Tag: Italoconnection (Page 2 of 3)

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 30 SONGS OF 2021

Despite the general appetite for nostalgia with boxed sets and coloured vinyl of classic albums hogging the pressing plants, there was a lot of excellent new music released in 2021.

The quality of individual tracks released in 2021 was extremely high but at the end of the day, only 30 songs can be selected as a snapshot of the calendar year. As Monica Geller in ‘Friends’ once said, “Rules are good, rules help control the fun” – rules, routine and structure = creativity and fun ?

So the highly commended group who did not quite make ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 30 songs of 2021 includes Tobias Bernstrup, David Cicero, Alice Hubble, Michael Oakley, Jason Priest, Nina, Eric Random and Kat Von D’s duet with Peter Murphy, along with SIN COS TAN, FIAT LUX, LONELADY, GLITBITER, KNIGHT$, PEAKES, DESIRE, SOFTWAVE, XENO & OAKLANDER, BUNNY X, PISTON DAMP, FRAGRANCE. and HANTE.

So here are ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 30 songs of 2021, presented as usual alphabetically by act with a restriction of one song per artist moniker.


ACTORS Love U More

With the recruitment of new bassist Kendall Wooding, the male-to-female ratio of ACTORS has equalled up and altered their dynamic. The vocal duality between Jason Corbett and keyboardist Shannon Hemmett takes an increased role. With the brooding baritone counterpointed by girly soprano and male falsetto to provide an uneasy uplift to the gloomy domino dance, ‘Love U More’ was like a goth DURAN DURAN with metronomic rhythms and eerie synths.

Available on the album ‘Acts Of Worship’ via Artoffact Records

https://www.actorstheband.com/


BAND ELECTRONICA featuring MIDGE URE Das Beat

Midge Ure launched his BAND ELECTRONICA as a recording entity with ‘Das Beat’, a glorious slice of Teutonic robopop in collaboration with Wolfgang Flür. With “Beats through wires, beats through walls”, the icy motorik bossa nova was complimented by a blisteringly catchy synth hook in the classic Kling Klang tradition and harked back the Glaswegian’s days hearing KRAFTWERK at The Blitz Club and making music with VISAGE and ULTRAVOX. Dancing is a given to the synthesizer rhythm.

Available on the single ‘Das Beat’ via BMG Rights Management

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


JORJA CHALMERS Rhapsody

Although a seasoned musician as the sax and keyboard player for Bryan Ferry, Australian Jorja Chalmers did not release her first album until 2019. The superb take on SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES ‘Rhapsody’, an orchestrated gothic epic off their ninth album ‘Peepshow’, featured an intriguing electronic warble within its stripped down arrangement. From its claustrophobic cocoon, Chalmers sounded trapped inside an unsettling icy soundscape of synthetic strings and choirs.

Available on the album ‘Midnight Train’ via Italians Do it Better

https://www.instagram.com/jorjachalmers/


CLASS ACTRESS Saint Patrick

CLASS ACTRESS is the nom de théâtre of one-time Giorgio Moroder protégée Elizabeth Harper. Releasing a new EP ‘Sense Memory’ which initially featured three cover including THE SMITHS’ ‘Ask’ but steadily expanded with new material, the percussive ‘Saint Patrick’ featured an array of infectious synth hooks while Harper’s richly passionate vocal over some strident keyboard work combined like Nerina Pallot fronting BOY HARSHER for a brilliant slice of modern electronic pop.

Available on the EP ‘Sense Memory’ via Terrible Records

https://classactress.com/


HATTIE COOKE I Get By

Perhaps more intentionally pop than Hattie Cooke has ever been before on her previous two long playing outings, an intimate gravitas comes with the expanded electronic texturing on her third album ‘Bliss Land’ and this is undoubtedly stamped on its opening song. The hypnotic ‘I Get By’ was superb with ringing hooks, sweeping soundscapes and airy understated vocals that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on an Italians Do It Better ‘After Dark’ compilation.

Available on the album ‘Bliss Land’ via Castles In Space

https://twitter.com/hattiecooke


DANZ CM Human Existence

‘The Absurdity of Human Existence’ is the debut album by DANZ CM, the artist formally known as COMPUTER MAGIC. New York based Danz Johnson is the synth girl behind both vehicles with a passion for the development of the electronic music. Reflecting the album’s title, the total melancholic brilliance of ‘Human Existence’ sees our heroine make a sombre declaration that “you can’t save me, I can’t save you” reminiscent of CHROMATICS meeting OMD.

Available on the album ‘The Absurdity Of Human Existence’ via Channel 9 Records

https://www.zdanz.com/


DAWN TO DAWN Care

Danceable dreampop trio DAWN TO DAWN feature in its line-up Tess Roby who released her debut album ‘Beacon’ on Italians Do It Better. Also featuring Adam Ohr and Patrick Lee with their Minimoog, Roland System 100, Roland Juno 60 and Korg 700s armoury, ’Care’ was written on a cold winter’s night and unsurprisingly captures that mood. Nocturnal yet rhythmic, Roby’s alluring folk-tinged vocal offsets the various synthetic overtures for a mysterious weightless quality.

Available on the single ‘Care’ via https://dawntodawn.bandcamp.com/track/care

https://www.facebook.com/dawntodawnmusic


DEVOIR Mercer

Leeds based duo DEVOIR are Imogen Holmes, best known as IMI and Jacob Marston. Although ‘Mercer’ is entirely electronic, it differs from IMI in its four-to-the-floor construction. So imagine GOLDFRAPP at an Alpine rave in the Hornlihutte basecamp next to The Matterhorn. As the cinematic techno builds, the magnificent voice that graced IMI soars and shines, expressing itself at the extremes of alluring spoken word and piercing high soprano.

