Tag: Finlay Shakespeare (Page 1 of 2)


Photo by Jori Hulkkonen

Just as it looked like it would be safe to come out to play, there was uncertainty within the music industry again.

What had become the artists’ favourite platform thanks to its low commission and 0% Fridays, Bandcamp was taken over by Epic Games in 2022 but then following a move by employees to unionise, was sold to Songtradr who immediately dismissed half of its staff… in hindsight, despite its proclamation that this platform cared about the music, it looked like this had been yet another start-up by tech venture capitalists. Just as many acts dropped their own websites in favour of Facebook over a decade ago but were then trapped into sponsored posts to reach the majority of their own fanbase, online shops had been dropped for Bandcamp. So, things are back to square one as many consider a rebuild of their web presence.

Meanwhile, Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino made a controversial declaration that concert ticket prices were generally too low and that artists could easily “charge a bit more”. While THE CURE notably refused to do this and capped their face value tickets at $20 for their US tour, the Live Nation sister outlet Ticketmaster applied excessive booking extras of more than $20 per ticket for a “service fee”, “facility charge” and “order processing”! With dynamic pricing in place at a number of high profile events and so-called VIP tickets on the rise (which didn’t actually include a meet ‘n’ greet but only a nearby bar and a lanyard), fans had their “FOMO” anxieties triggered and simply paid up!

Photo by Chi Ming Lai

Another artist who kept ticket prices low was Midge Ure who embarked on the successful ‘Voices & Visions’ tour after a year’s delay due to uncertainties over the Covid situation in 2022. Complimented by a straightforward but very effective light show and material from his second and third long players with ULTRAVOX ‘Rage In Eden’ and ‘Quartet’, it was a triumph. He was rewarded with a 70th birthday show celebrating his career at The Royal Albert Hall, which despite its plush surroundings was also kept affordable.

Who says an artist has no control over retail pricing? But one band who were shamelessly happy to charge more for concert tickets, more for merchandise and more for physical releases were DEPECHE MODE. For their first album and tour since the passing of co-founder Andy Fletcher in 2022, the remaining members played the death card with ‘Momento Bori’ and managed to plonk an even more underwhelming arena show into the stadiums of the world… at least the ‘Global Spirit’ tour featured risers!

With renowned UK venues such as Printworks and Moles closing down, as had already been highlighted by Juls Garat of US goth band PILGRIMS OF YEARNING via social media in 2022: “If you’re spending a kidney on DEPECHE MODE tickets and not attending a local show this weekend, I don’t wanna see you complaining that there’s no scene, local venues or new music anymore”. However, one seemingly oblivious Devotee said about the inflated ticket prices: “Really don’t know what the issue is. Happily paid £108.00 for a DM ticket. Would have paid more!!”. And therein lays the problem… DEPECHE MODE played a date at Stadion Wankdorf in Bern and that said it all! As the man who Devotees call a genius once wrote: “Some great reward will be coming my way…”

Photo by Chi Ming Lai

As The Devotees wallowed in their collective misery during 2023, the Stockholm Syndrome was stronger than ever. On the Bratislava leg at the National Football Stadium, one of The Black Swarm commented to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK: “I was there… I must admit, a bit disappointed… but I still love them!!!”. It was business as usual for DEPECHE MODE, with “business” being the operative word. It was reported that so much money had been sucked out of the European alternative music market in particular that a number of acts had to schedule their planned tours to 2024, while others who had made good albums worthy of attention in 2023 got lost in the sea of DM propaganda on the web.

Despite increased ticket prices at all levels, gig etiquette declined to the worst possible standards with the constant chatter and bad manners among some attendees. Surely if you have paid upwards of £30 or more for a show, you might want to pay more attention and enjoy it? ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK has never seen it this bad in the 43 years it has been going to concerts, but this entitled arrogance to talk extremely loudly about total bollocks is a undoubted legacy of Brexit and Covid which in combination has normalised a lack of social graces in gathered environments… and when challenged, these total numbskulls become aggressive, pitifully unaware that they are ruining the evening of those around them.

Meanwhile, there was another undesirable element who only go to gigs to post selfies and badly distorted footage on their socials… these were often the sort of people who actually hated the band back in the day, but after 40+ years realised they like the song on the Vitality or Waitrose advert so are sudddenly giving it the big “I AM” about being a fan… but BECAUSE they are only there for one song, they then treat the rest of the gig like they were out with their mates in the pub! 🤬

Photo by Chi Ming Lai

The best live shows of the year came from PET SHOP BOYS and DURAN DURAN with their arena extravaganzas full of hits, classic fan favourites and great staging. Among the album celebrations, CHINA CRISIS ran through their second long player ‘Working With Fire & Steel – Possible Pop Songs Volume 2’ on tour to celebrate its 40th anniversary and founder bassist Peter Hook took the first NEW ORDER compilation ‘Substance’ out on the road to coincide with its expanded 4CD reissue.

“Sweden’s best kept pop secret” KITE impressed with an imitate headliner for their debut London gig and later at Cologne’s Amphi Festival to a much larger crowd, while the return of Ollie Wride to the London stage at The Scala illustrated why he has potential to be the next synthwave artist to crossover into the mainstream.

Photo by Ed Miles

‘Time’s Arrow’, LADYTRON’s second album since their return from hiatus proved to be something of a disappointment while fairing slightly better with its anti-Brexit sentiments, ‘Bauhaus Staircase’ was touted as the final album from OMD; now kissing the strict machine, having previously been supportive of new electronic pop via ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK championed acts MIRRORS, VILLA NAH, VILE ELECTRODES, METROLAND, TINY MAGNETIC PETS and SOFTWAVE, their choice of art glam hipsters WALT DISCO as opening act on the UK leg of the 2024 tour was symbolic of the general poor state of modern synthpop ie pop music using synths, particularly within the narrow-mindset of Brexit Britain.

Although the UK was continuing to party like it was 1933, the incendiary language that Cruella Braverman was using was so extreme that she was even dismissed from fronting the Conservative Party new wave covers band A FLOCK OF SIEG HEILS… as a trio of poets from South Yorkshire once said: “BROTHERS! SISTERS! WE DON’T NEED THIS FASCIST GROOVE THANG!”

