Tag: Hattie Cooke

HATTIE COOKE Interview

Hattie Cooke is a wonderfully fresh and fiercely independent talent with three long players to her name.

With the view that electronic music should not be an artform restricted by background, while she began as a more traditional singer / songwriter, her adoption of GarageBand from an iPad brought new colours and textures to her musical world.

While her second record ‘The Sleepers’ released by Spun Out Of Control was an instrumental soundtrack to an imaginary film, Hattie Cooke’s wider breakthrough came in 2021 came with the intimate gravitas of her third album ‘Bliss Land’ issued on Castles In Space. As a result, Hattie Cooke’s eponymous 2016 cassette debut gets the vinyl remaster treatment by Third Kind Records.

Hattie Cooke kindly chatted to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about her career to date, favourite film genres and the current state of the music industry.

Your 2016 self-titled debut album has been reissued by Third Kind having only initially come out on cassette, how does it feel to have it remastered and repackaged after six years, while looking back on who you were then and who you are now?

I was so desperate to release this record on vinyl, I’ve been begging Nick for years. And he has done such a great job on the remastering, I usually can’t tell the difference but I was really blown away with this one. I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t been a bumpy six years. I’ve been up, I’ve been down, I’ve had personal challenges and professional ones. I’ve found myself, lost myself and found myself again. I wrote most of those songs in my late teens and early twenties, I’m now in my early thirties and I think the reissue is a nice way to end that chapter of my life. I’m ready to move on.

Although it was a debut, it already sounded transitional. So how did you become interested in embellishing your songs with electronics?

I was writing for many years before this first album, so in some ways I was already transitioning out of traditional folk style songwriting and into electronic music when the songs for the debut came together. Falling into electronic music was a couple of happy accidents more than anything, a boyfriend with a Yamaha PSS-170 that got me experimenting when I was nineteen, and then a couple of years later buying an iPad with GarageBand and messing around with the inbuilt sounds.

Writing straight folk music was boring to me by this point, I felt like I’d done all I wanted to do with that genre, and I wanted to mix things up a bit to keep myself entertained. The rest is history.

What was your own songwriting background?

I started out on my parents’ acoustic guitar, writing very emo songs as a thirteen year old back in 2004. As I got older the songs became marginally more sophisticated and I began performing live when I was around 16. I was most interested in writing about emotions and experiences – falling in love, being hurt, losing somebody, a drunken night out. Around the same time I started performing, I began recording with a childhood friend, Luke, and he showed me a bit about music production. That’s when I discovered things like VSTs and realised I had access to an entire orchestra if I wanted it. After that, I just explored with making sounds, composing classical pieces, ambient works. I tried to mimic things I liked or styles I’d heard. It was always just about expressing my feelings through exploration. That’s still what it’s about for me.

You’re known for using GarageBand for your electronics, are you of the view those limitations which are enforced by budget and equipment inspire more inventive directions?

I think there are no excuses for bad music. A half broken iPad, a guitar with three strings, or simply your own voice over an out of tune piano, people have made incredible music this way, like Django Reinhart, Daniel Johnston, endless blues musicians. Folks who think you need money and equipment to make interesting music are usually the ones who are bad at it. And there’s A LOT of bad music makers (I can’t bring myself to call them musicians) releasing albums right now.

In electronic music, quite a few aspiring musicians and producers forget about “the song”

A bit like I said before, there’s a steaming heap of (sorry) middle-aged men making album after album of ‘sounds’ who don’t understand music. And when I say they don’t understand music, I don’t mean music theory – I don’t particularly understand music theory – what I mean is that they don’t understand what it takes to write a song. They are an amalgamation of bad imitations of musicians they looked up to in the 80s, ersatz copies without the talent. There’s no song at the heart of their creation, because they have nothing genuine to say.

In my opinion, since that’s what you’re asking for, the best songwriting comes from a place of vulnerability and it’s a well-known fact that most men don’t know how to be openly emotional, to be vulnerable. A scathing inditement of half the population? Yes. True? Well I’ll let you be the judge.

Is there a synthesizer that you covert, old or new that in your fantasies you would like to own, and why?

It’s not a synth but I’d love to get my hands on a Yamaha PSS-170 like the one I wrote ‘Summer Time’ on when I was 19. I loved the auto-bass / chord functions on it. I never knew which chord it would come out with but somehow it always came out with the right one.

So with ‘Song 14’, but what happened to the other 13?

On GarageBand, if you don’t title a track it saves it automatically as ‘My Song 1’ and so on. I never used to title them, I couldn’t be bothered to come up with one. But eventually somebody wants to put them out and you need to give them a title. Anyway, I love Elliot Smith and he used to number songs instead of giving them titles, like ‘Waltz 3’ or whatever. Well that particular song was saved as ‘My Song 14’ on GarageBand and so I just thought – f*ck it, if it’s good enough for Elliot it’s good enough for me.

Photo by Adrian Hextall

‘Enemy’ has this foreboding doom yet there is a wispy quality about too?

The story behind enemy is actually extremely dark, I’ve never spoken about it before. It’s based around something that happened to me when I was 20. I’m ashamed to say I fell in love with a married man twice my age and we started seeing each other but it was all very clandestine and obviously emotionally it was deeply confusing. It went on for months and months.

Anyway, one night he went out to the pub, got too drunk and was attacked on his way home. It was highly traumatic for him, he was in hospital for a bit, police got involved, he started seeing a therapist. It meant that we couldn’t see each other for a while, and I don’t know exactly how but I sort of got associated in his mind with this bad event that happened to him. I think the guilt of his affair, the reality of what he was doing to his family, it really hit him. And then he just sort of vanished, I guess you’d call the term ‘ghosting’ now. He ghosted me. To my mind, I became a symbol of the trauma, a way for him to put a face on the faceless enemy. This song was my way of asking him to come back to me. Sometimes I see him around, we say hi but it’s still sort of painful.

With its skippy beats and glistening pulses but slower synthbass movement, ‘Making Up Rumours’ has the air of THE POSTAL SERVICE about it?

It wasn’t intentional but I know exactly what you mean. That song was right on the edge of my dance music period and I think that’s why it’s a bit more driving and upbeat. I never realised any of it, it wasn’t very good. But that song survived. It’s about this nightmare girl who used to work in my favourite pub in Brighton and she took a disliking to me for some reason and made my life misery. It got to a point where the staff refused to serve me which was so annoying because it’s where everybody went on a Friday night! So I wrote that song as my own private revenge. Eventually she got herself pregnant and then disappeared. I think she was a little jealous, if I’m totally honest.

