Tag: Neu! (Page 1 of 6)

50: The Legacy of NEU!

Trailblazing kosmische duo NEU! celebrate the 50th anniversary of their self-titled debut album with a boxed set containing their imperial back catalogue. It is appended by a modern day remixes collection featuring contributions by members of NEW ORDER, FACTORY FLOOR, HOT CHIP and MOGWAI amongst others. The CD version of the boxed set additionally features the divisive ‘NEU! 86’ reunion album.

Michael Rother and the late Klaus Dinger had been members of KRAFTWERK when Ralf Hütter had temporarily left the band; they even appeared on West German TV with Florian Schneider but on Hütter’s return, Rother and Dinger left to form NEU!

The name NEU! had been chosen by Dinger as “a protest against the consumer society” and their aim was to restore a sense of German artistic identity, in reaction to the Americanisation of European post-war culture that was now prevalent due to the large detachment of American armed forces on station during The Cold War.

Dinger and Rother were never easy bedfellows from the start, so it was legendary producer Conny Plank who acted as mediator between the pair’s quite different personalities and artistic aspirations. Although popularising the motorik beat, Dinger was a manic and confrontational character who wanted to be more than just a drummer, while Rother was unassuming in his half speed guitar texturing to paint mini-cacophonies of esoteric sound.

The pair had a creative tension to produce music that was experimental, yet accessible. This was showcased on their 1972 self-titled debut with the magnificent opening salvo ‘Hallogallo’. Almost trance-like thanks to its lengthy time space, the Apache drum mantra would later be mutated into drum machines to act as backbeat for OMD. Originally released on Brain Records, the album outlined the musical manifesto of NEU! with a sound that was not derived from the Trans-Atlantic culture.

The pressure was on the duo to produce a worthy follow-up to their debut and but having spent most of their budget from Brain on ‘Für Immer’, effectively a more polished development of ‘Hallogallo’, the second self-titled album was still about five tracks short. So Dinger came up with a brainwave to fill the void with versions of their interim single ‘Neuschnee’ and its B-side ‘Super’. This included recording the 45 RPM single at 16 and 78 complete with needle drops; other variants included drilling an off-centre hole into the vinyl and replaying a tape recording on a faulty cassette player!

Was this winging it or avant-garde genius or was it as Rother thought, Dinger’s way of antagonising Brain Records following what he considered the lack of promo for the ‘Neuschnee’ single? But variations on a theme were always part of the NEU! manifesto as had been demonstrated on their cover artwork and this was taking it to a musical level.

By the time of their third album, relations between Rother and Dinger had got so bad that they agreed to conceive a side each, with minimal input from the other. But NEU! ‘75’ was to be their best record yet, with Rother directing the more sedate and thoughtful first half. Meanwhile Dinger brought in his younger brother Thomas and Hans Lampe to take over his drums as he headed to the front with his guitar for a snarling second half of proto-punk.

‘Isi’ was a wonderfully catchy synthesizer and piano instrumental while ‘Seeland’ pointed to where Rother was eventually to head with his solo career. However, the haunting ‘Leb Wohl’ with its plaintive piano and Dinger’s anguished lead vocal was the stand-out to provide the farewell; OMD were to use this template in their musical dedication ‘4 Neu’.

Dinger provided his angry masterpiece in ‘Hero’ which grooved and startled in equal measure. One person who was listening was Iggy Pop and he provided the ultimate tribute to Dinger with his recent performance of ‘Hero’ with Rother at Hamburg Stadtpark in June 2022.

David Bowie was another NEU! fan and Rother later was asked to play on the “Heroes” album sessions in Berlin, but the collaboration never materialised due to interference from Bowie’s then-management. It remains a curiosity as to what could have been…

After NEU! disbanded, Rother’s became Germany’s answer to Mike Oldfield, while Dinger continued with Hans Lampe and Thomas Dinger in LA DÜSSELDORF. The first three albums from each had their merits while Conny Plank worked with both parties, although even with his good natured demeanour, he was only to last one further recording with Dinger who never really mellowed.

