Tag: Neil Arthur (Page 1 of 7)

BLANCMANGE Everything Is Connected

Celebrating 45 years of BLANCMANGE, ‘Everything Is Connected’ is a new career-spanning “best of” collection curated by co-founder and front man Neil Arthur covering between 1979 to 2024.

With Neil Arthur being one of the most prolific artists in the UK and BLANCMANGE having now released more albums since 2011 than in their hit heyday, it is appropriate that this compilation is a double and split into two distinct chapters.

The first half gathers tracks from when BLANCMANGE were originally a duo comprising of Arthur and Stephen Luscombe. They self-released their first EP ‘Irene & Mavis’ in 1980 where the duo took on the personas of the pensioners pictured on the artwork. Experimental in nature and very lo-fi, it is appropriate than a Eno-esque instrumental ‘Just Another Spectre’ ends this section.

But starting is Chapter One is their breakthrough ‘Sad Day’; a solemn instrumental with an almost-countrified guitar line and a bassline borrowed from Brian Eno’s ‘The Fat Lady Of Limbourg’, it was far more hook-laden than anything on ‘Irene & Mavis’. Pointing to how BLANCMANGE were developing, it was chosen for inclusion on the now-seminal ‘Some Bizzare Album’ which also showcased other then-unknown acts such as SOFT CELL, THE THE, B-MOVIE and DEPECHE MODE. It was support tours with the latter and JAPAN that led to BLANCMANGE signing to London Records in 1982.

Photo by Paul Slattery

The London Records phase is more than well documented, leading to three albums ‘Happy Families’, ‘Mange Tout’ and ‘Believe You Me’ as well as a string of hit singles. ‘Living On The Ceiling’ and ‘Don’t Tell Me’ brought in exotic Eastern flavours thanks to Luscombe’s love of music from the Indian sub-continent having lived in the London’s Southall.

‘Feel Me’ and ‘Blind Vision’ crossed TALKING HEADS with disco, the former remixed in 12 inch form by American dancefloor specialist John Luongo and the latter produced by him. Famously ‘Waves’ allowed Neil Arthur to indulge in his Scott Walker fantasies complete with string backing and drove Julian Cope round the bend in the process!

Photo by Deb Danahay

Meanwhile having immersed themselves in a cassette of ABBA’s ‘The Singles – The First Ten Years’ that Vince Clarke’s girlfriend had brought along while they were all holidaying in Tenerife, Arthur and Luscombe hit on the idea of covering the penultimate track; achieving a higher UK chart position than the original ABBA single, ‘The Day Before You Came is included on ‘Everything Is Connected’ in its superior 7inch single version produced by Peter Collins.

To put things into context, ABBA were considered passé at the time and not treated with the reverence they are today. BLANCMANGE’s take had more of a groove and added some cheeky Northern English melodrama. In some ways, this 1984 can be seen as the seed of the upturn in ABBA’s credibility and Clarke himself was to cover ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!’ with his new project ERASURE in 1985.

Arthur and Luscombe decided to amicably disband BLANCMANGE in 1986 and while both continued in music, it wasn’t until 2011 that a new album they had quietly made together ‘Blanc Burn’ was released; from it ‘Drive Me’ and ‘The Western’ showed the duo had not lost their touch. But almost immediately, Stephen Luscombe had to leave due to health reasons, unable to tour or work. It was mutually agreed that Arthur would continue with BLANCMANGE solo and so began Chapter Two.

The main selling point for fans here is the inclusion of ‘Again, I Wait For The World’, a song written in 1979 by Arthur’s art-school band L360; a vibrant slice of synth punk, it is a worthy addition to the BLANCMANGE tradition. Another treat is the previously unreleased ‘Wish’. The highlight though is 2018’s ‘Distant Storm’, an unusual but brilliant tune with its incessant dance beat, reverberant Moog bassline and dreamy processed vocoder aesthetic presenting an almost spiritual quality.

This solo phase of BLANCMANGE actually began with 2015’s ‘Semi Detached’ album, Neil Arthur’s first new material recorded without Stephen Luscombe and from this technostalgic offering is ‘The Fall’ which actually references Mark E Smith’s cult combo. Coming off 2020’s ‘Mindset’, ‘This Is Bliss’ provides a variety of percolating patterns and a deeper trance bass resonance with a repeated ranting chorus.

In 2022, BLANCMANGE returned home to London Records with 15th long player ‘Private View’ and this occasion is best represented by ‘Reduced Voltage’; echoing CAN in its groovy kosmische precision, although sequencer driven, the guitars get turned up during the second half.

Since the hiatus between 1986 to 2011, Neil Arthur has issued 12 albums as BLANCMANGE, while also undertaking side projects such as NEAR FUTURE, FADER and THE REMAINDER; ‘Everything Is Connected’ provides a chance for those who liked BLANCMANGE’s hits back in the day to catch up with those 21st Century songs, while it also acts as an entry point into the highlights of the back catalogue for younger listeners. That this compilation is able to be a packed double CD is a wonderful achievement.

