Tag: Lana Del Rey (Page 1 of 2)

WITCH OF THE VALE Commemorate

Erin Hawthorne and Ryan Hawthorne are WITCH OF THE VALE, an unsettling electronic duo from the serene shores of Loch Lomond and the remote Outer Hebridean Isles.

Signing to Cleopatra Records, a well-known North American goth industrial imprint, they reissued a number of Gary Numan albums in the US at one time and are still the only label to have succeeded in officially licencing post-‘Autobahn’ material for a KRAFTWERK best of compilation in 1992 entitled ‘The Model’.

Like a mid-to-downtempo offering to Pagan spirits, ‘Commemorate’ combines misery with beauty, evoking confused but uplifting emotions of hope in an atmosphere where all is not quite as it should be… so real life then and very fitting with many isolated from the life they have previously known.

A debut album is effectively a relaunch, an opportunity to reach a wider audience but with the kudos that the long playing format accords. To that end, WITCH OF THE VALE have included the best material from their first three EPs and supplemented those eight tracks with four new songs and bookending instrumental themes. However, most of this previously released material has undergone some sonic fine tuning, but it’s all been fulfilled without altering the spiritual essence of the originals.

From their debut EP ‘The Way This Will End’, the unsettling ritualistic overtures and drone laden backdrop of ‘Fever’ and the textural rumbles of ‘Your Voice’ are threaded by an enticing high register gothique with folk inspired stylings. The poignant ‘The Way This Will End’ title song is included also, with a beautiful music box quality complimented by pensive strings that capture a wonderful melancholic airiness. It is all very sad but never depressing.

Of the new material featuring on this impressive debut, the ‘Commemorate’ title song provides the most intensely percussive flavour, throwing in industrial swoops and references to self-loathing in the manner of NINE INCH NAILS, but with a sinister feminine beauty. ‘Undressed’ sonically emulates any number of intros from Gary Numan’s apocalyptic ‘Savage’, although the soundscapes take a Nordic pop twist thanks to Erin Hawthorne’s treated delivery.

The brooding fatalistic doom of ‘Crash’ is offset by another angelic vocal that makes the words “I might be smiling but I hate you on the inside…” even more foreboding, while the clattering of a grandfather clock pendulum acts as a ghostly backbone to the eerily sparse ‘The Sky & The Sea’.

The rain swept ‘Death Dream’ maintains the solemn mood, while the four songs from the ‘Trust The Pain’ EP complete the commemorative picture. ‘Trust The Pain’ itself remains serene yet uncertain as ‘The Ghosts Won’t Know’ dresses gentle piano with a widescreen chill but with haunting harp-derived sounds for a divine celestial mood, ‘Suffocation’ displays an affinity with the understated Swedish songstress Karin My.

But as with its parent EP, WITCH OF THE VALE’s unusual gothic cover of Lana Del Rey’s ‘Gods & Monsters’ still stands out, transporting the gritty sleazy American original to the ominous location of ‘The Wicker Man’ for their most likely crossover recording.

Timeless and captivating, WITCH OF THE VALE offer something unusual with ‘Commemorate’ while connected to traditional, thereby producing something quite extraordinary and of another world.

In a short period of existence which has seen them open for ASSEMBLAGE 23, SOLAR FAKE, CLAN OF XYMOX and LINEA ASPERA as well as playing Infest 2019, their trajectory has been pointing up and the quality of this debut will ensure it will stay that way for a bit longer.


‘Commemorate’ is released as a download album by Cleopatra Records, CD issued on 20th February 2021, both are available direct from https://witchofthevale.bandcamp.com/album/commemorate-2

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Text by Chi Ming Lai
14th December 2020

Introducing RIDER

American born RIDER describes herself as “alternative pop”, exploring a variety of styles while ensuring larger than life melodies are at the core of her work.

Originally from Pennsylvania, RIDER emigrated to the UK and studied at LIPA, the educational establishment that includes Eddie Lundon of CHINA CRISIS as one of its lecturers.

