Tag: Glenn Gregory (Page 2 of 5)

AFTERHERE Interview

AFTERHERE is the brand new project of HEAVEN 17 front man Glenn Gregory and live keyboardist Berenice Scott.

Glenn Gregory along with band mates Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh scored a number of hits including ‘Temptation’, ‘Come Live With Me’, ‘Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry’, ‘Sunset Now’ and ‘This Is Mine’ as HEAVEN 17.

Berenice Scott joined their live set-up in 2011 while releasing her most recent solo album ‘Polarity’ in 2014.

As well as HEAVEN 17, the pair have also been part of HOLY HOLY, the supergroup led by Spiders drummer Woody Woodmansey and producer Tony Visconti who perform the songs of DAVID BOWIE from the period between 1969 to 1973 at concerts around the world.

As AFTERHERE, Berenice Scott and Glenn Gregory got their first commission for the soundtrack of the ITV drama ‘Liar’. With their debut album ‘Addict’ due for release later this month, music from it will feature in another ITV drama ‘Vanity Fair’ due for broadcast in September 2018.

Berenice Scott kindly chatted about the comings and goings of AFTERHERE and more…

You’ve been working live with HEAVEN 17 since 2011, so how did AFTERHERE happen?

Glenn and I started chatting about working together on something a couple of years into my playing with HEAVEN 17. We didn’t really have a firm idea of what that might be, we just kind of started conceptualising things… Glenn would occasionally ping ideas my way, things he was working on for his other film / TV composing projects, or new H17 tracks, things like that.

But it wasn’t until we were touring together with HOLY HOLY that we began to formulate AFTERHERE and what that entity might be. In fact, I remember standing in the corridor of a rehearsal studio in London called The Joint, guitars blaring out David Bowie and both of us deciding on the name. So I guess that’s the moment that it happened!

You began with providing the soundtrack of the TV drama ‘Liar’? How did you find that experience of putting music to moving pictures?

Absolute joy from start to finish. I’d witnessed Glenn at work scoring for a TV film before we started working together and it was enthralling to see the process and also the choices Glenn would use and why he would do particular things in places to aid the pace, mood and story. Since studying piano classically from a young age I’ve always written piano compositions, so when Glenn and I were pitching for ‘Liar’ it was fascinating to combine all these elements. Particularly with a heavy subject content such as ‘Liar’ it was moving to be supporting the storyline whilst retaining that subtlety that’s needed for scoring. With pop music, it’s out and out emotion isn’t it! Glenn and I love building the sometimes long tension and release that’s involved with film composing.

Conceptually, how do you see AFTERHERE differing from your own solo work?

I think I’d say that I find the initial approach to writing very similar; I still try to access the same creative flow and emotion, but that very quickly becomes a joint project, with both our wells of taste and experiences being pooled together.

Because we have a very similar work ethic it is a pretty seamless transition from the singer / songwriter world I’ve inhabited to the more cinematic, electro concept we visualise as being ‘us’.

What particular artist influences were each of you bringing to the table?

As the album started taking shape we both started to naturally pick out and identify various influences… Glenn being part of one of the most innovative electronic bands calls to mind elements of KRAFTWERK and of course HEAVEN 17. We both love classic, brilliant songwriting such as the HALL & OATES catalogue and one of my favourite singers is Karen Carpenter, and then we kind of end up meeting somewhere in the middle with a shared love of DAFT PUNK. When we’re asked about what our tracks sound like I think we both agree that those could be our references.

What is the creative dynamic of AFTERHERE with Glenn, was it decided quite early on that you would be lead vocalist?

There’s never a moment before we start writing a song that we decide on who will sing. In fact strangely we just start an idea and write as if we both could sing it, almost as if we might be writing for another singer because it’s the song and story that is most important to us. It’s only when its fully taken shape that the song settles on either one of us. It’s invariably a case of “you do it” – “No you do it!” That kind of thing for a while before we agree on who has to stand up and leave the comfy studio chairs to sing.

But you do duet with Glenn on ‘Dark Star’…

When I get to the studio in the mornings, Glenn will usually have been in a couple of hours before me, brushing up on yesterday’s session, having a fresh listen etc. Often I get there and he’ll play me what he’s been up to and I’m always like “Yes that’s f****** brilliant!!”

Well, on one of those mornings he played me ‘Dark Star’ with his vocals and I was blown away. It had to be a duet. The lyrics suddenly made sense and gradually the ending vocal arrangement developed and became a much bigger thing too in the process.

You’ve played around with a few subtle vocal processing techniques on the album, so when do you decide it’s appropriate to use in a recording?

I don’t know really, it shifts and changes for me every day. Some days I’ll wake up and just sing with a morning growly voice and not give a sh*t. ‘Blackout’ was one of those. And then sometimes I’m searching for a precision and particular sound that probably doesn’t exist, but I’m still going to die trying and also test Glenn’s patience in the process ha! It’s all just a choice isn’t it?

What are your views about how it is used in modern mainstream pop?

As long as you know you’re happy to sit down in a room with a piano or guitar and just sing without a mic, effects etc, then I’d say just knock yourself out in the studio – experiment away. Even if you arrive back at a place without any effects. Glenn’s voice for example requires nothing at all! You could leave a channel completely naked with his voice and still have clarity, volume and presence. I’m all for that, I also love creating an almost ethereal atmosphere, but it’s a fine balance.

‘Blackout’ could be described as “dubstep soul”?

‘Blackout’ started with an early morning after a late night voice, it was all about the feel of the vocal.

I played it to Glenn who loved it immediately, the only danger was would we be able to find that voice again when we finally wrote the finished lyrics!

Glenn did some beautiful work on the backing track, in fact it was ready for a vocal for about 4 weeks, all we had to do was wait for the right time to do it.

We had planned to do it after getting back really late from a gig one night – I stayed over at Glenn’s house with the intention that we both got up at 6AM to go straight into the studio to get the same husky vocal from the guide, but of course that didn’t happen! Waking up late and Starbucks got in the way of that. It was about a week later when I finally did the vocal and thankfully managed to match the vocal from the rough.

And if it’s Dubstep Soul that we created, I’m very happy that we did.

HEAVEN 17 lyrics are often reflecting socio-political concerns, has this been the case with AFTERHERE or have they been much more personal?

It’s more personal, well, universal and personal I’d say, all the songs on the album are emotional and connected both musically and lyrically.

Was the Kim Wilde track ‘Without Your Love’ which you and Glenn did with Gary Barlow for the ‘Fly’ soundtrack souvenir from 2016 originally pencilled in for AFTERHERE?

Well spotted! In a roundabout way it was sort of pencilled in… we actually had a song that Glenn sang, I forget the title now, anyway Gary Barlow happened to hear it as he was in contact with Glenn for a different track for the soundtrack, and somehow we all started working on that original piece to eventually make ‘Without Your Love’. Kim felt like the perfect choice, so Glenn gave her a call and that was that.