‘I Want To Go (Where Everyone Knows My Name)’ is now almost quite prophetic, but what was its original inspiration?

It’s an ode to the pub. I titled it after the theme song from ‘Cheers’. From about the ages of seventeen to twenty-six, I’d go to the pub every day either by myself or with whoever I was dating at the time, and hole up in there until I was sufficiently drunk and chat to locals or strangers or whoever offered to buy me a drink. I love the pub, pubs are a good place when you’re lonely, they’re full of other lonely people who just want a bit of company.

Your recent acclaim has led to some sellers inflating prices your previous releases so are you expecting any flipping on this new vinyl edition of your debut?

Ha! On the contrary I’m expecting this record to be a complete flop. After I came out about my experience working with CiS, I lost a chunk of my fan base, lost the promotion of other artists. I suspect this will impact sales. Sexism is alive and well in the electronic music scene. So I’ll be amazed if we sell more than a couple hundred copies. Still, no regrets! At least I can sleep at night.

It was 2019 when ‘The Sleepers’ came out and this was conceived as an instrumental soundtrack to an imaginary film, how did you decide for this suite of music to remain wordless?

I specifically wrote ‘The Sleepers’ for Spun Out Of Control. I was so immensely impressed and interested by what Gavin was doing with that label, with the music and the artwork, and I just HAD to be a part of it.

For me, I wanted to show that I could be a composer as well as a ‘songwriter.’ I wanted to prove I had more than one string to my bow.

‘Evacuation’ from ‘The Sleepers’ captured a dystopian John Carpenter-inspired tension, so are you a horror film enthusiast? What film genres are you a fan of?

Finally, a question about film! I love film, obsession would be a fair descriptor. I love psychological thrillers and I especially love if they have a sci-fi or dystopian element to them. So it made complete sense to go down that route with ‘The Sleepers’. It would be easier to list which genres I don’t like to be honest! I think sci-fi, psychological thrillers and comedy are probably my top three in no particularly order. I love a good rom-com too. I’m less keen on fantasy, gore and action. I’ll watch anything with Bradley Cooper in it – guilty as charged!

Your third album ‘Bliss Land’ gained a lot of acclaim and songs such as ‘I Get By’ and ‘Youth’ have brought you to a wider audience, where do you see yourself heading for your next record?

I think my next record will just be a total love affair with music. I really want to make lots of different types of song, like a shoe gaze track, a lo-fi track, a dance track, an indie track, a piano instrumental. I think it’ll be my version of ‘The White Album’. I’ve got nothing to lose so I’m not going to hold back.

Will there be any more attempts at dance anthems like ‘Mistaken’?

I don’t really control what comes out, unfortunately, so I can’t really say! But as I side note I will say this – I don’t want to blow my own trumpet but I seem to have this weird ability to predict the future through song. I released ‘The Sleepers’ in October / November 2019, a story about a worldwide pandemic, probably around the exact time that coronavirus was slowly seeping into the world. Whereas, ‘Mistaken’ was about the collapse of modern society and I hate to break it to you but I think that’s what we’re seeing right now in the western world. Record levels of inflation, terrifying energy prices, rail strikes, food shortages, NHS on the brink of collapse, war, mass poverty, etc etc etc. Maybe I should write one about world peace or winning the lottery or something!

You’ve also been quite vocal about the lack of equal and inclusive platforms at festivals and awards for female musicians and producers, what needs to change in your opinion?

The music industry is a microcosm of wider society. You’d think that all the creative, arty types would have more empathy and balance out the inequality but no, it’s exactly the same as any other industry. We need affirmative action by labels, festivals and so on which commit to supporting and representing women by having rosters which are 50% women. We need more women in positions of power like in PRS, Ivor Novello, etc. We need to believe women when they say that they are being discriminated against because of their gender.

From my own personal experience, so many men in the UK electronic scene claim to be all for equality and ‘believing women’ but were then totally silent or actually outright abusive or defensive when I called out one of their own. It tells you everything you need to know. They’re on your side in principle, unless of course it’s going to impinge on them or their careers in any way. Then you can get f*cked. I have called men out again and again on their sexism within this industry. Needless to say, they don’t like it. I don’t intend to stop though.

It was interesting to note that one female producer said the most vicious attacks on her social media came from other women. I’ve certainly found in my experience that some female journalists, managers and promoters in the music industry can be particularly negative towards other women… any thoughts?

It’s sad and it’s also true. As I see it, those women are themselves victims of a sexist society. They don’t seem to understand that we are stronger when we stick together – collective action and community is extremely powerful. Unfortunately, we’ve been taught to see other women as competition. And that competition is constructed by who? Well by men, of course. If we’re busy fighting each other, we won’t turn our attentions to the real issue – a society ran by men, for men, whose infrastructure is institutionally sexist and built to keep men at the top and women at the
bottom.

Now the world is steadily opening up again, what’s next for you?

Genuinely? I have no clue, this country seems to be on the verge of total collapse if you ask me.

So I can only do what I’ve always done – write and make music and try not to be an arsehole. If life is about to go up in flames, the best I can hope for is to soundtrack it.


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its sincerest thanks to Hattie Cooke

Special thanks to Third Kind Records

‘Hattie Cooke’ is reissued as a white vinyl LP by Third Kind Record on 10th June 2022, signed copies available direct from https://hattiecooke.bandcamp.com/album/hattie-cooke-2

Subscribe to Hattie Cooke’s Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/Hattiecooke

https://www.facebook.com/hattiecookemusic

https://twitter.com/hattiecooke

https://www.instagram.com/hattiecookemusic/

https://open.spotify.com/artist/70bAR5vP3r1txDXLnNC3ee


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Chris Standley except where credited
6th June 2022

2021 End Of Year Review

As the world steadily emerged from a painful pandemic that put many lives on hold, nostalgia appeared to be the commodity most in demand as the music industry took steps to recover.

No matter which era, anything musically from the past was more desirable that anything that reminded the public of the past 20 or so months. The first escape destination in the summer for many restricted to staying on their own shores were the established retro festivals.

Meanwhile television provided an array of documentaries ranging from chart rundowns of past decades and informative classic song analysis on Channel 5 to Dylan Jones’ look at ‘Music’s Greatest Decade’ on BBC2 and Sky Arts’ ‘Blitzed’ with all the usual suspects such as Boy George, Philip Sallon, Marilyn, Gary Kemp and Rusty Egan.

