Tag: Rodney Cromwell (Page 1 of 5)

RODNEY CROMWELL Interview

Indie synth veteran Adam Cresswell is back as Rodney Cromwell with his second full length long player under that nom de théâtre, having recorded and released albums over the last two decades as a member of SALOON and ARTHUR & MARTHA.

Issued on Cresswell’s own boutique label Happy Robots Records, the enjoyably hazy 12 track work is entitled ‘Memory Box’.

In this bizarre post-truth world where hypocrisy is rife and blatant lies are not questioned, where those who complained about fake news on mainstream media then celebrated the 40th Anniversary of DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Speak & Spell’ album on the incorrect date of 5th October 2021 and some who dismissed the music of the 80s are now writing about the music of the 80s, ‘Memory Box’ is timely.

The follow-up to the acclaimed debut ‘Age Of Anxiety’ from 2015, Adam Cresswell chatted at length to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about the making of his new opus.

What is the theme of the ‘Memory Box’ album and then specifically, the title song?

Well I guess it’s the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ of concept albums; it’s a concept album where the listener finds the concept that works for them.

The title came about half way through making it. I’d always planned to record an album in 2020, I just hadn’t thought I would write it locked in my tiny loft room in a pandemic. For most of my career I’ve been writing about our dystopian future, and then when it felt like it had finally arrived, I really didn’t want to write about it. So rather than looking outward, on what was going on around us, I looked inward; drawing on experiences and relationships from my past in order to look towards the future, digging deep into my own creative memory box.

There are on the album moments where I consciously pillage ideas from other records I’ve released over the last 20 years. ‘Fluctuations’ nods towards ‘Happy Robots’ from the second SALOON album. ‘Waiting Room’ leans towards ‘Kasparov’ from ARTHUR & MARTHA’s ‘Navigation’ and so on. It is full of Easter Eggs that only about three people might understand.

The song ‘Memory Box’ is about not trusting the world around you, or at least your perception of it. It’s the moment in the album when we fall into the psychological rabbit hole and it goes from being a straight synthpop album into something a bit more cerebral and psychedelic.

It’s been 6 years since ‘Age Of Anxiety’, how is it to actually create a traditional full length body of work as an independent artist and to ensure it is of the highest quality?

I’m not going to lie, it was really hard and I had to dig really deep. Even at my most proficient, I’ve rarely written more than four songs a year. I spent over a year making the ‘Rodney’s English Disco’, EP and at least three months on the remix for Alice Hubble alone. Perhaps if I taught myself to use a modern DAW and I bought sample packs and all that stuff, it would be easier, but I’ve chosen to work in this very old-school analogue way.

The big difference between writing ‘Memory Box’ and ‘Age of Anxiety’ was that I knew that people would be listening this time, some of whom will be wanting me to fail. I had none of that pressure with ‘Age Of Anxiety’ because I genuinely thought no-one would care. So I put the hours in, working with people I could trust and whose advice I would act on.

Rich Bennett who produced the album would keep pushing me throughout. Every time he said “it’s good, but you should add some harmonies”, I wanted to cry but it was worth it. And the other key collaborator was Martin J Langthorne, who played most of the guitar parts and who did all the design work on the campaign. He was coming up with these outlandish design ideas, sitting somewhere between Kafka and psychedelia, and they definitely pushed my writing in a more colourful direction.

Fifi Rong talked about being distracted from focussing on an album by the streaming metrics which favour single songs and remixes…

Yeah, playing the streaming game of releasing a rush of singles for the one-in-a-thousand chance of getting in a curated playlist is a massive distraction. I made my priority making a record that would sound great on vinyl. That’s why the songs are shorter than on ‘Age of Anxiety,’ to fit them on a single LP without compromising the sound, while at the same time breaking the mould of making a 10 track LP like all my previous studio albums.

Is radio play still important or is it about getting onto playlists and podcasts now? But with so many platforms, doesn’t it all get a bit saturated but ultimately fragmented now?

I guess radio play is really important, because no hipster Spotify playlisters will stick me in their playlists anyway. Ha! I can get great reviews in blogs or printed magazines, but can I persuade somebody on SubmitHub to drag-and-drop my song into a playlist with 200 other songs – nope. It’s a bit depressing. Being on BBC 6 Music though is always very special, not least because I can listen back on the ‘big telly’ in the living room, which even impresses my wife and kids… a bit.

This album appears to have a more vintage psychedelic presence than your previous work, as indicated by the instrumentals like ‘Cloud Catalogue’, ‘Butterflies In The Filing Cabinet’ and ‘Calculations’ which use Mellotron-derived sounds?

Yeah I mean that was partly to do with the fact when the pandemic started, I went back to listening to some of the bands that I really love – BROADCAST, SILVER APPLES, THE BEATLES and hauntological electronica like PYE CORNER AUDIO and FOCUS GROUP. While writing I also had a few run-ins with characters on the ‘synth scene’ and I just wanted some space from that. But by the end of last year I got over that, mainly through listening to NATION OF LANGUAGE and PEAKES on repeat, who reminded me how much I love synth music.

I didn’t buy a load of new synths to find those more esoteric sounds though; the Mellotron came from digging-deep into the MicroKorg. I also recorded a lot of stuff hot through effects pedals, I have more of a gear-fetish for pedals than synths these days

You’re not really known for buying lots of new toys and tend to stick with your trusted gear, but has there been any tech, either software or hardware that has proved crucial in the making of this album?

People do say when my stuff comes on the radio that they quickly recognise it as a Rodney Cromwell record and I like to think that’s because my arsenal of five synths and assorted toys have been my sound since at least the ARTHUR & MARTHA album.

My favourite new toy is probably my iZettle card reader, which brings me endless joy on the merch stall, but that’s probably not the answer you are after.

Did you binge watch THE BEATLES’ ‘Get Back’ documentary series earlier in the year? Your thoughts?

Of course, I insisted my wife used her Tesco Clubcard points for our Disney subscription. It goes without saying that ‘Get Back’ is brilliant; it sounds great, it looks great and it’s just wonderful seeing the creative process, even if they are playing ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’ at the time. I’m a terrible BEATLES bore, I think on one trip back from Glasgow, Martin and I talked solidly about THE BEATLES for the whole journey. ‘Cloud Catalogue’ on this album is my attempt at re-imagining ‘Flying,’ had The Fabs written it on entry-level synths after listening to a lot of STEREOLAB.