So what’s the title track album opener ‘Addict’ all about?

‘Addict’ is all about emotion and emotional involvement, exploration of relationships, it’s about discovering depths, nuance and desire. Sometimes leaving something or someone behind is the only way to discover that you need it, and maybe that you shouldn’t need it! It’s about connection beyond the everyday and the heartache or joy involved in that.

The wonderful ‘Breaking Rules’ is a surprise and appears to have you exploring your inner GOLDFRAPP?

That’s really great to hear, thank you! We always wanted to have a driving track on the album that you could hopefully move your feet to, party to… possibly get in a little trouble! I don’t know, we’re both fans of classic club tracks and I guess as the song is set in a club-type setting it was always going to push towards having that feel.

You’ve done a trip-hop styled cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘All Along The Watchtower’, how did that come together? The song’s been reinterpreted by many people in the past, which version is your own favourite?

Glenn and I were working closely with the director James Strong when we were composing for ‘Liar’, and as he started filming for the new ITV blockbuster ‘Vanity Fair’, he came to us to bat ideas around for a possible theme for the show. He knew he wanted it to be slightly dark in tone, but also to have the lyrical relevance needed for introducing the show each episode.

We all circled around ‘Watchtower’ and let that idea percolate for a bit whilst James continued filming and we were recording our album. At some point it just popped up and sprung itself into shape in the studio as the edits of the opening titles started being sent over to us along with visuals and ideas from James.

In terms of my favourite version I would have to say Jimi Hendrix’s, it’s the version I know most well and I’m sure I’m not alone in that!

Was there any new interesting bits of kit that you found a revelation to work with recording this album, either hardware or software?

Glenn! Haha! No but seriously, when I was laying down vocals something felt very different to any other times I’ve recorded in studios, whether alone with myself engineering or with other artists and producers.

We sort of found a zone, I can’t really explain it other than a total trust just being there which allows you that kind of creative freedom. Equally if something isn’t working it’s fantastic to have that trust so you can set aside ego and move on and try different things.

Are there any plans to take AFTERHERE out live at all?

Yes definitely!


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to Berenice Scott

The ‘Addict’ album is released on 31st August 2018 via Manners McDade

http://afterhere.co.uk/wp/

https://www.facebook.com/AfterhereMusic/

http://www.mannersmcdade.co.uk/composer/glenn-gregory-berenice-scott/

http://www.berenicescott.com/

https://twitter.com/mrgregory

https://www.instagram.com/weareafterhere/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
4th August 2018, updated 31st August 2018

BACK TO THE PHUTURE: QUESTION MARK at The Union Club

The Union Club in Soho was the location of ‘Question Mark’, a panel discussion hosted by Wall Of Sound and Back To the Phuture’s Mark Jones.

The four guests gathered for the fascinating and extremely good humoured chat about their experiences in the music business were OMD’s Paul Humphreys, HEAVEN 17’s Glenn Gregory, Steve Norman from SPANDAU BALLET and T’PAU vocalist Carol Decker.

A series that has been going for several years, Mark Jones announced this was to be the last free session to which Carol Decker amusingly quipped “Will I have to pay to talk about myself?”

To begin proceedings, Jones asked the quartet about their first record purchases; Carol Decker remembered it was Michael Jackson’s first solo album while for Paul Humphreys, it was ‘Make Me Smile (Come Up & See Me)’ by Steve Harley and Glenn Gregory had ‘Can The Can’ by Suzi Quatro. However, both Humphreys and Gregory agreed that the turning point for them was hearing ‘Autobahn’ by KRAFTWERK in 1975.

When asked about their first instruments, Humphreys confessed that as an “electronics geek”, he built his own sound making device because he initially could not afford to buy a synth. Gregory had an acoustic guitar which he promptly broke while Decker admitted that although she knew her chords and notes, she couldn’t really play the piano very well.

But it was Norman that had the most impressive CV; starting as a drummer before moving to guitar having been influenced listening to Hank Marvin, he then recorded the sax solo on ‘True’ just six months after first taking lessons. All four guests and the host also discussed their adventures in the murky world of synthesizers. When Jones told of how his mother bought him a Yamaha CS01 from the Grattans catalogue, Norman recalled how SPANDAU BALLET used a Yamaha CS10 on ‘To Cut A Long Story Short’ during the Islington quintet’s initial dalliances in synthpop.

Perhaps surprisingly, the more AOR inclined T’PAU did their demos using a synth and its built-in sequencer with Decker telling how she and writing partner Ron Rogers had written their breakthrough hit ‘Heart & Soul’ entirely around a bass synth sequence which ended up in the final mix.

Of course, Humphreys’ and Gregory’s histories with OMD and HEAVEN 17 respectively are well documented. But both found they had to constantly defend their art against those who didn’t consider the use of synthesizers as “real music”.

When questions were opened out to the audience, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK took the opportunity to remind the pair that the Musicians Union tabled a motion in May 1982 to ban synthesizers from recording and live performance. Having already shared how in the pursuit of a more electronic dominated sound, his first serious band THE ID shrunk from eight members to two in order become OMD, Humphreys gleefully told the story of how the MU kept giving him and Andy McCluskey a hard time over using a tape recorder so mischievously, the Wirral duo “put ‘Keep Music Live’ stickers on the tape reels!”.

Meanwhile when HEAVEN 17 performed on ‘Top Of the Pops’ for the first time in 1981 with ‘Play To Win’, Gregory told of how the heavily unionised show, where MU membership was compulsory, refused to let Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh perform behind synths, insisting that they used a guitar and glockenspiel instead!!

But remembering how T’PAU had used a Fairlight for their orchestral arrangements, Decker expressed that “it did prick my conscience” that she might be putting musicians out of work, with the technology having advanced to such a degree that for the untrained ear, it was difficult to tell the difference. Steve Norman also had a vivid technology nightmare when while using Yamaha WX7 MIDI wind controller connected to a DX7 live, it suddenly changed settings in the middle of a moody solo under the heat of stage lights!

When asked about new music, Gregory admitted he listened to very little. However, recollecting his own experience of how GARY NUMAN looked after OMD when the young duo opened for the electronic pioneer in 1979, Humphreys said OMD tried to help young bands where possible with no buy-on fee for support slots, citing the much-missed pop noir combo MIRRORS as one of the best acts in recent years.

This drew the discussion onto how safe and unadventurous the major record labels had become in recent years with their lack of vision towards artist development, in their quest to protect their dwindling revenue streams.

On the subject of music formats, Humphreys said he still very much believed in the artistic statement of the album and how you could not skip tracks on vinyl, so the less immediate tracks had to be absorbed and accepted in order for the work to grow. Meanwhile, Norman felt the EP was the platform of the future, as a new artist could offer less but more frequently, in order to engage an audience.