Available on the single ‘Mercer’

https://www.facebook.com/wearedevoir


DIAMOND FIELD feat BELINDA BRADLEY A Kiss Apart

DIAMOND FIELD is the musical vehicle of Andy Diamond, the New York based Kiwi who, looks to studio icons such as Hugh Padgham, Rupert Hine and Peter Wolf as his heroes. With a backing track like NEW ORDER’s ‘Your Silent Face’ reworked by OMD, ‘A Kiss Apart’ is superb and sees a velvet performance by Belinda Bradley; akin to the other Belinda, Ms Carlisle crossed with Marcella Detroit there is a gorgeous chorus and some great synth interventions recalling lost Mute trio PEACH.

Available on the album ‘Diamond Field’ via Sofa King

https://diamondfieldmusic.com/


DLINA VOLNY Bipolar

Inspired by the spectre of the former Soviet Union, Minsk trio DLINA VOLNY explore post-punk with a dance beat not unlike NEW ORDER. Having already had two albums already under their belt and singing in English with an inherent Eastern Bloc gloom in Masha Zinevitch’s vocals throughout their Italians Do It Better period, their fifth single for the label ‘Bipolar’ was dark disco with plenty of synth and mystery that asked “But what is it like being on the border?”.

Available on the album ‘Dazed’ via Italians Do It Better

https://www.instagram.com/dlina_volny/


LAURA DRE All Day, All Night

With her mix of modern synthpop and synthwave coupled to her deep nonchalant vocals, Laura Dre captures the rainy dystopian air of ‘Blade Runner’, but with a sexy enigmatic allure and a mischievously wired groove that wouldn’t go amiss in a West Berlin nightclub. The glorious uptempo disco number ‘All Day, All Night’ offers great crossover potential; drenched in sparkle and a delicious percussive base, it was for fans of early PET SHOP BOYS.

Available on the album ‘Moving Spaces’ via Outland Recordings

https://lauradre.com/


DURAN DURAN Featuring CHAI More Joy!

DURAN DURAN released their 15th studio album ‘Future Past’ in a “live for the moment” reference of how something today can become a cherished memory in times to come. The chiptune inspired ‘More Joy!’ was reminiscent of past glories, its syncopated disco poise capturing DURAN DURAN at what they do best and with hypnotic electronics offset by a wonderful bass guitar run and chants by Japanese rock band CHAI, its exuberant manner presented the right dose of escapism.

Available on the album ‘Future Past’ via Tape Modern / BMG

http://www.duranduran.com/


GLÜME Get Low

Like a tattooed Marilyn Monroe dropped into Twin Peaks, GLÜME is a shimmering new starlet. From her debut album ‘The Internet’, ‘Get Low’ was an intriguing slice of accessible avant pop about the high of falling for someone where brain chemistry and nervous systems are affected. Applying some rumbling electronic bass, stabbing vintage synths and simple but prominent digital drum beats, ‘Get Low’ sounded not unlike an experimental hybrid of OMD and LADYTRON!

Available on the album ‘The Internet’ via Italians Do It Better

https://www.facebook.com/babyglume


ROBIN HATCH Airplane

Made using the T.O.N.T.O. synth complex created Malcom Cecil and Robert Margouleff which was made famous by Stevie Wonder, the same titled album is the fifth solo body of work by the Toronto-based neoclassical composer Robin Hatch. The sinister ‘Airplane’ took shape around an avant garde soundscape. Utilising the talents of doom metal violinist Laura Bates of VOLUR alongside the synthetic strings and hypnotic generative blips, this encapsulated an unsettling gothic grandeur.

Available on the album ‘T.O.N.T.O.’ via Robin Records

https://twitter.com/robinhatch


ITALOCONNECTION featuring ETIENNE DAHO Virus X

For Italo veterans Fred Ventura and Paolo Gozzetti, the ethos of ITALOCONNECTION is “to sound vintage in a modern way”. The superb ‘Virus X’ featuring French veteran Etienne Daho sprung a surprise as a suave slice of Gallic synthwave. With its downbeat verse and an emotive chorus, this was as a fitting musical document of the past year and half’s tensions while using toxic personal relationships as a poignant lyrical analogy.

Available on the album ‘Midnight Confessions Vol1’ via Bordello A Parigi

https://www.facebook.com/italoconnection


JAKUZI Hiç Işık Yok

Hailing from Turkey, JAKUZI’s Italo flavoured song ‘Hiç Işık Yok’ saw the usual cowbells substituted by processed pots and pans, while the mix of classic brassy tones and chilling synth pads blended to create something rather unusual and extraordinary. Working with Maurizio Baggio who mixed the most recent albums by BOY HARSHER and THE SOFT MOON, the Italian producer turned what had been a gothic futureless mood piece with a sombre vocal intonation into a dark but catchy electronic disco number.

Available on the EP ‘Açık Bir Yara’ via City Slang

https://www.facebook.com/jakuz1/


JOON Good Times

2021 was a year craving for more ‘Good Times’ and JOON, the electronic solo project from Maltese producer Yasmin Kuymizakis did her best to remember them. Signing to Italians Do It Better, she reflected on “The way you sing your songs and make me dance, the way you take a chance on a little romance” before affirming “You remind me of the good times”. It all captured a charming innocence in a dreamy Mediterranean take on Japanese City Pop.

Available on the album ‘Dream Again’ via Italians Do It Better

https://www.templeofjoon.com/


КЛЕТ Eternity

КЛЕТ is a music project of Bohemian-born Michal Trávníček. Primarily celebrating the Soviet space programme with its impressive series of firsts, while the ‘Alconaut’ album’s pivotal track ‘Gagarin’s Start’ honoured the handsome hero who was the first man in space as he prepared for lift-off, the spacey Sovietwave mood over 13 tracks made for an enticing listen. The sparkling sparseness of ‘Eternity’ with its stuttering vintage drum machine provided another highlight.

