Tag: Public Image Limited

JAH WOBBLE Interview

JAH WOBBLE was just 18 years old when he co-founded PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED with John Lydon, Keith Levene and Jim Walker. Real name John Wardle, he was given his nickname and first bass guitar by a drunken Sid Vicious. After two albums ‘First Issue’ and ‘Metal Box’, he left the band in 1980.

Despite this, his creative mind and distinctive hypnotic bass style was now freed to work with a diverse range of artists and producers over the next four decades.

These included François Kevorkian, The Edge, Brian Eno, Winston Tong, Alan Rankine, Brett Wickens, Bill Sharpe, Baaba Maal, Chaka Demus, Dolores O’Riordan, Sinead O’Connor, Andrew Weatherall and Bill Laswell, as well as groups like ONE DOVE and THE ORB.

Forming THE HUMAN CONDITION who released two live cassettes before disbanding, he headed to Cologne to collaborate with CAN members Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit, the material eventually coming out as the ‘Full Circle’ album in late 1982 which included the minor European hit ‘How Much Are They?’. ‘The ‘Snake Charmer’ EP also featuring the trio followed in 1983.

Using his German experience, he showcased his eclectic tastes on the single ‘Invaders Of The Heart’, with Wardle reworking his bassline for PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED’s ‘Death Disco’ into a mutant post-punk dub excursion also featuring electronics and ethnic tape samples.

His album ‘Rising Above Bedlam’ was nominated for the 1992 Mercury Music Prize and although he didn’t win, he had played on one track from the eventual winner ‘Screamadelica’ by PRIMAL SCREAM. Outside of music, he obtained a BA in Music and Philosophy, while also acting as a book reviewer for the Independent on Sunday and The Times.

A strong advocate of World Music, he has a brand new album entitled ‘Ocean Blue Waves’ out this Spring with THE INVADERS OF THE HEART. Big John chatted about his ethos and his career as one of the UK’s most influential and distinctive bass players.

Your new album ‘Ocean Blue Waves’ has a very cosmic vibe about it, what inspired its concept?

There wasn’t really a concept… sometimes with some records, there’s a bit of a backstory but in this case, it was “let’s go in the studio” and play naturally. The only number that had been pre-written was ‘Take My Hand’ which is a bit of a rock anthem.

Do you compose by manner of band jamming?

It’s our natural style, I would give them say a descending change and suggest a few things, but it would be the band doing their thing. My drummer Marc Layton-Bennet came a decade ago via my old percussionist Neville Murray who’s retired now, he was the guy who would always suggest musicians for me.

I met George King, my keyboard player through an engineer I worked with and my guitarist Martin Chung was a good mate of Marc’s, although I actually saw him on a video for a singer who he was playing with about six years ago. I tend to stick with the same musicians, like Neville was on the firm with me for like 30 years!

On ‘Ocean Blue Waves’, there’s a mix of instrumentals and songs like ‘Take My Hand’, ‘A fly Away’ and ‘Minds Float Free’, how do you decide when a track needs vocals?

You think “what does this track need?” and sometimes it sounds like a backing track and you can hear a saxophone on it or a topline of a vocal. I remember I had these dubby psychedelic tracks that weren’t really songs or an instrumentals, I was like “what is it?” but I then got thinking about William Blake, so it became this spoken word album.

Do lyrics come naturally to you?

Yeah, I’ve written a lot over the years, maybe a quarter of the live set has me singing and now I have to be careful and look after my voice properly which at 61 is a new one on me! I rented a room at an art studio in Manchester just to write some poetry ‘Odds & Sods Of Epilogues’ and an autobiography ‘Memoirs Of A Geezer’.

One highlight is the title ‘Ocean Blue Waves’ track which has a most amazing synth solo…

I came up with this b-line in Tokyo and it was driving me mad, we played it at a gig there and it was quite modal, not really much like the track as you hear it now.

I really wanted to use that b-line for something and the boys come up with something very different. It’s better live now and it’s very dreamy, we generally start the set with it.