While Humphreys still embraced vinyl and CD, he confirmed he was very much against using Spotify, not just due of the poor royalty rates paid to artists but as he also revealed, the major record companies hold shares in the Swedish based concern… so no conflicts of interest there!

Meanwhile Decker loved the convenience of listening to music digitally while expressing a slight, and not unshared, bemusement at the vinyl revival.

To end the evening, Mark Jones amusingly challenged his guests to sing a song without accompaniment. Carol Decker was first up, belting out ‘Little China Girl In Your Hand’, an improvised mash-up of her own hit tune and the Iggy / Bowie classic.

Not known as a vocalist, Steve Norman gamely launched into a rendition of ‘Gold’ to enthusiastic cheers while initially reluctant, Paul Humphreys sang ‘Enola Gay’ after being goaded by Jones, with some audience assistance. Finishing the impromptu sing-song, Glenn Gregory gave a timely and relevant acapella version of ‘(We Don’t Need) This Fascist Groove Thang’.

It was a fabulously entertaining two hours with Carol Decker perhaps stealing the show from the boys with a salt of the earth persona that was akin to your favourite auntie who enjoys a tipple or two at Christmas, like a cross between Julie Waters and Tracey Ullman.

Providing amusing and engaging group conversation that was also educational, the fact that all four guests continue to have successful careers today is testament to their longevity and cultural impact during a more open and therefore competitive musical era.

People are still interested in this music not because of “nostalgia” as one member of the audience suggested, but because of its quality, inventiveness and authenticity.

Now, that really doesn’t happen that much these days… and that’s why people go Back To The Phuture 😉


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its sincerest thanks to Mark Jones

http://www.backtothephuture.net/

https://www.facebook.com/Question-Mark-514817845328373/

http://www.omd.uk.com/

https://www.heaven17.com/

http://www.spandauballet.com/

http://www.tpau.co.uk/


Text and Photos by Chi Ming Lai
29th June 2017

A Beginner’s Guide To CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN

Photo by Patrick Lichfield

With her distinctive ice maiden delivery, Claudia Brücken is the undoubted queen of cinematic avant pop.

She first came to prominence with PROPAGANDA and the Trevor Horn produced film noir drama of ‘Dr Mabuse’. Together with Susanne Freytag, Michael Mertens and Ralf Dörper, the Düsseldorf based quartet released their acclaimed album ‘A Secret Wish’ on ZTT in 1985. But despite the album being a favourite of musical figures such as Quincy Jones, Martin Gore, John Taylor and Jim Kerr, PROPAGANDA split following business and creative tensions as a result of their deal with ZTT.

Remaining with ZTT, Brücken formed ACT with early electronic pioneer Thomas Leer and released an album ‘Laughter Tears & Rage’ in 1988 which featured an array of lush synthetic dynamics glossed with a touch of starlet glamour.

Not one to rest on her laurels, her first solo album ‘Love: & A Million Other Things’ came in 1991 on Island Records before she took a career break.

There was a brief reunion of PROPAGANDA in 1998, but when that came to nought, Brücken spent much of the new millennium’s first decade working and touring with OMD’s Paul Humphreys in ONETWO, supporting ERASURE and THE HUMAN LEAGUE along the way.

Since then, she has released two further solo albums and more recently been spotted in the studio with Susanne Freytag and Stephen J Lipson, while a new collaborative project with Jerome Froese is also in progress.

Although her catalogue is wide and varied, Claudia Brücken is perhaps still very much regarded as a cult figure on the music scene. In 2011, she celebrated her career with a special show at The Scala in London with various friends and collaborators, all captured on the live DVD ‘This Happened’.

Certainly, she deserves greater recognition so with a restriction of one track per release of a very impressive collaborative portfolio, here is a 20 track Beginner’s Guide to her work…


TOPOLINOS Mustafa (1982)

TOPOLINOSBrücken and Freytag first met in Düsseldorf around Die Ratinger Straße; “There was this interaction between art and music happening and everyone kind of knew one another” she said. Together they formed TOPOLINOS, literally translated as ‘The Mickey Mouses’! Using a rhythm unit, electric organ lines and Middle Eastern flavoured vocal phrasing, ‘Mustafa’ was a typical art school recording of the period and appeared on ‘Partysnäks’, the soundtrack to the film ‘Die Tanzbeinsammler’.

Available on the compilation album Electri_City 2 (V/A) via Grönland Records


PROPAGANDA p: Machinery (1985)

Propaganda ‎– pMachineryAt the suggestion of Freytag, Brücken was recruited into PROPAGANDA and their dynamic sound was marketed as “ABBA in Hell”! p: Machinery captured their Teutonic edge and the charm of state-of-the-art technology such as the PPG Wave and Synclavier systems. Produced by Stephen J Lipson, the song also had an unexpected contributor as Brücken recalled: “It was amazing when David Sylvian came in. On ‘p: Machinery there is this line he wrote on a little keyboard that he brought in…”

Available on the PROPAGANDA album ‘A Secret Wish’ via Union Square


GLENN GREGORY & CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN When Your Heart Runs Out Of Time (1985)

Glenn+Claudia When Your HeartWritten by Will Jennings, best known for ‘My Heart Will Go On’ for the film ‘Titanic’ and ‘Up Where We Belong’ from ‘An Officer & A Gentleman’, ‘When Your Heart Runs Out of Time’ was recorded for the film ‘Insignificance’ directed by Nicolas Roeg. Brücken and the HEAVEN 17 vocalist met during the Anton Corbijn directed video shoot for ‘Dr Mabuse’ when Gregory’s then-wife Sarah was doing the make-up. The song was produced by Midge Ure, under the pseudonym of Otto Flake Junior.

Available on the compilation album ‘The Art Of The 12 Inch’ (V/A) via Union Square


ACT Absolutely Immune (1988)

ACT Absolutely ImmuneAfter PROPAGANDA fragmented, Brücken formed ACT with Thomas Leer in 1987. Working again with Stephen J Lipson, alongside the technological marvels came a more playful, decadent glamour with some political flirtations. ‘Absolutely Immune’ was a commentary on the apathy of the nation at large with its “I’m alright Jack” selfishness. Unfortunately, with the sentiment lost on a British public still drowned in blue emotion, it failed to gain interest in a landscape dominated by the bland blue eyed soul.

Available on the ACT album ‘Love & Hate’ via Union Square


JIMMY SOMERVILLE Run From Love (1990)

jimmy_somerville-the_singles_collection_1984-1990While not a sales success, the acclaim and respect that ‘A Secret Wish’ attained among fellow artists led to Brücken being offered many opportunities to collaborate. One of the first came from Jimmy Somerville. ‘Run From Love’ was a lesser known BRONSKI BEAT number reworked in a more house directed fashion by S’EXPRESS producer Pascal Gabriel for the diminutive Glaswegian’s greatest hits collection and Ms Brücken provided backing vocals in the chorus.

