Tag: Mesh (Page 1 of 6)

Vintage Synth Trumps with MESH

In 2017, Bristol’s MESH granted access to a film crew to document the second leg of their tour of Germany in support of their seventh album ‘Looking Skyward’.

Filmed in Hamburg, Cologne and Königsstein, as well as 23 live tracks presented in an engaging fast cut style capturing the energy of a MESH show, ‘Touring Skyward – A Tour Movie’ also includes honest interviews with founder members Mark Hockings and Richard Silverthorn.

There is additionally footage from backstage and during soundcheck, with each of the band including keyboard player Richard Broadhead and drummer Sean Suleman explaining their performance set-ups. Compiled like a musical road movie, there are other insights such as the band relaxing on the tour bus after another successful show and interviews with fans. As a live record and documentary, ‘Touring Skyward – A Tour Movie’ is everything that DEPECHE MODE’s tediously difficult to watch ‘Spirits In The Forest’ was not.

Richard Silverthorn joined ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK from his studio for a game of Vintage Synth Trumps and talked about the four and a half year journey to bring ‘Touring Skyward – A Tour Movie’ to their ‘Friends Like These’.

Your first card is a Korg Poly Six…

I never owned a Poly Six but I do remember when they were around. I just wasn’t really into Korg and I don’t know why! My first synth was a Pro-One and then I had some Roland stuff but I never had a Korg. I have a couple of Korgs now and I quite like them, I have an MS-2000 and a Trinity rack which I use a lot of pianos and things. Korg never felt “cool” to me, all the bands I was into, I never saw them play a Korg.

Who were you into?

For me, the first thing that got me into electronic music was the ‘Dr Who Theme’, as a kid it was like “woah”, I didn’t know what the hell it was, it was quite scary, unusual, bleak and amazing. Then there was the OMD stuff, Gary Numan blew me away… I was never really a big fan but the singles at the time like ‘Cars’ and ‘Are Friends Electric?’ were just leaps and bounds ahead of what anybody else was doing, it was such a big unusual sound.

Then, YAZOO and DEPECHE MODE were a big influence. I really loved up to and including ‘Songs Of Faith & Devotion’. ‘SOFAD’ has got a great grim atmosphere and you can really feel the angst. But after Alan Wilder left, I don’t think it’s been anywhere near as good. I have seen them a couple since, I find it all a bit lacking the atmosphere and energy it used to. I still find myself wanting to like it but I really don’t. I was also into the lesser known electronic pioneers like DAF, FAD GADGET and PORTION CONTROL.

So you have the ‘Touring Skyward – A Tour Movie’ film coming out. When you are performing, how conscious are you that the cameras are filming?

Yes, at the start…. we filmed three shows so you know which shows are going to be done and where the cameras are going to stand but by the time you’ve got on stage, you go into the routine of doing a show and kinda forget about them. To be honest, the six members of the film crew had SLR type cameras so it was very discrete.

So if you know you are going to be filmed for three shows, do you do things like co-ordinate stage clothes so that you are wearing the same thing on each night because in DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Spirits In The Forest’, Dave Gahan knew he was being filmed on two nights but wore two different coloured shirts so in the final cut, the colour of his shirt keeps changing!?

Haha… no, we wanted to feature performances from three shows, so it was in contrast to that, we were after a different look and feel for each.

Another card and it’s an EMS VCS3…

Really old, this is going back to the ‘Dr Who Theme’ in a way! This synth is way out of my league, I’ve never owned one and I’m not sure I’d want to… for me, it’s a noise generator, not so much a musical thing! I struggle with that like I struggle with that whole modular thing! I find it all fantastic but for me I find it distracting when I’m trying to write, I just don’t want to know it!

With the ‘Looking Skyward’ album, I did some modular stuff but everything was already written and the lines were there, but we started replacing those lines with modular sounds. On one track, I played a slide guitar-type effect and we decided to replace it with a modular sound… it took FOUR HOURS to replicate this sound, at the end of it, I just wanted to put the guitar back in!

In the end, we did use it and every time I hear it, I love it but only because I know how long it took. This is the thing with modular people, they know how clever it is and how long it took, but to the outside world, it could have been done on any cheap keyboard if you know what I mean. Don’t get me wrong, I do love the results but it’s so time consuming. If I had an EMS, it would sit here in the studio and do nothing apart from gather dust.

It’s been 4 years since the tour, how involved can you want to get in finishing the ‘Touring Skyward – A Tour Movie’ after so long, especially as the ‘Involved – Retrospective Tour’ has happened since?

The plan was for a film which after it was recorded was handed to the label for editing which obviously is a big job. Then things slowed down and it was beginning to frustrate me.

I had the original job of mixing the audio but after three tracks, I literally could not do anymore! I’d written the album with Mark and heard the songs a million times in the studio, then I reprogrammed all the songs for the tour, and then when I came back, I just physically could not listen to the songs anymore.

So I passed it over to our monitor guy on the tour Elliot Berlin and he had a few issues with some of the files so it was a bit of a disaster… then the Covid thing came along which slowed everything! It has taken forever and I had almost lost interest, but it’s now all come together and people seem to be quite excited about it so I’m glad to still be onboard.

What Dependent do with the boxed sets is second to none. Obviously it’s my boxed set but it looks fantastic, all the boxed sets they done have been amazing, they still think there’s a fanbase who are collectors who want vinyl, CD and something special they can hold. The last one was limited but they sold instantly.

Was there much post-production work needed on the recorded concert sound?

The final mix is from the tracks that were recorded… there is a massive temptation to pitch correct and autotune here there and everywhere, take off the bum notes and add new lines but because it went outside of the band to do, he just mixed what we had and it is just those 24 tracks of live audio. There are parts where I really wanted more ambient mics so that you could hear the audience, but they were missing… so it’s difficult to turn them up without bringing everything else up. It is an honest account of what a MESH show is like, it’s not polished up in any way.

The next card is a Multimoog, are you a Moog enthusiast?

My first synth was a Pro-One but I very nearly bought a Moog Prodigy. I then went almost through my whole career not owning a Moog but then 2-3 years ago, I bought the DFAM drum machine and a Mother32. Now I’ve got a Grandmother as well so I’m a latecomer to the party. I love the DFAM, it sounds sh*t but it sound so sh*t that it sounds really good, if that makes sense.