But it’s so nice, you don’t really want to go into the first change or end the number, because it’s so nice and hypnotic!

We’re always pushed for time at the end of the night as we do quite a long set, so you have to do the change, you want that synth solo to go on and on and on! It’s got a lovely sound, it’s a bit softer and less minor key.

It all seems a far cry from PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED, how do you look back on that time?

I loved it because I was just starting out, that youthful enthusiasm of an amateur, I’d like to think it’s something I’ve still got. I always like to quote a Suzuki line: “In the beginner’s mind, there’s many possibilities, in the experts there’s few…”, so I try to keep a naïve approach and play without thinking.

There’s certain basslines like PiL’s ‘Poptones’ that are so perfect and circular somehow… actually I went back to playing Fender Precision bass after using Magnum for years after we played in America and did an album with Bill Laswell. Fender Precision makes me play a little bit more chromatically, these chromatic runs somehow sound cleaner. It works well with the old stuff even though it’s evolving and the new stuff as well.

What influenced your playing style?

Dub reggae as a big thing, I loved soul, funk and disco. I liked the idea of patterns so very early on. I got my own modal sound going, because I would make patterns based around the dots of the fret. I couldn’t count, I took a little while to learn the notes so I went by the dots on the fretboard…. I made shapes and patterns so that naturally led to a certain kind of block unit. A lot of the stuff I do is A minor, B minor, they’re quite modal and fixed. When I play with a Fender, you get a flowing quality, it’s quite musical in its own way I think.

Did you eventually venture down the path of learning more formal musical theory?

No, not at all and it was probably just as well. I didn’t get conditioned and you become educated because I worked with some really great musicians over the years like Jaki Liebezeit and Holger Czukay, and I hung on their every word.

I thought very hard about music and how the bass should work and sound like in conjunction with the drums or keyboards. I think I ended up thinking in quite an abstract way. I didn’t have any knowledge of Bach or tonality so you had your own kind of approach.

The sonic thing was a big part of it because my generation were in the studio playing electric instruments, so the actual sound was as important as the phrasing or the playing.

After PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED, you were suddenly off to Germany to record the ‘How Much Are They?’ EP with Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit, how did that come about?

This was through a mate of mine, Angus MacKinnon who interviewed me in regard to ‘Metal Box’. We became friends and he knew I wasn’t happy in PiL, so he suggested I play with CAN. Holger happened to be in London with his manager Hildegard and we got introduced. I got on with him and we went to a studio to have a little try out. I wrote the basic parts for ‘How Much Are They?’, the b-line, the drum beat, the simple string parts and the triad chords over the bass so I was developing this style that was quite catchy.

What happened next?

Holger took it back to Cologne to edit it quite radically and it was mixed by Mark Lusardi, a very good engineer. It became the first track of an EP we did called ‘How Much Are They?’; it went so well that they flew me over to Germany and we recorded stuff like ‘Trench Warfare’ and other stuff. That’s when I met Jaki for the first time, he’s probably the most special person I’ve ever met… as a musician he’s a master player.

Had you been a CAN fan?

Yeah, a bit! I liked the groove stuff, I wasn’t mad on everything but it was stuff the stuff where Jaki got his thing going on those earlier albums that I liked.

How did you find playing along to drum machines?

I like drum machines, they’re in time and it meant you could play over and over and over. I’d been in squats and when PiL started, it was terrible the way the money was sorted out, but I was able to get a Wasp synthesizer, a little analogue Roland rhythm box, a Godwin String Concert keyboard, a WEM Copicat and then later a TASCAM multi-track cassette portastudio. So I was very idiosyncratic and quite obsessive. so I would sit there for hours with a drum machine going. It was fantastic because that really helps your timing, you become machine-like yourself really.

Holger Czukay was quite unique in that he was a bass player who was not really interested in playing bass anymore, but was becoming more of a sound painter, is that how you saw it?