Available on the album ‘Alconaut’ via https://claat.bandcamp.com/album/

https://www.instagram.com/kletwave/


LEATHERS Reckless

LEATHERS is the more synth focussed solo project from ACTORS keyboardist Shannon Hemmett. The undoubted highlight of her debut ‘Reckless’ EP was the title song. Resigned and accepting, she was still alluring in her voicing despite the heartbreak of her love being so cruel and dangerous. A rather lovely slice of synthpop in that classic melancholic vein with an infectious steadfast motorik beat, it again showed that Canada again was leading the way in the modern version of the form.

Available on the EP ‘Reckless’ via Artoffact Records

https://www.leatherstheband.com/


CATHERINE MOAN Drop It!

Following her charming cover of the Alan Wilder penned DEPECHE MODE B-side ‘Fools’, Philadelphian songstress Catherine Moan launched her debut album with the self-composed ‘Drop It!’, a song craving the joy of nightlife. Dreamily floating over a classic four chord progression with an eerily sombre apocalyptic understatement, ‘Drop It!’ channelled her innocent sound in the manner of ELECTRIC YOUTH meeting STRAWBERRY SWITCHBLADE and MARSHEAUX.

Available on the album ‘Chain Reaction’ via https://catherinemoan.bandcamp.com/album/chain-reaction-2

https://www.facebook.com/Catherine-Moan-105421111625150


KARIN MY Loop

While Karin My has been working with TWICE A MAN and MACHINISTA, it was only in 2019 that she stepped out to front her own traditionally derived electronic songs. A steadfast drum machine propels ‘Loop’ over its sweeping symphonic melodies resignation. The closing female computer speech declaring “identification – procedure – quote – hyphen – perform – display – go to – loop – full stop – execute” added to the  unsettlement.

Available on the album ‘Silence Amygdala’ via Ad Inexplorata

http://www.karinmy.net/


NATION OF LANGUAGE This Fractured Mind

Using a rigid motorik backbone and capturing a danceable ethereal shudder, ‘This Fractured Mind’ breathed new life via its sprightly synth tones referencing the past. The machines that had only been friends previously became family in the NATION OF LANGUAGE sound. Dealing with the spectre of unrealised dreams and jealousy towards more successful others, any inferiority complex was countered with hopeful acceptance.

Available on the album ‘A Way Forward’ via Play It Again Sam

https://www.nationoflanguage.com/


NORTHERN LITE Ich Fürchte Nein

The project of Andreas Kubat and Sebastian Bohn, the 2001 NORTHERN LITE single ‘Treat Me Better’ was a cult favourite on the electroclash scene. Translating as “I don‘t think so…”, Kubat reflected on enforced isolation and staying sane. In a chorus that could be roughly interpreted: “You can‘t be happy and by liked by everyone at the same time”, ‘Ich Fürchte Nein’ was a delightfully catchy synthpop tune with a bright and jolly melodic section contrasted by a vocal of a more anxious disposition.

Available on the album ‘Ja’ via UnaMusic

https://www.northernlite.de/


GARY NUMAN The Chosen

While ‘Savage’ depicted a deserted post-apocalyptic world, clad in darkness, the Ade Fenton produced ‘Intruder’ saw Planet Earth react to human kind’s misdemeanours by unleashing a virus! “It feels betrayed, hurt and ravaged. Disillusioned and heartbroken it is now fighting back” said Gary Numan poignantly.  ‘The Chosen’ was fast paced synth rock filled with pleading messages embroiled in frustration, asking “Do you need one more sign?” and “Can you see, or are you so blind?”

Available on the album ‘Intruder’ via BMG

https://garynuman.com/


MARK REEDER & FIFI RONG Figure Of 8

Mark Reeder first met Fifi Rong who at the Berlin Kraftwerk in 2016 when she was singing in concert with Swiss trailblazers YELLO. From his album ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ , the opening track ‘Figure of 8’ was a magical new collaboration between the two with a cinematic backdrop of sparse piano and glistening sequences over which the exquisite Chinese songstress added her distinctive air of mystery to a more metronomic rhythm construction than on her own work.

Available on the album ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ via MFS

https://fifirong.com/

https://mfsberlin.com/


R. MISSING Crimeless

New York City-based darklings R. MISSING are fronted by Sharon Shy, a vocalist with an elegant Jane Birkin-like presence while the studious Toppy Frost does the music. In their increasingly synthy sound, but the wonderful ‘Crimeless’ was R. MISSING’s most pop noir statement yet. It was like CHROMATICS carefully reconfigured for the dancefloor with Sharon Shy presenting a whispery singing style that could easily be mistaken for Ruth Radelet.

Available on the single ‘Crimeless’ via Sugarcane Recordings

https://rmissing.com/


SCHÖNHEIT Danse Du Robot

Subtitled ‘Hommage à Florian’, ‘Danse Du Robot’ was a magical tribute to the late KRAFTWERK co-founder with hints of ‘Trans Europe Express’ from Swedish producer Martin Lillberg, the man behind SCHÖNHEIT. Not exactly a prolific project with singles in 2014 and 2019, Lillberg however records under various monikers including as DEOLETUS and WML as well as holding down a day job as a classical percussionist.