Rother and Dinger entered a studio together in 1986 for a brief NEU! reunion but the continuing tensions meant that the album was abandoned. But in 1995, Dinger released the recordings as the fourth NEU! album in Japan without Rother’s consent; he later described this experience as “a rather painful disaster between Klaus Dinger and myself”. There were several standout tracks, one of which was subsequently titled ‘Euphoria’ and sounded like a lost OMD instrumental while there was a moodier variation called ‘Wave Mother’. The fourth album was eventually sanctioned by Rother after he remixed the recordings following Dinger’s death in 2008 and released as NEU! ‘86’.

Photo by Anton Corbijn

But relations were to sour further when Dinger then toured and recorded for several years as LA! NEU? with Rother angry that his former bandmate was unfairly trading off the NEU! legacy. It was to take many years for the pair to agree on how to reissue their long deleted but now heavily bootlegged albums.

An attempted reconciliation between Rother and Dinger was attempted when the first three NEU! albums were finally reissued in 2000 by Grönland Records, but during the joint promotional interviews, the pair were barely able to tolerate each other’s company, with the photographs taken by Anton Corbijn notably capturing the friction.

These first reissues gave NEU! some much deserved recognition and their influence can be heard in acts such as ULTRAVOX, U2, OMD, NEW ORDER, SONIC YOUTH, STEREOLAB, FUJIYA & MIYAGI, HOT CHIP and MOOD TAEG. And with the NEU! ‘50’ boxed set comes an album of remixes and reworkings by some of those acts by way of tribute.

Stephen Morris and Gabe Gurnsey’s take on ‘Hallogallo’ is probably more of a neu recording than NEU! remix but there are still enough original elements to attribute the source. While Yann Tiersen presents a filmic electronic take on ‘Lieber Honig’ from  the second album, the best of the bunch is Alexis Taylor with ‘4+1=5’, his slowed down 13 minute version of ‘Wave Mother’ that also adds his plaintive vocal in the final quarter.

After five decades, NEU! continue to inspire a new generation, thanks to the continuing live performances of Michael Rother featuring a significant portion of material from that era. While Klaus Dinger may no longer be on this mortal coil, his spirit lives on through the music and it is fitting that it is Hans Lampe who sits in the drum stool behind his former comrade-in-arms as the surviving heroes from ‘75’ continue the mission.

NEU! ‘50!’ is released as a 5LP or 5CD boxed set by Groenland Records

Michael Rother 2022 European live dates celebrating NEU! 50! include:

Berlin Betonhalle @ Silent Green (26th October), London Clapham Grand (3rd November), Barcelona Mira Festival (11th November), Paris BBMix Festival (26th November)




Text by Chi Ming Lai
23rd September 2022


With a 50 year plus music career, Michael Rother is one of modern German music’s great trailblazers. A founder member of NEU! with Klaus Dinger, Rother helped to pioneer Kosmische Musik.

There was also the HARMONIA project with Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius of CLUSTER which led to him becoming the original first choice of David Bowie to play guitar on ‘Heroes’, although that promising partnership never became reality. When NEU! split after three albums in 1975, Rother embarked on an acclaimed solo career which over nine albums gave him prestige as Germany’s answer to Mike Oldfield.

Although best known as a guitarist, Rother’s last album ‘Remember (The Great Adventure)’ released in 2004 was an all-electronic affair and saw him experimenting with vocals from Sophie Joiner née Williams and his now label boss Herbert Grönemeyer. It was Joiner who provided the lead vocals to the album’s best song ‘He Said’ while there was a duet between herself and Grönemeyer on ‘Morning After (Loneliness)’, one of the other highlights.

One of the reasons that it has taken Rother so long to record a new album has been the popular demand for him to play live, thanks to a renewed interest in NEU! initiated by their album reissue programme by Grönemeyer via his Grönland Records in 2001. But the worldwide lockdown left Rother alone at his home studio in Forst by the River Weser in Lower Saxony. Missing his Italian partner and unable to do shows, his need to express himself was channelled into a new record.

Much of what has now become the ‘Dreaming’ album actually dates back to a number of sketches originally made during the ‘Remember (The Great Adventure)’ sessions to which Sophie Joiner contributed her vocals to, but were not used or completed.

As a result, the voice of the now mother of four appears on seven of the nine tracks. Meanwhile Rother has focussed his time to add his guitar and other layers to flinish these electronically derived fragments.

The ‘Dreaming’ title track does as it suggests and affirms Rother’s intention to bring more guitars in as water shimmers in the background. Meanwhile Sophie Joiner repeats the phrase by way of a vocal hook before it is reversed and treated to a mind-bending effect.

