Tag: iamamiwhoami (Page 2 of 3)

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 30 SONGS OF 2017

It was a year when the veterans re-established their standing within electronic pop.

That was not to that comparatively newer acts weren’t making a good impression, it was just that a fair number of established acts gave their all and were producing some of their best work since their imperial heyday. Great tracks by SPARKS, OUTERNATIONALE, SPACEPRODIGI, iEUROPEAN, PARALLELS, FEVER RAY, SOL FLARE, SOFTWAVE, KNIGHT$, 2RAUMWHONUNG, JORI HULKKONEN, FIFI RONG and KITE BASE made it onto the shortlist, but despite their quality, they did not make the final listing.

Also not included are songs from ‘Welcome To The Dancefloor’, the debut album from Rusty Egan; although gaining a physical release this year, it was reviewed by ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK in the Autumn of last year when download versions of the long player were distributed to those who had purchased it in advance via Pledge Music. Meanwhile, its closing track ‘Thank You’ was included in our 30 Songs Of 2016.

So restricted to purchasable releases only and one song per artist moniker, here are ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 30 Songs Of 2017 in alphabetical order…


AESTHETIC PERFECTION Rhythm + Control – Electro Mix

Additionally featuring NYXX and WILLIAM CONTROL on vocals, ‘Rhythm + Control’ saw Daniel Graves take AESTHETIC PERFECTION’s industrial pop to the next level via his new singles only policy. The magnificent Electro Mix successfully realised this oddball blend of Darren Hayes, Britney Spears and Marilyn Manson. With a mightily elastic bassline, when asked whether The Electricity Club had gone crazy coming up with the comparison, Daniel Graves replied “God no. Spot on, guys!”

Available on the single ‘Rhythm + Control’ via aestheticperfection.bandcamp.com/track/rhythm-control-electro-version-feat-william-control-nyxx

http://aesthetic-perfection.net/


RICHARD BARBIERI Solar Sea

From only the third solo album in the long career of Richard Barbieri, ‘Solar Sea’ was a sleazy rhythmic excursion into another world. With the one-time JAPAN sound designer using a Roland System 700 for its bassline, the track’s atonal jazz feel was augmented by the haunting voice manipulations of Lisen Rylander Löve through a vintage Soviet submarine microphone and warping noises offset by soothing brass inflections and live drums.

Available on the album ‘Planets + Persona’ via by Kscope

https://www.facebook.com/RichardBarbieriOfficial/


BATTLE TAPES Control

The American electronic rock quartet BATTLE TAPES continued to develop from their 2015 debut album ‘Polygon’ via their ‘Form’ EP. The best track ‘Control’ hinged around a syncopated filtered synth bass and a brilliantly catchy chorus sung by Josh Boardman, with enough guitars for power and texture without distracting from the overall electronic aesthetic, and even coming over like a heavier Stateside version of SIN COS TAN.

Available on the EP ‘Form’ via battletapes.bigcartel.com

http://battletapesband.com/


CLIENT LIAISON Feat TINA ARENA A Foreign Affair

“International in flavour, cosmopolitan in style” and sounding like a long lunch followed by a round of cocktails, Australian duo CLIENT LIAISON roped in one-time TV talent show star Tina Arena to duet on a lush slice of romantic pop that also rode on the current fashion for Synthwave. ‘A Foreign Affair’ could have easily been a Rat Pack movie song.

Available on the album ‘Diplomatic Immunity’ via Remote Control Records

http://www.clientliaison.com


DAILY PLANET featuring MAC AUSTIN Heaven Opened

Johan Baeckström made positive waves with his debut solo album ‘Like Before’ in 2015 but reunited with his musical partner Jarmo Ollila, producing an excellent third album with more tempo variation than their 2014 offering ‘Two’. Featuring the guest vocals of Mac Austin from cult synth trio WHITE DOOR who were one of the inspirations for DAILY PLANET, ‘Heaven Opened’ was an uncomplicated but wonderfully poignant slice of classic synthpop.

Available on the album ‘Play Rewind Repeat’ via Progress Productions

https://www.facebook.com/dailyplanetband/


ELECTRONIC CIRCUS The Trapeze

ELECTRONIC CIRCUS is the musical vehicle of Chris Payne, the one-time Numan band member who also co-wrote ‘Fade To Grey’. With a symphonic theme bursting with melody and musicality like ULTRAVOX galloping across the plains of Normandy, the brilliant neo-instrumental ’The Trapeze’ was given a wondrous tone of humanistic unity when Payne’s wife and daughter joined in on the final straight in Latin.

Available on the EP ‘Direct Lines 2017’ via https://www.electroniccircus.co.uk/store/

http://www.electroniccircus.co.uk/


FADER 3D Carpets

FADER are the synth superduo featuring BLANCMANGE’s Neil Arthur and Benge; ‘3D Carpets’ captured an independent post-punk intensity, like JOY DIVISION or THE CURE but realised with analogue electronics rather than guitars. While the pair worked on their parts separately, their creative dynamic produced a great debut album in ‘First Light’.