Reflecting a wider issue, 2023 also saw ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK publish its fewest number of ‘Introducing…’ new artist articles since its inception in 2010 with only Brigitte Bardini and Madeleine Goldstein featured. There were a number of possible reasons…

Photo by Bella Salvatore

“The technology leads the art form and it always has” said veteran producer Steve Lillywhite on a recent Rockonteurs podcast, “if the technology allows you to reference other people’s records… you WILL do that!”. This was summed up by an Apple Mac advert featuring sample-based British pop singer PinkPantheress demonstrating how to have a hit by appropriating a topline from Kelly Rowland and plonking it into GarageBand before processing her voice through AutoTune and nabbing the intro of ‘Gold’ by SPANDAU BALLET… you said it yourself Miss Walker, IT SOUNDS LIKE GARBAGE!

While the accessibility, usability and sound quality of modern tech has totally democratised music making, as another veteran producer Stephen Hague put it to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK “it’s made it far too easy”, with the end result being familiarity and imitation rather than innovation. Now that an acceptable sound is able to be obtained fairly quickly on software such as GarageBand, the level of songwriting has generally declined in many genres. Artists abstain from putting in the hard work towards the actual songcraft because they think their track is already great, as it sounds like someone they’ve based it on!

However, the misuse of “synth” as a description reached a new nadir in 2023. There were those using “synth” or “synthwave” in their brand identity who proudly revealed via their Spotify Wrapped that their Top Genre was actually rock or made bizarre comments like “What I like most about synthwave is the guitar solos”. Meanwhile one artist declared they were synthpop because they had spent their youth “listening to too much Madonna”! But synth music as an enduring form is ultimately doomed when social media platforms using “Synthpop” in their idents think that guitar-based bands like BIG COUNTRY and COCTEAU TWINS are part of it, or compile acoustic playlists!! 🤦‍♂️

“Synth” has now somehow become is a general term for any retro-flavoured pop with an element of shiny artifice whether synthesizers have been used or not! These artists and “content creators” are now too young to understand what “synth” in music actually once meant and probably think the term is short for “synthetic” as in clothes and hair products, as opposed to “synthesizer”.

That said, 2023 was not all bad and there was a lot of excellent music. The song of the year was by the unlikely synth hero in glum rocker Lloyd Cole; while guitars made a more prominent but limited return on his album ‘On Pain’ following 2019’s electronically-dominated ‘Guesswork’, the standout song ‘The Idiot’ saw him provide a touching narrative on the relationship between David Bowie and Iggy Pop as they relocated to Berlin in 1976.

Swedish veterans PAGE took the Numanisation of their poptronica to its zenith by bringing in former imperial phase Numan band members Chris Payne and RRussell Bell on their new album ‘En Ny Våg’. Across the Öresund Bridge, Danish synthpop couple SOFTWAVE showed the world the ‘things we’ve done’.

Photo by George Tripodakis

Another music veteran Ricky Wilde teamed up with NINA to reveal their ‘Scala Hearts’; full of classic pop references and a modern sheen, this was the record Wilde had wanted to make for a few years but hadn’t been able to with his sister Kim. Its creative drive showed and this was also the best long player that NINA had been part of since she launched her solo career in 2011. In a busy year, NINA also found time to satisfy many a red blooded fantasy by collaborating with Kid Moxie on the ‘Lust’ EP released by Italians Do It Better.

The Finns were strong too, with Jaakko Eino Kalavi and Jori Hulkkonen producing two of the best albums of 2023. The former’s eclectic ‘Chaos Magic’ featured Alma Jodorowsky, Mr Silla and Jimi Tenor as special guests while the latter’s ‘There Is Light Hidden In These Shadows’ brought in John Grant, Ralf Dörper, Jake Shears, Jon Marsh, Juho Paalosmaa and Tiga.

While maintaining his front man role in MESH, Mark Hockings presented his solo project BLACKCARBURNING in long playing form and was ‘Watching Sleepers’. Also going it alone, Alison Goldfrapp squarely hit the dancefloor via ’The Love Invention’ with Kylie Minogue’s similarly glitzy ‘Tension’ as its companion. But with ACTORS still busy touring the world, the planned long playing debut from LEATHERS was yet to emerge but there were two new singles in the interim.

METROLAND and side project 808 DOT POP ambitiously released albums in five different formats with exclusive tracks on each between them simultaneously, in a move that had not been seen since 1978 when all four members of KISS released solo records on the same day. Much more discretely, ITALOCONNECTION came up with ‘Nordisko’ which comprised of Nordic pop disco covers. More ambient experiments were served by John Foxx, Vince Clarke, Patricia Wolf, Johan Agebjörn and the late Ryuichi Sakamoto, while putting those ethereal textures into song was Hinako Omori with her appropriately named second album ‘stillness, softness…’

Germany’s BEBORN BETON offered bleak commentary on the state of the planet with ‘Darkness Falls Again’ but encouraged everyone to be dancers in the dark while Chinese band STOLEN highlighted this ‘Eroded Creation’. Within their ‘Circle Of Doom’, NNHMN had pressing matters closer to home while ZANIAS emerged from her ‘Chrysalis’. FERAL FIVE confronted and worked with AI to declare ‘Truth Is The New Gold’ and Finlay Shakespeare tapped into his ‘Illusion + Memory’.

Photo by Tim Darin

Among the promising emergent acts with debut EPs were NEU-ROMANCER and DIE SEXUAL while German solo artists Jennifer Touch and Laura Dre added to their long playing portfolios, as did OHNOTHING and BUNNY X. Fronted by respectively by John Grant and Neil Arthur, CREEP SHOW and THE REMAINDER outlined the benefits of collaboration while CAUSEWAY joined forces with R. MISSING for the single ‘Wear The Night Out’.