The electronic pulsing of ‘Bitter Tang’ perhaps can be seen as a natural development of ‘Morning After (Loneliness)’ with the sparing six string delving into Rother’s past in a manner reminiscent of his classic Conny Plank produced album trilogy of ‘Flammende Herzen’, ‘Sterntaler’ and ‘Katzenmusik’.

Paradoxically “singing loud”, Sophie Joiner provides whispered and spoken passages to ‘Fierce Wind Blowing’ because “nothing matters” and the piece as a whole recalls ‘Sombre Reptiles’ from Brian Eno’s ‘Another Green World’, especially with its layers of sustained guitars and gentle but essential rhythm construction.

A wholly electronic instrumental, the hypnotic ‘Wopp-Wopp’ plays along with gentle percussive textures and lovely choral synths. Sophie Joiner’s vocals return on ‘Hey-Hey’ and have a solemn intense air which veers occasionally towards Björk as a deep ethnic mood is in place across eight minutes to compliment her using a hazy psychedelic template.

Then Sophie Joiner rather fatalistically states “this could be the end”, a surprise comes with ‘Lovely Mess’. Driven by an understated bongo mantra as part of a dub treated soundtrack, it is something that the late Andrew Weatherall would have been proud to construct for ONE DOVE.

With more minimal guitar and recalling Rother’s less lauded Fairlight period which included the ‘Lust’, ‘Süssherz Und Tiefenschärfe’ and ‘Traumreisen’ albums, ‘Out In The Rain’ sees Sophie Joiner almost turn into Suzanne Vega. Cautiously joyous, she waxes lyrical about how “everyone else is crazy” and that she enjoys staying in to sing loud.

Another wholly electronic instrumental piece, ‘Gravitas’ is almost ambient but its enchanting textures build and repeat like a mantra until it becomes like a cascade of church bells. But closing with the wistfully serene ‘Quiet Dancing’, Sophie Joiner’s wonderfully airy delivery is sweetened with Rother’s maestro E-bow and delicate single note six string over a gentle backbone that would sound great on ‘Twin Peaks’.

Those who have enjoyed the recent virtuoso live performances of Michael Rother with Hans Lampe and Franz Bargmann in recent years should be aware that as with his previous solo albums since ‘Lust’, ‘Dreaming’ is very much a sedate listening experience unlike those energetic gigs.

With the idea that dreams are what the brain generates at night to cleanse the mind of stress by connecting to positive emotions, this album has captured a guarded optimism as a reaction to the melancholic isolation has undoubtedly affected everyone.

In difficult times, ‘Dreaming’ is comforting with its hints of hope, romance, escapism and nostalgia all in one musical package.

‘Dreaming’ is released by Grönland Records in vinyl LP and digital formats

The album is also available as part of the 7CD boxed set ‘Solo II’ also released by Grönland Records





Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Rick Burger
6th September 2020

The Electronic Legacy of VARIOUS ARTISTS

So come on, whose first album was a various artists compilation?

They were the biggest sellers for a decade and had dominated the UK album charts so much so that they were given their own!

In 1966, the Canadian budget household gadget firm K-Tel diversified into the territory of compilation albums with ‘25 Country Hits’; it was a surprise success and this comparatively new idea of collecting a number of artists onto an album based around a single theme was expanded further.

K-Tel negotiated directly with artists and labels for the rights to reproduce the original recordings, but where this was not possible, the company would contract “one or more of the original artists” to make a new recording for the compilation, under the premise that the public generally could not tell the difference between a re-recording and the original.

However, UK budget label Pickwick Records via their Hallmark imprint went one step further in 1968 by producing compilations of the latest hits but as rush-recorded soundalike cover versions under the title ‘Top Of The Pops’ which had nothing to do whatsoever with the BBC TV show; it was all perfectly legal thanks to an oversight by the corporation on trademark.

Purchasers unknowingly got treated to unique interpretations of ‘Autobahn’ and ‘The Model’ by anonymous session musicians who quite obviously had only learnt the song ten minutes before entering the studio. Although demand for such records had dimmed by 1981, acts such as SOFT CELL were still unable to escape with ‘Say Hello Wave Goodbye’ hilariously reduced to geezer pub rock! The singer was revealed to be one Martin Jay who a few years earlier had treated the world to his cloak and dagger take on ‘Are Friends Electric?’.