There is quite a bit of vocoder like on the opener ‘Intercom’ and ‘Wristwatch Television’, as the tech pre-dates the Second World War, it does fit in with the whole ‘Memory Box’ vibe…

The lo-fi vocoder-voice has become one of my trademark sounds, along with ARP strings, DR-55 drums and the melodica. I usually use the vocoder when I’ve written a song in a key that I struggle to sing in, like ‘Comrades’ on the last EP which always sounds like the world’s worst ACTORS impression if I don’t use the vocoder.

‘Intercom’ was a pain because I recorded it in 2020, a year later I decided to change two lines of the lyrics. I originally sung “Now I’m a populist, it’s easy”, which was of course meant ironically, but then after reading theUwe Schütte book on KRAFTWERK (which you gave me – thanks for that), I was reminded of the whole ‘Radioactivity’ furore and how people just don’t get irony in pop, so I changed the line to “Now I’m a nihilist” which is a bit closer to my real position anyway. I then had to spend hours trying to replicate the vocoder sound which didn’t work and I had to re-record the whole thing. It wasn’t quite like when MY BLOODY VALENTINE had to re-record all the guitars on ‘Loveless’ because they’d forgotten what tunings they’d used, but it didn’t feel far off.

‘The Department Of Public Tranquility’ sounds like something you might have done in ARTHUR & MARTHA?

I hadn’t really noticed that similarity, but it was an attempt to break the synthpop mould by writing something in 3/4 with a weird key change.

The file corrupted while I was writing it so Rich had to retrieve it and rebuild it, so I’m not entirely sure what is me playing and what is him. Apparently I’m playing bass on that one, but I don’t believe him, it sounds too well played to be me.

While you are pursuing a slightly different direction on this album, there’s still some Motorik beats on ‘Fluctuations’ and ‘The Winter Palace’?

Ha – of course I love it who doesn’t love that beat. In 2020 I played as part of Damo Suzuki’s backing-band with Alice Hubble and I would have happily had us just play that beat for the whole set.

With every album, I dream of writing a Motorik track that’s as good as ‘Isi’, ‘Mother Sky’ or ‘We’re Not Adult Orientated’. Of course that is never going to happen, but it does mean a lot of my songs start off with the apache beat; songs like ‘Autovia’, ‘Barry Was An Arms Dealer’, ‘Squarewave To Heaven’. I find that it absolutely captivating, like a clear natural high. Beats sniffing glue.

After years of imitating Peter Hook musically, you finally do a Bernard Sumner impersonation on ‘Opus Three’?

I don’t know, I think I’ve been channelling Bernard for years in my melodica playing. But yeah I was getting fed up that every time someone asked me to do a collaboration or a remix they’d say “just put some Hooky bass on it”. So that’s why there isn’t much chorused bass on this album. Hooky is still the real-deal and he’s playing all the time, so you don’t need me doing my ‘Stars In Their Eyes’ bit anyway.

Do you have any particular favourite tracks?

‘Waiting Room’ because it’s a proper love song about someone I actually love rather than another song about fictional unrequited lover. I was listening to a lot of ‘McCartney One’ when I penned that one.

Aside from the ‘Memory Box’ album, you have released a limited edition of some unreleased instrumentals ‘Get Me To Prague’ and ‘Radagast The Brown’?

Yeah the idea of releasing some really old stuff as part of this campaign seemed to resonate with what ‘Memory Box’ is all about; looking backwards to look forward.

Also there are a bunch of great electronic artists out there making vintage sounding instrumentals, that sit somewhere between the ambient and hauntology spaces getting lots of acclaim. They are usually using modern DAWs to replicate a vintage sound, and I guess this was my way of saying “hey guys I’ve been making that sort of stuff for the last 20 years!”; I’m not sure anyone got the memo though.

You been quite vocal about the lot of the independent label and how the physical editions of their releases are in a very big queue behind major labels with their coloured vinyl reissues of ‘Rumours’ and the like? How are things looking for Happy Robots Records?

I’ve been as guilty as anyone of buying re-issues and totally inessential live-albums over the last few years so I can’t preach too much. The label though is doing pretty well, I’m steadily building up a great customer base of supportive fans. I can’t say I’m making a great deal of money, but our infrastructure is improving; I’ve got Martin doing the design work, we’ve signed a publishing deal alongside our distribution deal with Cargo, we’re investing in a few ads, it’s coming together. The biggest risk in terms of single-point-of-failure though, is that so-much rests on my shoulders. I am probably going to have to take a sabbatical, at some point to recharge by batteries, do bit of decorating and hopefully find the next brilliant new act to join the family.

What about live gigs and possibly venturing into post-Brexit Europe?

Who knows! We had a show booked in Düsseldorf for February but we had to pull it because of Covid. I’ve also been talking about going to Paris. Let’s see. I love playing live, but at the moment the UK looks like the safer bet, unless a European booking agent wants to get in touch and take a punt. Cough, anyone?…

Your hopes and fears as we aim to “stay negative to be positive” in 2022 to quote Mark Reeder?

Right now I think if we can avoid World War 3 I’ll be quite happy. The world doesn’t feel like it’s in a great place, but saying that it was a great Eurovision result, so who knows, perhaps the tide is turning!


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its grateful thanks to Adam Cresswell

‘Memory Box’ is released as a yellow vinyl LP by Happy Robots Records, available via https://www.happyrobots.co.uk/product-page/rodney-cromwell-memory-box-12-coloured-lp-bot33 ordirect from https://rodneycromwell.bandcamp.com/album/memory-box-2

Rodney Cromwell plays the free Oscillations Live event as part of Brockley Max on Saturday 4th June 2022 at The Honor Oak, 1 St German’s Road, Forest Hill, London SE23 1RH

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

https://www.facebook.com/rodneycromwellartist/

https://twitter.com/robot_rocker

https://www.instagram.com/robot_rocker/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Alison Ahern
25th May 2022

RODNEY CROMWELL Memory Box

Intended as a soundtrack to a sadly post truth world, Rodney Cromwell returns with his second album ‘Memory Box’.

Behind the persona of Rodney Cromwell is Adam Cresswell who said: “For most of my career I’ve been writing about our dystopian future, and then when it finally arrived, I really didn’t want to write about it. So rather than looking outward, on what was going on around us in the landscape of the pandemic, I looked inward; drawing on experiences and relationships from my past in order to look to the future. I essentially dug deep into my own creative memory box.”