Yes, I did. He was a producer… there had been clashes in CAN over the direction of the band but Holger was the guy who would be the architect and would get busy with the razor blade, editing after they’d recorded. So that’s how it was, he really liked my playing and thought it was fantastic, saying “I couldn’t do what you do!” and I was like “REALLY?”

Jaki really liked it too and I was really surprised but delighted. Holger said “It’s like Miles Davis, you play one note and everyone knows it’s you”. It strange, I still don’t know why or how or what, but I do have my own sound, I know I have my own sound. Jaki had his own unique sound too…

Jaki was quite fascinating in that he could play fast, but it would be quite ambient…

He was so simpatico over the space he was playing in, and he could play fast but there was a totality to the sound. Some of that was down to the fact that they only used a pair of overhead mics, it sounded so good in the studio. They didn’t have a dividing wall between the control room and the recording room at Inner Space Studio in Cologne.

It was one space, an old cinema so everything sounded great there. I learnt a lot and developed that over the years, not trying too hard with mics so that you get a total sound with a certain spacious quality within the music, even when it’s uptempo.

The ‘How Much Are They?’ EP was dedicated to Ian Curtis?

That’s right, his death was a shocker, he was a special person and it seemed like a nice thing to do, it was such a shame for him to die so young…

On the ‘Snake Charmer’ EP, you worked with the-then emerging François Kervorkian who brought a Linn Drum Computer to the studio, that must have been a revelation?

Yeah, but I wasn’t mad on the Linn Drum sound with its big toms and rock kick thing. I always preferred those Roland drum machines, but the Linn was still really good, it was a revelation.

François was good to work with because he was from a dance background so he was really into making records dancey and tuned into the dancefloor.

François brought it in and there’s the famous story where Jaki became very cross with the Linn Drum and accused it of being slightly out of time! We thought that was impossible as it was a machine, but Jaki insisted it was out of time. So when we timed it back, it was! It was so incredible, like 4 BPM out, losing 3 BPM over the course of a minute but he was correct!

He got really angry and played this cross-rhythm, then suddenly, there was this puff of smoke come out the back and the Linn fused! We couldn’t get it working again! So Jaki had out-synched this Linn Drum, that was the power of his mind!

‘Snake Charmer’ also featured The Edge from U2, how was it to work with him?

It was very easy, he was a very nice guy… when he arrived in the studio, I was having this massive row with François, I saw him and quickly said “Hallo, I know who you are, I can’t wait to talk to you but I’ve got to finish this f*cking argument! Nice to meet you!” *laughs*

The Edge was a nice bloke, François knew him because he’d remixed a couple of U2 tracks. He made a lovely sound on ‘Hold On To Your Dreams’, just beautiful.

You took a break from music but came back?

Sometimes I got lazy but I stopped drinking in 1986 and I was halfway through an album called ‘Psalms’, so the final half was done very newly sober. Then I started working as a courier and applied to work for the Post Office and London Underground. By 1987, I started working for the Underground, I chose them over the Post Office. I still miss for the Underground, I loved it.

I was listening to a lot of music, then Neville Murray knocked on my door and asked when we were going back on the road? So we put THE INVADERS OF THE HEART Mk2 together and we started again. We were working with a guy called David Harrow and I started being active in music again. If there was a break, it was only for about two months!

You worked with the late Andrew Weatherall on several occasions including on ‘There Goes The Cure’ from ‘Morning Dove White’ by ONE DOVE, what was it like to work with him?

I was living in South London and that rave scene was going when I walked to Embankment. I would see all these clubbers in Villiers Street, queuing to get into this after-hours club and thought “this is interesting”, this would have been around the beginnings of acid jazz. I started getting some work in that scene with those kind of DJs, Andy gave me a kick start coming back into the business.

You were working with Brian Eno for 1995’s ‘Spinner’, can you remember what the creative dynamic was like between you?

Brian Eno was a bit half and half… for one track, he said something like “Oh, I want you to treat it like a moreish maiden” and I was like “Stop being funny, stop playing games! DO YOU LIKE IT?” *laughs*

I do like Brian, you might get the impression I don’t, but I do! It was a good thing for me to do and he’s a kind man.

