Tag: New Order (Page 1 of 19)

2021 End Of Year Review

As the world steadily emerged from a painful pandemic that put many lives on hold, nostalgia appeared to be the commodity most in demand as the music industry took steps to recover.

No matter which era, anything musically from the past was more desirable that anything that reminded the public of the past 20 or so months. The first escape destination in the summer for many restricted to staying on their own shores were the established retro festivals.

Meanwhile television provided an array of documentaries ranging from chart rundowns of past decades and informative classic song analysis on Channel 5 to Dylan Jones’ look at ‘Music’s Greatest Decade’ on BBC2 and Sky Arts’ ‘Blitzed’ with all the usual suspects such as Boy George, Philip Sallon, Marilyn, Gary Kemp and Rusty Egan.

SPARKS had their own comprehensive if slightly overlong film ‘The SPARKS Brothers’ directed by Edgar Wright, but the Maels’ musical ‘Annette’ starring Adam Driver was a step too far. Meanwhile the acclaimed ‘Sisters With Transistors’ presented the largely untold story of electronic music’s female pioneers.

It was big business for 40th anniversary live celebrations from the likes of HEAVEN 17, THE HUMAN LEAGUE, OMD and SOFT CELL, while other veterans such as NEW ORDER and ERASURE returned to the live circuit with the biggest indoor headlining shows of their career.

Meanwhile for 2022, Midge Ure announced an extensive ‘Voices & Visions’ tour to present material from the 1981-82 phase of ULTRAVOX.

Also next year and all being well, GOLDFRAPP will finally get their belated 20th Anniversary tour for their marvellous debut ‘Felt Mountain’ underway while there are rescheduled ‘Greatest Hits’ live presentations for PET SHOP BOYS and SIMPLE MINDS.

Always money for old rope, but also giving audiences who missed them at their pioneering height an opportunity to catch up, ‘best of’ collections were issued by YELLO and TELEX while JAPAN had their 1979 breakthrough album ‘Quiet Life’ given the lavish boxed set treatment. Meanwhile, while many labels were still doing their best to kill off CD, there was the puzzling wide scale return of the compact cassette, a poor quality carrier even at the zenith of its popularity.

“Reissue! Repackage! Repackage! Re-evaluate the songs! Double-pack with a photograph, extra track and a tacky badge!” a disgraced Northern English philosopher once bemoaned.

The boosted market for deluxe boxed sets and the repackaging of classic albums in coloured vinyl meant that the major corporations such as Universal, Sony and Warners hogged the pressing plants, leaving independent artists with lead times of nearly a year for delivery if they were lucky.

But there was new music in 2021. Having achieved the milestone of four decades as a recording act, DURAN DURAN worked with Giorgio Moroder on the appropriately titled ‘Future Past’ while not far behind, BLANCMANGE took a ‘Commercial Break’ and FIAT LUX explored ‘Twisted Culture’. David Cicero made his belated return to music with a mature second album that was about ‘Today’ as Steven Jones & Logan Sky focussed on the monochromatic mood of ‘European Lovers’. Continuing the European theme but towards the former Eastern Bloc, Mark Reeder gave a reminder that he was once declared ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ and fellow Mancunians UNE became inspired by the ‘Spomenik’ monoliths commissioned by Marshal Tito in the former Yugoslavia.

For those who preferred to immerse themselves in the darker present, Gary Numan presented ‘Intruder’, a poignant concept album produced by Ade Fenton about Mother Earth creating a virus to teach mankind a lesson! Meanwhile ITALOCONNECTION, the project of Italo veterans Fred Ventura and Paolo Gozzetti teamed up with French superstar Etienne Daho to tell the story of ‘Virus X’! The video of the year came from UNIFY SEPARATE whose motivation message to ‘Embrace The Fear’ despite the uncertainty reflected the thoughts of many.

Despite the general appetite for nostalgia, there was some excellent new music released from less established artists with the album of the year coming from Jorja Chalmers and her ‘Midnight Train’ released on Italians Do It Better. The critical acclaim for the UK based Aussie’s second long playing solo offering made up for the disbandment of the label’s biggest act CHROMATICS, as it went into its most prolific release schedule in its history with albums by GLÜME, JOON, DLINA VOLNY and LOVE OBJECT as well as its own self-titled compilation of in-house Madonna covers.

As Kat Von D teamed up with Dan Haigh of GUNSHIP for her debut solo record ‘Love Made Me Do It’, acts like DANZ CM, CLASS ACTRESS, GLITBITER, PRIMO THE ALIEN, PARALLELS, KANGA, R.MISSING, I AM SNOW ANGEL, XENO & OAKLANDER, HELIX and DAWN TO DAWN showed that North America was still the creative hub as far as electronically derived pop songs went.

Attracting a lot of attention in 2021 were NATION OF LANGUAGE, who with their catchy blend of angst, melody and motorik beats welcomed synths as family in their evolving sound while also providing the song of the year in ‘This Fractured Mind’, reflecting the anxieties of these strange times. At the other end of the spectrum, DIAMOND FIELD went full pop with an optimistic multi-vocalist collection that captured the spirit of early MTV while BUNNY X looked back on their high school days with ‘Young & In Love’.

