Tag: iEuropean

2017 End Of Year Review

Oscillate Mildly

The world found itself in a rather antagonistic and divisive state this year, as if none of the lessons from the 20th Century’s noted conflicts and stand-offs had been learnt.

Subtle political messages came with several releases; honorary Berliner Mark Reeder used the former divided city as symbolism to warn of the dangers of isolationism on his collaborative album ‘Mauerstadt’. Meanwhile noted Francophile Chris Payne issued the ELECTRONIC CIRCUS EP ‘Direct Lines’ with its poignant warning of nuclear apocalypse in its title song. The message was to unite and through music as one of the best platforms.

After a slow start to 2017, there was a bumper crop of new music from a number of established artists. NINE INCH NAILS and Gary Numan refound their mojo with their respective ‘Add Violence’ and ‘Savage (Songs From A Broken World)’ releases, with the latter recording his best body of work since his imperial heyday.

But the first quarter of the year was hamstrung by the anticipation for the 14th DEPECHE MODE long player ‘Spirit’, with other labels and artists aware that much of their potential audience’s hard earned disposable income was being directed towards the Basildon combo’s impending album and world tour.

Yet again, reaction levels seemed strangely muted as ‘Spirit’ was another creative disappointment, despite its angry politicised demeanour.

Rumours abounded that the band cut the album’s scheduled recording sessions by 4 weeks. This inherent “that’ll do” attitude continued on the ‘Global Spirit’ jaunt when the band insulted their loyal audience by doing nothing more than plonking an arena show into a stadium for the summer outdoor leg.

Despite protestations from some Devotees of their dissatisfaction with this open-air presentation, they were content to be short-changed again as they excitedly flocked to the second set of European arena dates with the generally expressed excuse that “it will be so much better indoors”.

By this Autumn sojourn, only three songs from ‘Spirit’ were left in the set, thus indicating that the dire record had no longevity and was something of a lemon.

Suspicions were finally confirmed at the ‘Mute: A Visual Document’ Q&A featuring Daniel Miller and Anton Corbijn, when the esteemed photographer and visual director confessed he did not like the album which he did the artwork for… see, it’s not just ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK 😉

Devotees are quick to say all criticism of DEPECHE MODE is unfair, but the band can’t help but make themselves easy targets time and time again. But why should the band care? The cash is coming, the cash is coming…

Luckily, veteran acts such as OMD and Alison Moyet saved the day.

The Wirral lads demonstrated what the word spirit actually meant on their opus ‘The Punishment Of Luxury’, while the former class mate of Messrs Gore and Fletcher demonstrated what a soulful, blues-influenced electronic record should sound like with ‘Other’.

As Tony Hadley departed SPANDAU BALLET and Midge Ure got all ‘Orchestrated’ in the wake of ULTRAVOX’s demise, the ‘Welcome To The Dancefloor’ album directed by Rusty Egan, to which they contributed, became a physical reality in 2017.

Now if DM plonked an arena show into the world’s stadiums, KRAFTWERK put a huge show into a theatre. The publicity stunt of 2012, when Tate Modern’s online ticket system broke down due to demand for their eight album live residency, did its job when the Kling Klang Quartett sold out an extensive UK tour for their 3D concert spectacular.

No less impressive, SOULWAX wowed audiences with their spectacular percussion heavy ‘From Deewee’ show and gave a big lesson to DEPECHE MODE as to how to actually use live drums correctly within an electronic context.

Mute Artists were busy with releases from ERASURE, LAIBACH and ADULT. but it was GOLDFRAPP’s ‘Silver Eye’ that stole the show from that stable. LCD SOUNDSYSTEM returned after seven years with their ‘American Dream’ and it was worth the wait, with the most consistent and electronic record that James Murphy’s ensemble has delivered in their career.

To say Neil Arthur was prolific in 2017 would be an understatement as he released albums with BLANCMANGE and FADER while Benge, a co-conspirator on both records, worked with I SPEAK MACHINE to produce ‘Zombies 1985’ which was one of the best electronic albums of the year; and that was without the JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS stage play soundtrack ‘The Machines’.

Despite JAPAN having disbanded in 1982, solo instrumental releases from Steve Jansen and Richard Barbieri were particularly well-received, while David Sylvian made a return of sorts, guesting on ‘Life Life’ for ‘async’, the first album from Ryuichi Sakamoto since recovering from his illness. On the more esoteric front, Brian Eno presented the thoughtful ambience of ‘Reflection’, while THE RADIOPHONIC WORKSHOP had ‘Burials In Several Earths’.

2017 was a year that saw acts who were part of the sine wave of Synth Britannia but unable to sustain or attain mainstream success like BLUE ZOO, B-MOVIE, FIAT LUX and WHITE DOOR welcomed back as heroes, with their talent belatedly recognised.