I’m touring with his brother Roger as part of THE ORB live band. He’s into all those minimalist Harold Budd and Debussy piano pieces and I think he’s been an influence on Brian. It all came about via Derek Jarman, he approached me and because he’d done ‘Jubilee’, he knew Brian.

I’d done these little piano pieces like Shostakovich, clusters of notes which we turned into tracks. There wasn’t a lot of money so we couldn’t use lots of players or have a big studio, we did it in my little home studio in Bethnal Green using our imagination. Some records don’t last as well as others but I think ‘Spinner’ has lasted really well, it’s really got something special about it and stood the test of time.

If you listen to ‘Spinner’ now, it’s like the precursor to some of the dance music productions over the next two years with the effects on the drums and stuff, because up until then, having effects on drums was seen as quite bad taste, it didn’t work.

You’d put phasing on guitar but you’d have to be careful about drums. But somehow, it kind of worked with that phasing.

I used to do a lot of walking along the Lea Valley in London, and you’d be walking past old soap factories up the River Lea and see semi-rural marshlands, so it would get very trippy.

So that would influence the music, doing things in 7/4 time with a real haunting vibe. It was like walking music because each time we’d finish a track, we’d use it to walk to. There was something about the whole do-it-yourself concept, the way it was recorded on computer and how we used our expertise to record loops of Jaki and stuff.

What would you say have been your career highlights?

There’s magical moments in my life and not just with music. One of my highlights was walking across the grounds of Birkbeck College, London University on the first day of term when I went there, that was wow! And there was driving the tube train, westbound from Stratford to Mile End for the first time on this really fast section of line… I was just thinking “I AM DRIVING A F*CKING TUBE TRAIN, HOW D’YA LIKE THAT!” *laughs*

It’s that sense that you have sometimes of observing yourself, it’s quite detached… like a big mind thing looking at you, you get that in life and you get it on stage often. It’s like when people talk about an out-of-body experience, but you’re in control, you’re the observed and the observer at the same time.

I’ve had so many moments like that, like the first gig in sobriety with Neville in Switzerland, I woke up in a pension hotel overlooking the square with the smell of croissants and coffee wafting up in the morning in spring… I was like “I’m sober and I’m back on the road”, it was magical!


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to JAH WOBBLE

Special thanks to Sulley Archer at Hush PR

‘Ocean Blue Waves’ is released on 27th March 2020, available as a CD or download now direct from https://jahwobble.bandcamp.com/album/ocean-blue-waves

https://jahwobble.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Jah.Wobble.Music/

https://twitter.com/realjahwobble

https://www.instagram.com/real_jah_wobble/

https://open.spotify.com/artist/5jhqwsWfRaETrWPWI0Rc7u


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
3rd March 2020

THE SOFT MOON Live at The Dome

With fourth album ‘Criminal’ now doing the rounds, The Dome in Tufnell Park was filled to the brim as Oakland’s THE SOFT MOON performed the only UK date on their current tour.

Essentially the one-man project of Luis Vasquez, their live line-up is expanded with the addition of Luigi Pianezzola on bass / synths and Matteo Vallicelli on live / electronic drums including a nifty four pad retro Simmons combo.

Vasquez started the show solo with a rendition of the dark Numan-esque title track from his new album before being joined by his two sidemen. What initially hits home most about THE SOFT MOON live experience is the clarity of their sound; on record they have (at times) an impenetrable and murky aesthetic.

But here in the live arena, there is a much more muscular delivery with the superb PA system at The Dome proving transformational sound-wise for the band. On stage, Vasquez showcases himself as a really accomplished musician, effortlessly flipping from guitar to a Moog Sub 37 synth and then to live percussion; he is an artist that holds the audience transfixed, combined with a low down (head bowed) signature synth playing posture.

Special mention must also be given to percussionist Vallicelli; combining the tom-driven style of NEW ORDER’s Stephen Morris and the motorik beat of Krautrock, there was never any unnecessary overplaying and when a song needed electronic drums, he switched to his stand-up Simmons set-up instead.

