Tag: Iris

HELIX Bad Dream

Shakespeare posed the question “If music be the food of love…” and over the course of popular music numerous couples have released work. From Ike & Tina Turner to Chris & Cosey through EURYTHMICS and more recently our own VILE ELECTRODES and WITCH OF THE VALE, all have shown what can be achieved if partners do more than spend their evenings watching ‘Love Island’ (let’s not mention John and Yoko though…)

Another romantic pairing who have released music are Tom and Mari Shear under the name of HELIX. Their 2018 debut ‘Twin’ was one of the highlights of the year and they have now returned with a new EP, ‘Bad Dream’.

Tom of course is well known from his band ASSEMBLAGE 23 who have been leading lights on the EBM / Industrial scene for some 20 plus years and he brings the muscular instrumentation and production from that project to HELIX but with a number of twists that will raise a few eyebrows.

All of this underpins the new Mrs Shear’s frankly spectacular voice which has been heard across numerous collaborations from her new husband’s SURVEILLANCE release to guest vocals with, to name a few, COMADUSTER and IVARDENSPHERE. More on those vocal skills in a moment…

Opening with the energetic ‘Run’, which picks up from where the ‘Twin’ album left off, this acts as an excellent appetiser for what’s to come. A fine danceable pop infused number, this will no doubt go down a storm not only in a club setting but also in the set at the, currently, infrequent HELIX live outings. Mari easily harmonises with herself in the layered vocals on the chorus to wonderful effect.

One of the great things about any side project is it gives the opportunity to try new things musically and this is evidently the approach taken on the next few tracks by Tom himself. ‘Slip’ opens with a laid-back percussion track underpinning effected samples leading into verse which sensibly allows the vocal to carry the thrust of the track.

As previously stated, I think Mari has one of the best female voices on the scene and this is proven on this track which allows her to be heard without swamping with unnecessary processing.

‘Kill The Unknown’ further allows Mr Shear the scope to do new things musically. This moves into almost ‘indie’ territory with live drums and, gasp, guitars courtesy of multi-instrumentalist Elias Black. These add an expected texture and bite to the track and shifts HELIX in another direction entirely.

Closer ‘Bad Dream’ is a brooding slice of electronica with an almost metal chorus which drops in and out of the arrangement that hinges around a frantic drum track. The accompanying remix included on the EP by MESH frontman Mark Hockings is actually my preferred version, again the ‘dancier’ mix will go down a storm in a club and the mix further highlights Mari’s great vocal take.

Closing the tracklist out is a mix of ‘Run’ by ex-IRIS member Andrew Sega under his HALLOWED HEARTS moniker. This is an almost goth interpretation with chiming guitars and a straightforward 4/4 drum track. Again, this version underlines how well this song will go down in a club set.

In the second part of Shakespeare quote at the top of this article he asks that we “play on”. On the strength of both the earlier album and this all too short EP, we can but hope that Mr and Mrs Shear do just that, there is much here to feed even the hungriest of souls.

‘Bad Dream’ is available as a digital EP from https://helix.bandcamp.com/album/bad-dream



Text by Ian Ferguson
5th November 2021


While the most decent electronic music is being turned out in Sweden these days, the Norwegians do their best to keep up.

ELECTRO SPECTRE came into existence in 2009 in the Norwegian capital, Oslo with Isak Rypdal, in the role of producer and writer, and Alexander Björneboe, as co-writer and vocalist.

A few albums went by since, and many a fan of electronica started recognising the Norwegians alongside the likes of CAMOUFLAGE, DE/VISION, BEBORN BETON or MESH.

‘Beautiful Lies’ is their fifth release, recorded in Prague and promising an intoxicating experience of synthpop at its best. ‘The River’ opens the production, luring with luscious vocals over CAMOUFLAGE-esque combinations of grandiose synth. DEPECHE MODE influences are palpable all over the flow of the track, with its gentleness and fragility.

The voice resembles BRYAN FERRY’s off-centre pitch, which really transpires in the track number two, ‘The Human Stain’. Exquisite drum rolls added onto a stacked synth, at times sounding very ‘Songs Of Faith & Devotion’, which indeed, is being quoted as one of the band’s favourite records.

