Tag: Geiste

GEISTE Utopia EP

GEISTE is the musical vehicle of Marie Chabrelie from near St Tropez who probably would have been a product of JRR Tolkien had he manufactured pop stars.

Haunting, captivating and endearing, she invites you into her moody world of escapist pop on her debut EP ‘Utopia’.

Like something that could have come off the soundtrack ‘Killing Eve’, the haunting opener ‘Omen’ is simultaneously bewitching yet sinister, beautiful yet unsettling, built around a repeating ivory motif, sinister humming and the emotive air of Nordic songstress Susanne Sundfør.

Beginning in a layered neo-acapella fashion, ‘Dither’ becomes mighty once the majestic vocal refrains and multi-coloured percussive fervour kick in alongside the penetrating deep drone of synthbass. Capturing the cut and thrust of a city walk, it’s a determined train of thought that GEISTE expresses despite the inherent forlorn melancholy.

The expansive ‘Ocean’ is perhaps GEISTE’s signature song, an environmentally conscious battlecry that showcases her widescreen cinematics and impressive vocals that capture the angst of Zola Jesus within a melodic fantasia.

The angst takes a breather for the shorter but dreamier ‘Fetish’ which plays around with some glassy sound design. But GEISTE belts it all out again on ‘Anthems’, a dramatic number swathed in a building rhythmic drama that recalls NIKI & THE DOVE while also throwing in a swooping dubstep drop.

The hypnotic ‘Moonchild’ has perhaps the unifying essence of everything on this EP thrown into a singular track, providing not only the EP’s crystalline highlight but one that shows ‘Ocean’ was no fluke. It’s that progressive successor to the initial breakthrough which all aspiring artists need in their developing repertoire.

Painting pictures in light and shade, ‘Utopia’ has the French youngster articulating over a collage of rumbling bass, synthetic orchestrations and ritualistic rattles before a staccato virtual choir provides a wonderful textural statement to close.

For her opening body of work, GEISTE has impressed by collecting her best seven tracks to date to offer to a potentially wider audience.

You only get to make a first impression once and her ‘Utopia’ makes a rather enthralling otherworldly one.


‘Utopia’ is available as digital EP via the usual online platforms

GEISTE presents a ‘Utopia’ live stream party on Friday 29th May 2020 at 2100 UK time, please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GERXHW0QXFU

https://www.geistemusic.com/

https://www.facebook.com/geistefromashes/

https://twitter.com/geistefromashes

https://www.instagram.com/geistefromashes/

https://open.spotify.com/album/5kCW1qSqn95h9TmpZGcxyU


Text by Chi Ming Lai
29th May 2020

10 Years of ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK – STILL PUSHING THE ENVELOPE

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK celebrates its tenth birthday and it really has been synthly the best.

At the HEAVEN 17 aftershow party for their triumphant gig at The Magna Science Park on 6th March 2010, following chats with Glenn Gregory, Martyn Ware, Paul Humphreys and Claudia Brücken, interview opportunities opened up. It was obvious there was gap waiting to be filled for a quality web publication that featured the best in new and classic electronic pop without having to lower itself to using the dreaded “80s” label.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK was it and became reality on 15th March 2010. Electronic pop music didn’t start in that Thatcher decade and certainly didn’t end there either. So there was even an editorial diktat which banned ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s writers from using the lazy”80s” term as a reference. Tellingly, several PR representatives said that one of the site’s main appeals was that it avoided the whole nostalgia bent that had been presented by both virtual and physical media.

At the time, kooky female fronted keyboard based pop like LA ROUX, LITTLE BOOTS, LADYHAWKE, LADY GAGA and MARINA & THE DIAMONDS were among those touted as being the future at the time. But it proved to be something of a red herring, as those acts evolved back into what they actually were, conventional pop acts.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK preferred the sort of innovative synthpop as outlined in BBC4’s Synth Britannia documentary.

Wth the next generation of artists like MARSHEAUX, VILE ELECTRODES, VILLA NAH and MIRRORS more than fitting the bill, that ethos of featuring pop music using synthesizers stuck too.

Meanwhile, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s portfolio expanded swiftly with key personalities such as Rusty Egan, Sarah Blackwood, Richard James Burgess, Warren Cann, Chris Payne, Thomas Dolby, John Foxx, Andy McCluskey, Neil Arthur, Alan Wilder, Mark Reeder, Gary Langan, Jori Hulkkonen, Howard Jones, Mira Aroyo, Sarah Nixey and Hannah Peel among those giving interviews to the site during its first two years.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK has always prided itself in asking the questions that have never usually been asked, but which fans want to know the answers to. And it was with this reputation for intelligent and well researched interviewing that in March 2011, the site was granted its biggest coup yet.

