Tag: Mirrors (Page 1 of 8)

Lost Albums: MIRRORS Lights & Offerings

A seamless majestic journey swathed in layers of vintage electronics and modern rhythmical dynamics, ‘Light & Offerings’ was the only album released by MIRRORS.

Founded by James New and Ally Young in 2008, the pair were soon joined by James ‘Tate’ Arguile and then Josef Page; New and Arguile had actually been members of one-time indie hopefuls MUMM-RA who were signed to Columbia Records and had supported THE KILLERS in 2007.

MIRRORS released their first two self-produced singles ‘Look At Me’ and ‘Into The Heart’ in 2009. As the quartet began to perform live with cerebral projections as visual accompaniment, they fostered a suited look based around 20th Century European Modernism inspired by Gilbert & George and designated their music pop noir.

Signing to Brighton’s Skint Records, after abortive recording sessions with Ed Buller and Richard X, MIRRORS opted to self-produce their debut long player and locked themselves away in a rural Sussex farmhouse for several weeks. Following headlining club shows and pre-album tours opening for OMD, DEPHIC and FUJIYA & MIYAGI, ‘Light & Offerings’ was released on 28 February 2011.

Photo by David Ellis

Mixed in New York by Jonathan Kreinik of DFA, the record began with superb sonic pulsar of ‘Fear Of Drowning’ with its dramatic overtures of young manhood before continuing with reworked recordings of ‘Look At Me’ and ‘Into The Heart’. The sublime ‘Hide & Seek’ was soulful electronic pop while ‘Ways To An End’ had a Germanic edge and proved MIRRORS could cut it on the dancefloor as well.

Elsewhere, the outlier was a superb cover of the largely unknown County song ‘Something On Your Mind’ originally performed by Karen Dalton while ‘Somewhere Strange’ took the listener on the most euphoric train ride since NEW ORDER’s ‘Temptation’. Breathing new life into classic synthpop, ‘Searching In The Wilderness’ recalled early DEPECHE MODE but to close, ‘Secrets’ presented an ambitious ten minute epic in three movements featuring its own ambient parenthesis.

James New had certainly kept his promise when he described the album as a collection of “really great pop songs” that contained “very densely produced, heavily layered, emotional, soulful electronic music”. MIRRORS were worthy successors to the original Synth Britannia generation, but with the lukewarm response to ‘Lights & Offerings’, the band sadly fragmented in Autumn 2011 when Ally Young announced he was leaving; the most passionately synth-inclined of the four, his departure was a major blow.

Although there were two Bandcamp only releases ‘This Year, Next Year, Sometime… ?’ and ‘Hourglass’ by the now-trio in 2012, momentum had been lost and by 2013, MIRRORS had seemingly ceased to be. However in the years following, there was a qualitative lull in British synth music that still persists today and as a consequence, ‘Light & Offerings’ began to be discovered retrospectively by electronic pop fans who had missed the band in action first time around.

One of those new fans was Norman Cooke, who subsequently founded the MIRRORS Appreciation Society Facebook Group in 2022. As content for the group, he painstakingly transcribed the ‘Lights & Offerings’ album commentary by James New and Ally Young that came with the original iTunes download.

With that audio now no longer available, the track-by-track transcript has been reproduced here along with additional material on a number of B-sides from an interview conducted by ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK with MIRRORS in Cologne during their 2011 German tour…

Photo by Lars Diegmann

Fear Of Drowning

James: So this is ‘Fear Of Drowning’, the first track on our record and actually my favourite, although I’m going to say that probably about every song.

Ally: We always sort of knew this track would start the record, it has that sort of way. It builds, it starts from a low solitary pulse and gradually builds up and up to towards this big crescendo. Before we even started talking about track listings together, we knew that this would start the record. it just seemed so natural.

James: it’s very atmospheric, it was one of the first five tracks that we ever made and they become the crux of this record.

Ally: I think for me this track is one of the best examples of what sums up MIRRORS as a band, it has all the elements that we, with intention or not, apply to all of our songs. It’s got a lot of close synthesized sounds as well as a lush ambient feel to it, quite monotonous robotic drums, pinned together by a haunting wistful vocal.

James: It was also a breakthrough moment for us because it was the first song that we wrote over a groove, there wasn’t a chord structure, as you can hear, a pulsating pulse that drives the song along.

Ally: One of the challenges when we write songs like this, I think half of the record is probably groove based like this song and half of it is song based. It getting the dynamics, obviously the bass, the route note never changing. I think we achieved it well with this song.

James: The lyrics are sort of based on the idea of isolation. I actually wrote them when I was having a panic attack which took a couple of days out of my life but we gained these lyrics out of it. It has a feeling of alienation, I don’t know why but the music, the lyric, just work.

Ally: It’s almost for me that juxtaposition of those very monotonous, massively quantised, pulsating pulses that go through the whole track and then wrapped up in this sort of blanket of ethereal synthesizers.

James: It does feel like a journey.

Ally: Strangely nostalgic I always think as well, particularly for an opening track. Although it never occurred to me that anything else should be the opening track as it has that real sense of nostalgia.

James: For us as well it was that ‘Trans Europe Express’ feel, a contemporary equivalent in our brains, more a homage.

Ally: I’m sure it doesn’t come as a surprise that we enjoyed listening to that record. I think this track benefits from being listened to at a particularly loud volume, the song really does grow all the way through, if you’re in the right frame of mind, high volume and low lighting, a nice moment.

James: The sound of it as well, I think something we tried to achieve was to make a record where you couldn’t really pinpoint when it had been recorded. You get this kind of slightly low-fi feeling about it but at the same time it sounds if it could have been recorded anytime in the last 30 years.

Ally: It takes what we like about the last 30 – 40 years of music, our influences, certainly of that ilk. Obviously we live in 2010 so we don’t want to make a homage, it still sounds like a modern record, production and mixing techniques. I think that this is the best mix of ours that Jonathan Kreinik, the chap who mixed our album did, obviously we love them all but when we first heard this one, he nailed it!

