Tag: Polly Scattergood (Page 1 of 4)

A Short Conversation with MAPS

MAPS aka James Chapman releases his fourth album ‘Colours. Reflect. Time. Loss.’ through Mute in May.

Following the collaboration with Polly Scattergood as ON DEAD WAVES, ‘Colours. Reflect. Time. Loss.’ sees Chapman hooking up with the string / brass players of ECHO COLLECTIVE, who had previously worked on ERASURE’s ‘World Beyond’ album, for a far more organic-sounding work.

James Chapman kindly spoke about the new MAPS album and also his fruitful ongoing relationship with Mute…

For listeners of the last MAPS record ‘Vicissitude’, the new album is going to be a huge contrast, were you nervous to committing to making such a different sounding record?

The whole idea of this album was to try new things and I think “being bold” was one of the themes of the record, so I just went for it. I think it’s the same with every album, you tend to second guess yourself, you’re not quite sure sometimes. In the end, if I like it, I hope other people do as well! *laughs*

How important was the making of the ON DEAD WAVES album on ‘Colours. Reflect. Time. Loss.’, it’s a kind of a stepping stone between the two isn’t it?

I think it was in a lot of ways, that was obviously a collaboration. I think it took me out of my comfort zone in a way because I was so used to working on my own for so many years. Working with Polly Scattergood was a new experience and because it went so well, I guess it opened me up to the idea of working with other people. With the new album I took that a step further. It got me back into playing my guitar a lot more because I’d kind of sidelined that with some of the albums and plunged straight into electronic stuff.

What were the challenges of going from a one man band MAPS to the involvement of a multitude of live musicians on ‘Colours. Reflect. Time. Loss.’?

I still worked a lot on the songs before I got to that point, so I still managed to have a lot of control. I’m still a bit of control freak! *laughs*

I got the songs to a certain point and then I really just thought I could take it further and so that’s when I got ECHO COLLECTIVE involved. Because it was that way of doing it, there was less anxiety about involving other people, so it was another step really.

So you knew in your head what you wanted it to sound like?

The big challenge for me was doing the arrangements, I’d never really done that before. So when they all sat down and played the scores, there was a part of me that was very relieved that the notes they were playing were what I’d written!

That was great, the whole process was a big learning experience for me, I feel like I’ve progressed a bit with what I know I can do.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK recently interviewed Mark White and Stephen Singleton from ABC and we were discussing the ‘Lexicon of Love’ album. Mark said that it was a “profoundly moving experience” hearing the strings recorded for his songs. How was the overall experience for you?

There was a sense of relief! You’re never totally sure that things are going to work out, so when things slot into place and things are going well, you get a feeling of “wow”, it’s actually worked. I can understand what they’re saying, it’s a whole different experience, a different way of doing music when the notes are on the page. It’s all there but you never quite know what the sound that comes out will be like, so it was an interesting way of working.

Did you commit wholeheartedly saying “oh right, we’re going to have strings on all of these tracks” or did you do a couple and see how it worked?

I committed a bit more because we did six tracks in the first session and originally that was what was planned. I hadn’t planned to do the whole album with arrangements. But it worked out so well that I decided to just go for it in the end, just do the whole album. So when I got home after the first session, I thought, ah, I should have done them all! There were two sessions in the end, we did six tracks in the first and four in the second one. It was never the complete plan to do them all in one go.

Is it true you blew the record company advance on involving live musicians for the projects?

Yeah it is true! *laughs*

Because I’d worked on the album on my own, there was not a lot of expense in the way I would do it and I wouldn’t involve other people until the end stage. But yes, I spent the advance on the first session and then I actually applied for PRS funding for the second session and I actually got that…

I didn’t realise they did that kind of thing?

I didn’t either! So that was amazing, because that meant I could go back and finish the album; it was just a lot of things nicely slotted into place in that process which was really nice.

At what point did you make the decision to ditch the electronic drums on the new album as ‘Vicissitude’ was 100% programmed percussion?

The idea with this album was to have more of a human sound, so the answer to that was get more humans involved in the making of it! *laughs*

All the drums were already there programmed, I asked Matt to do his thing on the tracks. There’s still a lot of programming weaved in as well, so it’s not entirely all live, there’s a lot of electronic elements that were left in. He played on all of the songs, again it just really worked for me because I think that it does add a human element when there’s live playing involved.

The promo video for ‘Just Reflecting’ (with its stop motion footage) is reminiscent of the Philip Glass soundtracked ‘Koyaanisqatsi’, was that film an influence?

It wasn’t consciously, I know the music to that rather than the film itself. The visuals worked out really well; I had a lot of visual ideas in my head and a lot of it was sweeping cityscapes and was drawn from memories from childhood. That sense of wonder when you’re seeing huge cityscapes for the first time. There were a lot of memories I was drawing on, Jonathan Irwin who did the visuals did a great job!

‘Both Sides’ has a real Krautrock motorik feel to it, are you a fan of the genre?

Yes, totally, it’s really cool that you said that! That song especially, it was a bit of a tribute to that sound. A lot of those songs are very rhythm based, the drums will just stay almost quite hypnotic…

Jaki Liebezeit, he pioneered that kind of consistent drum rhythm…

The music weaves around the drums and that was what I was going for with ‘Both Sides’.