Speaking to Stephen Morris of the then-on hiatus NEW ORDER, the drummer cryptically hinted during the ensuing chat that Manchester’s finest would return by saying “I never say never really”.

And that is exactly what happened in Autumn of that year and the band have been there since, as popular as ever and still making great music with the release of ‘Music Complete’ in 2015.

Monday 21st March 2011 was an interesting day that partied like it was 1981 when it saw the release of albums by DURAN DURAN, THE HUMAN LEAGUE and JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS. Also in 2011, Mute Records celebrated their influential legacy with a weekender also at London’s Roundhouse which culminated in ERASURE, YAZOO and THE ASSEMBLY performing in the same set.

Despite the ‘Brilliant’ return of ULTRAVOX, 2012 paled in comparison after such a fruitful year and several acts who were featured probably would not have gained as much coverage in more competitive periods. With pressure from outsiders as to what was hot and what was not, this was the only time ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK felt it was obliged to support a domestic scene.

But realising acts like HURTS and STRANGERS were actually just jumping on an apparent synth bandwagon and possessing more style than substance, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK decided to change tact and only featured acts it felt truly passionate about, even if it meant upsetting the wider synth community. The reasoning being that just because a band uses a synthesizer doesn’t mean it is good.

During this time, MIRRORS sadly disbanded while VILLA NAH mutated into SIN COS TAN. But the year did see the launch of CHVRCHES who stood out from the crowd with their opening gambit ‘Lies’.

With their Taylor Swift gone electro template, Lauren Mayberry and Co managed to engage an audience who didn’t know or care what a Moog Voyager was, to listen to synthpop!

2013 turned out to be one of the best years for electronic pop since its Synth Britannia heyday. What ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK achieved during this year would take up a whole article in itself… there were high profile interviews with Alison Moyet, Gary Numan and Karl Bartos while OMD released the album of the decade in ‘English Electric’. PET SHOP BOYS made up for their ‘Elysium’ misstep with ‘Electric’ while there was finally a third volume in BEF’s ‘Music Of Quality & Distinction’ covers series.

Although 2014 started tremendously with ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK being invited to meet Karl Bartos and Wolfgang Flür in Cologne, the year suffered next to quality of 2013.

The interviews continued, particularly with key figures from the Synth Britannia era including Midge Ure and the often forgotten man of the period Jo Callis who was a key member of THE HUMAN LEAGUE during their imperial phase.

But the year saw grandeurs of delusion at their highest. There was the clueless Alt-Fest debacle which saw the organisers play Fantasy Festival with no cash to underwrite the infrastructure to enable it to actually happen!

Sadly today, there are still egotistic chancers organising events with zero budget and the money from ticket sales being fleeced to fund their holidays. But these artificial factors are rarely considered and so long as there are lower league artists desperate to play for nowt and a misguided enhancement in profile that is often on a platform that provides minimal exposure anyway, then the confidence tricks will continue.

2015 saw the local emergence of Rodney Cromwell and Gwenno, while the majestic Swedish duo KITE proved that they were the best synth act in Europe with the ‘VI’ EP and their impressive live show.

It was also the year when ERASURE front man Andy Bell gave his first interview to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK to offer some revealing insights.

Making something of a comeback after a recorded absence of nearly eight years, Jean-Michel Jarre presented his ambitious two volume ‘Electronica’ project which saw collaborations with a varied pool of musicians including Pete Townsend, Lang Lang, John Carpenter, Vince Clarke, Hans Zimmer, Cyndi Lauper, Sebastien Tellier and Gary Numan.

VILLA NAH returned in 2016, as did YELLO with Fifi Rong as one of their guest vocalists while APOPTYGMA BERZERK went instrumental and entered the ‘Exit Popularity Contest’. Riding on the profile generated from their ‘A Broken Frame’ covers album, MARSHEAUX released their biggest-selling long player to date, a two city concept in ‘Ath.Lon’. This was also the year that ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK first became acquainted with the analogue synthesizer heaven of Johan Baeckström, a modern day Vince Clarke if ever there was one.