Look At Me

James: ‘Look At Me’, my favourite song on the record *laughs*

Ally: I think possibly, genuinely my favourite song on the record.

James: I think this is the first song that we wrote properly together that we knew was the “MIRRORS” sound. It’s the song that defined us, and it’s the song still most unique to MIRRORS I think, it’s got a bit of everything.

Ally: I think there are lots of songs on the record with influences that you can pull around from all over the place, some fairly obvious and some a little less conspicuous, but I think this track possibly sounds the most like MIRRORS

James: Possibly the song which sounds most like a love song, we wanted to write a love song but we didn’t want to spell it out to obviously for people, so it’s more about the imagery of it and the memory of it.

Ally: I think the big part of this song again is the vocals. When we came to re-record the album, we didn’t actually re-record the vocal, this is the original vocal that we demoed in my bedroom in Brighton, sometimes you just capture that moment and we tried re-recording the vocal but there was just something about the original take on this that we couldn’t quite get or we were trying too hard. You know what they say, if it isn’t broke.

James: In fact, the demo, we didn’t change a lot about the demo at all, we really captured a great moment on it.

Ally: We didn’t really want to change much about the demo, I think maybe this was one of the easiest and the most difficult to re-record because it was so close in our minds anyway of how we wanted it to be on our album that we weren’t sure if we were going to re-record it at all. But then we did most of the other tracks first then listened to this and felt it had to be pulled up a little bit. Really most of it was just in the mixing process I’d say, mixed by Jonathan again.

James: In a way it’s sort of biggest pop song on the album, it’s like a really big pop song without ever really feeling like it’s trying too hard.

Ally: I think that’s the beauty of this track almost, is that its slow and emotive, a slow track that doesn’t try to make up for the fact that its slow or hide that, it sort of walks along doing its own thing.

James: I guess again it’s got that sort feeling of loneliness, confusion and abandonment about it which seems to crop up with us. We’ve always found it a bit more invigorating to write about the darker side of life.

Into The Heart

Ally: Another one of our so-called pop songs, a skewed pop song, a pop song shrouded in reverb and noise, a cavernous pop song.

James: This was probably the most difficult to get right actually, because we knew this was probably going to be the single or the biggest single on the record.

Ally: Just in terms of the song for us it’s a bit different as we talked about groove-based and song-based, this one is definitely one of the most song-based which spends most of the time in a major key, which we don’t tend to do that often and we found it quite difficult striking a balance, we wanted to preserve the nature of the pop song but really bring it into that MIRRORS aesthetic, without compromising it and it took a lot of different attempts and tries to get it where we were finally happy with it.

James: We’ve never set out to write singles, we create for creation’s sake and this just so happens to have a very catchy chorus.

Ally: I like the lyrics in this, they’re… I don’t want to say random because random reminds me of people’s photo albums on Facebook, but the lyrics are quite sort of wandering.

James: They are entirely random, they are the only lyrics on the record where I actually made them up as I was going along, it was meant to be a rough draft, I attempted to rewrite them but they then just felt weirdly unnatural after that. The only thing I did readjust was the “Into The Heart” chorus, because it needed to be more of a chant, a more repetitive thing. All the lyrics, I picked them out of a hat, there you go. It feels most euphoric actually on the record, it makes me want to put my hands in the air.

Ally: I’m struggling to think of things to say for this track, as much as the others though I think this track is much more obviously a song, in the traditional sense, the words, it’s much more about that than any of the sort acoustics or actual sound, this is much more about the song, probably more than any other song on the album actually.

James: It’s the most naturally, as it comes song.

Write Through The Night

Ally: We should talk about the little segue into ‘Write Through The Night’ by a very well-known Poet Laureate that we affected in the studio.

James: It’s nice to break the record up as well.

Ally: We spent quite a lot of time thinking about how the songs would firstly go on and how well they were going to work together in the context of the album and we felt by this point in we definitely didn’t want song after song after song, even that little 15 seconds there then this intro is a nice little break to prepare you for the next song.

James: It sort of takes your mind away from the music as well, we tend to use quotes quite a lot in remixes as well, it’s an interesting way of drawing your mind away from the music before you plunge back into it.

Ally: This song particularly is quite swirly and then it goes enormous and it’s quite a heavy hit.

James: It’s the most bombastic and, talking about festival moments, it’s the only one I ever imagine as a real stadium song as it’s quite rocky.

Ally: Definitely, it has got a sort of few Trad Rock elements…

James: …I wouldn’t say Trad, when we first did it I remember you saying this needs to sound like MY BLOODY VALENTINE if they had a Moog Modular and went mental.

Ally: Which I think it sort of does.

James: A little element of Dubstep about this track Ally?

Ally: Yes, definitely the bassline, yet again it was totally unintentional. Only when we took this song apart in the studio, well the farm we went to, when we recorded the album, that we really listened and went yeah that’s got Dubstep written all over it.

James: We’ve always said we could get an amazing Dubstep version of this track, which would be amazing, if anyone wants to do that for us as it’s really not exactly our world. In retrospect this is probably the most desperate track on the record, there’s defiantly an angst, an anger about it. When I think about it, I’d probably just met you when I wrote this and it was sort of like I’d just moved to Brighton and I’d been in a band before since I was 15 and that had broken up, it’s quite lonely in a way, I’m definitely writing this song on my own.

Ally: We got the album mixed in New York, we were never there during the process, which is a good thing if you know us, as we are the most obsessive band in the world. We spent a lot of time on this track in particular as we wanted it to sound so enormous. James was talking about the stadium and MY BLOODY VALENTINE feel of the track which it definitely has, we really wanted to get that across, that almost OASIS ‘Definitely Maybe’ vibe

James: I know what you mean, you can play it quietly and it still feels really live and raw.

Ally: It’s got that sort of lolloping feel to it, you can get yourself lost in it.

James: I was listening to it in your car once when we were driving around and it came on your iPod and I went “oh no, it’s stoner rock” for a moment… it’s not stoner rock but I do remember being really concerned for about two hours, and then going no actually, it’s fine.