Available on the single ‘Danse du Robot (Hommage à Florian)’

https://swedishelectroscene.bandcamp.com/track/danse-du-robot-hommage-florian


SEA FEVER De Facto

SEA FEVER are the new eclectic Manchester combo featuring second generation members of SECTION 25 and NEW ORDER, Beth Cassidy, Tom Chapman and Phil Cunningham. ‘De Facto’ was a delightful electro-disco feast with a rhythm rush that screamed strobelights and likely to fill indie club dancefloors while crossing over to lovers of synth. With echoes of NEW ORDER and THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS, it captured a vibrant energy worthy of Manchester and its musical heritage.

Available on the album ‘Folding Lines’ via Kartel Records

https://seafeverband.com/


UNIFY SEPARATE Embrace The Fear

As the prospect of interacting with others again set off anxieties after 18 months of social distancing, for Scottish Swedish duo UNIFY SEPARATE, it was time to ‘Embrace The Fear’. While the theme was relatable to lockdown, the lyrical gist touched on the more general existential crises that afflict many as they navigate a life crossroads. But despite the air of unease and the grittier disposition, as with most of UNIFY SEPARATE’s output, there was light at the end of the tunnel.

Available on the single ‘Embrace The Fear’ via https://unifyseparate.bandcamp.com/track/embrace-the-fear

https://www.facebook.com/usmusicspace


WAVESHAPER Lost In The Cloud

Gorgeously melodic within a claustrophobic drama, ‘Lost In The Cloud’ did as the title suggested like Vangelis meeting Giorgio Moroder at the Necropolis on a dreamy dance trip. A lovely uplifting synth instrumental, the man behind WAVESHAPER Tom Andersson suggested something darker, saying “Imagine Red Riding Hood trapped in the Digital Cloud, behind the Mainframe. How would she feel? What would she see? There is probably more to fear than a wolf in the forest…”

Available on the album ‘Mainframe’ via Waveshaper Music Production

https://www.facebook.com/Waveshaperofficial


A selection of ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s favourite music in 2021 is on its ‘Missing U’ playlist


Text by Chi Ming Lai
11th December 2021

RAGO & FARINA vs ITALOCONNECTION


Francesco Rago and Gianluigi Farina are two Italo disco trailblazers who have been behind the projects such as ATELIER FOLIE, EXPANSIVES, DECADANCE and ‘LECTRIC WORKERS.

Meanwhile, Fred Ventura is another pioneer of Italo who in 2012 looked to modernise that cult dance form with Paolo Gozzetti via their production duo ITALOCONNECTION.

RAGO & FARINA vs ITALOCONNECTION collects a number of reworked and revisited cult favourites plus more recent original material as four way joint venture for 2021.

First released as a nine track digital compendium to celebrate their years of friendship, collaboration and travels, Nadanna presents an expanded CD edition that adds four extra tracks. Beginning with the classic blippy 1983 vintage of ATELIER FOLIE’s No Rhyme No Reason’, the ITALOCONNECTION Rework toughens things up but the very spirited vocals of Francesco Rago are retained, along with the bells and NEW ORDER styled bass.

With more under the ATELIER FOLIE banner, the ITALOCONNECTION Rework of ‘Walking In The Neon’ provides a tighter and squelchier take with deeper gated vocal treatments, although crucially the key synth melodies are all present and correct. The slick 1983 original was by Peter Richard but actually co-written by Rago and Farina with Chuck Rolando, a member of Italian group PASSENGERS. Coming as an extra, the superb Tribute Rework of ‘Walking In The Neon’ from Danish DJ Flemming Dalum is busied up with an electro-funky lilt and some grainy vocodered tone poetry to enhance its spacey quality.

The ITALOCONNECTION Rework of EXPANSIVES’ ‘Life With You’ originally released in 1982 makes the most out of the string machines that are now attached to a more powerful beat. Meanwhile the cavernous vocals and vocoder provide an out-of-this-world quality, the reverbed clap collage and electronic swoops also adding intrigue.

Repaying the compliment, Rago and Farina remix the Fred Ventura single ‘The Years (Go By)’ and while more rigid than the 1985 version, it still sounds glorious.

From 2013, ITALOCONNECTION’s remix of ATELIER FOLIE’s ‘Leave Me Alone’ has much less reverb than previously and resonates in that classic Italo style with bright keyboard melodies and orchestra stabs; a fraught vocal matches the percussive aggression while some minimal bass guitar acknowledges the influence of NEW ORDER. The bonus ‘LECTRIC WORKERS Dub Rework makes more of that aspect for some Spaghetti Western disco.

Signalling the 2017 comeback of Francesco Rago and Gigi Farina as ATELIER FOLIE, ‘Freedom Time’ was a modern anthemic disco song produced Fred Ventura and Paolo Gozzetti as ITALOCONNECTION. Next to the bonus ITALOCONNECTION Remix, the original Club Mix sounds much cleaner.

Less frantic than the other tracks, DECADANCE’s 1983 single ‘On An On (Fears Keep On)’ does not lose its classic electronic presence with a new solid bassline provided by ITALOCONNECTION. At nine minutes, it is something of a marathon but while a charming female vocal by Vik provides another layer over the instrumentally strong backing. The bonus Slo-fi Mix does as it suggests.

A new ITALOCONNECTION recording with Francesco Rago, ‘Unbelievable’ sees less of a snarl from Rago as he duets with Ventura, but it’s a superb coming together of Italo legends bursting with catchy hooks and evolving melodies.

Closing the main act is the previously unreleased ‘LECTRIC WORKERS instrumental ‘Borealis’ which stomps at 6/8, this archive recording acting as a glorious homage to Jean-Michel Jarre, complete with swimmy Eminent strings and snakey Minipops approximations.

Reworked, produced and mixed with love by four Italian disco legends, if you like Italo or the dancier side of NEW ORDER or PET SHOP BOYS, you will like RAGO & FARINA vs ITALOCONNECTION.

Modernised for the 21st Century without losing the original melodic spirit, this is just the sun-kissed tonic for the summer after a tricky year and a bit for all.