A very different album to the melancholic but upbeat synthpop sensibility of 2015’s ‘Age Of Anxiety’, ‘Memory Box’ is a much hazier record presented with cerebral impressionistic qualities. It all begins with the motorik buzz ‘n’ bleep fest of ‘Intercom’ with vocoders that sound like ‘Trans’ era Neil Young if he had a more indie bent.

Then after years of imitating Peter Hook musically, ‘Opus Three’ sees Cresswell do his best Bernard Sumner impression in his very own ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ if ever there was one, although with its charming Stylophone solo, the homage is perhaps isn’t quite as blatant as NATION OF LANGUAGE’s ‘On Division Street’!

Meanwhile, the ‘Memory Box’ title song is an appealing metronomic number that reflects frustration and resignation about how truth and honesty are of so little worth in modern society, especially with the likes of Boris Johnson exploiting their posh boy privilege with blatant lies and being applauded for it!

Taking its lead from STEREOLAB, the grim moods of ‘Fluctuations’ are made more haunting by spacey keyboard swirls while the neo-acoustic ‘Waiting Room’ takes its lead from in ‘Kasparov’, one of Cresswell’s past musical adventures in ARTHUR & MARTHA.

The interlude ‘Butterflies In The Filing Cabinet’ utilises Mellotron-derived sounds for some uneasy psychedelic overtures but imagining ‘Tanzmusik’ from ‘KRAFTWERK’s ‘Ralf & Florian’ album meeting THE BEATLES ‘Flying’, the wonderful ‘Cloud Catalogue’ provides a catchy cosmic instrumental journey. Swung in 6/8 with catchy keyboard arpeggios, ‘The Department Of Public Tranquility’ also references ARTHUR & MARTHA with Theremin tones and sombre vocals encapsulating an aura of hopelessness.

Despite its electro-glam backbeat, ‘Wristwatch Television’ still fits with the tribulations of the ‘Memory Box’ concept, highlighting the wider public tunnel vision of not accepting the bigger picture when acquiring news from Martin on Facebook who has suddenly become an expert on vaccines and an authority on synthpop despite dissing THE HUMAN LEAGUE only four years before!

More stringy Mellotron-derived sounds come with the wordless ‘Calculations, but ‘The Winter Palace’ is a wonderful icy closer that is classic Rodders embracing motorik mechanisation within a hypnotic electronic backdrop and providing a glorious synth solo for an hopeful uplift to savour.

With the past two years seeing the circuit schematics of a Boss guitar pedal being viralled by anti-vax conspiracy theorists as the 5G chip sitting within the Covid vaccine and accepted as fact, where Devotees still think DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Speak & Spell was released on 5th October 1981 despite archive sales evidence to the contrary, where surreal distortion is starting to become reality, ‘Memory Box’ is a fine Kafkaesque concept album for exhausted souls to dance to as an imploding disaster awaits…

But what’s that No-Vacs Djokovic, you’re happy to forgo a few more Grand Slam titles at the height of your tennis career in order to maintain your stubborn stance? Don’t look up!


‘Memory Box’ is released as a yellow vinyl EP by Happy Robots Records on 18th March 2022, pre-order available from https://www.happyrobots.co.uk/product-page/rodney-cromwell-memory-box-12-coloured-lp-bot33

Pre-order the digital download in the usual formats via https://rodneycromwell.bandcamp.com/album/memory-box-2

RODNEY CROMWELL, SPRAY and CIRCUIT3 play The Cavendish Arms, 128 Hartington Rd, London SW8 2HJ on Saturday 19th March 2022 – tickets available in advance from https://www.happyrobots.co.uk/tickets

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

https://www.facebook.com/rodneycromwellartist/

https://twitter.com/robot_rocker

https://www.instagram.com/robot_rocker/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Alison Ahern
1st March 2022

RODNEY CROMWELL + MOOD TAEG Live at The Hope & Anchor

With Alice Hubble on DJ duties, the Hope & Anchor in Islington was the location for a Happy Robots Records family gathering that hosted the live return of label CEO Adam Cresswell in his Theatername of Rodney Cromwell and the debut gig of MOOD TAEG.

With his second Rodney Cromwell entitled ‘Memory Box’ now in the can and set to be unleased in Spring 2022, Cresswell and his band were keen to road test its contents in front of a receptive audience.

But for MOOD TAEG, it was a step into the unknown. The project comprising the enigmatic Düsseldorf pair of TDK and K’ko plus the absent Shanghai-based Lowell Freeman had never been conceived for live performance, but acclaim for the debut long player ‘Exophora’ and interest in its newly released follow-up ‘Anaphora’ has sparked demand.

However, nerves were undoubtedly kicking in, but after a few technical glitches were resolved, MOOD TAEG finally got the motorik on the move with ‘Deictics’ from ‘Exophora’ recalling the cosmic adventures of yore with a mind bending effect.

From ‘Anaphora’, ‘Happiness Fragment’ developed on its rhythmic groove with a pentatonic synthbass mantra although there were a few iffy moments on TDK’s borrowed guitar as it pierced the speakers on occasion.

But for the HARMONIA inspired ‘Ohrwurm’, there was a move away from Apache beats with K’ko augmenting on violin. Ending with an appropriate musical homage to Michael Rother, ‘2MR’ offered 10 minutes of Motorik Durch Technik as they say in Düsseldorf in the vein of NEU!

Understandably since last performing 2 years ago, Rodney Cromwell was a bit stage rusty with a few leads left unplugged, but tonight was about embracing the fear and exorcising the ‘Age Of Anxiety’. Cresswell took some joy in reminding the almost full venue that when JOY DIVISION played the Hope & Anchor in December 1978, only three people turned up!

Recalling ‘Tanzmusik’ from ‘KRAFTWERK’s ‘Ralf & Florian’ album, ‘Cloud Catalogue’ from ‘Memory Box’ opened the set. While this delightful instrumental was quite cheery, the new album looks at the social and political tribulations of the past few years. Intended as a soundtrack to a sadly post truth world, it is very different to the melancholic but upbeat synthpop sensibility of ‘Age Of Anxiety’.

In a month that has ironically seen some of those who have been moaning about fake news on mainstream media also celebrating the 40th Anniversary of DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Speak & Spell’ album on the incorrect date of 5th October, the ‘Memory Box’ title song’s release as a single has been timely.

The hazy but appealing metronomic number reflects in Cresswell’s own words on “how do we believe anything in a world where truth and honesty are of so little worth?”.

