Tag: Komputer (Page 2 of 2)

The Electronic Legacy of MUTE RECORDS

Without doubt, Mute Records is one of the most important record labels in the history of electronic music. 

While the early electronic legacy of Virgin Records helped the genre gain its first foothold in the mainstream, the discerning ethos of Mute has maintained its presence in both pop and more experimental fields.

Like many, Mute supremo Daniel Miller began taking an interest in synthesizers as tools for making pop music after hearing KRAFTWERK’s ‘Autobahn’. The son of Austrian Jewish refugees, he was DJing on the continent after completing his film studies course when he became enthralled by the Kling Klang sound.

He was inspired to make electronic music himself but at the time, the equipment was prohibitively expensive. That all changed with the advent of affordable synthesizers from Japan manufactured by the likes of Korg and Roland.

Already a fan of German kosmische scene, his sense of experimentation and an adoption of punk’s DIY ethic led him to buying a Korg 700s. Wanting to make a punk single with electronics, he wrote and recorded ‘Warm Leatherette’ b/w ‘TVOD’ for a one-off independent single release in 1978.

He needed a label name and chose ‘Mute’ after the button that came on the equipment that he had used as a film studies student.

Distributed by Rough Trade, MUTE 001 was a surprise success and thanks to him including his mother’s North London home address on the back of the striking monochromatic crash test dummy sleeve, Miller started receiving cassettes from kindred spirits who were keen to explore the brave new electronic world; he realised that a new scene was developing.

Through his connections at Rough Trade, he became aware of former art student Frank Tovey. As FAD GADGET, Tovey recorded ‘Back To Nature’ which was issued as MUTE 002 in October 1979. A seminal work that was also critically acclaimed, it helped establish Mute’s credentials as a champion of electronic music.

The first album released on Mute was ‘Die Kleinen Und Die Bösen’ (translated as ‘The Small and The Evil’) by German band DEUTSCH AMERIKANISCHE FREUNDSCHAFT (DAF) in March 1980.

Miller had signed them because “they weren’t relying on past rock”.

The majority of STUMM 1 was recorded with the legendary Conny Plank at the controls of the studio recordings, while the remainder came from tape of a live gig at London’s Electric Ballroom.

DAF set the ball rolling in furthering Mute’s aspirations, while the Germanic influence continued through into the label’s cataloguing system as the album prefix Stumm was the German word for Mute.

Meanwhile, Miller was fascinated about the idea of synthesizers as the future of popular music and conceived a teenage pop group who would use only synths; he called them SILICON TEENS although in reality, this was actually his solo electronic covers project. Something of a novelty, his cover of ‘Red River Rock’ ended up on the closing credits of the Steve Martin / John Candy comedy ‘Planes, Trains & Automobiles’ in 1987!

But Miller’s dream became flesh and blood when he came across a young quartet from Basildon called DEPECHE MODE. Signed on a handshake 50/50 deal, while the group was a chart success, they fragmented after their 1981 debut album ‘Speak & Spell’. However the remaining trio of Andy Fletcher, Dave Gahan and Martin Gore recruited Alan Wilder, soldiered on and the rest is history. Meanwhile, the departed Vince Clarke went on to further success with YAZOO, THE ASSEMBLY and ERASURE.

With the label’s commercial success, Mute were able to back more experimental releases from Germany including the quirky single ‘Fred Vom Jupiter’ by ANDREAS DORAU & DIE MARINAS, and ‘Los Ninos Del Parque’ by LIAISONS DANGEREUSES. Mute’s business ethos, where money made from record sales allowed acts to develop within a sympathetic creative environment free from interference, proved to be key to its artistic and financial prosperity.

As the label expanded over the years, further signings included EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN, NICK CAVE, LAIBACH, WIRE, BOMB THE BASS (through the Blast First subsidiary), INSPIRAL CARPETS, MOBY and GOLDFRAPP. Meanwhile Miller took the ultimate step in his love of German music, acquiring the rights to the music of CAN and becoming the winning bidder for the vocoder used on ‘Autobahn’ when it came up for auction!

In May 2002, Mute Records was bought by EMI for £23m, although Miller remained as a figurehead and in charge of the company’s global activities. The label became the brand for the multi-national’s electronic music activities and when KRAFTWERK’s back catalogue was finally remastered by EMI, it was released under the Mute banner.

However, with rapid changes occurring within the industry as a result of the new digital marketplace, EMI and Miller reached an agreement in September 2010 to establish a second independently run record label under the name Mute Artists for new acts, while the Mute Records name and rights to the label’s archive recordings remained under the control of EMI via its new owners Universal. As owners of their own catalogue, DEPECHE MODE formally ended their association with the label that launched them and signed a lucrative licencing agreement with Sony BMG.

But the Mute story continues with acts such as MAPS and POLLY SCATTERGOOD, while Miller’s latest addition to the roster has been NEW ORDER whose new album ‘Music Complete’ will be out on 28th September 2015.

So what twenty albums or EPs best represent Mute’s electronic legacy? With a restriction of one release per artist moniker, here are ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s choices…


FAD GADGET Fireside Favourites (1980)

Following the success of singles ‘Back To Nature’ and ‘Ricky’s Hand’ with a small but loyal fanbase now established, a FAD GADGET album was eagerly anticipated. It came in September 1980 with ‘Fireside Favourites’ co-produced with Eric Radcliffe and John Fryer. it developed on the minimal industrialism of the singles. The superb ‘Coitus Interruptus’ was a cynical commentary on casual relationships while the Cold War tensions were documented on ‘Fireside Favourite’.

