Tag: Hurts (Page 1 of 2)

A Beginner’s Guide To ARTHUR BAKER

Boston-born Arthur Baker began as a DJ, but aspired to be a producer following taking an engineering course at Intermedia Studios. He wanted to make music, rather than play records.

After some early experiences, Baker became wise to the swindling ways of the music industry. He eventually released his first single ‘Kind of Life (Kind of Love)’ under the name NORTH END in 1979.

But his breakthrough as a producer came after he moved to New York in 1981. Working for urban label Tommy Boy Records, where he met engineer and keyboard player John Robie, they came up with ‘Planet Rock’.

Utilising the-then new Roland TR808 Rhythm Composer, in particular its distinctive analogue cowbell, rimshot and snare sounds, its lasting effect on the future of music came about more by chance.

Baker wanted to employ a more mechanised electronic aesthetic in the vein of KRAFTWERK and YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA to the output of Tommy Boy and saw an advert in The Village Voice: “Man with drum machine, $20 a session”… the rest is history. But the programmer of the track’s iconic 808 beat pattern remained unknown, thanks insisting on cash for his services, having declined a cheque.

‘Planet Rock’ featured sampling without a sampler, its ‘Trans Europe Express’ synth parts manually recreated by Robie.

Although Baker did use a Fairlight CMI for the orchestra hits, he considered it “a $100,000 waste of space”. Released in 1982, ‘Planet Rock’ put electro, as it came to be known, on the map.

Never one to waste a good thing, Baker produced ‘Play at Your Own Risk’ for PLANET PATROL, taking unused recorded parts from ‘Planet Rock’. His midas touch continued with the similar sounding ‘IOU’ for FREEEZ, once again maximising the rigid character of the 808.

Always in touch with what was going on at street level, Baker often tried out his rough mixes at clubs like Paradise Garage, The Danceteria and The Fun House. Although missing out on THE BEASTIE BOYS, Baker achieved major worldwide success when he signed NEW EDITION to his Streetwise Records. The label also released Eartha Kitt’s Boystown favourite ’Where Is My Man?’ , while other artists on the roster included Colonel Abrams, Cuba Gooding and Loleatta Holloway.

In 1989 with THE BACKBEAT DISCIPLES, Baker gathered a diverse all-star cast of Al Green, Andy McCuskey, Martin Fry, Jimmy Somerville and Etienne Daho to sing on the ‘Merge’ album, a pop hybrid record tracing his love of soul, synthpop, disco, HI-NRG and Europop.

Reflecting his trailblazing reputation in dance music with an ear for a good tune, Baker was commissioned to provide remixes for a wide range of mainstream artists including Cyndi Lauper, Bruce Springsteen, Neneh Cherry and Tina Turner, as well as more middle of the road acts like FLEETWOOD MAC, HALL & OATES and WET WET WET.

Baker’s varispeeded treatment of ‘Spaceman’ by BABYLON ZOO was used in the 1995 Levi’s TV commercial ‘Planet’, but many were disappointed to be met with the dirge rock original when the track was released as a single.

Now based between London, Miami and Ibiza, Baker continues to DJ while he notably co-produced and appeared in the 2015 documentary film ‘808’ directed by Alexander Dunn about the machine which he helped turn into a cultural icon.

Featuring reminisces by Phil Collins, Jori Hulkkonen, Felix Da Housecat, Richie Hawtin, Rick Rubin and Norman Cook among many, Baker himself interviewed the late Roland founder Ikutaro Kakehashi who had deliberately purchased faulty transistors to create the machine’s distinctive sizzling sound. Continuing his interest in documentaries, Baker is currently making one about NEW ORDER.

With such a varied career, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK presents a Beginner’s Guide to Arthur Baker featuring 18 tracks that cover the breadth of his influential music portfolio.


AFRIKA BAMBAATAA & THE SOUL SONIC FORCE Planet Rock (1982)

Recorded by Baker at Intergalactic Studios, the ‘Planet Rock’ synth leadline interpolated KRAFTWERK’s ‘Trans Europe Express’ while the Roland TR-808 drum machine mimicked ‘Numbers’; the track even included a chant of its Japanese count. But where there’s a hit, there’s a writ so when Baker later had to pay up for using elements of KRAFTWERK, he just put up the price of the record to fund the settlement. ‘Planet Rock’ eventually sold one million copies and paid for its debt.

Available on the AFRIKA BAMBAATAA & THE SOUL SONIC FORCE album ‘Looking For The Perfect Beat 1980 -1985’ via Tommy Boy Records

https://www.facebook.com/ArthurBakerDJ/


PLANET PATROL Play At Your Own Risk (1982)

More in the vein of classic soul groups like THE TEMPTATIONS, PLANET PATROL offered an electro twist on that five way vocal template and even featured a member named Melvin Franklin! ‘Play At Your Own Risk’ was made from recorded parts that did not make the final version of ‘Planet Rock’, with Baker even saying that both came from the same multitrack. Listening back, it was also the blueprint for Baker’s ‘IOU’ which became a huge hit for FREEEZ.

Available on the PLANET PATROL album ‘Planet Patrol’ via Tommy Boy Records

http://www.roland.co.uk/blog/arthur-baker/


ROCKERS REVENGE featuring DONNIE CALVIN Walking On Sunshine (1982)

Mechanising Eddie Grant’s funky favourite in the sparkly pulsing vein of D-TRAIN, Baker’s cover of ‘Walking On Sunshine’ was specifically made for the Paradise Garage. Baker assembled ROCKERS REVENGE as a studio project with vocalists Donnie Calvin, Dwight Hawkes and Baker’s wife Tina B. While there an electronic feel, its looseness pioneered a more freestyle form that would later emerge in its own right. Continuing the covers theme, a version of Jimmy Cliff’s ‘The Harder They Come’ came out in 1983.

Available on the ROCKERS REVENGE album ‘Walking On Sunshine’ via Acrobat

https://www.facebook.com/RockersRevengeOfficial/


AFRIKA BAMBAATAA & THE SOUL SONIC FORCE Looking For The Perfect Beat (1983)

With a funky urban twist over colder European electronics, ‘Looking For The Perfect Beat’ with its freestyling and mighty breakbeats took hip-hop up to the next level. With its self-prophesising title, it was far more complex and varied than ‘Planet Rock’, with nearly a year taken in the making. It showed ‘Planet Rock’ was no fluke, but Baker later remarked that the track was motivated as a taunt at Tommy Boy’s rivals and pioneers of rap, Sugar Hill Records. “Beat Dis”!

Available on the AFRIKA BAMBAATAA & THE SOUL SONIC FORCE album ‘Looking For The Perfect Beat 1980 -1985’ via Tommy Boy Records

https://www.facebook.com/808themovie


FREEEZ IOU (1983)

Originally a jazz funk combo, FREEEZ had fragmented to the duo of John Rocca and Peter Maas when they became fascinated by ‘Planet Rock’. Meeting Baker in New York, he suggested recording his self-penned ‘IOU’. While there was a appearance from the ubiquitous Roland TR808, an Emulator was used for the staccato voice passages but key to the song’s appeal was Rocca’s falsetto. It was co-mixed by John Jellybean Benitez, the DJ at The Funhouse who later worked with Madonna and had a solo career.

Available on the FREEEZ album ‘Gonna Get You’ via Cherry Red

https://www.discogs.com/artist/8670-Freeez


NEW EDITION Candy Girl (1983)

Signing what was effectively the modern electro incarnation of JACKSON 5 to his Streetwise label, Baker hit paydirt with NEW EDITION and their sweet worldwide No1 ‘Candy Girl’. With the tune’s writers Maurice Starr and Michael Jonzun working in the studio with the young quintet, Baker was executive producer and did the final mix with Starr. Unusually for a boy band, Ralph Tresvant, Bobby Brown, Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins and Ronnie DeVoe all went on to have successful careers after the group.

