Tag: Cocteau Twins (Page 2 of 4)

A Beginner’s Guide To JOHN FOXX

The recent release of the ULTRAVOX! 4 CD box set ‘The Island Years’ was a timely reminder that their one-time leader JOHN FOXX has had a music career that has spanned over four decades.

Born Dennis Leigh, his first recorded work was a ROXY MUSIC styled cover of ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’ for an arthouse adult film of the same name, as a member of TIGER LILY. The quintet comprising of Foxx, Warren Cann, Chris Cross, Billy Currie and Stevie Shears renamed themselves ULTRAVOX! and signed a deal with Island Records.

Reinforcing their art rock aspirations seeded by THE VELVET UNDERGROUND and DAVID BOWIE, ULTRAVOX! secured the production input of synth pioneer and label mate BRIAN ENO for their self-titled debut in 1977. Two albums later, they began to make headway with a template inspired by the emergent electronic bands from Germany such as KRAFTWERK, CLUSTER and NEU!

However, Foxx became disillusioned with the restrictions of a band format and departed ULTRAVOX! in 1979 for a solo career; the end result was the ‘Metamatic’ album, released in 1980 on Virgin Records. Recorded at Pathway, an eight-track studio in Islington using an ARP Odyssey, Elka Rhapsody 610 and Roland CR78 Compurhythm, the seminal long player yielded two unexpected hit singles in ‘Underpass’ and ‘No-One Driving’.

Foxx said of that period: “You felt like some Film Noir scientist inventing a new life-form in the basement. I also think it was the beginning of Electro-Art-Punk or something like that. A strange wee animal. Seems to have bred copiously with everything available and still survived – right to this day.”

In the years since, JOHN FOXX has continued to innovate within electronic, experimental and ambient spheres. Despite this, he is still very much under rated, especially compared with artists who benefited from his influence.

Ultravox1978GARY NUMAN has always acknowledged his debt to the synth rock overtures of ULTRAVOX! while DEPECHE MODE’s admiration of ‘Metamatic’ led to its incumbent engineer Gareth Jones working with the band on their own Berlin Trilogy of ‘Construction Time Again’, ‘Some Great Reward’ and ‘Black Celebration’.

So with a vast repertoire to his name, what tracks in his various guises would act as a Beginner’s Guide to the man referred to affectionately as Lord Foxx Of Chorley?

This is not intended to be a best of chronology, more a reflection of highly divergent career. With a restriction of one recording per album project, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK lists its #Foxx20.


ULTRAVOX! My Sex (1977)

Ultravox_ultravoxUsing Brian Eno’s Minimoog with a knob marked with a sheep sticker to indicate that it made woolly sounds, Billy Currie’s classical sensibilities combined with Foxx’s detached dissatisfaction for the wonderful ‘My Sex’. Of Eno, Foxx said, “It was good to hear his stories and enact his strategies. He wasn’t greatly experienced in studio craft but he was a good co-conspirator, someone with a useful overview, who understood where we wanted to go. He was just what we wanted, really. A sort of art approach to recording”

Available on the ULTRAVOX! album ‘Ultravox!’ via Island Records


ULTRAVOX! Hiroshima Mon Amour (1977)

ULTRAVOX-ha-ha-haUtilising Warren Cann’s modified Roland TR77 rhythm machine, this was Foxx moving into the moody ambience pioneered by CLUSTER, away from the art rock of the first album and the aggressive attack of interim 45 ‘Young Savage’. ‘Hiroshima Mon Amour’ had been premiered as a spikier uptempo number for the B-side of ‘ROckWrok’. The ‘CC’ credited on saxophone is not Chris Cross, but a member of GLORIA MUNDI, a collective fronted by EDDIE & SUNSHINE who later appeared with Foxx on ‘Top Of The Pops’.

Available on the ULTRAVOX! album ‘Ha! Ha! Ha!’ via Island Records


ULTRAVOX! Quiet Men – 12 inch version (1978)

ULTRAVOXquietmen12inchRelocating to Cologne to work with the legendary Conny Plank for their third album ‘Systems Of Romance’, ULTRAVOX! became more texturally powerful thanks to Billy Currie’s ARP Odyssey, the EMS Synthi AKS of Chris Cross and the recruitment of guitarist in Robin Simon. ‘Quiet Men’ was a perfect integration of all those elements attached to a rhythm machine backbone. Of the even punchier 12 inch rework, Foxx told Record Collector in 2003: “We remixed it so that Warren’s metal beats would shred speakers”

Available on the ULTRAVOX! box set ‘The Island Years’ via Caroline International


JOHN FOXX He’s A Liquid (1980)

“I want to be a machine” sang Foxx on the ‘Ultravox!’ debut and he virtually went the full hog with the JG Ballard inspired ‘Metamatic’. His mission was to “Make a language for the synth and the drum machine”. The deviant ‘He’s A Liquid’ was pure unadulterated Sci-Fi: “I think it was a bit of punk electronica at the right time – just before everyone else raided the shed. Historically, perhaps it defines an impulse – something that wasn’t possible before – one man and some cheap machines making music independently”.

Available on the JOHN FOXX album ‘Metamatic’ via Edsel Records


JOHN FOXX Europe After The Rain (1981)

JOHN FOXX The GardenFoxx admitted he had been “reading too much JG Ballard” and had thawed considerably following ‘Metamatic’. Now exploring beautiful Italian gardens and taking on a more foppish appearance, his new mood was reflected in his music. Moving to a disused factory site in Shoreditch, Foxx set up ‘The Garden’ recording complex and the first song to emerge was the Linn Drum driven ‘Europe After The Rain’. Featuring acoustic guitar and piano, Foxx had now achieved his system of romance.

Available on the JOHN FOXX album ‘The Garden’ via Edsel Records


ANTENA The Boy From Ipanema (1982)

ANTENA The Boy From IpanemaBefore NOUVELLE VAGUE, French-Belgian combo ANTENA hit upon the idea of merging electronic forms with a samba cocktail style. Released on the prestigious Belgian label Les Disques Du Crépuscule who Foxx contributed ’A Jingle’ for the compilation ‘From Brussels With Love’, he produced their cover of ‘The Boy From Ipanema’, adding robotic textures via The Human Host. Much lighter that any of his own work, it was also quite sinister, making this a unqiue curio in the JOHN FOXX portfolio.

Available on the ANTENA album ‘Camino Del Sol’ via Les Disques du Crépuscule


JOHN FOXX Ghosts On Water (1983)

JOHN FOXX The Golden SectionFoxx had envisioned ‘The Golden Section’ as “a roots check: Beatles, Church music, Psychedelia, The Shadows, The Floyd, The Velvets, Roy Orbison, Kraftwerk, and cheap pre-electro Europop”. Working with Zeus B Held, the album had a psychedelic electronic rock flavour, liberally seasoned with vocoder effects and samplers. With folk laden overtones and some frantic percussion work from HAIRCUT 100’s Blair Cunningham, ‘Ghosts On Water’ was one of the album’s highlights.

