Tag: Happy Robots Records (Page 1 of 8)

RODNEY CROMWELL vs ROMAN ANGELOS Interview

Following well-received opening slots for BLANCMANGE and A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS in 2022, Rodney Cromwell heads out on the road this June.

The nom de plume of indietronica veteran Adam Cresswell whose previous projects have included SALOON and ARTHUR & MARTHA, his most recent album ‘Memory Box’ provided a hazy soundtrack to a post-truth world with the icy motorik romance of ‘The Winter Palace’ and the NEW ORDER aping ‘Opus 3’ among its highlights.

Support for this first-ever Rodney Cromwell headlining tour comes from Happy Robots label mate Roman Angelos; the sonic nostalgia vehicle of Brooklyn-based producer Rich Bennett, his latest release ‘Supermarkets, Underwater’ collects various ambient remixes of tracks from his long playing muzak and exotica homage ‘Music For Underwater Supermarkets’. Keeping it in the Happy Robots family, German-based combo MOOD TAEG will present a DJ set at the London Servants Jazz Quarters date.

Getting into character in preparation for their upcoming English tour, Rodney Cromwell and Roman Angelos chatted to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about their musical common ground, instrumentation preferences, the perils of social media and much more…

How did you become aware of each other?

Roman: I first became aware of Adam from his work with ARTHUR & MARTHA. I think I came across their profile on MySpace and I really dug what they were doing; I also loved the name of the record ‘Music For Hairproducts’! Honestly, seeing someone name-check an Eno album in a tongue-in-cheek manner inspired me to go forward with naming my record ‘Music For Underwater Supermarkets’.

Adam and I then formally met over email at the end of 2017 through our mutual friend Morgane Lhote of STEREOLAB and HOLOGRAM TEEN when he asked if I would produce his track ‘Comrades’. After that we were off to the races!

Rodney: After Morgane introduced us, I then realised Rich was one of the many former members of the rather wonderful US dreampop band MAHOGANY, so I would have seen his name as one of the crossed-out former members on their Wikipedia or Discogs pages. I think Rich’s first commission for Happy Robots was mixing Alice’s ARTHUR & MARTHA remix for the ‘Adjustments’ album, but I could be wrong, my memory is not great (and I have a song about that too).

Your styles of music are quite different so which artists would you say are your common musical ground, if any?

Roman: On the face of it yes, there is a noticeable difference, but I think there are some very strong things at our cores which unite us. It’s funny, Adam and I were *just* talking about what this common thread is the other day! I think that artists like KRAFTWERK and STEREOLAB come through in both of our work, and there is also the obsession and use of vintage synths. I also share a lot of Adam’s reference points as a listener, but they’re not things I put into the Roman Angelos music.

Rodney: I think a deep appreciation of STEREOLAB and KRAFTWERK absolutely. But the other answer would be THE BEATLES. We talked about THE BEATLES endlessly while we were making ‘Memory Box’. It’s going to be hellish when we are on tour, because our synth player Martin is also a BEATLES bore, so I expect us to be talking about the Fabs all the way up the M1, much to the dismay of Richard our guitar player who prefers WU TANG CLAN!

What are your favourite instruments or devices to use when writing? Have you recommended equipment or software to each other?

Roman: I may have suggested a software synth to Adam at some point and he may have laughed at me – ha! For my writing I have a decent library of sounds and a nice set-up to play all my MIDI parts into a computer. I usually try and get a bunch of ideas and parts out as fast as possible, and then I edit later to get the arrangement together. I also find that whenever I’m embarking on a significantly new project, I need a new instrument, whether it be a new guitar, bass, synth (it doesn’t need to be expensive) just something new to clear my head and allow me to explore.

Rodney: I’m still using just the same five synths that I talked about when I played Vintage Synth Trumps with ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK in 2016; the Moog Rogue, Moog Opus 3, ARP Quartet, Korg MS-10 and MicroKorg. Software wise, I’m probably not the right person to recommend anything, I have finally upgraded my 2011 version of GarageBand to LogicX. Let’s just say I’m starting a long journey and I’m currently on the arse-end of the learning curve.

Roman remixed ‘Opus III’ but is there any scope for Rodney to return the compliment?

Roman: One million times yes – you just tell me the tune Adam!