It gives you that weird horrible percussion thing, I love things that have got a character, that are a little bit out of tune and distorted. It’s very cool stuff. It’s semi-modular and very flexible.

Obviously this film is based around the ‘Looking Skyward’ album, did you feel the pressure of following-up ‘Automation Baby’? It was a tough act to follow…

I thought so as well, dead truthfully, even when I was writing for the album, I was quite anxious the whole time… thing is, you couldn’t play it to many people but I wanted to play it to somebody just to see if it was living up to expectations. Yeah, I had a hard time of it, it was a difficult album to make because I did really feel the pressure. I don’t know why ‘Automation Baby’ was such a success, obviously I liked it and thought we had put out a really good album, but it went bigger than we ever expected it to.

It was a difficult time and but ‘Looking Skyward’ did better in sales and chart position than ‘Automation Baby’ did… I’m feeling the pressure again now, with what can I do different or better with the next album. I liken it to LINKIN’ PARK, the first album ‘Hybrid Theory’, it was amazing, then the next one came out and people said “It’s sounds the same as the last album!” and everyone was disappointed. But then for the third album, they did something completely different and everyone then went “That doesn’t sound like LINKIN’ PARK!” You can’t win! *laughs*

You know what I mean, it’s that feeling and that’s where I am at the moment! I’m desperate to do something new, fresh and different but we need to keep the fans happy without disappointing them by doing the same thing. Sometimes it’s better just to shut off and try and do your own thing and not over think it.

Mark doesn’t do interviews very often but is quite happy to talk on camera, did that take much persuading?

Mark does do interviews but he is the “quiet” one, maybe haha… the film crew had full access all day and asked questions and he was quite happy to answer in a relaxed situation.

Richard and Sean each get a slot too, Richard’s bit explaining the keyboards was a bit like Alan Wilder in ‘101’?

Yeah, they do interview all four of us showing what we do on stage and going through all the technical bits…

Another card and it’s a Roland SH101!

OH! NOW YOU’RE TALKING! I’ve got one here in the studio. I have a story about my SH101.

When I bought my Pro-One back in the day, my best friend Gary decided he was going to buy a synth and the SH101 was a slightly cheaper synth at the time. He lost interest quite quickly after buying it so I acquired his synth at a good price and that’s the one I still have now.

Unfortunately he committed suicide when we were 21 and it made a massive hole in my life so my SH101 means a lot to me. I use it a lot, it’s a fantastic synth and I would never get rid of it. It has had a few repairs with the occasional switch dying but still fully functional. There are so many lines on all the albums that were made with this, great for just putting the sequencer into record, writing a sequence and transposing it around… the track ‘Confined’ from ‘In This Place Forever’ is pretty much all made with the SH101.

‘The Traps We Made’ features Raleigh Choppers, did you have one yourself when you were younger?

I DID! I had a blue one, a Mk2, that was my first bike! *laughs*

It’s a funny thing, Mark is about the same age as me so into the same kind of stuff and we often talked about Raleigh Choppers, it was a running joke. Then one afternoon ahead of the tour, he called me and said “I wanna do some filming, just come round”. When I got to his house, he pushed out these two Raleigh Choppers. It was the friend of a friend who collects them who let us play with them. So we spent about an hour riding down this street on these Raleigh Choppers and did a bit of filming.

Did you ever try and do Evel Knievel type stunts on your Chopper?

Yeah! Plenty of cuts and bruises, I still do now mate with my mountain biking and motocross! *laughs*

Evel Knievel was my childhood hero, I used to have a poster in the studio from the Evel Knievel UK tour and I had tickets to see him at Bristol City Football Club but he crashed at Wembley Stadium so the whole thing was cancelled! I was absolutely devastated as a young kid!

‘The Last One Standing’ has become something of a crowd favourite? Was that a surprise?

That one, yes! We always write to the best of our abilities, we’ve never put out anything where we’ve gone “Oh that’ll do”. But songs come alive when you play them live… you get different reactions but with that track, I don’t know why! It became one of the big things on that tour… I recently got our Spotify End Of Year things and that was the biggest streamed track of ours this year, 4 years on…, it’s still really popular! I don’t know why but you strike a chord with certain things, people warm to it.

It’s a bit like ‘Taken For Granted’, when we did it first time round, I really liked it and it was a great track. But then we played it at a show in Gothenburg and everybody started singing it at the end. It was like “Woah! This is a bit strange” but because of the internet, a video got posted up and at the next gig, everyone there starting doing it and it because this self-perpetuating thing and got bigger and bigger and bigger to becoming at standard thing to do at our shows now.

Photo by Bernd Schwinn

‘Taken For Granted’ has become your ‘Never Let Me Down Again’ type anthem…

You don’t know whether these tracks when you put them out, if they are going to be firm favourites or just another track… I still love playing it!

Are there ones where you’re enthused at the beginning of a tour but halfway through, you’re like “do we have to play this one, can’t we do something else?”?

There have been a couple… we reprogramme everything for the tour so it’s not just album backing track sh*t, when you see MESH, it will not be the CD versions. Sometimes, you programme something and you think it sounds great and it’s going to be good but then after two or three shows you realise “this isn’t quite working!”; you don’t know why and just drop it but we’ve always got a couple of spare tracks lying around for a tour and we try each night to chuck a different one in and try something. By the time you get to the end of the tour, you got this almost perfect set.

The final card is an Oberheim 8 Voice…

I haven’t got a great deal of Oberheim stuff, the only thing we had was Mark had a Matrix 1000, it was quite cool but kept on playing up, it would lose every 4th note because one of the voices was going. He had it repaired a few times but it took a bit of a back seat from then on because we were almost too scared to use it in case it broke down again.

In the film, there’s behind the scenes footage on the tour bus, the playlist was good fun and featured THE LIGHTNING SEEDS, RACEY and BONEY M… some fans have this impression of bands like MESH only listen to dark electronic music but that’s probably the last thing you want to hear when you are winding down?

