Tag: Section 25 (Page 1 of 5)

SEA FEVER Interview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How would you describe the band creative dynamic?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Special thanks to Federica Furlotti at Kartel Music Group

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

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

https://seafeverband.com/

https://www.facebook.com/seafeverband

https://twitter.com/SeaFeverBand

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


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

SEA FEVER De Facto

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

https://seafeverband.com/

https://www.facebook.com/seafeverband

https://twitter.com/SeaFeverBand

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


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

ELECTRICAL LANGUAGE Independent British Synth Pop 78-84

From Cherry Red Records, the makers of the ‘Close To The Noise Floor’ trilogy showcasing formative and experimental electronic music from the UK, Europe and North America, comes their most accessible electronic collection yet.

Subtitled ‘Independent British Synth Pop 78-84’, ‘Electrical Language’ is a lavish 4CD 80 track boxed set covering the post-punk period when all that synthesizer experimentation and noise terrorism morphed into pop.

Largely eschewing the guitar and the drum kit, this was a fresh movement which sprung from a generation haunted by the spectre of the Cold War, Mutually Assured Destruction and closer to home, the Winter of Discontent.

As exemplified by known names like THE HUMAN LEAGUE, FAD GADGET, SECTION 25 and BLUE ZOO included in the set to draw in the more cautious consumer, this was pop in a very loose manner with melodies, riffs and danceable rhythms but hardly the stuff of ABBA or THE BEE GEES!

‘Red Frame/White Light’ by OMD was a chirpy ditty about the 632 3003 phone box which the band used as their office, while THOMAS DOLBY’s ‘Windpower’ was a rallying call for renewable energy sources. Then there was the dystopian ‘Warm Leatherette’ by THE NORMAL based around two noisy notes and lyrically based on JG Ballard’s ‘Crash’ with its story around car collision symphorophilia.

While those acts’ stories have been rightly celebrated for putting the electronic avant pop art form into the mainstream, with any truly great compilation or collection, the joy is in finding the lesser known jewels.

Made primarily by the idealistic outsiders and independent experimenters from the lesser known side of Synth Britannia, ‘Electrical Language’ has plenty of synthetic material to rediscover or hear for the first time. Indeed, the more appealing tracks appear to fall into three categories; forgotten songs that should have been hits, oddball cover versions and largely unknown archive wonders.

Those forgotten gems include the exotic ‘Electrical Language’ title track by BE BOP DELUXE, documenting the moment Bill Nelson went electro. His production on the gloriously emotive ‘Feels Like Winter Again’ by FIAT LUX is another welcome inclusion to the set.

But the two best tracks on ‘Electrical Language’ are coincidentally spoken word; ‘Touch’ by LORI & THE CHAMELEONS about a girl’s Japanese holiday romance is as enchanting and delightful as ever, while there is also THROBBING GRISTLE refugees CHRIS & COSEY’s wispy celebration of Autumnal neu romance ‘October (Love Song)’, later covered in the 21st Century in pure Hellectro style by MARSHEAUX.

Merseyside has always been a centre for creativity and this included synthpop back in the day. ‘I’m Thinking Of You Now’ from BOX OF TOYS was a superb angsty reflection of young manhood that included an oboe inflected twist which was released on the Inevitable label in 1983. From that same stable, FREEZE FRAME are represented by the atmospheric pop of ‘Your Voice’

Jayne Casey was considered the face of Liverpool post-punk fronting BIG IN JAPAN and PINK MILITARY; the lo-fi electronic offshoot PINK INDUSTRY released three albums but the superb ‘Taddy Up’ with its machine backbone to contrast the ethereal combination of voice and synths lay in the vaults until 2008 and is a welcome inclusion. The ‘other’ Wirral synth duo of note were DALEK I LOVE YOU whose ‘The World’ from 1980 remains eccentric and retro-futuristic.

Scotland was in on the action too despite many local musicians preferring THE BYRDS and STEELY DAN; although both ‘Mr Nobody’ from THOMAS LEER and ‘Time’ by PAUL HAIG were detached and electronic, they vocally expressed minor levels of Trans-Atlantic soul lilt compared with the more deadpan styles of the majority gathered on ‘Electrical Language’.

Under rated acts form a core of ‘Electrical Language’ and while THE MOBILES’ ‘Drowning In Berlin’ may have come across like a ‘Not The Nine O’Clock News’ New Romantic parody on first listen, its decaying Mittel Europa grandeur was infectious like Hazel O’Connor reinterpreting ‘Vienna’ with The Master of Ceremonies at the Kit Kat Klub in 3/4 time!