‘Everything Is Connected’ is released by London Records on 10 May 2024 as a 38 track double CD, 38 track download + 10 track coke bottle green vinyl LP, available from https://blancmange.tmstor.es/products

BLANCMANGE 2024 UK tour with support from THE REMAINDER:

Newcastle-upon-Tyne Wylam Brewery (16 May), Glasgow Saint Luke’s (17 May), Birmingham O2 Institute (18 May), Nottingham Rescue Rooms (23 May), Leeds Brudenell Social Club (24 May), Manchester Academy 2 (25 May), Colchester Arts Centre, (26 May), Bristol Trinity Arts Centre (31 May), London Islington Assembly Hall (1 June), Hove Old Market (2 June), Southampton 1865 (3 June)





Text by Chi Ming Lai
7 May 2024


Making up for lost time and revenue since 2020, the music industry really went to town on their various income streams in 2023…

Albums were being released in multiple coloured vinyl editions with the same content, sometimes as many as eight versions… while this helped in inflating physical chart positions for marketing purposes, it also gave an incorrect perception of success. As Stephen Morris from NEW ORDER once remarked to Smash Hits back in 1983: “If you believe in the charts, then you may as well believe in fairies…”

With Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino declaring that concert ticket prices were generally too low and that artists could easily “charge a bit more”, this was exactly what quite a few did and there was a noticeable price hike observed across all levels over the year.

But what about the music? This year’s song listing was quite straightforward to compile, with a smaller shortlist compared to previous years with DURAN DURAN, KITE, PISTON DAMP, LEATHERS, DELERIUM and LADYTRON missing the final 30.

Just a note that ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK has never compiled an albums list, due to long form releases now having a much longer gestation period than in the past. Therefore, songs are a much better representation of the music from a calendar year. If you like the song, then check out the parent album or EP if applicable via your chosen music platform…

Selected from tracks available on the usual online retail platforms with a restriction of one song per artist moniker (so yes NINA, John Grant,  Finlay Shakespeare and Laura Bailey each appear twice but in different combinations), here are the ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 30 SONGS OF 2023 listed in alphabetical order…


Hailing from Melbourne in Australia, Brigitte Bardini is the latest artist to embrace her dark side having begun as an acoustic singer songwriter. Moving away from the dreampop and shoegaze of her earlier material, ‘Start A Fire’ captured an alluring gothique on top of a gritty dance tempo while simultaneously haunting and melodic. The stylised rage was sinister stuff but aurally and visually absorbing.

Available on the BRIGITTE BARDINI single ‘Start A Fire’ via Ruby Valley Records


BEBORN BETON Dancer In The Dark

Not a rework of Bruce Springsteen, the brilliant ‘Dancer In The Dark’ saw BEBORN BETON managing to out Camouflage CAMOUFLAGE with an infectious pop sensibility that more than likely came from front man and lyric writer Stefan Netschio’s love of DURAN DURAN. With another Cold War looming as if The Berlin Wall never fell, ‘Dancer In The Dark’ was a message to remain positive in the face of adversity.

Available on the BEBORN BETON album ‘Darkness Falls Again’ via Dependent Records



A product of lockdown, BLACKCARBURNING is the solo vehicle of Mark Hockings with the lead singer of MESH taking on multiple roles including programming and production. The spikey throbbing energy of ‘The Mirror’ provided a dark disco highlight away from the parent band’s template. “I’m just generally a fan of arpeggiated bass lines” he said, “I don’t think you can go far wrong with a repetitive sequence and a Roland drum machine”.

Available on the BLACKCARBURNING album ‘Watching Sleepers’ via COP International



With Lloyd Cole “excited to still be finding new methods, new perspectives, new sounds”, the standout song ‘The Idiot’ from his Chris Hughes’ produced album ‘On Pain’ gave a touching synth-laden narrative on the relationship between David Bowie and Iggy Pop as they relocated to Berlin in 1976 in an imagined conversation as the pair escaped their narcotic dependency while cycling to the studio and discothèque.

Available on the LLOYD COLE album ‘On Pain’ via earMUSIC


CREEP SHOW The Bellows

A supergroup comprising of John Grant and the trio WRANGLER comprising of Stephen Mallinder, Ben Benge Edwards and Phil Winter, CREEP SHOW released their acclaimed debut album ‘Mr Dynamite’ in 2018. Utilising a punchy backing track, ‘The Bellows’ was like a blippy PET SHOP BOYS with layers of treated and vocodered vocals before being countered by enticing Middle Eastern resonances in the synth solo.

Available on the CREEP SHOW album ‘Yawning Abyss’ via Bella Union


DAWN TO DAWN Seventh Floor

Their first new track from DAWN TO DAWN since their 2022 debut album ‘Postcards From The Sun To The Moon’, the Montreal trio of solo artist Tess Roby with THE BEAT ESCAPE’s Adam Ohr and Patrick Lee conjured images of headlights on night drives with the shimmering story of love and lust that was ‘Seventh Floor’. With dreamy synthscapes and hypnotic drum machine, this was a wonderfully understated dance number.