Available on the ‘First Light’ via Blanc Check Records

https://www.facebook.com/WeAreFader


ANI GLASS Geiriau

From the Welsh synth songstress’ first EP, the fabulous ‘Geiriau’ was a driving sequential drama that had more than a passing resemblance to the first part of SPARKS’ ‘No1 Song In Heaven’. Revolving around ANI GLASS’ experience of flying the nest and returning years later to reconnect with her Welsh and Cornish heritage, it was a spacey and futuristic soundtrack for a wonderfully uplifting homecoming.

Available on the EP ‘Ffrwydrad Tawel’ via aniglass.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/aniglasscymru/


THE GOLDEN FILTER Rivers

‘Volupsa’, the promising Nordic flavoured debut album from THE GOLDEN FILTER came out in 2010, but the Aussie American duo of vocalist Penelope Trappes and synth programmer Stephen Hindman took their time with the follow-up ‘Still//Alone’, having relocated to London after spending several years based in New York. The hypnotic pulse of ‘Rivers’ with its precise drum machine pointed to a female fronted OMD, complete with a catchy riff and synthy jabbing bassline.

Available on the album ‘Still // Alone’ via Optimo

http://www.thegoldenfilter.com/


GOLDFRAPP Systemagic

The immensely catchy ‘Systemagic’ was a prize electronic gem from the seventh GOLDFRAPP album ‘Silver Eye’, reminiscent of the lusty and beat laden electronic material from ‘Black Cherry’. But its riff asked the question as to whether you will always find Alison Goldfrapp in the kitchen at parties? In the event of Jona Lewie filing a lawsuit, the lucrative income from the song’s use in a BMW advert may ease any potential net payout.

Available on the album ‘Silver Eye’ via Mute Artists

http://goldfrapp.com/


IONNALEE Not Human

After three acclaimed albums as IAMAMIWHOAMI with producer Claes Björklund, Jonna Lee went solo in 2017 although it was actually difficult to hear the join on the glorious ‘Not Human’, so seamless was the transition; there were still the icy electronic soundscapes, spacey dance beats and uplifting Scandipop vocals while the delightfully odd visuals were all present and correct.

Available on the download single ‘Not Human’ via To Whom It May Concern

http://www.ionnalee.com


I SPEAK MACHINE Shame

I SPEAK MACHINE is the audio / visual collaboration between musician Tara Busch and filmmaker Maf Lewis. Soundtracking their film ‘Zombies 1985’, the story was one of greed and self-obsession in Thatcher’s Britain as a businessman drives home, oblivious to the zombie apocalypse going on around him. Co-written and co-produced with Benge, the brilliant ‘Shame’ with its cascading synths and noise percussion was a wonderful hybrid of THROBBING GRISTLE, THE HUMAN LEAGUE and GOLDFRAPP.

Available on the album ‘Zombies 1985’ via Lex Records

http://www.ispeakmachine.com/


KATJA VON KASSEL In Little Rooms (Show Me Love)

After a number of years gigging around London, Katja von Kassel finally unleashed released her electro Weimer Cabaret to the world. The pulsating ‘In Little Rooms (Show Me Love)’ captured an aesthetic which closely resembled that of Ronny, a former protégé of Rusty Egan. Attached to Alex Gray’s intricate filmic electronics, Fraulein von Kassel’s deep vocal detachment was art cool sexy.

Available on the EP ‘Katja von Kassel’ via katjavonkassel.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/katja.vonkassel


KITE Demons & Shame

Swedish duo KITE unleashed their darkest offering yet in ‘Demons & Shame’. Shaped by a ritualistic drum mantra and brooding bass drones, as the title suggested, the song confronted the despair that life occasionally throws up while pursuing visions and dreams. If Ennio Morricone composed music for Nordic Noir dramas, it would sound a bit like this. Vocalist Nicklas Stenemo literally screamed his frustration over an epic synthetic soundscape from Christian Berg, laced with nocturnal Arctic overtones and the spectre of THE KNIFE.

Available on the single ‘Demons & Shame’ is released by Progress Productions

https://www.facebook.com/KiteHQ


LCD SOUNDSYSTEM American Dream

James Murphy returned as LCD SOUNDSYSTEM after seven years with this widescreen musical statement reflecting on the political situation in the US. Glancing across the Atlantic and back to the Winter Of Discontent, this 3/4 synth laden tune that had more than a passing resemblance to THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s ‘Circus Of Death’. So did “The Clown” referred to in that song remind Murphy of someone in particular?

Available on the album ‘American Dream’ via DFA Records

https://lcdsoundsystem.com/


LIZETTE LIZETTE Rest

Having started out in a more rave inclined environment, Lizette Nordahl ventured into more synthy climes and her debut mini-album had the air of KITE is all over it, which was not entirely surprising as its co-producers were Nicklas Stenemo and Christian Berg from the acclaimed duo. ‘Rest’ with its swirling synth sounds and widescreen Nordic atmosphere had an optimistic air of acceptance despite the melancholic tone and majestic growls.

Available on the EP ‘Queerbody’ via lizettelizette.bandcamp.com/releases

http://lizettelizette.com/


LOST IN STARS Sky

Led by British born musician Dylan Willoughby, LOST IN STARS is a floating ensemble which also includes Elena Charbila aka KID MOXIE and producer/songwriter Darren Burgos. The latter takes the lead vocal on the spirited electronic pop of ‘Sky’; now if NEW ORDER were from Los Angeles instead of Manchester, they would have sounded like this.

