Tag: h/p

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 30 SONGS OF 2022

During lockdown, electronic music displayed its emotional empathy with isolation and solitary working.

But as during The Cold War in its breakthrough years, it read the room again with the onset of worldwide and domestic conflicts, both armed and political.

There were times in 2022 that were as if The Cold War had never ended and in amongst the turmoil, artists reflected their anxieties on top of those already existing.

Jori Hulkkonen of SIN COS TAN said: “Overall, this decade has been a real downer with the pandemic and now the war, so if we are trying to look for silver linings here, I think it will be interesting for the creative community to get something out of it, the frustration, the fears and all that.”

As further pandemic songs were released as well, what emerged were songs of varying moods and while there was fresh optimising in the air, there were calls to arms and resignation looming too. Overall, 2022 saw many great individual tracks issued and mention must be made of NNHMN, NATION OF LANGUAGE, O+HER, DIE ROBO SAPIENS, DESIRE and MOTHERMARY who were among those shortlisted for this year’s listing.

As ever on ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK, rules help control the fun… so restricted to tracks available on the usual online retail platforms with a restriction of one song per artist moniker, here are the 30 SONGS OF 2022 in alphabetical order by artist…


ANNIEE featuring VON HERTZOG Danger Electricity

Bubbling with a dynamic thrust, the angelic voice of Anniee evoked the excitement of a night clubbing while Von Hertzog provided the hypnotic backing and beautiful soundscape. “I was jogging in London and came across the words in the sidewalk ‘danger electricity’” she said, “I had always wanted to create a dance track – something that reflected my love for EDM, what I felt when I first heard it as a teenager, visiting clubs in Mallorca. Also the feeling I still get now taking the train to NYC and the energy of the city”.

Available on the single ‘Danger Electricity’ via Anniee and Von Hertzog

https://www.instagram.com/anniee_music/


ALANAS CHOSNAU & MARK REEDER All You Need To Love

For Alanas Chosnau and Mark Reeder, the ongoing world tensions were a symbol of ‘Life Everywhere’. Like a Harry Palmer film given an electro soundtrack and hidden behind the facade of love songs, their second album together poignantly made a statement on life during wartime. With a speedy conga mantra and a dominant digital clap, ‘All You Need Is Love’ entered funky electronic disco territory with roots in Reeder’s SHARK VEGAS days to emulate the propulsive air of NEW ORDER.

Available on the album ‘Life Everywhere’ via MFS

https://alanaschosnau.com/

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


RODNEY CROMWELL The Winter Palace

Intended as a soundtrack to a sadly post truth world, Rodney Cromwell returned with his second album ‘Memory Box’. Despite questioning selective memories, album closer ‘The Winter Palace’ was all about wanting to forget a former beau because “I dream of you regardless, whether I am asleep or awake”. With hints of classic NEW ORDER and OMD, the wonderfully icy number embraced motorik mechanisation within a hypnotic electronic backdrop and providing a glorious synth solo for a hopeful uplift to savour.

Available on the album ‘Memory Box’ via Happy Robots Records

https://www.facebook.com/rodneycromwellartist


BOY HARSHER Machina featuring Ms. BOAN

BOY HARSHER made a short horror movie ‘The Runner’ and a soundtrack to go with it which stood up in its own right. Although comprising of their usual dark and danceable electronic pop, it proved to be their most diverse collection yet featuring several special guests. Sung in Spanish and English, ‘Machina’ featuring Ms. BOAN aka Mariana Saldaña was aimed at the dancefloor, recalling the Latino electronic disco of Bobby Orlando, particularly PET SHOP BOYS ‘A Man Could Get Arrested’.

Available on the album ‘The Runner’ via Nude Club / City Slang

https://boyharsher.com/


CIRCUIT3 Valentina Fly

For his third CIRCUIT3 album ‘Technology For The Youth’, Peter Fitzpatrick presented a retro-futuristic narrative on the world before the space shuttle. Valentina Tereshkova whose 1963 adventure in Vostok 6 made her the first woman in space was celebrated with ‘Valentina Fly’, the minimal structure and string machines of the wonderful piece evoking OMD. “She’s not a celebrated as Yuri Gagarin” said the Dubliner, but “in some respects, what she achieved was much greater.”

