Tag: Karin Park (Page 2 of 3)

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 30 SONGS OF 2014

wasp TECWith a less intense release schedule than last year, it was a bit more straightforward to choose the songs of 2014.

Whereas 2013 had a short list of 45 songs, 2014 was closer to 35 although not the struggle to find 30 as was the case in 2012.

So just missing out are CLIENT, KLEERUP and TODD TERJE featuring Bryan Ferry, although not by much.

As usual, they are listed in alphabetical order and all have been released either in physical formats, or digitally as purchasable or free downloads during the calendar year. Thus although the excellent video for LIEBE’s ‘I Believe In You’ gained traction on MTV Europe in 2014, the song was actually released in 2013.

Tracks which are exclusive to streams, videos or DJ only promos are also not included; so QUIETER THAN SPIDERS ‘The Land Of Lost Content’ is not eligible. Limited to one song per artist moniker, here are the 30 Songs of 2014…


ANALOG ANGEL The Last Time

Analog Angel trinityThe transformation of Glaswegians ANALOG ANGEL in the last 18 months has been startling. From their third album ‘Trinity’, its closer ‘The Last Time’ was a big surprise, featuring a cinematic arrangement involving an orchestra cascading into an epic Pan-European journey heading eastwards. Recalling THE SISTERS OF MERCY’s ‘This Corrosion’, the virtual symphonic strings and gothic choirs gave an indication as to what OMD might have sounded like if Jim Steinman had been producing!

Available on the download album ‘Trinity’ via http://analog-angel.bandcamp.com/

http://www.analog-angel.com/


MARGARET BERGER Scream

Margaret-Berget-Scream‘Scream’ launched MARGARET BERGER’s first album ‘New Religion’ since 2006’s ‘Pretty Scary Silver Fairy’ although as yet, the new opus has yet to emerge. The Norwegian Idol finalist effectively revived her career with ‘I Feed You My Love’ which came fourth in Eurovision 2013. ‘Scream’ saw her continuing the ROBYN meets DEPECHE MODE template of her Eurovision smash and possessed an inherent industrialised darkness in an approach to quality pop that set itself apart.

Available as a download single via iTunes Norway through Macho Records

http://www.margaretberger.com/


CLAUDIA BRÜCKEN Nevermind

CLAUDIA BRUCKEN-NevermindThe original first lady of cinematic electronic pop surprised everyone when she appeared on the cover of her third album ‘Where Else…’ with a guitar strapped to her back. But while the record had a folk and blues influence, the synthesized textures that Ms Brücken has been best known for were still very much part of the package. The launch single ‘Nevermind’ could be seen as a musical reply to OMD’s ‘Stay With Me’. A lovely mix of electronics and acoustic, she appears to be driven by a new artistic zest.

Available on the album ‘Where Else…’ via Cherry Red Records

http://www.claudiabrucken.co.uk


DAVIDGE featuring EMI GREEN Sleepwalking

DAVIDGE SleepwalkingDAVIDGE is best known for his work with MASSIVE ATTACK and has been involved in game and film soundtracks for many years. His first solo album ‘Slo Light’ was an impressive debut, containing many of the elements that marked his work with the Bristolian triphoppers. ‘Sleepwalking’ was a haunting number beautifully voiced by EMI GREEN which recalled the ethereal quality of COCTEAU TWINS’ Elizabeth Fraser and the electronically assisted Weimer Cabaret of ‘Felt Mountain’ era GOLDFRAPP.

Available on the album ‘Slo Light’ via 7Hz Recordings

http://www.neildavidge.com/


ERASURE Be The One (Paul Humphreys Remix)

ERASURE VioletFlameFollowing the disappointment of 2011’s FRANKMUSIK driven ‘Tomorrow’s World’, ‘The Violet Flame’ produced by Richard X saw ERASURE express an infectious zest for the future. The songs began with pre-recorded dance grooves from Vince Clarke as represented by the euphoric opening track ‘Dead Of Night’. The best number from the package turned out to be a ballad remixed by Paul Humphreys who added some of the beautiful Synth-Werk magic that characterised OMD’s ‘English Electric’ to ‘Be The One’.

Available on the boxed set edition of ‘The Violet Flame’ via Mute Artists / Pledge Music

http://www.erasureinfo.com


FEATHERS Wild Love

Released in time for their DEPECHE MODE support tour in Europe, ‘Wild Love’ was far more dance-oriented than anything FEATHERS attempted on their debut album ‘If All Now Here’. While a heavy beat dominated, the essential component of a song remained, building to a suitably epic chorus providing that euphoric lift. The gated trance elements in the second chorus were a particular highlight, especially when backed by a screeching falsetto counterpoint. But just as it got going, it faded out!

Available on the download EP ‘Only One’ via http://feathers.bandcamp.com/album/only-one

http://www.feathers.fm/


GAZELLE TWIN Exorcise

GAZELLE TWIN Unflesh artThe moniker of Elizabeth Bernholz, GAZELLE TWIN has acquired an impressive host of admirers including JOHN FOXX, GARY NUMAN and CLINT MANSELL. Her second album ‘Unflesh’ has allowed the Brighton based songstress to extract her demons with some artistic violence. One of the highlights ‘Exorcise’ was an impressively aggressive cross between PINK FLOYD’s ‘One The Run’ and KRAFTWERK’s ‘Home Computer’. Its uneasy resonance was aided by Bernholz’s harsh, deadpan commentary.