Germany had something of a renaissance as veterans Zeus B Held and ex-TANGERINE DREAM member Steve Schroyder came together in DREAM CONTROL as another TD offshoot QUAESCHNING & SCHNAUSS offered up some impressive ‘Synthwaves’, while there actually was a new TANGERINE DREAM album, their first without late founder member Edgar Froese.

Eberhard Kranemann and Harald Grosskopf offered up some KRAUTWERK as other veterans like RHEINGOLD, DER PLAN, BOYTRONIC and DJ HELL also returned. Comparatively younger, 2RAUMWOHNUNG and KATJA VON KASSEL both offered up enticing bilingual takes on classic electronic pop.

The Swedish synth community again delivered with DAILY PLANET, PAGE, REIN, VANBOT, ANNA ÖBERG, 047 and LIZETTE LIZETTE all delivering fine bodies of work, although KITE were missed, with their German tour cancelled and release of their ‘VII’ EP postponed due to vocalist Nicklas Stenemo’s illness; ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK wishes him all the best in his recovery.

Across the Baltic Sea, Finnish producer Jori Hulkkonen released his 20th album ‘Don’t Believe In Happiness’ while nearby in Russia, a duo named VEiiLA showcased an unusual hybrid of techno, opera and synthpop and ROSEMARY LOVES A BLACKBERRY offered a ‘❤’.

One of the year’s discussion points was whether Synthwave was just synthpop dressed with sunglasses and neon signs but whatever, Stateside based Scots but Michael Oakley and FM-84 made a good impression with their retro-flavoured electronic tunes.

It wasn’t all about the expats and in a territory as big as North America, there came a number of up-and-coming home grown electronic artists with LOST IN STARS, PARALLELS, PATTERN LANGUAGE, SPACEPRODIGI, COMPUTER MAGIC and BATTLE TAPES all gaining traction. Meanwhile, Canada’s PURITY RING infuriated some of their fanbase by working with KATY PERRY on three tracks for her album ‘Witness’. AESTHETIC PERFECTION’s new singles only policy was paying dividends and the Electro Mix of ‘Rhythm + Control’, which featured the promising newcomer NYXX, was one of the best tracks of 2017. South American wasn’t left out either and representation came via Argentina’s COSAQUITOS EN GLOBO.

Female solo artists had strong presence in 2017 as FEVER RAY made an unexpected return, ZOLA JESUS produced her best work to date in ‘Okovi’ and Hannah Peel embarked on an ambitious synth / brass ‘Journey to Cassiopeia’. Meanwhile, SARAH P. asked ‘Who Am I’ and MARNIE found ‘Strange Words & Weird Wars’ as ANI GLASS and NINA both continued on their promising developmental path.

Other female fronted acts like KITE BASE, SPECTRA PARIS, BLACK NAIL CABARET, AVEC SANS, EMT and THE GOLDEN FILTER again reinforced that electronic music was not solely about boys with their toys.

Respectively, Ireland and Scotland did their bit, with TINY MAGNETIC PETS and their aural mix of SAINT ETIENNE and KRAFTWERK successfully touring with OMD in support of their excellent second album ‘Deluxe/Debris’, while formed out of the ashes of ANALOG ANGEL, RAINLAND wowed audiences opening for ASSEMBLAGE 23.

A bit of smooth among the rough, CULT WITH NO NAME released a new album while other new(ish) acts making a positive impression this year included KNIGHT$, MOLINA, ANNEKA, SOFTWAVE, THE FRIXION and KALEIDA.

Despite getting a positive response, both iEUROPEAN and SOL FLARE parted ways while on the opposite side of the coin, Belgian passengers METROLAND celebrated five years in the business with the lavish ‘12×12’ boxed set

Overall in 2017, it was artists of a more mature disposition who held their heads high and delivered, as some newer acts went out of their way to test the patience of audiences by drowning them in sleep while coming over like TRAVIS on VSTs.

With dominance of media by the three major labels, recognition was tricky with new quality traditional synthpop not generally be championed by the mainstream press. With Spotify now 20% owned by those three majors, casual listeners to the Swedish streaming platform were literally told what to like, as with commercial radio playlists.

It is without doubt that streaming and downloading has created a far less knowledgeable music audience than in previous eras, so Rusty Egan’s recent online petition to request platforms to display songwriting and production credits was timely; credit where credit is due as they say…

While ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK does not dismiss Spotify totally and sees it as another tool, it should not be considered the be all and end all, in the same way vinyl is not the saviour of the music industry and in physics terms, cannot handle the same dynamic range as CD.