Available on the album ‘Technology For The Youth’ via https://circuit3.bandcamp.com/

http://www.circuit3.com/


GEMMA CULLINGFORD Tongue Tied

If Yoko Ono’s ‘Walking On Thin Ice’ had been reconfigured as a Balearic friendly electronic disco number, then it would have come out like ‘Tongue Tied’, the title track of the second album by Gemma Cullingford. With a nonchalant but sensual vocal style reminiscent of Sarah Nixey, ‘Tongue Tied’ exuded a positive if nervous energy in a purer metronomic adoption of electronics. “My boyfriend provided the lyrics knowing that I often get tongue tied and mince my words so he knew they’d mean something to me” she helpfully added. Shyness is nice…

Available on the album ‘Tongue Tied’ via Elmo Recordings

https://www.facebook.com/gemcullingford


DAWN TO DAWN Stereo

Canadian danceable dreampop trio DAWN TO DAWN celebrated the joy of music in times of adversity with ‘Stereo’. Driven by a Roland TR909, the song touched on the acceptance of confinement where “I wait for no one to ask ‘when do we go?’”. Embracing the notion that “you’re here – on the stereo”, in its romantic reflection of good times, a breezy infectious allure was captured while maintaining an understated synthesized danceability and a promise of better things to come.

Available on the album ‘Postcards From The Sun To The Moon’ via SSURROUNDSS

https://www.facebook.com/dawntodawnmusic


DUBSTAR Token

Since Sarah Blackwood and Chris Wilkie reconfigured DUBSTAR as a duo, there was always the impression that the comeback album ‘One’ was a warm-up. Opening album ‘Two’  was ‘Token’, possibly their most overt synthpop statement yet. Co-produced by Stephen Hague, it pointed to his work with PET SHOP BOYS and ERASURE. A song full of resilience, its narrative about leaving behind abusive relationships and minor gestures was a topic that many could relate to.

Available on the album ‘Two’ via Northern Writes

https://www.dubstarofficial.co/


EMMON The Battle

Since releasing her first sassy pop album ‘The Art & The Evil’ in 2007, Emma Nylen has got progressively darker and harder while still retaining an enigmatic presence. While most of her ‘Recon’ album headed in an EBM direction influenced by NITZER EBB and FRONT 242, synthpop with a syncopated backbone was the sound on the ‘Black Celebration’ inflected mission that was ‘The Battle’, a timely commentary on world and deomestic events. With an absorbing metallic chill, it was the highlight of her fifth long player proper.

Available on the album ‘Recon’ via Icons Creating Real Art

https://www.facebook.com/emmonsweden


FADER Serpentine

As with previous FADER works, Benge worked alone on the instrumentation at his Memetune Studios complex in Cornwall while Neil Arthur did his lyrics and vocals at his home studio. Their third album together ‘Quartz’ was an understated artistic statement inspired by incidental atmospheric music used in vintage TV shows. Minimalistic structures provided a reflective and elegiac backdrop. The icy waltz ‘Serpentine’ opened the album with its sparse keys like Gary Numan meeting Brian Eno and reminiscent of the former’s ‘Dance’ album from 1981.

Available on the album ‘Quartz’ via Blanc Check Records

https://www.facebook.com/WeAreFader


THE GOLDEN FILTER Drive

A reinterpretation of THE CARS’ mournful classic from 1984 which had already been a hit in its own right before becoming associated with Live Aid, this chilling version of ‘Drive’ by THE GOLDEN FILTER simply captured the zeitgeist in amongst the turmoil of world events… the work of Penelope Trappes and Stephen Hindman who released their first album ‘Volupsa’ in 2010, the duo defied people not to well up on hearing the words “Who’s gonna tell you when it’s too late? Who’s gonna tell you things aren’t so great?”.

Available on the single ‘Drive’ via The Golden Filter

https://www.thegoldenfilter.com/


H/P Vicinities

Based in Limoges, H/P were formally known as HAPPINESS PROJECT, issuing their first album ‘Remove Or Disable’ in 2008. For their H/P debut ‘Programma’, the trio not only shortened their moniker but also adopted a minimal synth approach. Acknowledging the debt of influence to cult French act MARTIN DUPONT, their bassist Alain Seghir guested on the glorious album closer ‘Vicinities’. Applying a complex spiral of delicate blips, it was enclosed is an emotional centre that recalls OMD for possibly the album’s stand-out song.

