Tag: LCD Soundsystem (Page 2 of 2)

2017 END OF YEAR REVIEW

Oscillate Mildly

The world found itself in a rather antagonistic and divisive state this year, as if none of the lessons from the 20th Century’s noted conflicts and stand-offs had been learnt.

Subtle political messages came with several releases; honorary Berliner Mark Reeder used the former divided city as symbolism to warn of the dangers of isolationism on his collaborative album ‘Mauerstadt’. Meanwhile noted Francophile Chris Payne issued the ELECTRONIC CIRCUS EP ‘Direct Lines’ with its poignant warning of nuclear apocalypse in its title song. The message was to unite and through music as one of the best platforms.

After a slow start to 2017, there was a bumper crop of new music from a number of established artists. NINE INCH NAILS and Gary Numan refound their mojo with their respective ‘Add Violence’ and ‘Savage (Songs From A Broken World)’ releases, with the latter recording his best body of work since his imperial heyday.

But the first quarter of the year was hamstrung by the anticipation for the 14th DEPECHE MODE long player ‘Spirit’, with other labels and artists aware that much of their potential audience’s hard earned disposable income was being directed towards the Basildon combo’s impending album and world tour.

Yet again, reaction levels seemed strangely muted as ‘Spirit’ was another creative disappointment, despite its angry politicised demeanour.

Rumours abounded that the band cut the album’s scheduled recording sessions by 4 weeks. This inherent “that’ll do” attitude continued on the ‘Global Spirit’ jaunt when the band insulted their loyal audience by doing nothing more than plonking an arena show into a stadium for the summer outdoor leg.

Despite protestations from some Devotees of their dissatisfaction with this open-air presentation, they were content to be short-changed again as they excitedly flocked to the second set of European arena dates with the generally expressed excuse that “it will be so much better indoors”.

By this Autumn sojourn, only three songs from ‘Spirit’ were left in the set, thus indicating that the dire record had no longevity and was something of a lemon.

Suspicions were finally confirmed at the ‘Mute: A Visual Document’ Q&A featuring Daniel Miller and Anton Corbijn, when the esteemed photographer and visual director confessed he did not like the album which he did the artwork for… see, it’s not just ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK 😉

Devotees are quick to say all criticism of DEPECHE MODE is unfair, but the band can’t help but make themselves easy targets time and time again. But why should the band care? The cash is coming, the cash is coming…

Luckily, veteran acts such as OMD and Alison Moyet saved the day.

The Wirral lads demonstrated what the word spirit actually meant on their opus ‘The Punishment Of Luxury’, while the former class mate of Messrs Gore and Fletcher demonstrated what a soulful, blues-influenced electronic record should sound like with ‘Other’.

As Tony Hadley departed SPANDAU BALLET and Midge Ure got all ‘Orchestrated’ in the wake of ULTRAVOX’s demise, the ‘Welcome To The Dancefloor’ album directed by Rusty Egan, to which they contributed, became a physical reality in 2017.

Now if DM plonked an arena show into the world’s stadiums, KRAFTWERK put a huge show into a theatre. The publicity stunt of 2012, when Tate Modern’s online ticket system broke down due to demand for their eight album live residency, did its job when the Kling Klang Quartett sold out an extensive UK tour for their 3D concert spectacular.

No less impressive, SOULWAX wowed audiences with their spectacular percussion heavy ‘From Deewee’ show and gave a big lesson to DEPECHE MODE as to how to actually use live drums correctly within an electronic context.

Mute Artists were busy with releases from ERASURE, LAIBACH and ADULT. but it was GOLDFRAPP’s ‘Silver Eye’ that stole the show from that stable. LCD SOUNDSYSTEM returned after seven years with their ‘American Dream’ and it was worth the wait, with the most consistent and electronic record that James Murphy’s ensemble has delivered in their career.

To say Neil Arthur was prolific in 2017 would be an understatement as he released albums with BLANCMANGE and FADER while Benge, a co-conspirator on both records, worked with I SPEAK MACHINE to produce ‘Zombies 1985’ which was one of the best electronic albums of the year; and that was without the JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS stage play soundtrack ‘The Machines’.

Despite JAPAN having disbanded in 1982, solo instrumental releases from Steve Jansen and Richard Barbieri were particularly well-received, while David Sylvian made a return of sorts, guesting on ‘Life Life’ for ‘async’, the first album from Ryuichi Sakamoto since recovering from his illness. On the more esoteric front, Brian Eno presented the thoughtful ambience of ‘Reflection’, while THE RADIOPHONIC WORKSHOP had ‘Burials In Several Earths’.

2017 was a year that saw acts who were part of the sine wave of Synth Britannia but unable to sustain or attain mainstream success like BLUE ZOO, B-MOVIE, FIAT LUX and WHITE DOOR welcomed back as heroes, with their talent belatedly recognised.

Germany had something of a renaissance as veterans Zeus B Held and ex-TANGERINE DREAM member Steve Schroyder came together in DREAM CONTROL as another TD offshoot QUAESCHNING & SCHNAUSS offered up some impressive ‘Synthwaves’, while there actually was a new TANGERINE DREAM album, their first without late founder member Edgar Froese.

Eberhard Kranemann and Harald Grosskopf offered up some KRAUTWERK as other veterans like RHEINGOLD, DER PLAN, BOYTRONIC and DJ HELL also returned. Comparatively younger, 2RAUMWOHNUNG and KATJA VON KASSEL both offered up enticing bilingual takes on classic electronic pop.

The Swedish synth community again delivered with DAILY PLANET, PAGE, REIN, VANBOT, ANNA ÖBERG, 047 and LIZETTE LIZETTE all delivering fine bodies of work, although KITE were missed, with their German tour cancelled and release of their ‘VII’ EP postponed due to vocalist Nicklas Stenemo’s illness; ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK wishes him all the best in his recovery.

Across the Baltic Sea, Finnish producer Jori Hulkkonen released his 20th album ‘Don’t Believe In Happiness’ while nearby in Russia, a duo named VEiiLA showcased an unusual hybrid of techno, opera and synthpop and ROSEMARY LOVES A BLACKBERRY offered a ‘❤’.

One of the year’s discussion points was whether Synthwave was just synthpop dressed with sunglasses and neon signs but whatever, Stateside based Scots but Michael Oakley and FM-84 made a good impression with their retro-flavoured electronic tunes.

It wasn’t all about the expats and in a territory as big as North America, there came a number of up-and-coming home grown electronic artists with LOST IN STARS, PARALLELS, PATTERN LANGUAGE, SPACEPRODIGI, COMPUTER MAGIC and BATTLE TAPES all gaining traction.