There was a comparatively lighter moment with the pulsating fan favourite ‘Black Dog’ given the harmonics treatment by guitarist Richard Salt, but the grim moods of ‘Fluctuations’ were made more haunting by the spacey keyboard swirls of Martin J Langthorne.

But Cresswell brought his Stylophone, along with his best Bernard Sumner impression for the premiere of ‘Opus Three’, Rodney Cromwell’s very own ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ if ever there was one, although the tribute perhaps isn’t quite as blatant as NATION OF LANGUAGE’s ‘On Division Street’! To finish the main part of the set, Rodney Cromwell and his band of not-so-merry men formed a melodica orchestra for the sombre wordless newbie ‘Calculations’.

Remaining on stage, Cresswell shouted “Do you want an encore?” to acknowledge the pretence of that accepted walk off practice. As he got into this spirit of showmanship with some Citizen Smith cosplay, appropriately it was ‘Barry Was An Arms Dealer’ that was the oldie that got dusted off while the more recent vocodered ‘Comrades’ concluded the evening.

While at times, both acts appeared a bit shaky and lost with long pauses between songs like on NEW ORDER’s ‘Taras Shevchenko’ live video, everyone including the audience just appeared to be happy be out mingling again. 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.


The new Rodney Cromwell album ‘Memory Box’ is released by Happy Robots Records on 18th March 2022, the single of the same name is available now as a download from https://happyrobotsrecords.bandcamp.com/

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

https://www.facebook.com/rodneycromwellartist/

https://twitter.com/robot_rocker

https://www.instagram.com/rodney_cromwell/

MOOD TAEG’s ‘Anaphora’ is released by Happy Robots Records in vinyl LP and digital formats, available now direct from https://www.happyrobots.co.uk/product-page/mood-taeg-anaphora-12-coloured-lp-bot24

https://www.happyrobots.co.uk/mood-taeg

https://www.facebook.com/MoodTag/

https://twitter.com/MoodTaeg

https://www.instagram.com/moodtaeg/


Text and Photos by Chi Ming Lai
30th October 2021

10 Years of ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK – STILL PUSHING THE ENVELOPE

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK celebrates its tenth birthday and it really has been synthly the best.

At the HEAVEN 17 aftershow party for their triumphant gig at The Magna Science Park on 6th March 2010, following chats with Glenn Gregory, Martyn Ware, Paul Humphreys and Claudia Brücken, interview opportunities opened up. It was obvious there was gap waiting to be filled for a quality web publication that featured the best in new and classic electronic pop without having to lower itself to using the dreaded “80s” label.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK was it and became reality on 15th March 2010. Electronic pop music didn’t start in that Thatcher decade and certainly didn’t end there either. So there was even an editorial diktat which banned ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s writers from using the lazy”80s” term as a reference. Tellingly, several PR representatives said that one of the site’s main appeals was that it avoided the whole nostalgia bent that had been presented by both virtual and physical media.

At the time, kooky female fronted keyboard based pop like LA ROUX, LITTLE BOOTS, LADYHAWKE, LADY GAGA and MARINA & THE DIAMONDS were among those touted as being the future at the time. But it proved to be something of a red herring, as those acts evolved back into what they actually were, conventional pop acts.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK preferred the sort of innovative synthpop as outlined in BBC4’s Synth Britannia documentary.

Wth the next generation of artists like MARSHEAUX, VILE ELECTRODES, VILLA NAH and MIRRORS more than fitting the bill, that ethos of featuring pop music using synthesizers stuck too.

Meanwhile, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s portfolio expanded swiftly with key personalities such as Rusty Egan, Sarah Blackwood, Richard James Burgess, Warren Cann, Chris Payne, Thomas Dolby, John Foxx, Andy McCluskey, Neil Arthur, Alan Wilder, Mark Reeder, Gary Langan, Jori Hulkkonen, Howard Jones, Mira Aroyo, Sarah Nixey and Hannah Peel among those giving interviews to the site during its first two years.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK has always prided itself in asking the questions that have never usually been asked, but which fans want to know the answers to. And it was with this reputation for intelligent and well researched interviewing that in March 2011, the site was granted its biggest coup yet.

Speaking to Stephen Morris of the then-on hiatus NEW ORDER, the drummer cryptically hinted during the ensuing chat that Manchester’s finest would return by saying “I never say never really”.

And that is exactly what happened in Autumn of that year and the band have been there since, as popular as ever and still making great music with the release of ‘Music Complete’ in 2015.

Monday 21st March 2011 was an interesting day that partied like it was 1981 when it saw the release of albums by DURAN DURAN, THE HUMAN LEAGUE and JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS. Also in 2011, Mute Records celebrated their influential legacy with a weekender also at London’s Roundhouse which culminated in ERASURE, YAZOO and THE ASSEMBLY performing in the same set.

Despite the ‘Brilliant’ return of ULTRAVOX, 2012 paled in comparison after such a fruitful year and several acts who were featured probably would not have gained as much coverage in more competitive periods. With pressure from outsiders as to what was hot and what was not, this was the only time ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK felt it was obliged to support a domestic scene.

But realising acts like HURTS and STRANGERS were actually just jumping on an apparent synth bandwagon and possessing more style than substance, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK decided to change tact and only featured acts it felt truly passionate about, even if it meant upsetting the wider synth community. The reasoning being that just because a band uses a synthesizer doesn’t mean it is good.

During this time, MIRRORS sadly disbanded while VILLA NAH mutated into SIN COS TAN. But the year did see the launch of CHVRCHES who stood out from the crowd with their opening gambit ‘Lies’.

With their Taylor Swift gone electro template, Lauren Mayberry and Co managed to engage an audience who didn’t know or care what a Moog Voyager was, to listen to synthpop!

2013 turned out to be one of the best years for electronic pop since its Synth Britannia heyday. What ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK achieved during this year would take up a whole article in itself… there were high profile interviews with Alison Moyet, Gary Numan and Karl Bartos while OMD released the album of the decade in ‘English Electric’. PET SHOP BOYS made up for their ‘Elysium’ misstep with ‘Electric’ while there was finally a third volume in BEF’s ‘Music Of Quality & Distinction’ covers series.

Although 2014 started tremendously with ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK being invited to meet Karl Bartos and Wolfgang Flür in Cologne, the year suffered next to quality of 2013.

The interviews continued, particularly with key figures from the Synth Britannia era including Midge Ure and the often forgotten man of the period Jo Callis who was a key member of THE HUMAN LEAGUE during their imperial phase.