Music is not as emotionally valued as it was before… that’s not being old and nostalgic, that is reality. It can still be enjoyed with or without a physical purchase, but for artists to be motivated to produce work that can connect and be treasured, that is another matter entirely.

However, many acts proved that with Bandcamp, the record company middle man can be eliminated. It is therefore up to the listener to be more astute, to make more effort and to make informed choices. And maybe that listener has to seek out reliable independent media for guidance.

However, as with the shake-up within the music industry over the last ten years, that can only be a good thing for the true synthpop enthusiast. And as it comes close to completing its 8th year on the web, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK maintains its position of not actually promoting new acts or supporting any scene, but merely to write about the music it likes and occasionally stuff it doesn’t… people can make their own mind up about whether to invest money or time in albums or gigs.

Yes, things ARE harder for the listener and the musician, but the effort is worthwhile 😉


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK Contributor Listings 2017

PAUL BODDY

Best Album: QUASCHENING & SCHNAUSS Synthwaves
Best Song: BATTLE TAPES No Good
Best Gig: SOULWAX at O2 Ritz Manchester
Best Video: SOULWAX Is it Always Binary?
Most Promising New Act: MARIE DAVIDSON


IAN FERGUSON

Best Album: OMD The Punishment of Luxury
Best Song: SPARKS Edith Piaf (Said it Better Than Me)
Best Gig: SPEAK & SPELL at Glastonbury
Best Video: ALISON MOYET Reassuring Pinches
Most Promising New Act: MICHAEL OAKLEY


SIMON HELM

Best Album: PAGE Det Är Ingen Vacker Värld Men Det Råkar Vara Så Det Ser Ut
Best Song: LAU NAU Poseidon
Best Gig: PAGE at Electronic Summer 2017
Best Video: PSYCHE Youth Of Tomorrow
Most Promising New Act: ANNA ÖBERG


CHI MING LAI

Best Album: I SPEAK MACHINE Zombies 1985
Best Song: AESTHETIC PERFECTION Rhythm + Control – Electro Version
Best Gig: OMD + TINY MAGNETIC PETS at Cambridge Corn Exchange
Best Video: I SPEAK MACHINE Shame
Most Promising New Act: MICHAEL OAKLEY


RCHARD PRICE

Best Album: FADER First Light
Best Song: OMD Isotype
Best Gig: MARC ALMOND at London Roundhouse
Best Video: GOLDFRAPP Anymore
Most Promising New Act: NINA


STEPHEN ROPER

Best Album:  OMD The Punishment of Luxury
Best Song: DUA LIPA Be The One
Best Gig: HANNAH PEEL at Norwich Arts Centre
Best Video: PIXX I Bow Down
Most Promising New Act: PIXX


MONIKA IZABELA TRIGWELL

Best Album: ZOLA JESUS Okovi
Best Song: GARY NUMAN My Name Is Ruin
Best Gig: ERASURE at London Roundhouse
Best Video: GARY NUMAN My Name Is Ruin
Most Promising New Act: ANNA ÖBERG


Text by Chi Ming Lai
14th December 2017

iEUROPEAN Into The Unknown

The claim that DEPECHE MODE are the flag bearers for electro-blues becomes somewhat redundant with ‘Into The Unknown’, the debut album from iEUROPEAN.

Originally the solo project of Dublin musician Seán Barron, a one-time member of EMPIRE STATE HUMAN, the idea had initially been to feature guest singers or contributors on each track.

The first track to be unleashed in late 2014 was the wonderful ‘Activity of Sound’ featuring Wolfgang Flür, formally of KRAFTWERK.

But it was when Ruth Lalor was asked to contribute vocals for one of Barron’s tunes that iEUROPEAN morphed into becoming an electronic duo with a unique twist. Coupled to Barron’s Mittel Europa synths are Lalor’s soulful, bluesy vocals, schooled under the influence of Billie Holliday and Lena Horne. Thus this long player really is a musical journey ‘Into The Unknown’.

Layered with classic synth strings, Lalor makes a grand entrance on ‘Sweet Paranoia’ augmented by Barron’s bass sequences before a faithfully devoted drum loop kicks in. A worthy variation on the theme of DEPECHE MODE’s ‘In Your Room’? You bet!

A solo Ruth Lalor composition ‘Falling’ sees the lady sing the blues over an enticingly minimal but technological framework including some digital guitar in the latter stages; incidentally, the track is co-arranged by Robert Arkins who also played aspiring band manager Jimmy Rabbitte in ‘The Commitments’ movie. Meanwhile ‘Fire Out’ ups the pace for a brooding slice of stark electronic pop that bubbles into something very hot!

‘Don’t Lose Control’ sees the rhythm construction harden as Lalor’s voice is laid bare, with a particularly raw edge to the larynx in the chorus.