Available on the album ‘Programma’ via BOREDOMproduct

https://www.facebook.com/hp.programma


I SPEAK MACHINE War

Adopting the dishevelled persona of a satanic Libertas, ‘War’ by I SPEAK MACHINE was another album that captured the zeitgeist, although the lyrics were much more personal to Tara Busch. Short and sweet with hints of Gary Numan’s ‘Metal’, the screeching title song opener set the scene and the album’s intentions with a rumbling backdrop. “It definitely has ‘Metal’ in there as an influence” she said, “It came about from me messing with my Casio SK1 and then running that through a Moogerfooger ClusterFlux to make it all bendy and provide actual notes from the feedback.”

Available on the album ‘War’ via https://ispeakmachine.bandcamp.com/

https://www.ispeakmachine.com


KAREN HUNTER Don’t Call My Name

Veteran singer Karen Hunter was a live band member on Gary Numan’s ‘Berserker’ and ‘The Fury’ tours and recorded a wonderful cover of the ballad ‘Don’t Call My Name’ in support of The Ced Sharpley Drumming Bursary. The original was the closing track on the 1988 album ‘Metal Rhythm’ and the haunting song is given a serene feminine twist. As well as being produced by music veteran Steve Hunter who played with Peter Gabriel and Lou Reed, Numan associates Chris Payne and Andy Coughlan also contributed.

Available as a digital single ‘Don’t Call My Name’ via Living Ornaments

https://karenhunter.hearnow.com/


KAVINSKY Outsider

Vincent Belorgey aka Kavinsky made his name with ‘Night Call’ featuring vocals by Lovefoxxx of CSS. But after the track was featured in the cult movie ‘Drive’ in 2011, the Frenchman found it was becoming something of an albatross around his neck. He upset people when he said “f*ck that ‘synthwave’ stuff as u name it”. Seeming taking an age to record his follow-up to the ‘OutRun’ album, he made a statement to be ‘Reborn’. Channelling his inner Moroder circa ‘Midnight Express, ‘Outsider’ was a magnificent instrumental laced with orchestrated drama and tension.

Available on the album ‘Reborn’ via Record Makers / Protovision

https://kavinsky.com/


KID MOXIE Shine

Compared with the previous works of KID MOXIE, there were darker and harder aesthetics at play on ‘Shine’ in collaboration with German EBM producer FADERHEAD. Taking both musical and lyrical inspiration from DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Never Let Me Down Again’, front woman Elena Charbila assertively declared “I’m taking the lead in the back seat”. “We definitely channelled some DM vibes” she remembered, “it was even a running joke while we were in studio recording it with FADERHEAD”.

Available on the album ‘Better Than Electric’ via Pasadena Records

http://www.facebook.com/kidmoxie


KITE Panic Music

As the wait for the ‘VII’ EP continues, “Sweden’s best kept pop-secret” returned with an interim single. ‘Panic Music’ exuded a fierce anxiety with front man Nicklas Stenemo presenting his characteristic screaming delivery. Over an epic neo-gothic backdrop now associated with KITE, Christian Berg continued his fascination for electronic drones and swoops while there was also the surprise of a guitar solo in the middle eight. The stress and strain of the past two years and a very uncertain future was effectively captured in song.

Available on the digital single ‘Panic Music’ via Astronaut Recordings

https://www.facebook.com/KiteHQ


LEATHERS Runaway

From Vancouver in British Columbia, ACTORS keyboardist Shannon Hemmett continued with her more synth focussed solo project LEATHERS. Not completely divorced from the main band family, frontman Jason Corbett acts as producer and collaborator, just as Daniel Hunt did with Helen Marnie on her solo work during the LADYTRON hiatus. ‘Runaway’ was gorgeous dreamy synthpop to elope to, “About breaking free and letting go, it provides a pop of color against the mundane routine of everyday life”.

Available on the digital single ‘Runaway’ via Artoffact Records

https://www.facebook.com/leathersmusic


MECHA MAIKO Sunny, Softly (I Feel Love)

Hayley Stewart returned as MECHA MAIKO with ‘NOT OK’ to highlight the various social-political flashpoints that emerged during the pandemic. But focussing on warmer moments and feeling the force of some mighty electro, ‘Sunny, Softly (I Feel Love)’ threw in the iconic throb from the Giorgio Moroder produced Donna Summer hit for a glorious beat driven statement enhanced by an angelic delivery. “There’s a weightlessness to her song that I wanted to have play through the listener’s mind at the same time that they were listening to mine” she said.