Available on the NEW EDITION album ‘Candy Girl’ via Streetwise Records

https://www.facebook.com/newedition4life/


NEW ORDER Confusion (1983)

With NEW ORDER’s interest in dance music, having opened the Haçienda with New York clubs in mind, a collaborative union with Baker was inevitable. But Baker wanted to make ‘Blue Monday’ while and the Mancunians wanted to make ‘Planet Rock’, so the result was quite literally ‘Confusion’! Drummer Stephen Morris in particular had admitted frustration during the recording sessions as Baker would not let him alter his Roland TR808’s already-programmed patterns, fearing he would lose his trademark sound.

Edited version available on the NEW ORDER album ‘Singles’ via WEA

http://www.neworder.com/


ARTHUR BAKER Breaker’s Revenge (1984)

For the film ‘Beat Street’, Baker helped produce its soundtrack and contributed the frantic beat and sample laden instrumental ‘Breakers’ Revenge’ to the score. The movie itself was a based around New York’s hip hop and breakdancing scene, with part of the plot based on the graffiti documentary ‘Style Wars’. Noted figures such as GRANDMASTER MELLE MEL & THE FURIOUS FIVE, THE SYSTEM, DOUG E. FRESH and THE SOULSONIC FORCE all appeared.

Available on the ARTHUR BAKER mix album ‘Breakin’ via Mushroom Records

https://twitter.com/arthurhbaker


ARTISTS UNITED AGAINST APARTHEID ‎ Sun City (1985)

ARTISTS UNITED AGAINST APARTHEID was formed by Steven Van Zandt and Baker to protest against apartheid in South Africa, while drawing parallels with the plight of Native Americans. “A song about change not charity, freedom not famine”, ‘Sun City’ highlighted the hypocrisy of the South African government allowing entertainment there that was banned in the country, with a call to reinforce the international boycott. It featured Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Miles Davis, U2 and RUN DMC.

Originally from the ARTISTS UNITED AGAINST APARTHEID ‎album ‘Sun City’ via Manhattan Records, currently unavailable

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artists_United_Against_Apartheid


FINE YOUNG CANNIBALS Ever Fallen In Love – Club Senseless remix (1986)

‘Ever Fallen in Love’ was a noted song of punk and disaffection written by the late Pete Shelley and performed by his band BUZZCOCKS. But FINE YOUNG CANNIBALS caused  a stir with a dance friendly version co-produced by TALKING HEADS’ Jerry Harrison for the film ‘Something Wild’. With his Club Senseless remix, Baker exploited the track’s funkier possibilities, his theory being “if you had a really groovy bassline, the drums don’t have to be a straight kick, because people dance to the bassline.”

Available on the FINE YOUNG CANNIBALS album ‘The Raw & the Cooked’ via Edsel Records

https://www.facebook.com/RolandGift.Tour/


PET SHOP BOYS In The Night – Arthur Baker remix (1986)

‘In The Night’ was the B-side for the first single version of ‘Opportunities’ and saw PET SHOP BOYS reusing the same chord progression as its A-side. The lyrics referred to Les Zazous, an apolitical group in France during the Second World War who were disliked by the Nazis and the Resistance. Although Phil Harding produced, Baker did a more percussive 12 inch remix which opened the ‘Disco’ collection. This was later edited and used as the theme music for the BBC’s ‘The Clothes Show’ between 1986 and 1994.

Available on the PET SHOP BOYS album ‘Disco’ via EMI Records

https://petshopboys.co.uk/


NEW ORDER Touched By The Hand Of God (1987)

Arthur Baker developed an enduring relationship with NEW ORDER, both in the studio and as friends, having co-written ‘Confusion’ and ‘Thieves Like Us’ like he was a member of the band. Working as the music supervisor for the movie soundtrack of Beth B’s parody of televangelism ‘Salvation’, NEW ORDER contributed six tracks. The best known was ‘Touched By The Hand Of God’, its title inspired by the controversial Argentine footballer Diego Maradona and mixed by Baker for singular consumption.

Available on the NEW ORDER album ‘(The Best Of)’ via London Records

https://newordertracks.wordpress.com/


WILL DOWNING A Love Supreme (1988)

Will Downing had sung with Baker’s project WALLY JUMP JR & THE CRIMINAL ELEMENT on the single ‘Turn Me Loose’ in 1986. So when the New Yorker signed as a solo artist with 4th & Broadway, the US-based subsidiary of Island Records, Baker was a natural choice as producer. A cover of the John Coltrane jazz piece with additional lyrics by Downing, the arrangement made the most of a soulful deep house vibe that was emanating from the US at the time.

Available on the WILL DOWNING album ‘A Love Supreme – The Collection’ via Spectrum

https://www.willdowning.com/


ARTHUR BAKER & THE BACKBEAT DISCIPLES featuring MARTIN FRY Mythical Girl (1989)

A&M Records offered Baker an album deal, but rather than facing the opportunity alone, he recruited a studio collective comprising of John Warren, Tiny Valentine, Mac Quayle, Bobby Khozouri, Philip Damien and Cevin Fisher, several of whom were to become notable in their own right. ‘Merge’ consisted mostly of dance flavoured pop; ‘Mythical Girl’ was an ABC track in all but name, involving not just Martin Fry but musical partner Mark White too, with Baker and his team producing.

Available on the ARTHUR BAKER & THE BACKBEAT DISCIPLES album ‘Merge’ via A&M Records

https://www.abcmartinfry.com/


NEW ORDER 1963 – 95 (1995)

‘1963’ came from the 1987 sessions NEW ORDER had with PET SHOP BOYS producer Stephen Hague that also spawned ‘True Faith’. However, much to the annoyance of Peter Hook, his contributions on ‘1963’ were virtually written out, only making a brief appearance at the end of the original version. Released as a belated A-side in a 1995 remix, Baker took the opportunity to make the bassist’s presence heard throughout the song in this dreamier cinematic reinterpretation.

Available on the NEW ORDER album ‘Singles’ via WEA

https://www.facebook.com/NewOrderOfficial/


TINA TURNER Whatever You Want – Massive Jungle Remix (1996)

Written by Baker with Taylor Dayne and one-time studio associate Fred Zarr who had worked with Baker on several recordings, ‘Whatever You Want’ for Tina Turner was an archetypical production from Trevor Horn in its single variant. Baker’s Massive Jungle Remix though did exactly what it said on the tin, but crucially kept Turner’s mighty vocal while also retaining the key cinematic essence that had made the song appealing within its mainstream context.

Originally from the TINA TURNER 12″ single ‘Whatever You Want (The Arthur Baker Mixes)’ via Parlophone Records, currently unavailable

http://www.tinaturnerofficial.com/


NEW ORDER Behind Closed Doors (2001)

“I listen to The Coors behind closed doors” suggested Bernard Sumner ominously on this 21st Century NEW ORDER B-side produced by Baker. With its dark cinematics, the introspective tone of ‘Behind Closed Doors’ was very different to the more rocky tension of the ‘Get Ready’ comeback album. Sumner’s observations on domestic violence, lack of parental responsibility and chemical dependency coupled with mournful bass from Hooky made for sinister listening.

Available on the NEW ORDER single ‘Crystal’ via WEA

https://twitter.com/neworder


HURTS Wonderful Life – Arthur Baker remix (2010)

‘Wonderful Life’ had an epic cinematic backdrop with noirish synths and brooding woodwinds that saw singer Theo Hutchcraft telling the story of a suicidal man saved by love at first sight. The sub-six minute Arthur Baker remix took away the big compressed drums and replaced them with the tight electro snap of an 808. Adding a squelchy bassline sequence reminiscent of a 303, Baker kept the song intact and satisfied those who felt HURTS were nothing more than TAKE THAT dressed like ULTRAVOX.

Available on the HURTS single ‘Wonderful Life’ via RCA Records

https://www.informationhurts.com/home/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
14th September 2019

A Synth Is For Life & Not Just For Christmas…

Remember, a synth is for life and not just for Christmas...As the Yule Tide season gets into full swing, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK presents a collection of modern seasonal tunes with a more artful slant…

With a song to play on each of The Twelve Days of Christmas, some are covers with a modern approach while others gather their thoughts and emotions into original compositions. But each has their own take on the holiday period, whether happy or sad or both.