I think you succeeded! You are very open about ‘Pet Sounds’ being an important landmark for you, are there any other albums that you hold in equally high esteem?

Oh yeah, totally, that was an obvious reference for me, ‘Pet Sounds’; but I was listening to a lot of Sixties and Seventies soundtracks as well, like Morricone. I love horror soundtracks as well like the Giallo stuff….

Like GOBLIN, the Dario Argento stuff?

Yes, I love the way the instrumentation is all played for real and sometimes things go slightly out of time. There’s a very human feel to those soundtracks.

Although ‘Colours. Reflect. Time. Loss.’ is a far more organic album than ‘Vicissitude’, there are still some electronics and sequencers on it, did you invest in any new synth tech for it?

Yes I did, I got a new crazy guitar FX pedal which I love, one of the Helix multi-FX things which is insane which I’ve used quite a bit. I used the Moog which Polly Scattergood left here…

That’s very kind of her!

I gave it back eventually! I think it was a Moog Little Phatty which I used quite a bit…..

Was there any vintage kit used on the project?

There is, some of the sequencers I don’t realise they’re vintage but they are! *laughs*

I still use my Yamaha RM1X, the Korg Electribe quite a bit and there’s a bit of Korg Volca Beats drum machine on there. Mainly just things which are around, I tend to just have a fiddle and see what happens. I’ve also got a little dulcimer which I used quite a bit which has a strange tuning. I played it on the opening to ‘You Exist In Everything’ and it sounds great drenched in reverb and stuff. So there was quite a bit of experimenting and the usual fiddling!

I was on Spotify recently and came across the MAPS remix playlist, I had no idea you’d done so many! There’s 35 on there… what do you enjoy most about remixing other artists?

I do enjoy it, firstly you are seeing “behind the curtain” a bit when you get the parts for the songs; I enjoy seeing how it was made and that it’s a different take. I think that I like the freedom of it the most, the way that you can do what you want.

You can take an outsider’s perspective, there’s less pressure in having to write because the song is there…

Yes, the recording’s done, but it’s what you add to that. But I have done a lot, I think I’ve done 64?! But they’re not all on Spotify, I’ve done fair few!

You’re signed to Mute and have remixed a lot of their roster including DEPECHE MODE, MOBY, ERASURE and GOLDFRAPP… do you have a favourite?

I’m not sure if I do, I suppose the DEPECHE MODE one was amazing, the honour of doing things like that is amazing to me and obviously like MOBY as well. There’s been a few when I’m blown away that I’ve been even asked! It’s great to have that link with Mute because you get things passed your way that would never happen.

Is there anyone on the Mute roster that you would still like to remix? NEW ORDER?

That would be amazing! When they signed to Mute I was hoping…their roster is so amazing, that anyone on Mute would be an honour…

You have some live dates coming up, what can people expect from those? Have you started rehearsing for them?

It’ll be a five piece band. I was really happy because a lot of the people that played on the album are the band now. We’ve got Cecilia who does a lot of those choral type vocals on the album, she’s singing in the band and Matt is going to play drums, plus Rachel who was also on the album is going to play keys and sing.

We’ve been rehearsing quite a bit, there’ll be a mixture of the new album with songs from the previous albums as well, it’ll be a bit of a MAPS celebration!

I guess it helps having people who have played on the album doing the live work as you don’t have to teach them the parts?

Yes and also the fact they’re into it. It’s great when people are enjoying the music and are up for being involved and that’s a big part of it, it should be good man!

With the earlier material, have you had to adapt that to suit the new line-up?

A little bit, I guess there were certain songs that suit the new sound better, but then there’s ones that I wanted to play that I’ve adapted slightly. But there’s still going to be electronic stuff as well, it’ll just be in a slightly different set-up to how it was formed, I’ll still have stuff to twiddle on stage!

Will the Southbank show be different to the previous two which are advertised as ‘Colours. Reflect. Time. Loss.’ album ones?

It’ll be a longer set probably, we’ve got the run of the venue that evening and have rehearsed a lot of songs, a lot of it’ll depend how long people will want us to play! *laughs*

Have you had any thoughts about the next MAPS project or is there any possibility of another ON DEAD WAVES album?

I haven’t thought too much to be honest, when you do an album, it becomes so much a part of your life that I’m still in the middle of it at the moment.

I feel like I’d like to try something different again and push a bit further. I think I’ve learned a lot from making this album, like doing arrangements and things like that, now that I know I can do it, that’s something I’d like to explore more. So maybe that could be involved in the next part of the journey.

The music industry is a now an extremely challenging one to try and make a living in, what drives you and keeps you going?

I still enjoy doing it, which I’ve always thought is a big part of what keeps people going. It sounds a bit of a cliché, but I still feel like I’d be doing this if I wasn’t signed and stuff like that. It’s like an outlet, I still enjoy making music. But it has got more challenging because of the internet and all that stuff. I sometimes feel for new bands that are starting out, because there’s so much out there, so much choice and it’s hard to get noticed. I guess that there are pros and cons to everything.

Your relationship with Mute seems fairly secure and it must be good to have that?