ACTORS delivered their most synthy album yet while as LEATHERS, they keyboardist Shannon Hamment went the full hog for her debut solo effort ‘Reckless’. FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY released a new album and some of that ‘Mechanical Soul’ was brought by their Rhys Fulber into his productions this year for AESTHETIC PERFECTION.

In Europe, long playing debuts came from PISTON DAMP and WE ARE REPLICA while NORTHERN LITE released their first album completely in German and FRAGRANCE. presented their second album ‘Salt Air’. There was also the welcome return of SIN COS TAN, KID KASIO, GUSGUS, MARVA VON THEO, TINY MAGNETIC PETS and MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY.

Featuring second generation members of NEW ORDER and SECTION 25, SEA FEVER released their eclectic debut ‘Folding Lines’ as fellow Mancunian LONELADY added sequencers and drum machines to her post-punk funk template. But Glasgow’s CHVRCHES disappointed with their fourth long player ‘Screen Violence’ by opting to sound like every other tired hipster band infesting the land.

The most promising artist to breakthrough in 2021 was Hattie Cooke whose application of traditional songwriting nous to self-production and arrangement techniques using comparatively basic tools such as GarageBand found a wider audience via her third album ‘Bliss Land’. In all, it was a strong year for female synth-friendly artists with impressive albums from Karin My, Laura Dre, Alina Valentina, Robin Hatch and Catherine Moan while comparative veterans like Fifi Rong, Alice Hubble, Brigitte Handley and Alison Lewis as ZANIAS maintained their cult popularity.

In 2021, sometimes words were very unnecessary and there were fine instrumental synth albums from BETAMAXX, WAVESHAPER, КЛЕТ and Richard Barbieri, with a Mercury nomination received by Hannah Peel for ‘Fir Wave’. But for those who preferred Italo Noir, popwave, post-punk techno and progressive pop, Tobias Bernstrup, Michael Oakley, Eric Random and Steven Wilson delivered the goods respectively.

With ‘The Never Ending’ being billed as the final FM ATTACK album and PERTURBATOR incorrectly paraphrased by Metal Hammer in a controversial “synthwave is dead” declaration, the community got itself in a pickle by simultaneously attacking THE WEEKND for “stealing from synthwave”, yet wanting to ride on the coat tails of Abel Tesfaye, misguidedly sensing an opportunity to snare new fans for their own music projects.

With THE WEEKND’s most recent single ‘Take My Breath’, there was the outcry over the use of a four note arpeggio allegedly sampled from MAKEUP & VANITY SET’s ‘The Last City’. But as one online observer put it, “Wow, an arpeggiated minor chord. Hate to break it to you but you might want to check out what Giorgio Moroder was doing 50 years ago. We’re ALL just rippin’ him off if that’s how you think creativity works”. Another added “If a four note minor key arpeggiated chord can go to court on the basis of copyright law, we are in for a hell of a few years my synthy friends”. It outlined once again that there are some who are still under the impression that music using synths was invented by Ryan Gosling in 2011 for ‘Drive’ soundtrack ??

There were also belated complaints that 2019’s A-HA inspired ‘Blinding Lights’ had a simple melody and needed five writers to realise it… but then, so did UTRAVOX’s ‘Slow Motion’ and DURAN DURAN’s ‘Rio’! Collaboration, whether in bands, with producers or even outsiders has always been a key aspect of the compositional process. If it is THAT simple, do it yourself! As Andy McCluskey of OMD said on ‘Synth Britannia’ in 2009 about the pioneering era when Ryan Gosling was still in nappies: “The number of people who thought that the equipment wrote the song for you: ‘well anybody can do it with the equipment you’ve got!’ “F*** OFF!!”

Over the last two years, THE WEEKND has become the biggest mainstream pop act on the planet, thanks to spectacles such as the impressive gothic theatre of the Super Bowl LV half time showcase while in a special performance on the BRITS, there was a charming presentation of the ERASURE-ish ‘Save Your Tears’ where he played air synth in a moment relatable to many. But everything is ultimately down to catchy songs, regardless of synth usage.

So ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK would like to present a hypothetical case to consider… if someone uses the arpeggio function with a sparkling patch from a Juno 6 synth in a recording, does Cyndi Lauper sue for infringing the copyright of ‘All Through The Night’ or the original songwriter Jules Shear or even the Roland Corporation themselves as they created it? More than one producer has suggested that THE WEEKND’s soundbite came from a hardware preset or more than likely, a software sample pack, of which there are now many.

However, sample culture had hit another new low when Tracklib marketed a package as “A real game-changer for sample based music. Now everyone can afford to clear samples” with rapper and producer Erick Sermon declaring “Yo, this is incredible. They’re trying to put creativity back into music again. By having samples you can actually pay for and afford”.

Err creativity? How about writing your own songs and playing or even programming YOUR OWN instrumentation??!?

One sampling enthusiast even declared “I might go as far as to say you don’t really like dance music if you’ve got a problem with adding a beat to a huge (even instantly recognizable) sample”… well guess what? ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK LOATHES IT!!! ?

In 2021, music promotion became a bit strange with publicists at all levels keen more than ever to have their clients’ press releases just cut ‘n’ pasted onto online platforms, but very reluctant to allow albums to be reviewed in advance in the event of a potential negative prognosis.