Available on the album ‘Unflesh’ via Anti-Ghost Moon Ray

http://www.gazelletwin.com/


GIRL ONE & THE GREASE GUNS No Longer Spellbound

GIRLONE-no-longer-spellboundThis mysterious combo with their lo-fi noise and motorik beats have revealed a series of energetic singles over the past two years including ‘Jessica 6’, a frantic salvo sounding like THE PIPETTES fronting an OMD assisted JOY DIVISION. But GIRL ONE & THE GREASE GUNS revealed a much softer side with ‘No Longer Spellbound’. With its beautiful atmospheric quality smothered in icy synth strings and grainy vox samples, if ‘Twins Peaks’ had been set in The Lake District, then the theme tune might sound a like this.

Available on the download EP ‘No Longer Spellbound’ via Squirrel Records

http://www.squirrelrecords.co.uk/girl-one-and-the-grease-guns/


HERCULES & LOVE AFFAIR feat JOHN GRANT I Try To Talk To You

Imagine Jim Morrison getting it on down at The Danceteria circa 1982! ‘I Try To Talk To You’ featuring the expansive baritone vocals of JOHN GRANT combined the best of classic New York electro disco and grand piano theatrics with an emotively soulful vocal. The courageous lyrics found Grant recalling when he discovered he was HIV positive. “I asked John to dig deep with his lyrical contribution” recalls HERCULES & LOVE AFFAIR mainman Andy Butler, “I had no idea he would dig so deep”.

Available on the album ‘The Feast Of The Broken Heart’ via Moshi Moshi

http://herculesandloveaffair.net/

http://johngrantmusic.com/


HUGH I Can’t Figure You Out

‘I Can’t Figure You Out’ sounds like another product of Scandinavia but in fact, HUGH hail from South London. The captivating, naive lead vocal from Izzy Brooks states “you know just how I feel” as she makes handle with care pleas like “don’t toy with me” and “careful with my heart” while the intensity builds like a pressure cooker. And this is all before a time signature change and some frustrating despair is released with her spirited jazzy refrain of “No, I can’t figure you out!” Now, who hasn’t been here before?

Available on the download EP ‘I Can’t Figure You Out’ via Hughlovehugh

http://hughmusic.co.uk/


IAMAMIWHOAMI Hunting For Pearls

IAMAMIWHOAMI, the electronic multimedia project fronted by Jonna Lee and produced by Claes Björklund returned with their second opus ‘Blue’. ‘Hunting For Pearls’ featured wonderfully pulsing sequences and trancey atmospheres, coupled with a beautifully rich vocal from Lee. With a mysterious falsetto reach, the air may be cold outside but inside, things are warm. If KATE BUSH made a modern electronic dance record at ABBA’s Polar Studios, it would probably sound like this.

Available on the album ‘Blue’ via towhomitmayconcern

http://www.towhomitmayconcern.cc/


I AM SNOW ANGEL Let Me Go

Deep from within the Adirondack Mountains comes the beautifully gentle electronica of I AM SNOW ANGEL. The self-produced vehicle of singer / songwriter Julie Kathryn, the music evokes images of icy landscapes and crystalline hydro basins. The best track from her debut EP, ‘Let Me Go’ is rich in understatement and a Nordic styled tour de force swathed in melancholy, full of dreamy escapism. The full length album ‘Crocodile’ released in the Autumn did not disappoint either with its quietly subversive nature.

Available on the download EP ‘I Am Snow Angel’ via Amazon

http://iamsnowangel.com/


KID MOXIE Lacuna

Kid-Moxie-1888With a breathier, more continental direction towards cinematic pop, The Kid effectively grew up with her second album ‘1888’. KID MOXIE’s widescreen soundscapes and dreamy demeanour saw a much more focussed work. ‘Lacuna’ means “an empty space” yet this song is filled with an enigmatic mystery as Elena Charbila applied some of the je nais se quoi first piloted on 2008’s ‘La Romance D’Hiver’ to the drifting, almost abstract electronic soundscape… and then there’s the pretty isolated piano ending!

Available on the download album ‘1888’ via Undo Records

http://www.facebook.com/kidmoxie


KLEERUP featuring SUSANNE SUNDFØR Let Me In

Having delivered one of the best synth based debut albums in recent years, any new KLEERUP recording now lives with a high degree of expectation. ‘Let Me In’ featuring SUSANNE SUNDFØR, who voiced several tracks on RÖYKSOPP’s ‘The Inevitable End’ album, came over like KARIN PARK if she had joined latter day ROXY MUSIC. Retaining the original appeal of KLEERUP’s debut, ‘Let Me In’ was brilliantly classic and yet modern with its more organic template and even funky template.

Available on the download EP ‘As If We Never Won’ via Warner Music

http://kleerup.net/


MACHINISTA Pushing The Angels Astray

MACHINISTA’s pairing of John Lindqwister and Richard Flow specialise in synthpop with a rock’n’roll edge. Their best offering from their debut album ‘Xenoglossy’ was the schaffel propelled ‘Pushing The Angels Astray’. Despite discussing the spectre of immortality, the sombre aura was balanced with a marvellous melodic line and fabulous chorus like ALPHAVILLE in their prime. The Nordic region continually shows how electronic music is done and many could do a lot worse than to observe how MACHINISTA go about their craft.

Available on the download album ‘Xenoglossy’ via Juggernaut Music Group

http://www.machinistamusic.com/


MARNIE Wolves

marnie_wolves_rsReleased in the week of the Scottish Independence Referendum, MARNIE’s ‘Wolves’ was an appropriately soaring anthem “for anyone that doesn’t believe in sticking with the status quo, for anyone who has the heart to try and make a difference”. Certainly, the positive response she received for her debut long player ‘Crystal World’ and a return to her homeland has no doubt inspired her own independence. But with MARNIE due to release a second solo album in 2015, what does this all mean for LADYTRON?