Totally, I’ve been really lucky. I’ve been doing it for a fair few years now, I never take it for granted that relationship. They’ve stood by me through thick and thin, so to have a relationship with such an amazing label like that is something that means the world to me.

It’s almost like an old school approach as to how it was back in the day where labels were prepared to take the rough with the smooth.

It might take two or three albums before an artist can develop to a point where they are successful. It’s really good to hear that there’s still a label around that is still doing that which is quite encouraging.

I do think that’s the way Mute has always worked, that they sign things that they truly like. I think that’s why I love the label so much, it’s very much about the music rather than the current trends or whatever.


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to James Chapman

Special thanks to Sarah Pearson at Wasted Youth PR

‘Colours. Reflect. Time. Loss.’ is released on 10th May 2019 by Mute Artists in CD, white vinyl LP and digital formats

MAPS play The Purcell Room at Southbank Centre in London on Wednesday 3rd July 2019

https://thisismaps.com/

https://www.facebook.com/MapsMusic

https://twitter.com/thisismaps

https://www.instagram.com/thisismaps/

https://open.spotify.com/user/mapsmusic

http://mute.com/features/maps-colours-reflect-time-loss


Text and Interview by Paul Boddy
1st May April 2019

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 30 SONGS OF 2018

2018 was a year of good songs rather than good albums, with many of long players not as consistent or as of high a standard as the bumper crop from the Class of ’17.

However, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK had plenty of material to choose from for its 30 SONGS OF 2018 and for obvious reasons, cannot include everything that was in this year’s shortlist…

So worthy mentions go to ANI GLASS, BLACK NAIL CABARET, BRÜCKEN FROESE, DANA JEAN PHOENIX, DISQO VOLANTE, DUBSTAR, EKKOES, FAKE TEAK, FRAGRANCE, THE FRIXION, GUNSHIP, HILTIPOP, IAMX, LIZETTE LIZETTE, TRAIN TO SPAIN and WITCH OF THE VALE.

Interestingly, three graduates from the ‘Some Bizarre Album’ made it into the final list, thus highlighting the longevity of that particular vinyl showcase some 37 years on!

So with a restriction of one song per artist moniker, here are our 30 SONGS OF 2018 presented in alphabetical order…


AFTERHERE Breaking Rules

AFTERHERE is the brand new project of HEAVEN 17 singer Glenn Gregory and live keyboardist Berenice Scott, but with their roles reversed. Exploring their inner GOLDFRAPP but in a funkier vein, with groovy reminisces of ‘Twist’ and ‘Yes Sir’, the song seductively boasted a captivating sexually charged electronic energy. Berenice Scott said: “We always wanted to have a driving track on the album that you could hopefully move your feet to, party to… possibly get in a little trouble!”

Available on the AFTERHERE album ‘Addict’ via Manners McDade

https://afterhere.co.uk/wp/


JOHAN BAECKSTRÖM Utopia

While the Clarke was strong with this one, the first impression that came across with ‘Utopia’ was that things became a slight bit darker in the world of JOHAN BAECKSTRÖM. Despite that, there was a rousing chorus and percolating sequences to savour as he pointed out the futility of seeking that perfect future, when life has so much more on offer. “I wouldn´t describe the album as dark though” the DAILY PLANET synthesist helpfully added, “it´s absolutely a pop album.”

Available on the JOHAN BAECKSTRÖM album ‘Utopia’ via Progress Productions

https://www.facebook.com/bstrommusic/


BLANCMANGE Distant Storm

For BLANCMANGE, ‘Distant Storm’ was rather unusual with its dance beat, reverberant Moog bassline and dreamy processed vocoder aesthetic. With a rousing, almost spiritual quality and elements of JAMES’ ‘Come Home’ creeping in for good measure, it displayed Neil Arthur’s comfort in working with producer Benge on effectively their third album together. “I wanted to sing it as though it was really detached with my voice being synthesized” he told ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK.

Available on the BLANCMANGE album ‘Wanderlust’ via Blanc Check Records

http://www.blancmange.co.uk/


B-MOVIE Stalingrad

Veteran Mansfield quartet B-MOVIE made their most electronic pop single to date with the chilling aesthetics of ‘Stalingrad’. Complete with an infectious synth melody, an eerie mezzo-soprano and using the crucial Second World War battle as a metaphor for a doomed relationship, it was possibly Steve Hovington, Paul Statham, Rick Holliday and Graham Boffey’s  best song since their 21st Century reformation; appropriately, its B-side was called ‘Something Cold’…

Available on the B-MOVIE EP ‘Repetition’ via Loki Records

http://www.b-movie.co.uk/


CHVRCHES Graffiti

‘Get Out’ may have acted as a superb launch single, but starting off their ‘Love Is Dead’ album was the wonderful ‘Graffiti’. This was a classic kaleidoscopic CHVRCHES tune that punched the sky with some rousing vocals. It was also a supreme singalong showcasing Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook and Martin Docherty in full bouncy Taylor mode. Despite the downcast lyrical demeanour on lost youth and the passing of time, this was still a grand pop statement.