‘Never Let Go’, vocally a mix of Ferry and Bowie, interspersed with magnificent strings and digital synthesisers is a larger than life production that makes a fabulous calling card. ‘She Runs Again’ slows the tempo somewhat, turning into a Marcus Meyn song once more; it’s a pleasing ballad with excellent guitar, leading into ‘With A Devil At The Start’. A multi-layered track, with structured elements congealing heavy and soft textures over a strong, deep vocal of Björneboe’s, it’s harsh, trashy, subtle and velvety all at the same time.

‘Faith’ continues the theme of luscious extravaganza of synth, ending in a very familiar way to any hardcore fan of DEPECHE MODE, while ‘A Kingdom Alone’ magnificently changes direction, at times bearing an uncanny resemblance to the Texan duo IRIS’ production on their second album ‘Awakening’. The ‘Beautiful Lies’ title track transports into an ambient, atmospheric world, veiled with mystery and suspense of being “under the spell of you and me”, while the closing ‘Strangesuit’ ushers the era of a heavy synth to sustain the feeling of gloom and nostalgia interwoven with anguish and pain.

ELECTRO SPECTRE certainly did their homework; proficient sounding tracks, excellently produced and mastered, and this unusual vocal, making the finished pieces sound interestingly noteworthy, are all features of a decent synth album. To some, the fact that sometimes the tracks sound uncannily like DEPECHE MODE or CAMOUFLAGE may be a turn off, but, overall, this is a very desirable production and its easy listening element means that it can be enjoyed by fans across all genres.

‘Beautiful Lies’ is available via the usual digital platforms, while the limited deluxe edition CD is available from Razgrom Music at http://www.razgrom.com/releases/group/532/24/



Text by Monika Izabela Goss
18th January 2016

IRIS Interview

IRIS-01IRIS are one of few American electronic bands to crack Europe, having toured with the likes of DE/VISION and MESH.

Formed in Texas, they started playing covers before reaching their own sound, a sound which has grown to be rather distinctive, thanks to Reagan Jones’ interesting voice and ear-pleasing synth melodies.

The rather easy listening tone of IRIS’ tunes appeals to wider audience than say, COMBICHRIST’s, an audience that may struggle with beefy synth combos and would prefer a slightly softer approach. IRIS provide that impeccably well, with a distinct dose of nostalgia.

With the recent release of ‘Radiant’ on Dependent Records, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK chatted to Reagan Jones of IRIS…

After ‘Disconnect’, Matthew Morris was replaced by Andrew Sega, how did that influence the music direction?

His influence was immediate. Matt and Andrew are both highly proficient music producers who each bring their own style. I mean, you can find someone who can help get a song out, but the ones who really bring their own influence and craft are rare. I think because Matt and Andrew’s process and style differ so extensively, it was inevitable Andrew’s influence would be quite pronounced. Also, Matt introduced us at a time when I was still searching as a writer and wanting to challenge things, so when Andrew came around, I was looking at everything with a pretty open mind. That set the tone right, because he didn’t come from my background, meaning he was maybe too young to really have been into the whole retro, techno pop sound like CETU JAVU and CAUSE & EFFECT and things like that, so it was a shift in a very new direction.

Iris-2010’Awakening’ had more experimental electronic directions, was that due to Andrew?

Everything with ‘Awakening’ was experimental since Andrew was basically new to the synthpop thing, and I was trying to think of new ways to write a song, so we were kinda headed in our own directions trying to figure out our path in all of this. The entire ethos was experimental.

Sonically it doesn’t sound like a synthpop album really, and that’s a direct influence of Andrew because as I said, he’s coming from a more experimental background, maybe more like UNDERWORLD or APHEX TWIN, whereas I was more retro, so we had to somehow make that work. It was all an experiment, but it gelled and became more exciting once we saw how to make it work without trying too hard.

What were your influences apart from the obvious DEPECHE MODE effect?

There’s two silos of music in my life — electronic pop that was played simultaneously on radio and in clubs, here in the US from maybe 1987-1991, so bands like ANYTHING BOX, RED FLAG, INFORMATION SOCIETY, T42, SEVEN RED SEVEN, DM, CAUSE & EFFECT etc., and then there’s everything else. Somehow I found one of my greatest influences in the second silo, and that’s Glen Phillips from TOAD THE WET SPROCKET. I believe he’s, historically, one of the greatest songwriters, and as I got stuck in that glue, it removed some of the DM clone mentality. ‘Lose In Wanting’ was the first song to reflect that, and it’s really the beginning of IRIS as it’s known today as far as my contribution. This is why I tell anyone who asks about carving out their own sound, go find someone outside the scene you exist in, someone who can influence you to a degree that you’re mixing strange ingredients and forcing you into unpredictable waters.