That’s exactly it mate! Our German tour manager Jan Winterfeld really likes RACEY and other 70s and 80s nonsense… I find that so funny, RACEY are from Weston-Super-Mare which is just down the road from where I live! He plays BONEY M and SHAKIN’ STEVENS, it is that whole release thing all day there is that pressure, you are all doing your own thing, the stress of the day and the show then you get to the end, you have a few drinks and someone puts on that stuff and you’re like “Yeah! It’s relax time”… it’s all kinda funny when you’ve had a stressful day *laughs*

What’s your highlight from the film?

We did an outdoor show in Königsstein which is an old castle in Germany which came across really well and looked good.

But I loved all the clips on the tour bus… as a fan of other bands, I don’t really want to see the performance as I’ve probably seen that on the tour, I want to see all the nitty gritty stuff that goes on behind-the-scenes like the setting up and the talking to the band etc! This was one of the things we wanted to have on our film as it reminds me of a good time, that’s the thing that stands out for me.

Finally, is there a synth you covet, old or new?

It’s not a synth, it’s a sampler… I really want an Emulator II, just because every band I was into had one, it was a statement, like “Look at us, we’ve got some money, we’re cool!” – they were £8000 back in the day, which way over what I could afford. Then they came down to almost into the hundreds when they were superseded by something new and I wish I bought one then. I keep looking and now they’re back to £3000-4000 but I know if I had it, I would never use it. I’ve got an EMAX II which is far superior to the Emulator II but I just want it because it’s an iconic thing for me. I would hang it on the wall as a piece of art.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its sincerest thanks to Richard Silverthorn

Special thanks to Stefan Herwig at Dependent Records

‘Touring Skyward – A Tour Movie’ is released on 28th January 2022 by Dependent Records as a limited edition 60 page photo art book containing a 3 ½ hour Blu-ray and two audio CDs , pre-order available direct from https://en.dependent.de/en/Artists/Mesh/Mesh-Touring-Skyward-A-Tour-Movie-Artbook-BR-2CD-mind325.html





Vintage Synth Trumps is a card game by GForce that features 52 classic synthesizers available from

Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
12th January 2021

HELIX Bad Dream

Shakespeare posed the question “If music be the food of love…” and over the course of popular music numerous couples have released work. From Ike & Tina Turner to Chris & Cosey through EURYTHMICS and more recently our own VILE ELECTRODES and WITCH OF THE VALE, all have shown what can be achieved if partners do more than spend their evenings watching ‘Love Island’ (let’s not mention John and Yoko though…)

Another romantic pairing who have released music are Tom and Mari Shear under the name of HELIX. Their 2018 debut ‘Twin’ was one of the highlights of the year and they have now returned with a new EP, ‘Bad Dream’.

Tom of course is well known from his band ASSEMBLAGE 23 who have been leading lights on the EBM / Industrial scene for some 20 plus years and he brings the muscular instrumentation and production from that project to HELIX but with a number of twists that will raise a few eyebrows.

All of this underpins the new Mrs Shear’s frankly spectacular voice which has been heard across numerous collaborations from her new husband’s SURVEILLANCE release to guest vocals with, to name a few, COMADUSTER and IVARDENSPHERE. More on those vocal skills in a moment…

Opening with the energetic ‘Run’, which picks up from where the ‘Twin’ album left off, this acts as an excellent appetiser for what’s to come. A fine danceable pop infused number, this will no doubt go down a storm not only in a club setting but also in the set at the, currently, infrequent HELIX live outings. Mari easily harmonises with herself in the layered vocals on the chorus to wonderful effect.

One of the great things about any side project is it gives the opportunity to try new things musically and this is evidently the approach taken on the next few tracks by Tom himself. ‘Slip’ opens with a laid-back percussion track underpinning effected samples leading into verse which sensibly allows the vocal to carry the thrust of the track.

As previously stated, I think Mari has one of the best female voices on the scene and this is proven on this track which allows her to be heard without swamping with unnecessary processing.

‘Kill The Unknown’ further allows Mr Shear the scope to do new things musically. This moves into almost ‘indie’ territory with live drums and, gasp, guitars courtesy of multi-instrumentalist Elias Black. These add an expected texture and bite to the track and shifts HELIX in another direction entirely.

Closer ‘Bad Dream’ is a brooding slice of electronica with an almost metal chorus which drops in and out of the arrangement that hinges around a frantic drum track. The accompanying remix included on the EP by MESH frontman Mark Hockings is actually my preferred version, again the ‘dancier’ mix will go down a storm in a club and the mix further highlights Mari’s great vocal take.

Closing the tracklist out is a mix of ‘Run’ by ex-IRIS member Andrew Sega under his HALLOWED HEARTS moniker. This is an almost goth interpretation with chiming guitars and a straightforward 4/4 drum track. Again, this version underlines how well this song will go down in a club set.

In the second part of Shakespeare quote at the top of this article he asks that we “play on”. On the strength of both the earlier album and this all too short EP, we can but hope that Mr and Mrs Shear do just that, there is much here to feed even the hungriest of souls.

‘Bad Dream’ is available as a digital EP from https://helix.bandcamp.com/album/bad-dream



Text by Ian Ferguson
5th November 2021

FORM This World Is Ours

‘This World Is Ours’ is the sophomore album from FORM, following up 2018’s debut offering ‘Defiance + Entropy’.

The trio comprise singer Mark Bebb of SHELTER, Keith Trigwell of DEPECHE MODE tribute band THE DEVOUT and producer Rob Dust, whose studio prowess can be heard on works by dark European electronic acts such as DE/VISION, MESH and TORUL.

With songs written by Trigwell and Bebb, ‘This World Is Ours’ uses the one word song title aesthetic like Gary Numan’s The Pleasure Principle’, COCTEAU TWINS ‘Treasure’ and ULTRAVOX’s ‘Brilliant’ did.

Beginning with a short but epic untitled gothic instrumental swathed in the spirit of Gary Numan, the album starts proper with the type of industrial Schaffel anthem done many times by MESH; ‘You’ is accomplished although it is unfortunate that Bebb sings of being “predictable”. Whatever, this template continues to be favoured by acts aspiring to join the Amphi circuit and will remain popular with their crowds for years to come.

The opening salvo is followed by a pair of sombre complex ballads in ‘Here’ and ‘Succumb’ which will need an appropriate frame of mind to digest. Meanwhile the brooding ‘Extinction’ does build steadily but could have done with gathering more momentum in its progress. But the rhythmic ‘Glitter’ utilises cracking glam claps and grabs the bull by the horns with an electronic pop tune that THE HUMAN LEAGUE used to be so good at; a fabulous whirring synth solo from Trigwell in the style of Billy Currie is also a nice touch.