With a set combining an even balance of tracks from THE SOFT MOON’s four albums, there was plenty here to please both old and new fans alike, with the newer material from ‘Criminal’ slotting in effortlessly with cuts from ‘Deeper’, ‘Zeros’ and their eponymous debut long player. Standout track ‘Give Something’ from ‘Criminal’ proved a mid-set highlight and showed off Vasquez’s wide vocal range, whilst from the same album the EBM bass-driven ‘Father’ got The Dome crowd moving.

‘Wrong’ from ‘Deeper’ gave Vasquez a chance to showcase his percussive skills with an improvised trash can drum played almost Batucada-style plus additional hi-Q synth drums overlayed by Pianezzola on a Roland trigger pad. ‘Tiny Spiders’ was one of many songs in the set to feature the classic Post-Punk flanged guitar sound much beloved of SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES’ John McGeoch and PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED’s Keith Levine and in places, the spirit of Crawley’s finest THE CURE was also summoned.

After a set which seemed to cruise by, the band came back for two encores of ‘Black’ and ‘Want’ (with one word titles being a signature thing for the band).

With ‘Criminal’ picking up some really stellar reviews and the band selling out venues effortlessly, it is surely only a matter of time before THE SOFT MOON shift up to a higher level of exposure and popularity.

In the wrong hands, this kind of material has the potential to fail live, but Vasquez and co show how nihilistic anthems of despair and alienation can be truly engaging when performed. At the risk of being overtly pun-tastic, it really would be criminal to miss this band live… highly recommended.


Special thanks to Frankie Davison at Stereo Sanctity

‘Criminal’ is released by Sacred Bones Records in CD, vinyl LP and digital formats

THE SOFT MOON 2018 European Tour dates include:

Yverdon Les Bains L’Amalgame (20th February), Milan Magnolia (21st February), Rome Monk (22nd February), Napoli Lanificio (23rd February), Bologna Covo (24th February), Munich Kranhalle (7th March), Leipzig UT Connewitz (8th March), Hamburg Hafenklang (9th March), Cologne Gebäude 9 (10th March), Saarbrucken Garage Club (11th March), Nijmegen Doomroosje (13th March), Lille Les Paradis Artificiels (14th March), Nantes Stereolux (15th March), Lyon Epicerie Moderne (16th March)

http://www.thesoftmoon.com

https://www.facebook.com/thesoftmoon/

https://twitter.com/thesoftmoon

https://www.sacredbonesrecords.com


Text and Photos by Paul Boddy
19th February 2018

25 SYNTH + GUITAR BAND COMBO TRACKS

There are many bands from the Synth Britannia-era that are often perceived as being electronic, when in fact they either started off in a traditional band format and integrated synthesizers/sequencers or remained like that throughout most of their career.

ULTRAVOX, NEW ORDER and GARY NUMAN all fell into that format, but what about others who have successfully managed to meld the rigidity and coldness of electronics with the more human element of guitars.

This list aims to highlight tracks both vintage and more recent that give the listener the “best of both worlds” when it comes to an electronic and live band aesthetic. It is presented in chronological order with a restriction of one track per artist moniker…


ULTRAVOX All Stood Still (1980)

With the exception of ‘Mr X’ (and even that featured Billy Currie’s viola), all of the tracks on ‘Vienna’ featured live instrumentation of one form or another; whether it be Midge Ure’s guitar or Chris Cross’ live bass. Despite being underpinned by the band’s’ trademark Minimoog bass pulse and Currie’s squealing ARP Odyssey solo, ‘All Stood Still’ rocks pretty hard with Ure’s guitar running throughout in what would become the fourth single to be released from the album.

Available on the album ‘Vienna’ via EMI Music

http://www.ultravox.org.uk


VISAGE Visage (1980)

A hybrid of Giorgio Moroder electronics and heavy guitars, the song with its extended middle section showcases some truly wonderful interlocking sequencer parts. Despite some major axe-wielding done by Midge Ure and John McGeoch, there was still room for some Simmons drum rolls by RUSTY EGAN and a trademark BILLY CURRIE synth lead.