Available on the JIMMY SOMMERVILLE album ‘The Singles Collection 1984/1990’ via London Records


CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN Absolut[e] (1991)

Claudia Brucken Absolut(E)Despite ACT ending, Brücken signed a deal with Island Records which eventually spawned her debut solo album produced by Pascal Gabriel. The first single ‘Absolut[e]’ was very much dominated by Gabriel’s dancefloor instincts. But as the album was being recorded, all was not well within. “The MD from Island suddenly left and all the people who worked on my album left as well” she remembered, “A new guy came in and already I could sense what would happen, so Pascal and I decided to get really experimental”.

Available on the CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN album ‘Love: & A Million Other Things’ via Cherry Red Records


CHROME SEDUCTION Light The Way (1993)

Claudia+SusanneThe reaction to ‘Love: & A Million Other Things’ was muted and Brücken took a career break to bring up her daughter Maddy, emerging only occasionally to record the odd guest vocal. ‘Light The Way’ with CHROME SEDUCTION was a percussively frantic club number that also saw a reunion with former partner-in-crime Susanne Freytag. The project of Magnus Fiennes, brother of actors Joseph Fiennes and Ralph Fiennes, it first surfaced on an independently released 12 inch on Mother Alpha Delta.

Available on the CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN album ‘ComBined’ via Union Square


THE BRAIN I’ll Find A Way (1996)

THE BRAIN I'll Find A WayThe project of Düsseldorf based DJ Dietmar Andreas Maier, ‘I’ll Find A Way’ was typical of the frantically paced Euro-Trance of the period. Co-written with Michael Mertens, the seed of a PROPAGANDA reunion began with a number of songs including ‘Ignorance’, ‘No Return’, ‘To The Future’ and ‘Turn To The Sun’ being demoed. Although a video for ‘No Return’ was produced, the title proved poignant and Brücken later announced: “The reunion was worth a try, but did not work out.”

Available on THE BRAIN single ‘I’ll Find A Way’ via BMG


OCEANHEAD Eyemotion (1997)

OCEANHEAD EyemotionContinuing to contribute the occasional guest vocal, ‘Eyemotion’ was a co-write with John Etkin-Bell which coupled a shuffling drum loop with some beautifully chilled out atmospheres. Brücken’s breathy whispers and a muted synthetic brass motif à la PET SHOP BOYS provided the colourful sonics on an elegant piece of downtempo electronica. Blowing away the likes of ENIGMA and SACRED SPIRIT, the original CD single release was limited to just 2000 copies however.

Available on the OCEANHEAD single ‘Eyemotion’ via Land Speed Records


CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN & PAUL RUTHERFORD This Is Not America (2000 – not released until 2011)

After the aborted reunion of PROPAGANDA, Brücken accepted an invitation in 2000 to join Paul Humphreys on his solo tour of the USA; one of the first recorded fruits of their partnership was a cover of ‘This Is Not America’ featuring FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD’s Paul Rutherford intended for a film soundtrack. A beautifully crafted synthesized tribute to David Bowie & Pat Metheny, although shelved, it finally saw the light of day on her ‘ComBined’ career retrospective.

Available on the CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN album ‘ComBined’ via Union Square


APOPTYGMA BERZERK Unicorn – Duet Version (2002)

APOPTYGMA BERZERK HarmonizerEurope maintained a vibrant industrial music scene at the start of the new century and in a one-off collaboration with Norway’s cult electronic body merchants APOPTYGMA BERZERK, Brücken returned to the more Teutonic overtones that had been evident in PROPAGANDA. In an electronic rework of the heavier guitar focussed original, the combo provided a suitably aggressive but accessible backing track for her to duet with frontman Stephan Groth on ‘Unicorn’.

Available on the APOPTYGMA BERZERK album ‘Harmonizer’ via WEA


ONETWO Cloud 9ine (2004)

ONETWO ItemBrücken formalised her musical partnership with Paul Humphreys and together they named themselves ONETWO. They dusted off a track that had been demoed during the aborted PROPAGANDA reunion. The song in question was ‘Cloud 9ine’, a co-write with Martin Gore which also featured the guitar of DEPECHE MODE’s main songwriter. It was the stand-out song on ONETWO’s debut EP ‘Item’, but it would be a few years before their first album would be completed.

Available on the ONETWO EP ‘Item’ via https://theremusic.bandcamp.com/album/item


ANDY BELL with CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN Delicious (2005)

ANDY BELL Electric BlueBrücken joined ERASURE’s Andy Bell to sing on two tracks for his debut solo album ‘Electric Blue’. More club oriented than ERASURE, the long player was produced by THE MANHATTAN CLIQUE who were also part of the ONETWO live band, and provided the introduction. The call-and-response Hi-NRG stomp of ‘Delicious’ saw Brücken in her most playful mood since ACT and in rare poptastic glory, despite the bittersweet, reflective lyrical nature of the song.

Available on the ANDY BELL album ‘Electric Blue’ via Sanctuary Records


CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN & ANDREW POPPY Libertango (2005)

ANOTHER LANGUAGEBrücken teamed up with former ZTT label mate Poppy to record a number of stripped back cover versions, with just piano or guitar as accompaniment for her first long form release since 1991. Among the reinterpretations were songs originally performed by notable bands such as RADIOHEAD and ASSOCIATES, as well  as divas like Marianne Faithfull and Kate Bush. One of the highlights was a suitably dramatic take on ‘Libertango’, better known as ‘I’ve Seen That Face Before’ made famous by Grace Jones.

Available on the CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN & ANDREW POPPY album ‘Another Language’ via http://theremusic.bandcamp.com/album/another-language


ONETWO Anonymous (2007)

Humphreys and Brücken finally released a full length album as ONETWO in 2007 and from it was ‘Anonymous’, a song that began life as a demo from the aborted PROPAGANDA reunion and which had also been co-written with Andy McCluskey. The pretty ringing melodies and elegiac atmospheres were very reminiscent of classic OMD. But the collaboration had been unusual as at the time of the song’s conception, as Humphreys had not yet fully rejoined McCluskey in his old band.

Available on the ONETWO album ‘Instead’ via https://theremusic.bandcamp.com/album/instead


BLANK & JONES Don’t Stop (2008)

BLANK & JONES The Logic of PleasureIn between the aborted PROPAGANDA reunion and ONETWO, Ms Brücken guested with the popular German dance duo on ‘Unknown Treasure’, a most gorgeously shuffled electrobeat ballad. The parties reunited in 2008 but while ‘Unknown Treasure’ was in Brücken’s words, “a real collaboration”, “’Don’t Stop’ was in reverse, they gave me all the music and then I did the words and sent it back to them”. Despite the remote detachment of the recording, ‘Don’t Stop’ was still elegantly enticing.