SPARKS had their own comprehensive if slightly overlong film ‘The SPARKS Brothers’ directed by Edgar Wright, but the Maels’ musical ‘Annette’ starring Adam Driver was a step too far. Meanwhile the acclaimed ‘Sisters With Transistors’ presented the largely untold story of electronic music’s female pioneers.

It was big business for 40th anniversary live celebrations from the likes of HEAVEN 17, THE HUMAN LEAGUE, OMD and SOFT CELL, while other veterans such as NEW ORDER and ERASURE returned to the live circuit with the biggest indoor headlining shows of their career.

Meanwhile for 2022, Midge Ure announced an extensive ‘Voices & Visions’ tour to present material from the 1981-82 phase of ULTRAVOX.

Also next year and all being well, GOLDFRAPP will finally get their belated 20th Anniversary tour for their marvellous debut ‘Felt Mountain’ underway while there are rescheduled ‘Greatest Hits’ live presentations for PET SHOP BOYS and SIMPLE MINDS.

Always money for old rope, but also giving audiences who missed them at their pioneering height an opportunity to catch up, ‘best of’ collections were issued by YELLO and TELEX while JAPAN had their 1979 breakthrough album ‘Quiet Life’ given the lavish boxed set treatment. Meanwhile, while many labels were still doing their best to kill off CD, there was the puzzling wide scale return of the compact cassette, a poor quality carrier even at the zenith of its popularity.

“Reissue! Repackage! Repackage! Re-evaluate the songs! Double-pack with a photograph, extra track and a tacky badge!” a disgraced Northern English philosopher once bemoaned.

The boosted market for deluxe boxed sets and the repackaging of classic albums in coloured vinyl meant that the major corporations such as Universal, Sony and Warners hogged the pressing plants, leaving independent artists with lead times of nearly a year for delivery if they were lucky.

But there was new music in 2021. Having achieved the milestone of four decades as a recording act, DURAN DURAN worked with Giorgio Moroder on the appropriately titled ‘Future Past’ while not far behind, BLANCMANGE took a ‘Commercial Break’ and FIAT LUX explored ‘Twisted Culture’. David Cicero made his belated return to music with a mature second album that was about ‘Today’ as Steven Jones & Logan Sky focussed on the monochromatic mood of ‘European Lovers’. Continuing the European theme but towards the former Eastern Bloc, Mark Reeder gave a reminder that he was once declared ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ and fellow Mancunians UNE became inspired by the ‘Spomenik’ monoliths commissioned by Marshal Tito in the former Yugoslavia.

For those who preferred to immerse themselves in the darker present, Gary Numan presented ‘Intruder’, a poignant concept album produced by Ade Fenton about Mother Earth creating a virus to teach mankind a lesson! Meanwhile ITALOCONNECTION, the project of Italo veterans Fred Ventura and Paolo Gozzetti teamed up with French superstar Etienne Daho to tell the story of ‘Virus X’! The video of the year came from UNIFY SEPARATE whose motivation message to ‘Embrace The Fear’ despite the uncertainty reflected the thoughts of many.

Despite the general appetite for nostalgia, there was some excellent new music released from less established artists with the album of the year coming from Jorja Chalmers and her ‘Midnight Train’ released on Italians Do It Better. The critical acclaim for the UK based Aussie’s second long playing solo offering made up for the disbandment of the label’s biggest act CHROMATICS, as it went into its most prolific release schedule in its history with albums by GLÜME, JOON, DLINA VOLNY and LOVE OBJECT as well as its own self-titled compilation of in-house Madonna covers.

As Kat Von D teamed up with Dan Haigh of GUNSHIP for her debut solo record ‘Love Made Me Do It’, acts like DANZ CM, CLASS ACTRESS, GLITBITER, PRIMO THE ALIEN, PARALLELS, KANGA, R.MISSING, I AM SNOW ANGEL, XENO & OAKLANDER, HELIX and DAWN TO DAWN showed that North America was still the creative hub as far as electronically derived pop songs went.

Attracting a lot of attention in 2021 were NATION OF LANGUAGE, who with their catchy blend of angst, melody and motorik beats welcomed synths as family in their evolving sound while also providing the song of the year in ‘This Fractured Mind’, reflecting the anxieties of these strange times. At the other end of the spectrum, DIAMOND FIELD went full pop with an optimistic multi-vocalist collection that captured the spirit of early MTV while BUNNY X looked back on their high school days with ‘Young & In Love’.

ACTORS delivered their most synthy album yet while as LEATHERS, they keyboardist Shannon Hamment went the full hog for her debut solo effort ‘Reckless’. FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY released a new album and some of that ‘Mechanical Soul’ was brought by their Rhys Fulber into his productions this year for AESTHETIC PERFECTION.

In Europe, long playing debuts came from PISTON DAMP and WE ARE REPLICA while NORTHERN LITE released their first album completely in German and FRAGRANCE. presented their second album ‘Salt Air’. There was also the welcome return of SIN COS TAN, KID KASIO, GUSGUS, MARVA VON THEO, TINY MAGNETIC PETS and MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY.

Featuring second generation members of NEW ORDER and SECTION 25, SEA FEVER released their eclectic debut ‘Folding Lines’ as fellow Mancunian LONELADY added sequencers and drum machines to her post-punk funk template. But Glasgow’s CHVRCHES disappointed with their fourth long player ‘Screen Violence’ by opting to sound like every other tired hipster band infesting the land.

The most promising artist to breakthrough in 2021 was Hattie Cooke whose application of traditional songwriting nous to self-production and arrangement techniques using comparatively basic tools such as GarageBand found a wider audience via her third album ‘Bliss Land’. In all, it was a strong year for female synth-friendly artists with impressive albums from Karin My, Laura Dre, Alina Valentina, Robin Hatch and Catherine Moan while comparative veterans like Fifi Rong, Alice Hubble, Brigitte Handley and Alison Lewis as ZANIAS maintained their cult popularity.

In 2021, sometimes words were very unnecessary and there were fine instrumental synth albums from BETAMAXX, WAVESHAPER, КЛЕТ and Richard Barbieri, with a Mercury nomination received by Hannah Peel for ‘Fir Wave’. But for those who preferred Italo Noir, popwave, post-punk techno and progressive pop, Tobias Bernstrup, Michael Oakley, Eric Random and Steven Wilson delivered the goods respectively.

With ‘The Never Ending’ being billed as the final FM ATTACK album and PERTURBATOR incorrectly paraphrased by Metal Hammer in a controversial “synthwave is dead” declaration, the community got itself in a pickle by simultaneously attacking THE WEEKND for “stealing from synthwave”, yet wanting to ride on the coat tails of Abel Tesfaye, misguidedly sensing an opportunity to snare new fans for their own music projects.