While the vocal is coloured in shades of blues, the backing turns distinctly European grey in the final minute and a half as it unexpectedly journeys east towards Der Rhein.

‘I Will Follow’ is not a cover of the U2 song but follows the template of the moodier numbers that CAMOUFLAGE do so well, although Lalor’s presence offsets the chill. Meanwhile, some eerie electric ivories and detuned sonar shape the solemn ‘Requiem’ as steadfast marching drums and percolating arpeggios punctuate the lonely atmosphere.

Another song written by Ruth Lalor, ‘Sweet Dreams’ appears it might have been of a more traditional conception, but Barron’s synth interventions take it into another world, territory that perhaps YAZOO might have entered had they got to their fifth album. The filmic drama of ‘Bring On The Rain’ is perhaps the most trip-hop derived number of the album, with the muted trumpet and cimbalom textures usually associated with the genre.

‘We Are Brothers’ starts as the being most conventional sounding song on the album with elements of THE CURE before it gets more obscure, with some twisty turns in its chordial structure. Written by Barron with his former EMPIRE STATE HUMAN bandmate Aidan Casserly and Alan Arkins, Barron takes a turn at a duet with Lalor, while Clive Pierce from HARD CORPS joins in on the middle eight.

After all the digital six string on ‘Into The Unknown’, real guitar makes an appearance on ‘World Of Fantasy’ courtesy of Mark Joseph Healy, the sweeping synths and organic counter-melodies adding an almost folk laden resonance for a fitting closer. A hidden track sees Lalor’s vocals totally isolated for a spirited acapella of ‘Sweet Paranoia’; it is nothing short of mesmerising…

Overall, ‘Into the Unknown’ is a fine showcase of an Emerald Isle blues voice alongside authentic Eurocentric electronics. It’s quite a contrast, but the end result is rather wonderful.

‘Into The Unknown’ uses the following hardware and virtual instrumentation: Ekosynth, Roland TB303, Yamaha CS1X, Korg PolySix, Roland JX305, Roland Jupiter-8, Korg DW-8000, Korg DV-800, Arturia Minimoog, Steinberg Hypersonic, Steinberg Virtual Guitarist, ARP 2600V, Native Instruments Absynth 5, Native Instruments Battery, Stereophonics Stylus rmx, Stereophonics Omnisphere 2, Edirol Orchestral, Edirol Super Quartet, Waves Element Stereo, Broomstick Bass, Fabfilter Twin2, Jupiter 8V2, PRO-52, PRO-53, RealStrat, Rob Papen – Real Guitar, Rob Papen – Blue, Rob Pagen – SubBoomBass, LinPlug Albino 2, Arturia Analog Factory, Surge, Cakewalk Z3TA+2, Poly-ANA


‘Into the Unknown’ is released on CD by The People’s Electric on 21st April 2017, pre-order now from http://www.thepeopleselectric.com/shop/products/bfa2cc74-81b7-4905-a7ed-88c4afc25596

https://www.facebook.com/iEuropean-149564838461817/

http://thepeopleselectric.com/ieuropean


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Ruth Maria Murphy
13th March 2017

25 FAVOURITE ARTIST COLLABORATIONS

Artist collaborations can be seen in several ways.

They are either a chance to take the best elements of great bands to form an even greater supergroup, or as has happened in many cases, there is a watering down of prime concepts which results in a fragmented mess of little interest to anyone.

So here are 25 artist collaborations that actually worked; the list is restricted to one song per main act, defined as being the one who released the parent album.

That means PET SHOP BOYS, who have been among the most ubiquitous and willing of conspirators, get to appear as themselves and as guests of ELECTRONIC and DAVID BOWIE while NEW ORDER’s Bernard Sumner appears as part ELECTRONIC as well as also moonlighting for THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS and Philip Oakey of THE HUMAN LEAGUE gets in there twice as a guest.

Over more recent years, there appears to have much more freedom for artists to collaborate, notably with SPARKS recently unveiled collaboration with Glasgow based art rockers FRANZ FERDINAND, named rather straightforwardly FFS. And this is reflected by this list here which has a bias towards new millennium recordings, although ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK is pleased to say, this is a CALVIN HARRIS free zone 😉


SYLVIAN SAKAMOTO Bamboo Houses (1982)

Both David Sylvian and Ryuichi Sakamoto were beginning to make their artistic presence felt outside of JAPAN and YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA, and having collaborated on ‘Taking Islands in Africa’, another project was always on the cards. ‘Bamboo Houses’ expanded on the electro-acoustic textures of ‘Tin Drum’ over a catchy percussive framework courtesy of Steve Jansen. Sylvian delivered his usual mournful vocal but Sakamoto’s monologue and marimba gave the track that extra ethnic authenticity.

