Tag: Fifi Rong (Page 2 of 7)

MARK REEDER Subversiv-Dekadent

‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ was the East German Secret Police classification given to Berlin-based producer and remixer Mark Reeder in his STASI file.

On Mayday 1982, Mark Reeder paid a visit to the DDR part of the then-walled city and while he was taking photos of the grand parade, he was arrested by the STASI and taken in for interrogation.

He had been under surveillance as they suspected he was working for M16 and about to assassinate their esteemed leader Erich Honecker… either that or he going to corrupt the youth of East Germany with pop music!

Indeed, it was the latter; but for those who received Reeder’s smuggled-in cassettes of JOY DIVISION, NEW ORDER and the like, it was more like an education as fictionally documented when Mark Reeder lookalike Martin Rauch, HVA agent codename Kolibri, in ‘Deutschland 83’ lit up with joy on hearing DURAN DURAN for the first time on that prize symbol of capitalism, the Sony Walkman!

During those tense Cold War times of East versus West and The Iron Curtain, all the eternally optimistic Reeder wanted to do was to unite people through music. So when The Berlin Wall fell at the end of 1989 and the imminent threat of nuclear holocaust was lifted with the promise of a better, more open-minded world, he did his bit by establishing Masterminded For Success (MFS), a dance label that achieved great success across the European club scene.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and the world is struggling with narcissists despite a pandemic crisis, driven into conflict by power, corruption and lies by that age-old management and control technique of “divide and rule” which most citizens understand but ultimately fail to actually recognise.

A recognised internationalist, Mark Reeder is doing his bit again by issuing a double album named after his STASI classification of productions and remixes made by himself and his engineer Micha Adam.

Celebrating his cross-border artistic ethos, where the songs have been restyled, he has added guitar, bass and synths while he has also lent his spoken voice to his own solo productions.

‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ is bookended by Fifi Rong who Reeder first met at the Berlin Kraftwerk in 2016 when she was singing in concert with Swiss trailblazers YELLO. The first track ‘Figure of 8’ is a magical new collaboration between the two with a cinematic backdrop of sparse piano and glistening sequences over which the exquisite Chinese songstress adds her distinctive air of mystery to a more metronomic rhythm construction than perhaps heard on her own work.

Closing the collection, Reeder offers ‘The Present is a Gift Mix’ of Fifi Rong’s 2016 single ‘Future Never Comes’, an eerie and very Berlin-inspired concoction where Chinese musical theatre meets electro Weimer Cabaret via Synth Britannia for a haunting slice of initial after brilliance

YELLO themselves appear via the superb ‘Wet&Hard Remix’ of ‘Vicious Games’; tightened up and given a modern treatment without losing the essence of the 1985 original with the sexy vocals of Rush Winters given the spotlight.

The original ‘Vicious Games’ was an intricately woven patchwork of samples and Reeder even amusingly drops in an ‘I Feel Love’ sequence during the middle eight.

‘United’ by QUEEN OF HEARTS was one of the outstanding highlights from Reeder’s previous 2017 collection ‘Mauerstadt’ and making a welcome appearance on ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ is the track that precipitated his union with frontfrau Liz Morphew; dressed with cooing vampishness, the ‘Electrically Excited Remix’ of ‘Neon’ is nearly 8 minutes of gently energetic Schaffel.

Both having also appeared on ‘Mauerstadt’, MFU return with a ‘Brexile Remix’ of ‘Law’ that is a blend of distorted guitars, synth pulses and post-punk Mancunian vocals while THE KVB have ‘White Walls’ remodelled as a ‘Stoner Remix’, which is actually a fairly good description despite the frantic arpeggio and claustrophobic string machine.

China’s STOLEN are considered by Reeder to be the most exciting band he’s seen since NEW ORDER and his ‘Sinner Remix’ of ‘The Loop Sin’ is another of his classic productions; full of heavy propulsive grit and live textural enhancements, this denser but more compact version applies an extra bounce on the bass and highlights why the Chengdu six-piece were chosen to open for NEW ORDER on their European tour on 2019.

Of course, Reeder is known for his close friendship with NEW ORDER and his remixes of ‘Singularity’, ‘Academic’ and ‘The Game’ were notable for improving on their initial guises from the ‘Music Complete’ album. His driving ‘Cheeky Devil Remix’ of their most recent single ‘Be A Rebel’ presents a more rigid staccato treatment before tripleting in the chorus while adding guitars that were actually absent from the original mix.

One notable new inclusion to the Mark Reeder portfolio is BIRMINGHAM ELECTRIC led by Dutch-based American Andrew Evans whose previous singles ‘Light of the World’ and ‘Moving Target’ featured long-time OMD drummer Malcolm Holmes; The ‘Crying Remix’ of ‘How Do We End Up Here?’ is a rather good vibey tune with vocoder treatments like a disco lento AIR.

‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ is not just about remixes and Reeder gets to fly solo as well. The percussive ‘21st Century Girl’ sees him quoting from cult TV show ‘The Prisoner’ as his soundtrack penetrates with its almost industrial demeanour, augmented by a guitar lick reprise from his own Save Yourself Mix of ‘Manifesto’ by BLANK & JONES and a cheeky burst of T-REX’s ‘20th Century Boy’,

Described by Reeder himself as “a Wet&Hard trilogy”, the three part ‘You Can Touch Me’ starts in a moody mantric fashion with groans and synth sweeps, before pacing up with a growly bass. It all seems a bit superfluous at first but it sets the scene and gets progressively hypnotic, segueing into a propulsive rumbling section that adds more menace to an already sinister track. As Reeder impassively asks “do you want to touch me?”, it eventually slows down after a frenzy of frenetic rhythmic clatter. This is fine provocative dance music if a little too long, but when it hits the spot during the majority of its 13 minutes, it is mighty!

‘Children Of Nature’ was Reeder’s fine 2019 long player with Alanas Chosnau, best known as one of Lithuania’s biggest singing stars with his penchant for DEPECHE MODE. In an ‘Unpredictable Remix’, ‘Love Of My Life’ mutates into something more minimal but harder compared with the original mix. Meanwhile, in collaboration with Mr Sam and Rani Kamal, ‘I Surrender’ is soulful pop given a shadier new wave treatment with the incongruity adding more tension.

‘Dead Souls’ from Hong Kong domiciled Mexicans DEER Mx is not the JOY DIVISION song but a fit of snarling aggression and strident gothic drama to electronic screeches not heard since ‘Crazy Horses’ by THE OSMONDS. Ending with sampled blasts of mariachi trumpets in the background, it is delightfully odd. However, the heavy deadpan resonance of LIARS and ‘Staring at Zero’ will not be for everybody although their eccentric frontman Angus Andrew has declared Reeder’s ‘Two Thousand Yards Stare Remix’ as his favourite of his own work.

Already rock focussed, ‘Coked Up Biker Anthem’ from New York-based Zachery Allan Starkey sees Reeder realise some of his mad axeman fantasies with his guitar enhanced ‘Leather & Beers’ rework by taking the dystopian metal original into even more speedy Alice Cooper territory. But with an icy build, CEMETERY SEX FAIRIES’ ‘Tanz Allein’ sees a move away from Reeder’s usual four-on-the-floor template and maintains an enjoyably creepy quality with the scary German Grimm tales vocal.

While many purchasers will be NEW ORDER and YELLO completists after the exclusive remixes on ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’, this Mark Reeder collector has so much more to offer. As well for presenting his sometimes lesser-lauded abilities as a composer, it also provides a platform for emergent acts from all around the world to be discovered.

Despite being regarded as ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’, through music Mark Reeder has unified more people than any politician has. In this modern online environment, the influence of music is more international than ever. It makes people connect, love, dance, escape and protest. This diverse collection does that, and isn’t that what music is all about.


‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ is released by MFS as a download double album, available from https://markreedermfs1.bandcamp.com/album/subversiv-dekadent

https://mfsberlin.com/

https://www.facebook.com/mfsberlin

https://www.facebook.com/markreedermusic/

https://twitter.com/markreedermfs

https://www.instagram.com/markreeder.mfs/

https://open.spotify.com/album/0XRaQMRD4ILpdRetyRvBo6


Text by Chi Ming Lai
12th March 2021

Introducing SCINTII

Music needs some mystery every now and then, and that comes with SCINTII, the musical vehicle of Taiwanese singer and producer Stella Chung.

SCINTII released her first EP ‘Mica’ in 2017 which explored glitch and leftfield dance in a manner reminiscent to Dot Allison who made her name in ONE DOVE, particularly on its smoky title track. Meanwhile ‘Papier’ exuded the menace of GAZELLE TWIN although within a more chilled setting.

Her second EP ‘Aerial / Paperbags’ featured the gorgeous ‘Terminals’ and led to the Shanghai-based artist signing with Houndstooth, the independent label established in 2012 by the London superclub Fabric.

Comparisons are easy to make with the Beijing-born FIFI RONG as both have an exotic trip-hop influenced sound and ‘Deux’ could easily be mistaken for the Chinese YELLO and TRICKY collaborator with its eerie but accessible underground sound. SCINTII’s hypnotic new single ‘Times New Roman’ has been produced by Danny L Harle, best known for his remix of CHARLI XCX’s ‘After The Afterparty’ and his uplifting single ‘Super Natural’ in collaboration with Canadian starlet Carly Rae Jepsen.