Available on the album ‘Visage’ via Polydor Records

http://www.visage.cc/


JAPAN Quiet Life (1980)

‘Quiet Life’ which was originally the B-side to the UK single ‘I Second That Emotion’, only became a chart hit when it was released by Hansa Records to capitalize on the success of the ‘Tin Drum’ album. Featuring guitar work from Rob Dean (who used an E-Bow to achieve the long sustained notes on the track), he departed the band after the ‘Gentlemen Take Polaroids’ album when his guitar work started be regarded as superfluous to the band’s sound.

Available on the album ‘Quiet Life’ via Sony BMG

http://www.nightporter.co.uk


GARY NUMAN I Die: You Die (1980)

Combining Jupiter 4 arpeggiators, a Roland CR78 and chugging guitars, ‘I Die: You Die’ was a song written by Numan about the symbiotic relationship he had with the music press. Considering the track was a single, it was notable in that during its 3 and a half minute length, nearly half of the track was instrumental with a long intro and extended musical outro.

Available on the album ‘Premier Hits’ via Beggars Banquet

https://garynuman.com


DURAN DURAN Careless Memories (1981)

Combining both of the signature electronic sounds from their eponymous debut, flanged sequencer and string synth, ‘Careless Memories’ also rocks because of Andy Taylor’s guitar which takes over the track from the second verse onwards, affirming The Guardian’s 2015 synopsis that DURAN DURAN were indeed “an electronic band with a heavy rock guitarist bolted on”.

Available on the album ‘Duran Duran’ via EMI Records

http://www.duranduran.com/


THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS Love My Way (1982)

Although only charting at No42 in the UK charts, ‘Love My Way’ still remains a mainstay of New Wave / synth compilations from its era. Featuring Numan-inspired synths and a marimba played by track producer Todd Rundgren, the promo video was directed by Tim Pope who would go onto make his name as director of choice for THE CURE while guitarist John Ashton had a sideline producing THE SISTERS OF MERCY.

Available on the album ‘Forever Now’ via Sony Music

http://www.thepsychedelicfurs.com


TEARS FOR FEARS Pale Shelter (1983)

TEARS FOR FEARS’ ‘Pale Shelter’ was released three separate times with an edit of the Mike Howlett produced version being made available after the success of the ‘Songs From the Big Chair’ album. The promo video for the Ross Cullum/Chris Hughes re-recording of the track is in turns both surreal and incomprehensible, but still doesn’t diminish the power of a song which combines acoustic guitars and electronics seamlessly.

Available on the album ‘Rule The World: The Greatest Hits’ via Universal Music

http://tearsforfears.com


PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED The Order of Death (1984)

Notable for its use in the sci-fi film ‘Hardware’, ‘The Order of Death’ is a primarily instrumental piece with Floydian-influences and a mantra-like chant of “This is what you want, this is what you get” being the only featured vocal throughout. This atypical PiL track was arguably one of the better things about the film ‘Hardware’ which was a low-budget affair that owed more than a passing debt to ‘The Terminator’ and ‘Alien’, while it also latterly appeared in ‘The Blair Witch Project’.

Available on the album ‘This Is What You Want . . . This Is What You Get’ via Virgin Records

http://www.pilofficial.com/


THE CURE Just Like Heaven (1987)

The glorious string synth melody helps this CURE track make it into the 25 of this listing. One of Robert Smith’s most covered songs, with interpretations ranging from a grunge guitar version by DINOSAUR JR through to one by the wildly inoffensive KATIE MELUA; what is less known is that an instrumental version of ‘Just Like Heaven’ was used as the theme music to the French TV programme ‘Les Enfants du Rock’, helping give the song a wider European exposure prior to its eventual release.