Available on the DAVID SYLVIAN compilation ‘A Victim of Stars 1982-2012’ via Virgin Records

http://www.davidsylvian.com/

http://sitesakamoto.com/


MIDGE URE & MICK KARN After A Fashion (1983)

‘After A Fashion’ was a blistering sonic salvo that crossed the best of JAPAN’s rhythmical art muzak with ULTRAVOX’s ‘The Thin Wall’. However, it stalled at No39 in the UK singles charts and sadly, there was to be no album. But Karn later played on Ure’s ‘Remembrance Day’ in 1988 and Ure briefly joined JBK, the band formally known as JAPAN sans David Sylvian for an aborted project in 1992 that resulted in two songs ‘Cry’ and ‘Get A Life’. Sadly Karn passed away in 2011 after losing his battle against cancer.

Available on the MIDGE URE album ‘No Regrets’ via Music Club Deluxe

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

http://mickkarn.net/


SHARPE & NUMAN Change Your Mind (1985)

Very much seen as the odd couple, the duo’s promotional photos captured the curly haired jazz funk aficionado with The Iceman! Bill Sharpe was pianist with jazz fusion group SHAKATAK. Together with their drummer Roger Odell, they had written a piece of computerised electrofunk that needed a vocal. Engineered by Nick Smith who had also been working with GARY NUMAN, he suggested that the former Mr Webb would be ideally suited to the futuristic backing. ‘Change Your Mind’ reached No17 in the UK.

Available on the SHARPE & NUMAN album ‘Automatic’ via Cherry Pop

http://www.numan.co.uk

http://www.billsharpe.com


LES RITA MITSOUKO & SPARKS Singing In The Shower (1990)

In France, LES RITA MITSOUKO became unlikely pop stars thanks to danceable hit singles such as ‘Marcia Baïla’ and ‘C’est Comme Ça’. Vivacious singer Catherine Ringer and oddball instrumentalist Fred Chichin were influenced by the eccentric overtures of SPARKS and with a moniker in a similar vein to the Mael Brothers’ breakthrough LP ‘Kimono My House’, an artistic union was inevitable. With the two duos “feeling dirty and feeling clean”, the catchy ‘Singing In The Shower’ was a hit in Europe.

Available on the LES RITA MITSOUKO album ‘Marc & Robert’ via Virgin France

http://www.catherineringer.com/

http://allsparks.com/


ELECTRONIC featuring PET SHOP BOYS The Patience Of A Saint (1991)

‘The Patience Of A Saint’ from ELECTRONIC’s debut was undoubtedly the highlight of that album. Featuring the involvement of both PET SHOP BOYS, the witty exchange between Bernard Sumner and Neil Tennant was accompanied by a gorgeous backing track of drum machine, swimmy string synth and minimal guitar. Incidentally, the song was premiered in front of 60,000 people when ELECTRONIC, with Tennant and Lowe in tow, supported DEPECHE MODE at Dodger Stadium in August 1990.

Available on the ELECTRONIC album ‘Electronic’ via Warner Music

http://www.feeleverybeat.co.uk/

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


808 STATE featuring IAN McCULLOCH Moses (1993)

Following the departure of founder member Martin Price, ‘Gorgeous’ was 808 STATE’s first album as a three piece. Featuring early mash-up experiments based around UB40, THE JAM and JOY DIVISION, one of the wholly original compositions though was ‘Moses’, a rare electronically backed outing by ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN’s Ian McCulloch. Sounding like NEW ORDER with a Scouse snarl, the unusual but enjoyable partnership was the highlight of the album.

Available on the 808 STATE album ‘Gorgeous’ via ZTT Records

http://www.808state.com/

http://www.bunnymen.com/


ELEKTRIC MUSIC featuring ANDY McCLUSKEY Kissing The Machine (1993)

Recorded for his ELEKTRIC MUSIC project after leaving KRAFTWERK, Karl Bartos’ collaboration with OMD’s Andy McCluskey featured one of his best melodies synth melodies. Bartos told ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK: “He suggested we do something together and I was up for it… We picked some cassettes and finally I found the opening notes of ‘Kissing The Machine’. A month later he sent me a demo”. With fabulously surreal lyrics about a love affair with a sexy robot, it became a cult favourite. OMD resurrected the song in 2013.

Available on the ELEKTRIC MUSIC album ‘Esperanto’ via SPV Records

http://www.karlbartos.com/

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


LEFTFIELD LYDON Open Up (1993)

John Lydon had shown himself to be open to collaboration following 1984’s ‘World Destruction’ as TIME ZONE with electro rap pioneer Afrika Bambaataa. But ‘Open Up’ with the then relatively unknown dance duo LEFTFIELD came as something of a surprise. Lydon was suitably angry as he reflected on the tensions of his adopted home with a screaming “Burn Hollywood, burn!” over an intense electronic soundtrack. LEFTFILELD would later work with Afrika Bambaataa themselves on ‘Afrika Shox’ in 1999.