Available as a download single via Les Disques du Crépuscule

http://www.helenmarnie.com


METROLAND Thalys

thalys‘Trans Europe Express’ 21st Century style as Belgium’s favourite passengers METROLAND embarked on a maroon coloured rail journey through France and Germany via the Benelux basin on ‘Thalys’. The full length 11 minute version rhythmitised metal on metal while there were also London, Paris and Düsseldorf edits in this musical tie-in with the Thalys high speed train operator.

Available on the download EP ‘Thalys (London)’ via Alfa Matrix

http://www.metrolandmusic.com/


NIGHT CLUB She Wants To Play With Fire

Frisky vocalist Emily Kavanaugh and moody producer Mark Brooks began writing songs as NIGHT CLUB with the goal of creating dark – yet commercially accessible – synthpop. Developing on the Britney gone electro goth sound of their glorious 2013 single ‘Poisonous’, ‘She Wants To Play With Fire’ treaded on the darker, sleazy side of life and dysfunctional relationships with Kavanaugh out to take on her demented love rival.

Available on the download EP ‘Black Leather Heart’ via Gato Blanco

http://www.nightclubband.com


KARIN PARK Look What You’ve Done

KARIN PARK Look What You've DoneIssued as a trailer for her new album ‘Apocalypse Pop’, ‘Look What You’ve Done’ is a feisty development of ‘Restless’ from KARIN PARK’s previous album ‘Highwire Poetry’. Wrestling within a fiery glam schaffel and a catchy chorus like an angry GOLDFRAPP, with THE KNIFE venturing into more uncompromising climes, the ‘other’ Karin ably fills the void now left vacant by the Drejers in avant pop. ‘Look What You’ve Done’ is a fine example of the Swede’s ambition to fit into both pop and experimental worlds.

Available as a download single via State Of The Eye Recordings

http://www.karinpark.com/


PAWWS Give You Love

pawws-sugarWith LITTLE BOOTS having gone dance and LA ROUX veering away from synthpop, there is now a vacancy for a new kooky homegrown female synth talent. One of the possible candidates is PAWWS, otherwise known on her passport as Lucy Taylor. She has labelled her music “upsetting disco” and ‘Give You Love’ lives up to that description. Certainly those who prefer their music with rough edges and are averse to female fronted synthpop will have their touch paper lit even further with this exquisite pop number.

Available on the download EP ‘Sugar’ via Best Fit Recordings

https://www.pawwsmusic.co.uk


HANNAH PEEL Fabricstate

Since playing with JOHN FOXX, HANNAH PEEL’s own music has used more electronics alongside her beloved violin, musicbox, piano and trombone. ‘Fabricstate’ starts as a beautiful understated number before being bolstered by an unexpected but amazing whirring synth solo around a series of percussive clusters. When the warmth of the synthesizer is exploited and coupled with a classically trained background, the hybrid can result in a quietly subversive organic and technological fusion.

Available on the download EP ‘Fabricstate’ via My Own Pleasure

http://www.hannahpeel.com


FIFI RONG Next Pursuit

One musician taking electronic music into some intriguing fusions is Beijing born FIFI RONG. ‘Next Pursuit’ crosses the vocal mystery of KELLI ALI and the quirkiness of MOLOKO while throwing in a touch of LANA DEL REY and MAZZY STAR too. Crucially, the intriguingly soulful ‘Next Pursuit’ also adds in rhythmical variation as the rhythms click into action during the higher register vocal refrains while the verses are held together with a smokey allure.

Available on the download EP ‘Next Pursuit’ via Ditto Music

http://www.fifirong.com


ROBYN & RÖYKSOPP Monument (The Inevitable End Version)

ROYKSOPP ROBYNEdited and rethought for ‘The Inevitable End’ album, ‘Monument’ was originally a spacey 10 minute epic now tightened to a more bite size and dare one say it, more enjoyable format sans saxophone over a hypnotic two chord structure. As usual, ROBYN’s vocals are edgy and nonchalant while RÖYKSOPP’s electronic soundtrack ably hit the spot with its energized octave-jumping bassline.

Available on the album ‘The Inevitable End’ via Dog Triumph / Cooking Vinyl

http://royksopp.com/

http://robyn.com/


SIN COS TAN Love Sees No Colour

SIN COS TAN Love SeeWith their third album in as many years, Finnish duo SIN COS TAN went the concept album route for ‘Blown Away’, a midlife crisis story of a man who becomes a drug courier and goes on a journey of excess, fast money and hedonism. First single ‘Love Sees No Colour’ dressed NEW ORDER’s love technique in an OMD stylee with the result being a kaleidoscopic tune that managed to mix sunshine with melancholy.

Available on the album ‘Blown Away’ via Solina Records

http://sincostan.net/


SUSANNE SUNDFØR Fade Away

Susanne Sundfør - fade awayThe Nordic vocalist of the moment has to be SUSANNE SUNDFØR who has worked with M83 and KLEERUP. But she is probably best known for her work with fellow Norwegians RÖYKSOPP. Propelled by a pulsing electronic backbone, ‘Fade Away’ from Sundfør’s forthcoming album ‘Ten Love Songs’ sees her in rousing form with a tune that at times sounds almost like Scandinavian gospel. Meanwhile, a fabulous synth solo gets thrown into the bargain too.

Available as a download single via Sonnet Sound / Kobalt

http://susannesundfor.com/


TRUST Peer Pressure

One act establishing themselves in 2014 were TRUST from Toronto. Led by the polarising “Eeyore gone goth” moodiness of Robert Alfons, the ironically titled ‘Joyland’ was a excellent second album that captured the sleazy nature of a 21st Century SOFT CELL and attached it to the grumpiness of LEONARD COHEN. ‘Peer Pressure’ was a frantic but funky uptempo number featuring Alfon’s trademark vocal pitch shift technique that proved misery and dancing could actually go together.