‘Glitter’ is followed by another instrumental interlude that takes its cue from DEPECHE MODE before they became a tedious blues influenced pseudo-rock combo… but FORM, please give these things titles in future because it is extremely annoying for reviewers that these worthy pieces have no identity or point of reference!

Battening down the hatches in the face of adversity, ‘Protector’ is another ballad but in waltz time, while ‘Hazed’ plays on the propulsive Schaffel thing again with Bebb hitting falsetto as it attempts to emulate ‘Strict Machine’ by GOLDFRAPP. The speedy thrust of ‘Viva’ is like a goth ERASURE doing ‘I Feel Love’ and the closest the album gets towards the more sparkly template of SHELTER, but ‘Athenian’ deals with toxic relationships with some suitably sharp backing.

A four-to-the-floor dance anthem in ‘World’ closes the album on an optimistic note after all the intensity and could be considered FORM’s own electro take on the ethos of ‘I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing’. But has the album ended? No… and a final untitled instrumental sourced from the DEPECHE MODE B-side ‘Christmas Island’ sneaks in to present a reality check.

FORM have produced a worthy second album and if you enjoyed ‘Defiance + Entropy’, then ‘This World Is Ours’ is a natural progression that will also be appreciated. Followers of DE/VISION, MESH, TORUL, MACHINISTA and BEBORN BETON might find this musical statement on the fragility of the world up their dark alley as well.

‘This World Is Ours’ is released on 9th April 2021 by Infacted Recordings as a CD, pre-order from http://www.poponaut.de/form-this-world-ours-p-20193.html

Download available from https://infactedrecordings.bandcamp.com/album/this-world-is-ours




Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photo by Andreas Lechleiter
2nd April 2021


There is nothing like the other side of life. As a companion to its favourite 25 Classic Synth B-sides, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK presents a listing looking at the 21st Century equivalent.

B-sides often take on a cult following, provoking discussions among fans about why they might have missed inclusion on the parent album.

On why artists occasionally overlook a track when it is clearly good enough, Richard Silverthorn of MESH said “Sometimes you can’t see the wood for the trees”.

Then there are the occasional abstract studio experiments which often fail but occasionally work and the occasional cover versions which don’t always find favour with some listeners but are infinitely more preferable over pointless remixes of the A-side!

But how is a modern B-side been defined? There is a wider definition now due to digital and streaming formats, so they can include flipsides of vinyl, bonus tracks on CD singles and non-album tracks released as part of a download single or EP bundle. Despite all this, the term “B-side”, like “album” and “video”, still remains.

So for the purposes of this listing as before with the 25 Classic Synth B-sides, B-sides featured on the original issue of a full length album, or subsequently included on a new one are NOT included. However, those added as bonus tracks on later reissues, deluxe editions or compilations are permitted. Rules are good, rules help control the fun! ?

So with a restriction of one track per artist moniker, presented in date and then alphabetical order within, these are ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 25 Synth B-Sides Of The 21st Century…

LADYTRON Oops Oh My (2003)

LADYTRON surprised their audiences during live shows in support of the ‘Light & Magic’ album by closing with a feisty synthpunk cover of TWEET’s ‘Oops Oh My’. Co-written by Missy Elliot, the Timbaland produced original with a DEVO sample had been a hip-hop favourite but the aggressive Riot Grrrl styled take on this risqué song about self-love with lyrics like “There goes my skirt, droppin at my feet” added a rockier edge to their sound.

Available on the LADYTRON single ‘Evil’ via Telstar Records


CLIENT Can’t See Me Now (2003)

“This was written in response to the Iraq War” said Sarah Blackwood aka Client B, “I remember endless discussions with Toast Hawaii boss Fletch about whether it was the right decision and with heavy hearts, watching endless shelling and firefighting, from the 24 hour news coverage on far flung European hotel TVs. It was the first time I had felt that disconnection and frustration with my home country, the ‘not in my name’ ringing loudly in my ears. Bit late to the party but that’s the story of my life.”

Available on the CLIENT single ‘Here & Now’ via Toast Hawaii / Mute Records


GOLDFRAPP Gone To Earth (2004)

The eloquence and surreal atmospheres of the first GOLDFRAPP album ‘Felt Mountain’ may have taken a back seat on its follow-up ‘Black Cherry’ but the experimentation continued on the B-sides of the album’s singles. ‘White Soft Rope’ combined the unsettling imagery of bondage with a chorus sung a school choir, but ‘Gone To Earth’ was even more otherworldly. The reverberating bassline combined with swirling synths and dreamy glides while Alison’s alternate cosmic language startled with a spacey hypnotism.

Available on the GOLDFRAPP single ‘Black Cherry’ via Mute Records


THE MODERN Model #426 (2005)

Nathan Cooper who was in THE MODERN said: “The inspiration came from ROXY MUSIC’s ‘In Every Dream Home A Heartache’ which was about a blow up doll, we took that a step further and Model# 426 is about some kind of sex droid!! ‘Model #426’ was always the song that would get the audience talking because singer Emma would open a trunk on stage and lead a gimp out on a collar into the bemused looking audience!! I think it was actually that stunt that got us signed to Universal!”.

Originally on THE MODERN EP ‘Eastern Bloc’, now available on the album ‘Life In A Modern World’ via Pie & Mash Recordings Ltd


PET SHOP BOYS Party Song (2006)

Interpolating KC & THE SUNSHINE BAND’s ‘That’s The Way (I Like It), the self-produced ‘Party Song’ was naturally a throbbing disco driven affair outshone the horrendous Diane Warren penned ballad ‘Numb’ which comprised the main act. Lyrically inspired by the classic Joan Collins and Leonard Rossiter fronted Campari adverts that, it began life as a dance cover of NIRVANA’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ suggested by Elton John and intended as a single for a new PET SHOP BOYS ‘Greatest Hits’!!