Despite having plied their trade for over 50 years, SPARKS continued to be as eccentric as ever and even had Cate Blanchett appear in the video for ‘The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte’. With ‘*Happiness now completed’ and Dave Ball returning to the live fold after a period of serious illness, SOFT CELL effectively issued another new album featuring a significant number of previously unreleased tracks including covers of Giorgio Moroder and X-RAY SPEX to provide a much more satisfying listening experience than the parent ‘*Happiness not included’ record. Then there was the unexpected recorded return of CLASSIX NOUVEAUX with their ‘Battle Cry’.

Veteran acts who ceased active operations many years ago got worthy boxed set treatments; TELEX provided ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK with the funniest interview of the year in support of their self-titled retrospective on Mute while LANDSCAPE were comprehensively catalogued by Cooking Vinyl. Not to be left out, the trusty Cherry Red via their Lemon imprint showcased how underrated NEW MUSIK and their leader Tony Mansfield were, especially with the latter’s sound clearly audible in today’s pop acts such as THE WEEKND.

Despite the return of Q, the jury was still out on whether music magazines are still desirable aside from their CD and vinyl artefacts. Meanwhile, music-based social media dumbed down its engagement to cut ‘n’ paste Wikipedia snippets accompanying archive photos or artwork, pointless 26th anniversary posts and non-significant birthday celebrations to attract likes. Comments from the public such as “My favourite album… I wish I still had it!” and saying “Happy Birthday” when the platform wasn’t even connected to the artist concerned only highlighted further the continuing inane nature of online interaction. And this was without those irritating “POV” reels and reaction videos on TikTok and Instagram which were unfortunately prevalent!

The less said about the right wing gammon infested sh*t show that Twitter has become, the better but on the new Threads platform intended to take it on, PENDULUM’s El Hornet remarked “omg threads is full of music industry self help w*nkers making lists about things nobody asked abort! ABORT!” 🤣

With such platforms also seemingly centred around the exposure of flesh with photos “just for fun” be the subject a golfer, gamer, painter, baker, comedian, hairdresser, photographer, psychologist, racing driver, book reviewer, poet, dating coach or Lego enthusiast, is it any wonder that several music artists resorted to setting up OnlyFans accounts to sell nude photos!

With pun totally intended, in this challenging climate for exposure, some acts simply got a bit too big for their boots and were unbearably conceited on their socials with their bragging and frivolous chatter to appease a needy flock who hung onto their every word, desperate to be seen to be “friends” of wannabe stars while crowdfunding towards their spa weekenders and vet bills for their cat… it was therefore ironic that one of these acts declared “Music isn’t a competition!” when it appeared that another band might be taking away some of their limelight! Well, stop acting like it’s a 24 hour edition of ‘The Apprentice’ then!!! 🙄

On the other side of the coin, one too cool for school band took a strange attitude to promotion by refusing to accept questions about their influences while trying to come over like total originals. Despite their inspirations being blatant and obvious to hear, they had a misguided self-belief that they were somehow speaking a new language! But everybody knows they started out by purchasing the sheet music to ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ from a New York thrift store! 😆

A few years ago, a lone British artist was complained about the lack of press attention for their new admittedly good album, but then proceeded not to answer emails containing interview pitches. Artists need to engage, no matter how much they say they hate doing promotion, they can’t have it both ways. The days of RADIOHEAD not doing interviews to promote a new album and letting the music speak for itself are long gone…

With the world now making up for lost time since 2020, it would be fair to say that 2023 has been something of a strange year!

Text by Chi Ming Lai
18 December 2023


Making up for lost time and revenue since 2020, the music industry really went to town on their various income streams in 2023…

Albums were being released in multiple coloured vinyl editions with the same content, sometimes as many as eight versions… while this helped in inflating physical chart positions for marketing purposes, it also gave an incorrect perception of success. As Stephen Morris from NEW ORDER once remarked to Smash Hits back in 1983: “If you believe in the charts, then you may as well believe in fairies…”

With Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino declaring that concert ticket prices were generally too low and that artists could easily “charge a bit more”, this was exactly what quite a few did and there was a noticeable price hike observed across all levels over the year.

But what about the music? This year’s song listing was quite straightforward to compile, with a smaller shortlist compared to previous years with DURAN DURAN, KITE, PISTON DAMP, LEATHERS, DELERIUM and LADYTRON missing the final 30.

Just a note that ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK has never compiled an albums list, due to long form releases now having a much longer gestation period than in the past. Therefore, songs are a much better representation of the music from a calendar year. If you like the song, then check out the parent album or EP if applicable via your chosen music platform…

Selected from tracks available on the usual online retail platforms with a restriction of one song per artist moniker (so yes NINA, John Grant,  Finlay Shakespeare and Laura Bailey each appear twice but in different combinations), here are the ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 30 SONGS OF 2023 listed in alphabetical order…


Hailing from Melbourne in Australia, Brigitte Bardini is the latest artist to embrace her dark side having begun as an acoustic singer songwriter. Moving away from the dreampop and shoegaze of her earlier material, ‘Start A Fire’ captured an alluring gothique on top of a gritty dance tempo while simultaneously haunting and melodic. This was sinister stuff but aurally absorbing.

Available on the BRIGITTE BARDINI single ‘Start A Fire’ via Ruby Valley Records


BEBORN BETON Dancer In The Dark

Not a rework of Bruce Springsteen, the brilliant ‘Dancer In The Dark’ saw BEBORN BETON managing to out Camouflage CAMOUFLAGE with an infectious pop sensibility that more than likely came from front man and lyric writer Stefan Netschio’s love of DURAN DURAN. As if The Berlin Wall never fell, ‘Dancer In The Dark’ was a message to remain positive in the face of adversity.

Available on the BEBORN BETON album ‘Darkness Falls Again’ via Dependent Records



BLACKCARBURNING is the solo vehicle of Mark Hockings, lead singer of MESH. taking on multiple roles including programming and production. The spikey throbbing energy of ‘The Mirror’ provided a dark disco highlight away from the parent band’s template. “I’m just generally a fan of arpeggiated bass lines” he said, “I don’t think you can go far wrong with a repetitive sequence and a Roland drum machine”.