Looking like Lana Del Rey gone synthwave, the London based singer and multi-instrumentalist’s most recent single ‘Tell Nobody’ is an energetic neon lit stomper that wouldn’t have sounded out of place in a John Hughes teen movie. With her Trans-Atlantic timbre, RIDER’s dulcet tones suit the mood fabulously.

The accompanying sci-fi inspired video directed by Ollie Rillands of Shapeshifter Films features a young gamer girl who dreams of travelling into the future and builds her own time machine; RIDER herself makes a cameo as a shop assistant who sells a PP9 battery to the junior inventor at a hush-hush ‘Tell Nobody’ discount.

With her powerful voice and application of self-produced organic textures alongside the electronic, RIDER embroils an air of optimism within her heartfelt expression, as on ‘Hurts Me Too’, a soulful tune which could be likened to AFTERHERE, the HEAVEN 17 side project fronted by Berenice Scott.

Having recently developed a taste for NINA, FM-84 and THE MIDNIGHT, it will be interesting to see where she heads next.

While songs like ‘You’ recall the West Coast New Wave of THE GO GOS and ‘A Little Light’ takes a more steadfast approach to LORDE’s almost similarly titled ‘Green Light’, RIDER’s eclectic blend of genres highlight her sweet passionate approach to her music.

As RIDER herself puts it: “Life is sweet!”


‘Tell Nobody’ is released by Sapien Records, available on all digital platforms

https://www.riderofficial.com/

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Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Marieke Macklon Photography
27th March 2019

WITCH OF THE VALE Trust The Pain

In the world of plenty, the nature runs through the laws of the land and she decides on all outcomes. Break the cycle, and you’re doomed, turn against her, and you will pay the highest price.

Deeply rooted in Celtic folklore with Wiccan beliefs, the highly spirited music of WITCH OF THE VALE is like nothing else within the world of electronica today. Outer Hebridean Isles meets the mysterious and hostile shores of Loch Lomond to create the freshest musical abyss of strength and stamina to deliver the most unusual sound and please the most discerning synth lovers.

Relatively unknown, Erin Hawthorne and her husband Ryan’s music has been recognised enough to claim the support slots for ASSEMBLAGE 23, CLAN OF XYMOX and SOLAR FAKE.

WITCH OF THE VALE’s debut last year with ‘The Way This Will End’ EP gathered enough appreciation and enthusiasm for the pair to continue their Pagan musical experimentation and this winter sees the release of the second EP ‘Trust The Pain’.

The eponymous first track introduces serene, yet uncertain feelings channelled via Hawthorne’s clear vocals over the croon from a raven. The angelic ballad puts all the fears to sleep, leading gently into ‘The Ghosts Won’t Know’, which continues with ethereal quality of vocals and sparse instrumentation in form of delicate piano, which is met by cold strings and slow ritualistic drumming.

‘Suffocation’ sees a mood shift, where the piano meets more haunting sounds, painting elements of dread, fear and tears, palpable in the musical execution, even though the vocals remain softly celestial and almost divine.

The surprise comes with an unusual cover of Lana Del Rey’s ‘Gods & Monsters’, which was a Top 40 hit in the UK, and was covered by the likes of Jessica Lange, as well as used in films and TV series. WITCH OF THE VALE bring out a fresh approach to this controversial piece, whose lyrics describe life lived dangerously, not seeking redemption but ploughing harder and harder towards the tragic end. As opposed to the gritty, sleazy vocal from Del Rey, Erin brings a certain celestial quality to this massive number, shadowed by nothing but a delicate piano and retiring synth.

Erin and Ryan Hawthorne are definitely revealing more and more of their magical world and they are ones to watch out for. Not affiliated with any musical circles, the pair do their own thing with beauty and poise, creating the most astonishing arrangements and it feels like they definitely have more up their sleeve, so follow The Witch.