Originally the B-side of ‘Numb’, now available on the PET SHOP BOYS album ‘Format’ via EMI Music


ARTHUR & MARTHA Japanese Kiss (2008)

‘Japanese Kiss’ was from the debut release on Happy Robots from Alice Hubley and Adam Cresswell. “This was the first track I wrote for ARTHUR & MARTHA” he recalled, “mostly recorded in the bedsit I’d moved into after splitting up with my girlfriend. I was absorbed in self-pity, comforting myself with Japanese-horror movies and the company of my ARP Quartet, Moog Rogue and the DR-55. Living my best life!”; 11 years later as Rodney Cromwell, Cresswell did a NEW ORDER inspired ‘KW1’ remix.

Available on the ARTHUR & MARTHA single ‘Autovia’ via Happy Robots


MARSHEAUX Bizarre Love Duo (2008)

Basing its title on the well-known NEW ORDER tune, as with a number of the B-sides listed here, ‘Bizarre Love Duo’ outshone the main act ‘Ghost’. It all began with a pitch shifted groan sample repeated with hypnotic effect over some squelchy backing. But during the second half, the track built itself to a fabulous but abstract electrodisco number with a marvellously catchy refrain. While not quite a song and not quite an experiment, ‘Bizarre Love Duo’ was enjoyable tune in the MARSHEAUX canon.

Originally the B-side of ‘Ghost’, now available on the MARSHEAUX album ‘E-Bay Queen Is Dead’ via Undo Records


ANTHONIO Angel Face (2009)

A cover of a cover, namely SHOCK’s take on THE GLITTER BAND’s 1974 Top5 hit; playing the role of the Latin lothario in response to the Annie song ‘Anthonio’, Sebastian Muravchik of HEARTBREAK and now SNS SENSATION remembered:Richard X produced this version of ‘Angel Face’ as a side B in his single ‘Annie’. I sang both sides, which kind of shows two sides of Anthonio’s personality in a way. It was a fantastic experience – Richard is a great guy and über pro, so really a win-win.”

Available on the ANTHONIO single ‘Annie’ via Pleasure Masters ‎


LITTLE BOOTS Catch 22 (2009)

“Positive and negative can only attract” sang Victoria Hesketh on the bouncy ‘Catch 22’, a lesser known LITTLE BOOTS track which initially only appeared on the 7 inch single of ‘Earthquake’ in the UK. Gloriously synthpoppy, in hindsight along with other songs that did not make it onto the final tracklisting of her debut album ‘Hands’, it highlighted a possible direction that could have been taken, but which was ultimately watered down for wider acceptance after she was named BBC Sound Of 2009.

Originally the B-side of the single ‘Earthquake’, now available on the LITTLE BOOTS deluxe album ‘Hands’ via On Repeat Records


VILLA NAH Benny’s Burning (2010)

Continuing a great tradition among the synthpop acts of the past, VILLA NAH had ‘Benny’s Burning’ and ‘Daylight’ as part of their B-side armoury as well as the brilliant debut album ‘Origin’. Highlighting the inherent talent of Juho Paolosmaa and Tomi Hyyppä, ‘Benny’s Burning’ was a smoother and more atmospheric side of VILLA NAH compared with the uptempo technopop impressions of its A-side ‘Rainmaker’. The Helsinki duo later opened for OMD during the UK leg of 2010’s ‘History Of Modern’ tour.

Available on the VILLA NAH single ‘Rainmaker’ via Keys Of Life


ERASURE Never Let You Down (2011)

Produced by Vince Clarke, ‘Never Let You Down’ was free of the many autotune treatments that Frankmusik had applied when helming the disappointing ‘Tomorrow’s World’ album in his attempts to make ERASURE sound more modern and contemporary. As a result, that heartfelt soul often associated with Andy Bell made its presence felt over a glorious galloping synthpop tune in the classic ERASURE vein, especially during the middle eight section in Spanish.

Available on the ERASURE single ‘Be With You’ via Mute Artists


MIRRORS Falls By Another Name (2011)

In their short career, MIRRORS left not only a great album in ‘Lights & Offerings’ but a body of wonderful B-sides too. Any number of them are worthy of mention but the nod goes to ‘Fall By Another Name’ as it was accessible enough to have been an A-side. Not as dense as MIRRORS’ usual pop noir hence its likely relegation to flipside, the bright pulsing melodies and James New’s Dave Gahan impression made this sound rather like a quality outtake from DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Speak & Spell’.

Available on the MIRRORS single ‘Into the Heart’ via Skint Records


APOPTYGMA BERZERK Dead Air Einz (2013)

While the A-side was a faithful cover version of Peter Schilling’s anthemic ‘Major Tom’, ‘Dead Air Einz’ was a self-composed song by APOPTYGMA BERZERK mainman Stephan Groth that was eagerly welcomed at the time, thanks to it being his first original new track for four years. Utilising distorted radio broadcasts in its backdrop, it also featured some Korg MS20 from Jon Erik Martinsen and was something of a grower with its steadfast drum machine shuffle.

Available on the APOPTYGMA BERZERK single ‘Major Tom’ via Pitch Black Drive Productions


CHVRCHES Now Is Not The Time (2013)

Making their initial impression with the mighty ‘Lies’ in 2012, Glasgow trio CHVRCHES actually became the mainstream saviours of synthpop that LITTLE BOOTS and LA ROUX had promised but ultimately failed to deliver on. ‘Now Is Not The Time’ was a fantastic midtempo tune with a great chorus that like ‘The Mother We Share’ sounded like Taylor Swift gone electro. However, it got relegated to B-side status despite being superior to several songs on their debut long player ‘The Bones Of What You Believe’.

Available on the CHVRCHES single ‘Recover’ via Virgin Records


DEPECHE MODE All That’s Mine (2013)

In a pattern similar to the ‘Sounds Of The Universe’ boxed set only track ‘Oh Well’, the best song from ‘Delta Machine’ sessions was left out of the main act. ‘All That’s Mine’ featured a tightly sequenced backbone, electronically derived rhythms and a gloomy Eurocentric austere, all the perfect ingredients for a classic DM tune! While it was no doubt rejected for not fitting into the faux blues aspirations of modern DEPECHE MODE, it made up for the dreary notions of the A-side ‘Heaven’ which were more like hell…

Originally the B-side of the single ‘Heaven’, now available on the DEPECHE MODE deluxe album ‘Delta Machine’ via Columbia Records


OMD Time Burns (2013)

OMD’s twelfth album ‘English Electric’ was notable for combining conceptual art pieces alongside supreme electronic pop in a manner reminiscent of their fourth long player ‘Dazzle Ships’ and KRAFTWERK’s ‘Radio-Activity’. Although four of these concepts made it onto the final running order of the album, one that didn’t was ‘Time Burns’, a intriguing sound collage comprising of clock movements, chimes and digital watch alarms over rumbles of sub-bass and profound computer generated speech.