Available on the JOHN FOXX album ‘The Golden Section’ via Edsel Records


JOHN FOXX Shine On (1985)

JOHN FOXX In Mysterious WaysBy 1985, Foxx had lost his way and got embroiled in attempting a more conventional pop sound. With its sax sample lead line, ‘Shine On’ showed Foxx could deliver a fine pop tune but he wasn’t happy: “I simply didn’t like the mid to late eighties scene – all perfect pop and white soul. I suddenly felt isolated. I remember one day finding myself half-heartedly toying with some sort of sh*tty pop music while longing to be out of the studio and working on something visual. So I thought right that’s it – time for a change”.

Available on the JOHN FOXX album ‘In Mysterious Ways’ via Edsel Records


NATION 12 Remember (1990)

NATION 12 RememberFoxx made an unexpected return to music with an acid house inspired number produced by Tim Simenon of BOMB THE BASS fame: “It was a great experience – a new underground evolving from post-industrial Detroit, using analogue instruments rescued from skips and pawn shops… Tim Simenon turned up wanting me to do some music… so Foxx was out the freezer and into the microwave…” – the other material that was recorded didn’t see the light of day until 2005.

Available on the NATION 12 album ‘Electrofear’ via Tape Modern


JOHN FOXX Sunset Rising (1995)

JOHN FOXX Cathedral Oceans‘Cathedral Oceans’ saw Foxx developing his interest in ambient forms fused with Gregorian chants, as exemplified by ‘Sunset Rising’. But the project had an extremely long genesis with the first recordings made in 1983. Inspired by his brief period as a choir boy, when asked what this material gave him that songs couldn’t, he answered: “Well, they cover a different emotional and sonic spectrum – more concerned with tranquility and contemplation. Music with beats can’t address this at all”. The third volume was released in 2005.

Available on the JOHN FOXX album ‘The Complete Cathedral Oceans’ via Demon Records


JOHN FOXX & LOUIS GORDON Dust & Light (1999)

john foxx louis gordon crash&burnWeaned on ‘Metamatic’, LOUIS GORDON was a natural collaborator for Foxx’s song based comeback. Their partnership over four albums, confirmed that Foxx still had that inventive spark within electronic music. Noisy and percussive, ‘Dust & Light’ recalled the unsettling Dystopian standpoint with which Foxx had made his pioneering impact. Tracks like ‘Drive’ and ‘Automobile’ continued the theme, although Foxx sustained his interest in more psychedelic forms via songs like ‘An Ocean We Can Breathe’.

Available on the JOHN FOXX & LOUIS GORDON album ‘Crash & Burn’ via Metamatic Records


HAROLD BUDD & JOHN FOXX Subtext (2003)

foxx budd Translucence + Drift MusicWith beautiful piano and processed electronics, the sparse ‘Subtext’ was very reminiscent of HAROLD BUDD’s 1984 Eno collaboration ‘The Pearl’. From the ‘Translucence’ album which was twinned with the more discreet, sleepier textures of ‘Drift Music’, it was smothered in echoes and reverberations galore as slow atmospherics and glistening melodies esoterically blended into the ether. A further collaboration ‘Nighthawks’, with the additional input of Ruben Garcia, was issued in 2011.

Available on the HAROLD BUDD & JOHN FOXX album ‘Translucence + Drift Music’ via Metamatic Records


JOHN FOXX & ROBIN GUTHRIE My Life As An Echo (2009)

guthrie foxx mirrorballIf nothing, JOHN FOXX had diverse artistic interests. The ‘Mirrorball’ album with COCTEAU TWINS’ Robin Guthrie took textural guitars and echoing piano into a dreamworld that he could now enter. ‘My Life As An Echo’ was a beautiful instrumental which stopped short of being fully ambient thanks to its live drum loop. Other tracks such as ‘Estrellita’ and ‘The Perfect Line’ saw Foxx adding Glossolalia to the soundscape, recalling not only ‘Cathedral Oceans’ but Guthrie’s work with former partner Elizabeth Fraser.

Available on the JOHN FOXX & ROBIN GUTHRIE album ‘Mirrorball’ via Metamatic Records


JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS featuring MIRA AROYO Watching A Building On Fire (2011)

john foxx maths_interplayJoining forces with synth collector extraordinaire Benge, Foxx found the perfect foil for his earlier analogue ambitions, only this time combined with a warmth that had not been apparent on ‘Metamatic’, or his work with LOUIS GORDON. The best track on their debut album ‘Interplay’ was a co-written duet with Mira Aroyo of LADYTRON entitled ‘Watching A Building On Fire’. With its chattering drum machine and accessible Trans-European melodies, it was an obvious spiritual successor to ‘Burning Car’.

Available on the JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS album ‘Interplay’ via Metamatic Records


GAZELLE TWIN Changelings – JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS remix (2012)

JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS became extremely prolific and a number of remixes appeared, the best of which was for GAZELLE TWIN aka Elizabeth Bernholz. She said: “John and Benge’s remix of ‘Changelings’ was really delicate and elegant. It’s one of my favourites of all the remixes because it doesn’t alter the song much at all. I love the addition of John’s vocal in there too. It was perfectly suited. I am so flattered that they chose to put (it) on the new ‘Evidence’ album. It’s really special for me”.

Available on the JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS album ‘Evidence’ via Metamatic Records


JOHN FOXX & JORI HULKKONEN Evangeline (2013)

Foxx and JORI HULKKONEN had worked together previously on the songs ‘Dislocated’ and ‘Never Been Here Before’ for the Finnish producer’s solo albums ‘Dualizm’ and ‘Errare Machinale Est’ respectively, but never before on a body of work with a conceptual theme. Their eventual ‘European Splendour’ EP took on a grainier downtempo template and the lead track ‘Evangeline’ possessed a glorious pastoral elegance coupled with an otherworldly anthemic chorus.

Available on the JOHN FOXX & JORI HULKKONEN EP ‘European Splendour’ via Sugarcane Records


JOHN FOXX & STEVE D’AGOSTINO The Forbidden Experiment (2014)

With a Dystopian backdrop, Foxx returned to the more mechanical approach in collaboration with STEVE D’AGOSTINO for the soundtrack of Karborn’s experimental short film. Described as “a unique investigation of the terrors and pleasures of temporal displacement”, it was “a sinister sonic architecture of drum-machine-music and analogue synthesizers”. The rumbling rush of ‘The Forbidden Experiment’ became a favourite of those Foxx enthusiasts who preferred his instrumental work to have more rhythmic tension.