The albums from K-Tel attempted to cram as many songs as possible onto the 12 inch vinyl format. In order to accommodate this philosophy within its physical limitations, many of the tracks were faded out early or came in unusual and often clumsy edits. But even these versions were sought after by loyal fans, thus making the records they came from valued collector’s items.

The various artists compilation album changed forever in 1983 when Virgin and EMI joined forces to produce the ‘Now That’s What I Call Music’ series which at the last count had reached ‘Now 106’ and spawned numerous spin-offs and even cable TV channels. In 1984, Sony BMG and Warner Music joined in the action with the ‘Hits’ series, but such was the domination in the UK of these types of albums that in 1989, they were given their own chart and excluded from the main one!

For electronic pop, ‘Machines’ released by Virgin Records in 1980 was one of the first attempts to gather music using synthesizers into one place, but the entry point for many new fans was 1981’s ‘Modern Dance’ on K-Tel. This well-thought out collection saw youngsters saving up their pocket money for their first record purchase or asking Santa to put it into their Christmas stocking, thanks to Radio1 DJ Peter Powell declaring that ‘Modern Dance’ was “The best of total danceability, the sounds of modern dance, on one LP!”.

As with greatest hits albums, what makes a great various artists compilation is a seamless listening experience where possible, or at least more killer than filler. However the continuous DJ mix was a particular irritant running through compilations for a period and rarely worked with classic material or recordings not specifically aimed at the clubland.

Staying within theme on a compilation though is VERY important and straying just slightly can spoil a whole concept, especially if it has been outlined in the title. Soul Jazz Records’ lushly packaged ‘Deutsche Elektronische Musik’ sets over two volumes contained a wide range of freeform experimental works from Germany, but occasionally forgot about the Trade Descriptions Act implications of its title. Meanwhile, ‘Reward’ by post-punk trip-poppers THE TEARDROP EXPLODES had a regular place on collections such as ‘Club For Heroes’, ‘New Romantic Classics’, ‘It’s Electric’ and ‘Our Friends Electric’ despite being brass dominated.

But the nadir came with ‘Synth Pop’, a 3CD collection by Sony Music in 2015 which totally missed the point by featuring AZTEC CAMERA and HAIRCUT 100!??! Now while the inclusion of IMAGINATION’s ‘Body Talk’ with its iconic Moog bassline could be justified, the set highlighted just how much the modern day definition of “synth pop” had become particularly blurred…

Although some listeners just want endless hits on various artists compilations, others want to be informed and introduced to some lesser-known or rare songs. However, this latter approach can meet with mixed results.

For example, Cherry Red’s ‘Close To The Noise Floor’ and the Trevor Jackson’s ‘Metal Dance’ series were historically fascinating, but not always easy collections to listen to in one sitting. With some of the music close to being unlistenable, it could be akin to studying a hefty text book… highly educational but not always entirely fun!

So ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK takes a personal look at the electronic legacy of various artists via 20 notable compilation albums, each with valid reasons for their inclusion, presented in yearly and then alphabetical order within. Yes, several songs reoccur over a number of these releases, but perhaps that is more an indication of their timeless nature. These were tunes that were dismissed by the press and wider public back in the day, but are now considered classic and part of the cultural heritage.


Having seen the future and signed THE HUMAN LEAGUE as well as OMD through their Dindisc subsidiary, Virgin Records issued a long playing showcase of acts that used synthesizers as their primary instrumentation. Among the outsiders were TUBEWAY ARMY, FAD GADGET, SILICON TEENS and DALEK I LOVE YOU. XTC’s B-side ‘The Somnambulist’ appeared to be incongruous, but was from their synth experimentation period.

‘Machines’ was released by Virgin Records



This compilation been the idea of David Sylvian, hence why it was named after the JAPAN song although their contribution would be ‘The Art Of Parties’. Virgin presented their embarrassment of riches including BEF, DEVO, DAF, SIMPLE MINDS and MAGAZINE while the primary selling point was a special dub edit of THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s ‘Do Or Die’ as a trailer to ‘Love & Dancing’. The cassette had more tracks including John Foxx and the actual undanceable ‘Methods Of Dance’ song!