Canada’s PURITY RING infuriated some of their fanbase by working with KATY PERRY on three tracks for her album ‘Witness’. AESTHETIC PERFECTION’s new singles only policy was paying dividends and the Electro Mix of ‘Rhythm + Control’, which featured the promising newcomer NYXX, was one of the best tracks of 2017.

Female solo artists had strong presence in 2017 as FEVER RAY made an unexpected return, ZOLA JESUS produced her best work to date in ‘Okovi’ and Hannah Peel embarked on an ambitious synth / brass ‘Journey to Cassiopeia’. Meanwhile, SARAH P. asked ‘Who Am I’ and MARNIE found ‘Strange Words & Weird Wars’ as ANI GLASS and NINA both continued on their promising developmental path.

Other female fronted acts like KITE BASE, SPECTRA PARIS, BLACK NAIL CABARET, AVEC SANS, EMT and THE GOLDEN FILTER again reinforced that electronic music was not solely about boys with their toys.

Respectively, Ireland and Scotland did their bit, with TINY MAGNETIC PETS and their aural mix of SAINT ETIENNE and KRAFTWERK successfully touring with OMD in support of their excellent second album ‘Deluxe/Debris’, while formed out of the ashes of ANALOG ANGEL, RAINLAND wowed audiences opening for ASSEMBLAGE 23.

A bit of smooth among the rough, CULT WITH NO NAME released a new album while other new(ish) acts making a positive impression this year included KNIGHT$, MOLINA, ANNEKA, SOFTWAVE, THE FRIXION and KALEIDA.

Despite getting a positive response, both iEUROPEAN and SOL FLARE parted ways while on the opposite side of the coin, Belgian passengers METROLAND celebrated five years in the business with the lavish ‘12×12’ boxed set

Overall in 2017, it was artists of a more mature disposition who held their heads high and delivered, as some newer acts went out of their way to test the patience of audiences by drowning them in sleep while coming over like TRAVIS on VSTs.

With dominance of media by the three major labels, recognition was tricky with new quality traditional synthpop not generally be championed by the mainstream press. With Spotify now 20% owned by those three majors, casual listeners to the Swedish streaming platform were literally told what to like, as with commercial radio playlists.

It is without doubt that streaming and downloading has created a far less knowledgeable music audience than in previous eras, so Rusty Egan’s recent online petition to request platforms to display songwriting and production credits was timely; credit where credit is due as they say…

While ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK does not dismiss Spotify totally and sees it as another tool, it should not be considered the be all and end all, in the same way vinyl is not the saviour of the music industry and in physics terms, cannot handle the same dynamic range as CD.

Music is not as emotionally valued as it was before… that’s not being old and nostalgic, that is reality. It can still be enjoyed with or without a physical purchase, but for artists to be motivated to produce work that can connect and be treasured, that is another matter entirely.

However, many acts proved that with Bandcamp, the record company middle man can be eliminated. It is therefore up to the listener to be more astute, to make more effort and to make informed choices. And maybe that listener has to seek out reliable independent media for guidance.

However, as with the shake-up within the music industry over the last ten years, that can only be a good thing for the true synthpop enthusiast. And as it comes close to completing its 8th year on the web, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK maintains its position of not actually promoting new acts or supporting any scene, but merely to write about the music it likes and occasionally stuff it doesn’t… people can make their own mind up about whether to invest money or time in albums or gigs.

Yes, things ARE harder for the listener and the musician, but the effort is worthwhile 😉


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK Contributor Listings 2017

PAUL BODDY

Best Album: QUASCHENING & SCHNAUSS Synthwaves
Best Song: BATTLE TAPES No Good
Best Gig: SOULWAX at O2 Ritz Manchester
Best Video: SOULWAX Is it Always Binary?
Most Promising New Act: MARIE DAVIDSON


IAN FERGUSON

Best Album: OMD The Punishment of Luxury
Best Song: SPARKS Edith Piaf (Said it Better Than Me)
Best Gig: SPEAK & SPELL at Glastonbury
Best Video: ALISON MOYET Reassuring Pinches
Most Promising New Act: MICHAEL OAKLEY


SIMON HELM

Best Album: PAGE Det Är Ingen Vacker Värld Men Det Råkar Vara Så Det Ser Ut
Best Song: LAU NAU Poseidon
Best Gig: PAGE at Electronic Summer 2017
Best Video: PSYCHE Youth Of Tomorrow
Most Promising New Act: ANNA ÖBERG


CHI MING LAI

Best Album: I SPEAK MACHINE Zombies 1985
Best Song: AESTHETIC PERFECTION Rhythm + Control – Electro Version
Best Gig: OMD + TINY MAGNETIC PETS at Cambridge Corn Exchange
Best Video: I SPEAK MACHINE Shame
Most Promising New Act: MICHAEL OAKLEY


RCHARD PRICE

Best Album: FADER First Light
Best Song: OMD Isotype
Best Gig: MARC ALMOND at London Roundhouse
Best Video: GOLDFRAPP Anymore
Most Promising New Act: NINA


STEPHEN ROPER

Best Album:  OMD The Punishment of Luxury
Best Song: DUA LIPA Be The One
Best Gig: HANNAH PEEL at Norwich Arts Centre
Best Video: PIXX I Bow Down
Most Promising New Act: PIXX


MONIKA IZABELA TRIGWELL

Best Album: ZOLA JESUS Okovi
Best Song: GARY NUMAN My Name Is Ruin
Best Gig: ERASURE at London Roundhouse
Best Video: GARY NUMAN My Name Is Ruin
Most Promising New Act: ANNA ÖBERG


Text by Chi Ming Lai
14th December 2017

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 30 SONGS OF 2017

It was a year when the veterans re-established their standing within electronic pop.

That was not to that comparatively newer acts weren’t making a good impression, it was just that a fair number of established acts gave their all and were producing some of their best work since their imperial heyday. Great tracks by SPARKS, OUTERNATIONALE, SPACEPRODIGI, iEUROPEAN, PARALLELS, FEVER RAY, SOL FLARE, SOFTWAVE, KNIGHT$, 2RAUMWHONUNG, JORI HULKKONEN, FIFI RONG and KITE BASE made it onto the shortlist, but despite their quality, they did not make the final listing.

Also not included are songs from ‘Welcome To The Dancefloor’, the debut album from Rusty Egan; although gaining a physical release this year, it was reviewed by ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK in the Autumn of last year when download versions of the long player were distributed to those who had purchased it in advance via Pledge Music. Meanwhile, its closing track ‘Thank You’ was included in our 30 Songs Of 2016.