NEW MUSIK’s ‘The Planet Doesn’t Mind’ probably would have gone Top 20 if had been done by HOWARD JONES, although band leader Tony Mansfield had the last laugh when he later became a producer working with the likes of A-HA and NAKED EYES. The brassy arty synthpop of ‘XOYO’ from Dick Witts’ THE PASSAGE was immensely catchy with riffs galore, while POEME ELECTRONIQUE’s ‘She’s An Image’ offered stark European electro-cabaret.

Cut from a similar cloth, one-time ULTRAVOX support act EDDIE & SUNSHINE inventively (and some would say pretentiously) presented a Living TV art concept but they also possessed a few good songs. The quirkily charming ‘There’s Someone Following Me’ deserved greater recognition back in the day and its later single version was remixed by one Hans Zimmer.

Meanwhile, the 4AD label could always be counted on more esoteric output and COLOURBOX’s ‘Tarantula’ was from that lineage, but then a few years later perhaps unexpectedly, they became the instigators of M/A/R/R/S ‘Pump Up the Volume’.

These days, modern synth artists think it is something an achievement to cover a synthpop classic, although it is rather pointless. But back in the day, as there were not really that many synthpop numbers to cover, the rock ‘n’ roll songbook was mined as a kind of post-modern statement. The synth was seen as the ultimate anti-institution instrument and the cover versions included on ‘Electrical Language’ are out-of-the-box and original, if not entirely successful.

Take TECHNO POP’s reinterpretation of ‘Paint It Black’ which comes over like Sci-Fi Arthur Brown while the brilliant ‘My Coo Ca Choo’ by BEASTS IN CAGES (which features half of HARD CORPS) is like PJ Proby with his characteristic pub singer warble fronting SILICON TEENS with a proto-GOLDFRAPP stomp.

Having contributed a T-REX cover for the ‘Some Bizzare Album’, THE FAST SET recorded another. Whereas ‘King Of The Rumbling Spires’ on the former was frantic electro-punk, ‘Children Of The Revolution’ is far more sombre and almost funereal. Least desirable of the covers though is ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’ by HYBRID KIDS.

Of the obscurities worth checking out, the rousing standout is ‘Lying Next To You’ by Liverpool’s PASSION POLKA. A brilliant track akin to CHINA CRISIS ‘Working With Fire & Steel’ but with more synths and drum machine, it was recorded in 1983 but never actually saw the light of day until 2011 via a belated release on Anna Logue Records.

Delightfully odd, the VL Tone and organ infused ‘Bandwagon Tango’ from TESTCARD F is swathed with metallic rattles and possesses a suitably mechanical detachment. But with piercing pipey sounds and a hypnotic sequence, the metronomic ‘Destitution’ by cult minimal wavers CAMERA OBSCURA with its off key voice is one of the better productions of that type. Cut from a similar cloth, the perky ‘Videomatic’ by FINAL PROGRAM throws in some lovely string synths to close.

Swirlingly driven by Linn and her sisters, ‘Baby Won’t Phone’ by QUADRASCOPE comes from the Vince Clarke school of song with not only a great vocal, but also the surprise of a guitar solo in the vein of ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN!

‘The Secret Affair’ from JUPITER RED is a great ethereal midtempo synthpop song also using a Linn, while ‘Surface Tension’ from ANALYSIS is an appealing club friendly instrumental that was largely the work of the late Martin Lloyd who later was part of OPPENHEIMER ANALYSIS.

Produced by Daniel Miller, ALAN BURNHAM’s ‘Science Fiction’ from 1981 takes a leaf out of DALEK I LOVE YOU, while tightly sequenced and bursting with white noise in the intro, ‘Feel So Young’ by LAUGH CLOWN LAUGH has bubbling potential but is spoiled by some terribly flat vocals.

One of the weirder tracks is ELECTRONIC ENSEMBLE’s filmic ‘It Happened Then’ which recalls Parisian art rockers ROCKETS; backed by a brilliant ensemble of synths, it sees the return of the cosmic voice from Sparky’s Magic Piano and remember in that story, it could play all by itself!

Of course, other tracks are available and may suit more leftfield tastes… packaged as a lavish hardback book, there are extensive sleeve notes including artist commentaries, archive photos and an introductory essay by journalist Dave Henderson who cut his teeth with ‘Noise’, a short-lived ‘Smash Hits’ rival that featured a regular ‘Electrobop’ column covering the latest developments in synth.