But the year saw grandeurs of delusion at their highest. There was the clueless Alt-Fest debacle which saw the organisers play Fantasy Festival with no cash to underwrite the infrastructure to enable it to actually happen!

Sadly today, there are still egotistic chancers organising events with zero budget and the money from ticket sales being fleeced to fund their holidays. But these artificial factors are rarely considered and so long as there are lower league artists desperate to play for nowt and a misguided enhancement in profile that is often on a platform that provides minimal exposure anyway, then the confidence tricks will continue.

2015 saw the local emergence of Rodney Cromwell and Gwenno, while the majestic Swedish duo KITE proved that they were the best synth act in Europe with the ‘VI’ EP and their impressive live show.

It was also the year when ERASURE front man Andy Bell gave his first interview to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK to offer some revealing insights.

Making something of a comeback after a recorded absence of nearly eight years, Jean-Michel Jarre presented his ambitious two volume ‘Electronica’ project which saw collaborations with a varied pool of musicians including Pete Townsend, Lang Lang, John Carpenter, Vince Clarke, Hans Zimmer, Cyndi Lauper, Sebastien Tellier and Gary Numan.

VILLA NAH returned in 2016, as did YELLO with Fifi Rong as one of their guest vocalists while APOPTYGMA BERZERK went instrumental and entered the ‘Exit Popularity Contest’. Riding on the profile generated from their ‘A Broken Frame’ covers album, MARSHEAUX released their biggest-selling long player to date, a two city concept in ‘Ath.Lon’. This was also the year that ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK first became acquainted with the analogue synthesizer heaven of Johan Baeckström, a modern day Vince Clarke if ever there was one.

2017 saw a bumper crop of great albums from the likes of I SPEAK MACHINE, LCD SOUNDSYSTEM, SOULWAX, IAMX, GOLDFRAPP and DAILY PLANET, while veterans such as Alison Moyet and Gary Numan produced their best work of the 21st Century.

However DEPECHE MODE unleashed their most dire record yet in ‘Spirit’, a dreary exercise in faux activism bereft of tunes. Salt was rubbed into the wound when they merely plonked an underwhelming arena show into a stadium for their summer London show.

The trend was to continue later in 2019 as DEPECHE MODE just plonked 14 albums into a boxed set, while OMD offered an album of quality unreleased material in their ‘Souvenir’ package.

And with DEPECHE MODE’s sad descent into a third rate pseudo-rock combo during the last 15 years to appease that ghastly mainstream American institution called The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame with guitars and drums, Dave Gahan in particular with his ungrateful dismissal of the pioneering synth-based material with which he made his fortune with, now has what he has always coveted.

And don’t get ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK started on the 2019 Moog Innovation Award being given to Martin Gore, a real insult to true synth pioneers if ever there was one, including Daniel Miller, Vince Clarke and Alan Wilder, the three men who actually did the electronic donkey work on those imperial phase DEPECHE MODE albums! Gore may have been a very good songwriter during that time, but a synth innovator? Oh come on!?!

With regards Synth Britannia veterans, new albums in 2017 from Richard Barbieri and Steve Jansen saw a revived interest in JAPAN, the band with which they made their name.

Despite releasing their final album ‘Tin Drum’ in 1981, as a later conversation with one-time guitarist Rob Dean proved, cumulatively from related article views, JAPAN became the most popular act on ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK.

The return of SOFT CELL dominated 2018 with a lavish boxed set that was not just comprised of previously released long players, new songs, new books, a BBC documentary and a spectacular farewell show at London’s O2 Arena.

Meanwhile, adopting a much lower profile were LADYTRON with their comeback and an eventual eponymous sixth album. A Non Stop Electronic Cabaret saw Canadian veterans RATIONAL YOUTH play their first ever UK gig alongside PAGE and PSYCHE, but coming out of Brooklyn to tour with ERASURE was REED & CAROLINE.

EMIKA was ‘Falling In Love With Sadness’ and Swedish songstress IONNALEE showcased one of the best value-for-money live presentations in town, with a show that surreal imagined Kate Bush at a rave!

But from China came STOLEN, one of the most exciting bands in years who were then later rewarded for their graft with a European tour opening for NEW ORDER.

2019 was the year when synthwave graduates Dana Jean Phoenix and Ollie Wride were coming into their own as live performers, while electronic disco maestro Giorgio Moroder embarked on a concert tour for the first time with his songs being the true stars of the show.

Gary Daly of CHINA CRISIS gave his first interview to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK to tie in with his solo album ‘Gone From Here’, while a pub lunch with Mark White and Stephen Singleton mutated into an extensive chat about their days in ABC. Lloyd Cole adopted a more synthesized template on ‘Guessworks’ and Britpop went synth as GENEVA’s Andrew Montgomery formed US with Leo Josefsson of Swedish trio LOWE.

If ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK does have a proudest achievement in its first ten years, then it is giving extensive early coverage to VILLA NAH, MIRRORS, VILE ELECTRODES, METROLAND, TINY MAGNETIC PETS and SOFTWAVE, six acts who were later invited to open on tour for OMD. Partly because of this success, some of those who were less talented felt aggrieved despite feeling an entitlement to be featured. If an act is good enough, the fact that ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK hasn’t featured them should not matter, especially as other electronic and synth blogs are available. After taking its eye of the ball once before in 2012, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK maintained a trust of its own gut instinct.

Meanwhile, its stance has been tested by those shouting loudest who instantly champion what they perceive as the next big thing like sheep, without really looking ahead at a wider picture. However, TRAVIS on VSTs is just not ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s thing frankly…

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s participation in the annual ELECTRI_CITY_CONFERENCE in Düsseldorf for on-stage interviews with Rusty Egan, Chris Payne, Mark Reeder and Zeus B Held was another high profile engagement to be proud of. Then there were six live events and five rounds of hosting ‘An Audience with Rusty Egan’ in one of the most unenviable but highly entertaining refereeing assignments in music ?

Other highlights over the last ten years have included ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 2015 career retrospective on German trio CAMOUFLAGE being edited and used as booklet notes for the Universal Music sanctioned compilation CD ‘The Singles’.