So restricted to purchasable releases only and one song per artist moniker, here are ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 30 Songs Of 2017 in alphabetical order…


AESTHETIC PERFECTION Rhythm + Control – Electro Mix

Additionally featuring NYXX and WILLIAM CONTROL on vocals, ‘Rhythm + Control’ saw Daniel Graves take AESTHETIC PERFECTION’s industrial pop to the next level via his new singles only policy. The magnificent Electro Mix successfully realised this oddball blend of Darren Hayes, Britney Spears and Marilyn Manson. With a mightily elastic bassline, when asked whether The Electricity Club had gone crazy coming up with the comparison, Daniel Graves replied “God no. Spot on, guys!”

Available on the single ‘Rhythm + Control’ via aestheticperfection.bandcamp.com/track/rhythm-control-electro-version-feat-william-control-nyxx

http://aesthetic-perfection.net/


RICHARD BARBIERI Solar Sea

From only the third solo album in the long career of Richard Barbieri, ‘Solar Sea’ was a sleazy rhythmic excursion into another world. With the one-time JAPAN sound designer using a Roland System 700 for its bassline, the track’s atonal jazz feel was augmented by the haunting voice manipulations of Lisen Rylander Löve through a vintage Soviet submarine microphone and warping noises offset by soothing brass inflections and live drums.

Available on the album ‘Planets + Persona’ via by Kscope

https://www.facebook.com/RichardBarbieriOfficial/


BATTLE TAPES Control

The American electronic rock quartet BATTLE TAPES continued to develop from their 2015 debut album ‘Polygon’ via their ‘Form’ EP. The best track ‘Control’ hinged around a syncopated filtered synth bass and a brilliantly catchy chorus sung by Josh Boardman, with enough guitars for power and texture without distracting from the overall electronic aesthetic, and even coming over like a heavier Stateside version of SIN COS TAN.

Available on the EP ‘Form’ via battletapes.bigcartel.com

http://battletapesband.com/


CLIENT LIAISON Feat TINA ARENA A Foreign Affair

“International in flavour, cosmopolitan in style” and sounding like a long lunch followed by a round of cocktails, Australian duo CLIENT LIAISON roped in one-time TV talent show star Tina Arena to duet on a lush slice of romantic pop that also rode on the current fashion for Synthwave. ‘A Foreign Affair’ could have easily been a Rat Pack movie song.

Available on the album ‘Diplomatic Immunity’ via Remote Control Records

http://www.clientliaison.com


DAILY PLANET featuring MAC AUSTIN Heaven Opened

Johan Baeckström made positive waves with his debut solo album ‘Like Before’ in 2015 but reunited with his musical partner Jarmo Ollila, producing an excellent third album with more tempo variation than their 2014 offering ‘Two’. Featuring the guest vocals of Mac Austin from cult synth trio WHITE DOOR who were one of the inspirations for DAILY PLANET, ‘Heaven Opened’ was an uncomplicated but wonderfully poignant slice of classic synthpop.

Available on the album ‘Play Rewind Repeat’ via Progress Productions

https://www.facebook.com/dailyplanetband/


ELECTRONIC CIRCUS The Trapeze

ELECTRONIC CIRCUS is the musical vehicle of Chris Payne, the one-time Numan band member who also co-wrote ‘Fade To Grey’. With a symphonic theme bursting with melody and musicality like ULTRAVOX galloping across the plains of Normandy, the brilliant neo-instrumental ’The Trapeze’ was given a wondrous tone of humanistic unity when Payne’s wife and daughter joined in on the final straight in Latin.

Available on the EP ‘Direct Lines 2017’ via https://www.electroniccircus.co.uk/store/

http://www.electroniccircus.co.uk/


FADER 3D Carpets

FADER are the synth superduo featuring BLANCMANGE’s Neil Arthur and Benge; ‘3D Carpets’ captured an independent post-punk intensity, like JOY DIVISION or THE CURE but realised with analogue electronics rather than guitars. While the pair worked on their parts separately, their creative dynamic produced a great debut album in ‘First Light’.

Available on the ‘First Light’ via Blanc Check Records

https://www.facebook.com/WeAreFader


ANI GLASS Geiriau

From the Welsh synth songstress’ first EP, the fabulous ‘Geiriau’ was a driving sequential drama that had more than a passing resemblance to the first part of SPARKS’ ‘No1 Song In Heaven’. Revolving around ANI GLASS’ experience of flying the nest and returning years later to reconnect with her Welsh and Cornish heritage, it was a spacey and futuristic soundtrack for a wonderfully uplifting homecoming.

Available on the EP ‘Ffrwydrad Tawel’ via aniglass.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/aniglasscymru/


THE GOLDEN FILTER Rivers

‘Volupsa’, the promising Nordic flavoured debut album from THE GOLDEN FILTER came out in 2010, but the Aussie American duo of vocalist Penelope Trappes and synth programmer Stephen Hindman took their time with the follow-up ‘Still//Alone’, having relocated to London after spending several years based in New York. The hypnotic pulse of ‘Rivers’ with its precise drum machine pointed to a female fronted OMD, complete with a catchy riff and synthy jabbing bassline.

Available on the album ‘Still // Alone’ via Optimo

http://www.thegoldenfilter.com/


GOLDFRAPP Systemagic

The immensely catchy ‘Systemagic’ was a prize electronic gem from the seventh GOLDFRAPP album ‘Silver Eye’, reminiscent of the lusty and beat laden electronic material from ‘Black Cherry’. But its riff asked the question as to whether you will always find Alison Goldfrapp in the kitchen at parties? In the event of Jona Lewie filing a lawsuit, the lucrative income from the song’s use in a BMW advert may ease any potential net payout.

Available on the album ‘Silver Eye’ via Mute Artists

http://goldfrapp.com/


IONNALEE Not Human

After three acclaimed albums as IAMAMIWHOAMI with producer Claes Björklund, Jonna Lee went solo in 2017 although it was actually difficult to hear the join on the glorious ‘Not Human’, so seamless was the transition; there were still the icy electronic soundscapes, spacey dance beats and uplifting Scandipop vocals while the delightfully odd visuals were all present and correct.

Available on the download single ‘Not Human’ via To Whom It May Concern

http://www.ionnalee.com


I SPEAK MACHINE Shame

I SPEAK MACHINE is the audio / visual collaboration between musician Tara Busch and filmmaker Maf Lewis. Soundtracking their film ‘Zombies 1985’, the story was one of greed and self-obsession in Thatcher’s Britain as a businessman drives home, oblivious to the zombie apocalypse going on around him. Co-written and co-produced with Benge, the brilliant ‘Shame’ with its cascading synths and noise percussion was a wonderful hybrid of THROBBING GRISTLE, THE HUMAN LEAGUE and GOLDFRAPP.