Originally the B-side of the single ‘The Future Will Be Silent’, now available on the OMD EP ‘Night Café’ via BMG


QUEEN OF HEARTS United (2013)

A stomping electro disco number produced by Mark Reeder and Micha Adam, Elizabeth Morphew’s cooing Bush-like howls and breathy euphoria are a total delight to the ears while the mighty cavernous sound provided the heat! However, ‘United’ has ended up as the B-side. Reeder said ”I saw a piece posted on ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about QUEEN OF HEARTS and I was curious. I really liked Elizabeth’s voice from the moment I heard the first couple of tracks.”

Originally the B-side of ‘Secret’, now available on the QUEEN OF HEARTS deluxe album ‘Cocoon’ via Night Moves


VILE ELECTRODES Little Death Capsule (2013)

With an alluringly haunting vocal from Anais Neon, the eerily stark ‘Little Death Capsule’ saw VILE ELECTRODES tell the story of early space travel when these primitive craft were sent out of the earth’s atmosphere effectively sitting on inter-continental ballistic missiles, with burning up also a possibility on return. With pulsing instrumentation from Martin Swan, it featured the sort of sterling analogue treatments that would make KRAFTWERK and YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA proud.

Available on the VILE ELECTRODES EP ‘The Last Time’ via Vile Electrodes


JOHAN BAECKSTRÖM Synth Is Not Dead (2015)

A touching tribute to Messrs Clarke, Gore, Hütter and Schneider with hints of YAZOO’s ‘In My Room’, Johan Baeckström said of ‘Synth Is Not Dead’: “I guess I just wanted to reflect on the fact that there still IS a synthpop scene with some really great bands, both old and new. In another way, the song is sort of my ‘thank you’ to some of the artists that inspired me for several decades – some of them are mentioned in the lyrics, but far from all of course”.

Available on the JOHAN BAECKSTRÖM single ‘Come With Me via Progress Productions


METROLAND (We Need) Machines Without Romance (2015)

METROLAND’s second album ‘Triadic Ballet’ was a triumphant electronic celebration of the Bauhaus, art movement led by Walter Gropius. Gropius theorized about uniting art and technology and on the B-side of its launch single ‘Zeppelin’, METROLAND worked towards the 21st Century interpretation of that goal. Now imagine if Gary Numan had actually joined KRAFTWERK in 1979? Then the brilliantly uptempo ‘(We Need) Machines Without Romance’ would have surely been the result.

Originally the B-side of ‘Zeppelin’, now available on the METROLAND boxed set ’12×12′ via Alfa Matrix


MESH Paper Thin (2016)

Of the superbly rousing ‘Paper Thin’, Richard Silverthorn of MESH recalled: “Mark Hockings presented me with a demo at the time we were writing material for ‘Looking Skyward’. On first listen, I wasn’t too sure about the track as I thought it didn’t really fit with the overall feeling of the album so it kind of got shelved. The record company asked ‘what about the B-side?’ so Mark suggested ‘Paper Thin’ again. The bassline, drums and many other lines were changed and the new version came to life.”

Available on the MESH single ‘Kill Your Darlings’ via Dependent Records


KNIGHT$ So Cold (2017)

After SCARLET SOHO, James Knights busied himself with a new Britalo inspired solo project. With hints of NEW ORDER’s ‘Subculture’ and found on KNIGHT$ debut EP ‘What’s Your Poison?’, he said “’So Cold’ is the second or third song I wrote as KNIGHT$. It’s a little darker than my other material, and the only song I’ve recorded using a marxophone (a fretless zither which I borrowed from my friend Alun Davies). It didn’t make it onto my debut album, but it’s still a song the audience enjoy, as do I.”

Available on the KNIGHT$ EP ‘What’s Your Poison?’ via Speccio Uomo ‎


PSYCHE Truth or Consequence (2017)

PSYCHE co-founder Darrin Huss said of ‘Truth Or Consequence’: “It started out under the title ‘Life On Trial’ and was about the Bradley Manning (now Chelsea) situation. It’s about the NSA surveillance, whistleblowers, etc. It’s also about the confusion between what is Truth, and what are the consequences of telling it, living it? Do we have safety in numbers? etc. It’s all in the lyrics. It’s a very PSYCHE song with even a nod to ‘The Brain Collapses’ with our use of that song’s drum machine the Oberheim DMX.”

Available on the PSYCHE single ‘Youth Of Tomorrow’ via Artoffact Records


SOFT CELL Guilty (2018)

That Marc Almond and Dave Ball reunited for a farewell gig and new material was a pleasant surprise. The frustration and anger expressed in ‘Guilty (Cos I Say You Are)’ with the lines “I can denounce you just because I can, I didn’t have the life I wanted, I didn’t do the things I dreamed” saw SOFT CELL continue where they left of in 2003. With dark resonances like ‘The Omen’ gone disco, its eerie gothique countered the celebratory electro-soul of A-side ‘Northern Lights’

Originally the B-side of ‘Northern Lights’, now available on the SOFT CELL album ‘Keychains & Snowstorms – The Singles’ via Universal Records


INTERNATIONAL TEACHERS OF POP Another Brick In The Wall – Remoaner mix (2019)

Inheriting the mantle of THE HUMAN LEAGUE in the modern synthpop stakes, INTERNATIONAL TEACHERS OF POP impressed with their self-titled debut album. With the single release of ‘The Ballad Of Remedy Wilson’ was a timely Remoaner mix of PINK FLOYD’s ‘Another Brick In The Wall’ sung in German that made a bold musical and political statement. Headteacher Adrian Flanagan said: “I hope that statement is ‘I hate PINK FLOYD but love KRAFTWERK’ and / or – ‘I hate you but love the EU’”.