Available on the album ‘Joyland’ via Arts & Crafts

http://ttrustt.com/


TWINS NATALIA Set Love Free

Touchingly melancholic with classic Weimar Cabaret melodies and vibrant Kling Klang interplay, TWINS NATALIA conjured up memories of holiday romances with pretty German frauleins and flirty French mademoiselles. Debut long player ‘The Destiny Room’ was many years in the making and did not disappoint. With the PET SHOP BOYS styled neo-orchestrated statement of ‘Set Love Free’, the song theatrically climaxed like a pomped up ‘Rent’ as a wonderful slice of joie de vivre to finish the main act.

Available on the album ‘The Destiny Room’ via Anna Logue Records

http://twinsnatalia.blogspot.de/


MIDGE URE Dark, Dark Night

MIDGE URE fragileWhile the romantically uptempo ‘Become’ was inevitably the focal point of MIDGE URE’s ‘Fragile’ album, there were other songs that were easily its equal. The most notable of these was ‘Dark, Dark Night’, an online collaboration with MOBY. Though derived from ‘Rockets’ on MOBY’s ‘Destroyed’ opus, Ure exploited the original’s rich symphonic string sounds and chilled vibes. Building to an amazing climax with melodic screeches and a tremendous guitar solo from Ure, this was a partnership made in heaven.

Available on the album ‘Fragile’ via Hypertension Music

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


VILE ELECTRODES Pandora’s Box

VILE ELECTRODES Pandoras BoxVILE ELECTRODES capitalised on their profile from supporting OMD’s German tour in 2013 by snaring prestigious Schallwelle Awards for Best International Act and Best International Album for their debut ‘The future through a lens’. ‘Pandora’s Box’ was an excellent previously unreleased song full of wobbling analogue vigour that initially came with the lavish ‘Pack Of Wolves’ three CD package and set the scene for a much anticipated follow-up long player.

Available on the download EP ‘Empire Of Wolves’ via http://vileelectrodes.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/vileelectrodes


WRANGLER Lava Land

WRANGLER’s manifesto is to harness “lost technology to make new themes for the modern world”. And their signature track is ‘Lava Land’, a superb cross between CABARET VOLTAIRE and prime ‘Metamatic’ era JOHN FOXX but with a modern twist. Stephen Mallinder’s voice manipulations range from demonic gargoyle to stern drowning robot. The frantic pace is strangely danceable, but the mood is distinctly unsettling and dystopian when the screeching steam powered Logan string machine kicks in.

Available on the album ‘LA Spark’ via MemeTune

https://www.facebook.com/mallinderbengewinter


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Wasp photo by Chi Ming Lai
15th December 2014

KARIN PARK + MARGARET BERGER Launch New Singles at Melodi Grand Prix

Scandipop songstresses KARIN PARK and MARGARET BERGER appeared together for a joint performance at Norway’s Melodi Grand Prix, the country’s selection vehicle for the Eurovision Song Contest.

MARGARET BERGER was last year’s entry with the DEPECHE MODE influenced ‘I Feed You My Love’ and came a respectable fourth place although ultimately, it deserved to win. The song was co-written by KARIN PARK so the reunion of the pair was an apt occasion as Norway planned their next Eurovision assault.

Their marvellous duet on ‘I Feed You My Love’ was preceded by a medley of Park and Berger’s brand new singles. Appearing with her metalhead brother David on drums, KARIN PARK’s latest offering ‘Look What You’ve Done’ is a fine development of ‘Restless’ from her last album ‘Highwire Poetry’.

Wrestling within a punchy glam schaffel, the fact that Park can appear on as mainstream a show as Eurovision while experimenting with the more leftfield side of electronic music shows that with THE KNIFE venturing into more uncompromising climes, the other Karin could fill the void now left by the Drejers in avant pop. Having already released the more esoteric ‘Shine’ to launch the campaign for her new album, ‘Look What You’ve Done’ is a key indicator of KARIN PARK’s ambition to fit into both pop and experimental worlds.

Meanwhile, ‘Scream’ sees the launch of ‘New Religion’, MARGARET BERGER’s first album since 2006’s ‘Pretty Scary Silver Fairy’. The one-time victor of Norwegian Idol effectively relaunched her career with ‘I Feed You My Love’ so her third long player is eager anticipated. ‘Scream’ sees her continuing the sub-ROBYN template of her Eurovision smash.

In a style which is leftfield by mainstream standards, ‘Scream’ possesses an inherent industrialised darkness away from her previously more overtly commercial leanings on songs such as the perfect melancholic pop of ‘Will You Remember Me Tomorrow?’. Whatever, this is an approach to quality pop that sets itself apart.


KARIN PARK ‘Look What You’ve Done’ is available via State Of The Eye Recordings

MARGARET BERGER ‘Scream’ is available via Macho Records

http://www.karinpark.com/

http://www.margaretberger.com/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
22nd March 2014

End Of Year Review 2013

The Correct Use Of VCOs

The year started appropriately enough with an electronic number ‘2013’ by Belgian duo METROLAND.

For the first six or seven months of 2013, it proved to be one of the most productive periods in electronic pop music. Not since the Autumn of 1981 when had so many significant releases coincided. It was strangely quality and quantity, a rare occurance in modern times for music, especially of the synth propelled variety.