Synths at Christmas are not entirely new; ‘Last Christmas’ by WHAM! was primarily made with a Roland Juno 60 while BAND AID’s ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas? was dominated by PPG Wave 2.2 with a percussive sample taken from ‘Memories Fade’ by TEARS FOR FEARS also being key to the intro.

However the traditional nature of Christmas often dictates traditional instrumentation in its songs, which means that Christmas synth songs are comparitively uncommon and a more recent phenomemon. Whatever your plans whether with the family or in the studio, please remember, a synth is for life and not just for Christmas… may it bring you lots of cheer 🎹🎄😉


CHEW LIPS When You Wake Up (2010)

CHEW LIPS may be on hiatus but in 2010, on the back of their only album ‘Unicorn’ and its subsequent tour, they were on a productive high. ‘When You Wake Up’ was a bonus tune recorded and given away as a Christmas gift to fans at the end of that very successful year. Delivered with lead singer Tigs’ usual feisty panache, listening back only highlights how much CHEW LIPS are missed.

Originally released as a free download

https://www.facebook.com/CHEWLiPS/


ERASURE Gaudete (2013)

ERASURE GaudeteAndy Bell and Vince Clarke’s version of this traditional Ecclesiastical Latin carol continued an ERASURE tradition that had begun in 1988 with ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ for the CD edition of the ‘Crackers International’ EP in 1988. With a precise electronic backbeat, ‘Gaudete’ was taken from its 16th Century origins and thrown into the new millennium whilst still retaining its original essence with a cheeky ‘Ice Machine’ reference for good measure.

Available on the album ‘Snow Globe’ via Mute Artists

http://www.erasureinfo.com/


HURTS All I Want For Christmas Is New Year’s Day (2010)

Hurts-christmasWith their TAKE THAT dressed as ULTRAVOX template having achieved great success in Europe, courtesy of their debut album ‘Happiness’, Theo Hutchcraft and Adam Anderson parradoxically turned their attentions to memories of “the worst Christmas of our lives”. In true Bros Go To Bavaria style, despite the mournful start, ‘All I Want For Christmas Is New Year’s Day’ steadily transformed itself into a hopeful anthem with a big chorus and lashings of tubular bells.

Available on the download single ‘All I Want for Christmas Is New Year’s Day’ via Major Label / RCA

http://www.informationhurts.com/


HYPERBUBBLE A Synthesizer for Christmas (2013)

HYPERBUBBLE A Synthesizer for ChristmasWhether it was a Casio, Yamaha or Roland, everyone wanted ‘A Synthesizer For Christmas’. Texan couple HYPERBUBBLE took that enduring memory and turned it into a delightful synthpop ditty that could resonate with electronic geeks from eight to eighty the world over. Short but sweet, it was another joyous “cartoon automaton symphony” from Jess and Jeff.

Available on the download single ‘A Synthesizer For Christmas’ via Socket Sounds

http://www.hyperbubble.net/


LOLA DUTRONIC Another Christmas Without Snow (2010)

Lola Dutronic-Christmas without snowIn the UK, a wet Christmas is always more likely,  but LOLA DUTRONIC’s ‘Another Christmas Without Snow’ resonated with its melancholic yet pretty demeanour. The project of Canadian producer Richard Citroen and using a flexible roster of wispy female vocalists, the tones of Lola Dee came over all dreamy like SAINT ETIENNE and conveyed the season’s mixed emotions.

Available on the download single ‘(Another) Christmas Without Snow’ via Lola Dutronic

https://www.facebook.com/LOLA-DUTRONIC-80232595392/


MARSHEAUX We Met Bernard Sumner At A Christmas Party Last Night (2015)

GHOSTS-OF-CHRISTMAS-PAST-twi158cd‘We Met Bernard Sumner At A Christmas Party Last Night’ is a wonderfully whispery synthpop number that is classic MARSHEAUX. The lyrics are constructed from the song and album titles of NEW ORDER to provide an imaginary narrative on Marianthi Melitsi and Sophie Sarigiannidou surreally bumping into the Manchester combo’s lead singer at a Yule Tide function.

Available on the album ‘Ghost Of Christmas Past Remake)’ (V/A) via Les Disques du Crépuscule

http://www.marsheaux.com


HANNAH PEEL Find Peace (2014)

HANNAH PEEL Find Peace‘Find Peace’ is a Christmas song longing for the cold but merry winters of yesteryear under the modern day spectre of global warming, armed conflict and political tension. It is certainly a suitably poignant message for the festive season. With hints of GAZELLE TWIN, the off-kilter analogue buzzing and almost random sequences make for a striking listen as a frantic percussive death rattle and an emotive synth drone take hold to provide an appropriate backdrop for HANNAH PEEL’s eerie but beautiful voice.

Available on the download and 7 inch single ‘Find Peace’ via Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club

http://www.hannahpeel.com/


PET SHOP BOYS It Doesn’t Often Snow At Christmas (2009)

Pet_Shop_Boys_-_ChristmasOriginally recorded in 1997 for an exclusive fan club single but remixed in 2009 for an official release, ‘It Doesn’t Often Snow At Christmas’ was a suitably camp offering that couldn’t have been anyone else. Famous for keeping THE POGUES ‘Farytale Of New York’ off the 1987 UK Christmas No1 spot with their cover of ‘Always On My Mind’, while this didn’t hit those commercial heights, it provided a very PET SHOP BOYS take on the madness of the festive season.

Available on the EP ‘Christmas’ via EMI Records

http://www.petshopboys.co.uk/


SIN COS TAN Dead By X-Mas (2016)

A cover of Finnish metal glamsters HANOI ROCKS, this take on ‘Dead By X-Mas’ from the nocturnal synth duo SIN COS TAN aka Juho Paalosmaa and Jori Hulkkonen came over a bit like BILLY IDOL gone electro, but with an elegiac twist. Bizarrely in 2006, the former William Broad issued his own collection of seasonal themed tunes entitled ‘Happy Holidays’ … it’s a nice day for a ‘White Christmas!

Available as a free download

https://www.facebook.com/homeofsincostan/


SPARKS Christmas Without A Prayer (2015)

SPARKS Christmas Without A PrayerBack in 1974 for their ‘Kimono My House’ album, the Mael brothers recorded a song called ‘Thank God It’s Not Christmas’, a typically perverse SPARKS romp that had nothing to do as such with the holiday season. Currently enjoying their highest profile since their pop heyday, thanks to their FFS collaboration with FRANZ FERDINAND, Russell and Ron ended the year with ‘Christmas Without A Prayer’, a fitting offering which also amusingly outlined that albums by WINGS were actually unwanted gifts.

Available on the download single ‘Christmas Without A Prayer’ via Lil’ Beethoven Records

http://www.allsparks.com/


VICE VERSA Little Drum Machine Boy (2015)

“A twisted cover of a cover of a cover”, this synth laden reinterpretation of the tune (based on a traditional Czech carol) made famous by a bizarre but highly enjoyable version by David Bowie and Bing Crosby, saw former ABC stalwarts Mark White and Stephen Singleton reconvene as  VICE VERSA to wax lyrical about 303s, 808s, 909s and a “shiny new Roland toy”. It was a fabulous combination of sleigh bells, squelching arpeggios and of course, drum machines…

Available as a free download

https://www.facebook.com/Vice-Versa-Electrogenesis-806726912703189/


VILE ELECTRODES The Ghosts Of Christmas (2013)

VILE ELECTRODES The Ghosts Of ChristmasIf ‘Twin Peaks’ met ‘Leader Of The Pack’ under the mistletoe, it would sound like this. Possibly the best Christmas tune of the last five or ten years, Anais Neon’s harrowing tale of a departed loved one is strangely enticing, with the beautifully haunting echoes of JULEE CRUISE’s ‘The Nightingale’ lingering over the frozen lake.