‘Methods Of Dance’ was released by Virgin Records



1981 was when the sound of electronic pop was virtually everywhere, so ‘Modern Dance’ was perfect synthchronicity. Featuring the stellar cast of OMD, THE HUMAN LEAGUE, HEAVEN 17, JAPAN, DEPECHE MODE, SIMPLE MINDS, VISAGE, LANDSCAPE, FASHION and THE CURE as well as John Foxx and Gary Numan, an indicator of how supreme this compilation was came with the fact that its most obscure track ‘A World Without Love’ by THE NEWS was rather good!

‘Modern Dance’ was released by K-Tel Records



Stevo Pearce’s compendium of new Futurist acts has gone into folklore, having launched the careers of DEPECHE MODE, SOFT CELL, BLANCMANGE, THE THE and B-MOVIE. Several of acts who didn’t make it were also superb. THE FAST SET’s cover of Marc Bolan’s ‘King Of The Rumbling Spires’ was enjoyable electro-macabre while the rousing ‘Tidal Flow’ by ILLUSTRATION is one of the great lost songs of the era.

‘Some Bizzare Album’ was released by Some Bizzare



It took a few years to realise just how good the music from the New Romantic era was. This compilation was named after one of Steve Strange and Rusty Egan’s club nights. Featuring DURAN DURAN, SPANDAU BALLET, ULTRAVOX, VISAGE, SOFT CELL and JAPAN, others who also got into the party were YAZOO, ABC, TALK TALK and CLASSIX NOUVEAUX while most welcome were ICEHOUSE with their eponymous single.

‘Club For Heroes’ was released by Telstar Records



Gathering “Classic Hits From An Electric Era” including the full length ‘Blue Monday’ from NEW ORDER, ‘It’s Electric’ was largely, a more purist synth collection than ‘Club For Heroes’. Alongside the usual suspects were A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS, TEARS FOR FEARS, BRONSKI BEAT, KRAFTWERK, EURYTHMICS, BRONSKI BEAT and ERASURE. However, this collection featured the album version of ‘Tainted Love’ instead of the single, a mistake that would be repeated again and again.

‘It’s Electric’ was released by Dino Entertainment



Celebrating “a music synonymous with futurism”, ‘Dawn Of Electronica’ included the album version of ‘From Here To Eternity’ by Giorgio Moroder and the Some Bizzare version of ‘Remembrance Day’ by B-MOVIE. With the likes of DAF, SUICIDE, ASSOCIATES, CABARET VOLTAIRE, PROPAGANDA, THE ART OF NOISE and YELLO alongside TUBEWAY ARMY, ULTRAVOX, JAPAN and SOFT CELL, this compilation was something a bit different to what had come before.

‘Dawn Of Electronica’ was released by Demon Music Group



Like ‘Teenage Kicks’ for punk and new wave, there are far too many compilations named ‘Electric Dreams’. This 2CD affair from Virgin Records comprised of 38 “synth pop classics”. This was a compilation combining trailblazing analogue electro and the advent of digital sampling that actually worked. From ‘The Model’ and ‘Electricity’ to ‘Relax’ and ‘19’, with ‘We Are Glass’, ‘Yellow Pearl, ‘Say Hello Wave Goodbye’ and ‘Absolute’ in between, this was one of the best releases of its type.

‘Electric Dreams’ was released by Virgin Records



God Made Me Hardcore was a label set-up by Andy Chatterley and Richard Norris for electroclash tracks they had involvement in. ‘This Is Hardcore’ included some striking covers; THE DROYDS and MOON UNIT contributed SQUEEZE’s ‘Take Me I’m Yours’ and DEVO’s ‘Whip It’ respectively, while there was also a brilliant posh boy mash-up ‘Assault On The West End Girls’ by MUGATU. Siobhan Fahey of SHAKESPEAR’S SISTER and Irish combo RIVIERA also featured.

‘This Is Hardcore’ was released by God Made Me Hardcore


THIS IS NOT THE 80s (2002)

Subtitled “A Nu-Wave Electro Compilation”, this brought out the electro in Electroclash with gloriously klanky drum machines in abundance. The undoubted star was Miss Kittin with four tracks including the mighty scene anthem ‘You & Us’ with Michael Amato aka THE HACKER; meanwhile the man himself and Anthony Rother each had three contributions. FPU, DOPPLEREFFEKT and ADULT. were among those bringing the sound of electronic pop into the 21st Century.