‘Rago & Farina vs Italoconnection’ is released by Nadanna as a CD, available from https://www.juno.co.uk/products/rago-farina-vs-rago-farina-vs-italoconnection/839607-01/ or http://www.poponaut.de/rago-farina-italoconnection-rago-farina-italoconnection-p-20550.html

9 track digital edition available from https://italoconnection.bandcamp.com/album/rago-farina-vs-italoconnection

https://www.facebook.com/italoconnection

https://www.instagram.com/italoconnection/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
19th August 2021

TOBIAS BERNSTRUP Interview

Gothenburg-born Tobias Bernstrup is a performance and visual artist with five officially released albums to his name, as well as numerous video installations, collaborative exhibitions, interactive works and gaming projects.

Following up 2018’s ‘Technophobic’ long player, his sixth album ‘Petrichor’ refines his Italo Noir template with intelligent political and historical observations like “a Film Noir in cold blue and pink light that you can dance to”.

With his striking stage persona, Bernstrup is an intriguing androgynous figure who speaks for the outsider, raising questions about society’s representation of identity in his gender-crossing live performances and visual presentation.

With the imminent release of ‘Petrichor’, Tobias Bernstrup spoke to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about the making of the new album, collaborations, his artistic ethos and continuing motivations.

What was the genesis of your Italo Noir sound?

I grew up listening to Punk, Metal and Postpunk but always loved Italo Disco. When I started making electronic music after years of being a drummer, I knew that I wanted to make Italo inspired music with a darker more melancholic sound. I also wanted to create a darker image to this sound when designing performance costumes and sleeve art.

How would you describe the concept of your new album ‘Petrichor’ which means “a pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather”?

The initial idea for the sleeve photo was to include raindrops or rain atmosphere. During the research, I came across reading about the Petrichor phenomenon.

I had several cinematic images in my head; the end scene of ‘Bladerunner’ or an episode of ‘Miami Vice’ when Sonny Crockett walks alone on a rainy street. I love how the rain enhances scents, colors and creates reflections.

The first single ‘Private Eye’ appears to be about the surveillance society?

The inspiration to the lyrics came from a Bitcoin Scam email that circulated. The emails say they hacked into your computer and recorded you visiting adult websites. They threaten to distribute the video to your friends and family within hours, unless you pay into their Bitcoin account.

Sweden has been at the forefront of cashless payment, but how do you feel that you can’t even buy bread or fruit without someone watching you? Does that make you ‘Technophobic’?

No, but I am aware. It is a new world order, if you don’t own a smartphone or have internet connection, you will be excluded from the society. It is so obvious when you see beggars asking for money and everyone replies I don’t have cash…

How do you look back on the ‘Technophobic’ album, the title song was particularly good?

The album had a quite coherent synthpop vibe throughout but a more cold, synthetic, metallic and modern sound than previous productions. On ‘Petrichor’, I wanted a warmer sound so I decided to mainly use old-school drum sounds like the Oberheim DMX, LinnDrum and typical 80s synthesizers.

Do you have any preferences for your electronic template, do you like hardware synths and drum machines or have you entered the world of software?

I work in between analog and digital tools. When it comes to playing and recording the physical touch of a hardware synth is superior. I often use Korg PolySix for basslines and Roland JX-8P for pads. When it comes to software instruments, mixing and plugins I always go for analog circuit emulation.

The music industry has changed a lot even since ‘Technophobic’, have you reconsidered your strategies as an artist about making albums and promotion?

I had a more open process when putting together the album. It started releasing a bunch of singles during the process to see where they landed.

That helped me writing and finalizing the remaining tracks.

In your opinion, is the album as a format still relevant in music consumption?

Yes I believe so, even though many people rather listen to single tracks and playlists. Listening to an album is like reading a book. If you have the patience to do this, it can be very rewarding. There has been a revival in making shorter albums again with 8-10 tracks. This is a good thing. it fits better with the pleasant vinyl LP format. And it’s difficult to make long albums with 14-18 and keep up the quality and interest. There are some exceptions. THE CURE’s double LP ‘Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me’ is still such a great album without a dull moment. It has variety without being eclectic.

Looking back, aspects of 2015’s ‘Romanticism’ album explored some different directions compared to your earlier albums and more recent singles, particularly with the ballad ‘Dorian Gray’, the Latin moods of ‘Laterna Magica’ and the classic Eurodance of ‘Revolution’?

The song writing and recording process was very different during ‘Romanticism’. I worked during a focused period of 2 months in a studio with a very open and experimental mind set. At that time, it was important for my development to try something new.

The recent compilation ‘Trannies At Night’ gathered your earlier work before 2012, how do you see your development as an artist and do you have any favourite songs or memories from that period?

In the beginning there was more simplicity, but less production. Sometimes there was a more powerful and directness to it. As I got more production skills, I have to make more effort in order to find that simplicity which makes a great song. Limiting your toolbox and arsenal of instruments is a good way of doing this.

What was the inspiration behind your most recent single ‘Only One’?

It a typical Bernstrup track, It started with that Jan Hammer-like bassline and the lead sound melody and those marimba sounds that I just love. It reminds me of Ken Laszlo’s ‘Tonight’ – one of my all-time favourite songs. Lyrics came naturally when just playing with words and vocal melody.

You sing of a “stranger on the screen”, “disposable love” and a “devil in disguise” on ‘Stranger’, it’s strange that in this modern world, some people care more about influencers online who they’ve never met rather than those near them like family and friends?

Interesting thought. Well, the lyrics could describe someone being disconnected from reality. The initial idea was to write from the perspective of someone having an addiction to online dating in a dangerous self-destructive and abusive way.

