Tag: Cold War Night Life (Page 1 of 4)

LAU NAU + VILE ELECTRODES Live at Cecil Sharp House

Considered very much as the spiritual home of English traditional music, the Cecil Sharp House was named after the founding father of the folk song revival who gathered thousands of tunes from rural England to archive for future generations.

It might have been an unusual place for the synth friendly Cold War Night Life to host an event to explore the potential of the modular synthesizer, but then this wasn’t just any old electronic gig.

As doors opened, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK began proceedings by curating a DJ set wholly comprising of interpretations of silence from the likes of NEW ORDER, DEPECHE MODE, GOLDFRAPP and ERASURE, all from Mute Records’ ‘Stumm 433’ boxed set celebrating composer John Cage and his celebrated minimal work.

Even Jonathan Barnbrook, the man who placed a white square over the cover of Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ to produce the artwork for ‘The Next Day’ raised his eyebrow in amusement at the concept. Meanwhile, there was an overheard discussion about how Andy Fletcher had now finally made an equal musical contribution to a DEPECHE MODE recording.

For VILE ELECTRODES, this was their first UK gig since 2017 but for this event, they set themselves a challenge. Using an all-modular set up, there were no memories or presets, no drum machines, no sequencers, no backing tracks… it was “Just a pattern generator working on mathematical principles using Euclidean geometry if you’re interested – thanks for the great module VPME!” as the duo told ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK afterwards.

Using two mini-keyboards for controlling the voltages flying around, everything Anais Neon and Martin Swan played had to be decided upon and constructed live. Beginning with a slightly weird improvisational overture, they headed straight into the rarely performed unsettling tone poem ‘Love Song for A Pylon’. Using a projection filming them from behind, this was a terrifically thought out visual that illustrated just how busy the pair were amongst all the wires and controllers.

On a stripped down ‘Into Great Silence’ from ‘In The Shadow Of Monuments’ and new composition ‘We Are A Prism’, Anais Neon demonstrated the use of two Korg Kaoss Pads to sample and layer up her vocals to create unusual drones and harmonies, while also live sampling vocal fragments into a Mutable Instruments Clouds module to eerie effect.

‘Future Ballad’ was suitably dystopian while a minimal downtempo take on the haunting ‘Stranger To Myself’ (also from ‘In The Shadow Of Monuments’) closed a captivating set.

Unlike other independent UK acts, a new release from VILE ELECTRODES is eagerly anticipated and tonight showcased an evolvement in sound that may well blossom further on their long-awaited still-to-be-released and yet-to-be-titled third album.

LAU NAU is the stage persona of Laura Naukkarinen, one of the most respected and compelling artists in Finland. Although already a veteran of six studio albums, she has earned an international reputation for her work in film, with her soundtrack for the recently released documentary film ‘Land Without God’ gaining critical acclaim.

An keen exponent of combining the electronic with the acoustic, Naukkarinen opened with her environmental plea ‘We Were The Kids’ from the ‘Land Without God’ soundtrack using her portable self-assembled suitcase modular system and a squeeze box to provide an airy organic quality to the room.

From the aural nautical adventure of the ‘Poseidon’ album, ‘Unessa’ captured the misty mood of the Baltic sea with some gently idiosyncratic vocals, as did ‘Sorbuspuun Alla’ although with a more solemn demeanour.

The newly composed ‘Adria’ kept the fragile otherness strong, while ‘The Saints’ offered another look into a ‘Land Without God’ vai its elegiac string sweeps played on Roland Boutique JU-06.

For ‘Nukahtamislaulu’, Naukkarinen brought out a spinning wand LED toy with a contact microphone attached to capture a strangely understated motorised ambience. And with that, the Finn said her goodbyes, happy to have held a curious audience’s undivided attention for three quarters of an hour.

KRAFTWERK were often considered “Industrielle Volksmusik for the 21st Century” while the Cecil Sharp House is best known for its links to the centuries old folk form.

LAU NAU and VILE ELECTRODES both showed that on this cold winter’s evening in Primrose Hill, their own cultural processes can be considered part of a tradition that could easily transcend its perceived lifespan.