That time saw THE HUMAN LEAGUE ‘Dare’, GARY NUMAN ‘Dance’, ULTRAVOX ‘Rage In Eden’, DEPECHE MODE ‘Speak & Spell’, SOFT CELL ‘Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret’, HEAVEN 17 ‘Penthouse & Pavement’, SIMPLE MINDS ‘Sons & Fascination’, NEW ORDER ‘Movement’, JAPAN ‘Tin Drum’ and OMD ‘Architecture & Morality’ all coming out within weeks of each other!

Interestingly from that list, only JAPAN and SOFT CELL are missing as currently performing entities although MARC ALMOND himself made a number of concert and theatrical appearances during the year.

OMD got back to their Kling Klang roots with their best album in 30 years entitled ‘English Electric’. Although enthusiasts of the band’s pioneering work were satisfied, fans of OMD’s pop phase were confused as to why Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys had recorded an electronic album influenced by KRAFTWERK! This was an indicator of how the band have mutated and been perceived over the years.

But that was nothing compared with DEPECHE MODE whose single ‘Soothe My Soul’ was remixed by ZZ TOP’s Billy F Gibbons… although recognisably reworked, listeners could barely notice the join, thus fully confirming DM’s development into the world’s premiere stadium electro blues combo. Their album ‘Delta Machine’ was a big improvement on 2009’s ‘Sounds Of The Universe’, but it was no ‘English Electric’.

Among the other evergreens with new long players in 2013 were PET SHOP BOYS, ALISON MOYET and BEF.

Messrs Tennant and Lowe finally worked with the ubiquitous Stuart Price to produce an album that was ‘Electric’ by name and electric by nature.

Meanwhile Moyet found her most musically compatible partner since Vince Clarke in Guy Sigsworth for the stunning return to form of ‘the minutes’.

Over at BEF, Martyn Ware assembled his most impressive cast of guest vocalists yet including ERASURE’s Andy Bell and CULTURE CLUB’s Boy George for the third volume of the ‘Music Of Quality & Distinction’ covers series; subtitled ‘Dark’, it featured some of Ware’s most starkly electronic work since he was in THE HUMAN LEAGUE.

Another welcome return came from electronic disco pioneer GIORGIO MORODER. The icon is now 73 years old yet with his stomping track ‘Racer’, he proved could mix it with all the young pretenders. Indeed, his autobiographical contribution to DAFT PUNK’s tribute ‘Giorgio By Moroder’ reflected the respect and admiration he holds within the dance world.

Although only a few years younger, KRAFTWERK’s Ralf Hütter showed no real signs of moving his iconic brand forward despite the 3D spectacle of ‘Der Katalog 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8’ live retrospectives in Düsseldorf, London, Tokyo and Sydney.

With the various hosting art spaces still seeing their ticketing systems collapse, was this really just an elaborate publicity stunt? After all, how many heritage acts get on the news for sending websites into meltdown?

It certainly didn’t do KRAFTWERK any harm as a headlining slot at Latitude Festival and its resultant BBC TV coverage proved. However, new material was still not forthcoming but such is the demand that several unscrupulous eBay dealers in Russia were passing off CD-Rs of three tracks from METROLAND’s 2012 album ‘Mind The Gap’ as KRAFTWERK demos!

Meanwhile, former colleague KARL BARTOS exorcised his Kling Klang ghost with ‘Off The Record’, a collection of his unreleased KRAFTWERK-era compositions which made a fine companion to OMD’s ‘English Electric’; his upcoming 2014 world tour is eagerly anticipated.

visage2013

Photo by David Levine

ULTRAVOX opened for SIMPLE MINDS but with Midge Ure spending most of the year doing the rounds with solo acoustic gigs, their synth lynchpin Billy Currie released his ninth solo offering ‘Balletic Transcend’.

Meanwhile in a revival of a project that both had been involved in, a fragmented VISAGE unleashed their first album in nearly 30 years to a mixed reception.

With just Steve Strange remaining from the original line-up, ‘Hearts & Knives’ was essentially a solo project.

There were heated exchanges on social networks between Strange and his estranged Blitz Club partner Rusty Egan about misappropriated royalties and the validity of the reconfigured brand. Whatever, the raw video recording of the new VISAGE performing ‘Fade To Grey’ live at London’s Hoxton Bar and Kitchen stood as possibly the most embarrassing moment of the year.

Artists who made their name during Electroclash such as ADULT. and MISS KITTIN made welcome returns in 2013 while also from that era, LADYTRON’s Helen Marnie released her first solo offering ‘Crystal World’ crowd funded via Pledge Music.

It was a novel but effective way of securing a promotional budget that involved fans in the process by offering exclusive updates and an opportunity to purchase exclusive memorabilia. In MARNIE’s case, items on sale ranged from hand written lyric sheets to her Mini-Cooper and a bikini!

Meanwhile, former SNEAKER PIMPS sparring partners IAMX and KELLI ALI also went down the Pledge Music route, pointing the way forward to a music industry future without interference from record label middle men. But the failure of several crowd funding campaigns proved the model was not for everyone.

The Britpop era was not particularly known for its use of electronics but two acts who did indulge, REPUBLICA and DUBSTAR, made formal comebacks on the live circuit in 2013.

mesh-webSeeded from around the same time, Bristol’s MESH made possibly their best album yet in ‘Automation Baby’. Celebrating 30 years in the business, techno icon WESTBAM assembled a diverse cast including IGGY POP, LIL’ WAYNE, THE STRANGLERS’ Hugh Cornwall, NEW ORDER’s Bernard Sumner and THE PSYCHEDLIC FURS’ Richard Butler for an intriguing set called ‘Götterstrasse’. It was the surprise electronic release of the year.