Ways To An End

Ally: Another single if you will

James: This isn’t even a skewed pop song, this is Krautrock fun

Ally: This was the most fun tracks, this came from a jam first, normally we write songs in a very studio based way where James or I or someone come up with a chord progression or an idea, then we work on that in the studio, building blocks, adding bits or taking away parts to the song, but this one we were actually in a rehearsal room practising for a tour and we jammed

James: Like a proper band. It’s the last song that we wrote for the record as well, which maybe have been a sign of how we potentially could write in the future. Back to the groove based, back to the one note stomper. Definitely think this is the one that has the most, sort of “70s” sound almost, it’s kind of got that, almost Krautrocky sound, but modern, definitely a hint of THE HORRORS.

Ally: It’s definitely got a nod towards Krautrock and also obviously TALKING HEADS of course, the extra percussion and James’ vocal.

James: We should probably say as well, that bloody ‘Senses Working Overtime’ which we didn’t realise at the time until it was too late. XTC were one of those bands who would have been in the back of our minds when we were making this record anyway.

Ally: Yeah, looking at that now you think “1-2-3-4-5”, yeah, that’s good, have I heard that before? I must have heard that before.

James: We even said it didn’t we, it seems way too obvious. A good video this one as well, our first video…

Ally: Shot on my birthday actually, between midnight and 6am in an empty cinema in Brighton, which was not as much fun as it seems. The “talkie bit” is just us talking nonsense over a bit of prose that Tate wrote, this poem is called ‘Traveling Through The Dark’ by William Stafford which Tate had a copy of on a 12”, I don’t know where he found it. We just recorded that in and manipulated it, really quite ominous sounding and I like that over this quite uplifting almost psychedelic piece.

James: It just diverts your attention again doesn’t it, that’s a nice thing and also who ever is reading it has an amazing voice. The song is so saturated isn’t it, so full of everything.

Ally: I particularly like the bass on this although it doesn’t really do much, locking with the kick drum quite tightly, it reminds me sort of a finger played electric bass, post-punk, I sort of think, quite seventies, not much weight to it.

Hide & Seek

Ally: A different mood entirely now with ‘Hide & Seek’.

James: I’m a particular fan of this song live, it’s much more chaotic and sort of messy live. This is more subdued and again an atmospheric sort of vibe on the record.

Ally: One of the ones we, I wouldn’t say struggled with but didn’t come easy to us recording this. We should probably mention at this point we self-produced the album, just the four of us and we locked ourselves away in a remote farm in the middle of Sussex, for more time than is healthy. The reason we did that was that we’ve worked with producers before, some very talented producers but we didn’t really feel that we’d made the track sound how we wanted them to.

James: I think we have our own world and our own very specific idea of what that is.

Ally: The label were very good to us and gave us the opportunity to do it and we live and die by our words. This is exactly the record we wanted to make and it sounds how we wanted it to, if it doesn’t do as well as we’d hope, then we’ve only got ourselves to blame, but at least it sounds of the moment, exactly how we wanted this MIRRORS record to sound like.

James: It’s quite a sad song, in a way. Lyrically it’s very childish, I think that almost makes it sadder in a way, like very simple. Sounds like an electronic ARCADE FIRE.

Ally: Yeah, definitely got elements of that.

James: Like a younger JOY DIVISION.

Ally: A younger, happier JOY DIVISION, I wonder how people would interpret this song if the vocal were missing, if it were just an instrumental, if they would engage that or not. The music, the drums, the backing perhaps don’t suggest that, which I like.

James: More hopeful, a lot of our songs have a lot of melodies within the music and a lot of other catchy bits whereas this is really, I don’t want to, it’s my vocal but the crucial point is the vocal and that sort of brings everything together.

Ally: And the song just gets bigger and bigger and bigger. We contemplated for a long time, where to place this on the record. When we play this live, we play this last and it works so well, one big crescendo to end the set and this endless “Minipops” drum loop that carries on. We were going to put this song last on the record but we ended up writing a track called ‘Secrets’, which just had to come last as far as I was concerned as it was ten and a half minutes long. This works for me in the middle of the record now really well, I’m used to it.

James: It’s a really great pop song, and I’m going to say that.

Ally: I’ll humbly second it.

Photo by Richard Price

Somewhere Strange

James: We weren’t sure we were going to put this on the record.

Ally: No, we really weren’t and then Dave our A&R at the label said he’d listened to it on the way out to visit us at the farm where we were recording the album to bring out supplies and boost morale. He insisted that we re-record it, he was convinced it would go on the album, and to be fair to him, he was right. I think in contrast to the song before this, it’s another quiet lonely vocal but I think it’s so full of hope this song, particularly in James’s vocal.

James: I’m still a big fan of the demo of this, it’s much more lo-fi.

Ally: It took us a long time to do if I remember. When we recorded this song, it took forever! That’s the sort of downside of working, producing and writing the songs, no decisions get made quickly, the longer it goes on the more time everything seems to take. We drove ourselves to a point when we were recording this where we had to have a couple of days away from the farm and the chickens and get our heads back together.

James: Yeah, this is the point we actually had to go back home.

Ally: Back to normal civilisation.

James: This was the biscuit incident!

Ally: The “famed” biscuit incident.

James: Because obviously we were living out of each other’s pockets to such an extent.

Ally: The farmhouse we were living in was literally three rooms. A kitchen, a studio room and a bedroom.

James: Our best friend was a chicken, I just remember we had some lunch, which wasn’t a particularly big lunch and I had a biscuit and you had a massive go at me, because I didn’t need it.

Ally: We insisted that you weren’t hungry… *both laughing*

James: …which ended up in a sort of argument with us packing our bags and getting away for a couple of days.

Ally: This is it, we’re arguing over Rich Teas now, it’s time to take a break.

James: Definitely this track has got a bit of that LCD SOUNDSYSTEM vibe about it, which are great modern records, which we love. I had really good fun making the visuals for this which never worked because it felt too clubby. I got my housemate, and I sort of sat him in a chair around different parts of Brighton, sort of busy areas and sped everything up and it looked fantastic.

Ally: And he was dressed up as a 19th turn of the century duke as well.

