Tag: Man Without Country (Page 2 of 2)


MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY is the musical moniker of Welsh musician, vocalist and producer Ryan A James.

Initially a duo, MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY emerged in 2007 and produced two-acclaimed studio albums; ‘Foe’ and ‘Maximum Entropy’, which mixed wall of sound synths, live drum breakbeats and textural guitars.

MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY will release a new Pledge Music-funded album entitled ‘Infinity Mirror’ on 26th October following the release of earlier singles ‘Remember The Bad Things’, ‘Lafayette’ and current release ‘Achilles’ Heel’.

James describes the new work as “an anxiety-fuelled indulgence in retrospection” and kindly spoke about its gestation, collaborating with RÖYKSOPP and the importance of crowdfunding.

Your stage moniker was inspired by not fitting in anywhere musically. Do you still feel the same in 2018?

Not so much. In hindsight it seems a little arrogant to believe that your music is so unique that it doesn’t fit into any categories! Though, there was a prominent rock and metal scene happening in South Wales during the birth of MWC, which certainly played a part in choosing the name. I’ve always felt a distance between myself and where I’m from and I don’t think that’ll ever completely go away, but I now see it as more of a positive thing.

You are a multi-instrumentalist, adept at keyboards, synths, guitar and drums. So what do you regard as your first instrument?

Well that’s kind of you, but I don’t really see myself as a technically good musician, nor a multi-instrumentalist. One thing I will say is that I think I’m pretty good at figuring out how to get the most out of my limitations.

I have no idea why but I started playing the cornet when I was around eight years old, before switching to keyboards and piano soon after.

I was probably too young to have a genuine passion for either, and puberty would later derail my musical pursuits. It wasn’t until I reached my mid-to-late teens that I discovered guitars, but having music embedded in me from an early age definitely made it easier to pick up new instruments fairly quickly.

When MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY essentially became a solo project, did technology make it far easier to accept the situation, both for studio and live work?

Definitely, but I think MWC has always been heavily reliant on technology. I also experimented as a solo artist under the name SECULAR GHOST a couple of years ago, which gave me the vision and confidence to try something new with MWC.

Do you feel any kinship with other ‘solo’ acts like MAPS and EAST INDIA YOUTH?

I’m not as familiar with MAPS’ work, but I’m very much a fan of EAST INDIA YOUTH. We’ve shared a couple of festival stages, which is where I first discovered his music, and we’ve since chatted online a couple of times. I really love his first two albums.

You’re probably best known to the wider public for your RÖYKSOPP collaboration on ‘Sordid Affair’; how did this come about and how did the track develop as you were working on it?

They were looking for vocalists, and I guess I was in the right place at the right time! I honestly didn’t think it would happen at first, as they asked to hear my isolated and dry vocal before they’d confirm a recording session. Like myself, they are perfectionists, which basically just means that you struggle to settle on or even finish things. I’d be recording vocal takes with Tørbjorn in one room, whilst Svein was still working on lyrics in another. But having that last-minute pressure really helped us gel together.

‘Puppets’ from the ‘Foe’ album appears to be one of your tracks that has remained a favourite of both yourself and fans?

I would have to agree. It’s aged pretty well in my eyes, and is probably the one that still gets mentioned most often.

There was an amusing Tweet recently where someone expressed their love for your music but disliked your look. What are your thoughts about the pros and cons of social media with regards to the promotion of your music? Can image be separated from music?

To be fair he had a point. I was in the studio six to seven days a week and my physical appearance had begun to take its toll. Thankfully, the album is now finished and I have around eighty percent less facial hair. It’s a fairly new approach for me, having my face plastered over things. I suppose I’m just trying to be more authentic these days, rather than a silhouette.

You often get tagged within the ‘Shoegaze’ genre, how do you feel about that and are there any particular artists from that original scene who’ve inspired you?

It’s become somewhat redundant, I must admit.

I’m happy with the categorisation, though, and I’m still a big fan of artists such as SLOWDIVE, MY BLOODY VALENTINE, COCTEAU TWINS etc.

Do you have a “go to” synth or piece of equipment when you are producing your music?

It often begins with my Prophet ’08, or most recently the Juno 60 that I’ve had on long-term loan. I also picked up a DX7 right as I was finishing the album, and in general I’ve started using FM synths a lot more. I have a feeling that the DX7 may be the new “go to”, which could end up changing my sound quite drastically. But I think it’s time for a change.

How important has the PledgeMusic model been for the upcoming album?

Massively important. Given my situation I’m not sure how I could have done it otherwise. It gave me the push I needed to finish the album within a timeframe, though I did go over it ever so slightly, but I decided not to give myself too much of a hard time about that. It’s also taken away the strain of financing everything, such as manufacturing physical items, and it even managed to help pay for a music video. It’s also been a great way to connect with fans.

On your PledgeMusic page there were some pretty interesting options for new album ‘Infinity Mirror’; the most intriguing one being your offer of covering a song. You say that you’ll cover any song “within reason”, where you would draw the line with this offer!