Available on the EP ‘The Ghosts Of Christmas’ via Vile Electrodes

http://www.vileelectrodes.com/


A further varied collection of seasonal synth based tunes compiled by ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK can be listened to at: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7vIIjZkGd3cVOSarUPvX85


Text by Chi Ming Lai
9th December 2018, updated 8th December 2020

A Beginner’s Guide To The MARSHEAUX Remixes

Dream Of A Disco

In these days of modern remixing, recordings are often reworked to oblivion with the end result being a pointless club track that bears little relation to the original.

In these types of reinterpretations, vocal samples might occasionally appear but everything else is as good as rendered unrecognisable. One of the worst early examples of this indulgence was the Transcendental Constant Viper Mix of OMD’s ‘Stand Above Me’ by Phil Kelsey from 1993… that case was made even worse because what had actually been reworked was another track altogether, namely ‘Dream Of Me’! Who these versions are aimed at is often a mystery although an excellent article on How The Major Labels Sold ‘Electronica’ To America sheds light on how this madness may have started.

And now today with reciprocal remix arrangements being used as part of a dual marketing tool, sometimes quite incongruous pairings are procured with the final outcome getting a mixed reception and often alienating both sets of fanbases.

However, some artists take a more sympathetic approach to the remix opportunity and offer beat enhancements, extra melodic parts and instrumental breakdowns to compliment a track in a far more classic tradition.

RICHARD X, MARK REEDER, PET SHOP BOYS, THE MANHATTAN CLIQUE and FREEMASONS have proved to be fine purveyors of this more accessible song based interplay. But one duo who outstrip them all with their digi-electro style are Athens based synthgirls MARSHEAUX.

Together with their producers FOTONOVELA, Marianthi Melitsi and Sophie Sarigiannidou combine their best synthpop sensibilities with both feet on the dancefloor to deliver some of the best received pop styled remixes of the last ten years with many established artists among their portfolio.

These include official commissions as well as bootlegs for their own club DJ sets. The gift Sophie and Marianthi have when remixing is they always manage to enhance a song with their stamp while retaining the core essence of the original – simple in theory but in reality, not an easy thing to do!

So with a new album from Sophie and Marianthi still a while away, here then are MARSHEAUX’s best eighteen remixes to check out, in alphabetical order by artist. ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK believes this impressive collection would make a rather good compilation album. Perhaps it could be called ‘Dream Of A Disco’?


CLIENT Its Not Over (2008)

MARSHEAUX took their visual inspiration from CLIENT so when they toured Germany together in 2008, it was a most perfect pairing. On ‘It’s Not Over’, some Hellenic shine is added to CLIENT’s Cold War chic for a slice of electro perfection. Sarah Blackwood’s vocal is given space to breathe while the sharpened glitterball backing retains the fuzzy edge of the original but with some additional Eurocentric riffage.

Available on the CD EP ‘It’s Not Over’ via Out Of Line Records Germany. Listen on YouTube http://youtu.be/P1A9d6kU7JE

www.client-online.eu

www.eblackwood.com


DAYBEHAVIOR It’’s A Game (2011)

This synth trio hail from Stockholm but with singer Paulinda’s Italian heritage, a Mediterranean flavour colours their cooler Nordic spirit. So with that in mind, come the bouncy remix of an already brilliant track, this version of ‘It’s A Game’ could easily be mistaken for one of Sophie and Marianthi’s own recordings.

Available on the download single ‘It’s A Game’ via Graplur Records Sweden

www.daybehavior.com


DEPECHE MODE A Pain That I’m Used To (2007)

Already a magnificent brooding epic in its original form, this mighty opener to the ‘Playing The Angel’ album was brilliantly transformed by MARSHEAUX, adding their own sparkling top end dynamic. Although never officially released, this was voted top remix in a poll of DEPECHE MODE fans.

www.depechemode.com


ELECTROBELLE Mirrorball (2008)

The original first appeared in 2008 on an EMI Greece related compilation as part of the lead up to a full single release by Undo Records. However, this did not materialise and it wasn’t until Autumn 2010 that it was issued in its own right as an independent EP. The original was good but MARSHEAUX’s remix was even better. The girls toughened ‘Mirrorball’ up to an EU friendly dancefloor splendour with additional air-synth riffage and interluding attacks that added some extra energy to proceedings.

Available on the CD EP ‘Mirrorball’ via Eden Records

https://www.facebook.com/electrobelle


MYLÈNE FARMER N’aie Plus D’amertume (2011)

Gallic songstress MYLÈNE FARMER is her country’s equivalent of MADONNA if slightly less controversial and diva-ish. Her sound does seem to benefit from disco enhancements, having already scored a No1 in her own country with the MOBY / MANHATTAN CLIQUE collaboration ‘Crier La Vie’. Almost translating as “do more bitterness”, this ballad is given a dreamy uptempo facelift by MARSHEAUX which is pop perfection.

www.mylene.net


THE HUMAN LEAGUE Sky (2011)

Like a post mid-life update of 1984’s ‘Louise’ for the new millennium, Philip Oakey says ‘Sky’ is about “meeting dead girls in bars”. Suitably sombre and monotone synthpop for ‘The Vampire Diaries’ generation, ‘Sky’ is proof that Da League can still come up with great tunes. MARSHEAUX’s busy pulsing adds more fortified Italo elements without disrupting the original’s wonderful melancholy and livens the tempo.

www.thehumanleague.co.uk


HURTS Better Than Love (2010)

Theo Hutchcraft and Adam Adamson’s HI-NRG ditty underwent many manifestations having been originally part of their previous band DAGGERS’ live set. The fastest paced song in the HURTS catalogue, MARSHEAUX’s version hypnotised with its frenetic dancefloor friendliness and sequencing. Again retaining all the best euphoric elements of the song, this remix simply sparkles with optimism.

www.informationhurts.com


IN-VOX featuring ANDY BELL Will I Ever? (2004)

Ever wondered how ERASURE would have sounded doing ‘Go West’? Here it is in this highly uplifting collaboration with Greek duo IN-VOX. The original was fairly guitar driven but MARSHEAUX’s remix, which incidentally was their first, added a distinct electronic sheen to make it a pop masterpiece. Much better than the any of the cover versions which Andy and Vince were attempting at this point although things were put right with ERASURE’s best album in years ‘Nightbird’ released a year later.

Available on the CD single ‘Will I Ever?’ via Sony Music Greece and Columbia Records Austria.  Listen on YouTube http://youtu.be/YvkwXKlvZwk

www.myspace.com/invox1

www.andybell.com


KID MOXIE Medium Pleasure (2009)

KID MOXIE’s stunning lead singer Elena Charbila gives a cynical snarl as she waxes lyrical about how society accepts the culturally mundane and mediocre. With a tedious evening at Manchester MEN Arena led by Coldplay, Snow Patrol and Elbow for Children In Need warmly received by the masses, this just rings so true. Thankfully, MARSHEAUX’s interpretation of ‘Medium Pleasure’ is anything but mundane and mediocre, with rhythmical life enhancement through exposure to cool female fronted electro guaranteed.

Available on the Greek CD edition of ‘Selector’ via Undo Records. Listen on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRRrL0pWyrk

www.myspace.com/kidmoxie


MESH Crash (2006)

Adding some light into the dark industrialists’s repertoire, this bleepy reworking emphasises MESH’s sometimes hidden knack for rousing and catchy electronic tunes. With some of the rockier tendencies stripped away, it becomes club friendly gothic pop that retains the all the dynamic tension and synth soloing of its parent recording. It’s almost like DEPECHE MODE go disco, complete with a lift from ‘It’s No Good’!

Available on the Greek CD edition of ‘We Collide’ via Undo Records.

www.mesh.co.uk


MIRRORS Into The Heart (2011)

Christened the ‘Greek Girls Are Not Easy’ mix, Sophie and Marianthi turned MIRRORS’ most accessible track into a sensational neo-robotic danceathon. The as-yet-unreleased extended version added even more sharp synth counterpoints to the majestic singalong with the whole package proving that classic Synth Britannia influences are nothing to be ashamed of.