Rodney: Errr you’ll have to speak to my people about that. But seriously, until now you’ve never asked and so I’ve never offered. The less remixing I can do the better, I’m not the fastest worker, as I think we’ve established by now.

What are your favourite tracks by the other?

Roman: Well, I did produce a number of the Rodney Cromwell tracks, so in an attempt to take myself out of the equation, I’ll say that I really loved ‘Wristwatch Television’ and ‘Technocrats’ upon first listen, even before they were fully mixed or produced. They were a joy to work on from beginning to end, and they’re really fun tunes. And I think that ‘Opus 3’ is a real banger. It’s super fun and it’s something I put one while I run, so there’s that!

Rodney: I really love the three tracks on the ‘Italian Soda’ 7” single and I’ve listened to them an unhealthy number of times. My kids would definitely say the ‘Spacetronic Lunchbox’ album; they were obsessed with that record, I found about 3 copies of the CD squirreled away under my eldest’s bed.

What can audiences expect from your upcoming sets on this tour?

Roman: My performance will be somewhere between the remixed and original versions of the ‘Underwater Supermarkets’ music – it’s a wholly unique arrangement. I’m performing solo so I had to come up with a lot of creative solutions to bring the energy and vibe to the performance, but I think it’s going to work out really well. PLUS, there will be times when I’m playing guitar and keyboard at the same time with two separate hands SOOOO… who doesn’t love to see some acrobatics?

Rodney: I hope the first reaction will be “Wow, they’ve rehearsed”! We should be a lot tighter than when we returned after the pandemic where our first show was a total mess, it doesn’t take an awful lot to read between the lines of that particular review on ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK! But we’ve done a fair-few gigs since then, and by the time we played the BLANCMANGE shows, we really knew the ‘Memory Box’ material well, so fingers crossed you should get out slickest headline set yet. It’s not too much of a spoiler to say that our set is divided into three sections; dystopian nightmares, rainbow-psychedelia and 1983 disco party.

How are you finding adapting to the ever-changing social media environment? Do you get TikTok? It seems to be just full of women tugging at T-shirts to reveal themselves in bikinis or is that just my feed? Have you been able to use it for promoting your music? 😉

Rodney: I think that’s just you. I don’t do TikTok because from what I’ve seen, it’s just more vacuous nonsense. I’d rather be reading a stuffy Victorian novel than scrolling through that. I also don’t trust the CCP with my data; but in fairness I don’t trust Zuck and Musk either. If it wasn’t for promoting my music, I’d love to be one of those weirdos that don’t have any social media presence.

Roman: I’m not particularly good at keeping up and haven’t been since I first picked up the guitar at age 12. For social media I have always liked Instagram and still do; I find it’s a fun way to promote your music while being a little silly. And it feels like everyone on Instagram is hoping to see something nice and uplifting… unlike Facebook where everything you say gets you shouted at. I’m intrigued by TikTok, but it seems to work better for musicians and artists who do things a little more off the cuff. It took me 2½ months to program the 7 or 8 songs I’ll be performing live so I don’t exactly have enough content to post every day.

Is there any new material coming out soon? What are your future plans?

Roman: I’m recording my next record in a few weeks and I’m very excited for it. The amazing Shawn Lee aka YOUNG GUN SILVER FOX will be producing it and I’ve got a bunch of great people playing on it. It’s a similar instrumentation to ‘Underwater Supermarkets’ but with a much darker and minimalist vibe. There’s a pretty heavy Brazilian and polyrhythmic feel, mixed in with some AIR style synth and drum parts. My future plans are to put it out and get myself back to the UK to play some more shows!

Rodney: Various remixes will be dropping over the summer along with my next proper single called ‘Exercise Class’. It’s a light-hearted disco number about a sex pest, so I’m not sure how it will be received. If I don’t get cancelled perhaps, I’ll write another album. If I wasn’t an atheist, it would all be in the lap of the Gods.