While cut ‘n’ paste journalism has been a disease that has always afflicted online media, in a sad sign of the times, one long established international website moved to a “pay to get your press release featured” business model.

The emergence of reaction vloggers was another bizarre development while the “Mention your favourite artist and see if they respond to you” posts on social media only added more wood to the dumbing down bonfire already existing within audience engagement.

It was as if the wider public was no longer interested in more in-depth analysis while many artists turned their publicity into a reliance on others doing “big ups” via Twitter and Facebook. But then, if artists are being successfully crowdfunded with subscriptions via Patreon, Kickstarter, Bandcamp and the like, do they need a media intermediary any longer as they are dealing direct with their fanbases?

However, it wasn’t all bad in the media with ‘Electronically Yours With Martyn Ware’ providing insightful artist interviews and the largely entertaining ‘Beyond Synth’ podcast celebrating its 300th show. Due to their own music commitments, Steven Wilson and Tim Bowness were less prolific with their discussion show ‘The Album Years’ but it was still refreshing for commentators to be able to say that a record was sh*t when it actually was, rather than conform to the modern day adage that all music is good but not always to the listener’s taste!  And while various programmes came and went, other such as ‘Operating//Generating’, ‘KZL Live’ and ‘Absynth’ came to prominence.

Post-pandemic, interesting if uncertain times are ahead within the music industry. But as live performance returns, while the mainstream is likely to hit the crowd walking, will there be enough cost effective venues to host independent artists? Things have been tough but for some, but things might be about to get even tougher.

However, music was what got many through the last 18 months and as times are still uncertain, music in its live variant will help to get everyone through the next year and a half and beyond.


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s year in music is gathered in its 2021 Playlist – Missing U at
https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4rlJgJhiGkOw8q2JcunJfw


Text by Chi Ming Lai
17th December 2021

SEA FEVER Folding Lines

Manchester, so much to answer for…

SEA FEVER are a new but seasoned quintet whose musical family trees link up through their various associations with some of the city’s best known bands such as NEW ORDER, THE SMITHS, SECTION 25 and THE FALL.

Comprising of Iwan Gronow, Beth Cassidy, Tom Chapman, Phil Cunningham and Elliot Barlow, their debut album ‘Folding Lines’ is the sound of a band instinctively working together, exploring the music that has inspired each band member to merge into a new whole.

Aiming to explore new sounds and unusual instrumentations, examples of this approach come with the sombre indie rock of ‘Crossed Wires’ where Phil Cunningham’s guitar sounds are played through one of Tom Chapman’s synths and ‘Built To Last’ which uses a string quartet to complement the virtual orchestra sound.

Similarly filmic, ‘The Finder’ takes inspiration from the soundtracks of Bernard Hermann, Georges Delerue, Ennio Morricone and Ryuichi Sakamoto, while a hammered dulcimer makes an appearance to add tension and mood to the dual vocalled ‘Folding Lines’ title track.

‘Under Duress’ also exudes a particularly expansive sound with electronics, strings and anthemic vocal lines like Björk’s ‘Homogenic’ meeting a modern Mancunian Spaghetti Western soundtrack, while the buzzing electronically assisted indie rock of ‘Afterthought’ is equally spirited.

Two of the album’s best songs are tightly electronically driven; ‘De Facto’ is a delightful indie-disco feast with an adrenalin rush guaranteeing dancefloor satisfaction. Meanwhile cut from a similar cloth, the slightly less frantic ‘Le Coup’ sees Beth Cassidy take the lead vocal over a blend of many Mancunian club influences.

Closing with a choir on ‘Programme Your Life’ recorded at the Royal Northern School of Music in Manchester alongside woodwinds and strings, ‘Folding Lines’ is an eclectic collection of music showcasing no particular sound or feel other than being SEA FEVER.

If you a fan of any of the bands that SEA FEVER are linked with, you will be sure to love at least 3-4 tracks. Although all the members have other bands to return to, album number two has already been written, so more is to come…


‘Folding Lines’ is released by Kartel Records on 22nd October 2021 in vinyl LP, CD and digital formats – pre-order from https://seafever.lnk.to/foldinglines

SEA FEVER play Manchester Night & Day Cafe on 22nd October and London Rough Trade East on 29th October 2021

https://seafeverband.com/

https://www.facebook.com/seafeverband

https://twitter.com/SeaFeverBand

https://www.instagram.com/SeaFeverBand/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photo by Anthony Harrison
17th October 2021

Vintage Synth Trumps with MARK REEDER

Photo by Crystal Reeder

His portfolio has included NEW ORDER, DEPECHE MODE, PET SHOP BOYS, JOHN FOXX, BLANK & JONES, WESTBAM, MARSHEAUX, THE KVB, NOBLESSE OBLIGE, KOISHII & HUSH, QUEEN OF HEARTS and many more.

Mark Reeder is the jovial Mancunian who ventured over to Germany in 1978 in search of electronic music records and never returned home, eventually settling in West Berlin.

Immersing himself in the local art and punk scene, he arranged JOY DIVISION’s now legendary gig at Kant-Kino, managed MALARIA! and was Factory Records representative in Der Bundesrepublik.