Available on the album ‘Zombies 1985’ via Lex Records

http://www.ispeakmachine.com/


KATJA VON KASSEL In Little Rooms (Show Me Love)

After a number of years gigging around London, Katja von Kassel finally unleashed released her electro Weimer Cabaret to the world. The pulsating ‘In Little Rooms (Show Me Love)’ captured an aesthetic which closely resembled that of Ronny, a former protégé of Rusty Egan. Attached to Alex Gray’s intricate filmic electronics, Fraulein von Kassel’s deep vocal detachment was art cool sexy.

Available on the EP ‘Katja von Kassel’ via katjavonkassel.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/katja.vonkassel


KITE Demons & Shame

Swedish duo KITE unleashed their darkest offering yet in ‘Demons & Shame’. Shaped by a ritualistic drum mantra and brooding bass drones, as the title suggested, the song confronted the despair that life occasionally throws up while pursuing visions and dreams. If Ennio Morricone composed music for Nordic Noir dramas, it would sound a bit like this. Vocalist Nicklas Stenemo literally screamed his frustration over an epic synthetic soundscape from Christian Berg, laced with nocturnal Arctic overtones and the spectre of THE KNIFE.

Available on the single ‘Demons & Shame’ is released by Progress Productions

https://www.facebook.com/KiteHQ


LCD SOUNDSYSTEM American Dream

James Murphy returned as LCD SOUNDSYSTEM after seven years with this widescreen musical statement reflecting on the political situation in the US. Glancing across the Atlantic and back to the Winter Of Discontent, this 3/4 synth laden tune that had more than a passing resemblance to THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s ‘Circus Of Death’. So did “The Clown” referred to in that song remind Murphy of someone in particular?

Available on the album ‘American Dream’ via DFA Records

https://lcdsoundsystem.com/


LIZETTE LIZETTE Rest

Having started out in a more rave inclined environment, Lizette Nordahl ventured into more synthy climes and her debut mini-album had the air of KITE is all over it, which was not entirely surprising as its co-producers were Nicklas Stenemo and Christian Berg from the acclaimed duo. ‘Rest’ with its swirling synth sounds and widescreen Nordic atmosphere had an optimistic air of acceptance despite the melancholic tone and majestic growls.

Available on the EP ‘Queerbody’ via lizettelizette.bandcamp.com/releases

http://lizettelizette.com/


LOST IN STARS Sky

Led by British born musician Dylan Willoughby, LOST IN STARS is a floating ensemble which also includes Elena Charbila aka KID MOXIE and producer/songwriter Darren Burgos. The latter takes the lead vocal on the spirited electronic pop of ‘Sky’; now if NEW ORDER were from Los Angeles instead of Manchester, they would have sounded like this.

Available on the album ‘Lost In Stars’ via lostinstars.bandcamp.com/

https://www.lostinstars.space/


MARNIE Bloom

After releasing her first solo album ‘Crystal World’ in 2013, Helen Marnie added more prominent choruses and guitar onto her second, resulting in a catchy Scandipop style. ‘Bloom’ was an optimistic burst of synth laden pleasure and while not totally dissimilar to LADYTRON, it was without their usual hardness or gothic gloom.

Available on the album ‘Strange Words & Weird Wars’ via Disco Piñata

http://www.helenmarnie.com/


ALISON MOYET Alive

Having worked successfully in 2013 with Guy Sigsworth on ‘the minutes’, an acclaimed album which saw Alison Moyet return to the synthesized music forms to compliment her powerful and self-assured voice, the follow-up ‘Other’ was a natural progression. The startling orchestrated electro-dub drama of ‘Alive’ gave Moyet’s two former classmates in DEPECHE MODE a stark lesson in how to actually fully realise electronic blues. Indeed, it was ‘In Chains’, the lame opener from ‘Sounds Of The Universe’ gone right…

Available on the album ‘Other’ via Cooking Vinyl

http://alisonmoyet.com/


GARY NUMAN When The World Comes Apart

With the narrative of ‘Savage’ provoked by Donald Trump’s withdrawal of the United States of America from the Paris Climate Accord, the mighty apocalyptic rock of ‘When The World Comes Apart’ was something of a revelation for Gary Numan. Using synths as the dominant instrument and having guitars less obviously prominent in the mix, with its richly anthemic chorus, this was the magnificent crossover song that both old and new Numanoids had been waiting for.

Available on the album ‘Savage (Songs From A Broken World)’ via BMG

https://garynuman.com/


MICHAEL OAKLEY Rabbit In The Headlights

Michael Oakley is a talented Glaswegian who describes his music as “Melancholic postcards from my heart wrapped up in synthesisers and drum machines”. The melodic ‘Rabbit In The Headlights’ came complete with Italo “woah-oh” chants and whether it was Synthwave, synthpop, electropop, Italo or whatever, it showcased Oakley’s fine songwriting abilities, regardless of genre.

Available on the EP ‘California’ via michaeloakleysynthwave.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/MichaelOakleySynthwave/


OMD One More Time

The excellent ‘One More Time’ was a classic bittersweet OMD stomper, where “everything you gave me didn’t last”. Using electronic percussion as opposed to drum machines, the enticing verse and uplifting bridge were set to a plethora of gorgeous textures and distorted synth to add a touch of enigmatic weirdness. While Andy McCluskey cried “you can break my heart just one more time”, the track’s star was Paul Humphreys with his crystalline synth sounds laced with some portamento bounce.

Available on the album ‘The Punishment Of Luxury’ via 100% Records

http://www.omd.uk.com/


HANNAH PEEL Goodbye Earth

As well as keyboards and violin, Hannah Peel can also play the trombone. Featuring an array of analogue synthesizers and a 29-piece colliery brass band, ‘Mary Casio: Journey to Cassiopeia’ was her instrumental story about a fictional elderly musical stargazer. Beginning with the lift-off of ‘Goodbye Earth’, Miss Peel’s electronic arpeggios and synthetic noise built up to a crescendo of brass and timpani for a quite unusual combination of two very different musical worlds.

Available on the album ‘Mary Casio: Journey to Cassiopeia’ via My Own Pleasure

http://www.hannahpeel.com


RAINLAND Rainland

From the ashes of ANALOG ANGEL came forth RAINLAND. Their self-titled calling card was a vibrant synthpop statement, embroiled in a musicality that provided a journey through the Grampian Mountains. Ian Ferguson had already proved himself a worthy vocalist in his previous combo with dulcet tones not dissimilar to a certain Midge Ure and this was allowed to reign free on ‘Rainland’. Meanwhile, the ivories of Derek MacDonald stylistically aped the symphonic overtones of ULTRAVOX’s Billy Currie.