There were also sophomore albums from LITTLE BOOTS, HURTS and AUSTRA which all drew muted responses from fans following their well received debuts; the promising spark had been present in all three acts appeared to have faded although each album had strong highlights. But there were impressive debuts in 2013 by GHOST CAPSULES, COLLINS and MODOVAR; and all this happened before the summer had started!

On the more guitar driven end of the spectrum, NIGHT ENGINE pursued an art rock aesthetic that would have made Berlin-era DAVID BOWIE proud. And of course, The Dame himself returned with ‘The Next Day’ headed by the touchingly reflective ‘Where Are We Now?’.

Adopting a more post-punk attitude, GIRL ONE & THE GREASE GUNS showed how battered synths, clanky guitars and motorik drums could still come together in perfect harmony while maintaining an air of mystery.

Meanwhile, WHITE LIES continued their New wave odyssey into how THE TEARDROP EXPLODES would have sounded had Julian Cope not got upset by BLANCMANGE’s ‘Happy Families’; they even borrowed a snatch of ‘Fade To Grey’ for the title track of their third album ‘Big TV’. This was despite the mainstream music media’s attempt to downplay their use of synths although the band countered that by declaring TEARS FOR FEARS, TALK TALK and THE BLUE NILE as kindred spirits rather than INTERPOL or EDITORS.

The second half of the year brought the much anticipated debut from CHVRCHES entitled ‘The Bones Of What You Believe’. The trio have moved the goalposts as far as modern synthpop is concerned but they were not without their flaws such as the inexplicable decision to use dreary indie-styled male lead vocals on a pair of tracks.

But despite this, with sold out club tours, gigs supporting DEPECHE MODE in Europe and the might of Virgin Records behind them, world domination surely beckons and with it, a new raised profile for the synthesizer overall.

Virgin Records themselves celebrated 40 years in the business with a series of London concerts and its legacy in electronic music was represented by CHVRCHES, HEAVEN 17, SCRITTI POLITTI and SIMPLE MINDS. Although the label is now owned by the Universal Corporation (having been under the control of EMI since 1992), its colourful history remains associated with the championing of new and unconventional music forms during its fledgling years.

And in a diversion from music, one-time Virgin signee THOMAS DOLBY produced and directed ‘The Invisible Lighthouse’, a documentary on a monument local to his childhood home. In a novel style of presentation, the film went on a tour accompanied by a live narration and soundtrack from TMDR with some of his songs dispersed in between.

GARY NUMAN’s long delayed ‘Splinter (Songs From A Broken Mind)’ finally became a reality. A move to LA relaxed him to the point where he was posting his holiday photos on Twitter!

Musically though, he was as intense as ever but luckily, ‘Splinter’ was not the one dimensional riff monster that had been threatened and contained some of his best work in over ten years. Interestingly NINE INCH NAILS, who have been a major influence on Numan and vice versa, also returned after a period of absence with ‘Hesitation Marks’.

Over at Mute, there was another Sorcerer versus Apprentice battle when GOLDFRAPP and POLLY SCATTERGOOD both released new records in the same month. Now no longer on Mute but very much still part of the extended family, MOBY released the impressive ‘Innocents’ which didn’t tinker too much with his well established formula and included a great collaboration with Wayne Coyne of FLAMING LIPS that sounded like GARY NUMAN in a Pentecostal church!

In 2013, North America appeared to be turning into a new haven for synth talent. There was LA pop duo NIGHT CLUB while also based in the region, SOFT METALS continued their Detroit Techno inspired progression with ‘Lenses’. Slightly eastwards, Texan based FEATHERS made an impressive statement with their debut long player ‘If All Now Here’; a European tour supporting DEPECHE MODE in January 2014 was fine recognition of their talent.

Fellow Texans ELEVEN:ELEVEN finally got their debut album ‘Through The Veil’ out too. New Yorkers HOLY GHOST! sprung the enjoyable electronic disco of ‘Dynamics’ while also from the area, AU REVOIR SIMONE returned with their fourth album ‘Move In Spectrums’ after an extended break.

But one slow burning combo were Canada’s TR/ST; led by the enigmatic and moody Robert Alfons, at times he sounded like a young LEONARD COHEN updating the sleazy demeanour of SOFT CELL. They toured extensively and garnered some more well deserved attention for their grower of a debut ‘Trst’ which actually came out back in January 2012!

However, all the good work was undone by a ticket lottery fiasco for an end of year London gig in which unsuccessful applicants were not notified until three hours before the concert, this despite communications to the contrary telling people to arrive at the door with ID. In this ever more challenging music industry, artists have to be innovative with promotion. But restricting availability and tricking fans into what was effectively a marketing scam for a larger London concert in May 2014 only alienated audiences.

Like in previous years, Europe was again a centre of creativity. Athens based synth maidens MARSHEAUX were back with their maturer fourth album ‘Inhale’.

Meanwhile, their production team FOTONOVELA gathered DUBSTAR’s Sarah Blackwood, MIRRORS’ James New, KID MOXIE and SECTION 25’s Bethany Cassidy for ‘A Ton Of Love’ while riding on a crest of a wave from ‘Helen Of Troy’, their acclaimed collaboration with OMD.

The song ‘Our Sorrow’ featuring James New turned out to be particularly poignant as after a year of minimal activity, MIRRORS called it a day.

From their Berlin HQ, NOBLESSE OBLIGE delivered an ‘Affair Of The Heart’ with its stark funereal cover of ‘Hotel California’ while Slovenian trio TORUL impressed audiences opening for MESH. Still fiercely independent and uncompromising, THE KNIFE divided opinion with their performance art presentation of their experimental double opus ‘Shaking The Habitual’. From Demark, TRENTEMØLLER delivered his third album ‘Lost’, an adventurous blend of real and electronic instruments that more than proved his suitability as a future prospective DEPECHE MODE producer.