With THE WEEKND’s most recent single ‘Take My Breath’, there was the outcry over the use of a four note arpeggio allegedly sampled from MAKEUP & VANITY SET’s ‘The Last City’. But as one online observer put it, “Wow, an arpeggiated minor chord. Hate to break it to you but you might want to check out what Giorgio Moroder was doing 50 years ago. We’re ALL just rippin’ him off if that’s how you think creativity works”. Another added “If a four note minor key arpeggiated chord can go to court on the basis of copyright law, we are in for a hell of a few years my synthy friends”. It outlined once again that there are some who are still under the impression that music using synths was invented by Ryan Gosling in 2011 for ‘Drive’ soundtrack ??

There were also belated complaints that 2019’s A-HA inspired ‘Blinding Lights’ had a simple melody and needed five writers to realise it… but then, so did UTRAVOX’s ‘Slow Motion’ and DURAN DURAN’s ‘Rio’! Collaboration, whether in bands, with producers or even outsiders has always been a key aspect of the compositional process. If it is THAT simple, do it yourself! As Andy McCluskey of OMD said on ‘Synth Britannia’ in 2009 about the pioneering era when Ryan Gosling was still in nappies: “The number of people who thought that the equipment wrote the song for you: ‘well anybody can do it with the equipment you’ve got!’ “F*** OFF!!”

Over the last two years, THE WEEKND has become the biggest mainstream pop act on the planet, thanks to spectacles such as the impressive gothic theatre of the Super Bowl LV half time showcase while in a special performance on the BRITS, there was a charming presentation of the ERASURE-ish ‘Save Your Tears’ where he played air synth in a moment relatable to many. But everything is ultimately down to catchy songs, regardless of synth usage.

So ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK would like to present a hypothetical case to consider… if someone uses the arpeggio function with a sparkling patch from a Juno 6 synth in a recording, does Cyndi Lauper sue for infringing the copyright of ‘All Through The Night’ or the original songwriter Jules Shear or even the Roland Corporation themselves as they created it? More than one producer has suggested that THE WEEKND’s soundbite came from a hardware preset or more than likely, a software sample pack, of which there are now many.

However, sample culture had hit another new low when Tracklib marketed a package as “A real game-changer for sample based music. Now everyone can afford to clear samples” with rapper and producer Erick Sermon declaring “Yo, this is incredible. They’re trying to put creativity back into music again. By having samples you can actually pay for and afford”.

Err creativity? How about writing your own songs and playing or even programming YOUR OWN instrumentation??!?

One sampling enthusiast even declared “I might go as far as to say you don’t really like dance music if you’ve got a problem with adding a beat to a huge (even instantly recognizable) sample”… well guess what? ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK LOATHES IT!!! ?

In 2021, music promotion became a bit strange with publicists at all levels keen more than ever to have their clients’ press releases just cut ‘n’ pasted onto online platforms, but very reluctant to allow albums to be reviewed in advance in the event of a potential negative prognosis.

While cut ‘n’ paste journalism has been a disease that has always afflicted online media, in a sad sign of the times, one long established international website moved to a “pay to get your press release featured” business model.

The emergence of reaction vloggers was another bizarre development while the “Mention your favourite artist and see if they respond to you” posts on social media only added more wood to the dumbing down bonfire already existing within audience engagement.

It was as if the wider public was no longer interested in more in-depth analysis while many artists turned their publicity into a reliance on others doing “big ups” via Twitter and Facebook. But then, if artists are being successfully crowdfunded with subscriptions via Patreon, Kickstarter, Bandcamp and the like, do they need a media intermediary any longer as they are dealing direct with their fanbases?

However, it wasn’t all bad in the media with ‘Electronically Yours With Martyn Ware’ providing insightful artist interviews and the largely entertaining ‘Beyond Synth’ podcast celebrating its 300th show. Due to their own music commitments, Steven Wilson and Tim Bowness were less prolific with their discussion show ‘The Album Years’ but it was still refreshing for commentators to be able to say that a record was sh*t when it actually was, rather than conform to the modern day adage that all music is good but not always to the listener’s taste!  And while various programmes came and went, other such as ‘Operating//Generating’, ‘KZL Live’ and ‘Absynth’ came to prominence.

Post-pandemic, interesting if uncertain times are ahead within the music industry. But as live performance returns, while the mainstream is likely to hit the crowd walking, will there be enough cost effective venues to host independent artists? Things have been tough but for some, but things might be about to get even tougher.

However, music was what got many through the last 18 months and as times are still uncertain, music in its live variant will help to get everyone through the next year and a half and beyond.


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s year in music is gathered in its 2021 Playlist – Missing U at
https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4rlJgJhiGkOw8q2JcunJfw


Text by Chi Ming Lai
17th December 2021

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 30 SONGS OF 2021

Despite the general appetite for nostalgia with boxed sets and coloured vinyl of classic albums hogging the pressing plants, there was a lot of excellent new music released in 2021.

The quality of individual tracks released in 2021 was extremely high but at the end of the day, only 30 songs can be selected as a snapshot of the calendar year. As Monica Geller in ‘Friends’ once said, “Rules are good, rules help control the fun” – rules, routine and structure = creativity and fun ?

So the highly commended group who did not quite make ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 30 songs of 2021 includes Tobias Bernstrup, David Cicero, Alice Hubble, Michael Oakley, Jason Priest, Nina, Eric Random and Kat Von D’s duet with Peter Murphy, along with SIN COS TAN, FIAT LUX, LONELADY, GLITBITER, KNIGHT$, PEAKES, DESIRE, SOFTWAVE, XENO & OAKLANDER, BUNNY X, PISTON DAMP, FRAGRANCE. and HANTE.

So here are ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 30 songs of 2021, presented as usual alphabetically by act with a restriction of one song per artist moniker.


ACTORS Love U More

Thanks to the recruitment of new bassist Kendall Wooding, the male-to-female ratio of ACTORS has equalled up and altered their dynamic. The vocal duality between guitarist Jason Corbett and keyboardist Shannon Hemmett aka LEATHERS takes an increased role in the band’s developing sound. With the brooding baritone counterpointed by girly soprano and male falsetto to provide an uneasy uplift to the gloomy domino dance, ‘Love U More’ was a statement of intent like a goth DURAN DURAN with metronomic rhythms and eerie synths.