Available on the BLACKCARBURNING album ‘Watching Sleepers’ via COP International



With Lloyd Cole “excited to still be finding new methods, new perspectives, new sounds”, the standout song ‘The Idiot’ from his Chris Hughes’ produced album ‘On Pain’ gave a touching synth-laden narrative on the relationship between David Bowie and Iggy Pop as they relocated to Berlin in 1976 in an imagined conversation as the pair escaped their narcotic dependency while cycling to the studio and discothèque.

Available on the LLOYD COLE album ‘On Pain’ via earMUSIC


CREEP SHOW The Bellows

A supergroup comprising of John Grant, Stephen Mallinder, Ben Benge Edwards and Phil Winter, CREEP SHOW released their acclaimed debut album ‘Mr Dynamite’ in 2018. Utilising a punchy backing track, ‘The Bellows’ was like a blippy PET SHOP BOYS with layers of treated and vocodered vocals before being countered by enticing Middle Eastern resonances in the synth solo.

Available on the CREEP SHOW album ‘Yawning Abyss’ via Bella Union


DAWN TO DAWN Seventh Floor

Their first new track from DAWN TO DAWN since their 2022 debut album ‘Postcards From The Sun To The Moon’, the Montreal trio of Tess Roby, Adam Ohr and Patrick Lee conjured images of headlights on night drives with the shimmering story of love and lust that was ‘Seventh Floor’ with dreamy synthscapes and hypnotic drum machine.

Available on the DAWN TO DAWN digital single ‘Seventh Floor’ via SSURROUNDSS



The palette of tools on ‘Truth Is The New Gold’ saw FERAL FIVE use traditional instruments, electronica and AI voicing in a quirky but accessible fashion. Exploring the theme of light pollution, the fine squelch laden ‘Silver Sky’ saw great vocals and backing reminiscent of INTERNATIONAL TEACHERS OF POP and DUBSTAR meeting GOLDFRAPP.

Available on the FERAL FIVE album ‘Truth Is The New Gold’ via Reckless Yes


FRAGRANCE. Much More Like A Wave – M!R!M Remix

Matthieu Roche is the enigmatic Parisian behind FRAGRANCE. whose debut ‘Dust & Disorders’ was expanded in 2023 with five new tracks. The first remix from it came in the shape of an excellent ‘Much More Like A Wave’ rework by Italian producer M!R!M. “I love his take on the song” said Roche, “I always felt that the chorus of this song could work as an anthem and he definitely achieved that with his remix”

Available on the FRAGRANCE. digital single ‘Much More Like A Wave – M!R!M Remix’ via Sugarcane Recordings


GLÜME Dangerous Blue

The second Glüme album ‘Main Character’ with high profile guests such as Sean Ono Lennon and Rufus Wainwright was set to elevate her to the next level but things did not quite work out that way with health and financial concerns by the end of the year. ‘Dangerous Blue’ was one of the sparkling highlights despite its cooing melancholy.

Available on the GLÜME album ‘Main Character’ via Italians Do It Better



Madeline Goldstein presented her best single yet in ‘Seed Of Doubt’ to launch her ‘Other World’ EP. With a wider narrative on “the restlessness of alienation and isolation, the longing to move, to feel power, and to flee”, ‘Seed Of Doubt’ was a brooding slice of gothwave in a manner tinged with some ghostly allure thanks to a haunting soprano delivery.

Available on the self-released MADELINE GOLDSTEIN EP ‘Other World’


JORI HULKKONEN featuring JOHN GRANT I’m Going To Hell

“For my 50th birthday I wanted to do something a bit special” said Jori Hulkkonen, “however, the list of realistic projects quickly narrowed down on yet another album. I did manage to invite some friends and heroes to be featured on it, though.” Displaying his love of PET SHOP BOYS, hearing John Grant with his rich baritone on a house-driven pop track like ‘I’m Going To Hell’ was pure joy.

Available on the JORI HULKKONEN album ‘There Is Light Hidden In These Shadows’ via Blanco & Tinto Recordings



ITALOCONNECTION’s long player ‘Nordisko’ came with a twist by paying tribute to pop from the Nordic region via a collection of cover versions. Written by Jay-Jay Johanson, his marvellous 2002 tune ‘On The Radio’ was given an airy feminine disco makeover featuring Jaia Sowden on vocals. With absorbent sequences and glistening keys, it was a fine shapeshift from the artpop original.

Available on the ITALOCONNECTION album ‘Nordisko’ via Mordisco / Blanco Y Negro



Jaakko Eino Kalevi sought to find beauty in the chaotic nature of the everyday on his new album ‘Chaos Magic’. One of its many highlights ‘The Chamber Of Love’ bore a resemblance to WHAM! “I wrote the song before I ever heard ‘Everything She Wants’ but the arrangement was different” the Finn said, “I love ‘Everything She Wants’ so I arranged this song sounding more like that. It is more electronic now…”

Available on the JAAKKO EINO KALEVI album ‘Chaos Magic’ via Weird World / Domino Recording Co



When artists are mutual fans, it can lead to collaborative possibilities and even ‘Lust’. KID MOXIE and NINA teamed up via Italians Do It Better to capture a seductive film-noir tension within a fantasy world. With a cool air of enigmatic mystery, the downtempo synthwave treatment exuded a sensual anticipation of consummation in their duet.

Available on the KID MOXIE & NINA EP ‘Lust’ via Italians Do It Better



KNIGHT$ What Planet Did You Come From?

The first new music from KNIGHT$ since 2021, the vibrant hook-laden Eurobeat of ‘What Planet Did You Come From? (Baby)’ threw in the kitchen sink with synth, sax and vocoder. With shades of Patrick Cowley’s work for Sylvester and Bobby Orlando’s Divine productions, it affirmed that James Knights’ Britalo was just the tonic in these difficult times.

Available on the KNIGHT$ EP ‘$auna Mu$ik’ via Specchio Uomo



‘I Will Never Learn’ summed up life’s trials and tribulations in a wonderful example of why NATION OF LANGUAGE appeal so much in their glorious mix of synths, live bass, sequencers and electronic percussion. A haunting girly falsetto howl provided a beautiful touch alongside their usual NEW ORDER, OMD and ULTRAVOX influences.