I probably would have vetoed anything that’s popular at the minute, ie DRAKE, POST MALONE etc. It all just sounds like half-arsed, uninspired nonsense to me!

You appear to have really embraced the return of vinyl. As an artist, how do you feel about its return?

It’s not like I have a vast collection of my own or anything, nor do I really listen to vinyl personally other than for the purpose of sampling. I guess I have always found it important to have something physical to represent a body of work.

I have considered a vinyl mid-life crisis, when the time comes. As much as I think Spotify is great, I do also think it’s a shame that music is mostly consumed via smartphones.

You have referred to your MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY project as a “phantom limb”, what did you mean by that?

I meant that I’ve always felt its presence, even when I thought it was gone for good.

Please describe the genesis and realisation of your recent single ‘Lafayette’…

It’s really a song about the end of a relationship, disguised as a song about Scientology, and how defectors of Scientology are disowned by their loved ones. The name comes from the religion’s founder L Ron Hubbard, aka Lafayette Ron Hubbard.

Apart from the new album, what else is coming up for MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY?

I’ll be doing a handful of shows, including some dates with IONNALEE in Prague and Berlin in October, as well as a special album release show in London on November 26th. I hope to tour some more in 2019, but other than that it’s all about the new album! I have some ideas about what I want to do next, but right now I want to allow some time to take stock.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to Ryan A James

‘Infinity Mirror’ will be released by Killing Moon Records on 26th October 2018






Text by Paul Boddy
Interview by Paul Boddy and Chi Ming Lai
10th October 2018


IONNALEE made her London live debut appropriately at Heaven and like her recorded work, it was a full-on audio / visual experience.

The vehicle of the mysterious Swedish singer / songwriter / producer / filmmaker Jonna Lee, the memorable presentation comprised of a powerful electronic soundtrack, engaging performance art and striking but unimposing visuals.

IONNALEE is both a new start and the continuation of a story that began with IAMAMIWHOAMI, her previous project with producer Claes Björklund which produced three enticing bodies of work in ‘Bounty’, ‘Kin’ and ‘Blue’. And although Björklund has been involved behind the mixing desk under his BARBELLE moniker for the acclaimed ‘Everyone Afraid To Be Forgotten’, it is Lee’s debut long player as a solo artist.

But before the main act, the eager audience were treated to a fine half hour set from MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY, the stage name of Welshman Ryan James. Operating in not dissimilar sonic territory to MAPS, his last album ‘Maximum Entropy’ was in 2015.

However, the new single ‘Remember the Bad Things’ has acted as an enticing trailer for a new body of work ‘Infinity Mirror’ to be released in the Autumn.

Combining a mastery of synth, guitar and drums, James’ set also included the percussive cacophony of ‘Entropy’, the dreamy but urgent ‘Puppets’ from his 2012 album ‘Foe’ and an excellent rendition of ‘Sordid Affair’, his wonderful collaboration with RÖYKSOPP from their last opus ‘The Inevitable End’.

No stranger to collaborating with RÖYKSOPP herself, Lee began her show with the frantic oddball drama of ‘Work’ and ‘Not Human’, an electro-Eurovision tune that could be best described as ABBA’s ‘Summer Night City’ on acid!

Delightfully odd in her white catsuit with many kooky exaggerated mime movements supported by a similarly attired girl / boy dance duo, the show enjoyably came over rather like Kate Bush at a rave, meeting The Man Who Fell To Earth.

A section of the IAMAMIWHOAMI catalogue was delivered via the widescreen air of ‘Fountain’, the moody ‘Chasing Kites’ and the rigid arty synthpop of ‘T’, each making fine use of Lee’s characteristic Scandifolk vocal style.

Meanwhile ‘Play’ from ‘Kin’ offered some enigmatic downtempo weirdness as an interlude to the space age discothèque format of the evening.

With IONNALEE being more upfront and less abstract than IAMAMIWHOAMI, guest contributions have been a feature of ‘Everyone Afraid To Be Forgotten’ with TR/ST and Jamie McDermott of THE IRREPRESSIBLES both figuring.

Quietly charismatic, McDermott quietly took to the Heaven stage to add his dulcet tones for the glorious duet ‘Dunes of Sand’ and after Lee’s Nordic rap on ‘Samaritan’, returned to join her on the ‘Bounty’ track ‘Y’.

For the well-deserved encore, the CHVRCHES-like ‘Gone’ and the meditative wash of ‘Blue Blue’ marked the journey home before a brilliant funked up update of ‘Goods’, one of the highlights from ‘Kin’ with its classic swirling synth attack.

All-in-all, it was a terrific and unforgettable night of dynamic electronic pop presented as colourful and dramatic theatre.

And with change left over from twenty of your English pounds, IONNALEE is the perfect escapist tonic in these slightly more turbulent socio-economic times as the hottest value-for-money ticket of 2018.