2017 saw a bumper crop of great albums from the likes of I SPEAK MACHINE, LCD SOUNDSYSTEM, SOULWAX, IAMX, GOLDFRAPP and DAILY PLANET, while veterans such as Alison Moyet and Gary Numan produced their best work of the 21st Century.

However DEPECHE MODE unleashed their most dire record yet in ‘Spirit’, a dreary exercise in faux activism bereft of tunes. Salt was rubbed into the wound when they merely plonked an underwhelming arena show into a stadium for their summer London show.

The trend was to continue later in 2019 as DEPECHE MODE just plonked 14 albums into a boxed set, while OMD offered an album of quality unreleased material in their ‘Souvenir’ package.

And with DEPECHE MODE’s sad descent into a third rate pseudo-rock combo during the last 15 years to appease that ghastly mainstream American institution called The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame with guitars and drums, Dave Gahan in particular with his ungrateful dismissal of the pioneering synth-based material with which he made his fortune with, now has what he has always coveted.

And don’t get ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK started on the 2019 Moog Innovation Award being given to Martin Gore, a real insult to true synth pioneers if ever there was one, including Daniel Miller, Vince Clarke and Alan Wilder, the three men who actually did the electronic donkey work on those imperial phase DEPECHE MODE albums! Gore may have been a very good songwriter during that time, but a synth innovator? Oh come on!?!

With regards Synth Britannia veterans, new albums in 2017 from Richard Barbieri and Steve Jansen saw a revived interest in JAPAN, the band with which they made their name.

Despite releasing their final album ‘Tin Drum’ in 1981, as a later conversation with one-time guitarist Rob Dean proved, cumulatively from related article views, JAPAN became the most popular act on ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK.

The return of SOFT CELL dominated 2018 with a lavish boxed set that was not just comprised of previously released long players, new songs, new books, a BBC documentary and a spectacular farewell show at London’s O2 Arena.

Meanwhile, adopting a much lower profile were LADYTRON with their comeback and an eventual eponymous sixth album. A Non Stop Electronic Cabaret saw Canadian veterans RATIONAL YOUTH play their first ever UK gig alongside PAGE and PSYCHE, but coming out of Brooklyn to tour with ERASURE was REED & CAROLINE.

EMIKA was ‘Falling In Love With Sadness’ and Swedish songstress IONNALEE showcased one of the best value-for-money live presentations in town, with a show that surreal imagined Kate Bush at a rave!

But from China came STOLEN, one of the most exciting bands in years who were then later rewarded for their graft with a European tour opening for NEW ORDER.

2019 was the year when synthwave graduates Dana Jean Phoenix and Ollie Wride were coming into their own as live performers, while electronic disco maestro Giorgio Moroder embarked on a concert tour for the first time with his songs being the true stars of the show.

Gary Daly of CHINA CRISIS gave his first interview to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK to tie in with his solo album ‘Gone From Here’, while a pub lunch with Mark White and Stephen Singleton mutated into an extensive chat about their days in ABC. Lloyd Cole adopted a more synthesized template on ‘Guessworks’ and Britpop went synth as GENEVA’s Andrew Montgomery formed US with Leo Josefsson of Swedish trio LOWE.

If ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK does have a proudest achievement in its first ten years, then it is giving extensive early coverage to VILLA NAH, MIRRORS, VILE ELECTRODES, METROLAND, TINY MAGNETIC PETS and SOFTWAVE, six acts who were later invited to open on tour for OMD. Partly because of this success, some of those who were less talented felt aggrieved despite feeling an entitlement to be featured. If an act is good enough, the fact that ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK hasn’t featured them should not matter, especially as other electronic and synth blogs are available. After taking its eye of the ball once before in 2012, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK maintained a trust of its own gut instinct.

Meanwhile, its stance has been tested by those shouting loudest who instantly champion what they perceive as the next big thing like sheep, without really looking ahead at a wider picture. However, TRAVIS on VSTs is just not ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s thing frankly…

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s participation in the annual ELECTRI_CITY_CONFERENCE in Düsseldorf for on-stage interviews with Rusty Egan, Chris Payne, Mark Reeder and Zeus B Held was another high profile engagement to be proud of. Then there were six live events and five rounds of hosting ‘An Audience with Rusty Egan’ in one of the most unenviable but highly entertaining refereeing assignments in music 😉

Other highlights over the last ten years have included ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 2015 career retrospective on German trio CAMOUFLAGE being edited and used as booklet notes for the Universal Music sanctioned compilation CD ‘The Singles’.