Available on the NATION OF LANGUAGE album ‘Strange Disciple’ via PIAS



Having impressed with her first NEU-ROMANCER EP ‘Neue Romantika’ earlier in 2023 while touring the world with ZANIAS, Berlin-based Australian Laura Bailey ended the year with the cowbell heavy Hi-NRG romp ‘Burning Eyes’. It made use of both her vocal and bass prowess which were less prominent on her largely instrumental debut release.

Available on the compilation album ‘Next Wave Acid Punx DEUX’ (V/A) via Eskimo Recordings


NNHMN Soldier of Beauty

As NNHMN, “non-humans” Lee Margot and Michal Laudarg have been encapsulating these unsettling times in music. Adapting their dark electronic body style with more varied dance elements on their appropriately titled ‘Circle of Doom’ album, courtesy of a particularly hypnotic bassline, the wonderful serene glory of ‘Soldier of Beauty’ gave the viewpoint that the only honest thing to fight for is peace.

Available on the NNHMN album ‘Circle of Doom’ via Young and Cold Records


OMD Look At You Now

Derived from a Paul Humphreys demo with the working title of ‘Zimmer Frame for Andy’, this came bursting with hooks and was perhaps only missing a Paul Humphreys lead vocal. Lyrics such as “When the energy is gone and the feeling is just wrong” and “The power in your hand is pouring out like sand” pointed towards the ‘Bauhaus Staircase’ album’s political themes on the stupidity of Brexit.

Available on the OMD album ‘Bauhaus Staircase’ via 100% Records


PAGE Det Här Är Mitt Sätt

Although the ‘En Ny Våg’ album title song took the PAGE “Numanisation” process to its zenith by featuring Chris Payne, outstripping it was the excellent jaunty robopop of ‘Det Här Är Mitt Sätt’. Within its four chord progression, there were catchy riffs and some fabulous vintage Moog soloing in what was originally conceived as a homage to ‘Fade To Grey’, song which Payne co-wrote.

Available on the PAGE album ‘En Ny Våg’ via Energy Rekords


THE REMAINDER Broken Manhole Cover

As well as Neil Arthur, THE REMAINDER also comprises Liam Hutton and Finlay Shakespeare, both members of the live BLANCMANGE family. The excellent dance friendly ‘Broken Manhole Cover’ recalled LCD SOUNDSYSTEM and it was all intentional as Neil Arthur told ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK “you’ll hear me singing via a gated tremolo FX the words ‘LCD SOUNDSYSTEM’ most of the way through the song.”

Available on THE REMAINDER album ‘Evensong’ via by Blanc Check Ltd




R. MISSING All Alone With Seas

Fronted by enigmatic Sharon Shy, having released enough singles this year to make up an album, R. MISSING are in danger of falling under the radar with the bubbly electronic pop noir of ‘All Alone With Seas’ almost passing by unnoticed despite being one of their best songs of late. A long playing release, while old fashioned, may provide the focal point the duo deserve.

Available on the R. MISSING single ‘All Alone With Seas’ via Terminal Echo



Covered by acts as diverse CARTER USM and Liza Minnelli, the latest interpretation of PET SHOP BOYS stark narrative of a kept woman came via this wispy account by Swedish duo SALLY SHAPIRO. Keeping the original theme of relationship dependency close to its heart but offering an icier Nordic vision from a female perspective, Neil Tennant said “We’ve heard it! The chorus in particular sounds good”.

Available on the SALLY SHAPIRO single ‘Rent’ via Italians Do It Better


DIE SEXUAL Bound, I Rise

DIE SEXUAL are the Los Angeles-based wife-and-husband duo of Rosselinni and Anton Floriano, the latter part of BLACK LIGHT ODYSSEY. Their dark electronic influences examine themes of domination and submission with the seductive ‘Bound, I Rise’ seeing the bottom switch to the top in a hypnotic EBM friendly stomper.

Available on DIE SEXUAL EP ‘Bound’ via A System Exclusive / Hush Ltd.



“It’s an absolute rip off of OMD’s ‘2nd Thought’!” admitted Finlay Shakespeare of his glorious ‘Illusion + Memory’ album highlight ‘Ready Ready’. Almost Motorik in presence with a wonderfully pulsing drive and gorgeous synth tones, our hero doesn’t refrain from thoughts about “feeling at home through just a voice on the shortwave, when in fact you don’t know where you are and you could be in the crosshairs at any time and place.”

Available on the FINLAY SHAKESPEARE album ‘Illusion + Memory’ via Alter


SIERRA Stronger

Parisian producer Annelise Morel has been quietly impressing audiences over the past few years as SIERRA with her brand of darkwave. After several EP releases, her debut album ‘A Story Of Anger’ was a major leap forward. Including collaborations with Carpenter Brut and HEALTH, the standout track was her autobiographical statement ‘Stronger’.

Available on the SIERRA album ‘A Story Of Anger’ via Universal Music


SOFT CELL The Day The World Turned Day-Glo

Always adept at doing covers, SOFT CELL presented a brilliant electro tribute to Poly Styrene with ‘The Day The World Turned Day-Glo’. Taking a musical leaf out of ‘Sex Dwarf’ with Dave Ball making his syndrums and synths sound so menacing yet accessible, while Marc Almond delivers a vocal recalling the anguish of ‘Martin’ with sleazy sax passages resonating with the dystopian lyrics.

Available on the SOFT CELL album ‘*Happiness now completed’ via BMG


SOFTWAVE Taking Life For Granted

Despite its positive pop sound, the lyrics on the second SOFTWAVE album highlighted the challenges of living in a modern world full of dualities. ‘Taking Life For Granted’ went all ABBA-esque with someone “lacking gratitude” under attack, although the rousing chorus and a particularly joyous instrumental break gave the infinite hope.