Available on the DAWN TO DAWN digital single ‘Seventh Floor’ via SSURROUNDSS



Creating their own “Feraltropolis”, the palette of tools on ‘Truth Is The New Gold’ saw FERAL FIVE use traditional instruments, electronica and AI voicing in a quirky but accessible fashion for a commentary on today’s strangely dystopian post-truth world. Exploring the theme of light pollution, the fine squelch laden ‘Silver Sky’ saw great vocals and backing reminiscent of INTERNATIONAL TEACHERS OF POP and DUBSTAR meeting GOLDFRAPP.

Available on the FERAL FIVE album ‘Truth Is The New Gold’ via Reckless Yes


FRAGRANCE. Much More Like A Wave – M!R!M Remix

Matthieu Roche is the enigmatic Parisian behind FRAGRANCE. whose debut ‘Dust & Disorders’ was expanded in 2023 with five new tracks. The first remix from it came in the shape of an excellent ‘Much More Like A Wave’ rework by London-based Italian producer M!R!M. “I love his take on the song” said Roche, “I always felt that the chorus of this song could work as an anthem and he definitely achieved that with his remix”

Available on the FRAGRANCE. digital single ‘Much More Like A Wave – M!R!M Remix’ via Sugarcane Recordings


GLÜME Dangerous Blue

Following the acclaim for her debut ‘The Internet’ and her first liev appearences, the second Glüme album ‘Main Character’ with high profile guests such as Sean Ono Lennon and Rufus Wainwright was set to elevate her to the next level. However, things did not quite work out that way with health and financial concerns by the end of the year. ‘Dangerous Blue’ was one of the sparkling highlights despite its cooing melancholy.

Available on the GLÜME album ‘Main Character’ via Italians Do It Better



Formally of synth-tinged Portland band FRINGE CLASS, Madeline Goldstein presented her best single yet in ‘Seed Of Doubt’ to launch her ‘Other World’ EP. With a wider narrative on “the restlessness of alienation and isolation, the longing to move, to feel power, and to flee”, ‘Seed Of Doubt’ was a brooding slice of gothwave in a manner tinged with some ghostly allure thanks to a haunting soprano delivery.

Available on the self-released MADELINE GOLDSTEIN EP ‘Other World’


JORI HULKKONEN featuring JOHN GRANT I’m Going To Hell

“For my 50th birthday I wanted to do something a bit special” said Jori Hulkkonen, “however, the list of realistic projects quickly narrowed down on yet another album. I did manage to invite some friends and heroes to be featured on it, though.” The album assembled an impressive supporting cast; displaying his love of PET SHOP BOYS, hearing John Grant with his rich baritone on a house-driven pop track like ‘I’m Going To Hell’ was pure joy.

Available on the JORI HULKKONEN album ‘There Is Light Hidden In These Shadows’ via Blanco & Tinto Recordings



ITALOCONNECTION’s long player ‘Nordisko’ came with a twist by paying tribute to pop from the Nordic region via a collection of cover versions. Written by Jay-Jay Johanson, his marvellous 2002 tune ‘On The Radio’ was given an airy feminine disco makeover featuring Jaia Sowden on vocals. With absorbent sequences and glistening keys, it was a fine disco friendly shapeshift from the artpop original.

Available on the ITALOCONNECTION album ‘Nordisko’ via Mordisco / Blanco Y Negro



Athens-based Finn Jaakko Eino Kalevi sought to find beauty in the chaotic nature of the everyday on his new double album ‘Chaos Magic’. One of its many highlights ‘The Chamber Of Love’ bore a resemblance to WHAM! “I wrote the song before I ever heard ‘Everything She Wants’ but the arrangement was different” the Finn said, “I love ‘Everything She Wants’ so I arranged this song sounding more like that. It is more electronic now…”

Available on the JAAKKO EINO KALEVI album ‘Chaos Magic’ via Weird World / Domino Recording Co



When artists are mutual fans, it can lead to collaborative possibilities and even ‘Lust’. KID MOXIE and NINA teamed up via Italians Do It Better to capture a seductive film-noir tension within a fantasy world with the EP launched by a cover of ‘Waiting For The Night’, a song made famous by Jennifer Lopez. With a cool air of enigmatic mystery, the downtempo synthwave treatment on ‘Lust’ exuded a sensual anticipation of consummation in their duet.

Available on the KID MOXIE & NINA EP ‘Lust’ via Italians Do It Better



KNIGHT$ What Planet Did You Come From?

The first new music from KNIGHT$ since 2021, the vibrant hook-laden Eurobeat of ‘What Planet Did You Come From? (Baby)’ threw in the kitchen sink with synth, sax and vocoder. With shades of Patrick Cowley’s work for Sylvester and Bobby Orlando’s Divine productions, it affirmed that James Knights’ Britalo was just the tonic in these difficult times despite highlighting existential issues closer to home.