Available on the EP ‘Touch’ via rainland.bandcamp.com/

https://www.rainland.co.uk/


RHEINGOLD Paradieshafen

Between 1980 to 1984, RHEINGOLD were at the forefront of Die Neue Deutsche Welle, releasing three albums and achieving their first domestic hit ‘3klangsdimensionen’ in 1981. Led by Bodo Staiger, ‘Im Lauf Der Zeit’ was their first album of new material for many years. The melodic synth of ‘Paradieshafen’ drove along a beautiful instrumental that came over like a dream collaboration between OMD and Michael Rother.

Available on the album ‘Im Lauf Der Zeit’ via Lucky Bob Records / Soulfood

https://www.facebook.com/Rheingold-156171354461006/


SARAH P. Who Am I

With hypnotising hints of Kate Bush and percolating Ryuichi Sakamoto style textures, ‘Who Am I’ by electropop goddess Sarah P. was an ode to “humanity, the world we live in and our importance (or unimportance) as individuals and/or as a whole”. And as the Greek-born songstress announced that “I don’t know where I come from… do you know my name?”, a metronomic beat kicked in to lead a dramatic house-laden climax.

Available on the album ‘Who Am I’ via EraseRestart Records

http://sarahpofficial.com/


SHELTER Karma

The normally flamboyant Welsh duo SHELTER surprised all with their darkest and most accomplished song yet in ‘Karma’. “What you want is what you’ll get…” sang Mark Bebb, “…you will get a lot more that you planned”. A vibrant but edgy production from Rob Bradley complimented the sentiment as the message was relayed loud and clear…

Available on the single ‘Karma’ via Ministry Of Pop

http://www.shelterofficial.com/


SOULWAX Conditions Of Shared Belief

From ‘From Deewee’, the first new SOULWAX album since 2004’s ‘Any Minute Now’, ‘Conditions Of A Shared Belief’ was a modular synth lover’s wet dream from the Dewaele brothers. With a retro-futuristic collage of detuned blippy sounds and a backbone of smashing white noise percussion recalling THE HUMAN LEAGUE in their Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh phase, it was complimented by some suitably abstractly pitched TALKING HEADS inspired vocals.

Available on the album ‘From Deewee’ via PIAS

http://www.soulwax.com


TINY MAGNETIC PETS Never Alone

TINY MAGNETIC PETS had their best year yet with a UK tour opening for OMD and to accompany it was their second album ‘Deluxe/Debris’. Featuring Wolfgang Flür, the album’s best song ‘Never Alone’ sounded appropriately like SAINT ETIENNE fronting KRAFTWERK. Paula Gilmer has one of the best voices in modern synthpop and her alluring tone no doubt added to the song’s breezy dreamlike state.

Available on the album ‘Deluxe/Debris’ via Happy Robots Records

https://www.facebook.com/Tiny-Magnetic-Pets-69597715797/


VANBOT Collide (Krasnoyarsk)

The adventurous third VANBOT album ‘Siberia’ was composed and recorded during a 17 day journey on the Trans-Siberian railway. The crystalline ‘Collide (Krasnoyarsk)’ though captured a more Nordic vibe with its gorgeous melodies, while the surrounding rhythmic pace of a train ride made its presence felt. An aural exploration of the relationship between time, location and emotion, ‘Siberia’ was a bold musical experiment.

Available on the single ‘Collide (Krasnoyarsk)’ via Lisch Recordings

http://www.vanbotmusic.com/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
11th December 2017

LCD SOUNDSYSTEM American Dream

James Murphy has never been afraid to wear his influences on his sleeve. In the past, TALKING HEADS, JOY DIVISION, KRAFTWERK and DAFT PUNK have been mined for LCD SOUNDSYSTEM.

Seven years after the acclaimed album ‘This Is Happening’ which featured the wonderful ERASURE meets ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN electronic pop of ‘I Can Change’, the Brooklyn new romantic with an industrial edge continues his magpie ways with a new long player ‘American Dream’.

The title song previewed earlier this year is possibly a musical statement reflecting on the political situation in the US. But Murphy also glances across the Atlantic and back to the Winter Of Discontent and this widescreen 3/4 synth laden tune that has more than a passing resemblance to THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s ‘Circus Of Death’.

So did ‘The Clown’ referred to in that song remind Murphy of someone in particular? Older viewers will be half expecting London Weekend Television’s Peter Lewis to quip in with his “In just a few moments, we’re off to Hawaii to join Steve McGarrett and the team for tonight’s adventure…” introduction.

After a long gestation period and questions as to whether LCD SOUNDSYSTEM were actually out of hiatus, the fourth studio album is finally out with Murphy’s desire for the it to be available on vinyl on the same day as the digital format being one of the reasons stated for this delay. He said: “I insist that there is vinyl on the day it’s released (because… well… because I’m an old person)”

It’s this aged anxiety and a fraught midlife headspace that colours this whole album; “I promise you this; you’re getting older” he exclaims on ‘Tonite’ over a squiggly bassline laden tune that mixes NEW ORDER with John Grant, before adding ”You’ve lost your internet and we’ve lost our memory”. But it all begins with ‘Oh Baby’, a dreamy blip and buzz fest to an obscure offbeat and pretty synth shades, with echoes of Ian McCulloch in Murphy’s vocal phrasing before the album’s first highlight.

 

‘Other Voices’ borrows heavily from TALKING HEADS ‘Remain In Light’ opus as Murphy acts like a preacher chanting “You’re still like a baby” over some hypnotic rhythmic backing modulating around a single chord. With some brilliant infinite guitar soloing along for the ride, Nancy Whang counterpoints with an assured rap to finish this superb slice of cerebral art funk. Meanwhile ‘Change Yr Mind’ has as much talk as it does head although at a much steadier pace, with some choppy guitar as well as the spectre of Eno’s ‘No-One Receiving’ looming.

Taking things in a more post-punk direction, ‘I Used To’ is in the vein of THE CURE with the scratchy minimal guitar and resonant bass cocoon penetrated by lashings of icy synth. This mood continues via the 9 minute Gothic gloom of ‘How Do You Sleep?’; shaped by a brooding percussive mantra and aggressive synth wobbles, it explodes with a live drum track as the claustrophobic grandeur of PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED makes its presence felt with Murphy shouting to a newly crowned foe: “I remember when we were friends, I remember calling you friend…”

‘Call The Police’ also looks towards post-punk and although more guitar oriented, comes over like the lost NEW ORDER single ‘Procession’ gone Motorik. The frantic ‘Emotional Haircut’ is the most live of the all tracks, with full band thrash out JOY DIVISION style, complimented by some impressive drumming by Pat Mahoney.