On Mayday 1982, he paid a visit to the DDR and while taking photos of the grand parade in East Berlin, he was arrested by the STASI and taken in for interrogation, under suspicion of working for M16. Unable to draw any conclusions, other than he was trying to corrupt the youth of East Germany with pop music, the East German Secret Police marked his file ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’.

The experience inspired Reeder’s most recent double album named after his STASI classification. Comprising of productions and remixes made by himself and his engineer Micha Adam, it celebrated his cross-border artistic ethos and also included collaborations with the likes of Fifi Rong and Alanas Chosnau, as well as solo work on which he lent his own spoken voice.

The two high profile centrepieces of ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ focus on Reeder’s reworkings of NEW ORDER’s first new single since 2015 ‘Be A Rebel’ and YELLO’s evergreen ‘Vicious Games’. But room is also given to newer acts such as the Dutch-based American BIRMINGHAM ELECTRIC, Manchester’s MFU, DEER Mx from Mexico and hailing from the Chinese city of Chengdu, STOLEN who opened for NEW ORDER on their 2019 European tour.

Another NEW ORDER support act Zachery Allan Starkey makes appearance via a remix of ‘Coked Up Biker Anthem’ which saw Reeder realise some of his mad axeman fantasies having grown up as a fan of Jimi Hendrix. But accepting ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s invitation to play a round of Vintage Synth Trumps, Mark Reeder kindly chatted about his love of classic synthesizers and how they have been used throughout his career.

Ok, our first card is the Roland SH7…

I’ve seen one but never had one, I had an SH9 which I used at the end of DIE UNBEKANNTEN and the start of SHARK VEGAS. In fact, the bassline of ‘You Hurt Me’ which we released on Factory in 1984 was made with an SH9. They were very similar kinds of synthesizers but the SH7 had a few extra features. I actually played the bassline of ‘You Hurt Me’ by hand all the way through for six minutes non-stop, it wasn’t a sequencer! If you made a mistake, there was no way of going back and you had to start again! *laughs*

What was the drum machine you were using at the time?

We had an 808 and a 606…

And the next card is an Oberheim 2 Voice…

I never knew anyone who could afford Oberheim stuff until it became more affordable in the late 80s, no-one I knew had the 2 Voice. But the OBXs was really good, you could do some great things with them but the earlier ones weren’t readily available, so you didn’t really see anything you could buy… no-one had any money in Berlin in the 80s! A Prophet 10 would be like 10 years wages! *laughs*

So, when you were conceiving ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ which was a reference to that time in 80s Berlin, and your cover photo of the May Day parade and your STASI file, did you select a palette of specific vintage synth sounds to work with?

I’ve always worked like this, when I started to get back into actually making music again, as more of a remixer and producer than before, I had this idea that I only wanted to have a small selection of things that I could draw from to maintain a particular sound. I made my own drum kits, three different kinds and I would interchange within each one.

So, I might have three different claps but I’d put two together and manipulate them to create another type of clap sound. So, the sounds are all drawn from the same three basic kits and say with a snare, I might add another instrument into that snare mix, but it’s all the same block if you like.

It’s the same in a way with synthesizers as well, I don’t have loads, and I keep it reasonably contained. If you have too many, you end up spending too time trawling through thousands and thousands of sounds, but if you have a limited amount of possibilities, then you have to be creative within those few things. I’ll take pads off one synthesizer and put the dirt in from an MS20 underneath, and it will change the sound of the pad. And if you put that through a chorus, it will automatically give that a different sound.

I’ve not got loads of synthesizers in the studio, but we’ve got quite a few. We’ve got quite a few plug-ins too, initially I was a bit dubious about them, but meanwhile a few of them are really quite good and very useful…

Do you have a favourite of the plug-ins?

Well, we’ve got Omnisphere which we use regularly, as I find it’s got a few sounds which I’ll always use and they’re easy to manipulate, but they’re always the same basics. I think I always choose the same couple of sounds *laughs*

We’ve got an ARP plug-in and that is quite good and an EMS one because I could never afford a real one. I’ve got a plug-in version of the Roland SH101 but having the original thing is different, it has a totally different feeling to it. It depends what you want to do with it. The plug-in doesn’t come near, but it has its own sounds that are useful. I have a Juno 106 and my studio partner Micha Adam has a plug-in 106 and a boutique version, although it’s similar in certain sounds, neither sound like a real 106. But each has features that the real 106 doesn’t have, like the arpeggiator or the delay, so you kind of mix them all together, that’s how I work.

Photo by Crystal Reeder

What was your approach to reworking ‘Vicious Games’ by YELLO from 1985 for ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’?

The original track was like “I’ve got a sound sampler and I’m gonna show you how to use it” so it’s like all these ideas together and a vocal connecting everything.

When YELLO sent me the parts, I realised there were more vocals recorded than used on the track and I thought it was a shame that this track of idea wasn’t actually a song. So, I reworked Rush Winter’s wonderful vocals into a song, to give it a definitive verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure, like a 21st Century version of an 80s song.

I used the Oberheim OBX and Juno to make the pad at the beginning and made it more song structured. I looped the guitar part so that it became a groove. People have come up to me and said they love the Donna Summer ‘I Feel Love’ bit that I added, but it’s in the original track, it’s just that you can’t hear it because it’s mixed down so much within the track. You don’t really get to experience that part, so I thought it would be nice to feature that as the break, so I cannibalised the original.