As 2020 settles in, highly regarded artists within the electronic community continue to engage with ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK. Neil Arthur recently gave his seventh interview as BLANCMANGE and his tenth interview overall, taking into account his side projects FADER and NEAR FUTURE. Not far behind, Martyn Ware has also been a regular interviewee having spoken to the site on six occasions while Paul Humphreys has been interviewed no less than five times.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK is still pushing the envelope, continuing to reflect the interests of people who love the Synth Britannia era and have a desire to hear new music seeded from that ilk.

With artists like ANI GLASS, IMI, KNIGHT$, NINA, MECHA MAIKO, GEISTE and PLASMIC among those on the cusp of a wider breakthrough, there is still more excellent music still to be created, discovered and savoured.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its sincerest thanks to everyone who has taken the time read any article on the site over the last ten years, it is greatly appreciated.


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Image Design by Volker Maass
16th March 2020, updated 29th Janaury 2021

30 SONGS OF THE DECADE 2010-2019

To narrow down ten years of electronic pop to 30 songs was always going to be a challenging task.

But ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK has given it a go to offer its own subjective twist.

As the decade started, female artists like LITTLE BOOTS, LA ROUX and LADYHAWKE had appeared to have been making in-roads into the mainstream as new flag bearers for the synthesizer.

But it proved to be something of a false dawn and while those artists continue today, the music that has made the most lasting impact between 2010-2019 has been made by evergreens from Synth Britannia whose talent has not subsided or independently minded musicians who focussed on art over commerce but didn’t forget to throw in a tune along the way.

As per usual, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s lists are all about rules. So this one has not only been restricted to one song per artist moniker but also to one vocalist. Hence SIN COS TAN just get the nod over VILLA NAH, while MIRRORS take preference over James New’s guest slot for FOTONOVELA on ‘Our Sorrow’ and the Midge Ure vocalled ‘Glorious’ has been chosen instead ULTRAVOX’s ‘Live’.

Presented in alphabetical order, here are our 30 SONGS OF THE DECADE 2010-2019…


AESTHETIC PERFECTION featuring NYXX Rhythm + Control – Electro Mix (2017)

With alternative songstress NYXX on additional vocals, ‘Rhythm + Control’ saw Daniel Graves take his industrial pop to the next level. The magnificent Electro Mix successfully realised an oddball blend of Darren Hayes, Britney Spears and Marilyn Manson. With a mightily elastic bassline, when asked whether ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK had gone crazy coming up with the comparison, Daniel Graves replied “God no. Spot on, guys!” adding “The goal was to cram as many features into one song and have fun with it as possible.”

Available as a download single via https://aestheticperfection.bandcamp.com/album/rhythm-control-out-of-control-mixes

http://aesthetic-perfection.net/


JOHAN BAECKSTROM Synth Is Not Dead (2015)

Close to the heart of ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK with its solidarity to the synth, Synth Is Not Dead’ is a touching tribute to Messrs Clarke, Gore, Hütter and Schneider. Johan Baeckstrom said: “I guess I just wanted to reflect on the fact that there still IS a synthpop scene with some really great bands, both old and new. In another way, the song is sort of my ‘thank you’ to some of the artists that inspired me for several decades – some of them are mentioned in the lyrics, but far from all of course”.

Available on the EP ‘Come With Me’ via Progress Productions

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


KARL BARTOS Without A Trace Of Emotion (2013)

‘Without A Trace Of Emotion’ saw Karl Bartos conversing with his showroom dummy Herr Karl and confronting his demons as an ex-member of the world’s most iconic electronic group. But whereas his former colleague Wolfgang Flür vented his spleen in book form with ‘I Was A Robot’, Bartos took a more ironic musical approach with the line “I wish I could remix my life to another beat” summing up a wry reference to ‘The Mix’ project which drove him out of Kling Klang!

Available on the album ‘Off The Record’ via Bureau B

http://www.karlbartos.com/


BEYOND THE WIZARD’S SLEEVE featuring HANNAH PEEL Diagram Girl (2016)

BEYOND THE WIZARDS SLEEVE’s ‘Diagram Girl’ was the work of Erol Alkan and Richard Norris of THE GRID. Featuring the unisex vocals of Hannah Peel, a deeper pitch shift provided a psychedelic out-of-this-world feel which bizarrely fitted in alongside the songstress’ dreamily breathy tones.  “They wanted me to sound like a man!” she remembered. Meanwhile the pulsing electronic soundtrack had surreal echoes of OMD, in particular their lesser known minor hit ‘Secret’.

Available on the single ‘Diagram Girl’ via Phantasy Sound

https://www.facebook.com/beyondthewizardssleeve/


CHROMATICS Shadow (2015)

Muscian, producer and Italians Do It Better head honcho Johnny Jewel, has lways been into all things Lynchian. So when CHROMATICS released the dreamy Badalamenti-inspired ‘Shadow’, it instantly recalled The Black Lodge’s red curtains in that sleepy Washington town. With Ruth Radelet’s wispy vocal and an eerie string machine for the main melodic theme, the ghostly wistful tune later came to further prominence thanks to its inclusion in ‘Twin Peaks: The Return’ in 2017.

Available on the album ‘Twin Peaks (Music from the Limited Event Series)’ (V/A) via Rhino Records

https://www.facebook.com/CHROMATICSBAND/


CHVRCHES Clearest Blue (2015)

CHVRCHES stuck to the synthpop template of their 2013 debut and as a result, delivered what LITTLE BOOTS, LA ROUX, and LADYHAWKE and HURTS all failed to do… a decent second album! The propulsive four-to-the-floor action of ‘Clearest Blue’ was wonderfully held in a state of tension before WHACK, there was a dynamic surprise in the final third that recalled the classic overtures of Vince Clarke. The song was electronic pop magnificence embroiled.

Available on the album ‘Every Open Eye’ via Virgin Records

http://chvrch.es/


RODNEY CROMWELL Black Dog (2015)

RODNEY CROMWELL is the alter-ego of Adam Cresswell, formally of ARTHUR & MARTHA. ‘Black Dog’ recalled the pulsing post-punk miserablism of SECTION 25 and was embellished by some Hooky styled bass. As with NEW ORDER’s ‘Temptation’, despite the inherent melancholy, there was an optimistic light at the end of the tunnel that made ‘Black Dog’ a most joyous listening experience despite its very personal themes of love, loss, depression and redemption.