James: A good album this… it’s probably the first time that we have ever listened to the album without actually being really cynical about it picking at every moment.

Ally: Yeah, I think so, it’s been quite refreshing. We spent so long analysing every detail and then the mixing process. It’s really nice now to listen to it and be able to talk about it in a positive manner.

James: Do you remember the original, original demo of this, which had three different verses, we nearly did it with Ed Buller?

Ally: Oh! The QUEEN moment, your QUEEN vocal, oh I do remember that. That one may not see the light of day.

James: That’s the point with us, for every song there are usually about five different versions of it before it gets to this point.

Ally: There is a hard drive of “off cuts” somewhere.

James: There really are which are being burnt as we speak. We’re not the kind of band that releases a lot of material, we’re really more about the quality than the quantity. Hence, you’re getting a ten-track record, we wanted to make it a nine-track record.

Photo by Richard Price

Something On Your Mind

Ally: Ahh, the lovely Karen Dalton.

James: It’s quite a relaxing thing this, isn’t it?

Ally: For those of you that don’t know, this is a cover of a song called ‘Something On Your Mind’ by a country singer called Karen Dalton who has the most incredible voice and if you haven’t heard it, you must listen to her. She died quite young which makes her story even more tragic. Her voice has as much emotion as you will ever hope to hear from anybody. Again, this was never meant to make the album, we were asked to do a cover for something, which incidentally we never ended up using. Again we played this to Dave, our A&R from Skint when he came to the farm to visit us and he just loved it. We hadn’t really given it much thought, its one of the quickest things we did, but he heard it and was really quite taken by it which is a lovely feeling for us because we had become so involved in it that hearing Dave, whose musical taste we trust say, you know, that’s really quite striking. I really enjoy listening to this.

James: It’s nice for us as well, because there is less pressure on it as it’s not our own. I think it’s a nice challenge as well, bands don’t really do covers anymore.

Ally: The antithesis of what MIRRORS do, listen to the original track, it’s just fantastic. It’s not as reverb laden as ours but I think it works with this track.

James: Short but sweet, the closest to a MIRRORS ballad we’re ever going to get. I wouldn’t ever write lyrics like this as well because the structure of it is so strange, it just goes all over the place.

Ally: Yeah, in rounds and rounds, I’m sure, ever since she recorded this, it would have been different.

James: Also, it’s just a nice challenge to be able put yourself in a different artist’s head, it’s just an interesting thing to do, it’s the same reason that we’re getting into remixes now, it’s just a totally different experience to recording your own music.

Photo by Richard Price

Searching In The Wilderness

Ally: ‘Searching In The Wilderness’, the track that always goes down very well live.

James: It’s a bit like Marmite for people, it’s very different from our other tracks in that it’s quite fun and light hearted

Ally: And definitely the most uptempo.

James: So people either find it their favourite track or something that Mirrors are not about, but I think it breaks the record up perfectly at this point.

Ally: It’s quite a nice injection of pace, I’m a big fan of the slow grooves.

James: Sometimes you’ve just got to have a dance.

Ally: Exactly, there has to be a point where you stand up.

James: The song title incidentally comes from a very good Garage Rock compilation.

Ally: Very good indeed, if you can get a copy, do, but you may struggle. I’ve only ever seen the one that we have. This song was in the public domain before the album was released, people commented on it being an homage to the 80s

James: That’s the slight problem with it, when people talk about the 80s which they invariably will with us, we don’t want them to think of this element of it really.

Ally: I personally think it’s a bit of a lazy journalistic view to say that we are an 80s band in 2010, I would say we are more 1977 to 1981 if you had to put a date stamp on it.

James: This is our debut 1977 record in our brains isn’t it?

Ally: I think so, yeah. I think this has many elements of the music of the late 1970s as opposed to the 1980s.

James: Yeah, this does, this track particularly, but when it does come back to the first chorus it has elements of Speak & Spell about it. This is definitely the record that will be our most dense, its all about that waterlogged sound, it gives it a feeling and definitely, entirely has its own vibe

Ally: It’s exactly what we wanted to do.

James: It gives us somewhere to go for the second record.

Ally: Exactly!

Photo by David Ellis


Ally: This probably is my favourite track on the record I would say.

James: This is my favourite track on the record.

Ally: James’s Ten favourite tracks of ‘Lights & Offerings’.

James: This is a very old song.

Ally: Well it’s almost three songs in one this isn’t it.

James: It is now, yeah. The early original section was written almost three and a half years ago now, mad to think.

Ally: Again an amazing mix job here from Jonathan Kreinik, in a few bars or so when the drums come in it just sounds amazing, it sounds like it breaks through a window almost.

James: Mr McCluskey of OMD a big fan of this one. He hears a bit of ‘Maid of Orleans’ in it which is always a complement.

Ally: When he said it I thought you’re absolutely right, of course when the string riff which comes in, I hadn’t really thought of it until that point.

James: This is again a song we would say is very much of our own taste.

Ally: I think it has a…

James: …slow sexy groove

Ally: It has a few rock elements to it, I think it has a bit of that sort of, almost ‘Screamadelica’ vibe to it in the percussion and the drums and the vocals.

James: What’s that track on ‘Screamadelica’ that’s like 14 minutes long?

Ally: ‘Come Together’!

James: I think the vocal sounds the nicest on this, a really dreamy quality to it, I can definitely close my eyes and sway to this song.

Ally: Yeah this, the vocal sits in this so nicely for me. It’s almost one entity, the vocal is less of a part on its own but more a sort of texture in the whole song, I think it works really nicely. It’s interesting going back to the Andy McCluskey point, when he listened to this track he said “I think ‘Secrets’ could be a really good single”, I walked in and thought are you mad, its ten minutes long, but what of course he meant was just the first bit, not the self-indulgent latter bit.

James: It’s not self-indulgent, I mean it’s the end of our record isn’t it, we’ll get to that. I don’t think it’s self-indulgent for self-indulgent sake.

Ally: No I Don’t.

James: We actually had quite a big argument about it because I personally wanted this song to be in the middle as the sort of ‘Marquee Moon’ moment.