‘This Is Not The 80s’ was released by Incredible / Sony Music



Compiled by Ministry Of Sound, ‘This Is Tech-Pop’ was a representative snapshot of the start of the 21st Century, although “Tech-Pop or Electroclash or Synth-Core or Neu-Electro” legend highlighted dance music’s daft obsession with categorisation. The music from LADYTRON, FISCHERSPOONER, TIGA & ZYNTHERIUS, FC KAHUNA, WALDORF, SOVIET, FELIX DA HOUSECAT and GREEN VELVET was excellent but DJ mixing the tracks together clouded the listening experience.

‘This Is Tech-Pop’ was released by Ministry Of Sound


ELECTRICITY 2 An Electronic Pop Sampler (2003)

‘Electricity 2’ came at a time when the only platform for UK and Irish synth acts seemed to be Ninthwave Records in the USA. It featured HEAVEN 17’s first new song for six years in ‘Hands Up To Heaven’ as well as material by WHITE TOWN, SPRAY and EMPIRE STATE HUMAN. Highlights included ‘The Machines’ by MASQ which sounded like a bizarre Gaelic synthpop take on Gary Numan and the comical ‘Alan Cumming’ by TURD FERGUSON which sent up MISS KITTIN & THE HACKER.

‘Electricity 2’ was released by Ninthwave Records


ROBOPOP Volume 1 (2003)

Compiled by Wayne Clements of Essex duo MACONDO, ‘Robopop’ was possibly the closest thing to the ‘Some Bizzare Album’ in the 21st Century. Heading the line-up were CLIENT and MY ROBOT FRIEND while Mute stalwarts KOMPUTER contributed ‘My Private Train’. The stand-outs though were machine funksters ALPINE STARS, irreverent retro-poppers BAXENDALE and VIC TWENTY featuring Piney Gir with a delicious synth cover of Lynsey de Paul’s ‘Sugar Me’.

‘Robopop Volume 1’ was released by Lucky Pierre Recordings



Compiled by Alex Hush, now of U2 and ERASURE remixers DAYBREAKERS, ‘Retro:Active 5’ gathered 12 classic 12 inch extended versions into a listenable programme. A-HA and THE PSYCHEDLIC FURS led the way with BLANCMANGE and DEAD OR ALIVE in support, but the biggest selling points were the ultra-rare ‘Love Cascade’ from LEISURE PROCESS and ‘More To Lose’ by SEONA DANCING, the duo fronted by Ricky Gervais.

‘Retro:Active 5’ was released by Hi-Bias Records


ROBOPOP The Return (2006)

For ‘Robopop The Return’, Wayne Clements was joined by production duo MANHATTAN CLIQUE. Described as “Essential Electro Pop”, it was a much higher profile release than its predecessor with GOLDFRAPP, THE KNIFE, TIGA and DRAGONETTE all on board. Also present were THE MODERN relaunching as MATINEE CLUB while HUSKI, FORMATIC, LORRAINE and SOHO DOLLS were among the worthy lesser-known inclusions.

‘Robopop – The Return’ was released by Planet Clique / Lucky Pierre


CHILLTRONICA A Definition No1 (2008)

A downtempo compilation by BLANK & JONES, the most exquisite tracks featured female vocalists with Sarah Nixey just pipping the highlight honours on her cover of JAPAN’s ‘Ghosts’ with INFANTJOY over Claudia Brücken on the hosting DJ duo’s ‘Don’t Stop’. Meanwhile, ‘Ghost Trains’ by Erlend Øye was a livelier number that worked alongside chilled out tracks by THE GRID, BLISS, MARCONI UNION, SPOOKY and DEPECHE MODE.

‘Chilltronica – A Definition No1’ was released by Soundcolours


ELECTRI_CITY 1_2 Elektronische Musik Aus Düsseldorf (2016)

Tying in with the book about Düsseldorf’s music heritage, ‘ELECTRI_CITY 1_2’ gathered the more accessible elements of Deutsche Elektronische Musik, Kosmische and Neue Deutsche Welle. With RIECHMANN, DER PLAN, DIE KRUPPS, LIAISONS DANGEREUSES, RHEINGOLD, DAF, LA DÜSSELDORF, NEU! and pre-PROPAGANDA girl group TOPLINOS, this two volume collection was like a journey of discovery with the benefit of a local tour guide.