While worthy, the ‘Close To The Noise Floor’ trilogy could at times be very challenging, but ‘Electrical Language’ provides some accessible balance, allowing tunes and beats in. It captures an important developmental phase in music, when technology got more sophisticated, cheaper and user friendly, that can be directly connected to ‘Pump Up the Volume’. Yes, this story is the unlikely seed of the later dance revolution, like it or not! And at just less than twenty five quid, this really is an essential purchase.


‘Electrical Language’ is released as 4CD boxed set on 31st May 2019 and can be pre-ordered from https://www.cherryred.co.uk/product/electrical-language-independent-british-synth-pop-78-84-various-artists-4cd-48pp-bookpack/

https://www.facebook.com/closetothenoisefloor/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
23rd May 2019

Lost Albums: ARTHUR & MARTHA Navigation

As the first long playing release on Happy Robots Records, from its SECTION 25 inspired artwork inwards, ARTHUR & MARTHA’s only album to date was always going to be a bit out of step.

2009 was the year of LA ROUX, LITTLE BOOTS and LADY GAGA, where electronic music returned to the mainstream and went superpop!

‘Navigation’ was the work of Alice Hubley and Adam Cresswell, an unusual looking couple described as “Gilbert & George, disguised as The Carpenters…”

Cresswell had been a member of the indie combo SALOON who garnered support from John Peel including a ‘Festive 50′ No1 in 2002 with ‘Girls Are The New Boys’. Meanwhile, Hubley was a DJ and a member of the all-girl trio THE DULOKS. After SALOON split in 2003, Cresswell turned to analogue synths for solace and when Hubley moved to London, they found common ground via the Korg MS10 and NEW ORDER.

With a Melodica, Stylophone and Theremin also thrown into the playroom, ARTHUR & MARTHA were born.

‘Autovia’ was the glorious opening track of ‘Navigation’, shaped by a charmingly nonchalant vocal from Hubley and hypnotically propelled by a synthetic motorik beat.

Coming over like an eccentric English take on STEREOLAB meeting NEU! on the M1 during its closing third wig-out,  the tune got the pair branded as ‘cutie krautrock’ or ‘tweetronica’ thanks to the gentle mode of propulsion used for their achingly pretty, minor-chord melodies.

Cresswell recalled: “I was on tour with my previous band SALOON in Spain and I saw the word ‘Autovia’ on the road; it sounded a bit like ‘Autobahn’ and so I wrote a song called that. Most of it was recorded in the downstairs toilet of my house!” 

Continuing the mood, ‘Music For Hairproducts’ placed its melancholic vocals and driving octaves for some mutant robotic disco.

With its acoustic guitar and mournful melodic bass, Cresswell took lead vocals on ‘Kasparov’, sounding not unlike SECTION 25’s Larry Cassidy, in a position now familiar in his more recent acclaim as RODNEY CROMWELL. While almost synth-less until the close, it captured a sign of things to come, especially when the melodica solo kicked in.

Hubley remembered “Adam didn’t really sing much initially. ‘Kasparov’ on ‘Navigation’ was the first song Adam did sing, I kind of had to talk him into it, partly because he made it sound more like THE POSTAL SERVICE. He was always in the background with SALOON even though he wrote a lot of the songs”.

Borrowing the rhythm from SOFT CELL’s ‘Sex Dwarf’, the organ tones of ‘Vallorian’ came over like a lo-fi CRYSTAL CASTLES, aided by rugged bursts of Moog and fading on a lovely cacophony of ARP Quartet. On the quaintly sparse ‘Navigation’ title song, beautiful string machine provided the bed for Hubley’s naturally unorthodox delivery before the appearance of clarinet over a clattering collage of percussion and a sudden motorik thrust featuring the entire ARTHUR & MARTHA synth armoury.

The brilliant ‘Follow the Path’ was the sort of brilliantly quirky instrumental that use to accompany the weird East European animations they used to show on BBC2, an array of pulsing sequences and deep complimentary four string with Hubley’s vocal refrain adding naïve charm along with some surprise glockenspiel.

The more avant pop rumble of ‘Memory’ was aggressive in comparison, with robotic vocoder assisting a Hubley / Cresswell duet resulting in a surreal Factory Records face-off between SECTION 25, NEW ORDER and THE WAKE.

Taking its lead from NEW ORDER’s ‘Power, Corruption & Lies’ album but with brighter bubbling synthy overtones, ‘This City Life’ charmed over a busy drum machine offbeat, the contrast between light and shade providing a unexpected lift before evolving into a steadfast cosmic romp invaded by squiggly electronics and innocent piano.