With the critical acclaim still resonant for her 2012 album ‘Highwire Poetry’, KARIN PARK continued to tour the world but found time to co-write Norway’s Eurovision entry ‘I Feed You My Love’. Sung by MARGARET BERGER and leftfield by pure pop standards, it came a respectable fourth but predictably, the UK gave it nul points! Following their wonderful eponymous debut album in 2012, SIN COS TAN swiftly followed it up with the more organic but still synth friendly ‘Afterlife’.

Never one to sit still, the duo’s JORI HULKKONEN also released an EP ‘European Splendour’ with JOHN FOXX which sounded every bit as good as its title. Foxx didn’t sit still either and collaborated with THE BELBURY CIRCLE while also curating a covers EP of his own songs featuring GAZELLE TWIN and I SPEAK MACHINE.

Back in the UK, ANALOG ANGEL, AUTOMATIC WRITINGF.O.X, GAPTOOTH and MAPS flew the flag for the domestic scene.

But best of the local crew though were VILE ELECTRODES; they snagged a prestigious support tour with OMD in Germany where the local crowds connected with Anais Neon and Martin Swan’s analogue electricity and opened for JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS in Brighton on their return. Their long awaited debut LP ‘The future through a lens’ did not disappoint and from it, the closer ‘Deep Red’ was easily the best OMD song that Humphreys and McCluskey never recorded.

As with last year, attempts were made within the industry to centralise electronic pop and dance music. But as the cancellation of the Playground Festival due to poor ticket sales proved, the two factions do not mix. Scheduled to appear on the Saturday, despite the technological influence of GARY NUMAN, JOHN FOXX and WOLFGANG FLÜR on the dance scene, the fans of those artists generally loathe the lifestyle and attitude of club culture.

Most just want to see the headline act and go home… the idea of paying an extra premium on the ticket price for a couple of DJs tagged on the see out the early hours of the morning simply doesn’t appeal! And those who are there for the DJs and larging it certainly aren’t interested in live bands. The sooner promoters and record labels realise that electronic pop and dance music are NOT the same thing, the better. That said, it was a difficult time for live events generally with a number of name acts playing to half full venues.

Elsewhere, the music press were on the backfoot with rumours that the once mighty Q Magazine and NME were in trouble. But lazy journalism and lack of adventure by both were as much to blame as any proliferation of the internet or smart technology. That aside, 2013 was a superb year where the music spoke for itself. Many of the veterans gave the best up-and-coming artists a real run for their money.

And while the amount of new electronic music was at an all time high and the finest exponents rewarded with assorted high-profile opportunities as a result, a number of lesser accomplished acts suffered from the comparison with the best.

MARNIE said: “I think it’s great that electronic music is on a high right now but it’s so saturated as well. Everyone’s going it’s great cos it’s electronic and I’m like ‘I’m not so sure’… but there’s lots of good stuff”.

In fact, the standard was so high in 2013 that some of the acts who ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK featured in 2012 probably wouldn’t have got a look in this year. From those who sounded like the middling bands featured on the Janice Long Show circa 1985 to 21st Century synthpop reincarnations of HUE & CRY, the volume of music available in many ways made it quite easy to distinguish the excellent from the pleasant but ordinary material that was, as the dreaded ‘Say Nothing Auntie Of Landfill Indie’ Jo Whiley would say, “alright”!

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK accepts the continuing mission to maintain a degree of quality control in 2014 as it has done since its inception.

As @TheRobMo put it on Twitter: “gatekeepers / tastemakers… it’s what we go to you for”. Meanwhile on the site’s Facebook, regular reader Brian O’Malley correctly added: “Not all synth music is great, and not all guitar music is rubbish”.

But the final word on 2013 must go to BEF and Glenn Gregory (or HEAVEN 17 if you prefer) via their electronic cover of an Ervin Drake song made famous by Ol’ Blue Eyes:

“And it poured sweet and clear… it was a very good year”


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK Contributor Listings of 2013

PAUL BODDY

Best Album: MAPS Vicissitude
Best Song: MAPS Built To Last (Free School Remix)
Best Gig: ALISON MOYET at London Royal Festival Hall
Best Video: HOLY GHOST! Dumb Disco Ideas
Most Promising New Act: JUVENILES


KAREN BUXTON

Best Album: VILE ELECTRODES The future through a lens
Best Song: HURTS Someone to Die For
Best Gig: OMD + VILE ELECTRODES at Leipzig Haus Auensee
Best Video: OMD Night Cafe
Most Promising New Act: MARTYN BAILEY


DEB DANAHAY

Best Album: GARY NUMAN Splinter (Songs From A Broken Mind)
Best Song: COVENANT Last Dance
Best Gig: GAZELLE TWIN at London Roundhouse Studio Theatre
Best Video: TRUST Bulbform
Most Promising New Act: TRUST


STEVE GRAY

Best Album: CHVRCHES The Bones Of What You Believe
Best Song: MARGARET BERGER I Feed You My Love
Best Gig: BAS 2013
Best Video: IAMX I Come With Knives
Most Promising New Act: TORUL


CHI MING LAI

Best Album: OMD English Electric
Best Song: FOTONOVELA feat MIRRORS Our Sorrow
Best Gig: OMD + VILE ELECTRODES at Cologne E-Werk
Best Video: FEATHERS Land Of The Innocent
Most Promising New Act: FEATHERS


SOPHIE NILSSON

Best Album: ALISON MOYET the minutes
Best Song: SPACEBUOY Breathe
Best Gig: DEPECHE MODE at Copenhagen Parken
Best Video: DEPECHE MODE Soothe My Soul
Most Promising New Act: CHVRCHES


RICHARD PRICE

Best Album: PET SHOP BOYS Electric
Best Song: OMD Dresden
Best Gig: KARIN PARK at The Lexington
Best Video: MONARCHY featuring DITA VON TEESE Disintegration
Most Promising New Act: CHVRCHES


Text by Chi Ming Lai
12th December 2013

KARIN PARK Live at The Lexington

KARIN PARK first found fame in Norway with her 2004 debut ‘Superworldunknown’ before exploring more electronic avenues with ‘Change Your Mind’ in 2006.

