Tag: Siouxsie & The Banshees

BOY HARSHER Live at London Heaven

Since their debut long player ‘Yr Body Is Nothing’ in 2016, Massachusetts duo BOY HARSHER have become an acclaimed cult proposition.

But having opened for THE SOFT MOON on their tour of 2018, their initial aloofness has mutated into the zest and ambition of the recently released ‘Careful’.

Possibly the first great album of 2019, it is a fine musical document confronting personal demons and traumas.

Beginning their London Heaven gig with foggy blocks of light, Jae Matthews on vocals and Augustus Muller on electronics built up the drama with the schizophrenic overtones of ‘A Realness’ from their debut. But getting the first big cheers of approval was ‘Fate’, its pulsing rhythmic mantra and eerie synthetic textures encouraging deviant dancing as Matthews’ expressed her shadowy discomfort.

‘Yr Body Is Nothing’ recalled the brooding drama of the same titled debut and was followed by the abstract hypno-drone of ‘Suitor’.

Drowned in shades of red, blues, yellows and greens, Muller stood mostly passively at the controls, banging the occasional drum pad while Matthews sang and shrieked with the air of a lower register Siouxsie Sioux gone darkwave.

‘Westerners’ offered some grainy orchestra stabs to the gothic disco motif, but things got more frantic with ‘Come Closer’, its threatening ADULT. backbone providing an unsettling slice of snuff movie HI-NRG!

Indeed, it was the new material from ‘Careful’ that stood out with its more focussed, less blurry vision as exemplified by the hypnotic industrial pop ‘Tears’, complete with a gloriously alluring delivery from Matthews.

Also from ‘Careful’, the brilliant sinister techno of ‘LA’ at times threatened to turn into DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Behind The Wheel’, although this was offset by Matthews’ mournful demeanour. However, show closer ‘Modulations’ probably attracted the biggest cheer of the evening from the raucous crowd, no doubt appreciating its synth-punk aesthetics.

Returning for an encore, ‘The Look You Gave (Jerry)’ summed up the substance in BOY HARSHER’s new music despite loosening their approach.

Yes, it is synthpop because it has a tune, even if it is dressed an appealingly unconventional and morose manner. The lightshow was particularly effective here with melodic green penetrating against the moody blue.

Closing with the claustrophobic ‘Pain’ from the interim ‘Lesser Man’ EP, with a bassline not that far off from a wholly electronic version of JOY DIVISION, Matthews masochistically petered on the edge of implosion exclaiming “I love pain” before departing the stage.

Sadly, ‘Face the Fire’ was not included in the set but with this performance, BOY HARSHER successfully refined their approach without losing any of their artistic edge. Both passionate and cerebral, it was wonderfully tense and exhilarating.

Special thanks to Kate Price at Stereo Sanctity

‘Careful’ by Nude Club Records in neon orange vinyl LP, CD, cassette and download formats, available from http://www.boyharsher.bandcamp.com






Text and Photos by Chi Ming Lai
4th March 2019

Introducing PLASMIC

From Orange County in California, PLASMIC describes herself as an “Orange County one-woman dervish” and in a vivid haze that’s pretty in pink, “your abused Barbie doll from childhood”.

Combining J-Pop with CRYSTAL CASTLES and DEVO, like a deviant West Coast cousin to the wonderful Canadian songstress MECHA MAIKO, Lauren Lusardi is the precocious talent behind PLASMIC.

It could be reasoned that PLASMIC is an artistic consequence of Lusardi reacting to her comparatively conservative surroundings. She studied electronic music at a local community college and with her knack of detonating infectious lo-fi synth bombs while full of femme rage fuelled by childhood anxiety, PLASMIC also adds some political fervour into the equation.

Already a veteran of three EPs releases, the undoubted standout from her latest release ‘Validation Nation’ is ‘Baby Machine’, an immensely catchy feminist electropop anthem utilising a mixture of vintage Casio and Yamaha sounds that challenges the expectations of women to bear children.

Meanwhile, the powerful ‘Validation Nation’ title track observes how modern society’s narcissistic desperation for “being known” has become the dominant motivator in this age of social media and online celebrity…

Also from ‘Validation Nation’, ‘Sister’ takes on a more dancefloor friendly template while ‘Compliance’ is a song confronting the continuing issue of patriarchy in the #METOO era, like BLONDIE meeting NEW ORDER at The Hacienda! Recently, there was the release of a delightful cover version of ‘Female Trouble’ to celebrate the birthday of the late actor and HI-NRG diva DIVINE.

Lusardi’s own favourite song is called ‘Revenge’, a gritty rallying cry to kill rapists from her self-titled EP released in 2017 which she describes the writing of as being “the most fun and cathartic time of my life”.

A feisty performer with a portable Yamaha strapped round her neck and an energetic punk attitude like Siouxsie Sioux genetically mutated with Molly Ringwald if she was into Gothic Lolita fashion, the independently minded art of PLASMIC offers some delightfully odd artistic escapism, but with a mission to deconstruct societies many stereotypes.

‘Validation Nation’ is available as a download direct from https://plasmic.bandcamp.com/






Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photo by Hannah Verbeuren
22nd December 2018

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)





Text and Photos by Paul Boddy
19th February 2018

LES PANTIES Cold Science

TWI1227CD_12pp_booklet‘Cold Science’ is a new singles anthology by Brussels cold wave indietronica combo LES PANTIES.