What did Boris and Dieter think of it?

They love it, Boris said I was very daring for changing their song so much and not make it sound like their original, but it does! You can hear I’ve used as many of the original parts as possible but I’ve rearranged it completely.

Photo by Chi Ming Lai

So, we go from you remixing ‘Vicious Games’, an old YELLO track to remixing a brand new NEW ORDER song ‘Be A Rebel’…

As with all my remixes, I like people to be able to recognise the song, I don’t want to take some unused backing track and just drop in some vocals, to me that’s not a remix. I take all the parts I require from the original song and rework them so that they will fit my groove. The idea was make the Elektron bassline more pulsating, give a driving feeling to it.

The first mix I made was the Cheeky Devil one, which appears on ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ that I made more for the elderly semester of NEW ORDER fans that don’t like the techno side. I know people who will get a remixes CD or vinyl and they’ve got techno versions of the track that they love, but they can’t get their heads around it. I thought I’d do one which had a “ploddy” kind of feel that’s not so fast even though it’s exactly the same tempo, one that chugged along and put more emphasis on the vocals.

For the Dirty Devil remix for the NEW ORDER release on Mute, I wanted to make it so that Bernard could listen to it in his car while he was on the motorway, more driving and I must confess I prefer this remix to the one I did for ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ but that chuggy version had to work within the framework of my album. I just changed the volume of a few things within the mix like the loudness of the hi-hats in the Elektron driving version.

You actually added some guitars into your remixes of ‘Be A Rebel’ which aren’t on the NEW ORDER original?

There was initially no bass guitar on the original version. There was a guitar, but it was all quite jangly… that style kind of slowed my track down, so I played what I needed… in fact my guitar mirrors Bernard’s vocal quite a lot. I thought I’d play a melody on the guitar like a sequence… some people thought it sounded like the ghost of Hooky’s bass, but it’s my Les Paul playing that and some power chords to embellish the end.

So what’s your guitar playing like compared with your keyboard prowess?

They equally as cr*p! *laughs*

Time for another card and it’s a Prophet 10…

I don’t know anybody who owned a Prophet 10. Susanne Kuhnke from MALARIA! owned a Prophet 5 but I only ever saw a Prophet 10 in a music shop and you weren’t allowed to touch it!

By the time when you supported NEW ORDER as SHARK VEGAS in 1984, they would have swapped their Prophet 5s for Octave Plateau Voyetras?

Yes, they’d just got it. A few years before, Bernard had got an ARP so he gave me his Transcendent 2000…

Did you ever do anything useful with the Transcendent 2000?

It just makes a noise! It doesn’t make any kind of like sounds that your granny is going to like! It goes “KKKKHHRRRKK” or “TSCHHHHHH”, it’s a noise synthesizer, white noise, pink noise! A Wasp you can kind of play but the Transcendent didn’t make any keyboard notes. All the crazy “TSCH-TSCH-TSCH-TSCH” noises you hear on the JOY DIVISION records were made by the Transcendent *laughs*

Photo by Kai von Kröcher

On your albums, you like to do new collaborations and on ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’, you worked with Fifi Rong who has a connection with YELLO…

I met Fifi Rong at a YELLO gig in Berlin. She told me she was playing a gig in a small bar the next evening and invited me. She was absolutely mind-blowingly good and she explained what each song was about, it was very endearing. I thought she was so talented, she’s very hands on and so determined.

I thought it would be nice to work with her to give her another platform other than YELLO. You could hear that she has an interesting voice with that high Asian tone. So, I remixed ‘Future Never Comes’, that was such a nice track and as I was doing that, I had another track that I asked her to do a vocal on. I didn’t hear anything from her for about 3 weeks and then she sent me this track that became ‘Figure Of 8’. I decided to start and close ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ with Fifi because I felt she deserved to have those important positions within the framework of the record. She’s been working on her own new album for 2 years and it’s finally getting there, it is an interesting record, a really nice album, I think she’s done really well and got the right ambience.

And the next card is a Yamaha CS30…

I must confess I always found Yamaha gear to be interesting but very cold. I have a TX module which is like a DX7 and has all the sounds, which I’ve had for decades… it’s a limited thing. I don’t use it much, only for specific things like if I want a hard tone filtered in with something else to give it a colder edge. I never bought an actual DX7 because it was too complicated to programme. It had bits like marimba sounds that sounded good, but everyone had one, as it was the first big affordable synthesizer back in the 80s. Everyone dumped their analogue synths for a DX7 and I’m thinking WHY!?!

The DX7 sounded super modern and dead professional at the time, but I didn’t get my module until very late when nu-beat and acid house started, it made a slappy kind of hard bass sound that fitted.

Photo by Martyn Goodacre

Did you get into Akai samplers at all?