Available on the CHVRCHES album ‘Love Is Dead’ via Virgin Records

https://chvrch.es/


CONFIDENCE MAN Don’t You Know I’m In A Band

Australian duo CONFIDENCE MAN were a ray of sunshine in 2018 with their own brand of campy dork pop, being everything SCISSOR SISTERS should have been. ‘Don’t You Know I’m In A Band’ was an amusing satire on ego and sense of entitlement in the music industry. With an electro take on the groovy swoop of WAR’s ‘Low Rider’, a pitch shifted Sugar Bones came over like an inebriate Teddy Pendergrass while Janet Planet delightfully counterpointed in her alluring girly manner.

Available on the CONFIDENCE MAN album ‘Confident Music For Confident People’ via Heavenly Records

https://www.confidenceman.com.au/


CREEP SHOW Safe & Sound

CREEP SHOW is the meeting of minds between eclectic singer / songwriter John Grant and the dark analogue electro of WRANGLER whose members comprise Stephen Mallinder, Benge and Phil Winter. On ‘Safe & Sound’, the quartet explored a spacious KRAFTWERK and GIORGIO MORODER hybrid to reveal gradually some wonderfully warm melodic synth textures to accompany Grant’s passionate lead croon. The project led to Benge also working on Grant’s ‘Love Is Magic’ album also released in 2018.

Available on the CREEP SHOW album ‘Mr Dynamite’ via Bella Union

http://creepshowmusic.com


RODNEY CROMWELL Comrades

Driven by a meaty electronic bassline and metronomic backbone, the marvellous vocoder-laden ‘Comrades’ by RODNEY CROMWELL captured a really chilling Cold War atmosphere, bathed in an ensemble of sweeping synth oboes and cosmic string machines. “I ended up thumping at the MicroKorg and came up with the opening riff” he said. Rich with melody and a panoramic resonance, it surreally captured the sound of Moroder being played through a Soviet Foxtrot submarine intercom system.

Available on the RODNEY CROMWELL EP ‘Rodney’s English Disco’ via Happy Robots Records

https://www.happyrobots.co.uk/rodney-cromwell


EMIKA Promises

With ‘Falling In Love With Sadness’, EMIKA produced one of the best electronic albums of 2018. The record was a concept album of sorts, a musical reflection on generations of sadness within the Anglo-Czech musician’s family in her most personal statement yet. The pacey ‘Promises’ made the most of her lower and higher vocal registers, providing an eerie cascading harmonic with some rumbling dubby tension and booming stabs driving Eastwards with solemn spine tingling qualities.

Available on the EMIKA album ‘Falling In Love With Sadness’ via Emika Records

http://emikarecords.com/


FARAO Marry Me

Taking in more synthetic ambitions, FARAO’s second album ‘Pure-O’ was a playful bleep forward. While ‘The Ghost Ship’ saw Kari Jahnsen focussed on her forlorn little girl lost lyrics, the wonderfully uptempo ‘Marry Me’ offered an accessible PET SHOP BOYS flavour and romantic layers of vocals masking a deep scepticism of the institution of marriage, while the lush backing and chugging electronic backbone carried the air of her compatriot SUSANNE SUNDFØR.

Available on the FARAO album ‘Pure-O’ via Western Vinyl

http://www.farao.info/


FIAT LUX It’s You

Releasing their first new material in over three decades, FIAT LUX returned with the most splendid ‘It’s You’. As well as the bassline and harmony from David P Crickmore, the sax style was a fitting tribute to the sadly departed Ian Nelson. Singer Steve Wright said: “Lyrically, I hope, it expresses feelings that possibly everyone can relate to…” – their long awaited debut album ‘Saved Symmetry’ is expected in 2019.

Available on the FIAT LUX single ‘It’s You’ via Splid Records

http://www.fiat-lux.co.uk


IONNALEE Fold

The ‘Everyone Afraid To Be Forgotten’ album was easily equal to Jonna Lee’s work with IAMAMIWHOAMI. Best of the set was possibly the marvellous closing number ‘Fold’. Featuring exotic cascading timbres and spacey pulsars, distorted string synths added tan appropriate chill as Lee’s passionate vocals completed the filmic vibe. Less mysterious, the IONNALEE transition was a triumph, especially with one of the best value-for-money live presentations of 2018.

Available on the IONNALEE album ‘Everyone Afraid To Be Forgotten’ via To Whom It May Concern

https://ionnalee.com


KATJA VON KASSEL Someday

Asking if “it is foolish to dream”, ‘Someday’ saw KATJA VON KASSEL questioning a moment of passionate haste. “The phrase ‘Someday’ just opened it all up and everything else just fell into place.” the chanteuse said. Capturing the beautiful melancholy of ASSOCIATES’ Billy Mackenzie, the doomed romantic tragedy of the sadly departed Scot was echoed by the chanteuse’s deep forlorn delivery, accompanied by CHRIS PAYNE’s hypnotic bassline and haunting vox humana treatment over a simple rhythmic loop.

Available on the KATJA VON KASSEL EP ‘Walking In West Berlin’ via https://katjavonkassel.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/KatjavKassel/


LET’S EAT GRANDMA Donnie Darko

Despite their age, LET’S EAT GRANDMA have a feisty but mature musical ambition, as successfully realised on ‘Donnie Darko’, an 11 minute tribute to the troubled teenager haunted by a monstrous rabbit-like figure. Utilising a sedate start before morphing into a wonderful movement of cascading electronics set to a metronomic beat, there were passionate reflections on the subject of human suffering. It all went a bit “batsh*t crazy” into a glorious synthony before calming to its conclusion!