Is ‘Challenger’ referring to the 1986 space shuttle tragedy?

Yes, I remembered that day as a teenager. During the production of the new album, I watched a couple of rocket launches. Technology and space exploration has always interested me. The Challenger disaster was a very tragic one as there had been warnings from engineers about the dangers of launching posed by the low temperatures of that January morning.

There is a more instrumental template on ‘Loderunner’ rather than using full lyrics?

The original idea for this track dates back to 2002 or 2004. I wrote an instrumental track for one of my art exhibitions that was an interactive video game piece. The musical theme itself was inspired by the musical score for the 1998 video game ‘Unreal’ composed by Alexander Brandon & Michiel van den Bos. The title refers to a C64 computer game.

You have quoted J Robert Oppenheimer on ‘I Am Become’?

Yes, the words are slightly rearranged but from a TV interview were Oppenheimer recalls the reactions after watching the Trinity nuclear bomb test. The dangers and dark sides of technological inventions is a theme that I often return to. With every new invention a new catastrophe is invented.

Which songs are your own highlights from ‘Petrichor’?

‘Only One’ has the perfect Bernstrup sound and has the perfect walking tempo when listing in headphones. ‘Petrichor’ delivers a very nice atmosphere and I love that Fairlight CMI flute sound. ‘Loderunner’ has that energetic drive and mood you can find in a great video game.

It’s interesting that as a performance artist, you haven’t produced many videos recently to accompany your own songs, is there any particular reason?

At the moment music videos are not that important to me anymore. But that can change of course.

How do you balance between your art exhibits and your music?

They often go hand in hand. During the work with exhibitions I often stick to a theme that leaks into my music writing process as ideas for song lyrics or visuals.

You have collaborated in the past with SARALUNDEN and TRANS-X while APOPTYGMA BERZERK, COVENANT and ITALOCONNECTION have done remixes, are there any more interesting partnerships happening?

I wrote lyrics and did vocals for a track on the new ITALOCONNECTION LP ‘Midnight Confessions Vol1’. It’s a song called ‘Rainbow Warrior’ that brings up LGBT rights and environmental activism mentioning historical dates of events – the sinking of the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior in 1985 and the Stonewall riots in 1969.

In 2017 on ‘Utopia’, you asked “where are you now?”, so what are your hopes and fears for the future?

After the Covid outbreak, we have hopefully learned that nothing should be taken for granted, that “we are so fragile”.


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its sincerest thanks to Tobias Bernstrup

Special thanks to Marc Schaffer at Nadanna Records

‘Petrichor’ is released by Nadanna Records on 20th August 2021 in CD with 7 bonus tracks and 18 track digital editions, limited black or transparent magenta vinyl LP with lyric inner sleeve, A3 poster + numbered postcard available in October

The CD can be pre-ordered from https://www.poponaut.de/tobias-bernstrup-petrichor-limited-edition-p-20549.html

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https://www.facebook.com/TOBIASBERNSTRUPOfficial/

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https://www.instagram.com/tobiasbernstrup/

https://open.spotify.com/artist/7qMxLMZgfIeZloY2EjWiPt


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
28th July 2021

ITALOCONNECTION Midnight Confessions Vol1

In the UK, ITALOCONNECTION are perhaps best known for their remixes of HURTS ‘Better Than Love’ and THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s ‘Never Let Me Go’; the latter’s radio mix was actually BBC Radio2’s preferred version for airplay.

For Italian music veterans Fred Ventura and Paolo Gozzetti, the ethos of ITALOCONNECTION is “to sound vintage in a modern way”.

The duo released their self-titled debut album in 2013 which comprised of their own tracks as well as productions and remixes for other artists, so 2017’s ‘Metropoli’ was actually their first album proper.

And now after the interim covers collection ‘Disco Boutique’ comes ‘Midnight Confessions Vol1’, an album about love that also brings in a wider commentary including environmental issues, the worldwide pandemic and human rights, all while fused to a tight danceable electronic sound bursting with melody.

As Fred Ventura himself described it, “The production of this album was like a long journey, going through bad weather and back to the sun several times. We had to face the reality of working from distance and without the usual production jam we used before the pandemic”.

The opener ‘All I Want Is You’ is wonderful and with its chosen Korg Poly synth tones, is almost like CHINA CRISIS gone Eurodisco. Fred Ventura’s vocal topline is appealing and rousing in all the right places to stamp its origins.

Playing with more of machine groove and a much darker tone, ‘Rainbow Warrior’ featuring Swedish performance artist Tobias Bernstrup on lead vocals is another superb song. With references to the story of the Greenpeace ship and the Stonewall Rebellion, it celebrates the heroics of environmental and LGBT activists to an infectious dance beat.

‘All Over’ is all hooks and atmospheres galore with another confident vocal performance from Ventura and when the female vocals join in, it provides a glorious uplift.

The pulsating ‘Get Together’ is a catchy if bittersweet number, with room to breathe musically as Ventura tells of how he wants to be left alone; his falsetto refrain in the vein of ‘I Feel Love’ in the extended coda is a delight.

The superb ‘Virus X’ featuring French veteran Etienne Daho springs a surprise as a suave slice of Gallic synthwave; with a downbeat verse and an emotive chorus, it acts as a poignant musical document of the past year’s tensions while using toxic personal relationships as a sinister lyrical analogy.

Despite its deep cutting bassline and spacey shimmers, the lovelorn drama of ‘Since You Went Away’ takes a progressive turn from its retro-modern first half with a gorgeous monologue from actress Francesca Diprima that brings an airy feminine touch to proceedings alongside Ventura’s voice and a collage of speedy arpeggios towards an expansive climax.