Available on the album ‘Acts Of Worship’ via Artoffact Records

https://www.actorstheband.com/


BAND ELECTRONICA featuring MIDGE URE Das Beat

Midge Ure finally launched his BAND ELECTRONICA project as a recording entity with ‘Das Beat’, a glorious slice of Teutonic robopop in collaboration with Wolfgang Flür. With “Beats through wires, beats through walls”, the icy motorik bossa nova was complimented by a blisteringly catchy synth hook in the classic Kling Klang tradition and harked back the Glaswegian’s days hearing KRAFTWERK at The Blitz Club and making music with VISAGE and ULTRAVOX. Dancing is a given to the synthesizer rhythm.

Available on the single ‘Das Beat’ via BMG Rights Management

http://www.midgeure.co.uk/


JORJA CHALMERS Rhapsody

Although a seasoned musician as the sax and keyboard player for Bryan Ferry over the past 10 years, Australian multi-instrumentalist Jorja Chalmers did not release her first album until 2019. The superb take on SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES ‘Rhapsody’, an orchestrated gothic epic off their ninth album ‘Peepshow’, featured an intriguing electronic warble within its stripped down arrangement. From its claustrophobic cocoon, Chalmers sounded trapped inside an unsettling icy soundscape of synthetic strings and choirs.

Available on the album ‘Midnight Train’ via Italians Do it Better

https://www.instagram.com/jorjachalmers/


CLASS ACTRESS Saint Patrick

CLASS ACTRESS is the nom de théâtre of one-time Giorgio Moroder protégée Elizabeth Harper. Releasing a new EP ‘Sense Memory’ which initially featured three cover including THE SMITHS’ ‘Ask’ but steadily expanded with new material, the percussive ‘Saint Patrick’ featured an array of infectious synth hooks while Harper’s richly passionate vocal over some strident keyboard work combined like Nerina Pallot fronting BOY HARSHER for a brilliant slice of modern electronic pop.

Available on the EP ‘Sense Memory’ via Terrible Records

https://classactress.com/


HATTIE COOKE I Get By

Perhaps more intentionally pop than Hattie Cooke has ever been before on her previous two long playing outings, an intimate gravitas comes with the expanded electronic texturing on her third album ‘Bliss Land’ and this is undoubtedly stamped on its opening song. The hypnotic ‘I Get By’ was superb with ringing hooks, sweeping soundscapes and airy understated vocals that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on an Italians Do It Better ‘After Dark’ compilation.

Available on the album ‘Bliss Land’ via Castles In Space

https://twitter.com/hattiecooke


DANZ CM Human Existence

‘The Absurdity of Human Existence’ is the debut album by DANZ CM, the artist formally known as COMPUTER MAGIC. New York based Danz Johnson is the synth girl behind both vehicles with a passion for the development of the electronic music. Reflecting the album’s title, the total melancholic brilliance of ‘Human Existence’ sees our heroine make a sombre declaration that “you can’t save me, I can’t save you” in a manner reminiscent of CHROMATICS meeting OMD.

Available on the album ‘The Absurdity Of Human Existence’ via Channel 9 Records

https://www.zdanz.com/


DAWN TO DAWN Care

Danceable dreampop trio DAWN TO DAWN feature in its line-up Tess Roby who released her debut album ‘Beacon’ on Italians Do It Better. Also featuring Adam Ohr and Patrick Lee with their Minimoog, Roland System 100, Roland Juno 60 and Korg 700s armoury, ’Care’ was written on a cold winter’s night and unsurprisingly captures that mood. Nocturnal yet rhythmic, Roby’s alluring folk-tinged vocal offsets the various synthetic overtures for a mysterious weightless quality.

Available on the single ‘Care’ via https://dawntodawn.bandcamp.com/track/care

https://www.facebook.com/dawntodawnmusic


DEVOIR Mercer

Leeds based duo DEVOIR comprise of Imogen Holmes who released the impressive ‘Lines’ EP as IMI and Jacob Marston. A product of lockdown, although ‘Mercer’ is entirely electronic, it differs slightly from IMI in its four-to-the-floor construction. So imagine GOLDFRAPP at an Alpine rave in the Hornlihutte basecamp next to The Matterhorn. As the cinematic techno builds, the magnificent voice that graced IMI soars and shines, expressing itself at the extremes of alluring spoken word and piercing high soprano.

Available on the single ‘Mercer’

https://www.facebook.com/wearedevoir


DIAMOND FIELD feat BELINDA BRADLEY A Kiss Apart

DIAMOND FIELD is the musical vehicle of Andy Diamond, the New York based Kiwi who, looks to studio icons such as Hugh Padgham, Rupert Hine and Peter Wolf as his heroes. With a backing track like NEW ORDER’s ‘Your Silent Face’ reworked by OMD, ‘A Kiss Apart’ is superb and sees a velvet performance by Belinda Bradley of New Zealand collective SELON RECLINER; akin to the other Belinda, Ms Carlisle crossed with Marcella Detroit there is a gorgeous chorus and some great synth interventions recalling lost Mute trio PEACH.

Available on the album ‘Diamond Field’ via Sofa King

https://diamondfieldmusic.com/


DLINA VOLNY Bipolar

Inspired by the spectre of the former Soviet Union, Minsk trio DLINA VOLNY explore post-punk with a dance beat not unlike NEW ORDER. Having already had two albums already under their belt and singing in English with an inherent Eastern Bloc gloom in Masha Zinevitch’s vocals throughout their Italians Do It Better period, their fifth single for the label ‘Bipolar’ was dark disco with plenty of synth and mystery that asked “But what is it like being on the border?”.

Available on the album ‘Dazed’ via Italians Do It Better

https://www.instagram.com/dlina_volny/


LAURA DRE All Day, All Night

With her mix of modern synthpop and synthwave coupled to her deep nonchalant vocals, Laura Dre captures the rainy dystopian air of ‘Blade Runner’, but with a sexy enigmatic allure and a mischievously wired groove that wouldn’t go amiss in a West Berlin nightclub. The glorious uptempo disco number ‘All Day, All Night’ offers great crossover potential; drenched in sparkle and a delicious percussive base. It’s a number for fans of early PET SHOP BOYS, complete with a classic Tennant / Lowe styled instrumental middle eight.

Available on the album ‘Moving Spaces’ via Outland Recordings

https://lauradre.com/


DURAN DURAN Featuring CHAI More Joy!

Celebrating 40 years as recording artists, DURAN DURAN released their 15th studio album ‘Future Past’ in a “live for the moment” reference of how something today can become a cherished memory in times to come. The chiptune inspired ‘More Joy!’ was reminiscent of past glories, its syncopated disco poise capturing DURAN DURAN at what they do best and with hypnotic electronics offset by a wonderful bass guitar run and chants by Japanese rock band CHAI, its exuberant manner presented the right dose of escapism.