Available on the KNIGHT$ EP ‘$auna Mu$ik’ via Specchio Uomo



From their third album ‘Strange Disciple’ themed around “toxic infatuation”, the fittingly titled ‘I Will Never Learn’ summed up life’s trials and tribulations in a wonderful example of why NATION OF LANGUAGE appeal so much in their glorious mix of synths, live bass, sequencers and electronic percussion. A haunting girly falsetto howl provided a beautiful touch alongside their usual NEW ORDER, OMD and ULTRAVOX influences.

Available on the NATION OF LANGUAGE album ‘Strange Disciple’ via PIAS



Having impressed with her first NEU-ROMANCER EP ‘Neue Romantika’ earlier in 2023 while touring the world with ZANIAS, Berlin-based Australian Laura Bailey ended the year with the cowbell heavy Hi-NRG romp ‘Burning Eyes’ on CURSES’ enjoyable album ‘Next Wave Acid Punx DEUX’ compilation. It made use of both her vocal and bass prowess which were less prominent on her largely instrumental debut release.

Available on the compilation album ‘Next Wave Acid Punx DEUX’ (V/A) via Eskimo Recordings


NNHMN Soldier of Beauty

As NNHMN, wife and husband “non-humans” Lee Margot and Michal Laudarg have been encapsulating these unsettling times in music. Adapting their dark electronic body style with more varied dance elements on their appropriately titled ‘Circle of Doom’ album, courtesy of a particularly hypnotic bassline, the wonderful serene glory of ‘Soldier of Beauty’ gave the viewpoint that the only honest thing to fight for is peace.

Available on the NNHMN album ‘Circle of Doom’ via Young and Cold Records


OMD Look At You Now

Derived from a Paul Humphreys demo with the working title of ‘Zimmer Frame for Andy’, this came bursting with the usual OMD hooks and was perhaps only missing a Paul Humphreys lead vocal. Lyrics such as “When the energy is gone and the feeling is just wrong” and “The power in your hand is pouring out like sand” pointed towards the ‘Bauhaus Staircase’ album’s political themes on the blind stupidity of Brexit.

Available on the OMD album ‘Bauhaus Staircase’ via 100% Records


PAGE Det Här Är Mitt Sätt

Although the ‘En Ny Våg’ album title song took the PAGE “Numanisation” process to its zenith by featuring Chris Payne, outstripping it was the excellent jaunty robopop of ‘Det Här Är Mitt Sätt’. Within its four chord progression, there were catchy riffs and some fabulous vintage Moog soloing in what was originally conceived as a homage to ‘Fade To Grey’, song which Payne co-wrote.

Available on the PAGE album ‘En Ny Våg’ via Energy Rekords


THE REMAINDER Broken Manhole Cover

As well as Neil Arthur, THE REMAINDER also comprises Liam Hutton and Finlay Shakespeare, both members of the live BLANCMANGE family. The excellent dance friendly ‘Broken Manhole Cover’ recalled LCD SOUNDSYSTEM and it was all intentional as Neil Arthur told ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK “you’ll hear me singing via a gated tremolo FX the words ‘LCD SOUNDSYSTEM’ most of the way through the song.”

Available on THE REMAINDER album ‘Evensong’ via by Blanc Check Ltd




R. MISSING All Alone With Seas

Fronted by enigmatic Sharon Shy, having released enough singles this year to make up an album, R. MISSING are in danger of falling under the radar with the bubbly electronic pop noir of ‘All Alone With Seas’ almost passing by unnoticed despite being one of their best songs of late. A long playing release, while old fashioned and not playing the modern streaming algorithms, may provide the focal point that the New York-based duo deserve.

Available on the R. MISSING single ‘All Alone With Seas’ via Terminal Echo



Covered by acts as diverse CARTER THE UNSTOBBALE SEX MACHINE and Liza Minnelli, the latest interpretation of PET SHOP BOYS stark narrative of a kept woman came via this wispy account by Swedish duo SALLY SHAPIRO. Keeping the original theme of relationship dependency close to its heart but offering an icier Nordic vision from a female perspective, Neil Tennant said “We’ve heard it! The chorus in particular sounds good”.

Available on the SALLY SHAPIRO single ‘Rent’ via Italians Do It Better


DIE SEXUAL Bound, I Rise

From out of the shadows to under the strobe lights, DIE SEXUAL are the Los Angeles-based wife-and-husband duo of Rosselinni and Anton Floriano, the latter part of BLACK LIGHT ODYSSEY who remixed the DEPECHE MODE bonus track ‘Oh Well’. Their dark electronic influences examine themes of domination and submission with the seductive ‘Bound, I Rise’ seeing the bottom switch to the top in a hypnotic EBM friendly stomper.

Available on DIE SEXUAL EP ‘Bound’ via A System Exclusive / Hush Ltd.



“It’s an absolute rip off of OMD’s ‘2nd Thought’!” admitted Finlay Shakespeare of his glorious ‘Illusion + Memory’ album highlight ‘Ready Ready’. Almost Motorik in presence with a wonderfully pulsing drive and gorgeous synth tones, our hero doesn’t refrain from thoughts about “feeling at home through just a voice on the shortwave, when in fact you don’t know where you are and you could be in the crosshairs at any time and place.”