As 2020 settles in, highly regarded artists within the electronic community continue to engage with ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK. Neil Arthur recently gave his seventh interview as BLANCMANGE and his tenth interview overall, taking into account his side projects FADER and NEAR FUTURE. Not far behind, Martyn Ware has also been a regular interviewee having spoken to the site on six occasions while Paul Humphreys has been interviewed no less than five times.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK is still pushing the envelope, continuing to reflect the interests of people who love the Synth Britannia era and have a desire to hear new music seeded from that ilk.

With artists like ANI GLASS, IMI, KNIGHT$, NINA, MECHA MAIKO, GEISTE and PLASMIC among those on the cusp of a wider breakthrough, there is still more excellent music still to be created, discovered and savoured.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its sincerest thanks to everyone who has taken the time read any article on the site over the last ten years, it is greatly appreciated.


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Image Design by Volker Maass
16th March 2020, updated 29th Janaury 2021

Introducing GEISTE

Now if JRR Tolkien had manufactured a pop star, he’d have probably have come up with avant pop songstress GEISTE.

GEISTE is the musical vehicle of Marie Chabrelie, a young singer / songwriter / producer from near St Tropez.

She began as an acoustic act with a trip-hop past before she found that her fantasy storytelling could enter a more intriguing sonic universe using electronics.

The environmentally conscious battlecry of ‘Ocean’ has been her opening statement.

Outlining her widescreen synthy cinematics and impressive vocals capturing the angsty emotion of ZOLA JESUS, the picturesque visual presentation for ‘Ocean’ directed by Jean Dakar magnificently illustrates ‘Ocean’, with GEISTE’s animated movements in light and shade.

Framed in forlorn melancholy, songs like ‘I Just Feel Really Empty Inside All The Time’, ‘She Wants ME Dead’, ‘Solitary Rides’, ‘Omen’ and ‘I Can’t Wait Until You Burn Me Down’ all suggest that GEISTE inhabits a very heavy ghostly world, but there is melody amongst the inherent darkness.

However on ‘Twig’, GEISTE demonstrates that she knows her way around a good dance pop tune, while the jazzier vibes of ‘On My Mind’ with AR FERDINAND shows a willingness to occasionally collaborate and depart from her fantasia.

The most recent GEISTE single ‘Anthems’ is swathed in a building percussive drama recalling the rhythmic fervour of NIKI & THE DOVE, but the upcoming release ‘Utopia’ tests out her vocal range over a collage of rumbling bass, virtual choir, synthetic orchestrations and tribal rattles.

Haunting, captivating and endearing, GEISTE takes you into her moody escapist musical world. Promising further surprises, her triumphant opening spot at London’s 100 Club for EMIKA and FIFI RONG was merely a taster.


‘Anthems’ and ‘Ocean’ are available as digital singles via the usual online platforms

https://www.geistemusic.com/

https://www.facebook.com/geistefromashes/

https://twitter.com/geistefromashes

https://www.instagram.com/geistefromashes/

https://open.spotify.com/artist/0Rcx8Fs982C9oeE1lRm9iJ


Text by Chi Ming Lai
30th December 2019

2019 End Of Year Review

2019 was a year of 40th Anniversaries, celebrating the synth becoming the sound of pop when ‘Are Friends Electric?’ reached No1 in the UK chart in 1979.

While GARY NUMAN opted for ‘(R)evolution’ and two of his former sidemen RRussell Bell and Chris Payne ventured solo for the first time, OMD offered a 7 disc ‘Souvenir’ featuring a whole album of quality unreleased material to accompany a concert tour to celebrate four decades in the business. That was contrary to DEPECHE MODE who merely plonked 14 albums into a boxed set in a move where the ‘Everything Counts’ lyric “the grabbing hands grab all they can” became more and more ironic… MIDGE URE partied like it was 1980 with the music of VISAGE and ULTRAVOX, while SIMPLE MINDS announced an arena tour for 2020 so that their audience could show Jim Kerr their hands again.

HEAVEN 17 announced some special showcases of the early material of THE HUMAN LEAGUE and got a particularly warm reception opening on tour for SQUEEZE as a trailer ahead of their own ‘Greatest Hits’ jaunt next year.

Celebrating 20 years in music, there was the welcome return of LADYTRON with a self-titled comeback album, while Swedish evergreens LUSTANS LAKEJER performed the ‘Åkersberga’ album for its 20th Anniversary and similarly GOLDFRAPP announced a series of shows in honour of their magnificent cinematic debut ‘Felt Mountain’.