Available on the BLANK & JONES album ‘The Logic Of Pleasure’ via Soundcolours


CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN & THE REAL TUESDAY WELD The Things I Love (2011)

=LA NoireRockstar Games wanted a German singer for a new game called ‘LA Noire’ soundtracked by THE REAL TUESDAY WELD’s Stephen Coates who was known for producing jazzy cabaret-style music with subtle electronica influences dubbed Antique Beat. “I thought: why not?” said Brücken, “I heard the songs and thought they were so beautiful. I found it a really good challenge doing something I hadn’t done before”. ‘The Things I Love’ was the alluring highlight of three songs recorded.

Available on the soundtrack album ‘L.A. Noire’ (V/A) via Rockstar Games


CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN One Summer Dream (2012)

Claudia Brucken One Summer DreamThe B-side to ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA’s massive hit ‘Mr Blue Sky’, ‘One Summer Dream’ was the first song to emerge from Brücken’s reinterpretations project with producer Stephen Hague which also included material by PET SHOP BOYS, DUBSTAR and THE LILAC TIME while there were also songs by Julee Cruise and David Bowie. Beginning with a vintage gramophoned segment, it built to a dreamy John Barry influenced, ‘Felt Mountain’-era GOLDFRAPP string arrangement.

Available on the CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN album ‘The Lost Are Found’ via There (there)


OMD Kissing The Machine (2013)

OMD-English-ElectricAlthough this co-write by Andy McCluskey and Karl Bartos first appeared in 1993 on the ELEKTRIC MUSIC album ‘Esperanto’, Paul Humphreys completely reworked ‘Kissing The Machine’ from scratch for OMD. “Paul had the idea of asking Claudia to do the vocal in the middle eight” remembered McCluskey, “but I suggested we start it with the ‘I want you to want me – I need you to need me…’ bit through a vocoder and went ‘y’know, could you ask Claudia to do it in German as well?’!” The result was electronic magic.

Available on the OMD album ‘English Electric’ via BMG


CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN Time To Make Changes (2014)

CLAUDIA BRUCKEN Where ElseThe biggest surprise musically on Brücken’s third solo album ‘Where Else…’ was her adoption of the acoustic guitar. Working with producer John Owen Williams whose credits also included BLANCMANGE, the songs dealt with the subjects of “emotion, beginnings, endings, past life and future hopes”. Almost like ABBA meeting THE SMITHS in a lush organic backdrop, ‘Time To Make Changes’ very much reflected her personal mindset following the end of her relationship with Paul Humphreys.

Available on the CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN album ‘Where Else…’ via Cherry Red Records


For further information on the upcoming projects of Claudia Brücken, please visit her official website and Facebook page

http://www.claudiabrucken.co.uk

https://www.facebook.com/ClaudiaBruckenMusic

https://twitter.com/ClaudiaBrucken1

https://www.instagram.com/claudiabrucken/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
30th July 2016

Fly – Songs Inspired By The Film Eddie The Eagle

‘Eddie The Eagle’ is a biopic by ‘X-Men: First Class’ director Matthew Vaughn about Eddie Edwards, who represented Team GB in ski-jumping at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

It was the same Olympics which inspired the Disney film ‘Cool Runnings’ about Jamaica’s first bobsleigh team entry!

Based on true events, the film stars Taron Egerton as Eddie Edwards and Hugh Jackman as Edwards’ fictional trainer.

Whereas ‘Cool Runnings’ had artists performing cover versions for the soundtrack, ‘Fly – Songs Inspired by the film Eddie The Eagle’ differs in having a collection of original songs curated by Gary Barlow, each recorded by British artists who are now usually seen frequenting retrospective events such as Rewind, Here & Now and Let’s Rock.

So, a concept album based around the legend of a bespectacled plasterer, featuring contributions from members of FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD, SOFT CELL, SPANDAU BALLET, ULTRAVOX, ERASURE and OMD, in collaboration with a member of TAKE THAT? On paper, this is a terrible idea!

But Gary Barlow has long been an admirer of ULTRAVOX in particular; his 2010 interpolation of ‘Vienna’ for the track ‘Eight Letters’ on TAKE THAT’s Stuart Price produced album ‘Progress’ resulted in the rather unusual writing credit of Barlow / Donald / Orange / Owen / Williams / Ure / Cross / Cann / Currie. The TAKE THAT track ‘Love Love’ for the film ‘X-Men: First Class’ also indicated Barlow’s interest in electro forms.

The era in which ‘Eddie The Eagle’ reigned has been symbolised by both aspiration and fighting against the odds, and that comes across in the song titles.

As a side note, it is interesting how with the political climate that existed during this time, this project has gathered musicians whose politics cover the whole colour spectrum, from the Jeremy Corbyn supporting Martyn Ware to the self-confessed Tory boy Tony Hadley. While some say politics should be kept separate from music, many would argue music is an artistic reflection of the incumbent environment. So what of the music?

Holly Johnson’s ‘Ascension’ is typically epic, recalling a steadily building uptempo reboot of ‘The Power Of Love’, while ‘Out Of The Sky’ sees Marc Almond tackling his most overtly electro number for many years. Having previously shared a stage with Gary Barlow and earned some extra royalties too, Midge Ure’s ‘Touching Hearts & Skies’ stands quite ably within the concept as a tune reminiscent of ULTRAVOX’s classic synth rock.

Having found success outside of OMD with the first incarnation of ATOMIC KITTEN including a No1 in ‘Whole Again’, Andy McCluskey has a proven pedigree in mainstream pop spheres. He does a good job in co-writing with Barlow on ‘Thrill Me’, which is sung by the film’s two stars.

Taron Egerton won ‘The Stephen Sondheim Society Student Performer of the Year’ while at RADA and Hugh Jackman of course appeared in the musical epic ‘Les Misérables’; so their combined capabilities in the vocal department stop the song from becoming an ironic novelty. According to McCluskey, Egerton and Jackman’s vocals were recorded without his knowledge! Unsurprisingly ‘Thrill Me’ does sound like ‘Sugar Tax’ era OMD, crossed with imperial ‘Everything Changes’ phase TAKE THAT. Who’d have thunk it eh?

Nik Kershaw is another with a songwriting career outside of his own, penning ‘The One & Only’ for Chesney Hawkes back in 1991; ‘The Sky’s The Limit’ is an archetypical MTV friendly ballad that could have been made back then, with hints of A-HA and SAVAGE GARDEN.

One of the songs not part of the original ‘Fly’ concept is HEAVEN 17’s ‘Pray’; previously released by Messrs Ware and Gregory in 2014, it’s a terrific hybrid of the early avant phase of THE HUMAN LEAGUE and ‘Young Americans’ era Bowie. This slice of prime electronic soul is a stand-out on the collection and proof that the Sheffield masters still have it.