Available on the SOFTWAVE album ‘things we’ve done’ via Electro Shock Records



A fabulous cover of the Italo flavoured Kim Wilde B-side to ‘The Second Time’ from 1984, the throbbing ‘Lovers On A Beach’ is NINA sounding sexier than ever before. With sharp spikey edges boosting the trancey template, Ricky Wilde provides a superb extended end section that pays homage to Giorgio Moroder in the best way possible.

Available on the RICKY WILDE X NINA album ‘Scala Hearts’ via New Retro Wave



ZANIAS Lovelife

Following one of the most traumatic periods of her life, Alison Lewis returned as her solo alter-ego Zoe Zanias to present ‘Chrysalis’. With glorious arpeggios and lush synth strings, ‘Lovelife’ was bolstered with bass guitar by live bandmate Laura Bailey aka NEU-ROMANCER while an array of pitch-shifted voice samples acted as an abstract lead vocal before the actual one kicked in.

Available on the ZANIAS album ‘Chrysalis’ via Fleisch


A selection of ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s favourite music of 2023 featuring 230+ tracks has been compiled for its ‘Initial After Brilliance’ playlist

Text by Chi Ming Lai
7 December 2023



THE REMAINDER are an electronic trio comprising Neil Arthur (vocals, guitar + synthesizers), Liam Hutton (drums, guitar + synthesizers) and Finlay Shakespeare (synthesizers + vocals).

The credentials of Neil Arthur and his work in BLANCMAGE are well documented, but Liam Hutton has a portfolio that includes Neneh Cherry while Finlay Shakespeare is an artist in his own right who also builds synths via his Future Sound Systems.

THE REMAINDER recently released debut album ‘Evensong’ has been many years in the making. Although both Liam Hutton and Finlay Shakespeare are recurring members of the BLANCMANGE live family, the project began before either was involved in the headline act.

The sound of THE REMAINDER is crisp yet hazy, with Arthur relinquishing total control and relishing in the altered dynamic coming from two younger and very capable collaborators, as he has done previous in his other side-projects NEAR FUTURE, FADER and KINCAID.

‘Evensong’ is an immediately enjoyable affair that sits nicely in the wider Neil Arthur canon. ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK had the pleasure of a three-way online chat with Neil Arthur, Liam Hutton and Finlay Shakespeare to discuss THE REMAINDER and its creative dynamic.

How did the idea of actually writing and producing music together come about, as opposed to just performing together?

Neil: Liam and I started work on the album in 2015, shortly after my manager Steve Malins introduced us. It wasn’t until a few years later that Liam joined BLANCMANGE on tour. We asked Finlay if he’d like to get involved later still. When was that? At that point, although Finlay had been a special guest with us, he hadn’t played with the Blancs.

Finlay: It was 10th November 2018 backstage at The Cluny, Newcastle!

Were the bones of the songs written together or by necessity due to your schedules, THE REMAINDER needed to a remote project?

Neil: Liam sent me his ideas electronically and I responded likewise. In fits and starts, eventually we had a body of work that we presented to Finlay to let his machines loose on. It was only then that we realised, “oh, we’ve got an album’s worth of noise here”. I think Liam and I got together in person only once before finally we went to join Finlay at his studio to fine-tune and mix the album.

Finlay: COVID didn’t help. I remember the dates of the mix session being set quite precariously, and a lot of my dabbling with the projects beforehand had to be done remotely anyway.

Did you set out any rules or restrictions in the way the music was constructed to set THE REMAINDER apart from your other work?

Neil: No, I think the three of us would hopefully be able create something uniquely different in the way each of us reacted to information / music / files / suggestion we in turn received from one another. A mutualistic 3 way symbiosis I reckon.

Finlay: Not strictly, but I remember using the opportunity to try some new techniques out. There’s a moment where a keyboard got played with my feet in ‘Dead Farmer’s Field’!

Was there anything that was applied more consciously, like for example live drum feels?

Liam: The decision to add live drums was definitely a ‘conscious’ one. All of the tracks began with programmed drums but ‘Evensong’ and ‘Dead Farmer’s Field’ just felt like they needed that extra punch!

The ‘Dead Farmer’s Field’ title has a goth rock air about it and that comes across in the music?

Neil: Oh, I hadn’t clocked that.

The ‘Evensong’ title track has this motorik backbone, how did that piece itself together and what influences went into the pot?

Neil: There was an intention to attempt towards that motorik drive, with NEU! and LA DÜSSELDORF being a reference to an extent.

Finlay: With the drum machine stem being sent over, I remember going straight for the sequencers at the studio, sending clock to as much stuff simultaneously as I could, then tweaking everything with each pass. Haswell’s Taiko, ARP 2600 clones, MS20, plenty of fun. That rigidly clocked feel definitely helps the motorik aspect.

Liam: I think we all had our eyes / ears on similar influences for this one! KRAFTWERK, CAN, NEU! et al. The idea started with the repetitive arpeggio played on an electric guitar, using that muted-harmonics technique everyone does when they first start learning to play. Then the drums were added at first using a Korg Vulca Beats which is quite a rudimentary but a fun little drum sequencer, and bass notes programmed on a computer. Neil then added vocals and synths and it took shape from there, going to Finlay for some grit and character!

The album opener ‘Broken Manhole Cover’ has this LCD SOUNDSYSTEM vibe, any thoughts?

Neil: Well, if you listen very carefully, you’ll hear me singing via a gated tremolo FX the words “LCD SOUNDSYSTEM” most of the way through the song. Maybe that’s got something to do with it. Subliminal suggestion. I can’t remember how I came to be singing that. Local amnesia possibly…

Finlay: The finger clicks and hand claps are pure Bowie, make of that what you will…

Was ‘Lift Music’ a track born out of frustration?

Neil: Lyrically, more monotonous repetition – hotels on tour. Forgetting where you are because once you’re in there, it may as well be anywhere or nowhere. Then there’s another level, get it? Lift music, to keep you calm in a small space. People get paid to curate a setlist of songs for lift travel. I want that job. CCTV watching your every move. Repeat and repeat.