Cult favourites FIAT LUX made their intimate live comeback in a church in Bradford and released their debut album ‘Saved Symmetry’ 37 years after their first single ‘Feels Like Winter Again’.

As a result, their fans were also treated to ‘Ark Of Embers’, the long player that Polydor Records shelved in 1985 when the band were on the cusp of a breakthrough but ended with a commercial breakdown.

Modern prog exponents Tim Bowness and Steven Wilson got back together as NO-MAN for their dual suite electronic concept record ‘Love You To Bits’, but an even more ambitious undertaking came from UNDERWORLD with their boxed set ‘Drift Series 1’.

Also making live returns were one-time PET SHOP BOYS protégé CICERO with a charity gig in his hometown of Livingston, WHITE DOOR with JOHAN BAECKSTRÖM at Synth Wave Live 3, ARTHUR & MARTHA and Mute Records veterans KOMPUTER.

After a short hiatus, the mighty KITE sold-out three gigs at Stockholm Slaktkyrkan and ended the year performing at an opera house, while GIORGIO MORODER embarked on his first ever concert tour where his songs were the stars.

Although their long-awaited-as-yet-untitled third album was still to materialise, VILE ELECTRODES went back on the road in Europe with APOPTYGMA BERZERK and THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT. Meanwhile, Chinese techno-rock sextet STOLEN opened for NEW ORDER on their Autumn European tour and EMIKA performed in a series of Planetariums.

Despite the fall of The Berlin Wall 30 years ago, there were more evident swipes to the right than there had been for a long time, with the concept of Brexit Electro becoming a rather unpleasant reality. So in these more sinister times, the need for classic uplifting electronic pop was higher than ever.

To that end, three superb debut albums fitted the bill. While KNIGHT$ offered quality Britalo on ‘Dollars & Cents’, the suave presence of OLLIE WRIDE took a more MTV friendly direction with ‘Thanks In Advance’.

But for those wanting something more home produced, the eccentric Northern electronic pop of the brilliantly named INTERNATIONAL TEACHERS OF POP continued the artistic lineage of THE HUMAN LEAGUE.

QUIETER THAN SPIDERS finally released their wonderful debut album ‘Signs Of Life’ which was naturally more understated and Denmark had some worthy synthpop representation with SOFTWAVE producing an enjoyably catchy debut long player in ‘Game On’.

On the shadier side of electronic pop, BOY HARSHER achieved a wider breakthrough with their impressive ‘Careful’ long player but as a result, the duo acquired a contemporary hipster element to their fanbase who seemed to lack manners and self-awareness as they romped around gigs without a care for anyone around them. But with tongues-in-cheeks, SPRAY continued to amuse with their witty prankelectro on ‘Failure Is Inevitable’.

Photo by Johnny Jewel

Italians Do It Better kept things in house as CHROMATICS unexpectedly unleashed their first album for six years in ‘Closer To Grey’ and embarked on a world tour. Main support was DESIRE and accompanied on keyboards by HEAVEN singer Aja, the pair took things literally during their cover version of ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ with a girl-on-girl kiss in front of head honcho Johnny Jewel.

Other ITIB acts on the tour dependent on territory included DOUBLE MIXTE, IN MIRRORS and KRAKÓW LOVES ADANA. But the best work to appear from the stable came from JORJA CHALMERS who became ‘Human Again’.

There were a variety of inventive eclectic works from FAKE TEAK, MAPS, FINLAY SHAKESPEARE, ULTRAMARINE, TYCHO, THE GOLDEN FILTER, FRAGRANCE. and FADER. Meanwhile VON KONOW, SOMEONE WHO ISN’T ME and JAKUZI all explored themes of equality while BOYTRONIC preferred ‘The Robot Treatment’.

But expressing themselves on the smoother side of proceedings were CULT WITH NO NAME and notably SHOOK who looked east towards the legend of YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA.

Dark minimalism reigned in the work of FRAGILE SELF and WE ARE REPLICA while no less dark but not so aggressive, WITCH OF THE VALE cemented their position with a well-received opening slot at Infest.

Touring in Europe with OMD and MIDGE URE, TINY MAGNETIC PETS unleashed two EPs ‘The Politburo Disko’ and ‘Girl In A White Dress’ as fellow Dubliner CIRCUIT3 got political and discussed ‘The Price Of Nothing & The Value Of Everything’.