Concluding with the very long and grief ridden ‘Black Screen’, it is almost like OMD with its detuned abstract melodies and mournful harmonic air of Eno. Murphy’s musical farewell to Bowie, he turned down the production role for ‘Blackstar’ and his sadness is expressed with a forlorn declaration that “I had fear in the room, so I stopped turning up but I should have tried more” – it beautifully progresses into a treated piano section reminiscent of appropriately ‘Lebwohl’ by NEU! to end on a solemn note.

Like OMD’s ‘The Punishment Of Luxury’, ‘American Dream’ is LCD SOUNDSYSTEM’s most electronic album yet. It will surprise some and disappoint others, but after the mixed promises of ‘Sound Of Silver’ and ‘This Is Happening’, James Murphy and his ensemble have finally delivered on that ‘synth heavy’ album that many have been longing for.


‘American Dream’ is released by Columbia Records / Sony Music in vinyl, CD and digital formats

LCD SOUNDSYSTEM UK 2017 live dates include:

Manchester Warehouse Project (16th-17th September), Glasgow Barrowland Ballroom (19th-20th September), London Alexandra Palace (22nd-23rd September)

https://lcdsoundsystem.com/

https://www.facebook.com/lcdsoundsystem/

https://twitter.com/lcdsoundsystem


Text by Chi Ming Lai
2nd September 2017

A Beginner’s Guide To JORI HULKKONEN

Jori Hulkkonen is one of Europe’s most highly regarded electronic producers, yet remains something of a hidden secret.

While a fan of synthesized music such as PET SHOP BOYS, NEW ORDER and John Foxx, Hulkkonen’s love of Detroit techno and house music has brought a rhythmical edge to his many productions and remixes. Hulkkonen released his first album ‘Selkäsaari Tracks’ in 1996, but he first came to the world’s wider attention as ZYNTHERIUS with TIGA on their 2001 electro cover of ‘Sunglasses At Night’.

As well as solo long players such as 2010’s acclaimed ‘Man From Earth’ and collaborative projects like KEBACID, STOP MODERNISTS, PROCESSORY, SIN COS TAN and THE TANIA & JORI CONTINENTS, he has DJ-ed around the world, presented his own radio shows and remixed artists as diverse as Robyn, Kid Cudi and Joe Jackson.

Born in the small town of Kemi, he had The Cold War, the Inari missile-incident and the Tschernobyl disaster right next door, but Hulkkonen found his aesthetics for escapism from the ever-so-imminent nuclear war in electronic music.

Based in Turku on the southwest coast of Finland, Hulkkonen recently downsized the amount of hardware in his AlppIVhouz Studios, although he still retains a Korg PS3100, Emulator II, Roland Jupiter 4, Roland SH101, Roland TR808, Roland TB303, Siel Orchestra and the ubiquitous Eurorack Modular system.

Always up for the odd spot of artistic mischief, he assembled THE ACID SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, an experimental avant-garde techno ensemble of nine fellow conspirators each controlling a Roland TB-303, conducted and mixed by Hulkkonen; the collective famously supported KRAFTWERK on their Helsinki date in 2009.

More recently, Hulkkonen has teamed up with fellow Finn Jimi Tenor for a touring presentation of their silent art movie ‘Nuntius’. Starring Mr Normall as its central alien character, it features a live improvised soundtrack ranging from blippy ambient to frantic motorik; none of the music is to be released. So with each performance being unique, ‘Nuntius’ provides a cerebral audio / visual experience for who are able to witness it.

With such a varied catalogue of work and projects, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK looks back at the career of Jori Hulkkonen in the shape of this eighteen track Beginner’s Guide, arranged in chronological order and with a restriction of one track per album / project


TIGA & ZYNTHERIUS Sunglasses At Night (2001)

This Corey Hart cover was adopted by the Electroclash movement and came about when Hulkkonen was in Montreal promoting his ‘Helsinki Mix Sessions’ CD released on TIGA’s Turbo label. “The synthline just felt very cool to use with the 808 beat” he said, “I’m glad I used a pseudonym for that release as even though I loved a lot of the music that was around and connected with Electroclash, the whole scene felt a bit distant to me.”

Available on the TIGA & ZYNTHERIUS single ‘Sunglasses At Night’ via City Rockers / International Deejay Gigolo Records

http://tiga.ca/


JORI HULKKONEN featuring JOHN FOXX Dislocated (2005)

“’Metamatic’ is one of my all-time favourite albums” said Hulkkonen, “and for me it was a fantastic opportunity to get a chance to work with one of the people who had shaped my musical world. ‘Dislocated’ was written by me, with John and the sound of ‘Metamatic’ in mind”. It sounded like what the title suggested and the pair worked together again in more collaborative manner in 2008 on ‘Never Been Here Before’; it wouldn’t be for the final time either…

Available on the JORI HULKKONEN album ‘Dualizm’ via F Recordings

http://www.metamatic.com/


TIGA High School (2006)

Work had actually begun on a TIGA & ZYNTHERIUS album, but the pair both felt that keeping the project as a one hit wonder was a much cooler alternative. However, several songs from those recording sessions ended up on their various solo albums, with ‘Dying In Beauty’ appearing on Hulkkonen’s ‘Dualizm’, while ‘High School’ with its hypnotic synth sequence and latent machine groove found a home on Tiga’s debut long player ‘Sexor’.

Available on the TIGA album ‘Sexor’ via PIAS

https://twitter.com/tiga


JORI HULKKONEN featuring JUSTINE ELECTRA Errare Machinale Est (2008)

2008 could be considered Hulkkonen’s Down Under phase and for the title track of his sixth solo record, he recruited Electra, a Melbourne-based singer / songwriter / musician / DJ to add her wispy nonchalant voice to this expansive mood piece with an extended ambient intro.  The track utilised grainy Emulator II strings in an aesthetic that was to become one of his trademarks. The album also featured a tune fittingly titled ‘Forgive Me Father For I Have Synth’.

Available on the JORI HULKKONEN album ‘Errare Machinale Est’ via Solina Records

https://www.facebook.com/JustineElectraOfficial/


THE PRESETS This Boy’s In Love – Jori Hulkkonen Remix (2008)

Australian duo Julian Hamilton and Kim Moyes made their international breakthrough with ‘This Boy’s In Love’, an uptempo ASSOCIATES flavoured highlight from their second album ‘Apocalypso’. Hulkkonen stretched out the track out for almost ten minutes in a beat laden squelch fest and described it as: “a 10 out of 10 remix on my standards. It’s difficult to say why but somehow everything just clicked when I was making it and it still sounds fresh”.