‘Trust The Pain’ is available as a download EP from https://witchofthevale.bandcamp.com/releases

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Text by Monika Izabela Trigwell
15th February 2019

TRAIN TO SPAIN A Journey

Producer Jonas Rasmusson had been recording as TRAIN TO SPAIN since 2011, but it wasn’t until the recruitment of singer Helena Wigeborn in 2013 that things begin to gather momentum.

The 2015 debut album ‘What It’s All About’ featured songs such as ‘Passion’ and ‘Remind Myself’ which showcased the duo’s potential, coming over at times like like Lana Del Rey fronting YAZOO. ‘Believe In Love’, the brilliant first new song issued in 2016 after ‘What It’s All About’ developed on its promise, allowing more space within Rasmusson’s classic framework Wigeborn to work in.

With the aforementioned included as a bonus track, ‘A Journey’continues… riding on an upward momentum, the vibrant opening salvo ‘I Follow You’ is an optimistic pop statement in the Kylie vein. The upbeat fervour continues on ‘Saviour’, with Wigeborn hunting high and low over Rasmusson’s energetic backing. ‘You Got To Do It’ shows what TRAIN TO SPAIN can do using a more restrained approach, while the frantic pace of ‘Not With Me’ utilises the metallic klang of Berlin-era DEPECHE MODE.

‘Pretend We Won’ moves away from the usual TRAIN TO SPAIN four-to-the-floor template during its intro which is attached to a good melodic structure. But the gloriously guilty pleasure of ‘Monsters’ is one of those Eurodance stompers with chunky triplets that filled German discos once upon a time and at various points, it feels as though a rapper will make their presence felt!

The more midtempo ‘Confused’ allows for a breather and is another highlight, featuring an alluring chorus from Wigeborn and filmic synths from Rasmusson. Taking things down further, ‘Teaser’ about a girl “who knows how to mess with your mind” is a ballad that shows subtlety in its rhythmic backbone while swathed in atmospheric electronic sweeps, while ‘What If’ is another midtempo offering although driven by heavy electronic drums and shaped by Wigeborn’s lower vocal register which suits both her and the tune.

But the closing ‘80s Drum Machine’ is the disappointing ‘Martin, David & Fletch’ of ‘A Journey’. Like its ‘What It’s All About’ cousin, the song is intended as an affectionate tribute to TRAIN TO SPAIN’s influences, but actually is a throwaway novelty that is not entirely essential with its spoken vocal and stripped down production.

Another bonus track ‘Dominant One’ plays with octaves and crashing metronomic drums in the vein of ‘Blip Blop’ from ‘What It’s All About’ and as with ‘80s Drum Machine’, it could have been left off ‘A Journey’ altogether to leave a tighter collection of ten tracks. All-in-all, ‘A Journey’ is a progression from ‘What It’s All About’ on all fronts musically, vocally and aurally. But most importantly, it is good old fashioned appealing synthpop with a Eurocentric twist. So take a TRAIN TO SPAIN and go round the world again…


‘A Journey’ is released on 31st August 2018 by Sub Culture Records in CD and download formats, available via https://subculturerecords.bandcamp.com/album/a-journey

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Text by Chi Ming Lai
24th August 2018

TRAIN TO SPAIN Interview

Sweden’s TRAIN TO SPAIN finally released their debut album ‘What It’s All About’ in 2015, having issued music in a variety of different line-ups since 2001.

Named after a lyric from THE HUMAN LEAGUE song ‘The Things That Dreams Are Made Of’, the duo’s first long player was an enjoyably flirtatious affair centred around a crashing metronomic heartbeat reminiscent of PHILIP OAKEY and GIORGIO MORODER’s joint eponymous opus from 1985. Featuring singer Helena Wigeborg and instrumentalist Jonas Rasmusson, the album imagined LANA DEL REY fronting YAZOO, particularly on songs like ‘Keep On Running’, Passion, ‘All About’ and ‘Screw It Up’.