‘Fireside Favourites’ was released as STUMM 3

http://www.fadgadget.co.uk


SILICON TEENS Music For Parties (1980)

Following the acclaim that was accorded to THE NORMAL, Daniel Miller decided to undertake a new project where rock ’n’ roll standards such as ‘Memphis Tennessee’, ‘Just Like Eddie’ and ‘Let’s Dance’ were reinterpreted in a synthpop style, with Miller singing like he had a clothes peg attached to his nose. With his inherent shyness, the vehicle he used was SILICON TEENS, a fictitious synth group where several young actors were hired to appear in videos and do press interviews.

‘Music For Parties’ was released as STUMM 2

http://mute.com/


YAZOO Upstairs At Eric’s (1982)

Disillusioned by the pop circus following the singles success of ‘New Life and ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’, Vince Clarke departed DEPECHE MODE in late 1981 and formed YAZOO with Alison Moyet. Although they only released two albums, YAZOO’s impact was long lasting. The debut ‘Upstairs at Eric’s’ was a perfect union of passionate bluesy vocals and pristinely programmed synthpop. Songs such as ‘Only You, ‘Don’t Go’, ‘Midnight’ and ‘Winter Kills’ set a high standard but Clarke and Moyet parted ways.

‘Upstairs at Eric’s’ was released as STUMM 7

http://www.yazooinfo.com/


ROBERT GÖRL Night Full Of Tension (1984)

In a departure from DAF’s pioneering electronic body music, drummer Robert Görl lightened up considerably with a solo synthpop record that even had him posing bare chested by a swimming pool on the cover. ‘Night Full Of Tension’ even featured vocal contributions from EURYTHMICS’ Annie Lennox on ‘Charlie Cat’ and ‘Darling Don’t Leave Me’. Although not featuring on the original LP, the brooding but accessible single ‘Mit Dir’ was an electronic cult classic and included on the CD reissue.

‘Night Full Of Tension’ was released as STUMM 16

http://www.robert-goerl.de


ERASURE The Circus (1986)

Although success for ERASURE was not instant with debut album ‘Wonderland’ and its lost single ‘Oh L’Amour’, the chemistry between Clarke and Bell possessed a special spark. ERASURE toured the college circuit and built up a loyal fanbase, eventually hitting chart paydirt with ‘Sometimes’. ERASURE added political commentary ‘It Doesn’t Have To Be’ and ‘The Circus’ title track, while songs such as ‘Spiralling’ and ‘Hideaway’ confirmed they were more than just a great singles act.

‘The Circus’ was released as STUMM 35

http://www.erasureinfo.com


LAIBACH Opus Dei (1987)

Controversial Slovenians LAIBACH played with Teutonic rhythms and Third Reich imagery, while their unique covers of QUEEN’s ‘One Vision’ and OPUS’ ‘Life Is Life’ indicated they were either ironic art terrorists or possibly, preachers of a dangerous political message. There were accusations of Mute tolerating artists having far right sympathies but with Daniel Miller’s Jewish heritage, this was unlikely. Their industrial torture made an impact with ‘Opus Dei’ and laid the foundations for many including RAMMSTEIN.

‘Opus Dei’ was released as STUMM 44

http://www.laibach.org/


MARTIN GORE Counterfeit (1989)

‘Counterfeit’ allowed Gore to indulge in a mini-album of six covers with varying origins. The emotive traditional standard ‘Motherless Child’ revealed his love of the Blues while a great version of SPARKS’ ‘Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth’ was a fitting look back at the eccentric pop that would have fed the young Mr Gore. Reinterpretations of cult artists such as TUXEDOMOON, THE DURUTTI COLUMN and THE COMSAT ANGELS revealed there was a lot more to Gore’s record collection.

‘Counterfeit’ released as STUMM 67

http://www.martingore.com


DEPECHE MODE Violator (1990)

Why is ‘Violator’ so important and highly celebrated? It is still DEPECHE MODE’s most complete and accomplished body of work. It was the classic Fletcher/Gahan/Gore/Wilder line-up firing on all cylinders and at their most happiest as a unit. The end result was four hit singles but also songs such as ‘Halo’, ‘Waiting For The Night’ and ‘Clean’ which were easily their equal. And on ‘Blue Dress’, Gore’s lyrics possessed an honesty that while dark and deviant, still retained a naïve innocence that many could relate to.

‘Violator’ was released as STUMM 64

http://www.depechemode.com


NITZER EBB As Is (1991)

‘As Is’ saw Essex industrialists NITZER EBB at the height of their imperial powers. Although produced by the band, each song was mixed by a different artist or producer. These included Jaz Coleman from KILLING JOKE, producer Flood and MAGAZINE’s Barry Adamson. But the best number was ‘Come Alive’ mixed by Alan Wilder which had the legacy of ‘Violator’ stamped all over it. Although the subsequent album ‘Ebbhead’ which was produced by Wilder and Flood, appeared sans ‘Come Alive’.