LAU NAU ‘Land Without God’ is released by Fonal Records, available on most digital platforms






VILE ELECTRODES ‘In The Shadow Of Monuments’ along with other releases from their back catalogue are available as downloads from https://vileelectrodes.bandcamp.com/






Text by Chi Ming Lai with thanks to Jane Caley
Photos by Chi Ming Lai and Simon Helm
8th February 2020

REIN, KOMPUTER + IMI Live at Electrowerkz

It has been said before, but the best electronic events are those put on by actual electronic music enthusiasts.

Nordic friendly blog Cold War Night Life brought Sweden’s REIN over for a first UK show and she didn’t disappoint with her hard hitting, adrenaline pumping EBM with a pop twist.

In a stylistically eclectic evening, electronic duo KOMPUTER made their live return after their last appearance at Mute Presents Short Circuit in 2011. The label veterans also promised music in their previous guises I START COUNTING and FORTRAN 5. But opening was the up-and-coming Leeds based songstress IMI.

Possibly the best new young synth talent in the UK right now, IMI is blessed with a glorious soprano in the vein of Alison Goldfrapp and Tara Busch. Her debut EP ’Lines’ released this year showed potential and promise, impressing the likes of Mark Reeder, Chris Payne, Paul Statham and Sarah Blackwood along the way.

In her third live appearance in the capital, IMI opened her set of intelligent avant pop with ‘The Fence’. With a reasonably sized crowd gathering early to witness her performance, she immediately impressed with her glorious soprano, inventive electronic arrangements and a beautiful booming crescendo.

New song ‘Monolith’ suitably provided a widescreen pillar to the rest of the set, the end section of which began with the eerie but uplifting ‘I Feel Alright’ which recalled the work of I SPEAK MACHINE. Encapsulating the delightful oddness of GOLDFRAPP in their ‘Felt Mountain’ phase and trip-hop, with a piercing cry on the caesura, the magnificence of ‘Margins’ had those who had been unaware of IMI before looking at each other suitably impressed.

Illustrated with a great light show to suit the gothic surroundings of Electrowerkz, it was short set from IMI but it left people wanting more. And as their cheers combined with those of her family members present, there was a sizeable noise of approval for the first act of the night.

Wearing their red overalls from the 2007 ‘Synthetik’ campaign, David Baker and Simon Leonard opened their comeback set with ‘Looking Down On London’ from ‘The World Of Tomorrow’ album which was sampled by OMD in its ‘Metroland’ variant.

The pair delivered on their promise of playing I STARTING COUTING and FORTRAN 5 material with ‘Letters To A Friend’, ‘Heart On The Line’, ‘Time To Dream’, ‘Lose Him’ and ‘Million Headed Monster’ all getting a welcome airing.

Baker was on top form with his deadpan vocals while positioned behind his Korg Poly 800x as Leonard counterpointed robotically with a MicroKorg vocoder.

The brilliant ‘We Are Komputer’ from the debut KOMPUTER EP got people dancing, while the pretty octave shifting pulse ‘Still Smiling’ recalled the more carefree times of 1985 when I START COUNTING got the Daniel Miller production treatment assisted by Flood.

Best of all though was a powerfully faithful rendition of ‘Valentina’, probably the best know KOMPUTER song and their touching tribute to “the first woman hero of the modern age” with its echoes of KRAFTWERK’s ‘Das Modell’.

Concluding with rhythmic strike of ‘The Man Machine’ aping ‘Bill Gates’, KOMPUTER’s return to the stage was complete and more than satisfied the many Mute enthusiasts who had missed the presence of Baker and Leonard over the past few years. While KOMPUTER have remixed BLANCMANGE and METROLAND of late, what their followers really want is new material. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

Feisty and ambitious, despite the acclaim of her debut self-titled EP from 2016, REIN focussed on new material for her first ever London performance. Accompanied by the striking statuesque presence of Josefin Ahlqvist Lyzwinski on percussion, the young Swede opened with ‘Reincarnate’ by way of a mission statement.