Available on the LEFTFIELD album ‘A Final Hit’ via Sony Music

http://www.leftfieldmusic.com/

http://www.johnlydon.com/


DAVID BOWIE featuring PET SHOP BOYS Hallo Spaceboy (1996)

BLUR’s Alex James once remarked that having a PET SHOP BOYS remix was like having your dog being taken for a walk, but then, when it came back, it was a different dog! PET SHOP BOYS certainly re-produced this Bowie/Eno composition from ‘1.Outside’ into a much more commercial proposition, even utilising the cut-up technique to decide which words Neil Tennant would sing. Reaching No12, ‘Hallo Spaceboy’ became Da Dame’s biggest UK hit since ‘Jump They Say’ in 1990!

Available on the DAVID BOWIE album ‘Nothing Has Changed’ via EMI Music

http://www.davidbowie.com/

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


THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS featuring BERNARD SUMNER Out Of Control (1999)

‘Out Of Control’ was THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS’ sonic template actually fulfilling its potential within a song based format with Bernard Sumner as the willing conspirator. ‘Out Of Control’ had everything from a bombastic backbeat and cerebral sequences to bizarre lyrics, especially when Sumner resigned that “maybe my moustache is too much…”. The association with Sumner continued when they produced NEW ORDER’s terrific ‘Here To Stay’ for Factory Records biopic ’24 Hour Party People’.

Available on THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS album ‘Singles 93-03’ via Virgin Records

http://www.thechemicalbrothers.com/

http://www.neworder.com


SYSTEM F featuring MARC ALMOND Soul On Soul (2001)

Ferry Corsten had a huge international hit in 1999 with ‘Out Of The Blue’ under his SYSTEM F moniker. It highlighted the spiritual connection between synthpop and trance so to substantiate the link further, the Rotterdam based producer recruited MARC ALMOND to guest on the blinding ‘Soul On Soul’ for a spirited, club friendly workout. This all tied in nicely with SOFT CELL’s comeback album ‘Cruelty Without Beauty’ which finally arrived in Autumn 2002.

Available on the album ‘Out Of The Blue’ via Tsunami Records

http://www.ferrycorsten.com/

http://www.marcalmond.co.uk/


X-PRESS2 featuring DAVID BYRNE Lazy (2002)

The Dumbarton born TALKING HEADS frontman was back in the mainstream limelight for the first time since the band disbanded in 1991 with this superb online collaboration with British DJ duo X-PRESS2. David Byrne gave his best afflicted ‘Psycho Killer’ meets ‘Once In A Lifetime’ warble for what became a No2 UK chart hit. He later reworked ‘Lazy’ with orchestral embellishments for his 2004 solo long player ‘Grown Backwards’.

Available on the X-PRESS2 album ‘Muzikizum’ via Skint Records

http://www.skintentertainment.com/artists/skint/x-press-2

http://davidbyrne.com/


JUNKIE XL featuring DAVE GAHAN Reload (2003)

‘Reload’ was a welcome relief after DEPECHE MODE’s paradoxically titled ‘Exciter’. The brief sojourn with Dutch producer Tom Holkenborg aka JUNKIE XL proved once and for all how well Dave Gahan’s voice worked on uptempo electronic dance tracks. He may be more interested in  MUMFORD & SONS these days, but frankly, over a lively synth laden backbone is where he sounds best. The ‘Radio JXL: A Broadcast from the Computer Hell Cabin’ album also featured guest vocals from GARY NUMAN!

Available on the JUNKIE XL album ‘Radio JXL: A Broadcast From the Computer Hell Cabin’ via EMI Music

http://www.junkiexl.com/

http://www.davegahan.com


ERASURE featuring CYNDI LAUPER (2007)

Ms Lauper was heading towards a career renaissance with her excellent ‘Bring Ya To The Brink’ album in 2008 so her collaboration with ERASURE in 2007 was quite timely. A soulful slice of Trans-Atlantic synthpop, ‘Early Bird’ was an enjoyable duet between her and Andy Bell that turned out to be the one of the more memorable tracks that emerged from ERASURE’s rather lukewarm ‘Light At The End Of The World’ sessions.

Available on the ERASURE EP ‘Storm Chaser’ via Mute Records

http://www.erasureinfo.com/

http://www.cyndilauper.com


LITTLE BOOTS featuring PHILIP OAKEY Symmetry (2009)

At the time ‘Symmetry’ was unveiled, THE HUMAN LEAGUE had not released any new material since 2001. With a fabulous chorus, this was the nearest thing to a new HUMAN LEAGUE track with Victoria Hesketh doing her best Susanne Sulley impression. So when it was Phil talking, it was magic. “Tell me your dreams and I’ll tell you all my fears” he announced, as they complimented each other in a way that had not really even been heard on a League record before.