Available on the album ‘Lost In Stars’ via lostinstars.bandcamp.com/

https://www.lostinstars.space/


MARNIE Bloom

After releasing her first solo album ‘Crystal World’ in 2013, Helen Marnie added more prominent choruses and guitar onto her second, resulting in a catchy Scandipop style. ‘Bloom’ was an optimistic burst of synth laden pleasure and while not totally dissimilar to LADYTRON, it was without their usual hardness or gothic gloom.

Available on the album ‘Strange Words & Weird Wars’ via Disco Piñata

http://www.helenmarnie.com/


ALISON MOYET Alive

Having worked successfully in 2013 with Guy Sigsworth on ‘the minutes’, an acclaimed album which saw Alison Moyet return to the synthesized music forms to compliment her powerful and self-assured voice, the follow-up ‘Other’ was a natural progression. The startling orchestrated electro-dub drama of ‘Alive’ gave Moyet’s two former classmates in DEPECHE MODE a stark lesson in how to actually fully realise electronic blues. Indeed, it was ‘In Chains’, the lame opener from ‘Sounds Of The Universe’ gone right…

Available on the album ‘Other’ via Cooking Vinyl

http://alisonmoyet.com/


GARY NUMAN When The World Comes Apart

With the narrative of ‘Savage’ provoked by Donald Trump’s withdrawal of the United States of America from the Paris Climate Accord, the mighty apocalyptic rock of ‘When The World Comes Apart’ was something of a revelation for Gary Numan. Using synths as the dominant instrument and having guitars less obviously prominent in the mix, with its richly anthemic chorus, this was the magnificent crossover song that both old and new Numanoids had been waiting for.

Available on the album ‘Savage (Songs From A Broken World)’ via BMG

https://garynuman.com/


MICHAEL OAKLEY Rabbit In The Headlights

Michael Oakley is a talented Glaswegian who describes his music as “Melancholic postcards from my heart wrapped up in synthesisers and drum machines”. The melodic ‘Rabbit In The Headlights’ came complete with Italo “woah-oh” chants and whether it was Synthwave, synthpop, electropop, Italo or whatever, it showcased Oakley’s fine songwriting abilities, regardless of genre.

Available on the EP ‘California’ via michaeloakleysynthwave.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/MichaelOakleySynthwave/


OMD One More Time

The excellent ‘One More Time’ was a classic bittersweet OMD stomper, where “everything you gave me didn’t last”. Using electronic percussion as opposed to drum machines, the enticing verse and uplifting bridge were set to a plethora of gorgeous textures and distorted synth to add a touch of enigmatic weirdness. While Andy McCluskey cried “you can break my heart just one more time”, the track’s star was Paul Humphreys with his crystalline synth sounds laced with some portamento bounce.

Available on the album ‘The Punishment Of Luxury’ via 100% Records

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


HANNAH PEEL Goodbye Earth

As well as keyboards and violin, Hannah Peel can also play the trombone. Featuring an array of analogue synthesizers and a 29-piece colliery brass band, ‘Mary Casio: Journey to Cassiopeia’ was her instrumental story about a fictional elderly musical stargazer. Beginning with the lift-off of ‘Goodbye Earth’, Miss Peel’s electronic arpeggios and synthetic noise built up to a crescendo of brass and timpani for a quite unusual combination of two very different musical worlds.

Available on the album ‘Mary Casio: Journey to Cassiopeia’ via My Own Pleasure

http://www.hannahpeel.com


RAINLAND Rainland

From the ashes of ANALOG ANGEL came forth RAINLAND. Their self-titled calling card was a vibrant synthpop statement, embroiled in a musicality that provided a journey through the Grampian Mountains. Ian Ferguson had already proved himself a worthy vocalist in his previous combo with dulcet tones not dissimilar to a certain Midge Ure and this was allowed to reign free on ‘Rainland’. Meanwhile, the ivories of Derek MacDonald stylistically aped the symphonic overtones of ULTRAVOX’s Billy Currie.

Available on the EP ‘Touch’ via rainland.bandcamp.com/

https://www.rainland.co.uk/


RHEINGOLD Paradieshafen

Between 1980 to 1984, RHEINGOLD were at the forefront of Die Neue Deutsche Welle, releasing three albums and achieving their first domestic hit ‘3klangsdimensionen’ in 1981. Led by Bodo Staiger, ‘Im Lauf Der Zeit’ was their first album of new material for many years. The melodic synth of ‘Paradieshafen’ drove along a beautiful instrumental that came over like a dream collaboration between OMD and Michael Rother.

Available on the album ‘Im Lauf Der Zeit’ via Lucky Bob Records / Soulfood

https://www.facebook.com/Rheingold-156171354461006/


SARAH P. Who Am I

With hypnotising hints of Kate Bush and percolating Ryuichi Sakamoto style textures, ‘Who Am I’ by electropop goddess Sarah P. was an ode to “humanity, the world we live in and our importance (or unimportance) as individuals and/or as a whole”. And as the Greek-born songstress announced that “I don’t know where I come from… do you know my name?”, a metronomic beat kicked in to lead a dramatic house-laden climax.