Available on the album ‘Future Past’ via Tape Modern / BMG

http://www.duranduran.com/


GLÜME Get Low

Like a tattooed Marilyn Monroe dropped into Twin Peaks, GLÜME is a shimmering new starlet in the Italians Do It Better stable. From her debut album ‘The Internet’, ‘Get Low’ was an intriguing slice of accessible avant pop about the high of falling for someone where brain chemistry and nervous systems are affected. Applying some rumbling electronic bass, stabbing vintage synths and simple but prominent digital drum beats, ‘Get Low’ sounded not unlike an experimental hybrid of OMD and LADYTRON!

Available on the album ‘The Internet’ via Italians Do It Better

https://www.facebook.com/babyglume


ROBIN HATCH Airplane

Made using the T.O.N.T.O. synth complex created Malcom Cecil and Robert Margouleff which was made famous by Stevie Wonder, the same titled album is the fifth solo body of work by the Toronto-based neoclassical composer and multi-instrumentalist Robin Hatch. The sinister ‘Airplane’ took shape around an avant garde soundscape. Utilising the talents of doom metal violinist Laura Bates of VOLUR alongside the synthetic strings and hypnotic generative blips, this encapsulated an unsettling gothic grandeur.

Available on the album ‘T.O.N.T.O.’ via Robin Records

https://twitter.com/robinhatch


ITALOCONNECTION featuring ETIENNE DAHO Virus X

For Italian musician veterans Fred Ventura and Paolo Gozzetti, the ethos of ITALOCONNECTION is “to sound vintage in a modern way”. The superb ‘Virus X’ featuring French veteran Etienne Daho sprung a surprise as a suave slice of Gallic synthwave. With its downbeat verse and an emotive chorus, this was as a fitting musical document of the past year and half’s tensions while using toxic personal relationships as a poignant lyrical analogy.

Available on the album ‘Midnight Confessions Vol1’ via Bordello A Parigi

https://www.facebook.com/italoconnection


JAKUZI Hiç Işık Yok

Hailing from Turkey, JAKUZI’s Italo flavoured song ‘Hiç Işık Yok’ saw the usual cowbells substituted by processed pots and pans, while the mix of classic brassy tones and chilling synth pads blended to create something rather unusual and extraordinary. Working with Maurizio Baggio who mixed the most recent albums by BOY HARSHER and THE SOFT MOON, the Italian producer turned what had been a gothic futureless mood piece with a sombre vocal intonation into a dark but catchy electronic disco number.

Available on the EP ‘Açık Bir Yara’ via City Slang

https://www.facebook.com/jakuz1/


JOON Good Times

2021 was a year craving for more ‘Good Times’ and JOON, the electronic solo project from Maltese producer Yasmin Kuymizakis did her best to remember them. Another recent signing to Italians Do It Better, she reflected on “The way you sing your songs and make me dance, the way you take a chance on a little romance” before affirming “You remind me of the good times”. It all captured a charming innocence in a dreamy Mediterranean take on Japanese City Pop.

Available on the album ‘Dream Again’ via Italians Do It Better

https://www.templeofjoon.com/


КЛЕТ Eternity

КЛЕТ is a music project of Bohemian-born composer and producer Michal Trávníček. Primarily celebrating the Soviet space programme with its impressive series of firsts, while the ‘Alconaut’ album’s pivotal track was its opener ‘Gagarin’s Start’ which honoured the handsome hero who was the first man in space as he prepared for lift-off, the spacey Sovietwave mood over 13 tracks made for an enticing listen. The sparkling sparseness of ‘Eternity’ with its stuttering vintage drum machine provided another highlight.

Available on the album ‘Alconaut’ via https://claat.bandcamp.com/album/

https://www.instagram.com/kletwave/


LEATHERS Reckless

LEATHERS is the more synth focussed solo project from ACTORS keyboardist Shannon Hemmett. The undoubted highlight of her debut ‘Reckless’ EP was the title song. Resigned and accepting, she was still alluring in her voicing despite the heartbreak of her love being so cruel and dangerous. A rather lovely slice of synthpop in that classic melancholic vein with an infectious steadfast motorik beat, it again showed that Canada again was leading the way in the modern version of the form.

Available on the EP ‘Reckless’ via Artoffact Records

https://www.leatherstheband.com/


CATHERINE MOAN Drop It!

Having treated the world with her charming cover of the Alan Wilder penned DEPECHE MODE B-side ‘Fools’, Philadelphian songstress CATHERINE MOAN launched her debut album with the self-composed ‘Drop It!’, song craving the joy of nightlife after a year of lockdown confinement. Dreamily floating over a classic four chord progression with an eerily sombre apocalyptic understatement, ‘Drop It!’ channelled her innocent sound in the manner of ELECTRIC YOUTH meeting STRAWBERRY SWITCHBLADE and MARSHEAUX via her own bedroom aesthetic.

Available on the album ‘Chain Reaction’ via https://catherinemoan.bandcamp.com/album/chain-reaction-2

https://www.facebook.com/Catherine-Moan-105421111625150


KARIN MY Loop

While Karin My has been working with TWICE A MAN and MACHINISTA over the last ten years, it was only in 2019 that she stepped out to front her own traditionally derived electronic songs. A steadfast drum machine propels ‘Loop’ while sweeping symphonic melodies in the vein of ULTRAVOX accompany the despairing resignation. The closing computer generated female speech declaring “identification – procedure – quote – hyphen – perform – display – go to – loop – full stop – execute” added to the dystopian unsettlement.

Available on the album ‘Silence Amygdala’ via Ad Inexplorata

http://www.karinmy.net/


NATION OF LANGUAGE This Fractured Mind

Using a rigid motorik backbone and capturing a danceable ethereal shudder, ‘This Fractured Mind’ breathed new life via its sprightly synth tones in a reference to the past. Although there was also some frenetic bass guitar grit to provide a hint of claustrophobia, the machines that had only been friends previously became family in the NATION OF LANGUAGE sound. Dealing with the spectre of unrealised dreams and jealousy towards more successful others, by the end of ‘This Fractured Mind’, any inferiority complex is countered with hopeful acceptance.