2019 was a year of electronic instrumental offerings galore from NEULAND, RICARDO AUTOBAHN, EKKOES, M83, RELIEF, FEMMEPOP and OBLONG, although ERIC RANDOM’s dystopian offering ‘Wire Me Up’ added vocoder while BRIAN ENO celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing ‘For All Mankind’.

The King of Glum Rock LLOYD COLE surprised all with an electronic pop album called ‘Guesswork’ just as PET SHOP BOYS set an ‘Agenda’. HOWARD JONES released his most synthy work for years in ‘Transform’ and while CHINA CRISIS acted as his well-received support on the UK leg of his 35th Anniversary tour, their front man GARY DALY ventured solo with ‘Gone From Here’.

Among the year’s best new talents were IMI, KARIN MYGRETAGEISTE and ALICE HUBBLE with their beautifully crafted avant pop.

And with the media traction of artists such as GEORGIA, REIN, JENNIFER TOUCH, SUI ZHEN, THE HEARING, IONNALEE, PLASMIC, ZAMILSKA, IOANNA GIKA, SPELLLING, KANGA, FIFI RONG and I AM SNOW ANGEL, the profile of women in electronic music was stronger than ever in 2019.

Sweden continued to produce quality electronic pop with enjoyable releases from the likes of MACHINISTA, PAGE, COVENANT, OBSESSION OF TIME and LIZETTE LIZETTE. One of the most interesting acts to emerge from the region was US featuring the now Stockholm-domiciled Andrew Montgomery from GENEVA and Leo Josefsson of LOWE, with the catalyst of this unlikely union coming from a shared love of the late country legend Glen Campbell. Meanwhile, veteran trio DAYBEHAVIOR made the best album of their career ‘Based On A True Story’.

However, Canada again gave the Swedes a good run for their money as ELECTRIC YOUTH and FM ATTACK released new material while with more of a post-punk slant, ACTORS impressed audiences who preferred a post-post-punk edge alongside their synths.

DANA JEAN PHOENIX though showed herself to be one of the best solo synth performers on the live circuit, but artistically the best of the lot was MECHA MAIKO who had two major releases ‘Okiya’ and ‘Let’s!’.

Despite making some good music in 2019 with their ‘Destroyer’ two-parter, the “too cool for school” demeanour of TR/ST might have impressed hipsters, but left a lot to be desired. A diva-ish attitude of entitlement was also noticed by ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK to be disappointingly prevalent in several fledgling acts.

Synthwave increased its profile further with the film ‘The Rise Of The Synths’ narrated by none other than John Carpenter. MICHAEL OAKLEY released his debut album ‘Introspect’, BETAMAXX was ‘Lost In A Dreamworld’, COM TRUISE came up with a ‘Persuasion System’ and NEW ARCADES were ‘Returning Home’.

Scene veteran FUTURECOP! collaborated with PARALLELS, COMPUTER MAGIC and NINA prior to a hiatus for the foreseeable future, while there were promising new talents emerging in the shape of POLYCHROME, PRIZM, BUNNY X and RIDER.

However, several of the sub-genre’s artists needed to rethink their live presentations which notably underwhelmed with their static motions and lack of engagement.

While promoters such as Outland developed on their solid foundations, others attempted to get too big too soon like the musical equivalent of a penis extension, leaving fans disappointed and artists unpaid. Attempting to turnover more than 10 acts during in a day with a quarter of an hour changeover has always been an odious task at best, but to try 15?!? One hopes the headliners were well paid despite having to go on at midnight when most of their supporters went home so as not to miss the last train…

Now at times, it was as if a major collective midlife crisis had hit independent electronic music in the UK during 2019. It was not unlike how “born again bikers” have become a major road safety risk, thanks to 40somethings who only managed Cycling Proficiency in Junior School suddenly jumping onto 500cc Honda CMX500 Rebel motorcycles, thinking they were Valentino Rossi.

Something similar was occurring in music as a variety of posturing delusional synth owners indulged in a remix frenzy and visions of grandeur, forgetting that ability and talent were paramount. This attitude led to a number of poorly attended events where attendees were able to be counted on one hand, thanks to clueless fans of said combos unwisely panning their video footage around the venue.

Playing at 3:15pm in an empty venue is NOT performing at a ‘major’ electronic festival… “I’ll be more selective with the gigs I agree to in the UK” one of these acts haplessly bemoaned, “I’ve played to too many empty rooms!” – well, could that have been because they are not very good?