Available on the album ‘Who Am I’ via EraseRestart Records

http://sarahpofficial.com/


SHELTER Karma

The normally flamboyant Welsh duo SHELTER surprised all with their darkest and most accomplished song yet in ‘Karma’. “What you want is what you’ll get…” sang Mark Bebb, “…you will get a lot more that you planned”. A vibrant but edgy production from Rob Bradley complimented the sentiment as the message was relayed loud and clear…

Available on the single ‘Karma’ via Ministry Of Pop

http://www.shelterofficial.com/


SOULWAX Conditions Of Shared Belief

From ‘From Deewee’, the first new SOULWAX album since 2004’s ‘Any Minute Now’, ‘Conditions Of A Shared Belief’ was a modular synth lover’s wet dream from the Dewaele brothers. With a retro-futuristic collage of detuned blippy sounds and a backbone of smashing white noise percussion recalling THE HUMAN LEAGUE in their Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh phase, it was complimented by some suitably abstractly pitched TALKING HEADS inspired vocals.

Available on the album ‘From Deewee’ via PIAS

http://www.soulwax.com


TINY MAGNETIC PETS Never Alone

TINY MAGNETIC PETS had their best year yet with a UK tour opening for OMD and to accompany it was their second album ‘Deluxe/Debris’. Featuring Wolfgang Flür, the album’s best song ‘Never Alone’ sounded appropriately like SAINT ETIENNE fronting KRAFTWERK. Paula Gilmer has one of the best voices in modern synthpop and her alluring tone no doubt added to the song’s breezy dreamlike state.

Available on the album ‘Deluxe/Debris’ via Happy Robots Records

https://www.facebook.com/Tiny-Magnetic-Pets-69597715797/


VANBOT Collide (Krasnoyarsk)

The adventurous third VANBOT album ‘Siberia’ was composed and recorded during a 17 day journey on the Trans-Siberian railway. The crystalline ‘Collide (Krasnoyarsk)’ though captured a more Nordic vibe with its gorgeous melodies, while the surrounding rhythmic pace of a train ride made its presence felt. An aural exploration of the relationship between time, location and emotion, ‘Siberia’ was a bold musical experiment.

Available on the single ‘Collide (Krasnoyarsk)’ via Lisch Recordings

http://www.vanbotmusic.com/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
11th December 2017

25 SVENSKA SYNTH SONGS

Like Germany and the UK, Sweden has an established history in electronic music.

With a melodic tradition rooted in traditional Nordic folk music and the region’s long dark nights causing bouts of melancholy, the Swedes are more than well suited to stay indoors and further the art of synthpop. In addition, Clavia Digital Musical Instruments, founded in 1983 and based in Stockholm, have emerged as a world leader in modern virtual analogue subtractive synthesizers with its distinctive red Nord Lead series as well as its digital stage pianos.

The iconic Energy Rekords provided a platform for modern electronic music in the country while today, labels such as Progress Productions, Labrador and Wonderland have maintained their support for domestic talent. Meanwhile, COVENANT maintain an audience across the Atlantic for their resonant futurepop and ROBYN has become so much part of the mainstream that her songs are regularly murdered by reality TV talent show wannabes.

Probably the most influential act to come out of Sweden are THE KNIFE. Their influence internationally on countless acts such as GAZELLE TWIN, GRIMES, AUSTRA, THE HORN THE HUNT and BECKY BECKY to adopt darker colours and mess with the very fabric of sound, has held a flag for inventive artful experimentation.

As KITE lead the way with their upcoming second tour of the US, Swedish synthpop continues to impress with acts like TRAIN TO SPAIN, 047, PRESENCE OF MIND, SILENT WAVE, THE SOUND OF ARROWS and COMPUTE among those with the potential to breakout of their domestic scenes.

So what’s so special about Sweden then? Listed chronologically and then alphabetically from its UK perspective with a restriction of one song per moniker, here are 25 SVENSKA SYNTH SONGS…


LUSTANS LAKEJER Diamanter (1982)

With a shortened title, ‘Diamanter’ was a more synth driven re-recording of their second single. LUSTANS LAKEJER were labelled Sweden’s answer to DURAN DURAN and like the Birmingham combo, Johan Kinde and Co were heavily influenced by JAPAN. Their third album ‘En Plats I Solen’ was produced by Richard Barbieri with Mick Karn popping up with his sax on three of its tracks.

Available on the album ‘En Plats I Solen’ via Universal Music

https://www.facebook.com/LustansLakejer/


PAGE Dansande Man (1983)

Founded in 1980 by Eddie Bengtsson and Marina Schiptjenko, PAGE are often credited with bringing the more purer form of synthpop as pioneered by Vince Clarke to Sweden. Their debut single ‘Dansande Man’ was a frantically percussive excursion suitable for dancing to as the title suggested. Bengtsson and Schiptjenko were to become key figures on the Swedish music scene in many guises, as we shall see…

Originally released as a single via Eskimo, currently unavailable

https://www.facebook.com/PageElektroniskPop/


THE MOBILE HOMES Feeling Better (1989)

With their name inspired by a JAPAN song, THE MOBILE HOMES were another Swedish band adopting purer synthpop colours . For their second single ‘Feeling Better’, they signed to Sonet, a Scandinavian independent who coincidentally handled the early publishing of Martin Gore and Vince Clarke. Eschewing the quirkiness of PAGE, THE MOBILE HOMES reflected the more pessimistic side of life often associated with Sweden.