But members of the HEAVEN 17 crew do contribute to the energetically synthy engine room of Kim Wilde’s ‘Without Your Love’. It’s an enjoyable homage to her earlier sound, co-written by Glenn Gregory and live H17 keyboardist Berenice Scott in collaboration with Barlow.

Tony Hadley does his overblown Foghorn party piece on ‘Moment’ and Spandau fans will be more than happy with the end result, others perhaps not so.

The often under rated Howard Jones delivers the enjoyable modern schaffel stomp of ‘Eagle Will Fly Again’, while the blue-eyed soul offerings from ABC and GO WEST will satisfy their existing fans. However, Paul Young appears to have lost his voice on the vintage widescreen AOR of ‘People Like You’. Meanwhile on the autotuned ‘Fly’, Andy Bell actually starts to sound more like Tony Hadley than Alison Moyet!

Like with the music from back in the day, some of it is brilliant, some of it is likeable and some of it you’d rather not hear again.

But that in an essence, is why music derived from this period still resonates today… it was about songs and melodies, not tuneless dance excursions or ultra-fast talking supposedly passing for vocals. ‘Fly – Songs Inspired By The Film Eddie The Eagle’ is an interesting curio as a “Where Are They Now?” snapshot. Whatever your tastes, there is a good reason why all of the artists featured on this album still have a career performing.


‘Fly – Songs Inspired by the film Eddie The Eagle’ is released as a CD and download by Universal Music Enterprises

http://www.foxmovies.com/movies/eddie-the-eagle

https://www.facebook.com/EddieTheEagleMovie/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
18th March 2016

30 LOST SONGS 2010 to 2014

Over the five years since its inception on 15th March 2010,  ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK has aimed to highlight the best new music within the electronic pop world.

But with so much music and only a finite allocation of time, songs have slipped under the radar occasionally, or perhaps only received a glancing mention. However, a bit of time and distance can reveal if these recordings really are actually lost gems and whether the site missed the boat. So here are 30 songs from the cover the period between March 2010 to December 2014 which are worthy of rediscovery.

They have been released as physical product or purchasable / free downloads and are listed in chronological and then alphabetical order.


YVY DEMINA Alley of Aces (2010)

Sounding like night meeting day with an omnipresent gothic allure, YVY DEMINA has been making music since 2007 but despite having songs on compilations, so far she has yet to have a release in her own right. A debut EP scheduled for July 2009 never materialised but the excellent ‘Alley Of Aces’ crept out on the ‘Zwischenfall – A New Decade Vol. 01’ compendium which also featured XENO & OAKLANDER. No more has been heard since…

Available on the compilation album ‘Zwischenfall – A New Decade Vol. 01’ via Real Voice Of Underground

https://soundcloud.com/yvy-demina/yvy-demina-alley-of-aces


LYLEE Sternentanz (2010)

Seductive, Weimer Cabaret styled electropop with a rich, layered atmosphere, ‘Sternentanz’ was a gloriously vibrant song from this promising German songstress. But aside from three mixes of ‘Sternentanz’ and another track titled ‘Kein Weg Zu Weit’ on the single release, that was it. LYLEE’s website has long since gone offline so despite Google, there appears to be no extra information on her whatsoever… so a song and artist truly lost.

Available as a download single via Batleth Records, extended version available on the compilation album ‘electropop.5’ via Conzoom Records

http://www.last.fm/music/Lylee


TIKKLE ME Remind The World (2010)

Sick of female fronted synthpop? Well, tough! We want “synths with balls” cry the electro fraternity still stuck in their shouty, chauvinistic cauldron! But as the feminist synth combo TIKKLE ME put it on their song ‘Remind The World’: “I’ve got no balls you see… I’ve already checked!”. This Swedish collective certainly made a positive impression with some thought provoking lyrics on their feisty self-titled debut album and have tunes too! Their second album ‘What Is Real’ is even better!

Available on the download album ‘Tikkle Me’ via Gaphals

http://tikkleme.se/


047 Featuring LISA PEDERSEN Everything’s Fine (2011)

047 Everythings FineWith some rich Scandipop in the vein of ROBYN courtesy of guest vocalist LISA PEDERSEN, ‘Everything’s Fine’ showed that Swedish electronic duo 047 could produce quality song based material. Sebastian Rutgersson and Peter Engström started out as a chiptune act before expanding their sonic template on their second album proper, ‘Elva’. It is territory they’re continuing in with the much anticipated follow-up, currently being recorded.

Available on the album ‘Elva’ via Killing Music

http://www.047.se/


JOHAN AGEBJÖRN & LE PRIX featuring LAKE HEARTBEAT Watch The World Go By (2011)

JOHAN AGEBJÖRN is better known as cult Swedish songstress SALLY SHAPIRO’s right hand man, but for his debut solo album, he brought in a number of guest vocalists like QUEEN OF HEARTS for ‘Casablanca Nights’, a rather danceable electronic pop album. ‘Watch The World Go By’ was an uptempo highlight with a longing, melancholic vocal from Janne Kask of LAKE HEARTBEAT that was treated to the point of being almost feminine.

Available on the download album ‘Casablanca Nights’ via Paper Bag

http://www.johanagebjorn.info/


CITIZENS! True Romance (2011)

Produced by FRANZ FERDINAND’s Alex Koupranos, CITIZENS! ‘True Romance’ had a hint of HOT CHIP collaborating with Vince Clarke about it. Catchy and quirky, it was released in late 2011 and even had a slight passing resemblance to the CCS remix of LYKKE LI’s ‘Little Bit’. From a so-called indie band, ‘True Romance’ had a fresh, synth assisted approach that didn’t involve too many guitar interventions.

Available on the album ‘Here We Are’ via Kitsuné

http://www.citizenscitizens.com/


HIGH PLACES Year Off (2011)

HIGH PLACES are a duo based in Brooklyn. Dark but danceable, Mary Pearson’s half spoken / half wispy vocals on the haunting ‘Year Off’ are unearthly. As a percussive mantra takes hold, the cacophony of synthetic sound produced by musical partner Rob Barber only enhances the cerebral experience of this magnificent track, with an electronic bassline solid enough to knock your head on.

Available on the album ‘Original Colors’ via Thrill Jockey Records

https://www.facebook.com/pages/High-Places/83873543030


NIKI & THE DOVE Mother Protect (2011)

While quite obviously derived from THE KNIFE and the hanutronica mood of the times, ‘Mother Protect’ was a great brooding tune from NIKI & THE DOVE. Malin Dahlstrom had a menacing growl that strangely sat between Karin Dreijer and Cyndi Lauper on this doom laden percussive rattle. The pair had potential and while THE KNIFE go to Eurovision of ‘DJ, Ease My Mind’ was another good tune in their cannon, they lacked consistency and the debut album ‘Instinct’ was not quite as impressive.

