather than “we are in a band, therefore we have to deliver” configuration, the artistic process has been more relaxed and not rushed, until they found Winchester boy James Knights.

The former vocalist of SCARLET SOHO recorded ‘Time After Midnight’ with the German duo, without any expectations or further plans, but, since musically it represented the kind of material BOYTRONIC have been loved for and it was warmly received by the hungry fans, the three musicians decided that a brand new BOYTRONIC album was in order.

Following previous multiple releases, with the last opus ‘Dependence’ some ten years ago , ‘Jewel’ promises “a new beginning as well as the continuation of the success story” for the Hamburg based project.

Inspired by Martin Scorsese’s ‘After Hours’, ‘Time After Midnight’ marries an excellent nostalgic synth sound and vocal à la Marc Almond in his prime, and is a perfect re-introduction into the quirky sound of BOYTRONIC, who have always had that edgy feel to their material.

‘The Universe’ distinguishes itself with masterful arrangements and rather original approach to synth. Lewerentz calls it – “a centre part in Alice in Wonderland mode”; its simplicity unparalleled, and its depth unreachable, a little gem.

Talking about which, the title track is certainly precious. A little bit of mystery, a dash of versatile vocal and a dose of nostalgia recalling CAMOUFLAGE equals a wonderfully rounded down tempo tune.

While the cinematic ‘Jewel’ is “shiny and clear”, ‘Mad Love’ is loaded with magically pulsating rhythm, reminiscent of BOYTRONIC’s earliest releases, with its metallic synth sound and an innate musicality seeded deeply in Lewerentz’s creations, making it a perfect choice of the first single.

‘Share’ is a dark horse, with breaking the boundaries of electronica as we know it; a bit EBM-ish but without the tedious stomps and unnecessary twists. Lyrically it describes the unruled sharing of contents on social networks, which has become somewhat a mare for the artists of today.


‘My Baby Lost Its Way’ is a minimalist pop hit, which dazzles with the danceability factor and brings back the club feels of old, while ‘Dark Passion’ ushers in the Eurotrance beats over nautical connotations a la ‘Das Boot’. No surprises there as Lewerentz, along with Ingo Hauss and producer Alex Christensen, was also involved in the successful U96 project.

Semi-instrumental and fully robotic, ‘Disco City’ leads to the most surprising entry on the album; a cover of U2’s ‘New Year’s Day’.

“We came up with the idea spontaneously at the studio”, says Lewerentz. “Ingo, James and I were jamming away when suddenly James joined in our chord harmonies with the ‘New Year’s Day’ chorus. We looked at each other in surprise and decided: Might as well have a go at the original.” The result is a very fitting electronic version of the well-known song, which actually sounds heavens better than the original.

It is indeed pleasing to see the BOYTRONIC spark light up again; much fresher, fuller and bigger, but still keeping in with its beginnings – something not many can deliver so easily.

“BOYTRONIC has always been about pop songs, danceable, catchy and always a little mysterious” says Lewerentz and ‘Jewel’ certainly provides on that level.

If you’re looking for something non-conforming and not quite fitting into the box, there you have it… BOYTRONIC at their best.


‘Jewel’ is released by SPV Records in Europe and Metropolis Records in North America on 3rd November 2017

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Text by Monika Izabela Trigwell
2nd November 2017

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