Available on download bundle ‘Feeling Better’ via Universal Music

http://www.themobilehomes.se/


ARMY OF LOVERS Obsession (1991)

An almost cartoonish trio originally comprising of Alexander Bard, Jean-Pierre Barda and La Camilla, ARMY OF LOVERS countered their outlandish visual presence with catchy electronic dance tunes influenced by the hippy musical ‘Hair’. While the epic ‘Crucify’ was the huge worldwide hit, the musically more subtle ‘Obsession’ offered a softer side while still maintaining the cinematic drama.

Available on the album ‘Massive Luxury Overdose’ via China Records

https://www.facebook.com/armyofloversofficial/


S.P.O.C.K Never Trust A Klingon (1992)

In parallel with PAGE, Eddie Bengtsson joined vocalist Alexander Hofman  to write and perform some ‘Star Trek’ themed songs for a friend’s Trekkie themed birthday party. . Originally called MR SPOCK, the band name was changed to an acronym for ‘Star Pilot On Channel K’ after threats of legal action from Paramount Studios. ‘Never Trust A Klingon’ is still their crowning moment, a genius combination of deadpan vocals, bubbling synthpop and samples from Captain James T Kirk.

Available on the album ‘Five Year Mission’ via Energy Rekords

http://www.subspace.se/spock/


ELEGANT MACHINERY Hard To Handle (1993)

Founded in 1988, ELEGANT MACHINERY were another act who preferred a purer synthpop stance; they even covered SPANDAU BALLET’s ‘To Cut A Long Story Short’ in the style of Vince Clarke for an excellent 1995 Energy Rekords tribute collection of the same name. Many consider ‘Hard To Handle’ their finest song, an excellent blend of dance friendly beats and blippy melodies.

Available on the album ‘Shattered Grounds’ via Energy Rekords

http://elegantmachinery.se/


COVENANT Bullet (2002)

Formed in 1986 in Helsingborg, the Eskil Simonsson fronted COVENANT managed to gain a footing in both synthpop and EBM camps, achieving great success in North America from touring the alternative electronic club network established following the stateside success of DEPECHE MODE. Still going strong, 2016 saw the release of their ninth long player ‘Blinding Dark’.

Available on the album ‘Northern Light’ via Metroplis Records

http://www.covenant.se/


THE KNIFE Pass This On (2003)

Sibling duo THE KNIFE are probably the acclaimed electronic act to emerge from Sweden. Their uncompromising approach has won them many plaudits. But there was a time when with their experimentation came a tune too. The wonderful ‘Pass This On’ took Karin Dreijer’s unsettling pitch shifted vocals and placed them over brother Olaf’s soundtrack of primitive string machine and uplifting steel drums. Things got much darker after this…

Available on the album ‘Deep Cuts’ via Braille Records

http://theknife.net/


ROBYN Who’s That Girl? (2005)

Tired of her label BMG trying to turn her into the Swedish Christina Aguilera, Robyn Carlsson began taking an interest in the electronic movement closer to home. Inspired by THE KNIF, she collaborated with them to produce what is now possibly the key song which transformed Robin Miriam Carlsson into the successful independently minded artist she is today.

Available on the album ‘Robyn’ via Konichiwa Records

http://robyn.com/


EMMON Rock D’Amour (2007)

Best known as a member of the cult Swedish indie band PARIS, singer and keyboardist Emma Nylén had aspirations to produce something that was more decisively electronic. Her first recordings immediately showcased a catchy dance friendly sound as exemplified by ‘Rock D’Amour’. Subsequent albums ‘Closet Wanderings’ and ‘Nomme’ have maintained the standard, although EMMON is currently on a career break to raise a family.

Available on the album ‘The Art & The Evil’ via Wonderland Records

https://www.facebook.com/Emmon-240551649322636/


SISTA MANNEN PÅ JORDEN Allt Är Klart (2007)

Eddie Bengstsson’s solo project, also referred to as SMPJ, saw him unafraid to mine his Synth Britannia influences. ‘Allt Är Klart’ was an ULTRAVOX tribute and effectively a Swedish vocal version of the instrumental B-side ‘Alles Klar’. The hard, staccato synth bassline was borrowed from the original, but the track was bolstered by some superb whirring synths in the tradition of Billy Currie’s adventures with the ARP Odyssey.

Available on the album ‘Tredje Våningen’ via Energy Rekords

http://www.moonbasealpha.space/


ASHBURY HEIGHTS Spiders (2008)

Combining dual male / female vocals with a danceable electro goth backdrop, Anders Hagström and Yasmine Uhlin achieved success in Germany as well as Sweden with ‘Spiders’. ASHBURY HEIGHTS came out of hiatus in 2015 with a new female vocalist Tea F Thimé and a new album ‘The Looking Glass Society’ after a settling a despite with their label Out Of Line.

Available on the EP ‘Morningstar In A Black Car’ via Out Of Line Records

https://www.facebook.com/ashbury.heights/


BWO Lay Your Love On Me (2008)

BODIES WITHOUT ORGANS or BWO saw PAGE’s Marina Schiptjenko teaming up Alexander Bard from ARMY OF LOVERS in a project that has probably come closest to exploiting the musicality of ABBA for the 21st Century. Fronted by the extremely handsome Martin Rolinski, the classic pop tradition of the original Super Swedes was more than obvious on the mightily bonkers ‘Lay Your Love On Me’ which they entered for Eurovision.