Available on the FINLAY SHAKESPEARE album ‘Illusion + Memory’ via Alter


SIERRA Stronger

Parisian producer Annelise Morel has been quietly impressing audiences over the past few years as SIERRA with her brand of intriguing darkwave. After several EP releases, her debut album ‘A Story Of Anger’ was a major artistic leap forward. Including collaborations with Carpenter Brut and HEALTH, the standout track was her autobiographical statement ‘Stronger’.

Available on the SIERRA album ‘A Story Of Anger’ via Universal Music


SOFT CELL The Day The World Turned Day-Glo

Always adept at doing covers having had hits with ‘Tainted Love’ and ‘What’, SOFT CELL presented a brilliant electro tribute to Poly Styrene with ‘The Day The World Turned Day-Glo’. Taking a musical leaf out of ‘Sex Dwarf’ with Dave Ball making his syndrums and synths sound so menacing yet accessible, while Marc Almond delivers a vocal recalling the anguish of ‘Martin’ with sleazy sax passages resonating with the dystopian lyrics.

Available on the SOFT CELL album ‘*Happiness now completed’ via BMG


SOFTWAVE Taking Life For Granted

Despite its positive pop sound, the reflective lyrics on the second SOFTWAVE album ‘things we’ve done’ highlighted the challenges of living in a modern world full of dualities. ‘Taking Life For Granted’ saw the Danish duo of Catrine Christensen and Jerry Olsen go all ABBA-esque with someone “lacking gratitude” under attack, although the rousing chorus and a particularly joyous instrumental break gave the infinite hope.

Available on the SOFTWAVE album ‘things we’ve done’ via Electro Shock Records



A fabulous cover of the Italo flavoured Kim Wilde B-side to ‘The Second Time’ from 1984, the throbbing ‘Lovers On A Beach’ is NINA sounding sexier than ever before. Ricky Wilde said “I just thought there was a little bit more that it needed that I maybe wanted to add back in the day”. With sharp spikey edges boosting the trancey template, he provided a superb extended end section that paid homage to Giorgio Moroder in the best way possible.

Available on the RICKY WILDE X NINA album ‘Scala Hearts’ via New Retro Wave



ZANIAS Lovelife

Following one of the most traumatic periods of her life, Alison Lewis returned as her solo alter-ego Zoe Zanias to present ‘Chrysalis’.  As the title suggests, it was a rebirth. With glorious arpeggios and lush synth strings, ‘Lovelife’ was bolstered with bass guitar by live bandmate Laura Bailey aka NEU-ROMANCER while an array of pitch-shifted voice samples acted as an abstract lead vocal before the actual one kicked in.

Available on the ZANIAS album ‘Chrysalis’ via Fleisch


A selection of ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s favourite music of 2023 featuring 230+ tracks has been compiled for its ‘Initial After Brilliance’ playlist

Text by Chi Ming Lai
7 December 2023



THE REMAINDER are an electronic trio comprising Neil Arthur (vocals, guitar + synthesizers), Liam Hutton (drums, guitar + synthesizers) and Finlay Shakespeare (synthesizers + vocals).

The credentials of Neil Arthur and his work in BLANCMAGE are well documented, but Liam Hutton has a portfolio that includes Neneh Cherry while Finlay Shakespeare is an artist in his own right who also builds synths via his Future Sound Systems.

THE REMAINDER recently released debut album ‘Evensong’ has been many years in the making. Although both Liam Hutton and Finlay Shakespeare are recurring members of the BLANCMANGE live family, the project began before either was involved in the headline act.

The sound of THE REMAINDER is crisp yet hazy, with Arthur relinquishing total control and relishing in the altered dynamic coming from two younger and very capable collaborators, as he has done previous in his other side-projects NEAR FUTURE, FADER and KINCAID.

‘Evensong’ is an immediately enjoyable affair that sits nicely in the wider Neil Arthur canon. ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK had the pleasure of a three-way online chat with Neil Arthur, Liam Hutton and Finlay Shakespeare to discuss THE REMAINDER and its creative dynamic.

How did the idea of actually writing and producing music together come about, as opposed to just performing together?

Neil: Liam and I started work on the album in 2015, shortly after my manager Steve Malins introduced us. It wasn’t until a few years later that Liam joined BLANCMANGE on tour. We asked Finlay if he’d like to get involved later still. When was that? At that point, although Finlay had been a special guest with us, he hadn’t played with the Blancs.

Finlay: It was 10th November 2018 backstage at The Cluny, Newcastle!

Were the bones of the songs written together or by necessity due to your schedules, THE REMAINDER needed to a remote project?

Neil: Liam sent me his ideas electronically and I responded likewise. In fits and starts, eventually we had a body of work that we presented to Finlay to let his machines loose on. It was only then that we realised, “oh, we’ve got an album’s worth of noise here”. I think Liam and I got together in person only once before finally we went to join Finlay at his studio to fine-tune and mix the album.