‘As Is’ was released as MUTE 122

http://www.nitzer-ebb.com/


RECOIL Bloodline (1992)

While there had been two EPs ‘1 + 2’ and ‘Hydrology’ by RECOIL, Alan Wilder’s solo sideline to DEPECHE MODE, it wasn’t until 1992 that there was a full length album. Entitled ‘Bloodline’, it featured vocals from NITZER EBB’s Douglas McCarthy, Toni Halliday of CURVE and MOBY. Wilder’s brooding electronic soundscapes and meticulous production made their presence felt and it was McCarthy’s contributions to a cover of THE ALEX HARVEY BAND’s ‘Faith Healer’ that stole the show.

‘Bloodline’ was released as STUMM 94

http://www.recoil.co.uk/


MOBY Everything Is Wrong (1995)

When MOBY was signed by Daniel Miller, he was considered to be a one hit wonder with ‘Go’ in 1991. His first proper album ‘Everything Is Wrong’ arrived in 1995. The superb instrumental ‘First Cool Hive’, the happy hardcore of ‘Feeling So Real’, the gospel punk of ‘All That I Need Is To Be Loved’ and the neo-classical ‘Hymn’ showcased his eclectic tastes. Miller’s tremendous foresight turned out to be a wise decision when the unexpected success of ‘Play’ in 1999 provided a boost in income for Mute.

‘Everything Is Wrong’ was released as STUMM 130

http://www.moby.com


KOMPUTER EP (1996)

London-based duo Simon Leonard and David Baker began in 1982 as I START COUNTING and then morphed into FORTRAN 5. But as KOMPUTER, they created some heavily KRAFTWERK influenced numbers to make up for the lack of new material from Kling Klang. From their 4 track ‘EP’, ‘We Are Komputer’ was their own ‘The Robots’, while there was also the marvellous tribute to the first female Cosmonaut ‘Valentina Tereshkova’ which mined ‘The Model’.

‘Komputer’ was released as MUTE 175

https://komp46.wixsite.com/komputer


PEACH Audiopeach (1997)

The concept of PEACH was ‘ABBA meets THE KLF’. Released in September 1997, ‘Audiopeach’ is one of those albums that has been lost in the midst of ‘Cool Britannia’. The album’s reputation was based on the participation of its two instrumentalists Pascal Gabriel and Paul Statham. Completing PEACH’s line-up was singer Lisa Lamb. The album’s launch single ‘On My Own’ was classic pop for the modern era with Lamb’s vocal delivery akin to Belinda Carlisle going electro.

‘Audiopeach’ was released as STUMM 153

http://www.inspiracy.com/peach


ADD N TO (X) Add Insult To Injury (2000)

While LADYTRON were using their Korg MS20s making sinewaves in a more pop oriented setting, ADD N To (X) took their MS series synths into more obscure, experimental territory. ‘Add Insult To Injury’ had one half written / performed by Ann Shenton and Steve Claydon, while the other was written / performed by Barry 7. The wonderful robotic sexual tension of ‘Plug Me In’ was the highlight while the fun continued with the bouncy ‘Adding N To X’ and the creepy noise fest of ‘Hit For Cheese’.

‘Add Insult To Injury’ was released as STUMM 187

http://www.addntox.com/


GOLDFRAPP Felt Mountain (2000)

One of Mute’s best ever albums, ‘Felt Mountain’ was a superb introduction to the then electro Weimar Cabaret cinematics of Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory. Beginning with the superb ‘Lovely Head’ with its spine tingling whistle and MS20 assisted banshee wails, the album thrilled with Morricone style widescreen inflections to accompany an ascent to the Matterhorn rather than a trek through a Spaghetti Western. ‘Felt Mountain’ was a slow burner that was deservedly nominated for the Mercury Music Prize.

‘Felt Mountain’ was released as STUMM 188

http://www.goldfrapp.com


VINCENT CLARKE & MARTYN WARE Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle (2001)

‘Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle’ was composed in 2000 as part of an art installation where the colours referred to in the titles of the six lengthy pieces were ‘programmed to cross fade imperceptibly to create an infinite variation of hue’ in a white clothed room. Tracks like ‘White – You Are In Heaven’, ‘Yellow – You Are On A Beach’, ‘Blue – You Are Underwater’ and’ Green – You Are In A Forest’ were all utilised to full effect with a binaural 3D mixing technique that was best heard using headphones.

‘Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle’ was released as STUMM 194

http://www.illustriouscompany.co.uk


CLIENT Client (2003)

In 2002, DUBSTAR’s Sarah Blackwood was recruited to front female synthpop duo TECHNIQUE by Kate Holmes. Somewhere in Leipzig supporting DEPECHE MODE, they became CLIENT and were mysteriously referred to as Client A and Client B in a ‘1984’ inspired Orwellian twist. Signed to Mute via Andy Fletcher’s Toast Hawaii imprint, they announced “Client… satisfaction guaranteed… innovate never imitate… we aim to please… at your service” before a “F*** OFF! DON’T TOUCH ME THERE!”

‘Client’ was released as TH 003

http://www.clientlondon.com/


DAVE GAHAN Hourglass (2007)

His solo debut ‘Paper Monsters’ was a disappointment, but Gahan was still finding his feet as a songwriter, becoming more realised on ‘Playing The Angel’. His second album ‘Hourglass’ was better and ‘Kingdom’ could have made a great DM recording. But in the same way that Mick Jagger’s 1984 Nile Rodgers produced solo debut LP having very few takers meant that the ROLLING STONES would continue ad infinitum, would DEPECHE MODE still be going if Mr Gahan’s solo career had actually taken off?