Ally: I did not.

James: Because I guess, it’s my favourite, I think for me it’s another one of those lynchpin moments on the record and a lot of people, me included, can be quite impatient and not get to the end of an album. I know that I tend to actually now listen to the first half, go have a cup of tea then listen to the second half of a record because I don’t have the patience, which I’m honest about, but I do genuinely hope people get around to listening to this because we want to play it live and I think this could be a favourite of people.

Ally: I think this is a song that you almost have to put a bit of effort into listening to, it’s not one to listen to on the train with your iPod headphones. If you’re lucky enough to have a nice set of speakers, sit in front of them and make yourself a brew and really get into it and I think you’ll enjoy it.

James: We wanted to have a moment on the record that wasn’t melodically based and it’s been useful because we use it now to start our live set off which is nice.

Ally: One of the things about your debut record is that you don’t want to look back on it and think I wish we’d have been bolder, and I think this track is not going to be to everybody’s taste. Were fully aware that people might get to track nine “Searching In The Wilderness” and then not listen to this, but I think for those people that do listen to this track, I think it could be one of their favourites, again it’s going to split people.

James: There’s more to listen to so you can go back to it a second and a third time and you will hear new things in it.

Ally: Definitely.

James: For me, musically, it makes things more exciting. I did feel a bit sorry for Jonathan Kreinik.

Ally: Yeah, the accompanying email I remember sending with the hard drive with this contained was probably a book in itself but god bless the man, patience of a saint, a very talented mixer.

James: I think when we were doing this, we almost wanted people to forget that the song previously had happened because in a minute, it explodes back into the song and it’s a shocking bold moment.

Ally: This was a lot of fun for those of us in the band who are more into synthesizers and sonics, mentioning no names, certainly including myself, just really having a bit of fun making this sort of ambient soundscape.

James: I was taking the piss out of them an awful lot when they were in the kitchen recording cutlery, dropping things, a little self-indulgent maybe.

Ally: Yeah, possibly.

James: Originally this was four parts as well.

Ally: It was, the missing part of ‘Secrets’, I think we will finish it off and do something with it one day.

James: I liked the fourth part. I like the third part more. Probably the only moment as well that sort of hints at a more modern dance moment in the background.

Ally: I love these Daniel Miller type vocals

James: Quite ‘Warm Leatherette’. Regarding talking over it, it’s not a very melodic moment so it didn’t feel right trying to sing anything over it.

Ally: After having four minutes of atonal nonsense, this wasn’t the most shocking thing to happen.

James: It’s good advice though.

Ally: What?

James: The lyrics!

Ally: Coping with life 101 with MIRRORS.

James: It seems strange being self-deprecating over a moment like that. The important thing for us is that we don’t do things like that to be pretentious. We do it because we think it enhances the record and enhances the music. So, don’t think we’re stone faced and cold.

Ally: No absolutely! We definitely thought of this record as a listening experience, there’s nothing worse when you hear an album and you think individually the songs are very good but that’s all they are a collection of songs put together. I feel really pleased and proud of the album we’ve got, it feels like a journey and makes for a really enjoyable listen.

Lights & Offerings

Ally: ‘Lights & Offerings’ was so close to making the album…

James: The reason it didn’t make it was because ‘Secrets’ did, it’s as simple as that. They come from a similar place and we didn’t want to have too many epics. With ‘Somewhere Strange’, ‘Fear Of Drowning’ and ‘Secrets’, you’ve got three lynchpin moments; we didn’t need another one of those.

Ally: We’ve always played it live, it goes down excellently.

James: It’s one of my favourite tracks of ours! ‘Broken By Silence’ as well, I like that one.

Visions Of You

James: That’s another of the ones we looked at when we were making the record. The label really wanted it to be on the album and we had to put our foot down and say…

Ally: …this doesn’t feel right to do this on our first record. It didn’t make it in the UK but we’re happy to release it in Germany and I think we’ve come back to it a bit.

James: It’s a very big pop song but there’s part of me that thinks it might be a little too big.

Ally: It sort of scares us almost! They are tracks that, for whatever reason, didn’t make the record, be it for mood or that there was already a song of a similar nature on there.

James: We didn’t in a lot of cases think they were worse. Every single B-side could happily have had a place. We didn’t want it to be too self-indulgent and long. If you’ve got fifteen brilliant songs, it’s going to be an hour and forty five minutes!

Ally: No-one going to have time for that, we’re not RADIOHEAD! *laughs*

James: It’s nice that people really appreciate that we do put as much of an effort into the B-sides because it means they’ll come back to the singles.

Photo by Richard Price

Toe The Line

Ally: That was a song we didn’t really consider for the album until the very last minute and we thought “What about this? It’s actually quite good!”

Falls By Another Name

Ally: It’s a bit of a guilty pleasure…

James: …we do have a habit of writing quite big melodies and choruses, we come from a poppy sort of place.

Ally: James and I normally do that, it’s Tate that reins us in! *laughs*

James: And Tate will tell you right now that he’s not a big fan of ‘Falls By Another Name’…

Tate: It’s alright… *everyone laughs*

‘Lights & Offerings’ used the following equipment: ARP 2600, Akai MPC1000 Production Station, Dave Smith Instruments Prophet 08, Doepfer MAQ16/3 Sequencer, Kawai R50 Drum Machine, Korg MicroPreset, Moog Little Phatty, Minimoog, Memorymoog, Nord Lead 2X, Octave Cat, Roland Juno 60, Roland SH101, Roland TR808 Rhythm Composer, Roland MC202 MicroComposer, Roland SPD-S Electronic Percussion Sampling Pad, Siel Cruise.

‘Lights & Offerings’ was released by Skint Records and is still available as a CD or download via assorted online retailers

Norman Cooke’s Facebook Group MIRRORS Appreciation Society can be joined at https://www.facebook.com/groups/404571368236796

Introductory Text and Additional Interviews by Chi Ming Lai
Transcription by Norman Cooke from the original iTunes album commentary
28 February 2024

NATION OF LANGUAGE This Fractured Mind

‘This Fractured Mind’ is the best of the three trailers released so far by NATION OF LANGUAGE ahead of their upcoming second album ‘A Way Forward’.