Available on the album ‘NOT OK’ via New Retro Wave

https://www.mechamaiko.com/


MINIMAL SCHLAGER Submission

Sister and brother duo MINIMAL SCHLAGER began in 2020 as a consequence of the pandemic. Based between London and Berlin, Alicia Macanás and Francisco Parisi began to develop a brand of synth heavy dreampop. While bubbling with glistening synths, ‘Submission’ was a more of a new wave number with subtle guitar and a rhythmic bounce that set it apart from the other songs on their first album ‘Love, Sex & Dreams’ with an exhilarating chorus is that declares “For a second, I know I can win!”

Available on the album ‘Love, Sex & Dreams’ via Duchess Box Records

https://www.facebook.com/minimalschlager


R.MISSING New Present City

Fronted by enigmatic Sharon Shy, having released some fabulously ethereal singles in the shape of ‘Verónica Pass’, ‘Placelessness’, ‘Saturnining’ and ‘Crimeless’ in the past 18 months, New York-based darklings R. MISSING presented the sinister beauty of ‘New Present City’. In their embracement of the fragility of life with gently propelled soundscapes swathed in icy melancholia, this slice of electronic pop noir fittingly filled a gap left by the now disbanded CHROMATICS.

Available on the digital single ‘New Present City’ via Terminal Echo

https://rmissing.com/


RÖYKSOPP & ALISON GOLDFRAPP Impossible

When RÖYKSOPP released their most recent long playing opus ‘The Inevitable End’ in 2014, it was said to be their final album and made a fine farewell. But after various singles, archive releases and soundtrack commissions, they returned with the ‘Profound Mysteries’ trilogy. Featuring Alison Goldfrapp, the delicious ‘Impossible’ was a mighty avant disco excursion that was both seductive and functional. With the uplifting high soprano middle eight drifting into an intergalactic twist, it could be rightly considered one of the songs of 2022.

Available on the album ‘Profound Mysteries’ via Dog Triumph

http://royksopp.com/


HANNA RUA Light In Your Dark

Swedish songstress Hanna Rua has a dreamy electronic pop sensibility with the emphasis on the pop, but her debut EP ‘Light Up Your Dark’ also demonstrated her scope and capability using darker aesthetics. With a wonderfully gritty austere, the title song played with gothier influences while remaining melodic, coming over like a Nordic NINA in her more recent work. A battle against the demons, the brooding presence recalled unga moderna veterans LUSTANS LAKEJER and their 1999 single ‘Cynisk’.

Available on the EP ‘Light Up Your Dark’ via Aztec Records

https://www.hannarua.com/


SALLY SHAPIRO Fading Away

Although they announced a retirement of sorts in 2016, Swedish duo SALLY SHAPIRO joined the Italian Do It Better family in 2021 to make an unexpected return. ‘Fading Away’ was an epic dance tune to close the ‘Sad Cities’ comeback album. Perhaps unexpectedly originating from an ambient improvisation session, this atmospheric template was merged with a relentless disco synthwave hybrid, utilising a glorious plethora of trancey electronics and thumping rhythms across its seven minutes.

Available on the album ‘Sad Cities’ via Italians Do It Better

https://www.facebook.com/shapirosally


SIN COS TAN Endless

With the bear next door, the title of SIN COS TAN’s fourth album ‘Living In Fear’ resonated with anyone resident in Finland or anywhere in the civilised world; “Do you fear the dark, love, war, or yourself? Whatever the answer, you can be certain: Fear is a powerful thing.” The windswept electro-motorik of ‘Endless’ used the melodic synthy highs of OMD to counter the melancholic expression and drone laden backdrop, acting as a burst of escapist optimism despite surrounding tensions.

Available on the album ‘Living In Fear’ via Solina Records

http://solinarecords.com/sincostan/


SOFT CELL Nighthawks

Originally a Dave Ball instrumental issued as a single that came with the boxed set of his autobiography ‘Electronic Boy’, the tense industrialised pulse of ‘Nighthawks’ recalled the sweaty alternative club overtures of one-time Some Bizzare stable mates CABARET VOLTAIRE. Featuring a deranged expletive laden rap from American drag performance artist Christeene, SOFT CELL fans were even treated to the deep growly voice of Mr Ball himself repeating the title alongside Marc Almond while ‘Staying Alive’ backing vocals provided another counterpoint.