Available on the JOHN FOXX & STEVE D’AGOSTINO album ‘Evidence Of Time Travel’ via Metamatic Records


GHOST HARMONIC Codex (2015)

GHOST HARMONIC was a project comprising of Foxx and Benge alongside Japanese violinist Diana Yukawa. Foxx said: “the underlying intention was we all wanted to see what might happen when a classically trained musician engaged with some of the possibilities a modern recording studio can offer…” – the result was a startling dynamic between Yukawa’s heavily treated violin and the looming electronics. The closing album title track was a string and synth opus of soothing bliss.

Available on the GHOST HARMONIC ‘Codex’ via Metamatic Records


JOHN FOXX The Beautiful Ghost (2015)

‘London Overgrown’ was Foxx’s first wholly solo ambient release since the ‘Cathedral Oceans’ trilogy. With the visual narrative of a derelict London where vines and shrubbery are allowed to grow unhindered throughout the city, ‘The Beautiful Ghost’ was like Beethoven reimagined for the 23rd Century with beautiful string synths placed in a cavernous reverb. Recalling WILLIAM ORBIT’s ‘Pieces In A Modern Style’, ‘London Overgrown’ was an accessible chill-out record that encompassed emotion and subtle melody.

Available on the JOHN FOXX album ‘London Overgrown’ via Metamatic Records


JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS A Man & A Woman (2016)

A previously unreleased song, ‘A Man & A Woman’ was a surprise in that it was less rigid than previous JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS recordings. Featuring the enchanting voice of Hannah Peel, it was a departure that even featured some acoustic guitar flourishes. Despite this, vintage synths were still a key element to his mathematical theories: “Analogue is a bit more complex – still mysterious and rebellious. Digital is more controllable. Use where necessary. Avoid anything with a multi-function menu!”

Available on the JOHN FOXX album ’21st Century: A Man, A Woman And A City’ via Metamatic Records


A selection of the JOHN FOXX back catalogue is available from http://johnfoxx.tmstor.es/

http://www.metamatic.com/

https://www.facebook.com/johnfoxxmetamatic/

https://twitter.com/foxxmetamedia


Text by Chi Ming Lai
27th June 2016, updated 25th February 2018

JOHN FOXX 21st Century: A Man, A Woman And A City

“I always seem to write about a man, a woman and a city. It’s because I am an urban creature most of the time”: JOHN FOXX

’21st Century: A Man, A Woman And A City’ is a new compilation that gathers JOHN FOXX’s song based work from since the turn of the millennium. After a hiatus between 1986 to 1995, Foxx has since been extremely prolific, dividing his time between a number of pop-oriented, ambient and soundtrack projects. The first section of this collection is laid out chronologically, beginning with Foxx’s material recorded with Louis Gordon, his main collaborator on his comeback.

‘A Funny Thing’ from 2001’s ‘The Pleasures Of Electricity’ sounds particularly interesting in today’s context, with the jazzier, deep house inflections being quite different from how Foxx is now. But songs like 2005’s beautifully treated ‘Never Let Me Go’ confirmed that Foxx still had that inventive spark.

But it was when Foxx teamed up with synth collector extraordinaire Benge to form JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS that he became fully re-engaged in the electronic pop realm which he helped to pioneer. Using an array of vintage synthesizers, the feisty growl of ‘Catwalk’, the serenity of ‘Interplay’ and the electro-folk of ‘Evergreen’ all possessed a mechanised charm while simultaneously providing some vital correlative warmth. The parent album ‘Interplay’ was possibly Foxx’s most complete and accessible body of work since ‘Metamatic’.

Continuing with the mathematical solution, from the swift follow-up ‘The Shape Of Things’, the fantastically motorik ‘Tides’ came over like an electronic NEU! Meanwhile from the third Maths album ‘Evidence’, the title track in collaboration with THE SOFT MOON was a surreal slice of post-punk psychedelia, like Numan meeting Syd Barrett! But the most complete track Foxx produced in this period turned out to be the grainy, pastoral elegance of ‘Evangeline’ with Finnish producer Jori Hulkkonen.

The main act of ‘21st Century: A Man, A Woman And A City’ concludes with two previously unreleased songs by JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS; both are highly worthy inclusions. ‘A Many Splendoured Thing’ features pristine pulsing sonics with crisp percussive taps a la ‘The Man Machine’; it’s Foxx goes to Kling Klang.

But ‘A Man And A Woman’ throws in a less rigid formula with some loose, hand played electronic percussion and the enchanting voice of Hannah Peel. It’s an interesting departure that even features some subtle acoustic guitar flourishes by Isobel Malins. Continuing on the six string theme, ‘Estrellita’ from the ‘Mirrorball’ album with COCTEAU TWINS’ Robin Guthrie appropriately provides an esoteric musical interlude, before the compilation’s appendix of assorted collaborations and remixes.

Although not a song written by Foxx, his and Benge’s serene reinterpretation of GAZELLE TWIN’s ‘Changelings’ highlighted not only the synthesized magic of the partnership, but also how the influence of Foxx was interwoven seamlessly into the Brighton-based songstress’ art.

Following JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS’ rework of ‘Dresden’, the reciprocal arrangement delivers a previously unreleased OMD remix of ‘The Good Shadow’. Working around its shimmering arpeggio, Paul Humphreys adds more of the beautiful Synth-Werk that made OMD’s last album ‘English Electric’ such a return to form. Meanwhile, the ADULT. Remix of ‘The Shadow Of His Former Self’ naturally takes on a more punky, techno stance.

Originally a solo track from ‘The Shape Of Things’, ‘Talk’ has now become a collaborative platform for Foxx to explore different approaches from a singular idea with other kindred spirits; on ‘21st Century: A Man, A Woman And A City’, two of these are included.

The first is the previously released ‘Talk (Beneath My Dreams)’ version with Matthew Dear; Foxx provides the cascading bass laden intro before Dear adds a steadfast four-to-the floor beat and a deep sinister voiceover, which could be mistaken for a pitch-shifted Foxx.

But the second version is a brand new, long-awaited collaboration with GARY NUMAN. Numan’s take on the track is meaty. Retitled ‘Talk (Are You Listening To Me?)’, it predictably screams alienation and fully exploits his haunting trademark overtures, courtesy of some blistering Polymoog from Benge.

The end result is like a wonderful audio mutual appreciation society: “John Foxx has been a hero of mine for my entire adult life” said Numan, “It was a real honour to finally have the chance to contribute to one of his tracks… it was every bit as creative, unusual, demanding, and rewarding, as I always expected it to be”.