Available on the album ‘Greatest Hits’ via Fiction Records

http://www.thecure.com


DEPECHE MODE Personal Jesus (1990)

Despite courting controversy, ‘Personal Jesus’ was inspired by a book about ELVIS PRESLEY’s wife Priscilla; Martin Gore revealed to Spin Magazine: “It’s a song about being a Jesus for somebody else, someone to give you hope and care. It’s about how Elvis was her man and her mentor and how often that happens in love relationships; how everybody’s heart is like a god in some way. We play these god-like parts for people but no one is perfect, and that’s not a very balanced view of someone is it?”.

Available on the album ‘Violator’ via Mute Records

http://www.depechemode.com/


ELECTRONIC Get The Message (1991)

With a verse vocal melody scaringly similar to ABC’s ‘All of My Heart’, ‘Get The Message’ was the second single from the debut ELECTRONIC album. The Marr/Sumner collaboration cracked the Top 10 in 1991, but didn’t go down well with Melody Maker who described listening to the track as “Like watching a pony chew on a carrot for half an hour”!

Available on the album ‘Electronic’ via EMI Records

http://www.electronicband.com


RAMMSTEIN Ich Will (2001)

With a synthetic introduction that sounds like a prime Violator-era DEPECHE MODE track, the song also features the twin guitar attack of Richard Kruspe and Paul Landers. Translated as “I want”, the track is noteworthy for the call and response section latterly in the piece, where RAMMSTEIN fans were recorded in an arena to get the epic and some might say, controversial Teutonic rally feel.

Available on the album ‘Made In Germany 1995-2011’ via Universal Music

https://www.rammstein.de/


NEW ORDER Crystal (2001)

There are countless NEW ORDER tracks that could feature on this list, in fact you could probably fill all 25 slots with their hybrid electronic / rock tracks. The ‘Crystal’ promotional video is notable for inspiring Brandon Flowers from THE KILLERS to name his act from the fictional band which mimes to the song has the name emblazoned on the drummer’s kick drum!

Available on the album ‘Singles’ via Rhino Records

http://www.neworder.com


MARILYN MANSON This Is The New Sh*t (2003)

‘This Is The New Sh*t’ takes a lyrically cynical swipe at over-obsessed music fans devotion to their favourite bands. The track combines glitchy synths, analogue step sequencers, a ‘When The Levee Breaks’-style drum pattern and a dynamic screamed chorus from MANSON. In one of music’s most unlikely (and inspired) pairings, GOLDFRAPP re-interpreted the track with Alison adding a wonderful 20s influenced outro replete with her interpretation of the sweary vocals.

Available on the album ‘Hot Fuss’ via Interscope Records

http://www.marilynmanson.com


THE KILLERS Somebody Told Me (2004)

With an opening 20 second blitzkrieg of synths and guitars, ‘Somebody Told Me’ needed a couple of releases for it to become a decent chart hit in the UK. Amusingly described by singer and keyboardist Brandon Flowers as “‘Rio’ with chest hair”, the song eventually reached No3 in the UK singles charts when it was re-released in 2005.

Available on the album ‘Hot Fuss’ via Lizard King Records

http://www.thekillersmusic.com


THE BRAVERY An Honest Mistake (2005)

American act THE BRAVERY actually won ‘BBC Sound Of 2005’ and had a Top 10 single with their debut track ‘An Honest Mistake’, but unfortunately weren’t able to follow it up. Successfully merging sequenced synths and NEW ORDER-style guitars, the band also secured the support slot on DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Touring The Angel’ set of live shows but ditched the synths by their lukewarm second album ‘The Sun & The Moon’.

Available on the album ‘The Bravery’ via Polydor Records

http://thebravery.com


METRIC Poster Of A Girl (2005)

Led by Emily Haines, Canadian combo METRIC and their ‘Poster Of A Girl’ features a mixture of fizzing monosynths that evoke those used on THE CURE’s ‘Seventeen Seconds’ and ‘Faith’. The song’s deliciously filthy lyrics and seedy video combine to make this track a classic hybrid of guitars and synthesizers.