Using a brilliant title pun, the LADYTRON go Krautrock of ‘Squarewave To Heaven’ gave the closing straight some frantic energy before ending with ‘Turn to Dust’, another lovely mournful tune in the vein of ‘Leave Me Alone’.

Ten years on, ‘Navigation’ has stood up remarkably well with its charm and honesty.

And with a live reunion for ARTHUR & MARTHA on SATURDAY 2ND MARCH 2019, it is a perfect opportunity for even the keenest 21st Century electronic pop enthusiast who might have missed it first time to discover this lost long playing synthpop curio.

‘Navigation’ used the following instruments: Korg MS10, Moog Rogue, Moog Opus 3, Bass, Guitar, Casio DG50, Stylophone, Melodica, Theremin, ARP Quartet, MicroKorg, Casio 1000P, Omnichord, Glockenspiel.


‘Navigation’ is still available via Happy Robots Records on CD or download direct from https://arthurandmartha.bandcamp.com/album/navigation

https://www.facebook.com/arthurandmarthaband/

https://www.happyrobots.co.uk/arthur-and-martha

https://www.facebook.com/happyrobotsrecords/

https://twitter.com/Happyrobotsrecs

https://www.instagram.com/happyrobotsrecords/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
18th December 2018, updated 19th March 2020

SECTION 25 Elektra

Blackpool’s SECTION 25 went from post-punk gloom merchants on ‘Always Now’ in 1981 to mutant electronic dance pioneers with 1984’s ‘From The Hip’ and its seminal single ‘Looking From A Hilltop’, before evolving into a glossy pop act with the album ‘Dark Light’ in 2013.

Founded by the Cassidy brothers Larry and Vin, SECTION 25’s various stages have been shaped by the band’s lead vocalists, from Larry himself to his wife Jenny and now their daughter Bethany.

Part of the iconic Factory Records family, Ian Curtis, Bernard Sumner and Stephen Morris all took a productive interest in the band’s creative fortunes over the years, while there was a boost in profile when rapper Kanye West sampled the song ‘Hit’ from ‘Always Now’ for the outro of his 2016 track ‘FML’ which eventually boasted seventeen names in its publishing split due to the number of samples it used!

Sadly Larry and Jenny passed away in 2010 and 2004 respectively, but the family tradition of SECTION 25 continues today with Vin and Bethany joined by cousin Jo on backing vocals and keyboards, along with the newest family member Michael on bass.

The new album ‘Elektra’ sees a return to SECTION 25’s post-punk roots and this move is signified by multi-instrumentalist Steve Stringer being joined by the band’s original guitarist from that period Paul Wiggin as the recording’s special guest.

The result of jam sessions and recorded as a live band in the studio, the dreamy opener ‘Laid Back’ with its layers of gentle string machine might indicate business as usual at least with more recent SXXV offerings, but ‘Chase The Blue’ offers live drums and a gritty guitar driven sound to offset Bethany’s voice and some lingering vibratoed synth. Then there’s the dubbier excursion of ‘Creatures’ and the quirky indie of ‘All I Ask’ before a more aggressive new wave demeanour sets in for ‘It Don’t Get’.

‘You Want Some’ continues on the new wave path, while the amusingly titled ‘You Don’t Have To Be Liked To Be Good’ plays with squelches and baggy piano over a percussive template that recalls PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED. The most electronically assisted track ‘The Greatest Thing’ has that fizz reminiscent of NEW ORDER. With Bethany joyfully exclaiming “this is my time”, it offers possibly the highlight of ‘Elektra’.

Again playing with squelches over live drums and incessant bass, ‘This Is The Love’ is another that goes into new wave territory although is a little too long while ‘Floating Sun’ soothes via its swirly textural atmospheres and a hypnotic rhythmic mantra from Vin.

To close ‘Elektra’, there’s a surprising band cover of ‘FML’, the very Kanye track which sampled of ‘Hit’. It bizarrely sounds like CHVRCHES going West Coast rap with the austere essence of the North West looming courtesy of the lingering voice of Larry Cassidy.

Those hoping for more electropop in the vein of the ‘Dark Light’ album might be disappointed, but those who prefer to party like it’s 1979 with guitars, bass and drums will love this latest offering from SECTION 25 as a worthy addition to the Cassidy tradition.


‘Elektra’ is released by Klanggalarie Records as a CD available from http://www.klanggalerie.com/gg278

A selection of the SECTION 25 back catalogue is available from http://www.factorybenelux.com/section25.html

http://www.section25.com

https://www.facebook.com/section25

https://twitter.com/section25

https://www.instagram.com/section25official/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
1st August 2018

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