Foxx is currently in the studio working on new music. Like SPARKS, JOHN FOXX has been so prolific over the years that it can be challenging to keep up with all his releases. But as much as some of his hardcore following have expressed dismay at countless reissues and compilations, Foxx’s work is still under-appreciated, even within the more general circles of electronic pop music.

So for many, ’21st Century: A Man, A Woman And A City’ will be an opportunity to catch up with the more accessible side of his work from the last 16 years. For those still not entirely convinced of Foxx’s contribution to the synthesized music world, ‘21st Century: A Man, A Woman And A City’ acts an ideal entry point into some of his best electronically focused work since ‘Metamatic’.


With thanks to Steve Malins at Random Music Management

’21st Century: A Man, A Woman And A City’ is released by Metamatic Records as a CD and download on 27th May 2016. A limited deluxe CD+DVD edition is also available and features 11 videos filmed in Tokyo by Macoto Tezka, featuring music by JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS

http://www.metamatic.com/

https://www.facebook.com/johnfoxxmetamatic/

https://twitter.com/foxxmetamedia


Text by Chi Ming Lai
4th May 2016, updated 29th May 2016

SARAH P. Interview

Photo by Christoph Neumann

Photo by Christoph Neumann

The voice of SARAH P. is both spooky and captivating, like a cross between Polly Scattergood, Alison Goldfrapp and Elizabeth Fraser while shaped by the spectre of Nancy Sinatra and Tracey Thorn.

Formally the frontwoman of Greek duo KEEP SHELLY IN ATHENS, a project with the mysterious producer / musician RΠЯ, the Athenian pairing recorded a number of acclaimed EPs that explored chillwave and dubstep.

Following the release of their first full length album ‘At Home’ in 2013 which featured their crowning moment ‘Oostende’, SARAH P. parted company with KEEP SHELLY IN ATHENS. After a period of soul searching amid the turmoil of the social-economic crisis in Greece, she made a home for herself in Berlin to begin a new phase of creativity.

Sarah P - Press Picture by Bertrand Bosrédon

Photo by Bertrand Bosrédon

She launched her solo career with the release of ‘Free’ at the end of 2015. An eight song mini-album chronicling “a couple of years that have been rough and weird”, ‘Free’ is an ambitious debut release that combines a variety of emotions and textures for an enticing listening experience.

SARAH P. kindly gave her time for a fascinating chat about her hopes, fears and ideals as a solo artist…

Congratulations on ‘Free’, it is a very worthy opening statement. It also appears somewhat more direct than your previous work, sad yet hopeful?

Thank you! It is more direct, isn’t it? I’ve been through a couple of rough years and ‘Free’ serves as diary of mine, both to not forget, but also to document and share my experiences. The whole record is about moving forward and leaving the past behind. That thought itself is sad yet hopeful, somehow bittersweet. Although it’s all cited from my perspective, I can imagine that many people can relate to what the concept of ‘Free’ is. I think that no matter where we come from and no matter which our background is, there is always something in our lives that’s bugging us, leaving us with no choice but to break free from it.

FINDING SIGI-stills+export160You were at a crossroads when you left KEEP SHELLY IN ATHENS. What inspired you to keep going with music, as there were other artistic avenues you could have pursued, like acting?

Haha, I get asked this question quite often. I think that the statement of the band and of my then label was a bit ambiguous, but there was never ever a single point I said I am done with music. In fact, shortly after leaving KEEP SHELLY IN ATHENS, I hid in the studio to work on various collaborations and features like THE BILINDA BUTCHERS, SUNDAYMAN, and a collaboration EP with SUN GLITTERS. I even started a short-lived side project with ambient producer Hior Chronik – techno pop, back in those days I didn’t want to sing that much.

In the same year, I released my first solo output ‘I Misbehave’. I was never gone – I just started making different music. As for the acting, if anything, while being in KEEP SHELLY IN ATHENS, I wasn’t allowed to chase roles. In 2015, I got the opportunity to be part of a couple of casts and relive the magic of cinematography. I’m super happy to be in ‘Finding Sigi’, the winning short film of the Berlin 48h Festival, as Suzanne Smidt, casted by the super talented director Aviv Kosloff and among amazing actors and an amazing crew. The film will be premiered at Filmapallooza early 2016 🙂

What motivated your move to Berlin?

I needed a fresh start and I needed it desperately. At that point, nothing was really going my way. I was advised to move to Berlin by people who abandoned me right after I said I’d go for it. I decided to give Berlin a chance. I packed my stuff and moved here – I had nothing to lose! I didn’t move away because of the crisis, I didn’t move to Germany to make it big, because I would never make it in Greece. I love Greece, I love Athens, but I am of a restless spirit and I cannot sit still. I lived for 24 years in Athens and back in the summer of 2014, I felt ready to open my wings and seek new adventures. And so I did. I’ve been so lucky, you have no idea! Moving to Berlin has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

keep-shelly-in-athens-02Was Athens not the right environment for you to progress with your music?

No matter how hard things are, Greeks will always have music! My hometown happens to have an amazing underground, indie scene.

If your question is about whether I would fit in that scene then my answer is no, since the sound of Athens is more guitar based.

But if your question is about Athens (and Greece) being in the middle of all this Financial Drama and therefore doomed with a dark cloud / heavy atmosphere, then I have to admit that sweet old Athens was and will always be my muse, no matter where I am.

Athens is a beautiful, vibrant city. It’s super multiculti and open which makes it the perfect environment for any artist of any field. Especially during those times when everything is boiling, Greeks are giving it all for a better life which, to my eyes, seems truly inspiring. So, to answer your question, I never left Athens, I am just looking at it from a different perspective. My family is there, the people who are responsible for who I am and where I stand as a person. I left my hometown only physically – other than that I carry it in my heart.

Sarah P. - I'd Go - Cover 2015

Photo by Christoph Neumann

‘I’d Go’ is perfect melancholic pop and has an important personal message too. Has recording ‘Free’ been a cathartic process for you?

Sincerely, thank you for saying so. Most of the people do not get that this song is not as happy as it sounds at a first listen. ‘Free’ helped me understand many things about myself. The songwriting, the recordings and the release of this EP have all been part of a crazy journey. What was living in my head became tangible! It wasn’t easy but who said it would be? My personal catharsis came with the release of the record, when I realized that everything is where I wanted them to be.

The idea behind ‘Free’ is to take the listener by the hand, help him / her get out of the dark tunnel and walk together towards the bright light of redemption. On ‘I’d Go’, one sees the light already and actively marches towards it. I wanted the EP to end with a song like ‘Golden Deer’ (a collaboration with Greek producer Hiras) which creates a magical landscape. During the whole record, I perpetually pat the shoulder of the listener and whisper in their ears that it’s ok.