Modern Italo duo CARINO CAT, who had their debut album ‘Attraction Of Heat’ released on Ventura’s Disco Modernism label, guest on ‘The Year Of The Sun’; the sparkly number does exactly as the title suggests with an addictive Mediterranean disco vibe from yesteryear that sounds more than familiar with its catchy chorus and “ohoh-oh-oh” vocal ab-libs!

The largely optimistic template captured on ‘Midnight Confessions Vol1 takes a more introspective turn on ‘Humans’.

As people of the world emerges from a long period of enforced isolation, it is time to “express our right to be loved” with “no reason to give up or hide anymore”. As Paolo Gozzetti reflected: “We are humans, we need to relate, we were made to relate. You can hide, you can escape, but the truth is we all need to relate.”

Throughout ‘Midnight Confessions Vol1’, the production is excellent, showcasing a collection of danceable widescreen European electronic pop at its best. So here’s to the standard being maintained for ‘Midnight Confessions Vol2’.


‘Midnight Confessions Vol1’ is released by Bordello A Parigi on 21st June 2021, the vinyl LP and CD are available direct from https://bordelloaparigi.com/artist/italoconnection/

https://www.facebook.com/italoconnection

https://www.instagram.com/italoconnection/

https://italoconnection.bandcamp.com/

https://open.spotify.com/album/04ctTnxZwdCGHqvmEs5hcU


Text by Chi Ming Lai
21st June 2021

ITALOCONNECTION Interview

Fred Ventura is a legend of Italo Disco; meanwhile Paolo Gozzetti is a stalwart of Italian electronic music. Together they are ITALOCONNECTION.

Known to British audiences for their remixes of HURTS, THE HUMAN LEAGUE and KNIGHT$, their new album ‘Midnight Confessions Vol1’ is a sun-kissed eight track collection featuring a number of specials guests including French pop veteran Etienne Daho, the striking androgynous personality of Swede Tobias Bernstrup, modern Italo duo CARINO CAT and newcomer Francesca Diprima.

As well as songs about love, ‘Midnight Confessions Vol1’ also brings in a wider commentary including environmental issues, the worldwide pandemic and human rights.

Fred Ventura and Paolo Gozzetti spoke to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about their latest adventure as ITALOCONNECTION and to make some midnight confessions…

The new ITALOCONNECTION album is called ‘Midnight Confessions Vol1’, had there been any conceptual intention musically?

Paolo: When we started to work on this new album, we wanted it to be deep, nighty and sophisticated. We wanted to create a story through the lens of our vision creating some kind of metaphysical perspective of the dancefloor. Not a direct, but a more reflective and mediated approach.

Fred: The production of this album was like a long journey, going through bad weather and back to the sun several times. We had to face the reality of working from distance and without the usual production jam we used before the pandemic

Did the concept include the synths you were using, where there any self-imposed restrictions on the palette of sounds used to achieve your aims?

Paolo: Our aim is always to sound vintage in a modern way. So yes, we used a certain number of selected synths and drums, but we like to work on it to make it sound somehow unique and up to date. We love to start from a palette and tweak with knobs, filters and effects to achieve sounds that suit that particular song in a “sensual” way.

Fred: I love the freedom to be able to work with sounds we like, instead of following a dogma or being stuck in the past or obsessed by new technology.

How would you describe your creative dynamic as ITALOCONNECTION?

Paolo: We come from a common ground and we share a lot of passions varying from musical acts to artistic imaginaries. When we work together, we are very fast on revealing where a track could lead us to. We usually start tweaking and then something happens. It could be a bassline that reminds some particular song or artist, or a melody or harmony that makes us unveil where the song could go. This is very special and it works because we know each other very well and love what we do.

Fred: The good thing is that we never follow any rule, we know our background and we exactly know where we want to bring the ITALOCONNECTION sound.

ITALOCONNECTION have been busy with productions and remixes, do you have a favourite from the recent batch of work?

Paolo: Remixes are like a gym where you can play and practise different things you wouldn’t normally do with the strain of production. It’s fun because you are free, and forced to work on a different pattern and this can be stimulating. We had great fun remixing Etienne Daho and recently Josep Xortó & The Congosound and Rago e Farina. Productions are a totally different playground because you have to translate the artist’s idea into something that reflects both his and your vision. We had massive satisfaction working on the album of La Prohibida.

Fred: It’s a nice feeling to work for other artists because you experience a different involvement, less personal but with a strong focus so to reach a result that make all the people involved happy.

How do you look back now on your previous album ‘Metropoli’ and the covers collection ‘Disco Boutique’?

Paolo: Yesterday I had the chance to listen to ‘Metropoli’ for the first time in ages, and I had a “detached” listen, while before I was always too much involved and critical. I must admit it still sounds timeless and focused. It clearly shouts for urgency and character and sounds monolithic and big. It is almost a sound manifesto and I still love it. We wanted to take a picture of our imaginary. ‘Metropoli’ is an interpretation of what we felt and saw when playing in Berlin, London, Paris, Helsinki. A ‘Metropoli’ of sound, in a European vision.

Fred: In a way ‘Metropoli’ is a collection of images, we always bring back good memories and images from our touring that sooner or later end up influencing the atmosphere and lyrics of the songs

Paolo: ‘Disco Boutique’ is a tribute to some of the most iconic or obscure tracks that somehow inspired us over the years, remixed with our feeling and sound. This project is both fun to make and useful to have because we wanted to give a layer of fresh paint to songs that would sound somehow dated or unfamiliar to many. This is an open project, we don’t exclude, we could work on new ‘Disco Boutique’ material in the future.

Talking of covers, you recorded a version of THE ELECTRONIC CIRCUS’ ‘Direct Lines’ in 2017 with Francesca Gastaldi, how did you discover the song as it is quite obscure, even in the UK?