Available on the INTERNATIONAL TEACHERS OF POP single ‘The Ballad Of Remedy Nilsson’ via Desolate Spools


Text by Chi Ming Lai with thanks to all the artists who contributed
19th July 2020

Lost Albums: MESH Who Watches Over Me?

After three albums on the Swedish independent label Memento Materia, Bristol trio MESH were on the cusp of a wider breakthrough.

Formed in 1991, Mark Hockings, Richard Silverthorn and Neil Taylor had attained cult success in Europe, first with their debut ‘Fragile’ released in 1994 which was then followed up with ‘In This Place Forever’ and ‘The Point At Which It Falls Apart’.

Then as is now, Germany embraced the sound of MESH and it was Sony Music via their Home Records subsidiary in Hamburg who offered the band their major label opportunity.

Released in 2002, ‘Who Watches Over Me?’ strengthened MESH’s position within European alternative music circles although it fell short of the mainstream profile that was perhaps anticipated, with a German album chart high of No63 proving to be a disappointment at the time.

But it proved to be an important record and MESH were later picked up by Königskinder Schallplatten who put out ‘We Collide’ in 2006. This kickstarted an imperial phase for what was to become the now-familiar duo line-up of Hockings and Silverthorn with the Dependent Records released long players ‘A Perfect Solution’, ‘Automation Baby’ and ‘Looking Skyward’ which reached No12 in Germany, their best international album chart position yet.

While songs from ‘Who Watches Over Me?’ such as ‘Leave You Nothing’, ‘Friends Like These’, ‘Firefly’ and ‘Little Missile’ continue to take turns for inclusion in the more recent MESH live sets, unlike other releases in their back catalogue, ‘Who Watches Over Me?’ has not been readily available for several years. This has largely been due to the collapse of Home Records, thus elevating the album to lost and rare status, with the CD now being offered for quite high prices on eBay and Amazon.

Richard Silverthorn kindly took time out to reflect on MESH’s brief sojourn with a major record label and his memories of making ‘Who Watches Over Me?’.

At this point in MESH’s career, had there been a conscious decision to move on after three albums with Memento Materia?

I think we reached a level where we were getting more and more gig offers and the media were starting to take an interest in what we were doing. The demand on our time was becoming difficult and trying to fulfil our commitments became increasingly harder for us.

I remember we talked to our manager/label guy at the time and said “If we are going to take this to the next level we will have to give up our jobs, we need a major deal”. Our relationship was always a good one with Memento Materia but we needed to make that change and try and move forward.

How did Home Record, a German subsidiary of Sony Music, become interested in signing MESH?

Around the same time DJ Mark ‘Oh (a well-known DJ / pop act in Europe) approached us as he was quite a fan of our music and asked if Mark would do vocals on a collaboration idea he had. The idea was a cover of the BLANCMANGE track ‘Waves’ but done with a full orchestra and electronic elements.

We liked the idea but wanted it to be “Mark ‘Oh and MESH” not just featuring Mark Hockings as guest vocalist. He managed to get the London Session Orchestra to record the track and Mark added his vocal. I also did a remix of the track for the single CD.

This all caught the attention of his record label Orbit Records. They were quite well established in the dance / electronic scene with a few major hits under their belts. They were really excited about the collaboration and wanted us to co-write an album with Mark ‘Oh and on the back of this they wanted to offer us a record deal.

They had just became partners with Sony Music and wanted to branch out into more alternative music so started Home Records to run alongside their dance label Orbit Records. Unfortunately the album idea with Mark ‘Oh never happened, although a few tracks were written with that in mind. They subsequently ended up becoming part of our next album.

What did Home Records offer that perhaps hadn’t been available to you before?

Well certainly the money played a big part in the change. We were given enough money to give up our day jobs which gave us enough time to fully concentrate on music full time.

The backing of a major label was also a huge change for us. It all felt very real after this signing. We actually went to Sony’s HQ in Berlin to sign the contract.

The rooms were filled with gold discs and pictures of their artists, at that time Michael Jackson, Shakira etc. We suddenly found ourselves talking about TV appearances, radio plays and pluggers etc something we’d never really experienced.

Did you have to accept more A&R feedback on works-in-progress than maybe you would have done in the past?

No, luckily for us we still kept creative control over everything as they trusted us and the direction we wanted to take it. They knew we had a strong following and they wanted to expand on that.

The only real stipulation they had was they wanted it mixed by someone else to achieve that polished professional sound. This was something very new for us as up until that point, we’d done everything ourselves.

They suggested Peter Schmidt or BlackPete as he was sometimes known as. He was a known German engineer who worked at Berlin’s Hansa Studio and had worked on U2 ‘Achtung Baby’ and DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Black Celebration’ along with Gareth Jones.

With major label support, did you, Mark and Neil change your approaches in any way? What was your creative dynamic at the time?

Not really in the way we write, but we certainly felt a need to up our game especially with single choices. Maybe a little pressure for something a little more immediate and radio friendly. The track we had in mind was ‘Crash’ as it was kind of danceable and quite mainstream, but that soon changed after the 9/11 terrorist attack which happened around this time. Although the lyrics had nothing to do with that, we thought people could misunderstand and possibly interpret them that way. The track everyone seemed to lean towards was ‘Leave You Nothing’ so this became the first single.

Was your gear set-up still quite reliant on hardware?

Yes, it was pretty much all hardware synths, we had just spent a big chunk of our advance on new equipment to get inspiration.

A Roland XP-30 (fully expanded with dance cards) played a big role on this album. A lot of the drum loops and sounds came from this keyboard, although we painstakingly chopped them up to make them less recognisable to the presets.

A NordLead 2 and an Access Virus B along with all our previous analogue gear was the palette of sounds we used. Sampling was taken care of by two Emax II’s and an Emu Esi32. Sampling was a major part of how we wrote and programmed at the time. Many hours of drum sampling and looping to create the rhythm sections / tracks.

‘Who Watches Over Me?’ was recorded in Bristol, but then it was mixed in Hamburg, did that environment help you to focus more on the final product?

The original plan was to write and record in our studio and take it somewhere locally to mix it. Initially, we tried at The Channel House studio in Bristol (owned by Toni Size) who had an SSL desk but the chemistry just wasn’t there with us and the guys we were working there.

The label suggested Home Studios in the centre of Hamburg. This had a Protools setup and a 96 channel SSL console.