Bands who had blown their chance by not showing willingness to open for name acts during holiday periods, while making unwise comments on their national TV debut about their lack of interest in registering for PRS, said they were going to split a year in advance, but not before releasing an EP and playing a farewell show in an attempt to finally get validation for their art. Was this a shining example of Schrodinger’s Band?

Of course, the worst culprits were those who had an internet radio show or put on gigs themselves so that they could actually perform, because otherwise external promotors were only interested in them opening at 6.15pm after a ticket deal buy on for a five band bill. Humility wouldn’t have gone amiss in all these cases.

It’s a funny old world, but as ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK comes up to concluding its tenth year as an influential platform that has written extensively about not one or two or three or four BUT five acts prior to them being selected to open on tour for OMD, luckily the gulf between good and bad music is more distinct than ever. It will be interesting to see if the high standard of electronic pop will be maintained or whether the influx of poor quality artists will contaminate the bloodline.

So ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK ends the decade with a complimentary comment by a punter after attending two of its live events: “You don’t put on sh*t do you…”

May the supreme talent rise and shine… you know who you are 😉


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK Contributor Listings of 2019

PAUL BODDY

Best Album: UNDERWORLD Drift Series 1
Best Song: MOLINA Venus
Best Gig: RAMMSTEIN at Milton Keynes MK Bowl
Best Video: SCALPING Chamber
Most Promising New Act: SCALPING


IAN FERGUSON

Best Album: NO-MAN Love You To Bits
Best Song: NO-MAN Love You To Shreds
Best Gig: RAMMSTEIN at Stadion Slaski Chorzow
Best Video: RAMMSTEIN Deutschland
Most Promising New Act: IMI


SIMON HELM

Best Album: PAGE Fakta För Alla
Best Song: PAGE Fakta För Alla
Best Gig: LAU NAU at London Cafe OTO
Best Video: LAU NAU Amphipoda on Buchla 200 at EMS Stockholm
Most Promising New Act: THE HIDDEN MAN


CHI MING LAI

Best Album: KNIGHT$ Dollar & Cents
Best Song: OMD Don’t Go
Best Gig: KITE at Stockholm Slaktkyrkan
Best Video: NIGHT CLUB Your Addiction
Most Promising New Act: IMI


RICHARD PRICE

Best Album: KNIGHT$ Dollar & Cents
Best Song: OMD Don’t Go
Best Gig: MIDGE URE + RUSTY EGAN at The London Palladium
Best Video: IMI Margins
Most Promising New Act: PLASMIC


MONIKA IZABELA TRIGWELL

Best Album: MECHA MAIKO Let’s
Best Song: KANGA Burn
Best Gig: DANA JEAN PHOENIX, KALAX + LEBROCK at London Zigfrid von Underbelly
Best Video: IONNALEE Open Sea
Most Promising New Act: PRIZM


Text by Chi Ming Lai with thanks to Ian Ferguson
16th December 2019, updated 29th Janaury 2021

EMIKA, FIFI RONG + GEISTE Live at The 100 Club

It was a year ago to the day that Ema Jolly, the Berlin based Anglo-Czech musician and producer behind EMIKA played her first true live concert at the Apple Store in London’s Regent Street.

Since then, there have been series of Planetarium shows around Europe and festival appearances.

There was also a performance of her classical symphony ‘Melanfonie’ in Mexico, a ‘Remixes’ album and now a British club tour.

Gathering together local support acts en route, the London leg at The 100 Club comprised of a fabulously talented female triple bill featuring FIFI RONG and GEISTE. And it was the latter who opened a busy well-attended evening at the iconic music venue.

Avant pop songstress GEISTE is a youngster from near St Tropez and one thing that struck immediately was her endearing Gallic charm. Despite titles such as ‘Dither’ and ‘I Just Feel Really Empty Inside All The Time’, like GRIMES, ZOLA JESUS or NIKI & THE DOVE, there was pop within the emotive darkness.

A newly written tune ‘Twig’ showed how GEISTE could make the audience dance while her excellent debut single ‘Ocean’ outlined her synthy cinematics.

‘Anthems’ also showcased the esoteric drama within her artistic palette while the closing upcoming single ‘Utopia’ indicated the epic percussive potential of her intriguing sonic universe.