‘ELECTRI_CITY 1_2 – Elektronische Musik Aus Düsseldorf’ was released by Grönland Records


NEW ORDER Presents Be Music (2017)

Be Music was the moniker which NEW ORDER used to cover studio production work by all four members of the band. This boxed set gathered these varied recordings which involved them, with notable solo tracks from Marcel King, Paul Haig and Winston Tong alongside those of 52ND STREET, SECTION 25, THE BEAT CLUB, SHARK VEGAS and AD INFINITUM’s cover of ‘Telstar’ which many believed was NEW ORDER in disguise but actually only featured Peter Hook.

‘NEW ORDER Presents Be Music’ was released by Factory Benelux


ELECTRICAL LANGUAGE Independent British Synth Pop 78-84 (2019)

The 4CD ‘Electrical Language – Independent British Synth Pop 78-84’ did as it said on the tin and with a far more accessible template, was all the better for it. With THE HUMAN LEAGUE, OMD, THE NORMAL and FAD GADGET included to draw in the more cautious consumer, purchasers were treated to a plethora of wonderful lesser known acts like FIAT LUX, BOX OF TOYS, LORI & THE CHAMELEONS, PASSION POLKA, TESTCARD F, EDDIE & SUNSHINE and JUPITER RED. Meanwhile, the best novelty item was a Schaffel driven cover of Alvin Stardust’s ‘My Coo Ca Choo’ by BEASTS IN CAGES; half of the band went on to form HARD CORPS!

‘Electrical Language – Independent British Synth Pop 78-84’ was released by Cherry Red Records



Compiled by Pete Wiggs and Bob Stanley of SAINT ETIENNE, ‘The Tears Of Technology’ gathered a heartfelt suite of music. OMD’s ‘Sealand’ sat alongside synthy diversions by THE TEARDROP EXPLODES and THE PALE FOUNTAINS, with the Merseyside connection extended to CARE and CHINA CRISIS. Scotland got also got a look in with Paul Haig and Thomas Leer. The rare ‘Direct Lines’ by Chris Payne’s ELECTRONIC CIRCUS found itself a place too.

‘The Tears Of Technology’ was released by Ace Records


Text by Chi Ming Lai
2nd August 2020, updated 9th December 2022

MOOD TAEG Exophora

MOOD TAEG are a detached combo split between Düsseldorf and Shanghai.

From the likes of CAN, CLUSTER, NEU! and HARMONIA to more recent exponents of the form like CAVERN OF ANTI-MATTER and IMMERSION, MOOD TAEG follow in the tradition of instrumental kosmische experimentation.

Just like those records of cosmic yore, their debut album ‘Exophora’ on Happy Robots Records comprises of five lengthy tracks exploring the rhythmic hypnotism of Apache beats, half speed guitar and expansive electronic soundscaping.

With a heart that is both analogue and metronomic, over the course of just under ten minutes, the mantic opening number ‘2MR’ pays respectful homage to ‘Hallo Gallo’ from the first NEU! album. Running at just six minutes, ‘Deictics’ adds a synthy rumble to proceedings with schizophrenic voices before a bass guitar run morphs in, adding to the mind bending trance laden effect.

The frantically motorik ‘Corpora’ comes closest to being a pop tune despite the gargoyle grumblings and glistens with a cristallo shine that has pulsing electronic keys acting as a melodic engine room as well as a rhythmic one.

‘Interrogative’ displays an affinity with HARMONIA using a offbeat and a psychedelic vibe, but ‘Mood Block’ changes tact with a delightful rhythm unit on a speedy Schaffel setting while Mellotron derived pipe passages add a blurry haze to the spacey cocoon of bleepy sound.

This music is not wholly avant garde, so if a blended cacophony of drifting textures and occasional melody over some tightly rigid rhythm construction appeals, then ‘Exophora’ will satisfy the ears and minds of many kosmische enthusiasts, sitting nicely not far from the most recent FUJIYA & MIYAGI.

‘Exophora’ is released by Happy Robots Records on 22nd May 2020 in vinyl LP and digital formats, available from https://happyrobotsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/exophora




Text by Chi Ming Lai
19th May 2020


‘Mindset’ is the ninth full length BLANCMANGE long player of new material since their return in 2011 with ‘Blanc Burn’.