It was previously known as Chateau Du Pape, DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Songs Of Faith & Devotion’ was mixed there along with ‘Herzeleid’ by RAMMSTEIN and many other artists like NENA used it too. We spent 3 weeks locked in there with Peter Schmidt and it was a breath of fresh air for us.

It was the first time we could sit back and actually listen, rather than be engrossed in the programming side of things. All-in-all, it was a fantastic experience and our fussball (table football) skills improved enormously. The album was mastered within days of finishing the mixing. We flew straight from Hamburg to Belgium to master it with Ronald Prent at Galaxy an outstanding purpose built studio.

‘Firefly’ was a fine opener that can be seen as classic MESH, how did it come together?

Initially it was just an instrumental track but Mark came up with a lyric idea for it. Mark and I lived very close to a supermarket in Bristol where an act of arson had taken place. Firefighter Fleur Lombard lost her life that day. She was the first ever female firefighter to lose her life in the line of duty in the UK. The lyrics are a twisted perspective through the eyes of the guy who caused the atrocity.

Would it be fair to say ‘Leave You Nothing’ was a bit reminiscent of DEPECHE MODE’s ‘It’s No Good’?

I’m not sure I’ve heard anyone refer to that track as sounding similar before but now you come to mention it… haha I don’t know, does it?

What was ‘Little Missile’ referring to? That brought a slight drum ‘n’ bass influence in?

‘Little Missile’ for me was more about that piano line, but we added this erratic “drum n bass” type loop which fitted really well so we just went with it. The structure of that song is all over the place but somehow seems to work and became a fan favourite.

The original title for the album was going to be ‘Stop Breathe’, a line taken from that song but the label had their concerns because the German people have problems pronouncing “th” in Breathe so we changed it last minute to ‘Who Watches Over Me?’.

The titles were quite pained from ‘Razorwire’ and ‘I Can’t Imagine How It Hurts’ to ‘Retaliation’ and ‘The Trouble We’re In’, how were things personally within the MESH camp at the time?

Weirdly, it was probably the most relaxed period in our history. We had signed “the major deal” and were in a very focused mindset. Mark’s lyrics have always had a very dark side to them which I’ve always thought was the appeal.

‘Who Watches Over Me?’ included ‘Friends Like These’ which has now taken on a life of its own and has become something of a MESH signature tune and fan favourite?

Yes. we released it as a single and we done a bizarre video for it on a farm in Berlin with a load of scantily clad girls an old Opel Kadett and a load of garden Gnomes… don’t ask…

Live, it became an anthem for us, probably helped by the fact we used to secretly take pictures of people entering the gig and their pictures would appear on the huge screens behind us during that track.

It was almost like us saying “thank you” to those who followed us and came to the shows. From then on it’s become the fans’ song, they own it now.

Which are your own personal favourite songs and memories from ‘Who Watches Over Me?’?

So many songs for different reasons. The making of this album was an exciting period for us. Personally I like ‘The Trouble We’re In’ although I seem to remember we were all really ill at the time of recording that song. We were all together in the studio for weeks on end so we’d all managed to catch this hideous flu like virus and you can really hear it in Mark’s vocal when you know that, but it just conjures up those long days for me listening to it now.

We were doing loads of odd sampling in my parents’ garage, dropping tools and bashing different things to create the percussion on that track. Layered up multiple takes of us clapping at the end to create a gospel type feel as it fades out. It just brings back up all those memories. Also, the time we spent at Home Studios was an amazing adventure. We stayed in three different hotels over a three week period and got to know Hamburg like a second home.

Looking back, how was ‘Who Watches Over Me?’ received in Europe when it was released? 

From our existing fanbase, it was received with open arms and the reviews in all the dark scene magazines were excellent. I think our only gripe was with Sony. We had what we thought was a great album, everyone knew it was something special but we were such a small fish at Sony and I think their focus was on their bigger artists.

They got it into all the mainstream music outlets and had it featured on a lot of the listening posts but the publicity wasn’t great. We did get a review and interview in Rolling Stone magazine which was quite an achievement. The album did actually chart in the top 100 which was something for us, but with more of a push from them I think it could have broken down more barriers for us than it did but…

But things were not all well at Home Records and apart from MESH, one of the other casualties was Karl Bartos of KRAFTWERK, so what happened from your point of view?

Maybe it was the fact it was a new market for them as they were essentially a dance label with Sony Columbia’s backing, so I think they may have struggled with a strategy in this genre and trying to break into the mainstream. We were covered in all the usual magazines and media (which we had before) and limited amounts of radio play, but breaking new ground and establishing yourself was difficult to maintain.

We actually did a show case gig at the launch of the label in Hamburg and Karl Bartos was our support. Unbelievable the godfather of electronic music supporting us???! I think he may have suffered the same fate as us. I think their hearts were in it, but maybe that last piece of the puzzle for opening new doors was missing. Our time with them was amazing and a real eye opener to the real world of the music business that not many people get to experience. As a label they were really cool guys and great people to work with.

While ‘Who Watches Over Me?’ did not achieve a British breakthrough, the overall momentum got Gareth Jones interested enough to work with you?

Yes, Gareth was originally earmarked to do ‘Who Watches Over Me?’, but we felt the DEPECHE MODE connection which he was synonymous with wasn’t good for us so we initially turned it down. When we started on ‘We Collide’, his name came up again and we thought “yeah what the hell” and that was another exciting chapter…

Having had the major label experience and been with Dependent since 2009 for ‘A Perfect Solution’, what would you say to artists now about whether to sign on the dotted line?

That’s a tricky one really. In all honesty, I think being on a small enthusiastic label is better than signing with a major label that has big artists to deal with. The money and experience was fantastic but I’m not so sure it’s like that these days. There certainly isn’t the money anymore and I think maybe a more internet based label with streaming and social media experience is a better option nowadays.

How do you think ‘Who Watches Over Me?’ sits within the MESH portfolio now as four albums have come since?

I personally think it sits there just right. It was a huge step forward for us and it’s all documented in that album. It still sounds like us as we had creative control but maybe it’s more professionally polished.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its sincerest thanks to Richard Silverthorn

‘Who Watches Over Me?’ was released by Home Records / Sony Music





Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
24th June 2020

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