For FIFI RONG, the world is now at her feet. Having collaborated with YELLO and TRICKY, she recently embarked on a tour of China to launch the Beijing-born artist’s inclusion on the roster of W Records, a women-led music branch of Marriott International’s W hotels also known for its on-property music festivals.

Re-establishing control of her own artistic destiny over the last two years, she has been working on her most ambitious project yet, embarking on a cultural fusion that combines her native tongue of Mandarin with the universal pop language of English.

Accompanied by Ben Dunkerley on electronics, a number of yet-to-be-released songs were premiered including ‘Chasing High’ and ‘Vermilion’.

‘Dance Break’ though was a total surprise with an animated techno tension never previously heard in FIFI RONG’s previous work, while the superb ‘Way Out’ flirted with electro R ‘n’ B.

A new neo-acoustic number ‘Farewell To Cambridge’ inspired by the early 20th Century romantic Chinese poet Xu Zhi Mo’s ‘On Leaving Cambridge’ explored the theme of cultural identity and belonging, before the captivating set closed with the airy whispered moods of ’Love Is A Lonely Thing Part 3’.

One of the best electronic pop albums of 2018, ‘Falling In Love With Sadness’ has established EMIKA as an artist able to thoughtfully delve into the human psyche while undertaking a glorious sonic exploration of synthpop.

Using her trusty Arturia Keylab 49 hybrid synth set-up and a Kawai MP11 stage piano, covers of ‘Wicked Game’ book ended EMIKA’s quality set which was supported by an excellent sound system, free of distortion but full of punch.

Within a deeply Eurocentric backdrop, the metronomic body stomp of ‘Eternity’ provided one of the early highlights, the aggressive energy counterpointed by the more subtle rhythmics and hushed vocal tones.

But where harsher dynamics were required, EMIKA had those too like on the ‘Falling In Love With Sadness’ title song where what sounded like corrugated iron being sharply smashed through to the underground system sat tightly next to a run of ecstatic synthetic bass.

As premiered at the Apple store the year before, classically-derived piano provided a crucial organic element over EMIKA’s electronic backing, with enough familiarity of the original track present but with the tonal ivory presence providing the contrast.

Despite what could be a perceived shyness, EMIKA’s stage manner was endearing in this imitate venue. There was an amusing game of ‘Name That Tune’ with the audience as she programmed the sequence of ‘Run’ while on ‘Close’, she used sweeping hand motions across her mouth to provide a delay effect to her vocals.

The brilliantly solemn but strangely sparkly ‘Promises’ provided a latter set highlight, with the chilling combination of cascading harmonics and dub-laden tension sweetened by further piano runs.

Now if EMIKA has a signature song which embodies her ethos, then it’s ‘My Heart Bleeds Melody’ from ‘Drei’ and that got a welcome airing tonight to big cheers along with the enjoyably sibilant staccato of ‘Battles’.

With the stoic demeanour of her 2018 Apple Store appearance now absent in line with her growing confidence as a live performer, EMIKA was smiling and thoroughly enjoying herself.

EMIKA has found her niche with her juxtaposition of rigid beat assisted electronics and classically inspired piano playing, away from the DJ format of her earlier live gigs. And with a UK Planetarium show planned for 2020, the trajectory of momentum for her music can only remain upward.

Fully relaxed, towards the end of the evening, EMIKA asked everyone: “What sort of album would you like me to make next?” – ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK with would like some technopop embellished with classical piano please.


EMIKA ‘Falling In Love With Sadness Remixes’ is released by Emika Records in CD, vinyl LP and digital formats, available from https://emika-official.bandcamp.com/

http://emikarecords.com/

https://www.facebook.com/emikamusic/

https://twitter.com/emika_records

https://www.instagram.com/emikarecords/

https://open.spotify.com/artist/50Gx1SNB4vH2V7peIiYD4S

FIFI RONG ‘Way Out’ and ‘Love Is A Lonely Thing’ are available as singles on the usual online platforms

http://www.fifirong.com/

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

https://twitter.com/fifirong

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

https://open.spotify.com/artist/64yPy2kBAhOJSRxOEtL3Qk

GEISTE ‘Ocean’ and ’Anthems’ are available as singles on the usual online platforms

https://www.geistemusic.com/

https://www.facebook.com/geistefromashes/

https://twitter.com/geistefromashes

https://www.instagram.com/geistefromashes/

https://open.spotify.com/artist/0Rcx8Fs982C9oeE1lRm9iJ


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Simon Helm and Chi Ming Lai
14th December 2019