Available on the LET’S EAT GRANDMA album ‘I’m All Ears’ via Transgressive Records

http://letseatgrandma.co.uk


CHRIS LIEBING featuring POLLY SCATTERGOOD And All Went Dark

Noted techno exponent CHRIS LIEBING teamed up with Mute label mate POLLY SCATTERGOOD on a stark polyrhythmic number appropriately titled ‘And All Went Dark’. The brooding minimalist electronic piece with its eerily poetic spoken contribution from Miss Scattergood saw the Essex songstress haunted by a “dark shadow on my shoulder” and telling how “a sickness took hold early on”.

Available on the CHRIS LIEBING album ‘Burn Slow’ via Mute Artists

http://www.chrisliebing.com/


MECHA MAIKO False Memories

With the name transcending Toronto based Hayley Stewart’s fascination with Japanese culture, cyber space and a love of vintage synthesis, ‘Mad But Soft’ was her first album as MECHA MAIKO. The magically crystalline ‘False Memories’ could have been part of the ‘Stranger Things’ soundtrack. Uncomplicated on the surface yet multi-layered and airy, this day-glow pink neo-instrumental concoction was well-thought through and deliciously produced.

Available on the MECHA MAIKO album ‘Mad But Soft’ via New Retro Wave

https://www.facebook.com/mechamaiko/


MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY Lafayette

One-time RÖYSKSOPP collaborator Ryan A James continues to hone and develop his hybrid mix of luxuriant synthetics and subtle guitar textures as MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY. He said about the gorgeous electronic bubblebath of ‘Lafayette’: “It’s really a song about the end of a relationship, disguised as a song about Scientology, and how defectors of Scientology are disowned by their loved ones. The name comes from the religion’s founder Lafayette Ron Hubbard.”

Available on the MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY album ‘Infinity Mirror’ via Killing Moon Records

https://manwithout.country/


NIGHT CLUB Scary World

“Beware! It’s a scary world” and with their BRITNEY SPEARS fronting NINE INCH NAILS template, NIGHT CLUB took their sweet but sinister synth rock sound to its zenith with the title track of their second album. And when the children’s choir joined in the chorus to sing of demons everywhere, this was a musical trick or treat that no parent would want their offspring to be part of, the message being “they only love you if you swallow”!

Available on the NIGHT CLUB album ‘Scary World’ via Gato Blanco

http://nightclubband.com/


NINA 80s Girl

A fabulously optimistic closer to NINA’s debut album, ‘80s Girl’ came beaming over like some missing song from the film ‘Mannequin’. With big Simmons drums, sampled orchestra stabs and driving synthbass triplets, it was however delivered with subtlety and restraint so that it wasn’t a HEART or STARSHIP pastiche. Dedicated to her mother, it had a telling message of “don’t let the past hold you back”.

Available on the NINA album ‘Sleepwalking’ via Aztec Records

http://www.ninamusic.co.uk/


SARAH NIXEY Journey

Perhaps best known as the alluring if slightly blunt chanteuse of BLACK BOX RECORDER, SARAH NIXEY released her best solo album to date in ‘Night Walks’, a quality record with air and presence, collecting everything she has ever been musically, all rolled into one. One of its key tracks was the delightful ‘Journey’, a glorious number of the type that Marc Almond has often been so good at, laced with crystalline synths and gorgeously breathy vocal tones à la Jane Birkin.

Available on the SARAH NIXEY album ‘Night Walks’ via Black Lead Records

http://www.sarahnixey.com/


GARY NUMAN It Will End Here

The ‘Savage’ album turned out to be both an artistic and commercial vindication for GARY NUMAN. ‘It Will End Here’ from ‘The Fallen’ EP was a natural progression from that, exploring a heavy but melodic electronic sound without relying on the predictable backing of rock guitars. With and anthemic chorus and the apocalypse is looming over the aural desert, there was even a soaring vocal pitch shift up at the song’s conclusion which added an extra eerie vampiric quality.

Available on the GARY NUMAN EP ‘The Fallen’ via BMG

https://garynuman.com/


NYXX featuring AESTHETIC PERFECTION Voodoo

NYXX is very much her own woman, like the Greek goddess of night she is named after, a figure of power and beauty with a Britney-like vocal presence that sweetly offsets some of her darker overtones. A collaboration with Daniel Graves of AESTHETIC PERFECTION who contributed a glorious evangelical middle eight, she said “It would not be what it is without him. I came in with a sketch of a song, a melody and lyric of another song… Daniel heard nuances in it and we built what is now ‘Voodoo’.”

Available on the NYXX single ‘Voodoo’ via Close To Human Music

http://www.nyxxnyxxnyxx.com/


PAGE Nere För Räkning

Eddie Bengtsson and Marina Schiptjenko initially came together in PAGE releasing their first single ‘Dansande Man’ in 1983. Since then, the pair have parted and reunited on a number of occasions but the mission for the ‘Start’ EP was to party like it’s 1979 when GARY NUMAN was No1. ‘Nere För Räkning’ was an urgent slice of pulsing synthrock with a piercing vibratoed lead line akin to the keyboard interventions heard on ‘The Pleasure Principle’.