Swathed in shades of blue light and exuding sweaty energy, the self-explanatory ‘Bodyhammer’ and ‘Accelerate’ continued the attitude with their loudness blows well-placed in the industrial friendly venue. The thrust of ‘Bruises’ added a sinister S&M edge, but the best track of the evening proved to be a new number called ‘Thieves’.


REIN discovered electronic music after seeing KRAFTWERK at the age of thirteen, so ‘Thieves’ carried over some of that teen angst, presenting a hardened homage to ‘Tour De France’ that was tough yet very catchy.

The punchy new single ‘Off The Grid’ provided a calling card to REIN’s upcoming debut album while ‘Concrete Jungle’ was the only concession to her debut EP.

But she finished her set with two songs from 2017’s social-politically themed statement of the ‘Freedoom’ EP. The highly danceable ‘Misfit’ channelled aggression to a good beat while the broader modern electro-punk sound of the chant-laden call to action ‘C.A.P.I.T.A.L.I.S.M’ made REIN’s views clear, much to the approval of those moshing in front of her.

A true ‘Rebel Girl’ as suggested by the track from her debut 2016 EP, REIN showcased 45 minutes of progress such that there was no need for that song, ‘Can’t Handle Me’ or ‘I Don’t Get Anything But Sh*t From You’ in her set.

The evening presented three very distinct branches of electronic music, but with KOMPUTER’s long standing links, IMI’s obvious musical debt to GOLDFRAPP and the influence of NITZER EBB on REIN, if there was a relatable thread, then it was the artistic legacy of Mute Records.

With Mute Records sending along a representative and Sarah Blackwood from former Mute offshoot Toast Hawaii signings CLIENT also attending, the circuit was complete. As a punter who had also been to previous shows said afterwards: “You don’t put on sh*t do you…”

The organisers give their sincerest thanks to all the artists, Mute Records and the team at Electrowerkz









Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Aga Słobodzian
10th December 2019


Happy Robots Records presented the reunion of ARTHUR & MARTHA to celebrate the 10th anniversary of ‘Navigation’, their only album to date.

The last time ARTHUR & MARTHA played live, it was opening for Jyoti Mishra’s WHITE TOWN. Back in 2010, the pair had actually been the third new act featured on ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK

However, they appeared to disappear soon after. So it was fabulous to see Adam Cresswell and Alice Hubley performing together in this guise after so many years.

Among the luminaries present for the occasion were David Bowie’s visual director Jonathan Barnbrook, YELLO collaborator Fifi Rong and SHELTER front man Mark Bebb with his FORM side project accomplice Keith Trigwell.

But opening the evening’s entertainment at The Islington in London were the Glaswegian duo RAINLAND, comprising of Ian Ferguson and Del MacDonald.

Experienced hands having supported ASSEMBLAGE 23, they began their performance with the symphonic neo-ULTRAVOX stomp of their self-titled signature tune ‘Rainland’ and the engaging synthpop of ‘The Light Of The Sun’.

With his self-deprecating Weegie humour, Ferguson was part cheerleader / part court jester while MacDonald remained largely stoic, save a passionate on-mic discussion with his bandmate on the merits of BRONSKI BEAT in relation to their digital bass driven ditty ‘Touch’.

There was the poetic ‘Silverlight’ while the lively set reminded those present to ‘Don’t Forget To Love’ and finished with the evergreen industrial pop of ‘Drive’.

The evening threw a curveball with the appearance of the feisty Californian PLASMIC, self-described as “your abused Barbie doll from childhood”.

Pretty in pink, Lauren Lusardi began with a spiky energetic cover of DIVINE’s ‘Female Trouble’. With a subversive DEVO edge, PLASMIC detonated lo-fi synth bombs via her Yamaha Reface with the catchy feminist anthem ‘Baby Machine’ and the social media commentary of ‘Validation Nation’, both from her most recent EP release.

Delightfully housing her work station and devices in a pink dressing case, she celebrated her recent support slot for Marc Almond in LA by treating all present with a punchy rendition of the seedy SOFT CELL classic ‘Sex Dwarf’ before finishing with the cathartic rallying cry of ‘Revenge’. Lusardi’s delightfully dervish antics won her many new friends.