Available on the Greek CD edition of ‘Lights & Offerings’ via Undo Records. Listen on YouTube https://youtu.be/77f812hkDBg

www.theworldofmirrors.com


MOBY Lift Me Up (2005)

The original version was used as the theme for the UK’s Formula 1 coverage for a few years in the noughties and while it doesn’t have the instant resonance that FLEETWOOD MAC’s ‘The Chain’ has in its association with motorsport, it is certainly an energetically rousing anthem. At a less frantic pace, MARSHEAUX’s remix with its firm octave shift drive is a regular staple in their DJ sets and always well received by clubbers.

www.moby.com


OMD She’s Leaving (2008)

OMD-Shes-Leaving-90024Technically, this is not a remix as it started life as a cover version of the ‘Architecture And Morality’ classic. However, a new vocal by Andy McCluskey was added and this delightfully rounded with the angelic melancholy of MARSHEAUX’s own sweet timbres. Given a modern discofied softsynth facelift, this pretty duet is a fine example of how yesterday’s tomorrow can successfully meet the present and the future. MARSHEAUX had a go at remixing OMD’s comeback single ‘If You Want It’, but even their dainty craft work couldn’t turn that particular donkey into a racehorse!

Unreleased at time of writing, listen on YouTube http://youtu.be/ly6JDo8o1I0

www.omd-messages.co.uk


KATY PERRY Hot ‘N’ Cold (2009)

KATY PERRY kissed a girl and liked it, but behind all the shock tactics was some quality songs written by Cathy Dennis and in the case of ‘Hot ‘N’ Cold’, Swedish megapop producer Max Martin. Taking its cue from the PET SHOP BOYS remix of THE KILLERS’ ‘Read My Mind’, this superb reworking by MARSHEAUX can only be described as truly banging! When presented to KATY PERRY’s management, they were none too pleased but the lady herself loved it and sanctioned its release. It has since become the biggest selling single recording that MARSHEAUX have been involved in.

Available exclusively as an iTunes download single via EMI Records Greece

www.katyperry.com


SAKIS ROUVAS Shake It (2004)

MARSHEAUX went to the Eurovision Song Contest with their electro assisted radio mix of this saucy uptempo number. SAKIS ROUVAS, who could be considered Greece’s own RICKY MARTIN, came third in proceedings and went to No1 in his home country. While ‘Shake It’ is not exactly a work of genius, it is good fun and did considerably better than the UK’s entry which came sixteenth. With the momentum from the success of ‘Shake It’, Greece actually won with ELENA PAPARIZOU in 2005, while Sakis himself represented Greece again in 2009.

Available on the CD Single ‘Shake It’ via EMI Records

http://www.sakisrouvas.com/


SALLY SHAPIRO Jackie Jackie (2010)

SALLY SHAPIRO is the Queen of Scandinavian electropop and has won many admirers. With her wispy vocal and discotheque tendencies, she shares a musical affinity with MARSHEAUX. Interestingly though, the original of this was more of a pretty crystalline ballad. So MARSHEAUX added a 2010 percussive backbone to give it disco potential and thereby construct an uplifting anthem in time for the new decade.

www.facebook.com/shapirosally


TAREQ Mosquito (2011)

Greco Jordanian Tareq Souleiman was previously the lead singer of TECH SOIR and his vocal timbres make him electro’s answer to INXS’ Michael Hutchence as his cover of ‘Need You Tonight’ indeed shows. ‘Mosquito’ with its relaxed but pacey drum ‘n’ pop was the superb highlight from his first solo album ‘Cocoon’. Here though, MARSHEAUX take the pace down to a slower off-beat groove for an even greater chilled mood with Marianthi’s soft vocals, symphonic strings and KRAFTWERK’s Vako Orchestron choirs from ‘Radio-Activity’ added to the mix.

http://www.facebook.com/Tareqdisco


TIGER BABY Girlfriend (2006)

Dream laden electro from Copenhagen, TIGER BABY are another act who could be mistaken for MARSHEAUX with that synthpop vibe combined with sweetly gorgeous vocals from Pernille Pang. Stylistically, this has all the impressive hallmarks of the MARSHEAUX sound combined with the unmistakeable melodic sensibility that Scandinavian pop acts seem to naturally possess.

Available on the CD single ‘Girlfriend’ via Gunhero Records Denmark

www.tigerbaby.dk


With thanks to MARSHEAUX, all at Undo Records and EMI Greece

A selection of MARSHEAUX’s remixes can be heard at:
https://soundcloud.com/marsheauxremixes/

http://www.marsheaux.com

http://www.undorecords.com


Text by Chi Ming Lai
3rd December 2011, updated 29th October 2013

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 30 SONGS OF 2010

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK came into being on 15th March 2010 following the HEAVEN 17 aftershow party at Sheffield Magna.

The year also saw the release of a new album by OMD in ‘History Of Modern’, their first since 1996.

Meanwhile there was the emergence of new acts such as VILLA NAH, MIRRORS and HURTS.

At the end of 2009 when LITTLE BOOTS and LA ROUX heralded a renaissance in the sound of the synth, KRAFTWERK’s Ralf Hütter said to Mojo Magazine: “From all our work comes inspiration. We have been very lucky because the music we envisioned, the ideas we had of The Man-Machine and electro music, have become reality and technology has developed in our direction… and electro is everywhere!”

In a tremendous year for all things electro, here are our 30 songs of 2010 in alphabetical order by artist:


CHRISTINA AGUILERA & LADYTRON Birds Of Prey

In 2008, there was much talk of CHRISTINA AGUILERA going electro and collaborating with LADYTRON. Fast forward to 2010 and the two finished tracks ‘Birds Of Prey’ and ‘Little Dreamer’ were relegated to bonus track status on her album Bionic, with the latter being available only on iTunes. ‘Birds Of Prey’ softens the percussive noise that dominated ‘Velocifero’ with Ms Aguilera showing some great vocal restraint herself, with an almost hypnotic Middle Eastern feel.

Available on the album ‘Bionic (Deluxe Edition)’

http://www.christinaaguilera.com/

http://www.ladytron.com/


ARP High Life

ARP is New Yorker Alexis Georgopoulos who crafts gorgeous contemporary kosmische musik for the 21st century. Beautiful synth strings plus the spectre of KRAFTWERK and CLUSTER dominate this cute instrumental. Some minimal guitar adds texture to the pulsing accompaniment, recalling other German heroes such as MICHAEL ROTHER and MANUEL GOTTSCHING.

Available on the album ‘The Soft Wave’

http://www.studioalexisgeorgopoulos.com/ARP


AU REVOIR SIMONE Tell Me (Un Autre Monde Remix by MIRRORS)

Although AU REVOIR SIMONE have a wispy girls next door demeanour, this remix by MIRRORS recrafts the originally bare ‘Tell Me’ into a dense apocalyptic ditty which makes Erika Forster, Annie Hart and Heather D’Angelo sound almost suicidal! With its heavy synthetic percussive backbone, this is definitely dance music from another world! Like an alternative gothic disco soundtrack to Sofia Coppola’s ‘The Virgin Suicides’!

Available exclusively as a download on the album ‘Night Light’ from Juno:
http://www.junodownload.com/products/au-revoir-simone-night-light/1582186-02/

http://aurevoirsimone.com


BRIGHT LIGHT BRIGHT LIGHT Love Part II

Shimmering Emulator type strings, pulsing sequences and a rousing chorus make this a very immediate slice of synthesized pop. BRIGHT LIGHT BRIGHT LIGHT mainman Rod Thomas reworks the template of ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ and gives it a bit of a sensitive new man outlook. ‘Love Part II’ is NEW ORDER’s disco music for lager louts taken back to its slightly camper Italo roots. Not one for those who wear football shirts to the pub!

Available on the single ‘Love Part II’

http://www.brightlightx2.com/


THE CHANTEUSE & THE CRIPPLED CLAW Are You One?