Available on the album ‘*Happiness Not Included’ via BMG

http://www.softcell.co.uk


UNIFY SEPARATE Closure

Documenting a period of personal struggle, the new UNIFY SEPARATE album ‘Music Since Tomorrow’ attempted ‘Closure’ and this epic album opener set the scene with a building atmospheric trance tune that simply mesmerised, especially when front man Andrew Montgomery hit his trademark falsetto. Instrumentalist Leo Josefsson cited influences such as MODERAT, FLOATING POINTS, NITZER EBB, UNDERWORLD and FRONT 242 for the sound while there was also inspiration from the movie ’28 Days Later’.

Available on the album ‘Music Since Tomorrow’ via How Music Group

http://www.unifyseparate.com


BELLA UNWIN Cold Breeze

Bella Unwin has been releasing music since 2018 but this year saw an artistic leap. With shades of Alison Goldfrapp, Hannah Peel and the often forgotten Stella Grundy, the positively feline and angelic ‘Cold Breeze’ was the London-based Aussie’s best song yet. With subtle rhythmic lattices and chattering synthesizer goodness, the additional production and mix by Finlay Shakespeare boosted the punchy and immediate machine funk that was laced with wispy and alluringly coy vocals.

Available on the single ‘Cold Breeze’ via GOTO Records

https://www.facebook.com/bellaunwinmusic


THE WEEKND Less Than Zero

After ‘Blinding Lights’ and ‘Save Your Tears’, THE WEEKND again reminded the mainstream of the emotive beauty that can come from classic synthpop with ‘Less Than Zero’. ‘Less Than Zero’ itself sounded not unlike Michael Jackson produced by Tony Mansfield. The cross of catchy hooks, glorious counter-melodies and acoustic strums were reminiscent of Mansfield’s own combo NEW MUSIK who had UK hits with ‘Living By Numbers’, ‘This World Of Water’ and ‘Sanctuary’ in 1980; Tony Mansfield himself later went on to produce most of A-HA’s debut album ‘Hunting High & Low’.

Available on the album ‘Dawn FM’ via by XO / Republic Records

https://www.theweeknd.com


xPROPAGANDA The Wolves Are Returning

One of the best numbers on the Stephen J Lipson produced ‘The Heart Is Strange’, a stark warning on rise again of the far right was highlighted on ‘The Wolves Are Returning’. Despite its bounce and sonic interventions, the message coming from two Germans whose grandparents’ generation had made the mistake of opening up the door to the Nazis and “did nothing” was poignant. Claudia Brücken and Susanne Freytag provided a worthy follow-up to ‘A Secret Wish’ as xPROPAGANDA.

Available on the album ‘The Heart is Strange’ via ZTT Records

https://www.xpropaganda.co.uk/


A selection of ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s favourite music of 2022 is featured in its ‘Stay Negative To Be Positive’ playlist at https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4Mw0Fn10yNZQcrGzod98MM


Text by Chi Ming Lai
12th December 2022

H/P Interview

Formally known as HAPPINESS PROJECT, Limoges-based trio H/P released their debut album ‘Remove Or Disable’ in 2008. Signing to local label BOREDOMproduct, two acclaimed two long players ‘9th Heaven’ and ‘Mutation’ were released in 2012 and 2018 respectively. 

Shortening their moniker, their fourth album ‘Programma’ also saw threesome eschew conventional identities, preferring to be known as F/T (lead vocals + synths), C/P (lead + backing vocals) and C/T (synths, string machine, piano, bass guitar + backing vocals). With their personas now portrayed as enigmatic shadowy figures, the focus is on the music, a glorious pop concoction of minimal synth and vintage drum machines with an elegant retro-futuristic presence and a small dose of melancholy.

With charming girl-boy vocals, stark electronic effects and an array of synthesized melodies, ‘Programma’ brings some appealing warmth and soul into what has often been considered a cold musical form. ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK chatted to all three members of H/P to find out how they achieved it.

H/P had previously made music as HAPPINESS PROJECT but you have minimised in image and approach, what had prompted this change in direction?