The main melody came into SCINTII’s head while walking round a shopping mall. Using an interesting and intelligent analogy for the tune, she said: “Times New Roman is one of the main languages used in graphic design and this song is about finding that language for myself as an artist”.

The moody video for ‘Times New Roman’ has been directed by Kynan Puru Watt and produced by Dede Wen, capturing a deep icy austere. Alluring atmospheric with an understated rhythmic edge, ‘Times New Roman’ is beautifully elegant electronic pop and hopefully a sign of more to come.


‘Times New Roman’ is released by Houndstooth and available now in a digital bundle with remixes from https://scintii.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/scintii

https://twitter.com/sc_in_tii

https://www.instagram.com/sc_in_tii

https://soundcloud.com/scintii

https://www.houndstoothlabel.com/artist/scintii


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photo by Hailun Ma
16th September 2020

YELLO Point

Switzerland’s YELLO have never been an act to over-expose themselves in relation to the product that they’ve released.

Previous album ‘Toy’ was released in 2016 and prior to that ‘Touch Yello’ came out in 2009; so after a four year gap we now have the duo’s latest work ‘Point’.

According to their label Universal, ‘Point’ takes the classic YELLO aesthetic of albums such as ‘Stella’, ‘One Second’ and ‘Flag’ and “twists it into something ultra-modern.” the sound “part spy film, part Dali-painting, part strobe lit dance floor, part 4D car chase and part deep space torch song. It’s YELLO, absolutely on point.”

Within the first 10 seconds of album opener ‘Waba Duba’, there is no mistaking that this IS YELLO; the track is based around a tribal Dieter Meier chant and punctuated with staccato horn stabs which recall their biggest hit ‘The Race’. Thankfully ‘Waba Duba’ doesn’t take itself too seriously with gibberish-style lyrics “Do you want me to do/Don’t take me for a fool/I’m only happy man/I jump out of the can”. All in all, ‘Waba Duba’ is a feelgood track with enough synth parts to satisfy fans of their more electronic work.

‘The Vanishing of Peter Stong’ starts like an EBM track with a menacing synth bassline, but the live drums and vocal narrative from Meier takes the piece into a completely different direction. Throughout the album comparisons could easily be made with THE ART OF NOISE, both acts are known for their sampling with Boris Blank having a huge sample collection (400,000+). ‘The Vanishing of Peter Strong’ features more rhythmic vocal sampling and the kind of production sheen that Trevor Horn and Stephen Lipson cultivated with their associated ZTT acts.

‘Way Down’ features an offbeat skanking backbeat and a welcome female vocal layer above Meier’s trademark talking growl. Beautifully produced again with an amazing clarity to the drum sound; cinematic horns and echoed synth arpeggios excel on a short three minute track that doesn’t outstay its welcome.

‘Out of Sight’ starts like a distant cousin to KRAFTWERK and ‘Boing Boom Tschak’ before being joined by a “dum dum” vocal bass line which again echoes THE ART OF NOISE. The vocal sampling and stuttering of LES RYTHMES DIGITALES’ ‘Jacques Your Body’ seems to be an influence too…

‘Arthur Spark’ is far more electronic in nature, with low-slung synth bass sequencer work and APOLLO 440-ish vocodered vocals. A KRAFTWERK-style drum pattern dips in out of the track and subtle guitar work features throughout. What is admirable here is that five tracks in and each track has its own atmosphere with original sounds and none of the tracks become overly repetitive or linger around for too long (actually none of the songs on ‘Point’ are in excess of four minutes in length).

‘Core Shift’ features a fantastic synth breakdown at its 38 second mark, again another stunningly mixed track; if one worked in a hi-fi shop ‘Point’ would make a great sonic fidelity demonstration album.

‘Rush for Joe’ is a cheeky John Barry-style spy theme-in-waiting with added Korg M1 organ bass sounds, whilst album closer ‘Siren Singing’ features the only guest vocalist on the album with an appearance from British based Chinese artist Fifi Rong. ‘Siren Singing’ is an ambient downtempo piece which draws ‘Point’ to a more introspective conclusion. The only track not to feature Meier’s vocals and without him, results in a piece which is pretty un-YELLO like.

The deal breaker with YELLO has always been Dieter Meier’s vocals, he’s always been a storyteller rather than a singing vocalist, and there is no deviation from that template here. Arguably ‘Point’ would function better with more guest vocalists, but he is part of the duo’s signature sound and as album closer ‘Siren Singing’ proves, his absence ends up being missed.

From a production point of view, ‘Point’ is stunning throughout and although there are no huge stand-out tracks here, the album is a concise re-affirmation of the YELLO sound and long term fans will adore it.