Available on the PAGE EP ‘Start’ via Energy Rekords

https://www.facebook.com/PageElektroniskPop/


PLASMIC Baby Machine

From Mission Viejo in California, PLASMIC describes herself as an “Orange County one-woman dervish” and in a vivid haze that’s pretty in pink, “your abused Barbie doll from childhood”. Combining J-Pop with CRYSTAL CASTLES and DEVO, the undoubted standout from her ‘Validation Nation’ EP was ‘Baby Machine’, an immensely catchy feminist electropop anthem utilising a mixture of vintage Casio and Yamaha sounds that challenged the expectations of women to bear children.

Available on the PLASMIC EP ‘Validation Nation’ via Devour Records

http://www.plasmic.rocks


REED & CAROLINE Entropy

Championed by none other than Vince Clarke, REED & CAROLINE successfully combine tunes with electronic experimentation. The haunting ‘Entropy’ was a tribute to a departed friend and a fabulously touching GARY NUMAN homage to his ‘Dance’ period, in particular ‘Cry The Clock Said’. The hypnotic soundtrack of gentle preset rhythms and eerie electric piano, courtesy of a Buchla modular synth, was complimented by Schutz even adopting the phrasing of the man born Gary Anthony James Webb.

Available on the REED & CAROLINE about ‘Hello Science’ via Very Records

https://www.reedandcaroline.com/


FIFI RONG Red Moon Voyage

Weird and wonderful, ‘Red Moon Voyage’ was a ghostly 10 minute epic comprising of glitchy voices and varying rhythm constructions recorded especially for Halloween. Free of album concepts and the pop song format, this was FIFI RONG at her most adventurous yet, delightfully adding her native Mandarin language towards the third part. “Having a long journey means you can get very deep and lots of moods and transitions” she told ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK

Available on the FIFI RONG single ‘Red Moon Voyage’ via https://fifirong.bandcamp.com/track/red-moon-voyage-full

http://fifirong.com/


SOFT CELL Northern Lights

Marc Almond and Dave Ball were the boys who came back-back-BACK as SOFT CELL in 2018. ‘Northern Lights’ reminisced about their days at the Wigan Casino and recaptured the pop essence that led to the duo having five consecutive Top 10 hits! Despite the grittiness and energetics, the duo always had melody and that came back in abundance on their welcome recorded return. The darker B-Side ‘Guilty (‘Cos I Say You Are)’ affirmed that as a creative force, SOFT CELL still had it.

Available on the SOFT CELL EP ‘Northern Lights’ via Universal Music

http://www.softcell.co.uk/


STOLEN Turn Black

Chinese six-piece STOLEN are reckoned by Berlin-based producer Mark Reeder to be possibly the most exciting band he has seen since NEW ORDER. Certainly their debut album ‘Fragment’ was impressive and one of the best of 2018, with ‘Turn Black’ being one of the standout tracks. “I like the idea of mixing of rock with techno…” said growly lead vocalist Liang Yi to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK, “we are very proud that we don’t sound like any of the other Chinese bands.”

Available on the STOLEN ‘Fragment’ via MFS

https://www.facebook.com/strangeoldentertainment/


U96 + WOLFGANG FLÜR Zukunftsmusik

Ingo Hauss and Hayo Lewerentz handed back the BOYTRONIC brand to Holger Wobker and returned to being U96, teaming up with former KRAFTWERK percussionist Wolfgang Flür for the best track by either party in recent years. Stark and Teutonic with stark robotic vocoder aesthetics, the union of two German musical heavyweights from different generations was equal to Flür’s ‘Activity Of Sound’ collaboration with Ireland’s iEUROPEAN.

Available on the U96 single ‘Zukunftsmusik’ via UNLTD Recordings

https://www.facebook.com/U96reboot/


HILARY WOODS Jesus Said

Combining piano, synths, field recordings, drones, occasional beats, old string instruments and HILARY WOODS’ wonderfully forlorn voice in the vein of Julee Cruise, ‘Jesus Said’ questioned the existence of God. Described by the Irish songstress herself as “a song that seeks catharsis”, her child-like expression over the drifting synthesized tones and hypnotic drum machine to augment her beautiful piano playing gave ‘Jesus Said’ a gentle meditative quality.

Available on the HILARY WOODS album ‘Colt’ via Sacred Bones

http://www.hilarywoods.com


Text by Chi Ming Lai
3rd December 2018

LET’S EAT GRANDMA Live at London Heaven

Wacky and wondrous, young Norwich duo LET’S EAT GRANDMA gave a refreshing sign at London’s Heaven that the anti-X Factor generation really does exist!

Comprising of Rosa Walton (vocals, keyboards + guitar) and Jenny Hollingworth (vocals, keyboards, recorder + sax), the pair met as 4 year olds at school. Often acting as if they were twins, their “experimental sludge pop” was showcased via their appropriately titled debut album ‘I, Gemini’, a work crammed with vivid imagination.