I had an Akai S900, I was talking to Micha Adam about them just the other day and how they were the best thing on the market at the time with the longest sampling time. I had a Roland sampler which had an expanded sampling time of 2 seconds! And then there was the Ensoniq Mirage which had its own 30 second samples but when you tried to sample something yourself, you only had a small amount of time. And then came the Akai S800 and that had 20 seconds!! *laughs*

The Akai S900 cost a fortune and was so complicated, there was a lot of fiddling around, twiddling knobs and pressing things! It had a manual the size of the Holy Bible and they knew no-one was going to read this thing, so it came with a VHS video cassette so that you could watch how to programme the thing! It was a really good tool to use once you got used to it and sounded good compared to the others. But then the Akai S1000 came and that had 90 seconds of sampling time which was amazing! I did a couple of remixes in the 90s with the Akai, one for Nina Hagen of ‘Du Hast Den Farbfilm Vergessen’… she hated it! It never came out! *laughs*

How did you put together your 13 minute epic ‘You Can Touch Me’?

That was an idea that’s really three tracks in one and it kind of went on and I thought I’d better stop it at some point! *laughs*

It was originally born from an idea for an album, that had a great underlying groove and I took a snippet from an Eiven Major track to use as a loop in the techno part of the track. I like taking a track that will morph from one thing and end up as another. ‘With You Can Touch Me’, it became that. It starts off very sexual, dark and mysterious… it’s like when you meet someone for the first time, you go through the actions of foreplay and it gets to the climax, the song is a bit like that, very Wet & Hard! It goes into the lyric where “you can’t touch me” and at the end, it goes into this mad techno thing. I’m not a singer, but for that track, it fitted and it sounds alright. I couldn’t find anyone else who wanted to do it to be honest.

I made it just so I could play it in clubs, mostly the DJ who plays after me is usually a techno DJ so I wanted to give them something at the end of my set that they can mix into. It’s my closing track and it’s so long, I can pack all my stuff away while it’s playing and the DJ after me can either let it play out or mix into it. *laughs*

The final card, it’s an EDP Wasp!

I never actually owned one, I borrowed a Wasp, Mijk van Dijk had a Wasp. It’s a bit like the Transcendent, but it has more tone and easier to use. I never recorded anything with it, I just messed around with it, it was quite good. You could mix it with other sounds to add some grit.

You’re working on the debut album of BIRMINGHAM ELECTRIC who are on ‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ with your remix of ‘How Do We End Up Here?’?

We’ve been working on quite a lot of songs together and they’ve become an album. It’s a synthpop album in its own way, Andy Evans has got a very distinctive voice that colours the music and gives it his own edge. It’s not dissimilar to how I work with Alanas Chosnau, but I try to keep Alanas’ song ideas directed towards his kind of sound, if you know what I mean. I’m also working on a second album with him. I keep them separate, but as I use the same kind of sounds, there is always this “me” thread running through the music.

When you’re writing songs with people, you have gaps while they’re figuring out their part, especially when having to do it online, so you can use the time to work with somebody else. So for example, I’m doing something with Andy and when there’s a break, I’ll do something with Alanas in between. I’m quite happy the way the BIRMINGHAM ELECTRIC album has turned out, it’s been quite a nice project.

Photo by Crystal Reeder

What’s happening with STOLEN at the moment?

STOLEN have gone from being “a band to watch” to playing headline gigs in China now. Since the pandemic, their career has had a meteoric rise, as no Western artists are allowed to play in China at the moment, so promoters have been forced to look at their home-grown talent and have realised they actually have some really good and interesting bands there.

With STOLEN having opened for NEW ORDER on their 2019 European tour, it boosted their credibility enormously back home and has added to their attraction, so now they’re performing at festivals to 25,000 people. They’re playing a gig virtually every week and in between, they’re trying to write and record another album. So, they’re sending their parts to me too, that means I’m doing three albums parallel!

I guess whoever’s gets finished first will get released first! But it’s a lot more difficult not having them in the studio, because if they were there in person, you can bounce ideas off immediately. And the time difference with someone in China and being in Europe isn’t easy, usually when they’re in the studio, you’re going to bed! It’s a bit complicated! *laughs*

I want to make everyone happy, but I also like a challenge. When it all fits, it can be very rewarding.


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its sincerest thanks to Mark Reeder

‘Subversiv-Dekadent’ is released as a download double album, available from https://markreedermfs1.bandcamp.com/album/subversiv-dekadent

Mark Reeder’s Dirty Devil Remix of ‘Be A Rebel’ features on the NEW ORDER double 12” clear vinyl EP and expanded CD collection released by Mute Artists also featuring mixes by Arthur Baker, Stephen Morris, Bernard Sumner, Maceo Plex and Paul Woolford

A one hour long Operating//Generating special on Mark Reeder is broadcast for 4 weekends from Saturday 4th September 2021 at 1800 CET on laut.fm at https://laut.fm/operating-generating

https://mfsberlin.com/

https://www.facebook.com/mfsberlin

https://www.facebook.com/markreedermusic/

https://twitter.com/markreedermfs

https://www.instagram.com/markreeder.mfs/

https://open.spotify.com/artist/1n7yJzVVfUO2MiQskjmzqW

Vintage Synth Trumps is a card game by GForce that features 52 classic synthesizers available from
https://www.juno.co.uk/products/gforce-software-vintage-synth-trumps-2-playing/637937-01/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
1st September 2021

SEA FEVER Interview

SEA FEVER are the new eclectic Manchester combo featuring second generation members of SECTION 25 and NEW ORDER, Beth Cassidy, Tom Chapman and Phil Cunningham.