And as she embraced the occasion and the crowd to celebrate her 23rd birthday, those bemoaning the lack of new young synth artists now only have to look in the direction of Orange County. 😉

Armed with a MicroKorg and a Moog Prodigy, ARTHUR & MARTHA’s headline set began with the glorious tweetronica of ‘Follow The Path’, the kind of neo-instrumental that used to accompany the sort of wiggly Czechoslovakian animations shown as intermissions on BBC2. ‘Ultra Alliance’ from the Happy Robots ‘Botpop Volume One’ also got an airing before the endearing ‘Navigation’ highlight ‘Music For Hairproducts’, an ironically titled tune given Cresswell’s alopecia.

‘Kasparov’, inspired by the Russian chess grandmaster and political activist, saw Cresswell take to the mic for a mournful guitar-centred interlude before Hubley returned with her charming off-key voice for the rhythmic organ-fest of ‘Vallorian’. An unexpected surprise came with the B-side ‘Japanese Kiss’, before the frantic motorik vocoder wig-out of the brilliantly named ‘Squarewave To Heaven’.

This fittingly set the scene for the glorious driving kosmische of ‘Autovia’, the ARTHUR & MARTHA song which has successfully endured the past decade to be now, as Cresswell pointed out, sitting next to Katy Perry on a compilation album!

Encoring with the mournful ‘Navigation’ album closer ‘Turn to Dust’, an affectionate homage to NEW ORDER’s ‘Leave Me Alone’, it was an appropriate way to end the ARTHUR & MARTHA story. Today in 2019, Cresswell continues making music as RODNEY CROMWELL and running Happy Robots Records, while Hubley will soon release her first solo record as ALICE HUBBLE.

With something for almost everyone and covering an eclectic selection of synth based music while maintaining a central curated theme, this was a fine gathering of good music and good people that exuded warmth and quality.

The organisers give their warmest thanks to all the acts who performed and Simon Helm of Cold War Night Life who provided a fine DJ set throughout the evening.
















Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Richard Price and Chi Ming Lai
10th March 2019

Introducing KARIN MY

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK first spotted Swedish songstress Karin My singing with veteran combo TWICE A MAN on their 2015 poignant environmental catastrophe warning ‘High In The Clouds’.

Indeed, her dulcet tones made their ‘Presence’ felt on another pair of TWICE A MAN tracks from the same titled parent album.

Meanwhile she also contributed to two covers ‘The Man in Grey’ and ‘Just A Sound In The Night’ on Cold War Night Life’s ‘Heresy: A Tribute To RATIONAL YOUTH’ compendium in 2016.

But with ‘The Silence’, she releases the first truly great song of 2019. Swathed in beautiful synths and embroiled in that wonderful Nordic melancholy, her gorgeous vocals evoke a forlorn abandonment just as winter sets in and confronts the dilemma of whether to give up…

The eerie snow laden video directed by Millfield cleverly utilises a miniature set and has haunting echoes of ‘Den Lille Pige Med Svovlstikkerne’, the famous short story by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. In it, our heroine embarks on a chilling journey which sadly has no happy ending.

With roots in the folk tradition like Vince Clarke, Karin My composes using an acoustic guitar, a fact exemplified by a 2008 solo single ‘Voice In The Wall’. But with a profound love of LUSTANS LAKEJER, DEPECHE MODE, RATIONAL YOUTH, MESH and KITE, her Korg MS20, Roland Juno 106 and Moog Little Phatty will usually find a way onto her productions.

Also adept at cello, percussion and dance, the multi-talented singer songwriter describes herself as having a “Strong body, weak heart in a constant radiant of love and tears”. ‘The Silence’ is the first of four songs by Karin My which are scheduled for release during the first half of 2019. With her honest heart in quality electronic pop music, she will be an artist to watch in the coming year.

‘The Silence’ is available on most digital platforms via Ad Inexplorata





Text by Chi Ming Lai
16th January 2019

RATIONAL YOUTH, PAGE + PSYCHE Live at Non Stop Electronic Cabaret

In recent times, there have been a number of music events where there have been so many acts of varying abilities on the line-up, the suspicion is that it’s a ruse to ensure that are actually people in the venue. Having more band members than punters does not make for a good music event…

Luckily, ‘Non Stop Electronic Cabaret’ in London hosted by music and culture blog Cold War Night Life managed to avoid all that. An event where quality prevailed over quantity, the sold-out show featuring an esteemed international line-up comprising of RATIONAL YOUTH, PAGE and PSYCHE was rammed from the minute that the opening act took to the stage of The Islington.