‘Hourglass’ was released as STUMM 288

http://www.davegahan.com


MAPS Vicissitude (2013)

While Mute continues to diversify and experiment, the more esoteric pop aspirations of Mute’s synthetic roster continues. MAPS is the vehicle of James Chapman and with a more expansive electronic template, his third album ‘Vicissitude’ was a selection of very personal songs with a strong melodic backbone. Unafraid to let the instrumental synthesizer elements take a prime role in the overall aesthetic, tracks like ‘AMA’ and ‘You Will Find a Way’ put MAPS into the same league as M83 and EAST INDIA YOUTH.

‘Vicissitude’ was released as STUMM 354

http://www.thisismaps.com


POLLY SCATTERGOOD Arrows (2013)

POLLY SCATTERGOOD signalled the more electronic journey of her second album ‘Arrows’ with the marvellous electro-COCTEAU TWINS twist of ‘Wanderlust’. While there were still signs of her folkier roots, synthetic textures and technological trickery were very much part of the action. The sad but driving pop of ‘Falling’ and ‘Subsequently Lost’ attracted empathy with Polly World, while the highly emotive ‘Miss You’ and the dreamy ‘Cocoon’ displayed her passion and vulnerability.

‘Arrows’ was released as STUMM 328

http://www.pollyscattergood.com/


Text by Chi Ming Lai with thanks to Simon Helm at Cold War Night Life
23rd June 2015, edited 14th February 2018

Thalys: A Short Conversation with METROLAND

METROLAND are the Belgian conceptual duo with synthetic sounds from the ‘underground’.

Thalys_Promo14Highly influenced by KOMPUTER and KRAFTWERK, although the capital letter ‘K’ is highly resonant in their sound, METROLAND are perhaps more textural.

They are like a ride through an electronic landscape, layered with authentic warm sequences, robotic vocals and uniquely vintage drum machines, all designed for the commuter world.

Their version of IGGY POP’s ‘The Passenger’ has to be heard to be believed and such has been the quality of tracks like ‘It’s More Fun to Commute’, ‘Enjoying The View’, ‘Harry Beck’ and ‘2013’, several unscrupulous eBay dealers in Russia were passing off CD-Rs of three tracks from the debut long player ‘Mind The Gap’ as KRAFTWERK demos in 2013! Meanwhile, METROLAND were invited to work their technological magic on well received remixes for OMD, MARSHEAUX and RUSTY EGAN.

METROLAND have now returned with their Kling Klang flavoured Technopop courtesy of the multi-formatted single ‘Thalys’, a tie-in with the European high speed train operator. Passengers S and A kindly spoke to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about their upcoming railway journey…

You supported OMD on the Benelux leg of their ‘English Electric’ tour, how was that for you?

Imagine that a local priest gets an invitation from the Pope to do a service in Vatican City. Well, it mostly felt like this. Everything fitted so well.

Thalys_Promo04Andy McCluskey was browsing for information on ‘Metroland’ one evening whilst travelling homewards on the train and he stumbled across our material and instantly liked it due to the KRAFTWERK touch. He got in touch via e-mail and the funniest part was that in his correspondence, he mentioned his band ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVRES IN THE DARK, as if we never heard from them.

How modest can you be? Here we have gotten an e-mail from a man, who wrote himself into history several times, and that is precisely who Andy is: an amazing person to whom we looked up during our childhood (and we still do), who gave us hours and hours of listening pleasure and then, one day, you get to meet him in person and support that ‘band’ we never heard of 🙂

A highlight in our career, no doubt… proud we had that opportunity!

Last time we spoke, you had just completed your rework of OMD’s ‘Metroland’. They must have liked what you did because they asked you to do another of ‘Night Café’ which many consider to be even better?

When we played together in Brussels, we talked about loads of things, amongst which we talked about the new single to come… by that time ‘Dresden’ was the presented single and the outside world was not aware yet that ‘Night Café’ would become number three.

Thalys_Promo02Of course we also discussed the ‘Metroland’ remix, how we got to do it and especially that it took over 50 hours in total to do the final mix down. But Andy was most happy about the fact we did not butcher the song to death, making it something that was unrecognizable. He stated that it was an OMD song with a different approach, and it was precisely that what made him give us a second opportunity.

The very next day, we were already in touch with the friendly people at 100% Records, who also were happy with the results. We noticed that the ‘Night Café’ remix was doing well on Soundcloud and in particular on Youtube. Passenger H boosted the remix into a much higher region by creating two ex-tre-me-ly nice videos.

Your remix for RUSTY EGAN of ‘Dreamer’ has had a very positive response as well

So far we did indeed only read nice reviews, so we hope that when it gets released, more people will find their way to METROLAND. The funny thing about this remix is that RUSTY EGAN himself is truly fond of our remixes…even so, we stumbled across tweets and messages in which he asked if there is a METROLAND mix available. So kind and warm of him 🙂

But 2013 was killing us on the remix part, we actually did nothing else but creating ‘versions’ for other people. You should know that we quite often integrate new sequences, sounds, melodies, bass sequences into our remixes and we repeatedly felt that we were only making music to give away. So we decided to stop doing remixes until we finished our own material, ‘Thalys’ included, as this was a monstrous project in every sense of the word.

Talking of dreaming, who would be your dream artists be to remix?