Available on the album ‘A Way Forward’ via Play It Again Sam

https://www.nationoflanguage.com/


NORTHERN LITE Ich Fürchte Nein

The project of Andreas Kubat and Sebastian Bohn, the 2001 NORTHERN LITE single ‘Treat Me Better’ was a cult favourite on the electroclash scene. Translating as “I don‘t think so…”, Kubat reflected on enforced isolation and staying sane. In a chorus that could be roughly interpreted: “You can‘t be happy and by liked by everyone at the same time”, ‘Ich Fürchte Nein’ was a delightfully catchy synthpop tune with a bright and jolly melodic section contrasted by a vocal of a more anxious disposition.

Available on the album ‘Ja’ via UnaMusic

https://www.northernlite.de/


GARY NUMAN The Chosen

While ‘Savage’ depicted a deserted post-apocalyptic world, clad in darkness, The Ade Fenton produced ‘Intruder’ saw Planet Earth react to human kind’s self-destructive misdemeanours by unleashing a virus! “It feels betrayed, hurt and ravaged. Disillusioned and heartbroken it is now fighting back” said Gary Numan poignantly.  ‘The Chosen’ was fast paced synth rock and filled with pleading messages embroiled in frustration and despair, asking “Do you need one more sign?” and “Can you see, or are you so blind?”

Available on the album ‘Intruder’ via BMG

https://garynuman.com/


MARK REEDER & FIFI RONG Figure Of 8

Mark Reeder first met Fifi Rong who at the Berlin Kraftwerk in 2016 when she was singing in concert with Swiss trailblazers YELLO. From his album ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ , the opening track ‘Figure of 8’ was a magical new collaboration between the two with a cinematic backdrop of sparse piano and glistening sequences over which the exquisite Chinese songstress added her distinctive air of mystery to a more metronomic rhythm construction than perhaps heard on her own work.

Available on the album ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ via MFS

https://fifirong.com/

https://mfsberlin.com/


R. MISSING Crimeless

New York City-based darklings R. MISSING are fronted by Sharon Shy, a vocalist with an elegant Jane Birkin-like presence while the studious Toppy Frost does the music. 2020’s ‘Placeholder For The Night’ signalled airier developments in their increasingly synthy sound, but the wonderful ‘Crimeless’ was R. MISSING’s most electronic pop noir statement yet. It was like CHROMATICS carefully reconfigured for the dancefloor with Sharon Shy presenting a whispery singing style that could easily be mistaken for Ruth Radelet.

Available on the single ‘Crimeless’ via Sugarcane Recordings

https://rmissing.com/


SCHÖNHEIT Danse Du Robot

Subtitled ‘Hommage à Florian’, ‘Danse Du Robot’ was a magical tribute to the late KRAFTWERK co-founder with hints of ‘Trans Europe Express’ from Swedish producer Martin Lillberg, the man behind SCHÖNHEIT. Not exactly a prolific project with singles in 2014 and 2019, Lillberg however records under various monikers including as DEOLETUS, DESTINY NATION, INESI, LAURENTIA, LOVE ON DRUGS, MY SWEETEST PUNCH and WML as well as holding down a day job as a classical percussionist.

Available on the single ‘Danse du Robot (Hommage à Florian)’

https://swedishelectroscene.bandcamp.com/track/danse-du-robot-hommage-florian


SEA FEVER De Facto

SEA FEVER are the new eclectic Manchester combo featuring second generation members of SECTION 25 and NEW ORDER, Beth Cassidy, Tom Chapman and Phil Cunningham. ‘De Facto’ was a delightful electro-disco feast with a rhythm rush that screamed strobelights and likely to fill indie club dancefloors while also crossing over to lovers of synth. With echoes of NEW ORDER and THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS, it captured a vibrant energy worthy of Manchester and its musical heritage.

Available on the album ‘Folding Lines’ via Kartel Records

https://seafeverband.com/


UNIFY SEPARATE Embrace The Fear

As the prospect of interacting with others again set off anxieties after 18 months of social distancing, for Scottish Swedish duo UNIFY SEPARATE, it was time to ‘Embrace The Fear’. While the theme was relatable to lockdown, the lyrical gist touched on the more general existential crises that afflict many as they navigate a life crossroads. But despite the air of unease and the grittier disposition, as with most of UNIFY SEPARATE’s output, there was light at the end of the tunnel.

Available on the single ‘Embrace The Fear’ via https://unifyseparate.bandcamp.com/track/embrace-the-fear

https://www.facebook.com/usmusicspace


WAVESHAPER Lost In The Cloud

Gorgeously melodic within a claustrophobic drama, ‘Lost In The Cloud’ did as the title suggested like Vangelis meeting Giorgio Moroder at the Necropolis on a dreamy dance trip. A lovely little uplifting synth instrumental, Tom Andersson the man behind WAVESHAPER suggested something darker, saying “Imagine Red Riding Hood trapped in the Digital Cloud, behind the Mainframe. How would she feel? What would she see? There is probably more to fear than a wolf in the forest…”

Available on the album ‘Mainframe’ via Waveshaper Music Production

https://www.facebook.com/Waveshaperofficial


A selection of ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s favourite music in 2021 is on its ‘Missing U’ playlist at
https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4rlJgJhiGkOw8q2JcunJfw


Text by Chi Ming Lai
11th December 2021

ALICE HUBBLE + HATTIE COOKE Live at Folklore

Photo by Chi Ming Lai

At Folklore in London’s trendy Hoxton district, promoter Baba Yaga’s Hut gathered two of the UK’s most talented synth ladies for an intimate evening of live performance.

While both exhibit an earthy plaintive approach vocally, technologically they sit at quite different sides of the spectrum.

For Alice Hubble, the analogue warmth of vintage keyboards has always been a key DNA constituent of her sound.

To launch her second solo long player ‘Hexentanzplatz’, she had her trusty Moog Prodigy as part of an expanded live set-up also featuring Tom Hilverkus on the small but mighty Yamaha Reface CS mini-keyboard and Nord Lead 3. But for Hattie Cooke who uses just GarageBand for her take on synth, it was a MacBook with backing tracks and lyrics that augmented her first live performance for over two years. Hailed as one of the best new talents in Britain, despite the release of her third album ‘Bliss Land’, she had never played live in the capital before.

Beginning with a sat down solo guitar take of ‘One Foot Out The Door’, a tinge of folk illustrated its roots but also how it was more or less structured before electronic textured for ‘Bliss Land’. Standing up after this sedate start, Hattie got upbeat and electronic with the glorious ‘I Get By’, a song that wouldn’t sound out of place in the Italians Do It Better catalogue. She amusingly added that her more recent electronic pop material was “less suicidal” than her previous work; “I’ve always been a hoot” she quipped, “but I wasn’t so happy back then…” – the forlorn strum of the semi-ironic ‘Happy Today’ from her self-titled debut record was a sign of how far she had moved on.