Liam: I was messing around with the Ableton Looper and ended up making that sort of distorted, stuttery synth sound which you hear throughout. It has a sort of frustrated / anxious feel to it which wasn’t intentional, but it definitely informed the rest of the ideas that came after.

‘What Do You Want To Want’ asks existential questions?

Neil: Yes.

Jo Hutton provides electro-acoustic interludes between all the tracks on ‘Evensong’? How did that come about?

Liam: It was suggested that my Mum, being a sound artist / experimentalist and sound engineer, should make some interludes and she gladly obliged! She used the stems from each track to create their respective interludes.

Will THE REMAINDER perform live or will it be more likely that the occasional song might pop into the BLANCMANGE live set?

Finlay: We’d love to do it, it’s just a case of getting our heads together and existing in the same room for more than 20 minutes! It’s also a case of getting booked, though we could always do a small DIY tour. Tiny venues, 20 people, dancing shoes, job’s a good’un.

Liam: I hope so!

What is next for you each?

Neil: More recording, then a break before festivals in Europe.

Finlay: A studio move-out, then a potential studio build. A new album’s finished though, set for release in 2024.

Liam: Recording and touring mainly. Hoping to finish some new music before the year is up…

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its grateful thanks to THE REMAINDER

Special thanks to Steve Malins at Random Music Management

‘Evensong’ is released by Blanc Check Ltd as a clear vinyl LP, CD + digital download, available from https://theremainder.tmstor.es/




Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
29 July 2023


Another year and it’s another Neil Arthur side-project. Following on NEAR FUTURE, FADER and KINCAID comes THE REMAINDER.

As well as Neil Arthur, THE REMAINDER also comprises live BLANCMANGE percussionist Liam Hutton whose portfolio includes Neneh Cherry and Finlay Shakespeare, an artist in his own right who also builds synths and is another member of the BLANCMANGE performing family.

Initiated in 2015, the sound of THE REMAINDER is crisp yet hazy, with Arthur relinquishing total control and relishing in the altered dynamic coming from two younger and very capable collaborators. Additionally, Liam Hutton’s mother Jo, a radio audio recording engineer and composer provides sub-20 second ‘feedback and situation’ interludes slotted between the songs for a considered body of work.

Beginning with the excellent dance friendly ‘Broken Manhole Cover’, Neil Arthur deadpans about “eating immature peppers”, “calcium build-up” and other earthy observations and as a hypnotic synthy shine bursts through, it recalls LCD SOUNDSYSTEM. Taking on a more midtempo pace, ‘Hoarfrost’ is spacey electronic pop with engaging keyboard passages where Arthur exclaims “I don’t do nostalgia” as he ponders the passing of time.

The ‘Evensong’ title track is gloriously motorik and brings in live bass alongside a blippy backdrop before some ragged guitar joins in the second half in a celebration of the outsider. A cousin of ‘Hoarfrost’, like VISAGE and TALK TALK, THE REMAINDER have an eponymous song too and the use of digital claps provides a fitting upbeat.

More sombre and perhaps autobiographical, ‘Awake’ sees Arthur sounding particularly weary in the character of a “very very busy, a very busy person”. Of a similar tone and sounding not unlike THE CURE, the angsty ‘Dead Farmer’s Field’ makes subtle but effective use of synths on top of the driving rhythm section.

With more great synth lines and tongue-in-cheek references to the classic BBC comedy show ‘Are You Being Served?’, ‘Lift Music’ excels within a cavernous downtempo trip-hop setting. With eerie horror film vibes in a song about denial, ‘Forgotten’ sees Neil Arthur get more animated and angry before the closer ‘What Do You Want To Want’ recalls JOY DIVISION courtesy of its almost funereal mood as it asks existential questions inspired by the Yuval Noah Harris book, ‘Sapiens; A Brief History Of Mankind’.

This first album by THE REMAINDER is an immediately enjoyable affair that sits nicely alongside FADER and NEAR FUTURE as part of the wider Neil Arthur canon. But what is next? There’s the rumour of an as yet unnamed covers project with Benge and a certain Vince Clarke… versions of ‘Stuck In The Middle Of You’, ‘Goodbye To Love’ and ‘Rock On’ are said to be among the works-in-progress 😉

‘Evensong’ is released on 14 July 2023 by Blanc Check Ltd as a clear vinyl LP, CD + digital download, pre-order from https://theremainder.tmstor.es/




Text by Chi Ming Lai
7 July 2023

A Short Conversation with FINLAY SHAKESPEARE

With his third album, Finlay Shakespeare has produced his most pop work yet in ‘Illusion + Memory’.

Released by experimental musician Luke Younger’s Alter label, ‘Illusion + Memory’ is the follow-up to 2020’s ‘Solemnities’ which came out on Editions Mego, the independent record company established by the late Peter Rehberg to champion underground electronic music.

A graduate in audio engineering and an independent musical device manufacturer via his Future Sound Systems, Finlay Shakespeare is above all, an electronic pop fan with a love of KRAFTWERK, THROBBING GRISTLE, THE HUMAN LEAGUE, ASSOCIATES, OMD and JAPAN that came via his parents’ vast record collection.

With a passionate heart for sonically immersive electronic pop, the vocal delivery of Finlay Shakespeare can be intense and anguished although ‘Illusion + Memory’ reveals a more romantic nature to his music.

He kindly chatted to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about the new approaches he took in the production of his new album, his revived enthusiasm for live work and a new project with Neil Arthur of BLANCMANGE…

How do you look back on ‘Solemenities’ and its reception?

I think I’ve come a long way since that record, but it’ll always be special to me as it was my last album where Peter Rehberg from Editions Mego had a direct involvement. The release time coincided almost perfectly with Europe going into lockdown, so I remember it being rather stressful for all involved. The actual subject matter of the album, at least at the time of writing, seemed pretty sensational to me, always thinking “this end of the world stuff won’t happen”, though what we’ve seen over the last few years has gotten very close. It’s quite bizarre.

Does ‘Illusion + Memory’ have a theme?

Not directly, it’s influenced by a bunch of different things I’m into. Somehow it’s come out as the most “song based” thing I’ve done so far, though that wasn’t a particular aim.