Finlay: COVID didn’t help. I remember the dates of the mix session being set quite precariously, and a lot of my dabbling with the projects beforehand had to be done remotely anyway.

Did you set out any rules or restrictions in the way the music was constructed to set THE REMAINDER apart from your other work?

Neil: No, I think the three of us would hopefully be able create something uniquely different in the way each of us reacted to information / music / files / suggestion we in turn received from one another. A mutualistic 3 way symbiosis I reckon.

Finlay: Not strictly, but I remember using the opportunity to try some new techniques out. There’s a moment where a keyboard got played with my feet in ‘Dead Farmer’s Field’!

Was there anything that was applied more consciously, like for example live drum feels?

Liam: The decision to add live drums was definitely a ‘conscious’ one. All of the tracks began with programmed drums but ‘Evensong’ and ‘Dead Farmer’s Field’ just felt like they needed that extra punch!

The ‘Dead Farmer’s Field’ title has a goth rock air about it and that comes across in the music?

Neil: Oh, I hadn’t clocked that.

The ‘Evensong’ title track has this motorik backbone, how did that piece itself together and what influences went into the pot?

Neil: There was an intention to attempt towards that motorik drive, with NEU! and LA DÜSSELDORF being a reference to an extent.

Finlay: With the drum machine stem being sent over, I remember going straight for the sequencers at the studio, sending clock to as much stuff simultaneously as I could, then tweaking everything with each pass. Haswell’s Taiko, ARP 2600 clones, MS20, plenty of fun. That rigidly clocked feel definitely helps the motorik aspect.

Liam: I think we all had our eyes / ears on similar influences for this one! KRAFTWERK, CAN, NEU! et al. The idea started with the repetitive arpeggio played on an electric guitar, using that muted-harmonics technique everyone does when they first start learning to play. Then the drums were added at first using a Korg Vulca Beats which is quite a rudimentary but a fun little drum sequencer, and bass notes programmed on a computer. Neil then added vocals and synths and it took shape from there, going to Finlay for some grit and character!

The album opener ‘Broken Manhole Cover’ has this LCD SOUNDSYSTEM vibe, any thoughts?

Neil: Well, if you listen very carefully, you’ll hear me singing via a gated tremolo FX the words “LCD SOUNDSYSTEM” most of the way through the song. Maybe that’s got something to do with it. Subliminal suggestion. I can’t remember how I came to be singing that. Local amnesia possibly…

Finlay: The finger clicks and hand claps are pure Bowie, make of that what you will…

Was ‘Lift Music’ a track born out of frustration?

Neil: Lyrically, more monotonous repetition – hotels on tour. Forgetting where you are because once you’re in there, it may as well be anywhere or nowhere. Then there’s another level, get it? Lift music, to keep you calm in a small space. People get paid to curate a setlist of songs for lift travel. I want that job. CCTV watching your every move. Repeat and repeat.

Liam: I was messing around with the Ableton Looper and ended up making that sort of distorted, stuttery synth sound which you hear throughout. It has a sort of frustrated / anxious feel to it which wasn’t intentional, but it definitely informed the rest of the ideas that came after.

‘What Do You Want To Want’ asks existential questions?

Neil: Yes.

Jo Hutton provides electro-acoustic interludes between all the tracks on ‘Evensong’? How did that come about?

Liam: It was suggested that my Mum, being a sound artist / experimentalist and sound engineer, should make some interludes and she gladly obliged! She used the stems from each track to create their respective interludes.

Will THE REMAINDER perform live or will it be more likely that the occasional song might pop into the BLANCMANGE live set?

Finlay: We’d love to do it, it’s just a case of getting our heads together and existing in the same room for more than 20 minutes! It’s also a case of getting booked, though we could always do a small DIY tour. Tiny venues, 20 people, dancing shoes, job’s a good’un.

Liam: I hope so!

What is next for you each?

Neil: More recording, then a break before festivals in Europe.

Finlay: A studio move-out, then a potential studio build. A new album’s finished though, set for release in 2024.

Liam: Recording and touring mainly. Hoping to finish some new music before the year is up…

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its grateful thanks to THE REMAINDER

Special thanks to Steve Malins at Random Music Management

‘Evensong’ is released by Blanc Check Ltd as a clear vinyl LP, CD + digital download, available from https://theremainder.tmstor.es/




Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
29 July 2023


Another year and it’s another Neil Arthur side-project. Following on NEAR FUTURE, FADER and KINCAID comes THE REMAINDER.

As well as Neil Arthur, THE REMAINDER also comprises live BLANCMANGE percussionist Liam Hutton whose portfolio includes Neneh Cherry and Finlay Shakespeare, an artist in his own right who also builds synths and is another member of the BLANCMANGE performing family.

Initiated in 2015, the sound of THE REMAINDER is crisp yet hazy, with Arthur relinquishing total control and relishing in the altered dynamic coming from two younger and very capable collaborators. Additionally, Liam Hutton’s mother Jo, a radio audio recording engineer and composer provides sub-20 second ‘feedback and situation’ interludes slotted between the songs for a considered body of work.