C/T: We have a rule inside the band, we do not want to make twice the same album. Before ‘Programma’ we released two albums with BOREDOMproduct: ‘9th Heaven’ and ‘Mutation’. As you can notice our latest album before ‘Programma’ was named ‘Mutation’. So it was logical for us that something happens. We decided first to change the name of the band. So we have only kept the initials of HAPPINESS PROJECT. Then we decided to do the same work with our music and we composed new tracks in a very minimal way. ‘9 Mars’ was one of the first tracks we composed and we did it in a very minimal way. We wanted to make a true mutation but it does not mean that we dislike what we have done before, absolutely not, this is the natural evolution of a project which tries to create new things at each time.

F/T: We haven’t really minimised anything. H/P has always been a way for us to call ourselves, so it has rapidly sounded more natural to us, to use it as our permanent name for the band. As for the music, that was really our intention to make a new album with less instruments, so as to give more amplitude to the songs and maybe more space to the listener’s imagination.

Had there been any synth trailblazers that you felt inspired by in how you conceived ‘Programma’?

C/T: We had in our own background, bands that counts a lot for us, like KRAFTWERK, JOY DIVISION, NEW ORDER… but also French bands like MARTIN DUPONT, TRISOMIE 21, KAS PRODUCT… those bands take certainly a big part in our music. Of course when we were young, we discovered synth music with French artists like Jean-Michel Jarre or the band named SPACE, we were fascinated by those machines which brought brand new sounds in the pop music, it was incredible for us, we had at this period (during the 70s and the 80s) the feeling that music gave us the possibility to enter into science fiction and the future… and this is very fun to notice that today when you mention those periods or those artists you speak about the past. I think even now that electronic music is always the sound of science fiction and imaginary worlds because electronic music always sounds like something abstract and intellectual.

F/T: As far as we are concerned, we have always been inspired by musicians like KRAFTWERK or a French band from the 1970s SPACE, but also without forgetting bands like MARTIN DUPONT, KAS PRODUCT or TRISOMIE 21 (from the 1980s), and other bands like NEW ORDER, THE CURE, JOY DIVISION and IN THE NURSERY, as well.

Which vintage synthesizers did you turn to, did you have to buy, beg or borrow? Was there a dominant synth on the album?

C/T: When we compose our music in our home studio we use very classical synthesizers like Korg, Minimoog and Nord Lead ones… then we send our demos to BOREDOMproduct and for ‘Programma’, our label has used the analogue synthesizers which belong to the band CELLULOIDE. I don’t know exactly which type of synth they used but we did agree with the fact they produced our album with old synthesizers and analogue effects. The result sounds as we wanted our album to sound.


Did you set any restriction rules to help control the fun, like a limited palette of sounds and effects?

C/T: No, we had no restriction the only rule was to have an album which sounds new, minimal and not digital.

F/T: Definitely not! As we said previously, we wanted to create something which would sound more minimal, more up-to-date, which would suit the sensations we wanted to express: sensitivity, oblivion, awareness.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK loves the sound of primitive drum machines, but why do you think they still retain a charm for electronic music enthusiasts?

C/T: Because primitive drum machines had a very personal sound, you can play with them to personalise your sound and create a singular rhythm. They always give today a true personality of a track, and they seem to be played in a very organic and natural way, you can feel the warmth of their sound when you mix them. So this is a very interesting material for the sound engineer, this is the reason why old drum machines are always used, because they are very creative machines.

Assuming that you used software and virtual instruments before in HAPPINESS PROJECT, how analogue were you able to go with H/P?

C/T: To be true, we have always used analogue in the past. If you listened to our track ‘Poupée Mécanique’, you’ll be able to hear that we have used a true Mellotron. Another track like ‘No Name’ on ‘9th Heaven’ or ‘The Pumpkin Fairy Tale’ on ‘Mutation’ were principally created with a Minimoog synth. Most of the time, we composed our electronical music without computer, only with synths and we play everything. When the track is composed in a very traditional way, then we open our computer and we put all the different musical parts on Cubase! But we play everything with our small hands 😉 We rarely use software or virtual instruments. So I think that in the future. we will keep analogue synths for H/P.


One thing that you did retain from your previous incarnation was the dual male/female vocal style, is this what ‘I Prefer Two’ is partly referencing?