In 2009, the Swedish born songstress released her third long player ‘Ashes To Gold’ before signing to UK label State Of The Eye for her acclaimed 2012 album ‘Highwire Poetry’.

Co-produced and mixed by Christoffer Berg whose credits include THE KNIFE, FEVER RAY and DEPECHE MODE, it has been a steady burner embraced through word of mouth. But even this combination of industrial, dubstep, ambient and synthpop couldn’t prepare for the spectacle of a KARIN PARK live show.

A druid pig arrived to overture with a most unsettling voice collage, before KARIN PARK took to the stage for the starkly discordant ‘6000 Years’. Easing the crowd in, the blasting schaffel stomp of ‘Restless’ suddenly snapped in like a strike to the head, provoking animated stares and jerky movements from her. Vocally quite obviously from THE KNIFE and BJÖRK school of song, Karin’s fervent concentration though was quite unlike FEVER RAY or GAZELLE TWIN who each prefer to project an enigmatic detachment from the audience. Despite her towering demeanour, KARIN PARK was welcoming and inclusive.

Relishing the art of performance, her smiles certainly didn’t lie and the enjoyable rapport observed with her brother David on drums was often just a knowing look or a nod of appreciation as together, the siblings enthusiastically entertained.

Visually, Karin’s striking androgynous persona contrasted heavily with that of her metal head sibling, the pair looking like a mutant genetic experiment to cross LADYTRON with SLAYER!

But the incongruous combination worked and was probably one of the most refreshing presentations of electronic music within a concert setting for a quite a while! The difference was one of the key elements in the energetic but tight chemistry of the show.

Both Parks were impressive multi-taskers with David primarily on drums but also providing backing vocals and even venturing onto keyboards while Karin was the perfect front woman who dabbled with a Korg MS20 and keytar. The esoteric mood pieces such as ‘Tension’ provided important spatial counterpoints to the evening, showing real melancholic depth and raspy emotion.

But there was also a real pop sensibility as quirky but danceable synthpop tunes like ‘Explosions’ proved.

This was none more apparent than with ‘Can’t Stop Now’, a superb electro funk number that came over like Michael Jackson gone Goth! Meanwhile ‘Ashes’ was cut from a similar disco vibe and musically DURAN DURAN Nordic style! And these qualities made KARIN PARK more ROBYN than THE KNIFE, yet she still managed to maintain her mistress of darkness credentials.

But would the other Karin (Dreijer Andersson that is) have actually written a song for the Eurovision Song Contest? Although not part of the set, ‘I Feed You My Love’, which is being sung by Margaret Berger as Norway’s entry in 2013, displays an accessibility in KARIN PARK that will either subvert conventional pop forms or open up intense musicality, depending on one’s artistic standpoint.

As Marc Almond once said, one cannot be truly subversive unless there is access to the mainstream and there can perhaps be nothing more mainstream than Eurovision! So ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK wishes her the best of luck in Malmö.

As the set continued, the trancey ‘Out Of The Cage’ played with lovely panoramic textures to add another dimension to proceedings while ‘Fryngies’ was boosted by some feisty aggression that included even more MS20 action. The superb ‘Thousand Loaded Guns’ finished the main set with a dramatic climax that saw both Karin and David frantically drumming in unison before the formal conclusion via her own favourite song, the beautiful ‘Bending Albert’s Law’.

It was a dynamic hour long set that had the crowd transfixed with a powerful, resonant soundbase. It’s not often that a superlative such as awesome is appropriately used, but tonight, it was pretty damn close with how KARIN PARK performed on that stage in London.


‘Highwire Poetry’ is released by State Of The Eye Recordings on CD, vinyl and download

http://www.karinpark.com/

http://www.facebook.com/karinpark

https://twitter.com/karinpark


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Richard Price
12th April 2013

MARGARET BERGER I Feed You My Love

Electro songstress KARIN PARK has co-written a song that is in the running to be Norway’s Eurovision Song Contest 2013 entry… and it’s a goody, UK entries are NEVER like this!!!

‘I Feed You My Love’ could be best described as ROBYN and KELLY CLARKSON meeting ‘Songs Of Faith & Devotion’ era DEPECHE MODE.

In fact, its performer MARGARET BERGER came second in the 2004 series of ‘Norwegian Idol’ so the description is quite apt.

Yes, the song veers a bit on the rock side but the melody is strong… very important for capturing those pan-European ears. KARIN PARK’s collaborators on ‘I Feed You My Love’ are Robin Lynch and Niklas Olovson who have worked under the moniker of MACHOPSYCHO with Pink, Jessica Simpson, Natalie Imbruglia and The Backstreet Boys.

The on-paper incongorous partnership has produced an unusual (by mainstream standards) but wonderful song blend that has reached the 2nd semi-final of Melodi Grand Prix, Norway’s Eurovision song selection vehicle. It will be broadcast tonight, 26th January 2013 on NRK.


‘I Feed You My Love’ is released by Macho Records and available via iTunes, Amazon and the usual digital outlets

https://www.facebook.com/margaretbergerofficial/

http://www.karinpark.com/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
26th January 2013

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