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its sincerest thanks to Adam Cresswell and Rich Bennett

Rodney Cromwell + Roman Angelos 2023 live dates:

London Servant Jazz Quarters (8th June), Reading Face Bar (9th June), Coventry Just Dropped In (10th June), Todmorden The Golden Lion (11th June) – tickets available in advance direct from https://www.happyrobots.co.uk/tickets

Recorded product is available from the Bot Shop at https://happyrobotsrecords.bandcamp.com/

https://www.happyrobots.co.uk/rodney-cromwell

https://www.facebook.com/rodneycromwellartist/

https://twitter.com/robot_rocker

https://www.instagram.com/robot_rocker/

https://www.happyrobots.co.uk/roman-angelos

https://twitter.com/acmehallrich

https://instagram.com/acmehallrich


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
13th May 2023

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

RODNEY CROMWELL The Winter Palace

Intended as a soundtrack to a post-truth world, Rodney Cromwell presented his second album ‘Memory Box’ in Spring this year.

While themed around selective memories, its closing track ‘The Winter Palace’ is about wanting to forget a lost love. Utilising motorik mechanisation as its backbone, there are shades of OMD and NEW ORDER within the glacial electronic soundscape while a glorious synth solo thrown in for good measure. Behind Rodney Cromwell is indie veteran Adam Cresswell, once of SALOON and ARTHUR & MARTHA, he tells his former beau: “I dream of you regardless, whether I am asleep or awake”.

Fresh off a number of prestigious live dates opening for BLANCMANGE, Adam Cresswell gave an explanation of ‘The Winter Palace’.

‘The Winter Palace’ is the track that many have singled out from ‘Memory Box’, what do you think is the key to its appeal?

I’ve no idea. It was only after people started telling me that it was “a beautiful song” that I realised it was any good. I’m never the best judge. But I am very glad people like it because I spent ages on it; I re-wrote the melody and lyrics three times, then I re-pitched the whole thing into a different key so I could sing it better and because I use knackered old synths, it meant I had to re-record almost everything from scratch.

As to why people like it, well, I guess we live in complicated times, perhaps its appeal is in its simplicity. I think we all want to escape out of the super complexity of our digitally driven lives sometimes. The song is essentially five chords – all vintage synths, no programming beyond the drum machine – so it might be new to 2022, but it’s a simple construction with a familiar sound. The synths may feel icy, but it’s actually a super-warm production that you can immerse yourself in, like a cosy blanket. And the lyrics are pretty universal too; it’s about obsessing over someone despite not really liking them. Most of us can relate to that.

Yes, can relate to that… so what is ‘The Winter Palace’?

Whatever you want it to be. I got the name from Lucy Worsley history show about the Russian tsars. It just sounded cool so I thought “I’ll have that”. It suited this song because I see the narrator as someone out in the cold with the object of his affection – or contempt – distant and unobtainable. It was originally called ‘Seemingly Infinite Sadness’ but that was a bit pretentious even for me.

How did the video concept come together?

Martin J Langthorne who plays synth in my live band and who was behind the whole ‘Memory Box’ design aesthetic directed it. I just asked Martin if he could put together something that looked like the record sleeve coming-alive. It’s a juxtaposition of concrete brutalism and the natural world; light and dark tones with explosions of colour. The concept was I suppose, to do something incredibly conceptual, while trying to pretend it’s simple and incredibly down to earth. Which is a nice summary of the whole Rodney Cromwell project.

You’ve been opening on selected dates for BLANCMANGE, how have you found the experience?

They’ve been brilliant; it was lovely playing to a really appreciative audience that really got what we do. And also playing in venues that can do justice to our lo-fi – but epic – sound was a breath of fresh-air.

I thought we were a pretty good fit with BLANCMANGE too because, obviously while they are super-professional and serious about giving a real great performance, there is often a wicked irreverence to what they do; one minute they’ll be playing an poignant synth ballad and the next Neil Arthur is making you laugh-out-loud singing about a lettuce. Our own irreverence though often falls into farce. On our first night I managed to lose my tour pass, and my hotel key and very almost the trousers I was wearing, so God knows what they thought of us.


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its grateful thanks to Adam Cresswell

‘The Winter Palace’ B/W ‘Rod, Jane & Freddy’ with remixes by Gemma Cullingford and INFRA VIOLET is released by Happy Robots Records and can be heard on the usual online platforms

‘Memory Box’ is available as a yellow vinyl LP, download available from https://rodneycromwell.bandcamp.com/album/memory-box-2

https://www.happyrobots.co.uk/rodney-cromwell

https://www.facebook.com/rodneycromwellartist/

https://twitter.com/robot_rocker

https://www.instagram.com/robot_rocker/

https://open.spotify.com/album/5undXq2henqQw2lBmqcEM8


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
Photo by Alison Ahern
18th November 2022

ROMAN ANGELOS The Aimless Aquanaut

With the lounge fusion of his second album ‘Music for Underwater Supermarkets’ crossing Burt Bacharach with AIR, Roman Angelos presented muzak for grocery shopping in the future.