Photo by Adrian Hextall

Cooke promised jokes and her one about Dr Who having Dalek bread as a side order to pizza highlighted her charm. Although tinged with melancholy, songs such as drum machine dominated ‘Lovers Game’ and the much sparser ‘Summer Time’ use appealing arrangements that harmonise well with her voice.

Her focus on writing songs first has set her apart from the boys with their toys whose equipment is used as the excuse for the songs rather than the other way round.

The mechanised tension ‘Mistaken’ offered Hattie’s own quirky interpretation of a dancefloor filler before closing with the reflective ‘Youth’. Although Hattie Cooke has more aurally expansive in her productions, she might have benefitted from undertaking some live synth soloing during the instrumental sections as she looked slightly lost during these moments; in her delightful stage banter, she did admit to forgetting to pack the correct lead for it. There is room for improvement in the live presentation so as her audiences grow, she could do a lot worse than to follow the lead of the evening’s headliner.

Alice Hubble opened her longest live set to date with the watery wash of ‘West Reservoir’, while visually enhanced by shades of misty red and billowing smoke. The wonderful ‘My Dear Friend’ provided a touching ode to Alice’s late parents while the synthetic glam of ‘Kick The Habit’ was boosted by bursts of the Prodigy, the synth, not the band; this classic Moog also provided some further elegiac resonance to ‘Goddess’, a number that became a favourite of BBC 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq at the time of its release in 2019.

Photo by Adrian Hextall

Dreamy Mellotron tines and more Moog Prodigy bedded the rousing indie synthpop of ‘Projections’, the undoubted standout of the ‘Hexentanzplatz’ opus, while the strident title track and ‘Power Play’ pointed to the weightier developments in the Alice Hubble sound, both musically and lyrically.

The progressively constructed ‘Still’ from ‘Polarlichter’ came over as spacey as ever before the motorised soundscape of ‘Gliechfalls’ acted as an exhilarating cosmic jam to finish.

One notable absentee from the set was ‘We Are Still Alone’, the best song on ‘Polarlichter’ and its presence would have been more preferable to the lengthy instrumental ‘Atlantis Palm’ which although a beautiful album track, unnecessarily stalled momentum mid-show. But minor quibbles aside, it was an entertaining show that even prompted energetic dancing from a young hipster couple new to Alice Hubble and who enthusiastically visited the merch stand afterwards.

Electronic pop may not ever hit the mainstream heights of 1981 again although four decades on, its understated feminine variant is making its presence felt in the enchanting songs of Alice Hubble and Hattie Cooke.


Alice Hubble’s ‘Hexentanzplatz’ is released by Happy Robots Records in vinyl LP and digital formats, available from https://happyrobotsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/hexentanzplatz

https://www.happyrobots.co.uk/alice-hubble

https://www.facebook.com/alicehubblemusic/

https://twitter.com/alice_hubble

https://www.instagram.com/alice_hubble/

Hattie Cooke’s ‘Bliss Land’ is released by Castles In Space in CD, red vinyl LP and digital formats, available from https://hattiecooke.bandcamp.com/album/bliss-land-2

https://www.patreon.com/Hattiecooke

https://www.facebook.com/hattiecookemusic

https://twitter.com/hattiecooke

https://www.instagram.com/hattiecookemusic/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
9th October 2021

Introducing HATTIE COOKE

In these days of 40-something males in midlife crisis mode accumulating modulars and Moog Ones like some kind of penis extension, Hattie Cooke’s attitude is wonderfully fresh and fiercely independent.

Hattie Cooke is proudly working class and the “Brighton Synth Queen” is of the view that electronic music should not be an artform restricted by background. And with that, she writes, records and produces her music at home using just GarageBand.

Hattie Cooke’s eponymous 2016 cassette debut captured a traditional singer-songwriter with a Fender Telecaster who was partial to the occasional bit of synth assistance as on ‘Song 14’ and ‘Shut Your Mouth’. The 2019 instrumental follow-up ‘The Sleepers’ was an imaginary film soundtrack with the dystopian John Carpenter-inspired tension of ‘Evacuation’ being a particular highlight.

With echoes of folkie Laura Marling’s artier electronic duo LUMP with Mike Lindsay, Hattie Cooke’s recently issued third album ‘Bliss Land’ combines the approaches of its two predecessors and is more intentionally pop than she has ever been before.

The nostalgic ‘Youth’ captivates via an introspective but accessible vibe reflecting on the excitement and urgency of those formative years; it’s a remembrance that many may have felt in these pandemic times with their understandable anxiousness about the future.

An intimate gravitas comes with the expanded electronic texturing on ‘Bliss Land’ and this is undoubtedly stamped on its opening pair of songs. The hypnotic ‘I Get By’ is superb with ringing hooks, sweeping soundscapes and airy understated vocals that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Italians Do It Better ‘After Dark’ compilation. Continuing that oblique aural connection, the darker “echo chambers” of ‘Mistaken’ are reminiscent of IDIB family member Tess Roby via her more danceable side project DAWN TO DAWN.

Droning with an impending doom, ‘Invisible Lines’ exposes Hattie Cooke’s forlorn vulnerability while the delightful instrumental ‘Fantasies’ expands on the cinematic moods of ‘The Sleepers’ to reveal the origins of ‘Bliss Land’ as music for a label specialising in film soundtracks. However, guitars have not completely disappeared with ‘Cars’, not a cover of the Gary Numan No1 but Cooke’s own take on indie synth with elements of THE CURE creeping in.

Born out of hushed anticipation and anxiety, ‘Bliss Land’ is a largely beautiful set of personal songs that capture the confined surroundings of its creation with hope and trepidation, embracing the fear embroiled in a now-changed world…


‘Bliss Land’ is released by Castles In Space and available as a CD, red vinyl LP and digital download direct from https://hattiecooke.bandcamp.com/album/bliss-land-2

Hattie Cooke will be opening for Alice Hubble at London Hackney Folklore on Thursday 7th October 2021

Hattie Cooke’s Patreon is at https://www.patreon.com/Hattiecooke

https://www.facebook.com/hattiecookemusic

https://twitter.com/hattiecooke

https://www.instagram.com/hattiecookemusic/

https://hattiecooke.bandcamp.com/

https://open.spotify.com/artist/70bAR5vP3r1txDXLnNC3ee


Text by Chi Ming Lai with thanks to Adam Cresswell
Photo by Chris Standley
25th September 2021