Available on the LITTLE BOOTS album ‘Hands’ via 679 Recordings

http://www.littlebootsmusic.co.uk

http://www.thehumanleague.co.uk


MY ROBOT FRIEND featuring ALISON MOYET Waiting (2009)

MY ROBOT FRIEND aka Howard Rigberg famously created the song ‘We’re The Pet Shop Boys’ in honour of Messrs Tennant and Lowe, who subsequently covered it by way of a reverse compliment. Rigberg went recruited ALISON MOYET for her first purely electronic adventure since the YAZOO days on ‘Waiting’. This welcome union with its off-kilter synth sounds alongside her voice no doubt helped ignite her interest in working within the genre again, the result of which was 2013’s ‘the minutes’.

Available on the MY ROBOT FRIEND album ‘Soft-Core’ via Double Feature/Worried Rainbow

http://www.myrobotfriend.com/

http://www.alisonmoyet.com/


PET SHOP BOYS featuring PHILIP OAKEY This Used To Be The Future (2009)

‘This Used To Be The Future’ was a dream trioet, exclusive to ‘Yes etc’, that featured Neil Tennant, Philip Oakey and Chris Lowe. With Lowe actually singing as opposed to just speaking, this triumphant celebration of yesterday’s tomorrow saw Oakey deadpan in that classic disappointed tone that things didn’t quite turn out how Raymond Baxter predicted on ‘Tomorrow’s World’! In that much loved HUMAN LEAGUE style, he finally resigns himself and at grunts“AMEN!”.

Available on the PET SHOP BOYS album ‘Yes: Further Listening 2008-2010’ via EMI Music

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

http://www.thehumanleague.co.uk


RÖYKSOPP featuring ROBYN The Girl & The Robot (2009)

The centrepiece of RÖYKSOPP’s third album ‘The Girl & The Robot’ was perhaps the culmination of ROBYN’s steady rise as a truly independent female artist. Despite having gained success in 1997 with the R’n’B tinged ‘Show Me Love’, ROBYN’s superiors at BMG reacted negatively to her new electropop aspirations inspired by fellow Swedes THE KNIFE. Frustrated, ROBYN bought herself out of her contract and set up her own Konichiwa Records, giving her the freedom to work with whoever she wanted.

Available on the RÖYKSOPP album ‘Junior’ via Wall Of Sound / PIAS

http://royksopp.com/

http://robyn.com/


BLANK & JONES featuring CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN Don’t Stop (2010)

The German dance duo had previously worked with Miss Brücken on ‘Unknown Treasure’, a most gorgeous electrobeat ballad from 2003. ‘Don’t Stop’ was a progression on that but with a wider texture pallet and more abstract electronic overtones. Despite being less song based, vocally it is classic Claudia with its spoken verse and sexy ice maiden delivery in chorus.

Available on the BLANK & JONES album ‘The Logic Of Pleasure’ via Kontor Records

http://www.blankandjones.info

http://www.claudiabrucken.co.uk


CRYSTAL CASTLES featuring ROBERT SMITH Not In Love (2010)

Re-recorded for single release, Alice Beer took a breather to allow guest Robert Smith from THE CURE to take lead vocals on ‘Not In Love’, a dark but accessible number from CRYSTAL CASTLES’ second album. Smith more than fitted in with the Canadian duo’s aggressive and occasionally chaotic electronic template on this frantic uncovering of a song originally recorded by obscure Toronto new wave combo PLATINUM BLONDE.

Available on the CRYSTAL CASTLES featuring ROBERT SMITH single ‘Not In Love’ via Last Gang/Fiction Records

http://www.crystalcastles.com/

http://www.thecure.com


MOTOR featuring MARTIN L GORE Man Made Machine (2012)

MOTOR’s electro stomper ‘Man Made Machine’ featured vocals by DEPECHE MODE’s Martin Gore in a collaboration which came over a bit like a camp IGGY POP. Gore certainly sounded a touch nervous and uneasy, luring over the duo’s brand of harder edged schaffel techno which only enhanced its appeal. Incidentally, the same titled parent album also featured guests such as GARY NUMAN, BILLIE RAY MARTIN and NITZER EBB’s Douglas J McCarthy.