Available on the EP ‘The Drummer EP’ via Sub Pop

http://www.nikiandthedove.com


SPLENDOR PROJEKT Darkest Days (2011)

Full of European melancholy, ‘Darkest Days’ did what it said on the tin and appeared on the ‘Electropop.6’ compilation alongside VILE ELECTRODES and OBLIQUE. The vehicle of French producer Peter Rainman whose remixed for artists on labels such as Dependent, A Different Drum and Out Of Line, to date this has been his last offering as SPLENDOR PROJEKT. It is often quite puzzling how some musical ventures never get beyond a few released songs, while other less satisfactory acts keep going on and on…

Available on the compilation album ‘electropop.6’ via Conzoom Records

http://www.discogs.com/artist/1034736-Splendor-Projekt


PATRICK WOLF In The City – Richard X Mix (2011)

the-city-patrick-wolf1PATRICK WOLF once claimed to have had his image and act nicked by LA ROUX, but he seemed to do alright for himself as a kind of 21st Century’s answer to MARC ALMOND. With the synthetically accessible Richard X remix of ‘This City’, he actually came over like the lost Glaswegian band H20 through a Eurodisco filter. If Wolf actually stopped worrying about having his thunder stolen and actually did more stuff like this, he might then be able to outstrip LA ROUX.

Available on the download single ‘In The City’ via Hideout Recordings

http://www.patrickwolf.com


CHROMATICS Kill For Love (2012)

Hailing from Portland, CHROMATICS were one of the brace North American electronic acts who appeared on the ‘Drive – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack’ with their song ‘Tick Of The Clock’. ‘Kill For Love’ from their fourth album of the same name could have been THE JESUS & MARY CHAIN if they were a female fronted synth band. With a lo-fi, punkier edge to their sound, CHROMATICS straddle several camps and bring a unique template to the alternative music table.

Available on the album ‘Kill For Love’ via Italians Do It Better

https://www.facebook.com/CHROMATICSBAND


COMPUTE Goodbye (2012)

Gothenburg’s Ulrika Mild is COMPUTE whose first two releases ‘This’ in 2009 and ‘The Distance’ in 2012 impressed with their wispy, emotive DIY synthpop. Since then, she also found time to record a fabulous cover of ‘Goodbye’, written by Paul McCartney and first recorded by Mary Hopkin, for a tribute CD that also featured Swedish synth veterans PAGE with a great electro version of SLADE’s ‘Coz I Luv You’. Known for taking her time over things, COMPUTE’s third release is still eagerly awaited.

Available on the download compilation album ‘The Seventies Revisited’ via Friends of Electronically Yours

http://www.compute.se


MORTEN HARKET Scared Of Heights (2012)

Following the second disbandment of A-HA in 2010, MORTEN HARKET has sat again in that awkward artistic hinterland where he has the voice and the cheekbones, but is more challenged in the songwriting department. However, the spritely ‘Scared Of Heights’ written by Espen Lind, a mentor on the Norwegian version of ‘The Voice’, recalled the best of A-HA’s classic singles with Harket’s trademark falsetto allowed to let rip. However, Harket is unlikely to ever escape A-HA…

Available on the album ‘Out Of My Hands’ via Island / Universal Music

http://mortenharket.com/


LIZ & LASZLO Rien À Paris (2012)

While bandmate Sean McBride was busy with his MARTIAL CANTEREL solo project, XENO & OAKLANDER’s Liz Wendelbo took a parallel busman’s holiday and contributed string synths and vocals to some tracks recorded by Xavier Paradis of AUTOMELODI fame. Perhaps lighter than XENO & OAKLANDER and more obviously in key, ‘Rien À Paris’ captured Wendelbo’s Gallic charms in a manner than was Francoise Hardy rather than her usual Jane Birkin.

Available as a download single via Visage Music

https://www.facebook.com/lizandlaszlo


PURITY RING Belispeak (2012)

The act that influenced CHVRCHES, Edmonton duo PURITY RING combined synths and glitch techniques with a clattering, off-kilter drum machine backbone. Megan James’ vocals aren’t that far off Lauren Mayberry’s sweet tones but while ‘Belispeak’ was a good tune full of invention and atmosphere, overall PURITY RING have perhaps lacked the pop oriented immediacy and focus of their Glaswegian contemporaries. Where they head next in the light of this will be interesting…

Available on the album ‘Shrines’ via 4AD

http://purityringsongs.com/


TOMORROW’S WORLD So Long My Love (2012)

TOMORROW’S WORLD So Long My LoveThe enticing project of NEW PONY CLUB’s Lou Hayter and Jean-Benoît Dunckel from AIR, ‘So Long My Love’ was a wonderfully motorik number with hypnotic drum machine, brash synth effects and sexy nonchalance all thrown into the bargain. Such an interesting combination had so much potential, but the resultant self-titled album released in 2013 lacked the vibrancy of this calling card and was sadly a disappointment.

Available on the album ‘Tomorrow’s World’ via Homebase

http://tomorrowsworld.fr/


CLUB 8 Stop Taking My Time (2013)

Club-8-Stop-Taking-My-TimeReleased on Sweden’s Labrador Records who launched THE SOUND OF ARROWS, ‘Stop Taking My Time’ was proof that a danceable electronic tune didn’t have to be a journey into death by four-to-the-floor or longer than five minutes. With Karolina Komstedt’s dramatically assertive vocal and a bursting bassline, CLUB 8 showed in a crisp 180 seconds that glorious, uplifting synthpop could still have an impact.

Available on the album ‘Above The City’ via Labrador Records

http://www.club-8.org/


DELPHIC Baiya (2013)

DELPHIC BaiyaLike fellow Mancunians HURTS, DELPHIC were hailed as one of the great hopes for male fronted electronic pop with a sound not unlike A CERTAIN RATIO gone right! Their debut album ‘Acolyte’ showed what they could be capable of, if they could only turn their extended jams into songs. However, the follow-up album ‘Collections’ disappointed with a misguided excursion into rap. The launch single ‘Baiya’ though was a cracker, combining the anthemic vocal pomp of MUSE with the rhythmical overtures of PRINCE.

Available on the album ‘Collections’ via Polydor Records

https://www.facebook.com/delphicmusic


FORT ROMEAU Stay True (2013)

Ghostly are the innovative label founded by American electronic musician MATTHEW DEAR and home to electro-punksters ADULT. Their roster also includes a number of interesting acts like London based FORT ROMEAU. The project of producer Michael Greene, ‘Stay True’ takes on a pulsating electro influence, but is allowed to breathe and progress with the space permitted by the length of the piece.

Available as a download EP via Ghostly Records

http://ghostly.com/artists/fort-romeau


ISAAC JUNKIE featuring GLENN GREGORY Something About You (2013)

Having toured both ‘Penthouse & Pavement’ and ‘The Luxury Gap’, HEAVEN 17 really needed to record new material to maintain their credibility. It could be argued that this collaboration with Mexican producer ISAAC JUNKIE and GLENN GREGORY went part of the way in kick starting that. A marvellously trancey electronic dance tune, the only thing that stops ‘Something About You’ from being perfect is the way Mr Gregory’s vocals have been processed and distorted.