Available on the album ‘Age Of Anxiety’ via https://www.happyrobots.co.uk/botshop

http://www.happyrobots.co.uk/


DURAN DURAN Being Followed (2011)

The ‘All You Need Is Now’ album saw DURAN DURAN cyclically return to the funk-led syncopated pop of their first two classic albums. A superb sequencer assisted disco number with a tingling metallic edge, ‘Being Followed’ hinted at THE CURE’s ‘A Forest’ while Nick Rhodes’ vintage string machine captured the tension of post 9/11 paranoia. Simon Le Bon gave his wayward all and while he has technically never had a great voice, what he delivered was unique AND untouchable…

Available on the album ‘All You Need Is Now’ via Tape Modern

http://www.duranduran.com/


EAST INDIA YOUTH Carousel (2015)

Despite EAST INDIA YOUTH being no more as a project, the debut long player ‘Total Strife’ pointed towards William Doyle’s potential to pen sublime pop, and with the follow-up ‘Culture Of Volume’, the album’s centrepiece was ‘Carousel’. It imagined OMD’s ‘Stanlow’ reworked during Brian Eno’s sessions for ‘Apollo: Soundtracks & Atmospheres’. With no percussive elements and over six minutes in length, Doyle gave a dramatic vocal performance resonating in beautifully crystalline melancholy.

Available on the album ‘Culture of Volume’ via XL Recordings

http://eastindiayouth.co.uk/


RUSTY EGAN featuring MIDGE URE Glorious (2016)

‘Glorious’ not only reunited Midge Ure with Rusty Egan but also Chris Payne who co-wrote ‘Fade To Grey’; Ure told ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK: “I liked the music, but I didn’t think the song / melody / lyrics were strong enough, so I rewrote all of that in my studio. I stripped the demo down to the basic track, edited it down into a more ‘song like’ format and started working on a glorious melody. I added the main melodic synth line and layered guitars over it, ending with the ‘hopefully’ uplifting solo over the outro”.

Available on the RUSTY EGAN album ‘Welcome To The Dance Floor’ via Black Mosaic

http://rustyegan.net/

http://www.midgeure.co.uk/


EMIKA Promises (2018)

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. 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 album ‘Falling In Love With Sadness’ via Emika Records

http://emikarecords.com


JOHN FOXX & JORI HULKKONEN Evangeline (2013)

John Foxx and Jori Hulkkonen had worked together previously on singular songs like ‘Dislocated’ and ‘Never Been Here Before’, but never before on a body of work with a conceptual theme. ‘European Splendour’ took on a grainier downtempo template and the lead track ‘Evangeline’ was all the more beautiful for it. Full of depth, coupled with an anthemic chorus and vibrant exchange of character throughout, this rousing yet soothingly futuristic number was quite otherworldly.

Available on the EP ‘European Splendour’ via Sugarcane Records

http://www.metamatic.com/

http://www.jorihulkkonen.com


FIAT LUX It’s You (2018)

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…” in this gloriously optimistic tune about finding love again in midlife. Their long awaited debut album ‘Saved Symmetry’ finally came out in 2019.

Available on the album ‘Saved Symmetry’ via Splid Records

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


GOLDFRAPP Dreaming (2010)

As the title suggested, the gorgeous and sophisticated ‘Dreaming’ adopted a distinctly European flavour compared with the mid-Atlantic AOR focus of songs like ‘Rocket’, ‘Alive’ and ‘Believer’ on the ‘Head First’ album. Alison Goldfrapp’s voice resonated angelically with beautiful high-register chorus alongside the with pulsing sequences and string machine washes of Will Gregory’s primarily electronic arrangement complimented by Davide Rossi’s cinematic orchestrations.

Available on the album ‘Head First’ via Mute Records

https://www.goldfrapp.com/


IAMX Ghosts Of Utopia (2011)

The Berlin period of IAMX has maintained a special quality in that Chris Corner captured an electro Gothic aesthetic that combined the theatrics of Weimar Cabaret with themes of sex, alienation and dependency. Despite the lyrical content, Corner’s songs were always strongly melodic with an accessible grandeur. ‘Ghosts Of Utopia’ had instant appeal for a dance in the dark with exhilarating mechanical drive. His scream of ”this is psychosis” was wholly believable!

Available on the album ‘Volatile Times’ via Orphic

http://iamxmusic.com/


IAMAMIWHOAMI Hunting For Pearls (2014)

As IAMAMIWHOAMI, Jonna Lee and Claes Björklund offered icy musical art. ‘Hunting For Pearls’ featured wonderfully pulsing sequences and trancey atmospheres, coupled with beautifully rich vocals. With a mysterious falsetto reach, the air might have been cold outside but inside, things were warm if delightfully odd. If Kate Bush made a modern electronic dance record at ABBA’s Polar Studios, it would probably have sounded like this. Jonna Lee continues the artistic adventure now as IONNALEE.

Available on the album ‘Blue’ via towhomitmayconcern

http://www.towhomitmayconcern.cc/


KITE Up For Life (2015)

Sweden’s KITE are probably the best synth act in Europe right now. Nicklas Stenemo and Christian Berg’s wonderfully exuberant array of sounds and rugged majestic vocals certainly deserve a much larger audience. Issuing only EPs and never albums, the magnificent progressive electronic epic ‘Up For Life’ was a two-part nine minute masterpiece, the passionate and sublime first half mutated into a beautifully surreal journey of VANGELIS-like proportions for its second.

Available on the EP ‘VI’ via Progress Productions

https://www.facebook.com/KiteHQ


KATJA VON KASSEL Someday (2018)

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 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 EP ‘Walking In West Berlin’ via https://katjavonkassel.bandcamp.com/

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


LADYTRON Ambulances (2011)

The beautiful ‘Ambulances’ was totally different to anything LADYTRON had done before, almost in te vein of SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES. Moving at a much slower pace, Helen Marnie’s voice adopted an unexpected angelic falsetto over the lush spacious mix featuring dramatic strings, synthetic timpani and an almost random hi-hat pattern. Daniel Hunt said he “wanted it to sound ethereal and otherworldly” and with a glorious crescendo, ‘Ambulances’ was certainly something to be to be savoured.

Available on the album ‘Gravity The Seducer’  via Nettwerk Productions,

http://www.ladytron.com/


MARSHEAUX Monument (2015)

A worthy of re-assessment of DEPECHE MODE ‘A Broken Frame’ was long overdue and MARSHEAUX have certainly gave a number of its songs some interesting arrangements. Their version of ‘Monument’ borrowed its bassline from latter day DM B-side ‘Painkiller’. Combined with the wispily resigned vocals of Marianthi Melitsi and Sophie Sarigiannidou, it provided a tense soundtrack. It’s not often that cover versions are better than the originals, but this was one of them.