Dealing with the spectre of unrealised dreams and jealousy towards more successful others, by the end of ‘This Fractured Mind’, any inferiority complex is countered with hopeful acceptance in line with the new album’s optimistic title.

Vocally like a majestic cross between THE NATIONAL and A-HA, NATION OF LANGUAGE are led by singer /songwriter Ian Devaney; his wife Aidan Noell on keyboards and returning bassist Michael Sui-Poi complete the line-up.

Using a rigid motorik backbone and capturing a danceable ethereal shudder, ‘This Fractured Mind’ breathes new life via its sprightly synth tones in a reference to the past. Although there is also some frenetic bass guitar grit to provide a hint of claustrophobia, the machines that had only been friends previously have now become family…

Possibly the nearest act musically to the much missed MIRRORS at the moment, NATION OF LANGUAGE seem to get synthier with each release. ‘On Division St’ from their debut long player ‘Introduction, Presence’ revealed itself to be a second cousin to NEW ORDER’s ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ with its sharp synth lines and programmed bass triplets. But a late 2020 standalone single ‘Deliver Me From Wondering Why’ used a more blippy construction compared with the post-punk approach of their earlier work and explored the more experimental phase of OMD.

Ian Devaney’s artistic epiphany came when he heard OMD’s ‘Electricity’ in his father’s car for the first time in years, having grown up with it as part of his domestic soundtrack. Inspired to write songs with modern monophonic synths like the Behringer MS-1, Moog Sub37 and reissued Korg MS20, he adopted a fresh beginner’s mind towards the electronic pop form.

With such an affinity towards pioneering British new wave bands like NEW ORDER and OMD, NATION OF LANGUAGE’s tour of the UK in early 2022 could be seen as a sort of spiritual homecoming for the Brooklyn-based trio.

‘This Fractured Mind’ is from the upcoming album ‘A Way Forward’ released on 5th November 2021, pre-order from the band’s website shop or https://nationoflanguage.bandcamp.com/

NATION OF LANGUAGE 2022 EU + UK tour includes:

Copenhagen Ideal Bar (15th January), Stockholm Obaren (16th January), Oslo Bla (17th January), Berlin Kantine Am Berghain (19th January), Zurich Kater (20th January), Barcelona Laut (22nd January), Madrid Sala El Sol (23rd January), Paris Supersonic (25th January), Leeds Hyde Park Book Club (27th January), Glasgow Broadcast (28th January), Dublin Grand Social (29th January), Manchester YES Pink Room (30th January), London Lafayette (31st January)






Text by Chi Ming Lai
10th August 2021


Brooklyn-based duo NATION OF LANGUAGE are singer / songwriter Ian Devaney and his wife Aidan Noell on keyboards.

Gifted with a voice of anguish, Devaney had fronted New Jersey alternative rock band THE STATIC JACKS who released their only album ‘In Blue’ in 2013.

Legend has it that NATION OF LANGUAGE came into being when Devaney heard OMD’s ‘Electricity’ in his father’s car for the first time in years, having grown up with it as part of his domestic soundtrack. This led to Devaney adopting what he termed the “beginner’s mind” of those pioneering synth acts.

So he began writing songs with monophonic synths like the Behringer MS-1, Korg MS20 and Moog Sub37 while like OMD, also using bass guitar. Issuing a series of singles since 2016 including an electronic cover of PIXIES’ ‘Gouge Away’, NATION OF LANGUAGE finally released their debut album ‘Introduction, Presence’ in Spring 2020.

Now if Rodney Cromwell had joined MIRRORS or if MIRRORS had more of a Factory Records fixation as opposed to looking up to OMD, then that would be the sound of NATION OF LANGUAGE. So despite having dense production aesthetics in common, the more inherent gloominess means that NATION OF LANGUAGE are perhaps less obviously immediate than MIRRORS. NATION OF LANGUAGE have also made more use of NEW ORDER style melodic lead bass provided by Michael Sui-Poi from THE STATIC JACKS, while Fabrizio Moretti from THE STROKES occasionally guested on drums.

‘On Division St’ is a close relative to ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ with its sharp synth lines and programmed bass triplets, while ‘Rush & Fever’ plays with sequencers and electronic effects to reinforce the NEW ORDER influence but perhaps more unexpectedly, Devaney starts to sound like Morten Harket of A-HA.

The spectre of the Norwegian pop trio looms on the superb synth driven album highlight ‘Friend Machine’ which examines society’s addiction to technology and the standalone synthpop flavoured single ‘A Different Kind Of Life’. However, the shadier tones of  CHVRCHES collaborator Matt Berninger of THE NATIONAL is who Devaney mostly emulates vocally.

Album opener ‘Tournament’ imagines an artistic union of A-HA and LCD SOUNDSYSTEM while ‘Automobile’ adds full chords via some Roland Strings; continuing the driving theme, there’s the partly spoken robopop of ‘The Motorist’.

While the album closer ‘The Wall & I’ exhibits more of a post-punk feel like FM ATTACK meets SECTION 25, the glorious brand new single ‘Deliver Me From Wondering Why’ uses a more blippy construction and takes a leaf out of the more experimental phase of early OMD while eschewing bass guitar following the departure of Michael Sui-Poi.

‘A Different Kind Of Life’ and ‘Deliver Me From Wondering Why’ both signal the next phase of NATION OF LANGUAGE and unlike MIRRORS who many are comparing them to, a second long player is a likely realisation.

It will be very interesting to see where the duo head next and whether the machines become not just friends but family…

‘Deliver Me From Wondering Why’ is available as a digital single, along with their back catalogue to date from https://nationoflanguage.bandcamp.com/

‘Introduction, Presence’ can be purchased as a vinyl LP from https://www.nationoflanguage.com/





Text by Chi Ming Lai
3rd March 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 ‘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 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), ‘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. 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, 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 the duo, ‘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 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 ‘Lies’ in 2012, Glasgow trio CHVRCHES 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. It got relegated to B-side status despite being superior to several songs on their debut album ‘The Bones Of What You Believe’.