‘Everyone Afraid To Be Forgotten’ is released by To Whom It May Concern via the usual digital platforms and direct from https://ionnalee.bandcamp.com

The physical formats of the IONNALLE and IAMAMIWHOAMI back catalogue are available from https://shop.towhomitmayconcern.cc

The ‘Everyone Afraid To Be Forgotten’ tour continues throughout 2018, dates include:

Copenhagen Lille Vega (18 May), Stockholm Slaktkyrkan (19 May), Moscow Red Club (9 June),
Saint Petersburg Stereoleto (10 June), Cardiff Festival of Voice (16 June), São Paulo Cine Joia (23 August), Rio de Janeiro Queremos! Festival (25 August), Göteborg Statement Festival (31 August), Kiev Bel Letage (12 October), Prague Meet Factory (13 October), Berlin Berghain Club (17 October)







Text and Photos by Chi Ming Lai
11th May 2018

RÖYKSOPP The Inevitable End

Royksopp-TheInevitable-artWith a typical gap of 4-5 years between most of their albums, RÖYKSOPP fans would certainly feel like its birthday and Christmas arriving all at once with the release of ‘The Inevitable End’.

The new collection comes hot on the heels of the ROBYN collaboration mini-album ‘Do It Again’.  In the accompanying press release, ‘The Inevitable End’ (the clue’s in the title) has been announced as the final RÖYKSOPP album, although one half of the duo Svein Berge explains that “We feel like this is a goodbye to the traditional album format… we’re not going to stop making music, but the album format as such, this is the last thing from us”.

So with that intriguing signing off statement, how does ‘The Inevitable End’ sound? The overture to the album ‘Skulls’ combines a swung rhythm pattern with spiky analogue synth percussion and unlike most of the other album tracks, relies exclusively on heavily vocodered vocals, almost an evil twin to those much loved by DAFT PUNK. ‘Monument’ first made its appearance on ‘Do It Again’ in an epic 10 minute incarnation featuring AIR-like textures and live sax, but the version here is more energized with an edgy octave-jumping bassline. The lyrics “this will be my monument, this will be a beacon when I’m gone” take on a deeper significance bearing in mind the intention of this being (potentially) RÖYKSOPP’s swansong…

The MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY collaboration ‘Sordid Affair’ recalls THE BELOVED with its restrained and lush synthetic textures, the bitter-sweet lyrics recalling a doomed love affair, heartbreakingly soundtracked with a beautiful descending sixteen note melody. Jamie McDermott from THE IRREPRESSIBLES takes vocal duties on a third of the album tracks, ‘You Know I Have to Go’ is the aural equivalent of taking the central section of 10CC’s ‘I’m Not in Love’ and stretching it over 7 and a half minutes, whilst the more uptempo ‘I Had This Thing’ introduces a 4/4 kick drum into the proceedings but again features another melancholic vocal motif over a chord progression recalling ‘Do It Again’.

Susanne Sundfør, who vocalled RÖYKSOPP’s superb cover of ‘Ice Machine’, guests on ‘Save Me’ which conjures up a blend of Giorgio Moroder’s ‘The Chase’ combined with one of Timbaland’s productions with his trademark gated “du-du-dah” synth chord present throughout.

‘Rong’, the other track to showcase ROBYN, is pretty bizarre, a short two minute track who’s main vocal hook is “What the f*** is wrong with you?”… and at this point in the album (if you hadn’t clocked it before) the realization kicks in that this really isn’t going to be an uplifting party album. The other Susanne Sundfør song ‘Running to the Sea’, which was a single last year, is a more piano-led track which builds to a snare driven climax, yet still retains the overall wistful and downbeat atmosphere of the tracks that preceded it.

The album ends with the instrumental ‘Coup de Grace’ and then ‘Thank You’, the latter’s vocoder eerily echoing ‘Europe Endless’ with the vocal hookline providing a fitting closing melody of gratitude to a person or person(s) unknown – it could be speculated this is parting gesture aimed at their fans, but the interpretation is left to the listener to make their minds up as to who the recipient is.

In summary, this is a VERY introspective album, if you are going through any sort of emotional turmoil, then ‘The Inevitable End’ is a pretty hard ride from start to finish. There are glimmers of light here, but the overriding ambience is that of despair, heartbreak and desolation, but wrapped up in some really beautiful downbeat electronic textures.

The ‘Marmite’ factor is also provided by Jamie McDermott’s vocals, listeners will either love the downbeat crooning or will quite possibly be reaching for some LEONARD COHEN for some light relief… it will certainly be interesting to see what RÖYKSOPP do next.

They have certainly left behind a superb body of work, from their early chilled out selections through to the more electronic pop direction of their ROBYN collaborations. Whatever pathway they choose to take next, they will surely be followed by those with an interest in quality electronic music, and despite the downbeat album title, this may be ‘The Inevitable End’ of one era and the start of a new one…

‘The Inevitable End’ is released by Dog Triumph through Wall Of Sound and Cooking Vinyl in CD, vinyl and download formats on 10th November 2014




Text by Paul Boddy
3rd November 2014

Newer posts »