Inspired by Jean-Michel Jarre’s album ‘Music for Supermarkets’ which was released as a limited edition of one, Brooklyn-based producer, composer and multi-instrumentalist Rich Bennett uses his Roman Angelos persona to explore his fascination for vintage library and soundtrack music. The end result is a vibey exploration in sound that included woodwinds, transistorised organs and vintage synths.

However, ‘The Aimless Aquanaut’ deviated from that formula in its drifting electronic air, lushly layered with gentle mechanised percussion and oozing with nautical mystery, waiting for Marina from ‘Stingray’ maybe? So near so spa, the new extended version allows a more immersive experience that could go on even longer thanks to the hypnotic flow of its pretty bubbling arpeggios. The Riptide and Rumble remix by producer / engineer Scott Solter expresses the ambience in a spikier manner. It acts as a trailer for a full remix album “Supermarkets, Underwater” to be released in early 2023 by Happy Robots Records

Roman Angelos had a quick chat with ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about soundtracking underwater supermarkets.

‘The Aimless Aquanaut’ is quite different aesthetically to the other tracks on ‘Music For Underwater Supermarkets’ in its electronic ambience compared to the easy listening lounge mood of the other tracks, how did it end up there?

Even though it has a slightly different aesthetic, all the short interludes on the original record are meant to be meditations more than fully realized pieces; in many cases they’re there to signal the next phase of the record. ‘The Aimless Aquanaut’ was intended to evoke a deep dive into the water – the arpeggiated synths being like bubbles passing by.

Which ambient exponents have been most influential to you in this type of music?

A lot of my references for this record come from folks like Fennesz and Biosphere, and of course Mr Eno. But I also really love 80s New Age ambient music, the Environments records from the 70s, so much of the ECM catalog, and lots of 70s ambient space rock. Scott who remixed the album, brings his own set of influences and ideas to these remixes, but I draw from a lot of different flavors of ambient.

‘The Aimless Aquanaut’ has been extended for single release, but was there any temptation to make it an hour long like ‘Thursday Afternoon’ by Brian Eno?

I’m glad you asked! In fact, the full remix version of this record (due for January release) by Scott Solter is very much inspired by ‘Thursday Afternoon’. In fact it was the main reference point that both Scott and I discussed when he started the remix. Although the final recording is not one long piece, the influence is there, and the remix of ‘The Underwater Supermarket’ is the closest to that idea as it is a 16 minute long dark and expansive excursion.

So this remix variant of the ‘Music For Underwater Supermarkets’ album, will it be ambient or are we talking “hands in the air” club music or something else entirely?

Haha, I would love someone to do a “hands in the air” remix of ‘Underwater Supermarkets’! In fact, when I was working on the original recording, a friend sent me a hip-hop beat he created with ‘Swimming Through The Aisles’. Hip-hop in 7/8, I’ll take it! But on a serious note, the record will be more along the lines of your traditional concept of ambient. One of the things Scott and I discussed when he started working on these remixes was that I wanted his versions to feel like the inverse of the original record. So whereas the original was a light and bouncy interpretation of life underwater, this is more of a dark and immersive record. More of your lights out, lay down on the floor and zone out kind of thing.


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to Roman Angelos

Special thanks to Adam Cresswell at Happy Robots Records

‘The Aimless Aquanaut’ is released by Happy Robots Records, available now as a digital single bundle from https://happyrobotsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-aimless-aquanaut

https://www.happyrobots.co.uk/roman-angelos

https://twitter.com/acmehallrich

https://instagram.com/acmehallrich


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
29th September 2022

A Short Conversation with MOOD TAEG

MOOD TAEG are the enigmatic multi-continental / multi-cultural kosmische trio with TDK and K’ko based in Düsseldorf while Lowell Freeman resides in Shanghai.

With two remotely constructed albums ‘Exophora’ and ‘Anaphora’ released on Happy Robots Records to their name, MOOD TAEG are unsurprisingly influenced by NEU! and HARMONIA; from their debut long player, ‘2MR’ was a tribute to Michael Rother.