I remember wanting to play with structure more deeply, but I’m unsure I really got that far with it, just getting distracted with sequencers instead!

Did you alter your equipment set up to inspire different ideas and approaches?

To a degree, yes… I was able to finish off a lot of DIY synthesizer projects over lockdown, so I ended up going back into the studio with a lot more equipment, particularly patchable analogue stuff. Parts of that equipment make an appearance on most tracks of the album in fact, so there’s perhaps a shift in sound palette thanks to that.

‘Theresa’ reveals a romantic side to you that hasn’t been heard before and has led to you adopting different vocal delivery styles?

Perhaps… the subject matter of Theresa is rather dark, but also relates to strength in the face of brutality. I thought the vocals should reflect that, and I’ve always been a fan of big overdubbed vocal sounds. I think I’ve also gotten a little more confident with using my voice – it’s something I’m always trying to push further.

The opener ‘Your Side of the River’ is like the ultimate homage to Synth Britannia, what is it actually about?

I don’t know! I had a few of the lyrics bouncing around in my head for years and it was time to turn them into something real. The musical elements also grew out of how I used to open the live set. Ironically I moved round the corner from a river after writing the song – I have to cross it on my way to work – so it all felt quite suitable.

‘Always’ appears to recall elements of Peter Gabriel’s 4th album but how did it come together?

‘Always’ began life by playing with the small Buchla system I had DIY’d over lockdown – that’s the first thing you hear in that track. I had this little arpeggiated thing going with the really lovely Buchla oscillator and recorded some of that, then came back to it weeks later. I remember trying to make the drums sound big but not overpowering – trying to mimic the style Liam Hutton has when he plays with BLANCMANGE in fact! Also trying to make my song structures more interesting, although still relatively simple.

Although the album has more of a song-based pop element, ‘Climb’ is the more experimental one…

Well, ‘Climb’ started as a test recording. I had been building some Serge modular equipment for some friends, and the sequence running through is a test of a programmer I built to complement the system. I knew I needed to do something with it, so the recordings made their way to the studio and were augmented by all sorts… there are a lot of toy Casio keyboards in that track!

Talking of experimentation, is that guitar making its presence felt about a third into ‘Ici’ which mutates over the various sections of its six plus minutes?

No guitar on that one, but a fair bit scattered throughout the rest of the record! That part in ‘Ici’ is a Yamaha string machine hooked up to a semi-broken Fender amp.

‘I Saw You’ could be considered classic Finlay Shakespeare, does this have its roots in earlier material you hadn’t used?

Nope! Akin to ‘Climb’, the sequence that runs through came from the programmer I built, but this time controlling a TTSH, the ARP2600 clone. I wanted that track to feel like it was filling up to the brim, eventually overflowing. Every part is a little out of tune with the next, and by the end the mix itself pretty much gets overdriven.

You play with Motorik rhythms on ‘Ready Ready’ with some rather nice synth tones, what was its inspiration?

It’s an absolute rip off of OMD’s ‘2nd Thought’! Lyrically, I had been reading a lot about numbers stations, and there was a theory that one of the automated voices might have come from an agent’s wife. I thought it would be interesting to write a song based around that – feeling at home through just a voice on the shortwave, when in fact you don’t know where you are and you could be in the crosshairs at any time and place. Sacha Baron Cohen’s ‘The Spy’ was another influence on this one.

Were you channelling your inner Vangelis on ‘Upcoming’?

Not quite, though of course I can hear the resemblance. If anything, I was going after a ‘Europe Endless’-esque top line. That part, once again, actually came from testing some equipment – a really cheap Alesis reverb that has this very evident echoing on long decay settings. You can hear that in the track from the offset, and that set the tempo of what became ‘Upcoming’.

A few years ago, you seemed to have become disillusioned with live work but you have been out and about performing again, most recently on a bill with Daniel Miller and Gareth Jones in their SUNROOF modular guise?

It’s tricky – I absolutely love playing live, but it’s becoming logistically and financially harder and harder to do so, especially in the UK. With Brexit, European promoters are understandably far more anxious to book any British acts. It’s a case of finding the right crowds at home too. Over the last year or so, it’s felt like I am finding an audience perhaps more suited to what I do, but there are still certainly times where I end up playing to the venue staff only. Getting people out of their homes to experience something that might be out of their comfort zone can be very difficult. The recent gig at Iklectik was easily one of the best UK experiences I’ve had though, particularly down south.

Your GOTO label has released some interesting stuff by people like Bella Unwin and the eponymous EP by LICKING ORCHIDS, is it progressing as you had hoped?

If anything it’s been somewhat overwhelming! I’m hugely grateful for the support the label’s received, and it’s great being able to put music I love into the world and share it with a wider audience. There’s more music in the pipeline, and really looking forward to seeing the roster grow.

What is next for you?

More recording – I already have the bones of an album that need fleshing out. The music is quite different I think, mainly because I’m trying to push my process and the equipment into different places. I also have some super exciting collaborative projects on the horizon – stay tuned!

One is THE REMAINDER; I was invited by Neil Arthur of BLANCMANGE to add some electronic elements and treatments to some tracks him and Liam Hutton had been working on. This slowly developed into a to-and-fro session sharing project that we made good progress on over the UK COVID lockdowns. At the point we realised we had an album up together, we found the time to meet at my studio in Bristol and get the whole thing mixed. As far as I understand, it’s been quite a long process – I only really came onboard halfway through, if not further in – so it’s quite an honour to be invited to work with Neil and Liam on all this! The album is called ‘Evensong’ and released 14th July 2023.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its sincerest thanks to Finlay Shakespeare

‘Illusion + Memory’ released by Alter in vinyl LP and online formats via https://lnk.to/IllusionMemory

Finlay Shakespeare appears with Nik Void + Russell Haswell at Bloc in Glasgow on Wednesday 31st May 2023 and with Chain of Flowers + Beauty Parlour Clwb Ifor Bach in Cardiff on 1st June 2023







Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
28th May 2023

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