It is also the third BLANCMANGE album to be released in 2020 after the ‘Nil By Mouth 2’ instrumental collection and the ‘Waiting Room (Volume 1)’ outtakes compendium.

During their initial London Records period, Neil Arthur and Stephen Luscombe only released their albums between 1982 to 1985. With Neil Arthur continuing to fly the BLANCMANGE flag, who have thought there would have been triple that number in less than ten years?

As with recent albums, it is co-produced by Benge and Neil Arthur continues to give his morose take on the world although he maintains “It’s not all bad, but I’m observing stuff and looking for other worlds at the same time we’re living in this one, several things at once and questioning how people react with others, how they’re feeling about themselves and how that impacts on other people.”

Beginning with staccato piano and layers of guitar, the ‘Mindset’ title song offers a Velvets pounding that could also be seen as a NEU! influence with an art rock edge; “So much for giving, so much for taking…” our hero ponders while looking for the truth, but could he also be sardonically quipping “so much forgiving…”?

With the deeply sombre scene set, Neil Arthur’s delivery is anything but a ‘Warm Reception’, although this is all countered by the enjoyable cutting sharpness of the synths which add to a most excellent electronic track. With spacey sweeps, ‘This Is Bliss’ continues the tread as a close relative to ‘Warm Reception’, but a variety of percolating patterns and a deeper trance bass resonance are apparent with a repeated ranting chorus.

The superbly titled ‘Antisocial Media’ references to “Orwellian Thought Police” and captures more of Arthur’s dismay with fantastically primitive synths recalling the early Fast version of ‘Being Boiled’. ‘Clean Your House’ is also very synthy with a bubbling bassline and gated pulses, lyrically reflecting on events of recent times but could easily able to applied to more personal relationships with the necessity for the occasional life laundry. The ‘Mindset’ is played with further on ‘Insomniacs Tonight’, as a “tunnel train of thought” with “long rails on trails” is accompanied by a big rigid beat.

The midtempo minimal synthpop of ‘Sleep With Mannequin’ echoes THE HUMAN LEAGUE in their poppier phase with clean digital drums and analogue passages, but a marvellous concoction reveals itself as KRAFTWERK meets FAITHLESS on the mutant electronic disco of ‘Diagram’ with Arthur repeating like a preacher on how “I want transparency” in his sharp Northern lilt.

‘Not Really (Virtual Reality)’ vents with a rockier musical aggression and pounding drums but closing proceedings, the downcast ‘When’ calls for the truth among the screaming and shouting. As the chorus goes “When is anything about what it’s about?”, there’s the sound of a two note panic alarm recurring to symbolise a state of panic and anxiety.

Neil Arthur’s grim but humourous take on the world continues, but with a lot of choruses and more structure on ‘Mindset’, there are potentially some singalong elements which could rouse audiences at future live shows alongside ‘Living On The Ceiling’ and ‘Blind Vision’.

Strange but accessible pop music for our strange times, Neil Arthur’s dark ‘Mindset’ is only reflecting what many are thinking and it will be on that level which will connect people with this album.

‘Mindset’ is released by Blanc Check on 5th June 2020 in CD, vinyl LP and digital formats, available from http://blancmange.tmstor.es/

Other recent works by BLANCMANGE are available as downloads direct from https://blancmangemusic.bandcamp.com/

BLANCMANGE Rescheduled 2021 ‘Mindset’ tour includes:

Tunbridge Wells Forum (11th September), Colchester Arts Centre (16th September),
Norwich Arts Centre (17th September), Birmingham Institute 2 (18th September),
Gloucester Guild Hall (23rd September), Exeter Phoenix (24th September), Nottingham Rescue Rooms (25th September), Blackburn King George’s Hall (29th September), Newcastle Riverside (30th September), Edinburgh Liquid Room (1st October), Glasgow Oran Mor (2nd October), Southampton The Brook (13th October), Bristol Fleece (14th October), Northampton Roadmender (22nd October), Manchester Club Academy (27th October), Leeds The Wardrobe (28th October), Liverpool Grand Central Hall (29th October), Brighton Concorde 2 (17th November), Harpenden Public Halls (18th November), Cardiff Portland House (25th November), London Under The Bridge (26th November), Shrewsbury Buttermarket (27th November),





Text by Chi Ming Lai
10th May 2020, updated 21st May 2021

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