There is only one which we both have high in our lists, and that is ORBITAL. Next to that, we have ERASURE, CHVRCHES… quite some 🙂

Thalys_Promo10We would also love to do MARSHEAUX again, as we feel we did not do so well with ‘Can You Stop Me?’.

That remix was our first one we made as METROLAND, and we did not want to go too far and next to that, f*cking up songs from such a top-top-top-top and even over-the-top good band… we were too modest and too shy at the time… regarding making a remix that is, we’re always modest and shy 😉

2013 was an interesting year for METROLAND as your songs were being bootlegged and passed off as new KRAFTWERK demos…what were your feelings about that?

We still don’t know if we should take this as a compliment or not. On one side, it is a true shame this has happened for sure, especially when our songs where regarded as only demos.

“Are our songs nothing more than demos?” we kept asking ourselves. Looking at it differently, it is amazing that people would then think that our songs could have been from the godfathers of electronic music.

Now, there was some buzz about it, but not that much….we only got an invitation from Ralf H to come over for tea, as he liked our music a lot and he wanted some tips… but we kept that as a secret 😉

What did you think of KARL BARTOS’ new album ‘Off The Record’?

Passenger S loves it, typical Kraftwerkian material with these lovely melodies… wow! Passenger A is a bit more critical and only found it so-so. It is just a matter of taste, and that cannot be discussed. We saw him live in Brussels, and that was a stunning good show. It is good to see that someone continues the real KRAFTWERK spirit. Not a lot of material since 2003 from the godfathers…

Thalys_Promo15

So what is the concept behind the new single ‘Thalys’?

A train, that’s the simplest answer we can come up with 🙂

The story behind it is something else. When we had ‘Mind The Gap’ out into the open, we got a lot of reactions like “nice concept, but how long can a band continue with that?”...

True, but do we need to continue with underground and transportation themes? No, we don’t… but still, there were some things that we felt were not completed, and it was one day that we texted a message to each other saying “a song about a train”… ok, eh… crazy lads…

And so we had an arrangement about ‘The Elephant’ (due to the fact it is linked to Belgium), but it stayed an arrangement. Some weeks later, we had a new 6-second melody… and months later it ended up being a song lasting more than 11 minutes. We felt fascinated by the Thalys trains immediately. OK, they are normal high speed trains, but the typical colour makes them so unique.

Whilst we had the idea growing slowly in between all the remixes and the OMD support, we picked it up several times and continued working on the song at a very, very, very, slow, slow pace… at a certain moment, we decided to involve the Thalys company as we saw this ‘concept’ was growing bigger and bigger. This means that at this very moment, we are writing history, as no band ever before us has written a song about Thalys, and so we hope that our name will be linked to these burgundy red trains for as long as they exist 🙂

You have gone on a multi-format extravaganza with this release?

Seeing our ages and background, and our sources of inspiration, there is one name that should instantly pop-up and this would be Mute. We are so truly fond of their marketing approach that we always wanted to do something similar. This made us propose to our label Alfa Matrix and ask if they would allow us to release a 12 inch vinyl (and not an album). Strangely enough, they went all the way with this (again) crazy idea.

The management at Alfa Matrix have been close friends from us for over 20 years now and they know that when we have an attitude towards our ideas, that we go for the full 150% to make it happen. Yes, it was a crazy ride with quite some obstacles to be where we are, but we made it 🙂

On top of this, we decided to go vintage all the way and created a cassette tape (how 80s can you get, right?) to accompany the vinyl. Of course, the label had their say and marketing-wise, they wanted to add a CD to the vinyl for the fans. So they have not yet turned totally grey or bald and have their ‘modern’ (but nearly outdated as well) digital medium 😉

Next to this we went one step further and thought, with a blink to the past, “why not create several versions in a different language?”. Thus we created a radio edit of the 11 minute-song in English, called the ‘London edit’ (which can be downloaded in regions where they don’t speak French or German) and a ‘Düsseldorf edit’ for the German speaking countries and a Paris edit…you can guess the rest.

Let’s not forget that we also have three totally blasting remixes so you will have loads of ear candy to enjoy! Did we also mention that every medium has exclusive versions ? Yep… again the Mute way of thinking. But it has been quite stressy getting this together, so ‘Thalys’ will just be a unique fact and happening 🙂

Thalys_Promo08Where do you think METROLAND will be heading for the next album?

We do have at the moment of taking this interview, 16 tracks ready for musical review. In other words, the arrangements have turned into demo songs, and these demos turned into unbalanced songs and we need to put the dots on the i’s.

After this focussed time consuming (not to mention good beer too) job, it is time to do the production mixdown, making sure everything is in balance and off it goes to the mastering. Then all files will head over to the pressing plant where the complete concept will take shape too.

For the central theme and concept for this next album, we will be musically travelling to Germany, but it will be something that no-one will expect, truly not 🙂

The style of music is a little darker and harsher than on ‘Mind The Gap’ which was at times mellow while still having a sort of tristesse drenched in electronics. The new album has a different tone of darkness and synthetic sounds. We never experiment, we always go for the up tempo sequences and bass lines… so no need to worry yet 😉

What would be the perfect location for one of your live presentations?