TRAIN TO SPAIN could be perceived as being a bit pop and fluffy, but ‘Grab and Touch’ dealt with the rather serious subject of harassment. But there was also the perky electronic disco of ‘Work Harder’ and best of all, the marvellous Euro stance of ‘Remind Myself’ which enjoyable sounded a bit like TATU without the helium. Overall a promising debut, ‘What It’s All About’ certainly wore its synthpop influences on its sleeve.

Ever keen to move forward and enrich their sound, TRAIN TO SPAIN have now been joined by Lars Netzel who was involving the mixing of ‘What It’s All About’; a musician in his own right under the moniker of NOT LARS, things are set for a new chapter in TRAIN TO SPAIN.

Helena, Jonas and Lars kindly chatted to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about the past, present and future of TRAIN TO SPAIN…

How does it feel to finally get release a TRAIN TO SPAIN album?

Jonas: It feels just great that we got a debut album out. It’s been a long but enjoyable journey.

Helena: It feels good! We’ve been working on that first album since September 2013. So to finally get the album in my hands felt like an achievement and I’m very happy with the result.

After you played ‘An Evening With The Swedish Synth’ in London 2014, things went really well and you got signed by a UK label…

Helena: That’s right. We were very lucky that night. It was a night to remember.

Jonas: It was a dream come true.

But the label went under and put TRAIN TO SPAIN in limbo, what were your thoughts at this time?

Helena: Well, to be signed by a label is good of course, but the music industry of today is not like it was, let’s say twenty years ago. There are so many ways of getting your music “out there” and I wasn’t too sad by the loss of our contract to be honest. And not long after we managed to be signed again, this time by Subculture records.

Jonas: I wasn’t that sad, because we had a solid proof that our music belongs out there. And I knew that we sooner or later would be signed to another label.

It gave you an opportunity to rework some of the songs, particularly ‘Passion’?

Helena: Yes that’s right. ‘Passion’ was one of the first songs we wrote, so we thought it could do with facelift.

Jonas: All the songs were in a kind of demo mode. The plan from the beginning was to go back to the studio and record the vocals again.

‘Passion’ is possibly your most immediate song, why did you not go for it as the first single to launch the album?

Helena: ‘Passion’ is a good song, but so are many of our other songs on the album. When we asked people around to get any idea of which song we could chose to be the first single, we got so many different answers that we decided to pick the first song that was recorded, and that was ‘Keep On Running’. It’s a song that means a lot to me.

Jonas: Like Helena said, there were many songs to choose from and at that moment ‘Keep On Running’ was all done.

What did you think of MACHINISTA’s Club Mix of ‘Passion’?

Helena: It’s definitely a good dance remix. It got power and that particular MACHINISTA sound to it.

Jonas: Since I’m a big MACHINISTA fan, I really liked it. It’s a good mix of Helena’s vocals with the sound of MACHINISTA, and it all comes from a song I made.

What influences do each of you bring to TRAIN TO SPAIN?

Helena: I get influenced by what is happening in my life and what is going on in my mind. That is the main reason why I write songs, I need to get the words out. The last couple of years I’ve listened a lot to LANA DEL REY and I like the sadness in her voice.

She is a great storyteller and she sings about her life and her experiences. I like to be true to myself and my lyrics come straight from my heart. When I’m in a flow, the words and the melodies come very easy.

Jonas: When I make the music, it just comes to me. It´s a kind of way to let things out, both happy and sad things.

‘Remind Myself’ is one of the best songs of the album, but which ones are your favourites on ‘What It’s All About’ and why?

Helena: My favourite song on the album is ‘Pressure’. It’s a song that I listen to when I feel lost and stressed, and not knowing where I’m going in life. It’s basically therapy for me.

Jonas: Actually ‘Pressure’ is my favourite song too. But I know that ‘Remind Myself’ is one of the songs from the album that people like the most. That I´ve heard from many different people.

Some of the TRAIN TO SPAIN songs had been around a while and self-production can have the disadvantage of being too inward looking; was it the reason why Lars was brought in to help with the mixing?