All the songs on ‘Free’ are songs one should sing in front of the mirror, you know? If people are lacking something these days that’s confidence – not in a superficial way, that’s abundant. Confidence in a sense that whatever we do makes us happy and helps us get going, because we know we are on the right path of life. ‘I’d Go’ is about this exact thing, ‘Free’ is about this exact thing.

SARAH P by Christoph Neumann Photography.

Photo by Christoph Neumann

Which artists musically have influenced this more accessible pop direction? For example, I think I hear GOLDFRAPP in ‘Dirty Sunday’…

I would say that SANTIGOLD has been a major influence, especially her first EP when she was called SATOGOLD. BLOC PARTY too… I wonder how people do not hear that on ‘Dishes’, to me it is very obvious *giggles*

MADONNA because she is the most badass chameleon of pop. KATE BUSH is always an inspiration because she is a magical creature.

And dark wave / post punk as a scene that taught me how to not sound angry when I’m boiling. I guess that’s it.

But you are still exploring leftfield avenues, as on ‘Let It Go’ and ‘You Wouldn’t Understand’. How are you finding trying to keep the balance?

I just follow my instinct! I promised to myself that I will never be prisoner of a music genre. I experiment a lot and try around – that’s the only way to make music, in my opinion. If you’re too busy being bound with an atmosphere or a genre, you’re losing the whole point. Unless you play math rock or something.

You described ‘Free’ as “a vivid commentary on all kinds of relationships, vices, social and political scenery of our times”. What do you say to those people who feel that music and politics should not mix?

Oh well, don’t get me started! Unless those people were born in the 00s, there is no excuse. From the 00s and on, what’s been popular is all about kissing a boy, kissing a girl, gimme dat booty and so on. Convenient enough and during years when epic wars have been taking place all around the world, pop music kept away from politics with very few exceptions (MJ, MADONNA, MORRISSEY and a few more) who’ve been treated as the wacky kids, and were often excommunicated from the star system.

I’ll tell you what… I come from Greece, I live in those days when horrible things are happening in the world, I read the news and try to stay informed and on top of that, I am a woman active in a very conservative industry of men (mostly). I have things to say and I will, whether that’s through my music or through my texts. For some this might be too much, but for me it’s staying true to my ideals.

You have collaborated a lot with other artists in the run up to ‘Free’; was there a particular moment when it was clear that you could now do this on your own and be ‘Moving On’?

‘Free’ covers the period from early 2014 (when I left KEEP SHELLY IN ATHENS) to now.

Since I had to leave the band for various reasons, it was more than clear to me that I would be on my own. I had to find a way to do so. But I love working with other people. There are things coming up I cannot announce yet, involving collaborations with extremely talented people. I’ve been ‘Moving On’ – the entire of ‘Free’ is ‘Moving On’.

But I am not a lone wolf; I prefer to have a pack around me, if you know what I mean. I have been blessed with a great team of people who understand my vision and add up to it. Technically there has been no moment, I’ve been entirely alone. I always have my people backing me up.

Photo by Christoph Neumann

Photo by Christoph Neumann

When writing and recording solo now, what has been the most fundamentally different aspect for you, compared with the past?

I had to learn how to orchestrate the whole thing. Till that point, I’ve been following orders. For a person who was raised to always be humble and accepting, embracing a more bossy side of mine was a big challenge.

In 2015, I learned how to make decisions and how to not compromise. Before this year, I tended to agree on things just to not make a fuss, even if I had to go through a personal conflict.

When I’m writing and recording my own music or working on a feature, I do it all my way. I’ll put together the sounds I like, I’ll play the melodies that I think they fit. I think that finding the balance between the Sarah before and after has also helped me in my everyday life. I’ve become more assertive and all because of a computer program and the zillions of decisions I had to make to be able to hold my record in my hands.

An extended EP is a good way to start your solo career so will you do another EP or go the full album route? Is there a place for the album format in modern music consumption?

My LP is already in the making. There is a whole concept behind it and I am very much looking forward to sharing it, although I’ve got to hold back and wait! As for the second part of your question, if I am brutally honest, I will have to say no, there is no place for an album, there’s barely place for an EP or even for a single. The attention span of the people is so short that if you are an independent artist, your music will probably get lost in a pile of unread emails.

Photo by Christoph Neumann

Photo by Christoph Neumann

The Internet has made it all faster and since we’re humans and not robots, we can simply not keep up with that pace.

The music industry has changed a lot, the media (press, blogs, radio) have changed a lot and lately everybody seems to spend time and money on social media campaigns that seem so pointless, I could laugh and cry at the same time.

You put out your song and you hope it will be featured on a ‘strong’ playlist on Spotify and that this will bring new followers to your music.

It’s a constant fight for a glimpse of attention.

Unless you are TAYLOR SWIFT (or ADELE who is signed to an independent label, but currently has big advertisements EVERYWHERE and all for a poorly produced, old-fashioned album), you’re granted one second of fame.

It’s such a big bubble, all that happens is that more and more artists (even the indie ones) work on writing the so called ‘hits’, in order to get a place in the music industry and get under the radar of the important people who usually are so ridiculous, it’s painful… that being said, you must think I am crazy for making an LP.

One needs to drink gallons of idealism in order to keep their heads up. And so I do, so does my team. I believe that nobody wants it to be that way – that meaningless struggle of trying to keep up with the fast pace of life. If we see it as an analogy (I love analogies), we’re on a fast train that’s driving to somewhere – nobody knows to where. It’s up to each and every of us to get off, say “I am sorry, that’s my stop”. I won’t play with other people’s rules, I set mine, according to my ideals and ethics.

What is next for you? How are you feeling about playing live as a solo artist?

Live shows, songwriting, producing and recording my album. As for the gigs, I am very much looking forward to playing shows. I share the stage with two super talented gentlemen, Owen Howells and Marv Rudnick who also happen to be good friends of mine, so touring with them will be great fun.


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to SARAH P.

Additional thanks to Robert Helbig at Hellbig Music.

‘Free’ is released by EraseRestart as a download via the usual digital outlets, while the 12 inch vinyl edition is available from http://eraserestart.bigcartel.com/product/sarah-p-free-vinyl

SARAH P plays Eurosonic Noorderslag in Groningen on THURSDAY 14TH JANUARY and Privatclub in Berlin on MONDAY 25TH JANUARY 2016

http://sarahpofficial.com/

https://www.facebook.com/sarahpofficial/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
9th January 2016

A Beginner’s Guide To JOHN FRYER

Having started his career at London’s Blackwing Studios in 1980 as an assistant engineer, JOHN FRYER had a very basic knowledge of recording technology.

Employed by Eric Radcliffe, he promptly progressed from engineering into production and became the very reason for the first two COCTEAU TWINS albums sounding as sui generis as they did.