Available on the ‘Live It Out’ album via Last Gang Recodes

https://www.ilovemetric.com


NINE INCH NAILS Only (2005)

‘Only’ breaks all the rules of song structuring (the listener has to wait a full two minutes and eighteen seconds before the chorus hook comes in) and showcases a video promo which owes more than a passing debt to MIDGE URE’s ‘If I Was’. The song itself has one of those signature Reznor synth parts that immediately identifies it as a NIN track and combines this with sequencers and guitars to great effect.

Available on the album ‘With Teeth’ via Interscope Records

http://www.nin.com


INFECTED MUSHROOM Smashing The Opponent (2009)

It would be easy to dismiss Israel’s INFECTED MUSHROOM as an EDM / Psytrance act, but dig a little deeper and you will hear a multitude of influences. ‘Smashing The Opponent’ featuring vocals from Jonathan Davis of KORN, owes a major debt to DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Behind the Wheel’. A superb sequenced synth bassline drives the track along whilst a mixture of clean and distorted guitars help give the track an added live dimension & power that electronics alone would struggle to manage.

Available on the album ‘Legend Of The Black Shawarma’ via Perfecto Records

http://infected-mushroom.com


MUSE Uprising (2009)

An unholy mix of the ‘Dr Who’ theme, ‘White Wedding’ by BILLY IDOL, ‘Call Me’ by BLONDIE and the BLACK SABBATH track ‘Children of the Grave’, ‘Uprising’ saw MUSE bring synths to the fore with this GOLDFRAPP-inspired schaffel stomp from the album ‘The Resistance’. The similarity with the BLONDIE song resulted in Debbie Harry and co mashing up the two songs when playing live.

Available on the album ‘The Resistance’ via Warner Music

http://muse.mu


WHITE LIES E.S.T. (2009)

One of the standout tracks from their debut album ‘To Lose My Life’, ‘E.S.T.’ was inspired by Electric Shock Therapy, the form of medical treatment that was given to WHITE LIES bass player Charles Cave’s mentally ill great grandmother. The track combines U2 style guitar lines and bombastic synths with Harry McVeigh’s Julian Cope aping vocal style to great effect.

Available on the album ‘To Lose My Life’ via Fiction Records

http://whitelies.com


KORN featuring SKRILLEX + KILL THE NOISE Narcissistic Cannibal (2011)

From the ‘When KORN went Dubstep’ phase, with SKRILLEX on production duties and synths/programming. ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK vividly remembers the general confusion which greeted KORN when they unveiled their new electronic direction in 2012; the act played Brixton Academy supported by Dubstep act DOWNLINK and a DJ set from frontman Jonathan Davis, much to the general bemusement of the band’s hard core fans.

Available on the album ‘The Path Of Totality’ via Roadrunner Records.

http://www.korn.com


IAMX I Come With Knives (2013)

With a German lullaby-style intro vocal, ‘I Come With Knives’ has a pretty low-key start until the listener is dragged screaming and kicking into the chorus with Chris Corner’s histrionic vocals at times evoking MUSE’s Matt Bellamy. The track successfully combines live drums, guitars and synths and is a definite standout in the IAMX catalogue.

Available on the album ‘The Unified Field’ via IAMX

http://iamxmusic.com


BATTLE TAPES Valkyrie (2015)

The standout track from LA-based BATTLE TAPES’ debut album ‘Polygon’. ‘Valkyrie’ is a brilliant merging of rock band dynamics and sequenced electronic elements. Lyrically the song is one of those that the listener can analyse countless times and still not have a clue what it’s all about (…and that’s a good thing).

Available on the album ‘Polygon’ via Battle Tapes

http://battletapesband.com


VOX LOW Something Is Wrong (2015)

Taking their cues from JOY DIVISION but welding them to a dance music aesthetic, France’s VOX LOW’s epic 8 and a half minute single ‘Something Is Wrong’ is a slow builder with wonderfully quirky lyrics about patching synths and flangers. “You plug the wire… not the good wire…”

Available on the single ‘Something Is Wrong’ via Correspondant 35

https://www.facebook.com/VoxLowBand


Text by Paul Boddy
13th January 2018