Fronted by Johnny Marr band member Iwan Gronow, sticksman and BIMM Tutor Elliot Barlow completes the experienced quintet.

With their debut album ‘Folding Lines’ due out in the Autumn, SEA FEVER began their journey with the sombre indie rock of ‘Crossed Wires’. Meanwhile the ‘Folding Lines’ title song offered some orchestrated filmic drama.

However ‘De Facto’ was a delightful electro-disco feast with a rhythm rush that screamed strobelights and likely to fill indie club dancefloors while also crossing over to lovers of synth. Cut from a similar cloth if less frantic is the upcoming album cut ‘Le Coup’.

Overall, ‘Folding Lines’ is the sound of a band instinctively working together, exploring the music that inspired each band member to merge into a new whole. With the rousing new single ‘Under Duress’ breaking cover, Tom Chapman and Beth Cassidy chatted to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about the making of the ‘Folding Lines’ album and the chemistry within…

So how does SEA FEVER differ from the other bands and projects you have been involved in?

Beth: This feels really different for me… the SEA FEVER set-up seems to flow in and out of these real intense periods of focus, working together, and then calmness.

Tom: SEA FEVER has a really good chemistry between all band members. We’re all on the same page musically and pushing forward in the same direction.

Did you set out to present a particular sound? In terms of direction, were you setting out any particular templates or did anything go?

Tom: I wanted to explore new sounds and unusual instrumentations for this album, I also experimented with sampling beats and noises to generate unusual rhythms throughout the LP, but the key thing was to deliberately push myself out of my comfort zone with the songwriting.

How would you describe the band creative dynamic?

Tom: I’ll usually come up with instrumental song demos that I will pass onto the rest of the band, it’s a collective effort and only sounds like a finished SEA FEVER song once everyone have added their musical parts. We took a road trip to France during the writing process before lockdown, the idea was to immerse ourselves into the creative process without any distractions, we packed out the studio and instruments and headed to Brittany, it was intense but very prolific, ‘Beleaguered Land’ and ‘The Finder’ came out of that trip.

Was there anything that was brought to the table that perhaps wouldn’t necessarily have been considered in another band or project?

Beth: I’m sure Tom had a vision in his mind of a set-up with two singers up front, working in tandem.

Tom: We made use of a choir on ‘Programme Your Life’ recorded at the Royal Northern School of Music in Manchester alongside a clarinet and a string quartet, I’d never tried anything like this previously on a song. A hammered dulcimer makes an appearance on ‘Folding Lines’, adding perfect tension and mood to the track. Phil experimented a lot with guitar sounds, he played his Gretsch through one of my synths on ‘Crossed Wires’.

One of the influences mentioned in the SEA FEVER playlist is Neil Young’s polarising ‘Trans’, what fascinates you about this record?

Tom: This is one of Phil’s choices, he is a big fan of Neil Young’s guitar playing and songwriting. I think he loves the fact it doesn’t sound anything like Neil Young’s previous releases, it sees him experimenting with vocoder on his vocals, it confused his fans at the time. Great album, a real hidden gem.

The new single ‘Under Duress’ has a particularly expansive sound with electronics, strings and anthemic vocal lines, had there been any particular inspirations here?

Beth: Iwan left these natural pauses throughout his vocal arrangement, so I filled them with subtle, sweeping harmonies. It seemed to balance things out really well. I was listening to Björk’s ‘Homogenic’ album at the time. It was the first track we all worked on together actually.

Tom: I am proud of that one and the way it turned out, a lot of thoughts went into it. One of the first ideas we worked on as a group, it was a good indicator of what was to come musically. It’s a beautifully crafted song with great lyrics and haunting melodies, great guitar work from Phil, and Elliot’s drumming is class, it perfectly captures the essence of a modern Mancunian Spaghetti Western soundtrack with a beat.

There are quite a few string orchestrations on the album like on ‘Built To Last’, but with everything going on, were these synthesized by necessity or were you able to assemble the real thing?

Tom: They are combined. We used a string quartet on the album to complement the orchestra sound.

There are a number of blinders on this album, the club friendly ‘De Facto’ with its electronic sequencing in particular, what was the genesis of this and how did you achieve the balance between dance and rock?

Tom: I think being part of NEW ORDER really helps for that! The writing of ‘Music Complete’ was a big learning curve for me as a songwriter and producer, I picked up a lot from the studio experiences acquired working with Tom Rowland from THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS and the rest of NEW ORDER, all this was applied on this record. I was locked in my studio for days programming the sequencing on ‘De Facto’ with one synth triggering another, it was a bit of an experiment but came out really good in the end! We didn’t want the final result to be a conventional structured song, it’s more a melodic beat and bass generator with the sole purpose of dragging you onto the dance floor!

Another track in a similar vein but less frantic is ‘Le Coup’ which sees Beth take the lead vocal and is a blend of many Mancunian influences, how did that come together?

Beth: Haha, slowly…! It was a labour of love, a marathon of edits, back and forth over email. We figured out the general vibe and main vocal melodies quite early on, but then the main structure evolved quite a bit over time.

‘The Finder’ captures a solemn Spaghetti Western feel, did influences from cinema come into play when making the record?