FAD GADGET and DEPECHE MODE; freshly discovered by Daniel Miller, were two of the first acts Fryer co-engineered on a rather limited studio equipment with the pressures of time. Technology started to progress fast and Daniel Miller would often bring the newly released toys into the studio.

The second DM album, ‘A Broken Frame’, written by the newly appointed chief songwriter Martin Gore, used the likes of PPG Wave 2 and Roland TR808 amongst others. The freshly formed YAZOO, with Alison Moyet and ex-Depeche member Vince Clarke, decided to record simultaneously.

To avoid any friction between the acts, John continued at Blackwing, while Eric looked after YAZOO from his home. Fryer did work on ‘Only You’ for them however. Soon enough Fryer’s growing sound manipulation would lend itself to his side project THIS MORTAL COIL with 4AD kingpin Ivo Watts-Russell, named after Monty Python’s ‘Dead Parrot Sketch’. The idea behind the venture was to create music as collaborations with artists signed to or associated with 4AD.

Fryer continued his career in Blackwing, producing MODERN ENGLISH, DEAD CAN DANCE, THE WOLFGANG PRESS, CLAN OF XYMOX and notably HE SAID, whose track ‘Pump’ Fryer still reminisces with fondness.

He has described his time as “a blur”, having worked on multiple projects simultaneously and producing one artist after another. In ten years, he only had five days off sick and worked incredibly long hours, an example being a 36 hour session with Alison Moyet, followed by “the next band”. Outsiders thought Fryer was indeed the owner of the studio, having spent all his time there!

Nine years after the start of his love affair with Blackwing, Fryer decided to go freelance. Truth being, if an artist wanted to work with him, they would approach him anyway. And that was certainly the case with NINE INCH NAILS, Trent Reznor having admired what Fryer had done for HE SAID. Fryer proudly recalls the feeling after finishing the album’s production, upon re-playing it to NIN’s record company boss, who had thought the record was ruined.

For Fryer, the desired effect had been achieved. The production work rolled in and notable clients included HIS NAME IS ALIVE, PARADISE LOST, LUSH and THE GO-BETWEENS.

Having not been in a band as such before, in 2011 Fryer decided to head his own project DARKDRIVECLINIC. 2014 brought the hungry listener SILVER GHOST SHIMMER while in the recent months, Fryer has indulged in the softer, ethereal offerings of two MURICIDAE EPs accompanied by the LA based Louise Fraser. 

With such wealth of experience, Fryer surely deserves a break. Living in Oslo, the master does not rest on his laurels however; hungry to produce, in his stripped down studio, he will no doubt work with some amazing acts again.

In the meantime, let’s imagine what a John Fryer retrospective would look like, made up from a choice of his best work as an engineer, co-producer and producer. The list is not comprehensive and the tracks are not necessarily the best songs on their respective albums, but they certainly showcase Fryer’s production and engineering skills, which evolved over the years, giving him a signature sound of his own.

With a restriction of one track per album project, here are eighteen songs choices in a Beginner’s Guide to the studio legend that is John Fryer, with additional choice commentary from the man himself.


FAD GADGET The Box (1980)

‘The Box’ was the B-side to ‘Back To Nature’, the second ever single on Daniel Miller’s Mute Records. Later appearing in re-recorded form on the magnificent ‘Fireside Favourites’ album released in 1980, interestingly enough, the vocals were recorded with Frank Tovey being uncomfortably locked up in a flight case. This was to signify the “boxed” feel of the vocals. John fondly remembers the collaboration: “Yes, Frank wanted to get a claustrophobic close sound and we just happened to have a big flight case sitting there in the live room, big enough to fit him inside. So we decided to record the vocals in the flight case to get the authentic box sound”

Available on the FAD GADGET album ‘Fireside Favourites’ via Mute Records

http://www.fadgadget.co.uk


DEPECHE MODE Tora! Tora! Tora! (1981)

Not having the digital luxuries of the world we know today, ‘Speak And Spell’ was solely recorded on a 8 track tape machine, but Fryer made do with anything which came to hand, as long as it could make some sort of noise. ‘Tora! Tora! Tora!’ was one of two songs written by Martin Gore on the Vince Clarke dominated ‘Speak And Spell’. A clever love song about a decaying relationship, crying out for help, hidden within highly political lyrical content, it was fabulously intertwined in a steady beat to which Dave Gahan has performed some of his best early dances live.

Available on the DEPECHE MODE album ‘Speak & Spell’ via Mute Records

http://www.depechemode.com/


DEPECHE MODE Leave In Silence (1982)

‘Leave In Silence’ was DEPECHE MODE’s sixth single. Taken from ‘A Broken Frame’, it was written by Martin Gore, who suddenly got elevated into being the band’s chief songwriter, upon Vince Clarke’s departure. After the previous pop slanted singles ‘See You’ and ‘The Meaning Of Love’, it introduced the darker, more melancholic tones of what was to be in store for DEPECHE MODE – John: “Martin took to writing like a duck to water, he always had in it him, it just had to be coaxed out of him. Once Vince had left, the new DM was born”

Available on the DEPECHE MODE album ‘A Broken Frame’ via Mute Records

https://www.facebook.com/depechemode


COCTEAU TWINS From The Flagstones (1983)

From COCTEAU TWINS’ third EP ‘Sunburst & Snowblind’, the Fryer produced ‘From The Flagstones’ was recorded by Elizabeth Fraser and Robin Guthrie as a duo, after Will Heggie left the band. There was a feeling of improvisation, including Fraser’s distinctive, yet “wordless” vocals and Guthrie’s effected guitar riffs. Those two elements intertwined and went on to become the band’s signature sound on the eventual ‘Head Over Heels’ album – John: “We recorded up in Scotland where the band felt more at home. The album wasn’t improvised, it was written and we just played around with sounds and over dubs. Why do people think Liz never sang words? She sat for hours with a dictionary writing lyrics for the album, she just has a unique way of singing and phrasing, that’s all”

Available on the COCTEAU TWINS album ‘Lullabies To Violaine – Volume 1’ via 4AD Records

http://www.cocteautwins.com/


THIS MORTAL COIL Song To The Siren (1983)

Originally released by TIM BUCKLEY on his 1970 album ‘Starsailor’, the song has become his most famous, mainly due to the numerous cover versions, THIS MORTAL COIL’s take being one of the most prominent. The single featuring Elizabeth Fraser and Robin Guthrie was released in 1983, peaking at No66 on the UK singles charts. Due to its cult popularity, it also spent 101 weeks on the UK Indie Charts. ‘Song To The Siren’ was included on the 1984 debut album ‘It’ll End In Tears’. None other than David Lynch appreciated the version to such an extent, he featured it on his 1997 ‘Lost Highway’ film and the first two JULEE CRUISE albums are said to be inspired by the production – John: “‘Song To The Siren’ was originally recorded as a B-side to the tracks ’16 Day’ and ‘Gathering Dust’; that was the start of the epic journey THIS MORTAL COIL went on”