After 2005 ‘Wrath’, IRIS came to Europe to do a few gigs, it must have been a big thing for you to be able to crack the other side of the Atlantic?

Hard to describe but it was a life changer. I’ll never forget sitting on this massive jet, even before leaving American soil, and hearing the flight attendants speaking German. That’s when it really set in for us that we were coming to Europe. I’d also been a fan of DE/VISION for quite a while and had a lot of respect for their writing prowess, so being asked by them was just really awesome. That whole first touring experience was something I’ll never forget, and it gave us the opportunity to get in front of larger audiences without having to earn it alone, by ourselves back in America. The whole experience was tremendous.

In 2011 you did a three week American tour with MESH and DE/VISION, what memories have you of that?

Everyone from these camps runs a pretty tight show on and off stage, so tours like these are rather civilized compared with what you might think. The memories are mainly the experience of travelling together. I mean the shows are why we’re there of course, but it’s the travel experience that really comes home with you. I recall myself and Chris Pedersen renting mountain bikes and exploring Tuscon Arizona, which is like the classic, large cactus style desert setting, the real thing. That was cool.

Also on the last night for either MESH or DE/VISION in Portland, I can’t recall which band was going home, we all crammed onto the bus, blasted some wild sounding music which was a then unbeknownst-to-me act called SKRILLEX, had strobes going and were just drinking shots. Rob from CAUSE & EFFECT was there, which of course was very cool for me, and we all just piled on there and partied it up. Then there’s moments when you just need to get away from it all, like when we stayed a day in El Paso and I wandered off to catch a movie. Times like these can be rather surreal, you almost have to remind yourself you’re on tour. Ultimately though, the memory we probably all take with us is of Cowboy, our larger than life bus driver. He was tall, he was big, he had the accent, he wore the hat, and it really kinda made the trip, although Pluswelt’s Jan Winterfeld may disagree *laughs*

You’re very big in Russia, does that come as a bit of a shock for an American electronic band?

Iris-byDirkEusterbrockI grew up in basically the rural south of America during The Cold War, so it’s been a strange reward from this whole experience that we’ve been invited to play Russia this many times. It felt triumphant on a personal level, that a kid from the piney woods of east Texas could ever walk through Red Square, or play a wedding 4 hours outside Moscow, or take the Siberian Express from in the middle of the night when all you could see outside was the moonlit snow of the Russian tundra.

It felt like, this shouldn’t be happening, but our trips to Russia have always been surreal and on a level of life experience that’s hard to describe. It’s been a shock at times, but a good shock, and I think our brief moments with these fabulous people have been even more emotional sometimes than other places. The fans in Russia are really special, there’s a sense within the crowd that elevates everything, and I think we both feel lucky to have had any place in that. It’s been one of our favorite places, there’s always a great amount of excitement when coming to Russia, and that never goes away.

The electronic music scene in the UK can be hit and miss at times, even though we have some great bands, we seem to be always behind the rest of Europe, Germany being a leader. What’s the situation in the US?

I don’t know, I think the previous, social barriers are gone in America as it pertains to electronic song-based music, so you have a ton of bands coming up now that are amazing. THE NEW DIVISION and MR KITTY are outstanding, and of course Canadian bands that play the US often like PURITY RING, METRIC and TR/ST. For us though, I tend to see our music as written more for the individual, if that makes sense. I think no matter where you are around the world, people have the same fears, the same hopes and dreams, the same loneliness, questions about life, concerns, passions, and all the rest, so we tend not to think very geographically.

Iris-BlacklightYour latest release ‘Radiant’ is on Dependent Records, the same label as MESH, APOP and COVENANT, you’re in a good company there…

Yeah, it’s been a step in the right direction. We’ve had label support before, particularly Infacted with ‘Blacklight’, where Torben Schmidt did so much to get us over there and kinda paved the way for us in Europe, but we’ve always remained a fairly DIY band. With Dependent, we’ve really let go of things once handled on our own, and I say “we” but I should say Andrew, because he’s owned almost all the business side on his own, and now he can take a break.

I can say it’s been a good move so far; we’re letting go of some control but Stefan Herwig seems to have a good eye for how things should be, and of course you have to build that trust, but ‘Radiant’ is working out better than we expected so I think this trust is there now. We’re glad to have someone take on some of the responsibilities we’ve carried alone for so long.