C/T: Yes of course, but we still have the dual male/female vocal style. We have used it less for ‘Programma’ because of the pandemic period! We have recorded our new album during the lockdown, so it was more difficult for us to be all together at the same time in the studio. Our female voice lives in Paris. So we mostly record male voice for our new tracks because it was easier for us to do so during the pandemic, but it doesn’t mean in the future that it won’t be the contrary for our next album.

C/P: Yes, the duality is always present in our albums. Duality between female/male voices, duality between synthétic and basic instruments, between low and faster pieces, sad or more playful themes…

How would you describe the creative dynamic between the three of you?

C/P: It’s like in a couple (but we are a trio, by the way): you have to live in harmony and deal with the desires of each other. Communicate, exchange and trust in each other. We have to compose… ‘cause H/P is the result of our three personalities.

‘Les Choses’ features French but the vocals on the album are predominantly in English, while writing the lyrics, did you find you were all starting to dream in English as well?

F/T: But we have been dreaming in English for so long! In fact, most of the music we listen to, is in English and when it comes to “Synth-pop” music, English sounds more natural. But we like to insert French lyrics too… we have always been doing so (even in our previous albums). The combination between both languages is great, because they both express different feelings, different colours. English is more straightforward, French is more mysterious, sometimes.

‘The Alarmist’ has a Motorik presence, has German kosmische musik ever been an influence?

F/T: We think so! As kids, we used to listen to KRAFTWERK a lot. We were big fans, as well as TANGERINE DREAM! We still love songs like ‘Trans Europe Express’!

C/T: To go further, I can say that KRAFTWERK changed our life when we were very young ! When we discovered their music in 1978, it has opened a door in us, we were children and we were totally hypnotized by their music and by those sound, it was like a revolution at this period, I truly had the feeling that we entered in a new dimension, a parallel one as if we were entering into the future and into the past at the same time. What is very fascinating in synthesized music, there is always a mix between sounds that come from nowhere and the architecture of tracks which reminds listeners a lot of classical music… so if ‘The Alarmist’ reminds us of our musical background, it means that we have reached our purpose!

The bassline of ‘Black Tea’ is quite boisterous while the verse is almost goth, but the chorus is uplifting?

F/T: Yes, of course! Maybe, all this reflects the many musical influences we’ve had like CLAN OF XYMOX, DEAD CAN DANCE or NEW ORDER… moreover, we are very instinctive musicians and sometimes, everything comes out, at once. The creation of a song can be very spontaneous and can express different emotions, one after the other.

‘9 Mars’ begins each verse with a feminine lead, how do you decide on the vocal arrangements?

C/P: At the beginning, ‘9 Mars’ was an old track that came out on a self-produced album, sung by Christelle. It’s a very personal song and that’s why we proposed it to BOREDOMproduct, with the female lead voice.

‘Ultraviolin’ would be a great pop song in any style, what was its genesis?

F/T: ‘Ultraviolin’ is a tribute to music itself and to all the various bands who’ve had a big influence on us. This song is a way to say thank you! Music is so important to the three of us. This is what ‘Ultraviolin’ is about.

C/T: ‘Ultraviolin’ is based on a very naïve synth gimmick, a very iterative one. When we found this gimmick then we created the other parts of the track: violins, rhythm, etc. We did like traditional music made with traditional musicians, you turn around an initial theme and you build your track with this minimal material. It’s very interesting to create a track with this method, because with very few musical notes, you can build a more complex universe.

Alain Séghir of MARTIN DUPONT joins you on ‘Vicinities’ and the structure is perhaps looser than the other songs on the album?

F/T: Yes, you’re right! That was such an incredible opportunity. We’ve been fans of their music, almost since their beginning. C/T and Alain Séghir started a correspondence on Myspace… then we met at a concert in France… then we continued exchanging messages and then Alain Séghir’s contribution to ‘Vicinities’ naturally came. We didn’t impose anything… we sent him the track as it originally was and he played the bass-guitar as he did and that was perfect.

Do you have any plans to perform any of the ‘Programma’ album live or are you just happy to have created a good record?

C/P: It’s planned! We also like to share our music with our fans. Bringing it to life is a great achievement!

Will H/P continue or will there be a return to “Happiness”?

C/P: Our band is a project, always in the making, always in renewal and evolution, in a constant desire of development. We always ‘Remove Or Disable’ all that we do in order to access the ‘9th Heaven’. This is our ‘Programma’. H/P is a part of HAPPINESS PROJECT, just another facet of us.