Available on the CHVRCHES single ‘Recover’ via Virgin Records


DEPECHE MODE All That’s Mine (2013)

As with the ‘Sounds Of The Universe’ boxed set only track ‘Oh Well’, the best song from the ‘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! 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 ‘English Electric’ album was notable for combining conceptual art pieces alongside supreme electronic pop in a manner reminiscent of ‘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; he’d theorized about uniting art and technology and on the B-side of its launch single ‘Zeppelin’, METROLAND worked on a 21st Century interpretation of that goal. Now imagine if Gary Numan had actually joined KRAFTWERK in 1979? The brilliant ‘(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). 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)

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


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK celebrates its tenth birthday and it really has been synthly the best.

At the HEAVEN 17 aftershow party for their triumphant gig at The Magna Science Park on 6th March 2010, following chats with Glenn Gregory, Martyn Ware, Paul Humphreys and Claudia Brücken, interview opportunities opened up. It was obvious there was gap waiting to be filled for a quality web publication that featured the best in new and classic electronic pop without having to lower itself to using the dreaded “80s” label.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK was it and became reality on 15th March 2010. Electronic pop music didn’t start in that Thatcher decade and certainly didn’t end there either. So there was even an editorial diktat which banned ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s writers from using the lazy”80s” term as a reference. Tellingly, several PR representatives said that one of the site’s main appeals was that it avoided the whole nostalgia bent that had been presented by both virtual and physical media.

At the time, kooky female fronted keyboard based pop like LA ROUX, LITTLE BOOTS, LADYHAWKE, LADY GAGA and MARINA & THE DIAMONDS were among those touted as being the future at the time. But it proved to be something of a red herring, as those acts evolved back into what they actually were, conventional pop acts. ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK preferred the sort of innovative synthpop as outlined in BBC4’s Synth Britannia documentary.

With the next generation of artists like MARSHEAUX, VILE ELECTRODES, VILLA NAH and MIRRORS more than fitting the bill, that ethos of featuring pop music using synthesizers stuck too.

Meanwhile, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s portfolio expanded swiftly with key personalities such as Rusty Egan, Sarah Blackwood, Richard James Burgess, Warren Cann, Chris Payne, Thomas Dolby, John Foxx, Andy McCluskey, Neil Arthur, Alan Wilder, Mark Reeder, Gary Langan, Jori Hulkkonen, Howard Jones, Mira Aroyo, Sarah Nixey and Hannah Peel among those giving interviews to the site during its first two years.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK has always prided itself in asking the questions that have never usually been asked, but which fans want to know the answers to. And it was with this reputation for intelligent and well researched interviewing that in March 2011, the site was granted its biggest coup yet.

Speaking to Stephen Morris of the then-on hiatus NEW ORDER, the drummer cryptically hinted during the ensuing chat that Manchester’s finest would return by saying “I never say never really”.

And that is exactly what happened in Autumn of that year and the band have been there since, as popular as ever and still making great music with the release of ‘Music Complete’ in 2015.

Monday 21st March 2011 was an interesting day that partied like it was 1981 when it saw the release of albums by DURAN DURAN, THE HUMAN LEAGUE and JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS. Also in 2011, Mute Records celebrated their influential legacy with a weekender also at London’s Roundhouse which culminated in ERASURE, YAZOO and THE ASSEMBLY performing in the same set.

Despite the ‘Brilliant’ return of ULTRAVOX, 2012 paled in comparison after such a fruitful year and several acts who were featured probably would not have gained as much coverage in more competitive periods. With pressure from outsiders as to what was hot and what was not, this was the only time ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK felt it was obliged to support a domestic scene.

But realising acts like HURTS and STRANGERS were actually just jumping on an apparent synth bandwagon and possessing more style than substance, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK decided to change tact and only featured acts it felt truly passionate about, even if it meant upsetting the wider synth community. The reasoning being that just because a band uses a synthesizer doesn’t mean it is good.

During this time, MIRRORS sadly disbanded while VILLA NAH mutated into SIN COS TAN. But the year did see the launch of CHVRCHES who stood out from the crowd with their opening gambit ‘Lies’.

With their Taylor Swift gone electro template, Lauren Mayberry and Co managed to engage an audience who didn’t know or care what a Moog Voyager was, to listen to synthpop!

2013 turned out to be one of the best years for electronic pop since its Synth Britannia heyday. What ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK achieved during this year would take up a whole article in itself… there were high profile interviews with Alison Moyet, Gary Numan and Karl Bartos while OMD released the album of the decade in ‘English Electric’. PET SHOP BOYS made up for their ‘Elysium’ misstep with ‘Electric’ while there was finally a third volume in BEF’s ‘Music Of Quality & Distinction’ covers series.

Although 2014 started tremendously with ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK being invited to meet Karl Bartos and Wolfgang Flür in Cologne, the year suffered next to the quality of 2013. The interviews continued, particularly with key figures from the Synth Britannia era including Midge Ure and the often forgotten man of the period Jo Callis who was a key member of THE HUMAN LEAGUE during their imperial phase.

But the year saw grandeurs of delusion at their highest. There was the clueless Alt-Fest debacle which saw the organisers play Fantasy Festival with no cash to underwrite the infrastructure to enable it to actually happen!

Sadly today, there are still egotistic chancers organising events with zero budget and the money from ticket sales being fleeced to fund their holidays. But these artificial factors are rarely considered and so long as there are lower league artists desperate to play for nowt and a misguided enhancement in profile that is often on a platform that provides minimal exposure anyway, then the confidence tricks will continue.

2015 saw the local emergence of Rodney Cromwell and Gwenno, while the majestic Swedish duo KITE proved that they were the best synth act in Europe with the ‘VI’ EP and their impressive live show. It was also the year when ERASURE front man Andy Bell gave his first interview to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK to offer some revealing insights.

Making something of a comeback after a recorded absence of nearly eight years, Jean-Michel Jarre presented his ambitious two volume ‘Electronica’ project which saw collaborations with a varied pool of musicians including Pete Townsend, Lang Lang, John Carpenter, Vince Clarke, Hans Zimmer, Cyndi Lauper, Sebastien Tellier and Gary Numan.