Available on the album ‘A Broken Frame’ via Undo Records

https://www.facebook.com/marsheaux


MIRRORS Ways To An End (2010)

With their smart suits, MIRRORS presented an intense and artful approach to electronic pop that recalled Dindisc era OMD. With a dense synthetic chill and pulsing effects dominating this brilliantly uptempo electro number, ‘Ways To An End’ came over like TALKING HEADS ‘Crossed Eyed & Painless’ given a claustrophobic post-punk makeover. Sadly, MIRRORS were to only make the one album ‘Lights & Offerings’ which although under-appreciated on release, is now acknowledged as a classic of the decade.

Available on the album ‘Lights & Offerings’ via Skint Entertainment

https://www.facebook.com/theworldofmirrors/


ALISON MOYET Alive (2017)

Having worked successfully in 2013 with Guy Sigsworth on ‘the minutes’, which saw Alison Moyet return to the synthesized music forms to compliment her powerful and self-assured voice, the follow-up ‘Other’ was a natural progression. The startling orchestrated electro-dub drama of ‘Alive’ gave Moyet’s two former classmates in DEPECHE MODE a stark lesson in how to actually fully realise electronic blues. Indeed, it was ‘In Chains’, the lame opener from ‘Sounds Of The Universe’ gone right…

Available on the album ‘Other’ via Cooking Vinyl

http://alisonmoyet.com/


NEW ORDER Plastic (2015)

After the guitar dominated proceedings of the last few NEW ORDER albums, Bernard Sumner promised a return to electronic music for the Mancunians’ first album of new material without estranged founder member and bassist Peter Hook. That was certainly delivered on with ‘Plastic’, a full-on throbbing seven minute electro number mixed by Richard X with blippy echoes of ‘Mr Disco’. Dealing with the issue of superficiality, it declared “this love is poison, but it’s like gold”… beware of anything plastic and artificial!

Available on the album ‘Music Complete’ via Mute Artists

http://www.neworder.com/


GARY NUMAN And It All Began With You (2017)

With a lot less goth metal guitar and much more prominent use of synths, the ‘Savage’ album successfully outstripped ‘Splinter’. And it was the haunting ‘And It All Began With You’ that stopped all in its tracks, with an exposed and soulful vocal. Borrowing Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’ for its chorus, the subtle orchestrations and a gentle shuffling beat coupled to a steadily discordant electric piano riff to close, it beautifully brought out the best in classic Gary Numan while maintaining forward momentum.

Available on the album ‘Savage (Songs From A Broken World)’ via BMG

http://www.garynuman.co.uk/


OMD Don’t Go (2019)

OMD began their recorded career with a KRAFTWERK homage in ‘Electricity’ and four decades on, they came full circle. A great grandchild of Klingklang and cousin of ‘Metroland’ from ‘English Electric’, ‘Don’t Go’ captured the essence of OMD’s enduring electronic appeal. With crystalline synths and a spirited vocal delivery attached to a hypnotic Synthanorma backdrop, OMD continue to produce quality avant pop tunes, using beautiful melodies to tell terrible things…

Available on the album ‘Souvenir: The Singles Collection 1979 – 2019’ via Universal Music

http://www.omd.uk.com/


SIN COS TAN Trust (2012)

SIN COS TAN was the new mathematically charged project of producer Jori Hulkkonen and VILLA NAH vocalist Juho Paalosmaa. “A synthesized duo of great promise, broken dreams, and long nights”, they have certainly delivered with ‘Trust’, all draped in melancholy with emotive vocals haunted by the ghost of Billy Mackenzie. With driving hypnotic, layered strings, sampled cimbalom and Cold War dramatics, this was as Jori Hulkkonen put it: “Disco You Can Cry To”…

Available on the album ‘Sin Cos Tan’ via Solina Records

http://www.facebook.com/homeofsincostan


STOLEN Turn Black (2018)

Chinese six-piece STOLEN are reckoned by Berlin-based producer Mark Reeder to be the most exciting band since NEW ORDER and they closed the decade opening for them on tour in Europe. Certainly their debut album ‘Fragment’ was impressive with ‘Turn Black’ being one of its standout tracks. “I like the idea of mixing of rock with techno…” said growly lead vocalist Liang Yi, “we are very proud that we don’t sound like any of the other Chinese bands.”

Available on the album ‘Fragment’ via https://mfsberlin.com/

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


SUSANNE SUNDFØR Fade Away (2014)

The Nordic vocalist of the decade has to be Susanne Sundfør who worked with M83, KLEERUP and RÖYKSOPP as she built her international profile as a solo artist. Propelled by a pulsing electronic backbone, ‘Fade Away’ from Sundfør’s breakthrough album ‘Ten Love Songs’ caught her in rousing form with a tune that came over like Scandinavian gospel. Meanwhile, a fabulous polyphonic synth solo inspired by QUEEN’s ‘I Want To Break Free’ added another dimension.

Available on the album ‘Ten Love Songs’ via Sonnet Sound / Kobalt

http://susannesundfor.com/


VILE ELECTRODES Deep Red (2013)

First appearing online as a video exclusive in 2010, ‘Deep Red’ was inspired by Dario Argento’s ‘Profondo Rosso’. A gorgeous seven and a half minute funeral ballad that came over like CLIENT fronting classic OMD, this was tremendously dramatic stuff from Anais Neon and Martin Swan. It caught the ear of a certain Andy McCluskey who spotted VILE ELECTRODES while perusing ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK and later invited them to open for OMD in Germany during their 2013 ‘English Electric’ tour.

Available on the album ‘The future through a lens’ via https://vileelectrodes.bandcamp.com/

http://www.vileelectrodes.com/


WESTBAM feat RICHARD BUTLER You Need The Drugs

Techno DJ WESTBAM celebrated 30 years in music with an intriguing mature collection of songs under the title of ‘Götterstrasse’. While the theme of the album centred on the joy and euphoria of underground nightlife, he said ‘You Need The Drugs’ was “the first explicit electronic appeal AGAINST the use of drugs with a clear message: drugs are a bore!”. Voiced brilliantly by Richard Butler of THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS’, it featured prominently in Mark Reeder’s film ‘B Movie: Lust & Sound in West-Berlin 1979–1989’.

Available on the album ‘Götterstrasse’ via Warner Music

http://www.westbam.de/dt/en/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
28th December 2019

« Older posts