Tom: Majorly yes! I’ve always been a big fan of film scores from Bernard Hermann, Georges Delerue, Ennio Morricone, Ryuichi Sakamoto to name a few.

Which are your own favourites tracks from the ‘Folding Lines’ album?

Beth: ‘De Facto’ is a banger to play live, it’s fun and chaotic!

Tom: That’s a tough one ! I like them all. I think the album is very coherent from start to finish and the interplay between songs works really well.

SEA FEVER were able to film some live performances which are now acting as trailers for the album, do you see the concert setting as the best way to experience the band?

Beth: From the offset, we always set out to play our songs live, you go through the writing and production process in a new band, and you never think in a million years that you won’t physically be able to play live… it was such a weird time, and a real downer. We had all this new material that we were just sitting on for months! We’re dead excited to play our first actual gig….

Tom: Absolutely, we can’t wait to get out there and play some shows, songs take on a life of their own when played live. We keep evolving as a band in rehearsals and some of the song’s interpretations are now different, it keeps the creative juices going and makes it interesting for us as a band.

Have you been able to get out to view the ‘Use Hearing Protection’ Factory Records exhibition at the Manchester Science + Industry Museum?

Beth: Yeah, it felt like a really comprehensive exhibition, unreleased posters I’d never seen before, loads of hand written ramblings, one of the Factory envelopes on display has my first home address scrawled across it… one person’s junk is another person’s treasure!

Tom: Not yet, it’s on the “to do” list!

It’s been a tough 18 months for many, what are your hopes and fears for the future?

Beth: I hope we can all enjoy live music and other arts events together soon. That beautiful connection you have with other people when you’re experiencing something live together in that moment, it’s priceless, it’s like therapy for me. To watch and to play.

Tom: The last 18 months have been tough for many reasons, the lack of interest and support shown by the government regarding The Arts in general has added to the frustration to be honest! But on the positive side, it’s shown us that music plays a big part in people’s daily lives. Being a lockdown band or “Rockdown” as I like to call it without doing gigs has been a challenge to say the least, But musicians are resilient and where there’s a will there’s a way. My hope is that when things open up and gigs are fully allowed again, people will go mad for it!

What is next for SEA FEVER? Will this just be a one-off adventure or will there be more music?

Beth: We’re not going anywhere…. already writing new material!

Tom: One of the good things that came out of these lockdowns was the amount of time we got to spend in the studio writing and being creative, album number two is done, next is recording it. Loads more to come from us…


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its sincerest thanks to SEA FEVER

Special thanks to Federica Furlotti at Kartel Music Group

‘Under Duress’ single is out now via Kartel Records, ‘Folding Lines’ is released on 22nd October 2021 – pre-order the album ‘Folding Lines’ from https://seafever.lnk.to/foldinglines

SEA FEVER will play Manchester Night & Day Cafe on 13th August 2021, the evening will also feature a DJ set by Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert – tickets available from https://www.gigantic.com/sea-fever-tickets

https://seafeverband.com/

https://www.facebook.com/seafeverband

https://twitter.com/SeaFeverBand

https://www.instagram.com/SeaFeverBand/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Anthony Harrison
5th August 2021

SEA FEVER De Facto

Continuing the musical lineage of Manchester, SEA FEVER began their account with the sombre indie rock of ‘Crossed Wires’ while ‘Folding Lines’ offered some orchestrated filmic drama.

But their frantic new single ‘De Facto’ is their much more electronic statement, a punchy sequenced construction that is likely to fill indie club dancefloors while also crossing over to lovers of synth.

It is a delightful electro-disco feast with a rhythm rush that screams strobelights and shoulder shuffles! But then this is not entirely surprising when closer scrutiny reveals that behind frontman Iwan Gronow are second generation members of SECTION 25 and NEW ORDER, Beth Cassidy, Tom Chapman and Phil Cunningham. Meanwhile Elliot Barlow, whose CV includes playing alongside Brix Smith Start of THE FALL, completes the quintet.

‘De Facto’ could be considered a more energetic second cousin of SHADOWPARTY’s ‘Reverse The Curse’, a band that Tom Chapman and Phil Cunningham were part of with latter day members of DEVO. Iwan Gronow said: “It’s SEA FEVER experimenting with song structures and sounds. We wrote the song with a thumping backbeat and pulsating analog synth. The song is about not being afraid to speak up, voicing your opinion and opening this void”

As SEA FEVER prepare for the release of their debut album, they have revealed influences such as SOULWAX, THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS, YEAH YEAH YEAHS, CHROMATICS, SUICIDE, AIR, TALKING HEADS, PJ HARVEY, THE HORRORS, THE CLASH, THE WHO and THE STOOGES as well as interestingly, Neil Young’s polarising 1982 vocoder-laden album ‘Trans’.

With the instrument line-up, gender ratio and band history, comparisons with NEW ORDER will be almost inevitable but if the music is really good, then that doesn’t really matter.


‘De Facto’ is released by Kartel Records via the usual digital platforms

https://seafeverband.com/

https://www.facebook.com/seafeverband

https://twitter.com/SeaFeverBand

https://www.instagram.com/SeaFeverBand/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
29th May 2021, updated 11th August 2021

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