Tag: I Monster


Adopting the dishevelled persona of a satanic Libertas, the new I SPEAK MACHINE long player ‘War’ captures the zeitgeist. Despite this, it is actually a more personal album dealing with the themes of addiction and mental illness.

I SPEAK MACHINE is the audio visual project of Tara Busch and Maf Lewis; their album ‘Zombies 1985’ produced by John Foxx collaborator Benge was a soundtrack to a short horror sci-fi film about a Zombie Apocalypse. One of the best albums of 2017, it was notable for Busch’s own restylings of singers as diverse as Doris Day, Alison Goldfrapp and Grace Jones.

Constructed remotely between Los Angeles and Sheffield over a three year period, ‘War’ has been co-produced by Dean Honer of I MONSTER, THE ECCENTRONIC RESEARCH COUNCIL and INTERNATIONAL TEACHERS OF POP fame. He has done a particularly good job with the jagged sound design. Meanwhile Busch has processed her voice as a central instrument, bending it through effects, vocoders and a Korg MS-20 as Will Gregory did with Alison Goldfrapp on the ‘Felt Mountain’ album.

Short and sweet with reminiscences of Gary Numan’s ‘Metal’, the screeching title song opener sets the scene and declares the album’s intentions with a rumbling backdrop. Embroiled in menace and some eerie flute, ‘Left For Dead’ cuts and bleeds and frightens while the progressive avant-funk of ‘Beat Down By Heaven’ is aided by sharper objects such as guitar, sub-bass and distorted claptraps.

Featuring backing vocals from Kendra Frost of KITE BASE and shaped by a dysfunctional analogue sequence, the wonderful Sci-Fi goth of ‘Santa Monica’ acts as an ironic love letter to Los Angeles, making use of Busch’s impressive vocal range from high soprano to deep contralto.

With a salvo of industrial Schaffel to shape a cover of American alt rockers CONCRETE BLONDE’s ‘Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)’, this is how GOLDFRAPP might sound if contributing to a Wes Craven movie. Sparser than the other tracks, ‘Dirty Soul’ weirdly echoes David Essex’s ‘Rock On’ while crossing paths with Patti Page on Venus. Then with a sense of foreboding in line with Gary Numan’s more recent work, ‘Ruined Me’ sees Busch point the finger at her dependency and how it has contaminated her aura.

Acting as a beautiful harp interlude, the soothing ‘I See You’ is counterpointed by a foreboding presence. But ramping up the pressure, as its title suggests, ‘The Metal of My Hell’ is a fierce aural assault of frantic heavy metal with synths and an aggressive rage as Busch decides to “burn the witch” and “burn the bitch” because “you had it coming for a long time!”.

A co-write with Kendra Frost, the ghostly ‘Push The Grease’ presents a stuttering percussive tension and another processed otherworldly vocal. Feisty and frantic, ‘Rats Rise’ is the final battle as the dirty rodents leave the sinking ship but with shades of ‘Clowns’ by GOLDFRAPP, the angelic ‘Until I Kill The Beast’ offers peace and tranquillity although the discordant metallic embellishments confirm that work is still to be done as “the devil sits with me until I kill the beast”.

There is cathartic joy in the discomforting exorcism that is the ‘War’ album; I SPEAK MACHINE’s bizarre mix of timbres and styles provide a severe but rather appealing and cerebral listening experience. If you are going to see Gary Numan on his European tour in May and June, arrive early because guess who is opening?

‘War’ is available as a double red vinyl LP and CD from https://ispeakmachine.bandcamp.com/

I SPEAK MACHINE will be opening for Gary Numan in May and June 2022 – for further information, please visit https://www.ispeakmachine.com





Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photo by Maf Lewis
22nd April 2022


‘Credo’ is THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s first new body of work since 2001’s ‘Secrets’.

Produced by Dean Honer and Jarrod Gosling of I MONSTER, the nucleus of Philip Oakey, Susanne Sulley and Joanne Catherall are ably supported by long standing sidemen Neil Sutton, Rob Barton and David Beevers.

‘Night People’ and ‘Electric Shock’ have already been showcased live with the latter sounding like what would have happened if Philip Oakey had actually recorded with Giorgio Moroder in 1977 instead of 1984.

And in the early days when it was Phil talkin’, he always remarked how THE HUMAN LEAGUE never aspired to be KRAFTWERK but actually wanted to be Donna Summer! With the haunting tones of 1995’s ‘These Are The Days’ lurking in the background, ‘Electric Shock’ cleverly fuses past, present and future.

‘Never Let Me Go’ is a marvellous opener which sees an auto-tuned Susanne Sulley take lead vocals on a piece of dancey electro that sounds like CLIENT gone funky or ‘Crash’ gone right.

The excellent ‘Get Together’ has poptastic potential and launches into a classic League chorus with plenty of lovely synth action while the ‘Credo’ closer ‘When Stars Start To Shine is a fun’, off-beat number which rhythmically echoes Thomas Dolby’s ‘Europa & The Pirate Twins’. Alongside Philip’s deadpan chants of “keep on moving!”, this ditty even sounds in places like their former sparring partners HEAVEN 17!

‘Credo’ is a welcome return for THE HUMAN LEAGUE and will be enjoyed by all lovers of electronic pop who have waited a long time for the realisation of this rather lively opus.

So all you ‘Night People’, “listen to the sound, there is movement all around!”

‘Credo’ is released on 11th March 2011 by PIAS in Germany, Austria and Switzerland while the UK release will be on 21st March 2011 through Wall Of Sound.





Text by Chi Ming Lai
11th March 2011