Their next release journeys down the well-trodden German Road of variations on a theme as KRAFTWERK did with ‘Kometenmelodie’ and NEU! offshoot LA DÜSSELDORF did with ‘Menschen’. Doing as the title suggests, ‘Anaphora Versions’ features in-house and external re-imaginings of tracks from the second MOOD TAEG album.

While the Electric Boogaloo version of ‘Pilomotor Reflex’ sees Lowell Freeman dust off a vintage Roland TR-808 in a homage to Morgan Khan’s pioneering ‘Street Sounds Electro’ compilations of yesteryear, first out of the gate is a DanKe version of ‘Happiness Fragment’ with the ‘Anaphora’ closer now shaped into a comparatively poppier template.

From Germany and China, TDK and Lowell Freeman respectively came together for a quick chat with ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about their Dundeedorf ethos and five decades of NEU!

What was the idea behind ‘Happiness Fragment’, were there any particular influences behind its concept?

TDK: I’m not sure there was a concept as such but seeing as we don’t have conventional songs with lyrics, we often like to include spoken word samples that reflect our political or social views.

I remember reading Guy DeBord’s ‘Society of the Spectacle’ at university and it seemed to provide a good contrast to the more upbeat, even poppier, reworked version, along with feeling very apt in the social media saturated world we currently live in.

I included the Jimmy Reid (a famous Scottish trade unionist) sample for a couple of reasons. One was that it made a Scottish connection. The other reason was that it referenced a time when political discourse and political education among the working class was the norm and serious political discourse could be seen on mainstream media instead of the media-trained ghouls that exist today.

Lowell: One important concept for me was to try to progress from the first LP in ways that still follow that repetitiveness that we love from bands such as HARMONIA, but also make the tracks subtly evolve and never stay with one element for too long. ‘Happiness Fragment’ is probably the best example of that on ‘Anaphora’. I was also conscious of going for a more upbeat feel, at least in terms of sound. The LP track is also a clear nod to ‘Computerwelt’ in the last section with the pad sounds, chords and voice collage.

This neu DanKe version of ‘Happiness Fragment’ has been reworked to be more accessible?

TDK: As the DanKe suffix suggests, this was reworked by K’ko and myself and it was an attempt to take the longer album version and turn it into a track that would work well in a gig situation, especially considering that as a live band we only have two members compared to the three of the recording band.

Lowell: This DanKE version is mostly a Düsseldorf production, whereas the original has more of a Shanghai sound, so for me it feels fresh and is my favourite track on this ‘Versions’ CD. The added Jimmy Reid spoken word element is important to us and is also rather timely considering what’s happening in the UK with the rail workers and the treatment of all workers really. It will be no surprise to anyone who has heard our stuff that we are 100% behind Trade Unionism and workers having more say in their workplaces.

It’s NEU! 50, so will you be celebrating by going to any of the gigs? If you could choose a track to rework as MOOD TAEG, what would it be?

TDK: As far as we know, the only gig in Germany so far seems to be in Berlin but certainly, if they came to Düsseldorf, we would be there. In terms of choosing a track to rework, some people may say that we already did that with ‘2MR’ which bears more than a passing resemblance to ‘Hallogallo’ (haha!) I guess we would probably choose ‘Isi’ from ‘Neu! 75’ – it’s a very concise distillation of all the great NEU! elements and one of the great album openers.

Lowell: Yeah, anyone who’s listened to our first LP ‘Exophora’ knows ‘2MR’ pays homage to ‘Hallogallo’ so I think we’ve got a rework covered. If I was to do a track live, then yeah ‘Isi’ on ‘Neu! 75’ is a nice wee upbeat number.


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its cosmic thanks to MOOD TAEG

The DanKe version of ‘Happiness Fragment’ is available on the usual online platforms from 8th July 2022

‘Anaphora Versions’ is released by Happy Robots Records as in CD and digital formats on 22nd July 2022, available along with the MOOD TAEG back catalogue from https://www.happyrobots.co.uk/product-page/mood-taeg-anaphora-versions-bot28-cd

https://www.happyrobots.co.uk/mood-taeg

https://www.facebook.com/MoodTag/

https://twitter.com/MoodTaeg

https://www.instagram.com/moodtaeg/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
5th July 2022

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