Accomplished multi-instrumentalists but also very much acting their age, the pair possess a naively afflicted high pitched harmony in the vein of cult American freak folkies COCOROSIE which only adds to their quirky appeal. Their recently released second album ‘I’m All Ears’ has been a more direct affair and seen them venture into synthpop, art school R’n’B and filmic instrumentals as well as developing their songs into even more adventurous extended arrangements.

Opening the show with ‘Hot Pink’, this feisty CHARLI XCX enthused anthem challenging gender roles with its stuttering rhythms was complimented by big blocks of coloured light. But it was the baby CHVRCHES of ‘It’s Not Just Me’ and its relatable sentiments on friendship that were an indication not just of the duo’s musical development, but of their empowerment too.

A more aggressive second cousin to ‘It’s Not Just Me’, ‘Falling Into Me’ continued a song selection that naturally focussed on ‘I’m All Ears’.

Following on, ‘I Will Be Waiting’ came over not unlike FEVER RAY crossed with CHVRCHES, while the piano-laden ‘Ava’ offered a maturity not far off POLLY SCATTERGOOD but also some innocent oddness.

‘I’m All Ears’ has been notable for featuring two very long tracks in ‘Cool & Collected’ and ‘Donnie Darko’, affirming Walton and Hollingworth’s subversive spirit and ambition if nothing else. A statement about insecurity, the psych guitar driven ‘Cool & Collected’ however was the less successful of the two, meandering a little too much and far too self-indulgent for a live setting.

But closing the main set was the 11 minute progressive gothique of ‘Donnie Darko’.

It was supreme with its loose shimmers and sparring guitar to start, before kicking in a steady four-to-the-beat, electronic blips and impassioned lines about “going bat sh*t crazy”.

Climaxed by magnificent bursts of whirring synth, the fluidity wouldn’t have sounded out of place on something by LA DÜSSELDORF.

However, some youthful fervour saw Walton and Hollingworth leaving their positions to dance with the audience before sitting down together in front of the drum riser, pleased with how their slumber party with 1000+ guests had gone.

Encoring with ‘Deep Six Textbook’, the song that took LET’S EAT GRANDMA to a wider audience via BBC TV’s ‘Later With Jools Holland’, the pair reprised their endearing playground Pat-A-Cake before settling into the song’s stark funereal drama.

Despite expressing a newly found confidence of individuality, LET’S EAT GRANDMA are still very much a playfully bonded pair who will only get stronger as a musical force.

Full of fun and fabulously quirky, while at times some of tonight’s performance got a bit ragged and could have been tightened, overall it was a highly accomplished show that very much impressed and reinforced their potential.

Anyone going to see CHVRCHES in the next few months is highly advised to arrive early; LET’S EAT GRANDMA are a positive symbol for the future and really should not be missed.


‘I’m All Ears’ is released by Transgressive Records/PIAS in CD, double vinyl LP and digital formats

LET’S EAT GRANDMA open for CHVRCHES in 2018-2019, dates include:

Utrecht TivoliVredenburg (3 November), Brussels Ancienne Belgique (5 November), Cologne Live Music Hall (6 November), Berlin Tempodrom (7 November), Hamburg Docks (9 November), Stuttgart LKA-Longhorn (11 November), Munich Muffathalle (12 November), Milan Fabrique (14 November), Lausanne Les Docks (15 November), Luxembourg Den Atelier (16 November), London Alexandra Palace (7 February), Birmingham O2 Academy (8-9 February), Nottingham Rock City (11 February), Bournemouth O2 Academy (12 February), Manchester Victoria Warehouse (14-15 February), Glasgow SSE Hydro (16 February), Newcastle O2 Academy (18 February)
Belfast Ulster Hall (19 February), Dublin Olympia (21-22 February)

http://letseatgrandma.co.uk

https://www.facebook.com/thelegofgrandma/

https://twitter.com/thelegofgrandma

https://www.instagram.com/thelegofgrandma/


Text and Photos by Chi Ming Lai
30th September 2018

CHRIS LIEBING featuring POLLY SCATTERGOOD And All Went Dark

Noted techno exponent Chris Liebing has unveiled a stark new track featuring Mute label mate Polly Scattergood entitled ‘And All Went Dark’.

The brooding minimalist electronic piece basically does what it says on the tin, with an eerily poetic spoken contribution from Miss Scattergood where the Essex songstress is haunted by a “dark shadow on my shoulder” and how “a sickness took hold early on”!

‘And All Went Dark’ is from Liebing’s new album ‘Burn Slow’ to be released by Mute Artists. Daniel Miller has long been an admirer of the Frankfurt-based DJ and the pair shared a stage for a talk at the 2016 ELECTRI_CITY_CONFERNCE in Dusseldörf; the Mute Records supremo had even joked that they would probably want to play exactly the same tracks during their DJ sets at the Time Warp club aftershow.

A striking mood piece ‘Polished Chrome (The Friend Part 1)’ featuring Gary Numan has already acted as early trailer for the album and the ten track opus will also feature vocals from COLD CAVE, ALEEN and Miles Cooper Seaton of folk-influenced experimentalists AKRON / FAMILY,

Liebing has long had a spiritual connection with Mute as a young fan of DEPECHE MODE, YAZOO, DAF, LAIBACH and NITZER EBB, with his recent remixes for DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Going Backwards’ and GOLDFRAPP’s ‘Everything Is Never Enough’ beginning the journey towards ‘Burn Slow’.