Available on the single ‘Something About You’ via Isaac Junkie Records ‎

https://soundcloud.com/isaacjunkie


KEEP SHELLY IN ATHENS Oostende (2013)

KeepShellyInAthens_AtHomeLike MARSHEAUX crossed with POLLY SCATTERGOOD, the dream laden chillwave of ‘Oostende’ showcased what COCTEAU TWINS might have sounded like had they been a synth duo. Comprising of the gorgeous afflicted voice of Sarah P,. and the mysterious RΠЯ, KEEP SHELLY IN ATHENS actually hailed from the Greek capital, but sounded like they’d emerged from a frozen Fjord in Narvik. Sarah P. subsequently departed in 2014, but KEEP SHELLY ATHENS continue today with new singer Myrtha.

Available on the album ‘At Home’ via Cascine

http://keepshellyinathens.blogspot.co.uk/p/blog-page.html


KITE The Rhythm (2013)

Despite having released their five EPs in five years, this Swedish duo have tended to be overlooked. There was a two year wait for KITE’s most recent EP ‘V’, but it was worth the wait when Nicklas Stenemo and Christian Berg offered some fine, if mournful electropop in the shape of ‘The Rhythm’. With layers of exuberant synth sounds and Stenemo’s almost chant like vocals full of brooding sadness but with a glimmer of hope, the next EP ‘VI’ is set for a Spring 2015 release.

Available on the EP ‘V’ via Progress Productions

https://www.facebook.com/KiteHQ


NATTEFROST Will I Get To Your Heart? (2013)

NATTEFROST is Danish musician Bjørn Jeppesen whose tenth album ‘Futurized’ encompassed many of the spacey elements of yesterday’s tomorrow that fans of JEAN MICHEL JARRE and KRAFTWERK would enjoy. Featuring as a guest vocalist, Michel Moers of Belgian synth subversives TELEX, his Gallic nonchalance on ‘Will I Get to Your Heart?’ is particularly good with sequenced percussive effects and rich synth sweeps providing some old fashioned synthpop.

Available on the album ‘Futurized’ via Sireena Records

http://www.nattefrost.dk/


MULU featuring RUSSELL MAEL David – Frozen Smoke Remix (2013)

Frozen smokeSPARKS have never just been an exclusively synthpop act but with the Mael Brothers more orchestrated in their instrumental template these days, it is rare to hear the magnificent nuances of Russell Mael on an electronic track in the 21st Century. This rather good collaboration with MULU remained strangely unreleased until dance act FROZEN SMOKE threw caution to the wind and let their synth dominated remix with its meaty snare sounds out. Singer Laura Campbell sounded totally glorious next to the younger Mael.

Originally available as a free download via Soundcloud, currently unavailable

http://www.allsparks.com/

https://soundcloud.com/frozensmoke


NIGHT ENGINE Give Me A Chance (2013)

Art rockers NIGHT ENGINE are possibly the most interesting guitar driven band to come out of the UK for some time. What separates them from the pack is their use of whirring synths for their solos. The rousing ‘Give Me A Chance’ fuses DAVID BOWIE and TALKING HEADS before digressing into a punchy end section which would conscript the quartet into TUBEWAY ARMY. And this is without mentioning that lanky vocalist / guitarist Phil McDonnell has that menacing air of Thin White Duke about him too.

Available on the download EP ‘Night Engine’ via Demand Vinyl / Something In Construction

http://www.nightengine.net/


TAXX Is It Love? (2013)

TAXX Is it loveMining the heritage of Italo disco, enigmatic Greek singer / songwriter TAXX aka Taxiarchis Zolotas successfully combined atmospherics, propulsive bass sequences and a solid electro beat on the immensely catchy ‘Is It Love?’. With a moodiness reminiscent of PET SHOP BOYS, but with spacey buzzes and a harder kick, TAXX’s homage to the club based sub-genre was a worthy excursion into classic European pop.

Available on the download single ‘Is It Love?’ via Undo Records

https://www.facebook.com/pages/TAXX/136706069723907


TRENTMØLLER featuring SUNE ROSE WAGNER Deceive (2013)

Anders Trentemøller made a name for himself when he remixed DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Wrong’ in 2009. He succeeded not only in stamping his own vision with a far superior interpretation but highlighted shortcomings in DM’s production department. The muted synth trumpets and spacey swirls of ‘Deceive’ driven by an incessant drum machine made for a positively nocturnal atmosphere . And when crossed with an eerie vocal turn by Sune Rose Wagner, it all came over brilliantly like DM meeting DEATH IN VEGAS.

Available on the album ‘Lost’ via In My Room

http://www.anderstrentemoller.com/


ELECTRIC YOUTH feat ROOM 8 Without You (2014)

Hailing from Canada, ELECTRIC YOUTH’s collaboration with COLLEGE entitled ‘A Real Hero’ was included on ‘Drive – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack’ in 2011. Their debut album ‘Innerworld’ finally came out in Autumn 2014 and one of its highlights was another collaboration, this time with ROOM8 called ‘Without You’. The bridge and chorus are particularly tremendous. Now if this electronic ditty had come out thirty years ago, there is no doubt it would have ended up in a Brat Pack movie.

Available on the album ‘Innerworld’ via Last Gang Entertainment / Secretly Canadian

http://www.electricyouthmusic.com/


EMIKA Let’s Dance (2014)

Pitch shifted to an almost asexual resonance, EMIKA delivered a wonderfully unique cover of one of Bowie’s best known tunes. The stabbing synth melody only vaguely sounds like it may have been derived from the original ‘Let’s Dance’. Indeed, this is more of a tribute with EMIKA herself describing it as “A new time-travel, gender twisting experiment in honour of one of my favourite artists…” – indeed, DURAN DURAN’s ‘Union Of The Snake’ sounds more obviously like a cover of ‘Let’s Dance’ than this does 😉

Available on the CD ‘David Bowie – Recovered’ free with Rolling Stone Germany – May 2014

http://www.emika.co.uk/


TAYLOR SWIFT New Romantics (2014)

The now New York based pop princess moved away from her Nashville roots for her first overtly pop album ‘1989’. Whereas tracks like ‘Blank Space’ and ‘Out Of The Woods’ merely flirted with synthpop in the mould of CHVRCHES, the appropriately titled deluxe bonus track ‘New Romantics’ almost went the full hog! In fact, if Miss Swift’s inherent Americanisms were not so apparent, this enticing number could easily be mistaken for the dreamy allure of Scandipodean twins SAY LOU LOU.

Available on the album ‘1989 – Deluxe edition’ via Big Machine Records

http://www.taylorswift.com


Text by Chi Ming Lai
26th February 2015, updated 2nd August 2017

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