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its sincerest thanks to H/P

Special thanks to Eric D at BOREDOMproduct

‘Programma’ is released by BOREDOMproduct in vinyl LP, CD and digital formats, available from https://boredomproduct.bandcamp.com/album/programma-album

https://www.boredomproduct.fr/hp-programma/

https://www.facebook.com/hp.programma

https://www.instagram.com/hp_band/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
21st April 2022

H/P Programma

With cult French nouveau vague exponents such as MARTIN DUPONT, RUTH, MATHÉMATIQUES MODERNES, ELLI & JACNO, MODERNE, KAS PRODUCT, TAXI GIRL and DEUX all being re-evaluated of late, it is perhaps only natural that their 21st Century successors have been getting attention in their wake.

Once such act are Limoges-based H/P; formally known as HAPPINESS PROJECT, they independently released their first album ‘Remove Or Disable’ in 2008 and signed to local label BOREDOMproduct who issued their next two long players ‘9th Heaven’ and ‘Mutation’.

For ‘Programma’, not only have the trio shortened their moniker, they have forgone conventional identities in that CLIENT fashion and now appear as shadowy figures in their photos. But this is not merely cosmetic as F/T (lead vocals + synths), C/P (lead + backing vocals) and C/T (synths, string machine, piano, bass guitar + backing vocals) have adopted the minimal synth approach using the tactile controllability of analogue sequencers and the gritty snap of vintage drum machines.

This is a far cry from the denser austere of older songs such as ‘Poupée Mécanique’ and ‘Big Cities’. Now what remains as the trio put it is “Sober and sophisticated, a signature stripped of the superfluous: from now on this is h/p, simply” although their male / female vocal duality and lyrical gists on the human condition are still present and correct.

Shaped by charming girl-boy vocals, cold wave electronic effects and an array of synthesized melodies, ‘I Prefer Two’ is a delightfully odd but accessible opening statement. With a blippy Motorik drive, ‘The Alarmist’ is hauntingly glacial with a pretty array of synthetic strings amongst various intersecting lines while even the slightly off-key voicing is enjoyable.

Partly en Français, ‘Les Choses’ offers absorbing octave runs and spacey swoops, but much doomier in the vein of ‘Reproduction’ era HUMAN LEAGUE meeting THE CURE, ‘Hope In The Distance’ captures a downbeat mood augmented by solemn bass guitar.

Recalling ULTRAVOX, a chunky bass synth sequence acts as the backbone to ‘Black Tea’ which uplifts in a wonderful chorus with another girl-boy harmony following the goth rooted verse. This is all counterpointed by ring modulation while the middle eight presents some pitch bent texturing for one of the album’s highlights.

Female-led vocally at the start of each verse, ‘9 Mars’ is distinctly more minimal but displays a mechanical heart as it paces up. The filmic ‘Programma’ title song combines pulsing robopop with eerie synthetic whistles to further the mystery but ‘Behind’ presents drones and conversely, a piano laden structure.

Another highlight, the authentically synthtastic ‘Ultraviolin’ sounds as if it has been beamed from a past era, utilising stabbing and swirling keys over a precise rhythmic pattern. Meanwhile, acknowledging the debt of influence to MARTIN DUPONT, their bassist Alain Seghir guests on the glorious ‘Vicinities’; applying a looser construction compared with the other tracks on the album and a more complex spiral of delicate blips, enclosed is an emotional centre that recalls OMD for possibly the album’s stand-out song to close.

With an elegant retro-futuristic presence and a subtle melancholy, ‘Programma’ embraces a period when limitations and rules helped control the fun.

Despite these avant synth palettes being considered soulless and cold back in their day, four decades on, those vintage sounds have stood the test of time with souls and characters of their own as focussed emotive art. H/P have made that ethos relevant to the uncertainties of today.


‘Programma’ is released by BOREDOMproduct in vinyl LP, CD and digital formats, available from https://boredomproduct.bandcamp.com/album/programma-album

https://www.boredomproduct.fr/hp-programma/

https://www.facebook.com/hp.programma

https://www.instagram.com/hp_band/

https://open.spotify.com/album/62vgmiuxY8y5WqpbLKx9AM


Text by Chi Ming Lai
12th April 2022