Helena: Both me and Jonas are very productive and creative. We are both good at writing new songs and moving forwards. Lars on the other hand has an eye and an ear for details and perfection which is a great addition to the band.

Jonas: Since Helena was not involved in the production of the tracks, only me, I felt I needed someone to open new doors for me. Lars helped with that.

How did his contribution differ compared what you would have done had you’d handled production solely on your own?

Jonas: I would not have been able to do this production solely on my own. The overall quality turned out better.

Lars has now actually joined TRAIN TO SPAIN, so how do you think the band will change?

New TRAIN TO SPAIN trioHelena: On ‘What It’s All About’ Lars was putting his effort into mixing. As a full member, he will be involved from the start with all tracks and most probably write new songs together with me and Jonas, he’s got some interesting pop-tricks up his sleeve.

Lars: Apart from many nerdy synthesizer talks with Jonas… we are in fact writing new tracks together, all three of us.

Jonas: There are only good things about having Lars as a full time member. We complete each other just great.

You have attended Gothenburg’s Electronic Summer 2015 festival recently. What state of health is the Swedish synthpop scene in at the moment? Are there any particular acts you like?

Lars: I love the Electronic Summer (and Winter) festival and we really needed a “bigger” synth event in Sweden after the Arvika festival went out of business a few years ago, so it’s very important for the scene. Apart from that, there are smaller concerts in Gothenburg, Stockholm and Malmö on a regular basis so the scene is alive and well. Personally I think HENRIC DE LA COUR always gives a good show.

Helena: I would say the synth scene is very much alive although the people are getting slightly older… at the moment I like to listen to KITE and HENRIC DE LA COUR. They both have a very unique sound to their music.

Jonas: I’ve never been to the Electronic Summer festival but I think the Swedish synthpop scene is just great, there’s a lot of good acts!! But like ourselves, it’s a subculture and if you’re not into it, you don’t know that it exists. My favourite bands are MACHINISTA, S.P.O.C.K, UNIVERSAL POPLAB and DISCO DIGITALE.

How do you think the Swedish electronic scene compares with the UK one?

Lars: Unfortunately I’m not updated on the UK synth scene at all. I might be wrong, but since the Vince Clarke-dominated scene in the 80s, for me, the UK has been more of a club music nation. Sweden has always had a strong electronic music community. Small but devoted to the 80s and 90s style of EBM and Synthpop. For those genres, Sweden has a great legacy of bands.

Jonas: To be honest before, I didn’t know too much about the UK scene. But since we went to London and played at 93 Feet East, and the fact that radio stations are playing us frequently, I’ve a lot of new Facebook friends who are in bands. And the scene is alive!! But I think they are struggling with the same problem as us, it´s a subculture. And since Sweden is one of the biggest music export countries, it’s hard to find a way out if you’re not signed to one of the major labels.

What next for TRAIN TO SPAIN? Perhaps some jazz influences? 😉

Helena: Jazz is in my blood, but synthpop is in my heart. I like to continue doing what we are doing, but I like to challenge my voice and what people expect from us. TRAIN TO SPAIN will definitely surprise you in a good way in the future. The plan is to release an EP in the first half of 2016, and we’re right in the middle of doing it. Next up is to record a video for our upcoming single.

Lars: Jazz huh? The first instrument I played was actually the saxophone and can really appreciate a good old JOHN COLTRANE track over a nice cocktail, but it’s doesn’t sound like a Roland TR-707 with gated reverb, does it? 😉


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to TRAIN TO SPAIN

‘What It’s All About’ is released by Subculture Records and available from
http://subculturerecords.bandcamp.com/album/what-its-all-about

TRAIN TO SPAIN’s ‘Blipblop’ is included on ‘Swedish Electro Vol 3’, a 63 track free download compilation available from https://swedishelectroscene.bandcamp.com/album/swedish-electro-vol-3

http://www.traintospain.se/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Train-To-Spain/252355014792419

https://twitter.com/TrainToSpain


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
7th January 2016

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