Available on the album ‘Pandemonium’ via Capitol Records

https://www.facebook.com/bodieswithoutorgans/


KLEERUP Longing For Lullabies (2008)

Producer Andreas Kleerup hit paydirt with ‘With Every Heartbeat’, a collaboration with Robyn. A marvellous self-titled album followed with ‘Longing For Lullabies’ featuring Neneh Cherry’s sister Titiyo being the tearful highlight. Despite being driven with raw mechanical beats, the simple vocal melody was simple, almost keyboard-like going up and down the ivory scale in the best tradition of OMD while Titiyo’s vocal range made it a bit Agnetha and Annifrid too!

Available on the album ‘Kleerup’ via EMI Records

https://www.facebook.com/kleerupmusic/


KARIN PARK Ashes (2009)

One established artist who made a volte face in the wake of THE KNIFE was Karin Park. It was on more her Robyn-esque third album ‘Ashes To Gold’ that she sowed the seeds of her current electronic template. The synthpop disco of ‘Ashes’ fused electronic counterpoints and a live bass guitar with an incessant groove while Miss Park provided her enticing vocal presence.

Available on the album ‘Ashes To Gold’ via Young Aspiring Professionals

https://www.facebook.com/karinpark/


NIKI & THE DOVE DJ, Ease My Mind (2010)

Another act formed under the spectre of THE KNIFE, Stockholm duo Malin Dahlström and Gustaf Karlöf released ‘Mother Protect’ as a free download to launch NIKI & THE DOVE. Then came ‘DJ, Ease My Mind’; shaped by a ritualistic percussive mantra and whirring sub-bass, Dahlström’s witchy mannerisms provided the surreal scenario of what the Dreijers might have sounded like if they had decided to enter Eurovision.

Available on the album ‘Instinct’ via Mercury Records

http://www.nikiandthedove.com/


DAYBEHAVIOR Silent Dawn (2011)

Having issued their first album ‘:Adored’ in 1996 and their second ‘Have You Ever Touched A Dream?’ in 2004, ‘Silent Dawn’ was a single released as part of DAYBEHAVIOR‘s much vaunted comeback. The song was an exploration in laid back filmic pop and breathy continental vocals that wouldn’t have sounded out of place in Italian art movie. Indeed their most recent single ‘Change’ was also released in an alternative Italian language version, naturally titled ‘Cambiare’.

Available on the album ‘Follow That Car!’ via Graplur

https://www.facebook.com/DayBehavior/


KITE Step Forward (2011)

KITE have been called “Sweden’s best kept pop-secret”; Nicklas Stenemo and Christian Berg have undoubtedly been producing some of the best electronic pop of the last few years. Only releasing EPs, things started to truly come together on their fourth release ‘IV’. From it, ‘Step Forward’ with its sharp percussive drama and pentatonic overtones was the undoubted highlight. More recently, the duo have been commissioned to provide a song for a new Steven Segal film.

Available on the EP ‘IV’ via Progress Productions

https://www.facebook.com/KiteHQ/


CLUB 8 Stop Taking My Time (2013)

With Karolina Komstedt’s dramatically assertive vocal and a bursting bassline from Johan Angergård, CLUB 8 showed in a crisp 180 seconds with ‘Stop Taking Time’ that a danceable electronic tune didn’t have to be a journey into death by four-to-the-floor. Formed in 1995 as a more conventional pop act, CLUB 8’s most recent album ‘Pleasure’ celebrated 20 years for the duo.

Available on the album ‘Above The City’ via Labrador Records

http://www.club-8.org/


MACHINISTA Molecules & Carbon (2014)

MACHINISTA are seasoned hands, John Lindqwister was part of CAT RAPES DOG while Richard Flow was in VISION TALK with the late Krister Petersson. Their mantra is produce synthpop with a rock’n’roll edge. Like THE CURE gone electronic, or ALPHAVILLE crossed with SUICIDE, ‘Molecules & Carbon’ is both catchy and danceable with some suitably rousing elements too.

Available on the album ‘Xenoglossy’ via Analogue Trash

http://www.machinistamusic.com/


IAMAMIWHOAMI Chasing Kites (2014)

First launched via a set of mysterious viral videos with alphanumeric code titles, IAMAMIWHOAMI helmed by vocalist Jonna Lee and producer Claes Björklund premiered a delightfully odd cinematic electronic sound. From the second album ‘Blue’, the rich Scandipop of ‘Chasing Kites’ sees Jonna Lee hitting those ABBA-esque high notes with ablomb before adopting a huskier register for the second half.

Available on the album ‘Blue’ via To Whom It May Concern

http://towhomitmayconcern.cc/creators/iamamiwhoami


JOHAN BAECKSTROM Synth Is Not Dead (2015)

A touching tribute to Messrs Clarke, Gore, Hütter and Schneider, JOHAN BAECKSTROM said “I guess I just wanted to reflect on the fact that there still IS a synthpop scene with some really great bands, both old and new. In another way, the song is sort of my ‘thank you’ to some of the artists that inspired me for several decades – some of them are mentioned in the lyrics, but far from all of course”.