The Transport Museum in London, the one place we would love to go and present our audio-visual experience (we prefer not to call it a live performance). And of course the Hammersmith Odeon in London. Can someone make this happen? 🙂


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to METROLAND

Thalys_Promo01‘Thalys’ is released by Alfa Matrix in a 12” vinyl / CD / cassette bundle package and three territorial download EP formats, further information at http://www.alfa-matrix.com/bio-metroland.php

http://www.metrolandmusic.com/

https://www.facebook.com/metrolandmusic

http://soundcloud.com/metroland


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Kristel Nijskens BE
30th August 2014

METROLAND Interview

The Sound Of The Underground

METROLAND have a manifesto: a conceptual band, consisting of Passenger A and Passenger S, bringing synthetic sounds from the ‘underground’, highly influenced by KOMPUTER and KRAFTWERK.

Certainly the capital letter ‘K’ is highly resonant in their sound but in many ways, as the single ‘Enjoying The View’ indicates, METROLAND are perhaps more textural, a ride through an electronic landscape, layered with authentic warm sequences, robotic vocals and uniquely vintage drum machines, all designed for the commuter world.

While hints of seminal Belgian synth trio TELEX also preside on this journey, with their debut album ‘Mind The Gap’, METROLAND provide a soothing headphone soundtrack for ‘Enjoying The View’, kind of like BEF’s ‘Music For Stowaways’ but without the Cold War dystopia. The slithery piano run of the beautiful ‘T.F.L’ is something to be savoured while really, ‘It’s More Fun to Commute’ and ‘(Much) More Fun’.

‘Mind The Gap’ has certainly impressed the wider electronic music community and invitations to both remix and support OMD have been evidence of that. And the song that the duo have been asked to remix?? Yes, ‘Metroland’! The duo kindly spoke from their base in Brussels about their technological ideals and commuter concepts.

metroland-03Where did the idea for a concept album about commuting come from?

With METROLAND, we never started out that way nor did we plan to create a concept album, really. METROLAND, as a band, was not even founded in the true essence of the word; it kind of derived out of a creative, musical frustration.

In our former musical career, which lasted already for 20 years at that point, we felt that we reached all that could have been achieved. There were very, very few ambitions to fill and no more goals to achieve. Another reason was the boundaries that we were setting ourselves.

While making music and experimenting with sounds and ideas we got frustrated as so many good ideas would not fit in with our former works and policy. Hundreds of arrangements and melodies were rejected due to this limitation. But we kept on going, creating songs, making arrangements, carefully watching not to throw everything away.

At a certain moment we created a baseline with a rather sinister feeling about it and we were struggling yet again with the question “erase this: yes or no?”. We went for “no” and started working on it, this time with no boundaries. Some weeks later we picked it up again and a second and a third track turned out in the same idea.

After many sleepless nights and loads of conversations on how to proceed with our musical creativities, we concluded that some of the demo-songs we had now made were too strong to leave untouched. Still, they could not be hosted under our former project, so the first step towards the new band ‘METROLAND’ was taken.

The name METROLAND itself comes from the UK band KOMPUTER.

They used it as the name of a remix of their song ‘Looking Down On London’ (coincidentally, this remix happens to be Passenger S’ favourite piece of music).

Still, at the point where we decided to head for that different musical direction, we did not even talk about any concept to fit all those arrangements.

It was much later, when we picked up some nice samples from the underground, that we started working towards the end result where we are now with our conceptual album ‘Mind The Gap’. The combination of METROLAND as a band name and the first track (pun not intended) ‘Mind The Gap’ triggered us much further than we ever thought possible.

We were already used to working around a concept, which we feel has been one of our very strong points, but with METROLAND we took this conceptual idea to the hilt and beyond. Result is that our album ‘Mind The Gap’ is all about metro systems, the Tube, commuting and transport in general. The samples, the artwork, the titles….they all breathe the same concept. As you can read, this amazing ride that brought us up to where we are now didn’t just happen overnight.

Why did you choose the London Underground as the location, as opposed to say, the Paris Metro or Berlin U-Bahn?

The London Underground is the one that stands out the most to all of us.

She is like the mother of all undergrounds in the world carrying that special atmosphere, more than any other underground, we find, without being condescending to all other magnificent stations.

To be quite frank, we did not particularly focus on the London Underground; our release is more of an international ode to all underground systems around the globe.

The phrase “Mind The Gap” is quintessentially English so how did that enter your mind space to become the title of your album?

On one hand it was by accident, but on the other hand this must have been the most compelling title to be used, as it goes hand-in-hand with metro stations. Just enter the Tube somewhere and you hear the voice chanting “mind the gap….mind the gap”… brilliant.

We believe that if you would ask someone to name one of the most known trademarks regarding the underground it would be precisely that phrase. Our first album, dealing with that topic couldn’t have any better title than ‘Mind The Gap’.

METROLAND composed a track in tribute to Harry Beck, the Underground map designer. Do you regard him as one of modern life’s unsung heroes?

When we were triggered, as mentioned earlier, we started browsing the web for stories, histories, and monuments and so on. One of the names that struck us was that of Henry Charles Beck, or Harry Beck, the man who invented the map that millions of commuters have been using since that day. He was destined to be part of our album, there was no other way.

Which tracks have been your own favourites on the ‘Mind The Gap’ album and why?

On our Facebook page, some months ago, we made a kind of walk-through of all our songs on the album and each song was explained into the finest detail how they were conceived. They all mean a lot to us equally, as this first album was really a leap into the unknown.