The album’s sound doesn’t differ much from your previous releases, which will please the ear of your established fans. Are you happy to be in the comfort zone?

I guess that depends on who’s listening. The initial response has been even more positive than we expected, because you just never know, and people seem to hear ‘Radiant’ as a progression for us, evolved from where we’ve been before.

Technically, how do you approach your sound? Any favourite synths? In the era of soft synthesizers, do you still use the physical thing?

Yes, I got left behind with all the soft synths and stayed true to my Korg workstations. I currently use the Kronos but I’ve had each of their workstations since the 01/W. I’m just acclimated to the Korg sequencer and interface, it’s a lazy thing on my behalf, but I just want to write and the Korg provides a nice canvass.

IRIS-radiantEurope misses you, any plans to come back and tour ‘Radiant’?

I think that’s the idea, if we can make it work with our schedules we’d like to be back.

You never know how people will respond to an album and whether that response merits a tour, but so far the reception has been good, so now I think, especially with Dependent working out various options, a tour is more likely than not.

Hopefully we’ll get to play some festivals if nothing else, there’s several we haven’t been able to play before, so we’re looking forward to what 2015 can bring and as always, being back in Europe is very nice.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to Reagan Jones

‘Radiant’ is released by Dependent Records on CD and available as a download album via the usual digital outlets



Text and Interview by Monika Izabela Goss
12th December 2014

IRIS Radiant

From Austin, Texas, IRIS are melodious synth pop as it should be.

Reagan Jones and Andrew Sega (who joined IRIS after Matthew Morris’ departure following the release of their first album ‘Disconnect’) have had a strong musical presence on both sides of the Atlantic for a considerable while now. With the second album ‘Awakening’ and its resonant, rounded songs like ‘Whatever’, ‘Unknown’ and the lush ‘Wait Move On’, Sega pushed the boundaries into a more experimental, leftfield, electronic sound.

The albums that followed were ‘Wrath’ and ‘Blacklight’, each with progressive, empowering, architectural songs that received great reviews in the US and Europe alike. The newest project from the duo, ‘Radiant’ is released on Dependent Records, the same label as MESH and COVENANT. It’s kicked off by the robust sounds of ‘Another Way’.

In true IRIS style, the uptempo, full bodied melody is interspersed with synthy tones and Reagan’s softly flowing voice. It’s a marvellous way to open the album. ‘Phenom’ follows, with rather interesting, powerful notes, resonant with the velvety quality of Jones’ vocals and an extremely atmospheric track, resembling those of ‘Blacklight’.

‘Wayseer’ is another distinctive offering from the band with its celestial qualities and almost buoyant textures. ‘In The Clear’ and ‘Sound Becomes Waves’ are analogous with tranquil and mellow tones of IRIS’ repertoire, with the latter culminating with compelling keyboard sounds, interspersed with eerie guitar. ‘Don’t Cry’ and ‘Infinite Yonder’ come in with stimulating melodies, captivating clean and bright tones, all put together to achieve yet another set of climatic pieces.


‘Cries Of Insanity’ resembles MESH at times, but with the definite IRIS stamp of uncluttered, harmonious purity. It is yet another dazzling gem, shining bright on this album. The first single from the record ‘Rewired’ is a magnificent use of synths, painting that distinguished IRIS sound, representing the duo so well with a booming, intense and climatic use of melody.

‘Sight Unseen’ follows and is a glowing example of what IRIS do best; rhythmic yet soft, rich yet warm. The mega atmospheric ‘Life In A Forest’ closes, a soothing, relaxing, rejuvenating and lush track, studded with real forest sounds; the perfect way to end the perfect record.

Yet again IRIS do not disappoint, the album leaves the listener in a tranquil, dream-like state (pardon the ERASURE pun), and involuntarily wanting more. Even though one could argue that nothing new has been provided to challenge the previous album ‘Blacklight’, this is a tight record, with constant, substantial tunes, sufficient to gain new blood as well as satisfy the hardcore IRIS fan.

As IRIS visit Europe frequently, having been a part of ASSEMBLAGE 23 and SEABOUND tours last winter / spring, it is hoped they will return to present the newest album live in the near future.

‘Radiant’ is released by Dependent Records on CD and available as a download album via the usual digital outlets



Text by Monika Izabela Goss
8th November 2014