Available on the THIS MORTAL COIL album ‘It’ll End In Tears’ via 4AD Records

http://www.4ad.com/artists/thismortalcoil


M/A/R/R/S Pump Up The Volume (1987)

M/A/R/R/S could be considered the ‘dance’ version of THIS MORTAL COIL, with Watts-Russell suggesting a union of COLOURBOX and AR KANE, two 4AD acts who had each suggested to him independently about making records inspired by the emerging American House scene. Engineering the sessions, Fryer found himself an unwilling referee between the conflicting factions. So the two parties worked separately with the COLOURBOX led ‘Pump Up The Volume’ coming out on top in white label club trials. With Fryer utilising an Akai MPC / S900 combination for the programming plus scratch effects by DJs CJ Macintosh and Dave Dorrell, the rest became history…

Available on the compilation album ‘Pump Up The Volume’ (V/A) via Universal Music

http://www.4ad.com/artists/marrs


THIS MORTAL COIL Acid, Bitter & Sad (1987)

With THIS MORTAL COIL, the likes of Elizabeth Fraser, Gordon Sharp, Tanya Donelly, Heidi Berry and Lisa Gerrard were recruited amongst others, to perform either cover versions or original material. However, much of the latter comprised of enigmatic instrumentals steered by Fryer and Watts-Russell. A good example was ‘Acid, Bitter & Sad’ which featured the abstract vocals of Alison Limerick and turned up on the ‘Lonely Is An Eyesore’ compendium. The three studio albums that surfaced from the project ‘It’ll End In Tears’, ‘Filigree & Shadow’ and ‘Blood’ were all highly acclaimed. The idea continued as THE HOPE BLISTER with Louise Rutkowski on vocals for two albums before Watts-Russell retired from the music industry in 1999.

Available on the compilation album ‘Lonely Is An Eyesore’ (V/A) via 4AD Records

https://www.facebook.com/John.Fryer.Official


NINE INCH NAILS Sin (1989)

‘Sin’ was the third single from the critically acclaimed NINE INCH NAILS’ debut LP ‘Pretty Hate Machine’ which achieved triple platinum certification in 2003, having sold three million copies in the US alone. Still a live favourite, ‘Sin’ peaked at number 35 in the UK Singles Chart in 1990. The song’s sexual connotations are clearly portrayed in its video, which features the “Short” remix of the track. Fryer engineered, mixed and produced the song and fondly remembers working on the album, which went to become a huge commercial success – John: “‘PHM’ was a slow burner, it took a while for it to catch on but once it did, there was no stopping it or the band…”

Available on the NINE INCH NAILS album ‘Pretty Hate Machine’ via Island Records

http://www.nin.com/


JESUS JONES Right Here, Right Now (1990)

Led by Mike Edwards, JESUS JONES’ ‘Right Here, Right Now’ was released in September 1990 and peaked at No31 in the UK Charts at the height of the indie dance ‘baggy’ craze. However in the US, it went to No2 in the Billboard Hot 100. Inspired by the Russian Perestroika changes, as well as other events in Eastern Europe, the tune is still used in adverts and video games alike – John: “Mike had a unique approach to writing pop music, it was great to work with him on that album. Great poptastic record”

Available on the JESUS JONES album ‘Doubt’ via Food Records

http://jesusjones.com/


CHAPTERHOUSE Falling Down (1991)

Remixed by Stephen Hague, ‘Falling Down’ appeared on the band’s EP ‘Freefall’ and Fryer-produced LP ‘Whirlpool’. The band was placed into “Shoegazing” genre, a name invented by NME and Melody Maker describing the performance style based on being not engaged with the audience and simply “staring downwards at their shoes”. Of course, this could have been the outcome of constantly looking downwards while using the effects pedals! John: “The NME has been great at making up labels for types of music. CHAPTERHOUSE was, and still is a live awesome band. The first thing the band did on starting the recordings, was take off their shoes…”

Available on the CHAPTERHOUSE album ‘Whirlpool’ via Cherry Red Records

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chapterhouse/125153479348


SWALLOW Peekaboo (1992)

From their album ‘Blow’, it was the only record SWALLOW put out on 4AD. Sometimes described as part of the Shoegazing genre, the Camberwell based band came together in 1990. ‘Blow’ was later remixed by the band itself, breaking down the Fryer production and releasing it under the name of ‘Blowback’. Louise Trehy and Mike Mason joined forces with Rough Trade Records afterwards to release ‘Hush’ EP before disbanding – John: “I don’t really know why they were called shoegaze, they should be called more art-gaze, more of an arty CURVE”

Available on the SWALLOW album ‘Blow’ via 4AD Records

http://www.4ad.com/artists/swallow


HIM Join Me In Death (1999)

‘Join Me In Death’ was from the band’s second album out in 1999 ‘Razorblade Romance’. It was also released as ‘Join Me’ in the US, as they were not able to use the word “death” in the title. Although the song’s title provoked widespread controversy, it has become the fifteenth best-selling song in Finland and was used in the European version of the soundtrack for ‘The Thirteenth Floor’. There are four versions of the song’s video and a vague ‘Romeo & Juliet’ theme was also associated to the song – John: “Yes, they had a lot of trouble in the US with the lyrical content for this album. The Americans thought it was a lawsuit waiting to happen with all the teenage suicides and shootings at school, but it was just a romantic love album”

Available on the HIM album ‘Razorblade Romance’ via BMG Finland

http://www.heartagram.com/


DOPE STARS INC 10,000 Watts (2005)

DOPE STARS INC Neuromance‘10,000 Watts’ was positively received by critics and audiences alike, mainly thanks to aggressive vocals by Victor Love. The parent ‘Neuromance’ album was backed up with numerous festival appearances and sold out in no time. Victor Love has always praised John Fryer’s style of production, admitting his technical knowledge had improved drastically upon working with the magic maker – John: “Pop music comes in various forms and this was another one of them. Victor knows how to write a great pop song and give it a provocative edge”

Available on the DOPE STARS INC album ‘Neuromance’ via Trisol Music Group

https://dopestarsinc.bandcamp.com/album/neuromance


RABIA SORDA Methods Of Chaos (2006)

‘Methods Of Chaos’ was from the 2006 album of the same title in Spanish ‘Metodos Del Caos’. RABIA SORDA has been described as a gentler version of Erk Aicrag’s other project, Mexican Hardfloor legends HOCICO. The word “gentler” needs to be used with care, however, as to a standard listener, it is aggressive, loud and violent. RABIA SORDA’s style is characterised by a very industrial goth sound that has been hugely popular in his native Mexico and Europe – John: “I liked working with Erk and it’s a shame we aren’t working together any longer. He makes interesting kinda industrial pop music and is a very nice guy , I would love to work with him again”