Available on the MOTOR album ‘Man Made Machine’ via CLR

http://www.wearemotor.com

http://www.martingore.com


FOTONOVELA featuring MIRRORS Our Sorrow (2013)

Not content with producing MARSHEAUX and collaborating with OMD on ‘Helen Of Troy’, Greek duo FOTONOVELA released a more song based second album featuring a number of prominent international vocalists entitled ‘A Ton Of Love’. One of the numbers ‘Our Sorrow’ featured James New from the much missed MIRRORS. In the vein of classic OMD, New’s majestic vocal touching the heartstrings, the wonderful melancholy was perfect, soulful electronic pop.

Available on the FOTONOVELA album ‘A Ton of Love’ via Undo Records

http://www.facebook.com/undofotonovela

http://www.facebook.com/theworldofmirrors


JOHN FOXX & JORI HULKKONEN Evangeline (2013)

Foxx and Hulkkonen had worked together previously on various one-off songs like ‘Dislocated’ and ‘Never Been Here Before’ but had never before attempted a body of work with a conceptual theme. When the two finally found some collaborative time together, he result was ‘European Splendour’, an EP with a grainier downtempo template than before. The lead track ‘Evangeline’ was full of depth, coupled with an anthemic chorus and vibrant exchange of overworldly character throughout.

Available on the JOHN FOXX & JORI HULKKONEN EP ‘European Splendour’ via Sugarcane Records

http://www.metamatic.com/

http://www.jorihulkkonen.com


SIN COS TAN featuring CASEY SPOONER Avant Garde (2013)

SIN COS TAN’s Jori Hulkkonen first found fame as part of TIGA & ZYNTHERIUS back in 2001 at the height of the Electroclash movement. Partly recalling that era, ‘Avant Garde’ saw Casey Spooner from the scene’s flag bearers FISCHERSPOONER make a guest appearance on the duo’s second long player ‘Afterlife’. The track itself though was more like THE CURE produced by PET SHOP BOYS with Spooner providing a suitably cynical snarl to contrast Juho Paalosmaa’s impassioned lost boy cry.

Available on the SIN COS TAN album ‘Afterlife’ via Solina Records

http://sincostan.net/

http://www.fischerspooner.com


iEUROPEAN featuring WOLFGANG FLÜR Activity Of Sound (2014)

Although Wolfgang Flür ’s last full album project was as YAMO with ‘Time Pie’ back in 1997, there was this marvellous electronic number entitled ‘Activity Of Sound’, recorded in collaboration with iEUROPEAN. The project of Dublin based artist Sean Barron, the additional female monologue  was provided by Barron’s wife, Izabella. The track sees Herr Flür quoting an archive interview with the late avant garde composer John Cage to a soundtrack of hypnotic synthetic bliss.

Available on the iEUROPEAN featuring WOLFGANG FLÜR download single ‘Activity Of Sound’ via Subculture Records

https://www.facebook.com/pages/iEuropean/149564838461817

http://www.musiksoldat.de


Text by Chi Ming Lai
25th May 2015, updated 15th April 2018

WOLFGANG FLÜR + iEUROPEAN Activity Of Sound

WOLFGANG FLÜR has announced a special London show at Hoxton Bar & Kitchen on SATURDAY 24TH JANUARY 2015.

Entitled ‘Musik Soldat’, the former KRAFTWERK percussionist said the show was a presentation of music and storytelling that was like “The Brothers Grimm with synthesizers”.

But his latest musical venture has been a marvellous electronic number entitled ‘Activity Of Sound’, recorded in collaboration with iEUROPEAN.

The project of Dublin based artist Sean Barron who was formally a member of the band EMPIRE STATE HUMAN, the additional female monologue for ‘Activity Of Sound’ incidentally is provided by Barron’s wife, Izabella.

The track sees Herr Flür quoting an archive interview with the late avant garde composer JOHN CAGE. It was Cage who famously conceived the piece 4’33” which consisted of four minutes and thirty three seconds of silence. ‘Activity Of Sound’ on the other hand consists of four minutes and thirty three seconds of synthetic bliss.

WOLFGANG FLÜR was one of the first musicians to be widely seen playing a self-built electronic percussion set on German TV Station ZDF when he joined KRAFTWERK in 1973. After contributing to six albums from ‘Autobahn’ to ‘Electric Café’, he left in 1986. Herr Flür’s last full length album ‘Time Pie’ was issued in 1997 under the moniker of YAMO. His memoirs of his time at Kling Klang were collected together in his revealing autobiography ‘I Was A Robot’, published in 2000.


‘Activity Of Sound’ by iEUROPEAN featuring WOLFGANG FLÜR is released on Subculture Records as a downloadfrom http://subculturerecords.bandcamp.com/album/activity-of-sound

http://www.musiksoldat.de

https://www.facebook.com/musiksoldat

https://www.facebook.com/pages/iEuropean/149564838461817


Text by Chi Ming Lai
27th December 2014