Available on THE PRESETS single ‘This Boy’s In Love’ via Modular Recordings

https://www.facebook.com/thepresets/


CLIENT Can You Feel – Jori Hulkkonen Remix (2009)

Co-written with one-time KILLING JOKE bassist Martin Glover aka Youth, Hulkkonen’s remix adopted a deep framework and applied a pulsing club friendly vibe to the dark cool of Client A and Client B’s Cold War Chic, while “dancing on a ticking bomb”. Growing up in Finland during that era with The Bear next door looming would have had a profound effect on Hulkkonen in shaping his soundscapes.

Available on the CLIENT album ‘Command’ via Out Of Line

https://www.facebook.com/ClientMusic/


TIGA Sex O’Clock (2009)

Like its predecessor, TIGA’s ‘Ciao’ was mostly co-produced by Belgian brothers SOULWAX, although James Murphy of LCD SOUNDSYSTEM gave a helping hand on another track originally intended for TIGA & ZYNTHERIUS. Hedonistic and sweaty like a clubby Marc Almond, Tiga however could never quite escape the DJ tag to establish himself a fully-fledged artist in his own right. Indeed, he once congratulated LADYTRON “for escaping Electroclash”.

Available on the TIGA album ‘Ciao!’ via PIAS

https://www.facebook.com/officialtiga/


JOHN FOXX & LOUIS GORDON Neuro Video – Jori Hulkkonen Remix (2010)

‘Neuro Video’ came out of Foxx and Gordon’s ‘From Trash’ recording sessions and reflected Foxx’s known love of old science-fiction B-Movies which had influenced much of earlier solo work. For his remix, Hulkkonen stripped the track down and made it less percussively frantic, procuring a spacious groove for the bubbling electronics to work within. This remix and another of ‘Impossible’ were originally made available as a free download via Foxx’s Metamatic web platform.

Available on the JOHN FOXX & LOUIS GORDON album ‘Sideways’ via Metamatic Records

https://www.facebook.com/johnfoxxmetamatic/


VILLA NAH Ways To Be (2010)

Hailing from East Helsinki, Juho Paalosmaa and Tomi Hyyppä’s superb debut album ‘Origin’ was co-produced by Hulkkonen. He said at the time: “The guys had written a lot of songs in the previous couple of years, so someone outside their songwriting duo having a fresh pair of ears was crucial in picking a group of songs that would make a good album… They have a lot going on for them though; great songwriting, a very good debut album to build on and definitely not least, Juho’s magical voice”.

Available on the VILLA NAH album ‘Origin’ via Keys Of Life

https://www.facebook.com/villanah/


PROCESSORY Take Me To Your Leader (2011)

“We were both going through on a very deep phase with THE SMITHS” said Hulkkonen of ‘Lo-Fiction’, his first collaboration with reclusive vocalist Jerry Valuri in 2005. With their ambitious joint project PROCESSORY, the aim was “to create its own little universe” with various space travel themed concepts. With a lo-fi anguished gothique, ‘Take Me To Your Leader’ concocted some very introspective moods at The Finland Station… however, nothing has been proved.

Available on the PROCESSORY album ‘Change Is Gradual’ via Sugarcane Recordings

https://www.facebook.com/Processory/


STOP MODERNISTS feat CHRIS LOWE Subculture (2011)

A cover of the lost NEW ORDER single from 1985, Hulkkonen remembered: “The idea was to take what me and STOP MODERNISTS partner Alex Nieminen felt was an underrated song, make a late 80s deep house interpretation and bring some extra twist with having Chris on the vocals. It’s very hard – impossible, actually – to explain how important this record is to me. PET SHOP BOYS have been the most important musical influence for me”.

Available on the STOP MODERNISTS single ‘Subculture’ via Keys Of Life

https://www.facebook.com/stopmodernists


SIN COS TAN Trust (2012)

When VILLA NAH went on hiatus, Hulkkonen and Paalosmaa formed SIN COS TAN. Explaining the difference, Paalosmaa said: ”With VILLA NAH, I’ve been solely responsible for the songwriting, so I knew that would be different with SIN COS TAN. With Jori, we both bring our ideas to the table”. Very nocturnal in tone, ‘Trust’ was a superb 21st Century answer to ‘Enjoy The Silence’, described by Hulkkonen as “Disco You Can Cry To”. Indeed, like that iconic tune, ‘Trust’ had been written as a ballad.

Available on the SIN COS TAN album ‘Sin Cos Tan’ via Solina Records

http://solinarecords.com/sincostan/


BILLY MACKENZIE Boltimoore – Original JiiHoo Bootmix (2012)

The magnificent voice of Billy Mackenzie from his stark cover of Randy Newman’s ‘Baltimore’ was flown into a hypnotic tech house bootleg constructed by Hulkkonen. With deliberate incorrect spelling of our hero’s name to mask its illegal nature, it was a haunting ghostly return from the heavens to the dancefloor. Mackenzie would have loved it and had he been alive today, he would have almost certainly been working with Hulkkonen; what magic that would have been…

Available on the 12” vinyl release ‘Boltimoore’ via Kojak Giant Sounds

http://www.billymackenzie.com/


JOHN FOXX & JORI HULKKONEN Evangeline (2013)

Despite their collaborations, Foxx and Hulkkonen had never worked together on a body of work with a conceptual theme, but the opportunity came with the ‘European Splendour’ EP. Using the grainier downtempo template of PROCESSORY, ‘Evangeline’ was full of depth. Coupled with an anthemic chorus and vibrant exchange of character throughout, this rousing yet soothingly futuristic number was quite otherworldly.

Available on the JOHN FOXX & JORI HULKKONEN EP ‘European Splendour’ via Sugarcane Recordings

https://twitter.com/jorihulkkonen


SIN COS TAN featuring CASEY SPOONER Avant Garde (2013)

Hulkkonen first found fame during the Electroclash era and a noted personality from that scene made an appearance on the second SIN COS TAN album ‘Afterlife’. ‘Avant Garde’ featured Casey Spooner who provided a suitably cynical snarl to contrast Paalosmaa’s lost boy cry on a track that sounded like THE CURE being produced by PET SHOP BOYS. Paalosmaa was particularly thrilled, saying “I’ve been a big FISCHERSPOONER fan since their debut in 2001, so it was a very cool honour”.