Beginning with the excellent dance friendly ‘Broken Manhole Cover’, Neil Arthur deadpans about “eating immature peppers”, “calcium build-up” and other earthy observations and as a hypnotic synthy shine bursts through, it recalls LCD SOUNDSYSTEM. Taking on a more midtempo pace, ‘Hoarfrost’ is spacey electronic pop with engaging keyboard passages where Arthur exclaims “I don’t do nostalgia” as he ponders the passing of time.

The ‘Evensong’ title track is gloriously motorik and brings in live bass alongside a blippy backdrop before some ragged guitar joins in the second half in a celebration of the outsider. A cousin of ‘Hoarfrost’, like VISAGE and TALK TALK, THE REMAINDER have an eponymous song too and the use of digital claps provides a fitting upbeat.

More sombre and perhaps autobiographical, ‘Awake’ sees Arthur sounding particularly weary in the character of a “very very busy, a very busy person”. Of a similar tone and sounding not unlike THE CURE, the angsty ‘Dead Farmer’s Field’ makes subtle but effective use of synths on top of the driving rhythm section.

With more great synth lines and tongue-in-cheek references to the classic BBC comedy show ‘Are You Being Served?’, ‘Lift Music’ excels within a cavernous downtempo trip-hop setting. With eerie horror film vibes in a song about denial, ‘Forgotten’ sees Neil Arthur get more animated and angry before the closer ‘What Do You Want To Want’ recalls JOY DIVISION courtesy of its almost funereal mood as it asks existential questions inspired by the Yuval Noah Harris book, ‘Sapiens; A Brief History Of Mankind’.

This first album by THE REMAINDER is an immediately enjoyable affair that sits nicely alongside FADER and NEAR FUTURE as part of the wider Neil Arthur canon. But what is next? There’s the rumour of an as yet unnamed covers project with Benge and a certain Vince Clarke… versions of ‘Stuck In The Middle Of You’, ‘Goodbye To Love’ and ‘Rock On’ are said to be among the works-in-progress 😉

‘Evensong’ is released on 14 July 2023 by Blanc Check Ltd as a clear vinyl LP, CD + digital download, pre-order from https://theremainder.tmstor.es/




Text by Chi Ming Lai
7 July 2023

A Short Conversation with FINLAY SHAKESPEARE

With his third album, Finlay Shakespeare has produced his most pop work yet in ‘Illusion + Memory’.

Released by experimental musician Luke Younger’s Alter label, ‘Illusion + Memory’ is the follow-up to 2020’s ‘Solemnities’ which came out on Editions Mego, the independent record company established by the late Peter Rehberg to champion underground electronic music.

A graduate in audio engineering and an independent musical device manufacturer via his Future Sound Systems, Finlay Shakespeare is above all, an electronic pop fan with a love of KRAFTWERK, THROBBING GRISTLE, THE HUMAN LEAGUE, ASSOCIATES, OMD and JAPAN that came via his parents’ vast record collection.

With a passionate heart for sonically immersive electronic pop, the vocal delivery of Finlay Shakespeare can be intense and anguished although ‘Illusion + Memory’ reveals a more romantic nature to his music.

He kindly chatted to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about the new approaches he took in the production of his new album, his revived enthusiasm for live work and a new project with Neil Arthur of BLANCMANGE…

How do you look back on ‘Solemenities’ and its reception?

I think I’ve come a long way since that record, but it’ll always be special to me as it was my last album where Peter Rehberg from Editions Mego had a direct involvement. The release time coincided almost perfectly with Europe going into lockdown, so I remember it being rather stressful for all involved. The actual subject matter of the album, at least at the time of writing, seemed pretty sensational to me, always thinking “this end of the world stuff won’t happen”, though what we’ve seen over the last few years has gotten very close. It’s quite bizarre.

Does ‘Illusion + Memory’ have a theme?

Not directly, it’s influenced by a bunch of different things I’m into. Somehow it’s come out as the most “song based” thing I’ve done so far, though that wasn’t a particular aim. I remember wanting to play with structure more deeply, but I’m unsure I really got that far with it, just getting distracted with sequencers instead!

Did you alter your equipment set up to inspire different ideas and approaches?

To a degree, yes… I was able to finish off a lot of DIY synthesizer projects over lockdown, so I ended up going back into the studio with a lot more equipment, particularly patchable analogue stuff. Parts of that equipment make an appearance on most tracks of the album in fact, so there’s perhaps a shift in sound palette thanks to that.

‘Theresa’ reveals a romantic side to you that hasn’t been heard before and has led to you adopting different vocal delivery styles?

Perhaps… the subject matter of Theresa is rather dark, but also relates to strength in the face of brutality. I thought the vocals should reflect that, and I’ve always been a fan of big overdubbed vocal sounds. I think I’ve also gotten a little more confident with using my voice – it’s something I’m always trying to push further.

The opener ‘Your Side of the River’ is like the ultimate homage to Synth Britannia, what is it actually about?