Paolo: The story behind ‘Direct Lines’ is peculiar. I listened to it in a skate documentary and I had the impression I already heard it before. I loved it since the first riff, which goes directly to the point and captures that new wave spleen immediately. Then I discovered that this song was written by Chris Payne who played with Gary Numan and co-wrote VISAGE ‘Fade To Grey’ so all the elements of the puzzle made sense immediately. There is this long rope of tension that bends all the people that were involved in the new wave and post-punk environment together. And yes, I am definitely a “Blitz Kid”!

You opted to have a number of special guests on ‘Midnight Confessions Vol1’, what was the idea behind this?

Paolo: ITALOCONNECTION is a duo, and at the same time an open project (hence the name “connection”). We want to be a bridge to collaborations with people we admire and respect. We love to create connections and listen to how artists translate our vision. We had guests also in ‘Metropoli’. We love to have guests.

How did you meet French superstar Etienne Daho to make ‘Virus X’, that title is a very relevant subject?

Fred: I had the chance to meet Etienne Daho at the after party of French iconic new wave band MARQUIS DE SADE reunion concert in Rennes a few years ago. I’ve been a big fan of him for more than 35 years and this collaboration is a real dream come true.

Paolo: When we approached Etienne we wanted him to have the broadest freedom on the interpretation of the song. We were stunned by the song melody itself and the inspiring lyrics. He made this clever comparison between a toxic relationship and a virus, which is actually very true.

‘All I Want Is You’, ‘All Over’ and ‘Get Together’ feature some very confident and rousing vocal performances, but how did you decide which songs were sung by yourselves and which were sung by the guests?

Paolo: Fred is very confident with the potentialities of the songs he chooses he could sing in. and he is very good at finding a melody that works. Sometimes songs come up already with a melody and we feel they could be perfect for some artist we love. Other times we just have an instrumental song and we want to challenge some of our artist friends to find and sing a new melody for us. There is no rule here. It’s just fun and we are very focused on the songs we are working on. For example: ‘Year Of The Sun’ was perfect for the mood and the key of CARINO CAT, and we decided it was the case.

Fred: I’m definitely more than happy sometimes to leave the lead vocal role to other artists that we both respect, it is also a way to make our sound more interesting and international

‘Year Of The Sun’ with CARINO CAT has a great nostalgic feel that parties like it’s 1985?

Paolo: There are “waves” of inspiration during times where we write in a certain style of music. In this case, we had a grape of songs that were very nostalgic and 80s in a ‘Donna Rouge’ style. So we thought that CARINO CAT were perfect for that particular song.

Fred: I’m still so proud of releasing their debut album on my label Disco Modernism, they are very talented and real, and most of all great songwriters

‘Rainbow Warrior’ featuring Swedish performance artist Tobias Bernstrup on lead vocals tells the story of the Greenpeace ship which was attacked by French Secret Service?

Paolo: Yes exactly, but not only. It’s a tribute to people that stand up for rights. We are always up for human rights and peoples rights in general.

A feminine element is brought to ‘Since You Went Away’ by Francesca Diprima, has this song been inspired by real life events?

Paolo: Not really; you have to think that when in the studio, we play a lot with imagination. This song is like a film, inspired by the music. And we pictured ourselves in a 1981 rainy and windy Paris at Montparnasse, searching for the lost love. Francesca Diprima is the connection with the loved one, ideally a telephone call in the storm, a retro-modern drama.

Fred: I’m pretty fascinated by this feeling of loneliness you feel when you are left by somebody and you are wandering in a big city, among buildings and lights under the rain

The album ends more introspectively with ‘Humans’, what is your message here?

Paolo: The point of this song sounds like it may have a direct connection with the recent age of pandemic, which may be true, but could be applied to a wider spectrum of our relationships. We are humans, we need to relate, we were made to relate. You can hide, you can escape, but the truth is we all need to relate.

Fred: The lack of physical contacts of the last 15 months made me realise how I miss shaking hands and holding people you are close with. The eyes connection is not enough, unfortunately

Which are your own personal favourite songs on ‘Midnight Confessions Vol1’?

Paolo: It is very difficult to make a choice. Every song hides a story and a long development. Every song is a confession.

Fred: I don’t have a proper favourite one but ‘Virus X’ definitely represents a reached goal and an emotional moment

The production on ‘Midnight Confessions Vol1’ is superb, very clear and spacious yet powerful. Have you any thoughts about how modern music production is heading now and the harsh sound that some acts are adopting, like on DURAN DURAN’s ‘Invisible’ for example?

Paolo: Being a musician, a sound engineer and synth lover with a fetish for “that” sensual sound, makes it automatic to think of an album as a whole. A unique piece of art made of music, sound, melodies and words with a precise image and vision in the background. We are very careful at sounding good.

We don’t want to sound harsh. We rather prefer to sound big and enveloping. To achieve this, we always want to have complete control over every aspect and stage of production. We think of an album as a piece of art, be it a film or a painting. Something that remains over the years.

The title ‘Midnight Confessions Vol1’ indicates there will be more music in this style, what is next for ITALOCONNECTION?

Paolo: ‘Midnight Confessions Vol1’ is the first volume of a wider collection of songs. We had too many for a single album, so expect it to be part of a big selection of ‘confessions’.

Fred: Yes, we still have a lot of ‘confessions’ to reveal.


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to ITALOCONNECTION

‘Midnight Confessions Vol1’ is released by Bordello A Parigi on 21st June 2021, the vinyl LP and CD are available direct from https://bordelloaparigi.com/artist/italoconnection/

https://www.facebook.com/italoconnection

https://www.instagram.com/italoconnection/

https://italoconnection.bandcamp.com/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
13th June 2021

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