Available on the SIN COS TAN album ‘Afterlife’ via Solina Records

https://www.facebook.com/homeofsincostan/


JORI HULKKONEN Italian Love Affair (2015)

A brilliant slice of uptempo electronic pop with more than just a hint of Giorgio Moroder and NEW ORDER, ‘Italian Love Affair’ was Italo Disco laced with a soaring vocal and a fabulous neon lit groove. Despite having shied away from singing throughout the majority of his career, Hulkkonen took on vocals himself on this highlight from his ninth solo album, with the end result sounding not unlike a cross between Jerry Valuri and Juho Paalosmaa.

Available on the JORI HULKKONEN album ‘Oh But I Am’ via My Favorite Robot Records

https://www.facebook.com/JoriHulkkonen/


FEELS If You’d Meet Me Tonight – Jori Hulkkonen Remix (2016)

FEELS are a Helsinki based indietronica band comprising of Sofi Meronen, Mikael Myrskog and Jooel Jons; when Hulkkonen saw them band play live in Turku, he became a fan and asked if he could work on their material. Speeded up considerably and pracatically changing the entire character of the song, his remix of ‘If You’d Meet Me Tonight’ was highly danceable, but still retained the trio’s glorious Nordic melancholy for some more of that “Disco You Can Cry To”.

Available as a free download via https://soundcloud.com/feelsfeels/if-youd-meet-me-tonight-jori-hulkkonen-remix

http://www.feelsfeels.com/


VILLA NAH Stranger (2016)

VILLA NAH unexpectedly returned after six years and Hulkkonen was there to assist again as co-producer. Of the magnificent track with which they returned, Paalosmaa said: “‘Stranger’ is a play on words; how somebody you’ve known can turn stranger over the span of time… and end up as a complete stranger in the process”. This was classic crystalline synthpop with a modern twist at its best, in a fine juxtaposition of swirling arpeggios and melodic tension.

Available on the VILLA NAH album ‘Ultima’ via Solina Records

https://twitter.com/villanah


JORI HULKKONEN Tintån Terdel (2017)

Hulkkonen has released several EPs and singles over the last couple of years in the build-up to a new long player, while a new single ‘Don’t Believe In Happiness’ is set to be unleashed. A cinematic synth wave instrumental with a dripping percussive template, ‘Tintån Terdel’ signals a possible future in film work. It’s an avenue already being explored by himself and Jimi Tenor in a live context via the unique presentations of their silent Sci-Fi movie ‘Nuntius’.

Available on the JORI HULKKONEN EP ‘I Am The Night’ / ‘Tintån Terdel’ via My Favorite Robot Records

https://soundcloud.com/theofficialjorihulkkonen/


Text by Chi Ming Lai with thanks to Tapio Normall
26th August 2017

BATTLE TAPES Polygon

Let’s set one thing straight first, any band that has a song in their catalogue called ‘Sweatshop Boys’ is bound to have some sort of potential and thankfully Los Angeles four piece BATTLE TAPES have come storming out of the blocks with a fine (and long overdue) debut album in ‘Polygon’.

Although the said Tennant / Lowe parodying song is not present here (it was the title track on an EP released in 2012), there are ten tracks which do an excellent job at filling an electronic musical void that’s existed for quite a while now.

SOULWAX, SPLEEN UNITED, INNERPARTYSYSTEM and LCD SOUNDSYSTEM have all successfully managed the often tricky task of mixing live instruments with synths and sequencers in a seamless fashion, but with the former two in hiatus and the latter artists no longer around, there is a genuine gap in the market for an electronic-based act that isn’t overly self-conscious and isn’t afraid to rock out with their synths…

‘Polygon’ starts with a statement of intent in ‘Belgrade’, a high-octane track with a Motown backbeat and distorted synths which ape the NEW ORDER sampling ‘Operation Blade’. With a blistering opening which deploys the track’s breakdown section before the vocals kick in, ‘Belgrade’ gives a pretty implicit idea of the musical content that awaits the listener inside…

Following closely on its heels is the single ‘Valkyrie’ which has one of those earworm chorus melodies which once embedded in your skull will quite possibly keep you awake at night. Bass sequencers are let loose in the second verse and the oblique nature of the lyrics with reference to “swinging of d***s” and “dancing with the devil sweating gasoline” mean that repeated listens don’t diminish the appeal of the song one iota. An uplifting and ascending instrumental EDM-style middle eight helps break away from the Wall of Sound before the chorus returns at the end.

The cowbell-tastic ‘Solid Gold’ features guest vocals from PARTY NAILS singer Elena Belle Carroll and has more combined swagger than DAVID BOWIE and LOU REED at a seedy 70s Berlin nightclub.

Built around a ‘Fame’-style guitar riff, the track grooves along seductively before hitting a wonderful middle eight / outro section giving the song a more contemporary edge and ending with a squealing synced oscillator synth solo.

‘Private Dancer’ takes some of its cues from French duo JUSTICE and also throws some vocoder into the mix. Once it fully reveals itself, the “You give me all your money, I’ll be your private dancer” vocal sounds like one of KRAFTWERK’s robots getting jacked up on cheap booze and moonlighting for extra Euros at a lap dance club.

The first of two instrumentals ‘Dreamboat’ is all rippling arpeggiators, whilst the other, the epic ‘Mulholland’ has the sort of Synthwave sound which wouldn’t have been out of the place on the ‘Drive’ soundtrack. Low slung Reese bass lines, handclaps and retro synth sounds put both of these tracks in the same sort of (electronic) club as CARPENTER BRUT and PERTURBATOR.

‘Graveyard Shift’ is probably the most conventionally rock track here, albeit with the sort of swampy guitar figure which Martin Gore would have been more than happy to have written – whilst the chorus and general vocal sound recall Josh Homme from QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE. Closing track ‘Again’ is a bit of a curveball, starting off low-key fashion and not unlike a long-lost ‘Golden Age of Wireless’-era THOMAS DOLBY track, building gradually with half-time drums before hitting the 4/4 button and climaxing with a formant vocal synth part.

BATTLE TAPES are SO needed right now, especially from a live perspective… too many synth-oriented acts have little or no idea how to translate their studio sound into a viable format that can be delivered to a live audience.

Unless you happen to be lucky enough to have the stage presence and songs of, say EAST INDIA YOUTH, a singer accompanied by a synth player looking apologetic whilst prodding buttons behind a laptop does not an entertaining live show make.

Although it’s taken a while to emerge (the band were formed in 2010), the wait has been worth it for ‘Polygon’ with what is one of the most consistently thrilling albums you’ll hear this year.

Let battle commence…


‘Polygon’ is released by Battle Arts

http://battletapesband.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Battletapes/


Text by Paul Boddy
3rd December 2015

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