If Passenger A had to answer he would say ‘Enjoying The View’, because it was the first song that he made almost on this own (besides the tremendous end mix, where Passenger S spends hours and hours on tweaking and mixing) during one evening and he even remembers the moment where he said “this is it!”

For Passenger S, this is little different, every track has a certain degree of importance, every track took little over 20 hours to get it in the final mix. Loads of time and energy can be found in every song. The standard was set on high level, every little effect or stereo image, filter setting was precisely programmed.

Due to this, every song is kind of a special favourite in its way. But if one truly needs to be picked it would be ‘Inner City Transport’. This was the most difficult track to mix, as it consists out of three separate parts that needed to blend, spread over more than 7 minutes.

What synthesizers and plug-ins have you been using to construct your sound?

Since 2005 we solely work using Reason (Propellerheads). For the both of us this is simply a fantastic and unlimited tool.

We have had tons and tons of sounds that we had been using in our former project and now with METROLAND, it feels like we are rediscovering shiploads of new sounds that we can finally use, simply because now we allow it ourselves. It is extremely liberating in a way. We are not shy to use those precious bass sounds like we used to, and we now easily blend them with sounds we would never consider using before.

Reason is not just worthwhile using for its sound library; it is also very versatile when it comes down to the use of every effect or filter setting. You can program nearly every nano-second in a song, the perfect tool for making the sort of techno pop we create with METROLAND.

Have you tried the Synth-Werk VST and did you find the ‘Musique Electronique’ new KRAFTWEKtrack hoax that used it amusing?

We never used it. We do know of the hoax, yes, and admittedly, we were tricked too.

We guess because so many are eagerly waiting for some new work from the Düsseldorf foursome, the hoax easily started to live its own life.

Obviously you are fans of KRAFTWERK but what is it about them that is special for you?

Maybe it’s their way of working, their musical attitude of “less is more”, or their endurance to find a sound that matches a song so perfect as if it was designed specifically for that one song.

Despite of all of this, we are fans of much more bands than only KRAFTWERK, even if they are the pioneers of technological music. KRAFTWERK can easily be considered as the band that brewed the foundation for every electronic pop song. It’s not just inspirations from them that we used, as we also have influences from bands like OMD, NITZERR EBB, MARSHEAUX and ORBITAL to name some of the more important ones.

We find that only the real tutored listener, who spends his time under the headphones, discovers the true face of METROLAND. This listener will hear more than just a hi-q, some bleeps and vocoder voice. That is indeed a typical KRAFTWERK ingredient.

Fortunately we do have a few fans who truly listen to the deeper sound of METROLAND. If you listen carefully, there is only a small hint from METROLAND and even then the difference is huge. In contrary to METROLAND, our bass sequences are more pounding, our tempo is always fast paced, we use multi-layered sequences and rarely one basic sequence which gets spread over an 8 minute song….and so much more to discover in our music.

Which is your favourite KRAFTWERK album and have you been able to see any of ‘The Catalogue 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8’ shows?

metroland 04Sadly, living in Belgium, makes it hard to see any of the shows. The show at Tate Gallery was sold in about 10 minutes. Before we even heard about it and start thinking about taking holiday from work and so on, all tickets were sold.

For Passenger A, ‘Electric Cafe’ (he stills prefers that title) is the favourite KRAFTWERK album.

Passenger S, his most favourite KRAFTWERK song is ‘Tour de France’ (in its original form, as he believes the 2003 is a boring release, something like: “give a 10 year old a synthesizer and a sequencer and try to copy some old KRAFTWERK song”), but when it comes down to albums, the album with the most nice songs would be ‘Trans-Europe Express’. Along with ‘Europe Endless’ and ‘’Showroom Dummies’, these timeless songs are high-lights in their career and considered by Passenger S as the actual start of their electronic pop.

It has been 10 years since the last new KRAFTWERK album, are you filling a void for their fans or do you want to be seen as a different entity altogether?

We never intended to fill a void or try to meet a demand, as such. We simply wanted to make music without boundaries and use all ingredients that we liked from so many electronic artists ; a melody, a baseline that carries a song, matching percussion where stereo-effects that are gone before the listener realises what has happened, catchy samples that fits the purpose…all this to make METROLAND to what it is now.

We are indeed a different entity; we don’t have the intension to fill up something that may never happen again (hence: a new album by KRAFTWERK).

How do you respond to people who say you are maybe just Kling Klang copyists?

We know they are amongst the many that never really listened in a profound manner. All they hear are the robotic voices and electronics. Sad, really, as they miss out on all the aural fun that is happening in the music.

We wonder which band these days is unique, which band doesn’t have roots? If a band picks up two guitars, a drummer, and a lead singer, are they a copy of THE BEATLES? So are we a copy because we use synthesizers, a vocoder and bleeps?

We are not a copy, we just use ingredients from things that happened before and use them again in our personal blend. If only those lazy, lame and short minded people would give it that little extra second of attention, it would all make it more interesting to read their reviews.

How did the OMD support slot come about?

The story started in April last year where Andy McCluskey wrote us a personal mail explaining that they have a new song called ‘Metroland’ and that by browsing the internet, whilst looking for details on the word “metroland”, he came across our website, some interviews, a collaboration with MARSHEAUX and so on.