‘Point’ is released via Universal Music, available as a collector’s box, CD, deluxe CD, vinyl LP and digital download

http://yello.com

https://www.facebook.com/yello.ch/

https://www.instagram.com/yello_official/


Text by Paul Boddy
14th September 2020

NEW RO i o u

NEW RO is a Helsinki-based singer, songwriter and producer with a cheeky sense of humour that she often vivaciously expresses via her social media.

Known by her mother as Ronja, she released her first music in 2018, beginning with the saucily titled R’n’B pop of ‘I Cum’.

With an approach that is melodic, rhythmic and vulnerable, NEW RO released the appropriately spacey ‘Kosmos’ EP at the start of 2020, with the title song having a delightful GRIMES approach circa ‘Visions’.

Signing to Solina Records, home of VILLA NAH, SIN COS TAN, VON KONOW, THE HEARING and JUNO FRANCIS, NEW RO’s new body of work ‘i o u’ encapsulates a more dance-oriented direction, celebrating friendship and hedonism.

The opening title song is a fabulously dreamy trance tune with an alluring vocal performance from NEW RO over a throbbing electronic soundscape that engages the mind and the feet. An equivalent artist for reference would be Sweden’s LIZETTE LIZETTE who also places techno backbones into an avant pop setting; “I forget myself” she happily declares.

Initially sparser, ‘Trickle’ enters ROBYN mode and passionately builds into something quite percussive and most of the remaining tracks on this EP follow a similar vibe. With an airy warbling flavour laced with gated voices, ‘3’ explores more Balearic territory.

Meanwhile ‘Don’t Talk To Me On The Dancefloor It’s Really Annoying’ visits Detroit via its hypnotic club drive, although it is all given an icy Finnish twist with the surprising addition of kantele! However, ‘Everything’ closes proceedings with something more abstract and reprises the esoteric side to NEW RO that appeared on ‘Kosmos’.

A vintage string machine is thrown into ‘Everything’ amongst the prominent textural swoops and layers of treated vocals which are aesthetically not far off YELLO collaborator FIFI RONG.

“I wanted to emulate the feeling of hazy and euphoric nights in a great company” said NEW RO, “My friends have inspired this EP and I want to see them dancing to it.”

While the title track is the definite stand-out from ‘i o u’, as was the case on her previous release ‘Kosmos’, NEW RO has shown promise with her two most recent EPs and ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK awaits with interest as to how she progresses creatively in the future.


‘i o u’ is released by Solina Records via the usual digital outlets

https://www.facebook.com/longlivenewro

https://www.instagram.com/longlivenewro/

https://www.facebook.com/SolinaRecords

https://open.spotify.com/album/2LDMRexBa1huWFUUh2FgQt


Text by Chi Ming Lai
30th June 2020

FIFI RONG Love Is A Lonely Thing

Following on from her three part singular release ‘Red Moon Voyage’ for Halloween 2019, Fifi Rong turns her attention to Valentine’s Day 2020 with a bittersweet trilogy under the title of ‘Love Is A Lonely Thing’.

It is a three-chapter tragic romantic story with a cinematic sonic parallel to ‘Mood For Love’ by Wong Kar-Wai.

Despite a spirit of newly found independence, the Beijing born songstress enters a forlorn world inhabited by many, where all unrequited love desperately seeks a way to prove its own existence.

She said to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK: “I channel my emotional pain through every heartbreak, and sing for those who can’t express their emotions through music”.

Accompanied by three videos directed by Zee Marla Osh, the mutant reggae of Part 1 states“How much I cry for your smile”, before being haunted by “A ritual that repeats” while Part 2 has more of a nocturnal anguish; when the realisation hits home when the love is not reciprocated, she asks in cut-up collage “don’t you wanna be the one?”

Part 3 takes on a smoky trip-hop stance and a sense of resignation with goodbye looming. With the surprise of dysfunctional electro-dub, Fifi Rong is intriguing as ever with her enigmatic whispers that “I still don’t believe in love”.

With her prolific artistic impulses now being the main driving force, The ‘Love Is A Lonely Thing’ trilogy is a result of Fifi Rong re-establishing control of her own artistic destiny over the last two years, releasing material of varying concepts as she sees fits to her loyal fan base.

While ‘Red Moon Voyage’ and ‘Love Is A Lonely Thing’ have been trilogy concepts, her currently being recorded new album is her most ambitious project yet, embarking on a cultural fusion that combines her native tongue of Mandarin with the universal pop language of English.


The ‘Love Is A Lonely Thing’ trilogy is available direct from https://fifirong.bandcamp.com/

http://www.fifirong.com/

https://www.facebook.com/fifirongmusic/

https://twitter.com/fifirong

https://www.instagram.com/fifirong/

https://open.spotify.com/album/6QZtsByiKYIICESBU0UhAh


Text by Chi Ming Lai
14th February 2020

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