Available on the RABIA SORDA album ‘Metodos Del Caos’ via Out Of Line Records

http://www.rabiasorda.com/


ASHBURY HEIGHTS Derrick Is A Strange Machine (2007)

From the critically acclaimed ‘Three Cheers For The Newlydeads’ in 2007, the Swedish duo has come through many changes, including disbanding and returning; this record remains one of their best however. ASHBURY HEIGHTS were hailed around 2006 as the hottest newcomers onto the electronic music scene, having played the big German and Swedish festivals. They have remixed endless amounts of artists including RABIA SORDA, AESTHETIC PERFECTION, GOD MODULE, and SPACEBUOY as well as many others – John: “ASHBURY HEIGHTS should have gone on to be one of the biggest electronic bands around with their super slick pop sound. It was a joy to work with them”

Available on the ASHBURY HEIGHTS album ‘Three Cheers For The Newlydeads’ via Out Of Line Records

http://ashburyheightsofficial.tumblr.com/


DARKDRIVECLINIC Silhouettes (2011)

‘Silhouettes’ was released a year after Fryer started collaborating with STRIPMALL ARCHITECTURE vocalist Rebecca Coseboom. Ethereal and textured, yet a catchy pop tune, it stands out on the ‘Noise In My Head’ album production. On this record, Fryer decided to be personally involved in a band member’s capacity, giving it celestial and sublime endorsement, and that certainly comes across – John: “‘Noise In My Head’ is the culmination of 25 years of work. It had been worked on over that time in-between producing other people’s records, but it was something I really wanted and needed to do for myself”

Available on the DARKDRIVECLINIC album ‘Noise In My Head’ via Metropolis Music

http://www.metropolis-records.com/artist/darkdriveclinic


SILVER GHOST SHIMMER Soft Landing (2014)

‘Soft Landing’ was released on 30th October 2014 to launch his “over the pond” collaboration with über talented LA based vocalist Pinky Turzo. This twinkling gem, which opens the album of the same title, is hints at the 1962 hit by JAY & THE AMERICANS ‘She Cried’. The songs on ‘Soft Landing’ can be easily described as a marriage of Dave Gahan’s solo projects and Alison Goldfrapp’s vocals, with the song itself being a masterpiece and a proud moment for Fryer. September 2015 will see gigs from Fryer and Turzo showcasing ‘Soft Landing’ to the hungry audiences – John: “The ‘Soft Landing’ album is more of a homage to the girl groups of the sixties. We wanted to marry that vocal sound of the girl groups to my electronic noise pop and I think we succeeded, in my opinion anyway”

Available on the SILVER GHOST SHIMMER download album ‘Soft Landing’ via Silver Ghost Shimmer

https://www.facebook.com/silverghostshimmer.official


MURICIDAE Strange (2015)

‘Strange’ comes from Fryer’s latest EP with Louise Fraser, an LA based vocalist. An exquisite continuation from the first EP entitled ‘Tales From A Silent Ocean’, the production on ‘Strange’ cunningly resembles Alan Wilder’s (did he learn from the best?) on his RECOIL gems, yet it’s even softer and powerful, which proves why John Fryer is THE PRODUCER of now. The droplets of synth perfection are skilfully intertwined with airy vocals of Fraser, sounding almost JULEE CRUISE-like – John: “MURICIDAE is a project that I’m proud of. It compares to my roots of a 4AD sound, capturing the ambient, ethereal soundscapes and bringing them up to date with my own twists and noise”

Available on the MURICIDAE download EP ‘Tears Are Stronger Than Waves’ via Muricidae Music

https://www.facebook.com/muricidaemusic/


Text by Monika Izabela Goss with grateful thanks to John Fryer
8th August 2015

MURICIDAE Away

muricidae3“Oceanic auralgasms” is how ethereal dream pop duo MURICIDAE describe their sound.

Yet another project from studio legend John Fryer, best known for his work with COCTEAU TWINS, NINE INCH NAILS, DEPECHE MODE and most recently SILVER GHOST SHIMMER, the musical template of MURICIDAE perhaps harks back to his work with THIS MOTRAL COIL, the 4AD art collective which at various times included DEAD CAN DANCE’s Lisa Gerrard and COCTEAU TWINS’ Elizabeth Fraser on vocals.

MURICIDAE though features the exquisite, angelic vocals of LA based song siren Louise Fraser, who incidentally is no relation to Elizabeth. She and Fryer apparently “met on the beach searching for mermaids”… the sea is very much the visual theme for their music, with Fryer cultivating “sonic sculptures to musically embody the exquisite Muricidae Shell itself”.

The pair released their first EP ‘Tales From A Silent Ocean’ in April and a video for the five track collection’s gorgeous lead track ‘Away’ has just been completed. The film features actress Sandy Akins as well as Louise Fraser and was filmed by Martin Curland and Kevin Bosl with John Fryer himself as editor and executive Director. It captures the tranquil piano laden soundscape with double vision oceanic imagery complimenting the echoes of Fraser’s plaintive lament. As floating synths drift in, the images become more cerebral as her various memories intertwine.

With the other tracks from ‘Tales From A Silent Ocean’, ‘Real Slow’ is the spikiest and where “the jukebox is grinding”. At times, it even sounds like JULEE CRUISE fronting ‘Delta Machine’ era DEPECHE MODE with its bluesy overtones and rugged guitar. ‘Should I Stay’ is gently driven by a scratchy electronic rhythm with Fraser’s vocals beautifully layered on top. When the rhythm takes a breather for the middle eight, Fraser is left accompanied by some haunting ivories that further reveal an angelic fragility in her voice.

With synth strings, rolling percussion and halfway through, subtle arpeggios and deep squelches, ‘Falling’ is an epic cinematic number with Fraser sitting nicely within the orchestrated backing.

Together with John Fryer, they conspire to form an aesthetic that is greater than its sum of parts to produce a wonderful brooding cacophony of sound.

The EP is bookended by an ‘S Version’ of ‘Away’. The ‘S’ probably means the lush strings which adorn this alternate version and it acts as a worthy, aurally pleasing companion to the sparser original.

If you have ever imagined how THIS MORTAL COIL might have handled curating the soundtrack to ‘Twin Peaks’, then look no further than MURICIDAE and this elegant body of work.


‘Away’ is from the ‘Tales From A Silent Ocean’ EP available now from the usual digital outlets including iTunes and Amazon

https://www.facebook.com/muricidaemusic/

https://www.facebook.com/John.Fryer.Official

http://www.louisefraser.com/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
11th May 2015

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