‘And All Went Dark’ is from the album ‘Burn Slow’ released by Mute Artists on 7th September 2018

CHRIS LIEBING does an eight-hour all night DJ set at Closer in London’s E1 on 26th August 2018

http://www.chrisliebing.com/

https://www.facebook.com/chrisliebingofficial/

http://mute.com/artists/chris-liebing

http://www.pollyscattergood.com/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
2nd August 2018

LET’S EAT GRANDMA I’m All Ears

Older music enthusiasts often express their despair about how things are “not what they used to be” with regards young new talent.

Often, the radio airwaves are bombarded with either autotuned pop wannabes or angsty folkies acting far too old for their years.

So it has been quite refreshing to come across an act who are genuinely quirky and out there, as well as rebelling by not towing the X-Factor party line despite having only just left school.

Norwich duo LET’S EAT GRANDMA were just 17 when they released their debut album ‘I, Gemini’ in 2016 with a nod to American freak folk pairing COCOROSIE. Despite not being related, the pair presented themselves as twins but over the two years since, Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth have developed their own lives and identities.

Like any friendships formed during childhood, this was inevitable so when Walton formed her first relationship, Hollingworth found herself a new social circle while developing an interest in electronic music and vintage synths.

Now coming together with a new found confidence as individuals, their experiences have manifested themselves onto their second album ‘I’m All Ears’, resulting in a more much diverse record compared to their debut. Like a TV show with eleven scenes, ‘Whitewater’ with its electronic backbone acts as the album’s futuristic instrumental theme while offset by rugged bursts by cello.

The feisty single ‘Hot Pink’ is a celebration of femininity that comes over like a baby ZOLA JESUS meeting CHARLI XCX; this is perhaps not totally unsurprising as the latter’s Glaswegian producer SOPHIE is also behind the studio controls here, along with Faris Badwan of THE HORRORS.

The brilliantly wonky synthpop of ‘It’s Not Just Me’ is an indication of how much LET’S EAT GRANDMA have evolved. Still maintaining the core character of Walton and Hollingworth’s delightfully odd harmony attached to their subversive spirit, there are clear points of melodic accessibility too.

The percussive ‘Falling Into Me’ is structured into several different sections using some varied musical palettes, showcasing the duo’s willingness to think outside the box for interesting song arrangements. A combination of guitar and string machine colours the more introspective ‘Snakes & Ladders’, while ‘I Will Be Waiting’ sounds not unlike FEVER RAY attempting a CHVRCHES number.

The organ-led instrumental ‘The Cat’s Pyjamas’ effectively acts as an intro to ‘Cool & Collected’ which at nine minutes makes an epic statement about insecurity. Despite the progressive influence of GENESIS, the very slow build perhaps stretches things out a bit too much. But to their credit, it’s an indication of LET’S EAT GRANDMA’s sense of ambition if nothing else. That ambition is more successfully realised on ‘Donnie Darko’, their eleven minute tribute to the troubled teenager haunted by a monstrous rabbit-like figure.

Utilising melodic guitar reminiscent of THE DURUTTI COLUMN at the start before morphing into a wonderful movement of cascading electronics set to a metronomic beat, there are also some passionate reflections in an afflicted vocal style recalling POLLY SCATTERGOOD on the subject of human suffering. And then without warning, ‘Donnie Darko’ drifts into a glorious synthony before calming to its conclusion.

While not perfect, this album has plenty to enjoy about it. A personal record that retains a degree of innocence while establishing an understanding of more worldly issues, ‘I’m All Ears’ marks LET’S EAT GRANDMA as an act of great potential who will only get better and impress further.


‘I’m All Ears’ is released by Transgressive Records/PIAS in CD, double vinyl LP and digital formats

LET’S EAT GRANDMA 2018 live dates include:

Vancouver Fortune Sound Club (30 August), Seattle Bumbershoot 2018 (31 August) Portland Doug Fir Lounge (1 September), San Francisco Rickshaw Stop (3 September), Los Angeles Moroccan Lounge (4 September), Chicago Empty Bottle (6 September), Toronto Drake Hotel (7 September), Montreal Bar le Ritz (8 September), Allston Great Scott (10 September), Brooklyn Baby’s All Right (12 September), Washington DC U Street Music Hall (13 September), London Heaven (27 September), Utrecht TivoliVredenburg (3 November)*, Brussels Ancienne Belgique (5 November)*, Cologne Live Music Hall (6 November)*, Berlin Tempodrom (7 November)*, Hamburg Docks (9 November)*, Stuttgart LKA-Longhorn (11 November)*, Munich Muffathalle (12 November)*, Milan Fabrique (14 November)*, Lausanne Les Docks (15 November)*, Luxembourg Den Atelier (16 November)*

*opening for CHVRCHES

http://letseatgrandma.co.uk

https://www.facebook.com/thelegofgrandma/

https://twitter.com/thelegofgrandma

https://www.instagram.com/thelegofgrandma/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photo by Charlotte Pattmore
8th July 2018, updated 9th July 2018

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