Assisted by I Monster’s Dean Honer who also co-produced THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s Night People, THE CHANTEUSE & THE CRIPPLED CLAW’s first single ‘Are You One?’ has Candie Payne’s very classic pop presence coupled with Adrian Flanagan’s eccentronic backing. It wonderfully sounds like SANDIE SHAW being backed by a BBC Radiophonic Workshop collaboration with LALO SCHIFRIN!

Available on the single ‘Are You One?’

https://myspace.com/chanteusenthecrippledclaw


CHEW LIPS Rising Tide

Usually dealing in a brand of “8-bit Casiotone drone-disco” sounding like YEAH YEAH YEAHS with synths, CHEW LIPS look like OMD being led by Debbie Harry! And they take the OMD thing further here with their best track ‘Rising Tide’. The haunting piano, precise drum machine and bass with sparkling synth-harp runs and a spirited vocal come together nicely to build up to a rousing crescendo.

Available exclusively as a download on the album ‘Unicorn’ from iTunes.

http://chew-lips.com


DELPHIC Halcyon

Here are the young men of DELPHIC, continuing the electronic dance / rock fusion pioneered by the legend of Factory Records. The backing is pure NEW ORDER and reinforced by a great klanky guitar solo which would do Bernard Sumner proud. Now, if DELPHIC could just develop things into great pop songs like ‘Halcyon’ rather than some of the prolonged jams and grooves that dominate their debut album ‘Acolyte’.

Available on the album ‘Acolyte’

https://www.facebook.com/delphicmusic/


THE GOLDEN FILTER Look Me In The Eye

With their melodic and glacial electronic disco, you’d think they were Scandinavian, but THE GOLDEN FILTER consist of an Aussie in Penelope Trappes and a Yank in Stephen Hindman. Penelope’s vocals have an uplifting quality on the chorus while still retaining a distant chill but the counter melodies compliment the danceable twists. A little I Feel Love creeps in during the chorus to give a wonderful dancefloor adrenalin rush.

Available on the album ‘Voluspa’

http://www.thegoldenfilter.com/


GOLDFRAPP Dreaming

As the title suggests, this is gorgeous and dreamy with a distinct European flavour from the enjoyable album ‘Head First’ which perhaps is more focused on mid-Atlantic AOR. Alison’s voice still resonates as one of the best in the business and back to being accompanied by primarily electronic instrumentation which is where it belongs. The pulsing sequences and string machine washes of ‘Dreaming’ make this perfect dancefloor material.

Available on the album ‘Head First’

http://www.goldfrapp.com/


HELL featuring BRYAN FERRY U Can Dance

Mr Ferry has certainly been astute in recognising how much of an influence he’s been on younger musicians and accepting collaborative opportunities with modern dance luminaries such as HELL and GROOVE ARMADA. DJ HELL provides U Can Dance’  with some hard electronic backing, complimenting Ferry’s trademark vocals. Ferry recorded his own Roxy styled version for his solo album ‘Olympia’.

Available on the single ‘U Can Dance’

https://www.facebook.com/DJHellOfficial/

http://www.bryanferry.com/


JORI HULKKONEN Man From Earth

Hypnotic in the spirit of Giorgio Moroder crossed with Arthur Baker and featuring the guest vocals of Jerry Valuri who first collaborated with Hulkkonen on 2005’s ‘Lo-Fiction’, this dark club track’s spacey rolling sequences make this almost like a dancefloor take on THROBBING GRISTLE’s ‘Hot On The Heels Of Love’ before launching into a bit of New York electro disco!

Available on the album ‘Man From Earth’

http://www.jorihulkkonen.com/


THE HUMAN LEAGUE Night People

After Philip Oakey’s collaborations in 2009 with LITTLE BOOTS and PET SHOP BOYS, THE HUMAN LEAGUE returned with the lead track from their forthcoming album ‘Credo’ sounding very electronic and very modern. Punchy with an elastic bassline and chanting chorus, the lyrical couplet “leave your cornflakes in your freezers, leave your chocolates and your cheeses…” shows Mr Oakey hasn’t lost his touch for off-the-wall symbolism. So “Join us now my friends we hail you!”

Available on the single ‘Night People’

http://www.thehumanleague.co.uk/


HURTS Stay

HURTS have been certainly accused of style over substance. ‘Wonderful Life’ looked like being a one-off but luckily they have some other magnificent songs to back up their European art house film via the Weimar Republic persona. With ‘Stay’, the heartfelt intensity of the lush arrangement captures the understated but epic sophistication. With the symphonic grandeur of ULTRAVOX fronted by the melodic sensibilities of TAKE THAT, is this a ‘Vienna’ for the early 21st Century?

Available on the album ‘Happiness’

http://www.informationhurts.com/


HYPERBUBBLE Candy Apple Daydreams

From the album of the same name, Texan duo HYPPERBUBBLE have an almost cartoon-like take on synthpop in the vein of that great lost combo VIC TWENTY who released only one single on Mute. ‘Candy Apple Daydreams’ is fun and quirky with Jess as the electro Emma Peel and Jeff as the obedient robotic version of John Steed.

Available on the album ‘Candy Apple Daydreams’

http://www.hyperbubble.net/


KATJA VON KASSEL Lies

Electro Weimar Cabaret is the easiest way to describe the music of KATJA VON KASSEL. Lies’ features strong traditional European influences like French accordions and ‘Vienna’ piano but also has hints of GRACE JONES ‘I’ve Seen That Face Before’. Not entirely surprising as both songs are routed in the same dance… the tango. LADYHAWKE collaborator Alex Gray’s intricate production alongside Katja’s magnificently deep vocal presence is like the “1930’s meets the future”.

Not yet released, view on Vimeo

https://www.facebook.com/KatjavKassel/


LCD SOUNDSYSTEM I Can Change

From what appears to be the only electronic based act that the real music purists positively fawn over, this is a superbly guitar free number that sounds like ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN mashed up with GARY NUMAN and early DEPECHE MODE. The wonderfully wobbly synths and steady drum machine beat take the lead in the poptastic style of Vince Clarke while James Murphy’s vocal hits a soaring falsetto after initiating a ‘Mac The Mouth’ tribute.

Available on the album ‘This Is Happening’

http://lcdsoundsystem.com/


LOLA DUTRONIC Best Years Of Our Lives

LOLA DUTRONIC are a duo who adapt classic Anglo-Gallic pop with modern electronic arrangements. ‘Best Years Of Our Lives’ borrows from the more recent past with quite obvious references to OMD, ERASURE and even PULP. It’s cutesy pop, perhaps reminiscent of prime SAINT ETIENNE and Lola’s accent is just alluring!

Available on the EP ‘Musique’

https://www.facebook.com/LOLA-DUTRONIC-80232595392/


MARINA & THE DIAMONDS Oh No!

Using a bit of Fe-Mael intuition, Marina Diamandis adds eccentricity to some catchy keyboard led pop helmed by the ubiquitous Greg Kurstin. “I have become my own self fulfilled prophecy” she proclaims before she screams up two operatic octaves taking a nod towards classic SPARKS while the coda turns into a Cossack dance! Frankly, this is brilliantly bonkers!

Available on the album ‘The Family Jewels’

http://www.marinaandthediamonds.com/


KYLIE MINOGUE All The Lovers

Aided by Stuart Price at the mixing helm, ‘All The Lovers’ was Ms Minogue’s best single since the KRAFTWERK-tinged ‘Slow’ is euphoric Euro-disco with some wonderful synthetic tones, especially on the solo. There’s something for everybody here in this fabulous pop song. But what a shame about the parent ‘Aphrodite’ album though.

Available on the album ‘Aphrodite’

http://www.kylie.com/


MIRRORS Ways To An End

MIRRORS hail from Brighton, the UK capital of hedonism but their intense and artful approach to dancing is very different to the ‘hands in the air’ culture of their home base. Synthetic chill and pulsing effects dominate this brilliantly uptempo electro number. Rhythmically this recalls TALKING HEADS ‘Crosseyed & Painless’ while the claustrophobic production is very post-punk, wonderfully dense but melodically dramatic. A brilliant introduction to The World of MIRRORS.