Founded by Hugo Fernandez (drums), Sebastien Decupere (guitars) and Paul Normann (bass), LES PANTIES are fronted by the deep, pronounced voice of Sophie Frison which at times, powerfully recalls Siouxsie Sioux.

While their sound echoes other Belgian acts like THE NAMES, the modern electronic sheen of SOULWAX also makes its presence felt.

Like SAVAGES’ Jehnny Beth, Sophie Frison exudes a stylish gothique. Released on the iconic Les Disques du Crépuscule and compiling material released between 2011 to 2015, inevitably the spectre of JOY DIVISION and THE CURE looms over ‘Cold Science’. But with Frison’s vocals and the presence of sparkling string synths, the mood is lighter but still laced with tension.

Beginning with the brooding ‘Velvet’, while a conventional backbone dominates, the use of technology is one of LES PANTIES’ distinguishing attributes. The melodic bass and scratchy guitars of ‘The Gate’ are offset by swirling synths and one could imagine this being covered by MARSHEAUX if the syncopated percussion mantra was replaced by a Motorik drum machine beat.

‘Diving’ actually sees a drum machine and synthesized melodies taking on a more central role; both remain as constants in the musical core as the lengthy track percussively builds to a sexy, passionate climax. Meanwhile, the retro-futuristic indiepop of ‘Factory’ unsurprisingly sounds like early NEW ORDER while ‘Hazy Days’ comes over as if Siouxsie had joined Robert Smith’s combo back in the day, as opposed to the other way round!

The moody ‘White Tiger’ is layered with prominent keyboards to boost the angst ridden atmosphere but as it progresses, the guitars get much heavier. This trend continues with LES PANTIES’ more conventional debut single pairing ‘Porkshop’ and ‘Westie’, as the tracklisting moves along in reverse chronological order.

However, the best is saved until last with a superb sequencer assisted ‘L’Arrivée V2’ as a bonus track. Already an excellent disco inflected tune in its original guise, it is considerably enhanced with the use of more electronics and even tighter drum programming, courtesy of producer Ian Caple whose previous credits have included SHRIEKBACK, TINDERSTICKS, A-HA and EMILIE SIMON. It is in here in its second half that the SOULWAX influences really punch their way through.

It’s an indicator of how good LES PANTIES could become if they pursue this indie electro hybrid direction. Whatever happens next, ‘Cold Science’ makes a promising shop window for now.

‘Cold Science’ is released by Les Disques du Crépuscule in CD and download formats




Text by Chi Ming Lai
3rd September 2016


TRENTEMØLLER River In MeCombining electronics and frenzied digital drums with live bass, ‘River In Me’ is the first single from TRENTEMØLLER’s upcoming fourth album ‘Fixion’, out in September. Vocals are provided by Jehnny Beth of the acclaimed indie band SAVAGES.

Best known for his superb club remix of DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Wrong’, it well and truly outstripped the rather ploddy original.

The dynamic edge of ‘River In Me’ has more than highlighted the short sightedness of the Basildon combo in not employing Anders Trentemøller to work on their new, as-yet untitled album.

Generally a remote collaborator, ‘River In Me’ is an unusual TRENTEMØLLER recording in that the SAVAGES frontwoman came to his home studio in Copenhagen to lay down the vocals. The end result naturally possesses a Gothic intensity but remains vibrant and melodic, with Beth’s Siouxsie-like tones complimenting the hybrid synth laced soundscape. Some have complained that ‘River In Me’ is not dark enough compared with TRENTEMØLLER’s previous work, but it is his most immediate song yet with a fine balance of accessibility and mood.

Directed by Åsa Riton and Andreas Emenius, the promo video for ‘River In Me’ filmed in Northern Sweden offers some appropriately icy aesthetics as a backdrop to the mysterious Nordic Noir love story.

The working relationship between Anders Trentemøller and Jehnny Beth began when the Dane mixed SAVAGES breakthrough album ‘Adore Life’. Beth said to Uncut earlier this year “he was not a traditional rock ‘n’ roll mixer, he was coming from electronic music, but with extensive guitar music knowledge”.

Trentemoller-press-photo-2016That should have confirmed TRENTEMØLLER’s credentials for working with DEPECHE MODE but alas, it is rumoured James Ford of SIMIAN MOBILE DISCO has got the job.

Having recently produced FLORENCE & THE MACHINE, ARCTIC MONKEYS, FOALS and MUMFORD & SONS, Ford’s work with the latter in particular would have no doubt sealed the deal for the rockcentric Dave Gahan.

However, all is not completely lost… if DEPECHE MODE are not going to have TRENTEMØLLER as a producer, then they should at least put him behind the desk to sort out the final mix. After all, he did a good job with ‘Wrong’.

‘River In Me’ is released as a 7 inch single and download by In My Room, available now from https://trentemoller.bandcamp.com/album/river-in-me

TRENTEMØLLER plays London Islington Assembly Hall on 18th September and an instore gig at Rough Trade East (London) on 19th September 2016



Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photo by Sofie Nørregaard
6th July 2016