With SOFT CELL playing what was billed as their final concert at the O2 Arena the following day, dark Canadian / German synthpop duo PSYCHE paid tribute Messrs Ball and Almond by opening with a fine respectful cover version of ‘Martin’. Featuring Darrin Huss on vocals and Stefan Rabura on synths, there was passion from the former while aided by a high quality sound system, the latter was able to get to work on a variety of hand played synthetic inflections.

PSYCHE brought things up to date with their most recent single ‘Youth Of Tomorrow’ while the industrial Italo of ‘Uncivilized’ kept up the mutant dance tempos. Introducing ‘Truth Or Consequence’, the edgier B-side of ‘Youth Of Tomorrow’, Huss joked that it was getting more streams than the A-side, while an excellent reinterpretation of Q LAZZARUS’ ‘Goodbye Horses’ was appreciated by the PSYCHE faithful that had travelled over from Germany, Sweden, Finland and Italy for the event. A glorious ‘Unveiling The Secret’ from the 1986 album of the same name concluded a wonderfully engaging set.

Swedish poptronica exponents PAGE were making their return to London after a successful live debut in 2014. More recently, the duo of Eddie Bengtsson and Marina Schiptjenko have been exploring their inner Numan via the EP ‘Start’, while an enjoyable trilogy of albums ‘Nu’, ‘Hemma’ and ‘Det Är Ingen Vacker Värld Men Det Råkar Vara Så Det Ser Ut’ have maintained their cult standing.

Appropriately beginning with the ‘Start’ EP’s title song, the mash-up of ‘Tracks’ and ‘Metal’ partied like in was 1979. The catchy ‘Som Ett Skal’ from ‘Hemma’ and the glam Schaffel swing of ‘Ett S.O.S’ from ‘Nu’ kept the crowd moving while there was even a band clapalong on ‘Alla Som Väntar’. ‘Krasch’ kept up the thrusting Svensk elektronisk essence but closing their set early due to battery recharge difficulties, ‘Stör Ej’ took the Numan fixation to its zenith with the Compurhythm pattern from ‘Love Needs No Disguise’ appearing halfway through.

Canadian synthpop trailblazers RATIONAL YOUTH were making their first ever live appearance in the UK and mainman Tracy Howe was particularly fired up. Accompanied by his wife Gaenor on backing vocals and synths, the fitting political statement of ‘This Side Of The Border’ from 2016’s ‘Future Past Tense’ EP provided a poignant message for the multi-national crowd that was gathered. The stark ‘Dancing On The Berlin Wall’ from the ‘Cold War Night Life’ album (which the event hosts were named after) recalled a time when there really were divisive physical walls, while the midlife angst of ‘Here It Comes Again’ said it all!

Possibly RATIONAL YOUTH’s best known song, the intense electro drama of ‘Holiday in Bangkok’ provided one of the set highlights, although the sense of occasion got the better of Howe as he forgot some of the words. One-time member Dave Rout, now of TECHNIQUES BERLIN, joined the duo on synth for a rendition of their co-write ‘Energie’, while closing a spirited set, two ‘Cold War Night Life’ evergreens ‘City of Night’ and ‘Saturdays in Silesia’ more than satisfied the now very sweaty crowd who had danced from the beginning of the evening.

ELECTRITYCLUB.CO.UK often goes on about how the best electronic music events are curated by electronic music fans and Cold War Night Life did it again with their ‘Non Stop Electronic Cabaret’.

The lesson for other promoters? If the acts are of a sufficiently high quality and the bill has some appropriate fits, the rest will be then straightforward. And as Jim Morrison said in Wayne’s World 2’, “Book them and they will come…”

With thanks to Simon Helm at Cold War Night Life








Text and Photos by Chi Ming Lai
7th October 2018

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