VILLA NAH returned in 2016, as did YELLO with Fifi Rong as one of their guest vocalists while APOPTYGMA BERZERK went instrumental and entered the ‘Exit Popularity Contest’. Riding on the profile generated from their ‘A Broken Frame’ covers album, MARSHEAUX released their biggest-selling long player to date, a two city concept in ‘Ath.Lon’. This was also the year that ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK first became acquainted with the analogue synthesizer heaven of Johan Baeckström, a modern day Vince Clarke if ever there was one.

2017 saw a bumper crop of great albums from the likes of I SPEAK MACHINE, LCD SOUNDSYSTEM, SOULWAX, IAMX, GOLDFRAPP and DAILY PLANET, while veterans such as Alison Moyet and Gary Numan produced their best work of the 21st Century.

However DEPECHE MODE unleashed their most dire record yet in ‘Spirit’, a dreary exercise in faux activism bereft of tunes. Salt was rubbed into the wound when they merely plonked an underwhelming arena show into a stadium for their summer London show. The trend was to continue later in 2019 as DEPECHE MODE just plonked 14 albums into a boxed set, while OMD offered an album of quality unreleased material in their ‘Souvenir’ package.

And with DEPECHE MODE’s sad descent into a third rate pseudo-rock combo during the last 15 years to appease that ghastly mainstream American institution called The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame with guitars and drums, Dave Gahan in particular with his ungrateful dismissal of the pioneering synth-based material with which he made his fortune with, now has what he has always coveted.

And don’t get ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK started on the 2019 Moog Innovation Award being given to Martin Gore, a real insult to true synth pioneers if ever there was one, including Daniel Miller, Vince Clarke and Alan Wilder, the three men who actually did the electronic donkey work on those imperial phase DEPECHE MODE albums! Gore may have been a very good songwriter during that time, but a synth innovator? Oh come on!?!

With regards Synth Britannia veterans, new albums in 2017 from Richard Barbieri and Steve Jansen saw a revived interest in JAPAN, the band with which they made their name. Despite releasing their final album ‘Tin Drum’ in 1981, as a later conversation with one-time guitarist Rob Dean proved, cumulatively from related article views, JAPAN became the most popular act on ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK.

The return of SOFT CELL dominated 2018 with a lavish boxed set that was not just comprised of previously released long players, new songs, new books, a BBC documentary and a spectacular farewell show at London’s O2 Arena.

Meanwhile, adopting a much lower profile were LADYTRON with their comeback and an eventual eponymous sixth album. A Non Stop Electronic Cabaret saw Canadian veterans RATIONAL YOUTH play their first ever UK gig alongside PAGE and PSYCHE, but coming out of Brooklyn to tour with ERASURE was REED & CAROLINE.

EMIKA was ‘Falling In Love With Sadness’ and Swedish songstress IONNALEE showcased one of the best value-for-money live presentations in town, with a show that surreal imagined Kate Bush at a rave!

But from China came STOLEN, one of the most exciting bands in years who were then later rewarded for their graft with a European tour opening for NEW ORDER.

2019 was the year when synthwave graduates Dana Jean Phoenix and Ollie Wride were coming into their own as live performers, while electronic disco maestro Giorgio Moroder embarked on a concert tour for the first time with his songs being the true stars of the show.

Gary Daly of CHINA CRISIS gave his first interview to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK to tie in with his solo album ‘Gone From Here’, while a pub lunch with Mark White and Stephen Singleton mutated into an extensive chat about their days in ABC. Lloyd Cole adopted a more synthesized template on ‘Guessworks’ and Britpop went synth as GENEVA’s Andrew Montgomery formed US with Leo Josefsson of Swedish trio LOWE.

If ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK does have a proudest achievement in its first ten years, then it is giving extensive early coverage to VILLA NAH, MIRRORS, VILE ELECTRODES, METROLAND, TINY MAGNETIC PETS and SOFTWAVE, six acts who were later invited to open on tour for OMD. Partly because of this success, some of those who were less talented felt aggrieved despite feeling an entitlement to be featured. If an act is good enough, the fact that ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK hasn’t featured them should not matter, especially as other electronic and synth blogs are available. After taking its eye of the ball once before in 2012, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK maintained a trust of its own gut instinct.

Meanwhile, its stance has been tested by those shouting loudest who instantly champion what they perceive as the next big thing like sheep, without really looking ahead at a wider picture. However, TRAVIS on VSTs is just not ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s thing frankly…

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s participation in the annual ELECTRI_CITY_CONFERENCE in Düsseldorf for on-stage interviews with Rusty Egan, Chris Payne, Mark Reeder and Zeus B Held was another high profile engagement to be proud of. Then there were six live events and five rounds of hosting ‘An Audience with Rusty Egan’ in one of the most unenviable but highly entertaining refereeing assignments in music!

Other highlights over the last ten years have included ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 2015 career retrospective on German trio CAMOUFLAGE being edited and used as booklet notes for the Universal Music sanctioned compilation CD ‘The Singles’.

As 2020 settles in, highly regarded artists within the electronic community continue to engage with ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK. Neil Arthur recently gave his seventh interview as BLANCMANGE and his tenth interview overall, taking into account his side projects FADER and NEAR FUTURE. Not far behind, Martyn Ware has also been a regular interviewee having spoken to the site on six occasions while Paul Humphreys has been interviewed no less than five times.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK is still pushing the envelope, continuing to reflect the interests of people who love the Synth Britannia era and have a desire to hear new music seeded from that ilk. With artists like ANI GLASS, IMI, KNIGHT$, NINA, MECHA MAIKO, GEISTE and PLASMIC among those on the cusp of a wider breakthrough, there is still more excellent music still to be created, discovered and savoured.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its sincerest thanks to everyone who has taken the time read any article on the site over the last ten years, it is greatly appreciated.

Text by Chi Ming Lai
Image Design by Volker Maass
16th March 2020, updated 29th January 2021

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