Available on the single ‘Ways To An End’

https://www.facebook.com/theworldofmirrors/


OMD New Holy Ground

In the true innovating spirit of their classic era, the sparse percussive framework of ‘New Holy Ground’ is merely the sound of footsteps. This is the nearest they have come to the lost B-side and fan favourite ‘The Avenue’. The wonderful piano line and virtual choirs contribute to the beautiful melancholy that characterised OMD’s best work where Paul Humphreys concentrated on the musical backbone while Andy McCluskey provided the narrative focus.

Available on the album ‘History Of Modern’

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


WILLIAM ORBIT featuring SARAH BLACKWOOD White Night

sarah-dubstar

In period which has seen a flurry of solo activity and the reformation of DUBSTAR, the lovely SARAH BLACKWOOD took time out to work with on a track from his album ‘My Oracle Lives Uptown’. Although a version without her ended up on the final tracklisting, her take was offered as a free download in 2010. More accessible than some of CLIENT’s recent offerings but more purely electronic than DUBSTAR, this was a priceless pop gem from our Sarah which lyrically was “full of pain”.

Originally available as a free download

http://www.williamorbit.com/


PARRALOX Supermagic (O-Phase Edit)

Supermagic sees some DIVINE intervention in a throbbing Bobby Orlando influenced remix. The original meanwhile has a 6/8 glam beat and sounds like MADONNA impersonating GOLDFRAPP. Taking their electro into a pure pop direction, John and Amii certainly don’t let up on that glitterballed dancefloor.

Available on the album ‘Metropolis’

http://www.parralox.com/


ROBYN Dancing On My Own (Radio version)

More bittersweet heartbreak from Ms Carlsson, this is driven by wonderful, edgy electronics while the simultaneous dancing and mourning reflects the vulnerability everyone experiences in the loss of love. Solemn synthetic disco at its best from the feisty, independently spirited Swede who is slowly turning into a modern day GINA X PERFORMANCE.

Available on the album ‘Body Talk’

http://robyn.com/


SHH Wonderful Night

Euphoric sensualism captured in three and a half minutes, the chunky pulsing sequences to a solid dance beat and a rousing chorus add a blissful optimism full of Latin spirit. ‘Wonderful Night’ is bouncy danceable electropop that does what it says on the tin. As their own mission statement announces, it’s “Electronic pop, Buenos Aires style!”

Available on the album ‘Gaucho Boy’

https://www.facebook.com/Shhsounds/


SUNDAY GIRL Stop Hey!

Following up SUNDAY GIRL’s previous two singles ‘Four Floors’ and her cover of ‘Self Control’, ‘Stop Hey!’ saw overdriven drum sounds and a piercing trebly riff dominate this piece of icy Eurocentric electro, sounding not unlike ELLIE GOULDING with a 20 cigarettes a day habit backed by MIRRORS and MGMT! This was kooky and stylish avant pop that hinted at something much darker going on in Jade Williams’ mind.

Available on the single ‘Stop Hey!’

http://www.wearesundaygirl.com


TAKE THAT Flowerbed

No, this isn’t a misprint! The hidden track on the reunited Manchester boy band’s Stuart Price produced opus ‘Progress’ is an electronic gem. In a rare lead vocal for Jason Orange, he comes over all apologetic in the manner of AL STEWART over a dreamy backing track that possesses the glacial Scandinavian quality of ROYKSOPP with a sprinkling of ENO-esque textural ambience. Beginning with soothing vocoder before building to a percussive climax, this is simply quite beautiful!

Available on the album ‘Progress’

http://takethat.com/


TENEK Blinded By You

TENEK have successfully smoothed off some of their more industrial edges to deliver their most immediate and accessible song yet. A rousing chorus and a structure not dissimilar to THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s ‘The Things That Dreams Are Made Of’, there are further synth anthems galore on their album On The Wire with nods to the MTV-era of TEARS FOR FEARS and A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS. “Heartbeat? Get down!” Synthetic dance rock at its best.

Available on the album ‘On The Wire’

http://www.tenek.co.uk/


VILE ELECTRODES Deep Red

VILE ELECTRODES are a colourful trio consisting of Anais Neon, Loz Tronic and Martin Swan who formed due to an unhealthy obsession with analogue synthesizers and fetish porn. ‘Deep Red’, a title inspired by Dario Argento’s ‘Profondo Rosso’, is a gorgeous seven and a half minute synth ballad that comes over like CLIENT fronting classic ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVRES IN THE DARK… tremendously dramatic stuff in the vein of Statues and Stanlow!

Not yet released, view on YouTube

http://www.vileelectrodes.com/


VILLA NAH Remains Of Love

Have you ever heard GARY NUMAN almost jaunty? The fantastic ‘Remains Of Love’ is the poppiest thing that the former Gary Webb never recorded. Juho Paalosmaa is next to crying in the wonderful chorus but it’s almost sounds like GARY NUMAN on prozac over Tomi Hyyppä’s crystalline melodies. With that all important air synth factor, VILLA NAH took the important elements of classic electronic pop and connected it to sharp, complimentary dance rhythms.

Available on the album ‘Origin’

https://www.facebook.com/villanah/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
30th December 2010, updated 14th March 2017

2010 End Of Year Review

The Year Of Transistors

“Synthesizers can be explored and explored, and the music that can be made with electronic instruments is infinite in its breadth. KRAFTWERK may have said ‘we are the robots’, but anyone need only listen to Trans-Europe Express and compare it to most of the turgid, boring guitar-based rock that has been produced over the last 30 years to realise that electronic music can be deeply emotional. And anyone who says electronic music is not real music is just too simple-minded for our patience I’m afraid!MIRRORS

2010 saw the return of the male synthpop act, smart boys with their toys and their nods towards the classic era of Synth Britannia.

Leading the way were VILLA NAH and MIRRORS who both fused quality songs with vintage sounds and crisp contemporary percussive frameworks. The two units were obviously pressing the right buttons as both opened as special guests to OMD. As a continued sign of their undoubted potential, both were also were invited to support THE HUMAN LEAGUE; an opportunity which unfortunately neither act was able to fulfil due to prior scheduling commitments.

Coming from Finland, VILLA NAH released one of the best long players of the year in ‘Origin’, while closer to home, Brighton-based MIRRORS’ forthcoming album ‘Lights And Offerings’ is likely to be one of the musical highlights of 2011.

Meanwhile HURTS, the enigmatic Mancunian duo who many predicted for major success in 2010, rattled the cages of the style over substance brigade.

Whilst the cinematic grandeur displayed in their best songs like ‘Wonderful Life’, ‘Stay’ and ‘Sunday’ was simply outstanding, they did occasionally walk a fine line with their milder paced material, sounding occasionally like TAKE THAT backed by ULTRAVOX. Despite confusing some listeners, their album ‘Happiness’ was an enormous grower and their live shows won over many new fans, especially on the continent where artful intelligence is a highly regarded attribute.

Interestingly, TAKE THAT themselves released their album ‘Progress’ with Stuart Price aka LES RYTHMES DIGITALES at the producer’s helm.

Featuring a strong electronic flavour, there was also a song called ‘Eight Letters’ based on ‘Vienna’ which resulted in the rather unusual credit ‘written by Barlow / Donald / Orange / Owen / Williams / Ure / Cross / Cann / Currie’!

Attracting cult followings in 2010 were DELPHIC and CHEW LIPS. DELPHIC captured the Factory Records aesthetic of the mutant disco pioneered by NEW ORDER and A CERTAIN RATIO, but were unable to attract mainstream recognition probably due to their reliance on grooves and jams rather than actual songs… they can only get better with time.

CHEW LIPS are YEAH YEAH YEAHS with synths and while they had several brilliant numbers in their cannon, not all were included on their rather short debut album ‘Unicorn’. This didn’t allow them to play to their strengths on record although this was fully exploited in their live show. Again, they will learn.

And not wishing to get wholly involved in the main skirmish, THE SOUND OF ARROWS maintained a low profile while recording their debut album in London but delivered some impressive concert showcases of their lush Nordic musicality. Their optimistic and aspirational ‘Disney meets Brokeback Mountain’ tone may be the fresh approach to electropop in 2011.