Available on the EP ‘Come With Me’ via Progress Productions

https://www.facebook.com/bstrommusic/


TWICE A MAN High In The Clouds (2015)

Founded by Dan Söderqvist and Karl Gasleben, TWICE A MAN were the opposite to many Swedish acts in that they used synths and electronic effects for more sombre atmospheric soundscapes rather than performing outright pop. Still operating as a unit, their 2015 album ‘Presence’ featuring epic environmental message songs like ‘High In The Clouds’ showed their talents have not waned over the years and indeed have become more accessible.

Available on the album ‘Presence’ via Ad Inexplorata

http://www.twiceaman.com/


VANBOT Trooper (2015)

After her inconclusive self-titled debut album in 2011, VANBOT aka Ester Ideskog had a rethink and started venturing into artier climes with the dreamy and enigmatic ‘Trooper’. With layers of vocals and rushes of lush synth, it started a journey towards the otherworldly template of IAMAMIWHOAMI. Her icy journey continues on her next album ‘Siberia’ which was written and recorded on a 17 day trip aboard the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Available on the album ‘Perfect Storm’ via Lisch Recordings

http://www.vanbotmusic.com/


REIN I Don’t Get Anything But Sh*t From You (2016)

Feisty, ambitious and not to be messed with, REIN has certainly caused a stir with Europe’s male dominated EBM scene. A true Rebel Girl as suggested by one of the highlights from her self-titled debut 2016 EP, even within the inherent shouty nature of the genre and Joanna Reinikainen’s debut song ‘Can’t Handle Me’ effectively being a mission statement, things are ramped up to 11 on ‘I Don’t Get Anything But Sh*t From You’. She’s an artist to watch for sure…

Available on the single ‘I Don’t Get Anything but Shit from You’ via Playground

https://www.facebook.com/reinelectronic/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
18th February 2017, updated 3rd November 2018

Introducing VANBOT

Despite what appeared to be an existential crisis within their domestic independent synth community in 2016, Sweden continues to be special.

As the New Year begins in earnest, one fine work to emerge from Scandinavia’s dark winter haze is ‘Collide (Krasnoyarsk)’, the new single by VANBOT. The work of Ester Ideskog, this supreme slice of glacial elegance was written while Ideskog was travelling on the Trans-Siberian railway. It was part of an adventurous 17 day journey from Moscow to Beijing with her collaborators Johannes Berglund and Petter Winnberg to compose a new full-length work.

Signalling a move into the more delightfully odd Nordic Noir territory of artists such as IAMAMIWHOAMI, ‘Collide (Krasnoyarsk)’ acts as a fitting trailer for the album ‘Siberia’.

The finished recording successfully captures the atmosphere of its genesis and with a newly unveiled promo video to accompany the tune; the visuals capture the tension of the region’s extreme and expansive landscapes in the form of an abstract modern dance choreographed by Clara Björck and Eos Karlsson.

Already a veteran of two albums, it was “Late night bike riding and endless love for retro synthesizers” that inspired VANBOT into venturing into the world of electronic pop. Drawing comparisons with fellow Swedish songstress ROBYN, the driving standalone single ‘Got To Get Out’ gained her favourable attention and a slot at the SXSW Festival in Texas in 2012.

However, the enigmatic ballad ‘Trooper’ from her second album ‘Perfect Storm’ in 2015 showcased her developing avant ethos, with songs central to the core while utilising a wider cinematic spectrum.

Embracing the technological limitations of recording on a train compartment, the threesome purposefully made no additional recordings upon their return home to ‘Siberia’. With constant motion and new locations looming throughout, ‘Siberia’ will be an interesting conceptual listening experience if nothing else.


‘Collide (Krasnoyarsk)’ is available as a download single via the usual digital retailers through Lisch Recordings

The album ‘Siberia’ is released on 7th April 2017

http://www.vanbotmusic.com/

https://www.facebook.com/vanbotmusic/

https://twitter.com/vanbotmusic

https://www.instagram.com/vanbotmusic/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
31st January 2017

Introducing THE HEARING

Over at The Finland Station, Helsinki-based musician Ringa Manner has been making crystalline sine waves with her project THE HEARING.

There are obvious parallels with SUSANNE SUNDFØR, as a singer / songwriter from a folk laden tradition influenced by Freddie Mercury and Kate Bush, slowly developing with enhanced technological support and innovation. Like MARSHEAUX, THE HEARING has also opened for 30 SECONDS TO MARS. Her debut album, ‘Dorian’, was released in Finland in 2013 by Gaea Records. The solemn but frantically percussive ‘Wohu Wohu’ was a good representation of her initial template while ’Sands’ utilised synths and drum machine.

Now signed to Solina Records, home of SIN COS TAN, ‘Backwards’ from the new album ‘Adrian’ is a great bleep forward. Romantic and dreamy, yet harmonically tense in the way that makes Nordic electronic pop so intriguing, ‘Backwards’ sets the tone for ‘Adrian’ with an expanded palette of synths, soaring pop melodies and busy rhythm construction.

‘Straight Teeth’, the opening song on Adrian’ is sharp with profanity, while a stark arpeggio provides the backbone for the sub-bass laden ‘Rehearsal’. Both ‘Too Happy’ and ‘Color Code’ are songs of many intricate layers that recall GRIMES and THE KNIFE respectively before the lively percussive chant of the album’s title track.