I don’t know! I had a few of the lyrics bouncing around in my head for years and it was time to turn them into something real. The musical elements also grew out of how I used to open the live set. Ironically I moved round the corner from a river after writing the song – I have to cross it on my way to work – so it all felt quite suitable.

‘Always’ appears to recall elements of Peter Gabriel’s 4th album but how did it come together?

‘Always’ began life by playing with the small Buchla system I had DIY’d over lockdown – that’s the first thing you hear in that track. I had this little arpeggiated thing going with the really lovely Buchla oscillator and recorded some of that, then came back to it weeks later. I remember trying to make the drums sound big but not overpowering – trying to mimic the style Liam Hutton has when he plays with BLANCMANGE in fact! Also trying to make my song structures more interesting, although still relatively simple.

Although the album has more of a song-based pop element, ‘Climb’ is the more experimental one…

Well, ‘Climb’ started as a test recording. I had been building some Serge modular equipment for some friends, and the sequence running through is a test of a programmer I built to complement the system. I knew I needed to do something with it, so the recordings made their way to the studio and were augmented by all sorts… there are a lot of toy Casio keyboards in that track!

Talking of experimentation, is that guitar making its presence felt about a third into ‘Ici’ which mutates over the various sections of its six plus minutes?

No guitar on that one, but a fair bit scattered throughout the rest of the record! That part in ‘Ici’ is a Yamaha string machine hooked up to a semi-broken Fender amp.

‘I Saw You’ could be considered classic Finlay Shakespeare, does this have its roots in earlier material you hadn’t used?

Nope! Akin to ‘Climb’, the sequence that runs through came from the programmer I built, but this time controlling a TTSH, the ARP2600 clone. I wanted that track to feel like it was filling up to the brim, eventually overflowing. Every part is a little out of tune with the next, and by the end the mix itself pretty much gets overdriven.

You play with Motorik rhythms on ‘Ready Ready’ with some rather nice synth tones, what was its inspiration?

It’s an absolute rip off of OMD’s ‘2nd Thought’! Lyrically, I had been reading a lot about numbers stations, and there was a theory that one of the automated voices might have come from an agent’s wife. I thought it would be interesting to write a song based around that – feeling at home through just a voice on the shortwave, when in fact you don’t know where you are and you could be in the crosshairs at any time and place. Sacha Baron Cohen’s ‘The Spy’ was another influence on this one.

Were you channelling your inner Vangelis on ‘Upcoming’?

Not quite, though of course I can hear the resemblance. If anything, I was going after a ‘Europe Endless’-esque top line. That part, once again, actually came from testing some equipment – a really cheap Alesis reverb that has this very evident echoing on long decay settings. You can hear that in the track from the offset, and that set the tempo of what became ‘Upcoming’.

A few years ago, you seemed to have become disillusioned with live work but you have been out and about performing again, most recently on a bill with Daniel Miller and Gareth Jones in their SUNROOF modular guise?

It’s tricky – I absolutely love playing live, but it’s becoming logistically and financially harder and harder to do so, especially in the UK. With Brexit, European promoters are understandably far more anxious to book any British acts. It’s a case of finding the right crowds at home too. Over the last year or so, it’s felt like I am finding an audience perhaps more suited to what I do, but there are still certainly times where I end up playing to the venue staff only. Getting people out of their homes to experience something that might be out of their comfort zone can be very difficult. The recent gig at Iklectik was easily one of the best UK experiences I’ve had though, particularly down south.

Your GOTO label has released some interesting stuff by people like Bella Unwin and the eponymous EP by LICKING ORCHIDS, is it progressing as you had hoped?

If anything it’s been somewhat overwhelming! I’m hugely grateful for the support the label’s received, and it’s great being able to put music I love into the world and share it with a wider audience. There’s more music in the pipeline, and really looking forward to seeing the roster grow.

What is next for you?

More recording – I already have the bones of an album that need fleshing out. The music is quite different I think, mainly because I’m trying to push my process and the equipment into different places. I also have some super exciting collaborative projects on the horizon – stay tuned!

One is THE REMAINDER; I was invited by Neil Arthur of BLANCMANGE to add some electronic elements and treatments to some tracks him and Liam Hutton had been working on. This slowly developed into a to-and-fro session sharing project that we made good progress on over the UK COVID lockdowns. At the point we realised we had an album up together, we found the time to meet at my studio in Bristol and get the whole thing mixed. As far as I understand, it’s been quite a long process – I only really came onboard halfway through, if not further in – so it’s quite an honour to be invited to work with Neil and Liam on all this! The album is called ‘Evensong’ and released 14th July 2023.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its sincerest thanks to Finlay Shakespeare

‘Illusion + Memory’ released by Alter in vinyl LP and online formats via https://lnk.to/IllusionMemory

Finlay Shakespeare appears with Nik Void + Russell Haswell at Bloc in Glasgow on Wednesday 31st May 2023 and with Chain of Flowers + Beauty Parlour Clwb Ifor Bach in Cardiff on 1st June 2023







Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
28th May 2023

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