Kookiness was the order of the day with the raven haired beauties MARINA & THE DIAMONDS and EMILIE SIMON. Marina Lambrini Diamandis kept the spirit of SPARKS alive with some fe-Mael intuition on her superb debut ‘The Family Jewels’ while EMILIE SIMON crossed the channel for some ‘one girl and her synth’ shows to fill the gap left by the absence of LITTLE BOOTS in 2010.

As could have been expected after the promotional lash of last year, Victoria Hesketh took a break before starting work on her new album. Hertfordshire’s SUNDAY GIRL could be the next lady-in-waiting providing she can expand on the very promising material like All The Songs and Stop Hey! that was premiered in the latter part of the year.

Meanwhile LA ROUX toured the world and recorded a ‘Stones cover ‘Under Your Thumb’ for the ‘Sidetracked’ influences DJ mix compilation before giving old mate SKREAM the iTunes bonus track Saviour for a dubstep rework as Finally and guesting with CHROMEO. However, Elly Jackson appears to have forgotten that No.1 rule of not biting the hand that feeds you by exclaiming “… I don’t want to make synth music for the rest of my f*cking life!” and declaring the electropop genre “over”!

In the battle of Synth Britannia, OMD released their first collection of new material for 14 years while THE HUMAN LEAGUE delayed their full album return until 2011. THE HUMAN LEAGUE have the backing of electronic music guru Mark Jones’ Wall Of Sound label and thus far have played a ‘less is more’ approach.

Despite not having an official website until this year, some clever viral marketing sent interest in their single ‘Night People’ sky high and provided good business for their now almost traditional Christmas UK tour.

While OMD’s ‘History of Modern’ album had several outstanding tracks worthy of comparison with past glories, it was confusingly launched with an Aretha Franklin mash-up that wasn’t on the final tracklisting and a nauseating Britpop pastiche as lead single. Ironically one of the statements made in its sleeve notes was “Modern is not… Oasis”!

It was as if audiences who had traditionally been sceptical of the whole synthesizer axis were now being targeted.

However, electronic pop’s spiritual homeland of Germany welcomed OMD back like one of their own and respectable business for ‘History of Modern’ was generated.

A-HA though are proof that consistently high quality new material is still a possiblity 25 years after your commercial heyday with the focus of their final album ‘Foot Of The Mountain’ very much on their synthesizer roots. In late 2010, they bid farewell with a final tour and a superb double CD compilation called ’25’ which featured not only their hits but the best of their much under valued album tracks.

Among the acts celebrating their legacies, HEAVEN 17 enhanced their reputation no-end by participating in a brilliant BBC6 Music collaboration with “the falsetto from the ghetto” LA ROUX.

And if that wasn’t enough, they had not one but two BBC TV programmes featuring their highly regarded album ‘Penthouse & Pavement’ including their triumphant Sheffield Magna gig.

HOWARD JONES didn’t look a day older, proving that a vegetarian diet and a clean living spirituality was the key to eternal youth! He played ‘Human’s Lib’ and ‘Dream Into Action’ in full for the first time at Indigo2.

Former sparring partners ULTRAVOX and JOHN FOXX played very different types of live shows in 2010. ULTRAVOX almost went back to basics with the retrospective ‘Return To Eden 2’ tour while JOHN FOXX curated an audio/visual extravaganza at the Short Circuit Festival featuring a deluge of analogue synths and some new material to a mixed reception.

DEPECHE MODE completed their ‘Tour Of The Universe’ and capped it all with a special show at the Royal Albert Hall for The Teenage Cancer Trust where Alan Wilder was reunited with the band for the first time in 16 years during the encore of ‘Somebody’.

It was an emotional night for many including the band. Does this lay out the foundations for, if not a reunion, at least some future work together?

GOLDFRAPP returned with ‘Head First’, a mid-Atlantic AOR styled electronic romp that had echoes of ABBA, LAURA BRANIGAN and OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN. Some found it uninspiring but what could not be denied was the catchiness of the tunes. Given time, it will become a future guilty pleasure.

Meanwhile LADYTRON prepared a career spanning compilation Ladytron ’00-10′ to reinforce their reputation as one of the key electronic based acts of the last decade but they began the year contributing a pair of excellent bonus tracks to CHRISTINA AGUILERA’s album ‘Bionic’ in ‘Birds Of Prey’ and ‘Little Dreamer’.

Swedish songstress ROBYN continued her feisty independent spirit by releasing her ‘Body Talk’ trilogy and the excellent single ‘Dancing On My Own’, while both LADY GAGA and KYLIE kept electronically produced pop in the mainstream consciousness.

Across the water, New York’s THE GOLDEN FILTER added a crisp vibe to the electronic dancefloor via some dreamy Scandinavian influences and frantic tribal percussion while their neighbours THE HUNDRED IN THE HANDS brought a mechanised twist to new wave on their self-titled debut. And for the perfect after party soundtrack in the Big Apple, ARP provided some gorgeous modern day ambience with the album ‘The Soft Wave’.

Meanwhile, another North American based duo LOLA DUTRONIC relaunched their brand of dreamy Gallic flavoured electro-lounge pop with the ‘Musique’ EP.

Elsewhere internationally, the vivacious SHH became the latest in a line of Argentine musicians basing themselves in London for an assault on the UK and European market while Texans HYPERBUBBLE brought their own ‘bionic bubblepunk’ with the impressive ‘Candy Apple Daydreams’. MARSHEAUX had a quiet year, only releasing a cover of BILLY IDOL’s Eyes Without a Face for an Amnesty International compilation.

Promising newcomers VILE ELECTRODES steadily gained fans on the London club circuit with their mix of fetish porn and analogue synths while following some line-up changes, THE VANITY CLAUSE finally released their first album ‘Fractured’.

And the quirky Sheffield based duo THE CHANTEUSE & THE CLAW unleashed a superb debut single in ‘Are You One?’.

Overall in 2010, the spark generated by the new generation of synthesizer acts and the willingness of others to incorporate more electronic sounds into their work accounted for yet another productive year with the heritage acts also getting the cultural recognition they fully deserved. Ever supportive, The Guardian even featured a piece on the older incarnation entitled Forgive Us Our Synths which interestingly was almost two years after their prophetic Slaves To Synth article hit the public consciousness.

There were more quality albums and live shows of interest to the electro fan than in many years past with acts such as MIRRORS, VILLA NAH and HURTS fulfilling the role of worthy successors to the classic Synth Britanniageneration. Hopefully, other acts will be following in their footsteps. In fact, despite being ignored by the BBC Sound Of 2011 and New To Q listings which appear to have been locked into some evil parallel universe where good taste does not seem to reside, “… fey, gay, pseudo-intellectual synth b*llocks” still rules!


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK Contributor Listings Of 2010

STEVE GRAY

Best Album: TENEK On The Wire
Best Song: HURTS Unspoken
Best Gig: DEPECHE MODE at London Royal Albert Hall
Best Video: MIRRORS Ways To An End
Most Promising New Act: MIRRORS


CHI MING LAI

Best Album: VILLA NAH Origin
Best Song: MIRRORS Ways To An End
Best Gig: HEAVEN 17 at Sheffield Magna
Best Video: HURTS Wonderful Life
Most Promising New Act: THE SOUND OF ARROWS


RICHARD PRICE

Best Album: HURTS Happiness
Best Song: OMD History Of Modern (Part I)
Best Gig: THE HUMAN LEAGUE + HEAVEN 17 at Galway Festival
Best Video: HURTS Stay
Most Promising New Act: MIRRORS


JOHAN WEJEDAL

Best Album: PAGE Nu
Best Song: POLAROID MILITIA Astana My Hero
Best Gig: PAGE at Gothenburg Synthklubben
Best Video: VILE ELECTRODES Deep Red
Most Promising New Act: THE GIRL & THE ROBOT


Text by Chi Ming Lai
28th December 2010

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