Appropriately, he was sitting in the train when he wrote us that first mail. Ever since that day, we had been in touch regularly and in August we met near Antwerp after their gig, where he asked us to act as support for some gigs, but nothing was concrete at that time.

Now it is happening on the Benelux dates (May 17 in Utrecht and May 20 in Brussels)….and we are very happy and proud to be their support act.

You are remixing OMD’s new single ‘Metroland’. As the song is already quite Kraftwerkian, what have you done to make it different to the original?

Our remix must have been the most stressing and tiring work ever. The deadline was rather short, and on top of that this was a remix for a band that we both idolized for many years (since 1982 for Passenger S to be exact).

We aimed for a METROLAND interpretation, the METROLAND sound and feel of a fascinating OMD track. We both hate those darn f*cked up club mixes where you can barely recognize something of the original. We started all from scratch. So, every sequence and bass line, melody was played a-new (we did not have a MIDI file), and we searched for new sounds. In the end, it became a more orchestral mix spiced up with the typical bass sounds from METROLAND, along with our famous layered sequences. It was a tough job as the song itself is a splendid OMD song with a KRAFTWERK spirit, a shivering combination, so we hope our remix will attract OMD fans.

Andy McCluskey replied to our mail after we delivered, “loving it!!”, so we have achieved exactly what we intended. Just imagine: making a joyful remix and getting such a reaction from someone you have been looking up to since you were a teenager!!

Have you decided on a concept for your next project?

We have some ideas about broadening the transport idea, some more concrete than others, but nothing for the full 100%. All we do will grow, change on daily bases, but will all make one complete concept again…some day.

We are slowly collecting new arrangements; about four are already in a song format, so we are facing the start of a new album. Only one track made it way in advance and that was ‘2013’ to which the reactions were pretty overwhelming. This only makes us more confident we are on the right track.

Just make sure to hop on our underground METROLAND ride, because it will be second to none, guaranteed!!


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to METROLAND

metroland-mind-the-gap-2012METROLAND play as special guests of OMD at Utrecht Tivoli on Friday 17th May and Brussels Ancienne Belgique on Monday 20th May 2013.

‘Mind The Gap’ is released by Alfa Matrix in CD, 2CD Limited Edition and download formats

‘2013’ is available as a download single via https://alfamatrix.bandcamp.com/track/2013

http://www.metrolandmusic.com/

http://www.alfa-matrix.com/bio-metroland.php

http://soundcloud.com/metroland


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
19th February 2013

METROLAND Mind The Gap

Here is a really nice surprise that strikes like a lightning bolt from a clear blue sky: Belgian electroheads METROLAND and their epic rail bound technopop-journey in the spirit of KRAFTWERK and KOMPUTER.

The theme of debut album ‘Mind The Gap’ s thus railroad traffic and mostly underground travel. The trip spans over 13 (railway) tracks and begins quietly and beautifully with the warm arpeggio rich soundscapes built up in ‘Enjoying The View’. The feeling of going by train at moderate pace through Europe is really palpable.

The following song, ‘Mind The Gap’, takes us to the London Underground and then the journey proceeds to Germany, New York, Brussels and Moscow. The tempo is increased gradually and the songs become more and more dancefloor friendly.

The very Kraftwerkian rhythms are perfect and the sounds are always exquisite. However, it is not only KRAFTWERK and KOMPUTER that are cloned. Inspiration from early FRONT 242, JOHN FOXX & LOUIS GORDON, JEAN MICHEL JARRE, KARL BARTOS and not least TELEX is present too.

Being a Swede, I am also thinking of Swedish bands like DDR, TRANSFORMATION STATION and not least DEUTSCHE BANK, but that is probably a coincidence since these bands are heavily inspired by KRAFTWERK too. We who have a soft spot for voice synthesis from vocoders and the Speak & Spell toy obviously get our fair share, but some songs also feature sampled female voices, providing this very electronic train ride with a bit more organic feel and variety.

This is a true concept album, well thought out and implemented with classic Klingklang perfection. It is therefore hard to pick out a favourite song – if you like the first song, you almost certainly like the rest too.

However, I have noticed that I’ve been saying: “He was called – Harry Beck” and “form follow function” spontaneously to myself now and again, which probably indicates that the song  ‘Harry Beck’ can be considered one of my favourites. Other highlights are ‘Travelling’, ‘The Passenger’, ‘Theme For Metroland’ and ‘T.F.L.’ – you might actually say that METROLAND almost sounds more KRAFTWERK than KRAFTWERK themselves have managed to do in recent times.

However, critics may argue that it is not that original trying to mimic KRAFTWERK, but METROLAND’s Passenger A and Passenger S do it with so much love and warmth. They really put their hearts to it. They do not try to hide their sources of inspiration either. The penultimate song title is, for example, a clear KRAFTWERK paraphrase; ‘It’s More Fun To Commute’. This song is seamlessly followed by ‘(Much) More Fun’ which is a wonderfully rhythm-driven song in the spirit of ‘Numbers’ and ‘Home Computer’.

For us KRAFTWERK-nerds, METROLAND is a very nice new acquaintance indeed.


‘Mind The Gap’ is released by Alfa Matrix in CD, 2CD Limited Edition and download formats

http://www.metrolandmusic.com/

http://www.alfa-matrix.com/bio-metroland.php

http://soundcloud.com/metroland

The original Swedish version of this article is published at www.synth.nu


Text by Johan Wejedal
26th September 2012

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