But the highlight is the sub-eight minute ‘Kabeldon’, the most frantically electronic item on the album and perhaps the one with the closest affinity SUSANNE SUNDFØR’s more recent work with bows to DAVID BOWIE’s ‘I’m Deranged’. A mad cascading piano kicks in alongside the steadily building drum ‘n’ bass cacophony of noise before it all slows down into an eloquent Nordic dubstep ballad!

After all that, there comes the comparatively conventional and sweet Scandipop of ‘Faint’ while the dramatic closing number ‘I Dream Of Demian’ wouldn’t sound out of place on an IAMAMIWHOAMI long player. A worthy sophomore offering, ‘Adrian’ paves the way for THE HEARING to make even further artistic gains; after all, SUSANNE SUNDFØR’s international breakthrough ‘Ten Love Songs’ was her fifth album proper.


‘Adrian’ is released by Solina Records as a vinyl LP and download on 22nd April 2016

The HEARING plays The Great Escape in Brighton on 20th and 21st May 2016

http://altagency.fi/artists/the-hearing/

https://www.facebook.com/Ringasofi/

http://solinarecords.com/the-hearing/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
20th April 2016

IAMAMIWHOAMI Blue


First launched via a set of mysterious viral videos with alphanumeric code titles that eventually formed the ‘B.O.U.N.T.Y.’ EP, IAMAMIWHOAMI, helmed by vocalist Jonna Lee and producer Claes Björklund, premiered a delightfully odd BJÖRK-like cinematic sound that was enjoyed by the electronic music cognoscenti.

Under the management of DEF who also look after THE KNIFE, ROBYN and RÖYKSOPP, their first full length album ‘Kin’ came out in 2012 to critical acclaim.

Following the lead of the track-by-track audio visual campaigns of previous releases and crowdfunded using a ‘Generate’ donation service with money promised to be “used for creative purpose only”, IAMAMIWHOAMI have now birthed ‘Blue’, a natural progression of ‘Kin’rather than a volte-face.

It all begins with ‘Fountain’, a windy breeze of glacial Scandinavian beauty with hints of COCTEAU TWINS, and THE KNIFE when they had tunes. A wonderfully icy, melancholic feeling is captured and Jonna Lee’s ranges her voice to compliment the variety of dreamy synthesized cinematics. But after the sedate start, the glorious ‘Hunting For Pearls’ups the tempo with pulsing sequences and trancey atmospheres, coupled with some beautifully rich vocal theatrics. If KATE BUSH made a modern electronic dance record at ABBA’s Polar Studios, it would probably sound like this.

‘Vista’ also features more KATE BUSH mannerisms but despite the Banshee-like shrills, the vocal melodies are pretty with everything held together by cool crystalline textures and an uplifting melancholy. It is this strange optimism within the Nordic Noir demeanour that makes IAMAMIWHOAMI such as enticing experience, both aurally and visually. The journey continues with the gloriously majestic ‘Tap Your Glass’ and its incongruous holiday mood driven by octave shifts dressed with tuned percussive elements that could be mistaken for steel drums.

‘Blue Blue’ takes the pace down again and even without the videos on YouTube, the beautiful imagery of turquoise lakes and ice fields lock into the psyche. Amongst the almost unintelligible affected vocals, Jonna Lee’s murmurs “I’ll be blue”. The harmonic main theme blends portmento synth with pitched shifted vox while a chorus of imaginary milk bottles join in for a meditative Zen-like conclusion. Adding some timbre variation, various metallic sounds emerge on ‘Thin’ alongside voice samples, arpeggios and even fretless bass as the number builds to a dramatic climax.

But one of the album’s highlights comes with ‘Chasing Kites’. Featuring that epic Scandipop sound over a midtempo backbeat and expansive electronic textures, it sees Jonna Lee hitting those high notes with ablomb before adopting a huskier register for the second half. Like ABBA meeting THE KNIFE, with a glorious chorus, it is what SAY LOU LOU could sound like if they were a bit artier.

‘Ripple’ though bursts in like a shot in the arm with a sonic construction more associated with techno yet this is brilliantly countered by Jonna Lee’s wuthering vocal heights. However, it’s business as usual on ‘The Last Dancer’ with backing that sounds like it has come from one of OMD’s more experimental early B-sides before a concluding bass mantra reminiscent of THE KNIFE.

iamamiwhoami; jonna

Meanwhile the spectre of the Dreijer siblings dominates on the closing ‘Shadowshow’, a reverberant mood piece that has Jonna Lee’s otherworldly rasp dominating the verse before transforming into the rich soprano of Agnetha Fältskog for the chorus.

Sonically leftfield yet filled with melody, ‘Blue’ may transmit into a wash to some ears but it has an elegant, escapist nature that is an important attribute to have in these socially and economically turbulent times. Like its predecessor ‘Kin’, ‘Blue’ is an enjoyably surreal experience with an artistically enlightening weirdness. But it is a supplement rather than a new chapter and unlikely to win many new converts; IAMAMIWHOAMI fans though will be more than happy 🙂


‘Blue’ is released as a variety of CD / LP / book packages by To Whom It May Concern. The download version is available via the usual digital outlets

http://www.youtube.com/user/iamamiwhoami

https://soundcloud.com/twimclabel/sets/iamamiwhoami-blue

http://www.towhomitmayconcern.cc/

http://www.iamamiwhoami.net/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
10th November 2014

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