Tag: Stereolab


Photo by Chad Kamenshine

“Background noise, breakquest, reverb, spending time, large hadron collider, warp drive, the empire”… that’s how New York based shinnichi Danz Johnson aka COMPUTER MAGIC describes her interests.

Johnson actually released her first album ‘Scientific Experience’ as a Japanese only release in 2012, while her first album proper ‘Davos’ emerged in 2015. There have been EPs and singles as well, with enjoyably escapist ‘Obscure But Visible” EP possibly her best body of work yet. But now at last comes another COMPUTER MAGIC simply titled ‘Danz’; however Johnson has declared that it is a far darker and more personal companion to ‘Davos’.

The bubbling spaciness of ‘Amnesia’ is an ideal dream pop opener but appears with a clouded tinge to Johnson’s voice. This is a statement that tunes like ‘Lonely Like We Are’ from her last EP will not be figuring. Seguing into ‘Nebraskaland’, while obviously using synths, Johnson shares Bruce Springsteen’s solemn 1982 musical picture of the region.

The mood lifts with ‘Ordinary Life (Message From an A.I. Girlfriend)’, but despite offering bright synth passages to classic Linn Drum sounds, it’s a twist to Philip K. Dick’s ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ where Artificial Intelligence has allowed a robot to aspire to more than just being a love companion… meanwhile as a variation to the theme, the amusingly titled ‘Delirium (Don’t Follow The Sheep)’ sees rumbling bass drones over a drum loop with a suitably detached Johnson.

Photo by Randy Smith

The wonderful instrumental ‘Teegra’ adds some loungey vibes to proceedings echoing AIR when they were on their ‘Moon Safari, while borrowing from the same part of Western Europe, the nonchalant overtones of ‘Perfect Game’ come over like a less Gallic-centric STEREOLAB.

The sombre string synths and mechanised outlook of ‘Data’ see a shift eastwards to Deutschland for an album interlude before the very sparse and haunting ‘Space and Time / Pale Blue Dot’.

Almost to the point of crying, Johnson’s forlorn demeanour offsets the track’s pretty arpeggios in a cacophony of light and shade.

Adopting a live percussive feel with sombre string synths for the introspective manner of PET SHOP BOYS, ‘Drift Away’ draws the curtains before the departing flight of ‘Clouds’; “Take me with you” she exclaims before cathartically admitting she is “lost again above the clouds”.

Those used to the appealingly kooky and cutesy manner of COMPUTER MAGIC from ‘Been Waiting’ will be surprised by ‘Danz’. But this is a mature and more thoughtful Danz Johnson in action here. Reflecting the mood across the Atlantic, she is among those who are prepared to do some thinking at a time when ignorance appears to be the leading philosophy.

‘Danz’ is released by Channel 9 Records in digital formats worldwide, limited green vinyl LP edition is available from http://www.channel9records.com





Text by Chi Ming Lai
26th February 2018, updated 27th February 2018


Based out of New York State, producer, label owner and songwriter Danz Johnson is COMPUTER MAGIC.

A Japanophile or “shinnichi” as the locals like to put it, Johnson actually released her first album ‘Scientific Experience’ as a Japan only release in 2012.

A prolific musician, a series of EPs filled the interim period before her 2015 long player ‘Davos’ reached Stateside retailers.

From it, songs like ‘Fuzz’ and ‘Give Me Just A Minute’ recalled the early adventures of LADYTRON, while ‘Hudson’ hinted more at the leanings of DUBSTAR.

COMPUTER MAGIC’s self-explanatory ‘Obscure But Visible’ EP released last year has been hailed as her best body of work yet and it has been given a promotional boost thanks to a fabulous video for the vibrant synthpop of ‘Been Waiting’.

Directed by Anise Mariko of mikineko productions with animation from Abi Laurel, the futuristic giddy innocence of ‘Been Waiting’ is superbly captured in this visual accompaniment, which more than illustrates Johnson’s love of the Far East,

Of the remaining tunes from ‘Obscure But Visible’, STEREOLAB fans will delight in the vibey ‘Dimensions’ and wispy naivety of ‘Lonely Like We Are’… in fact, listening to these two songs, it is actually quite difficult to identify Johnson as American! Meanwhile, the short but sweet lo-fi Latin romp of ‘New Generation’ springs a surprise before the more indie sounding ‘Gone For The Weekend’.

It’s a light-hearted, varied collection of songs without a doubt and a fine introduction to the appealing kooky world of COMPUTER MAGIC.

‘Obscure But Visible’ EP is released by Channel 9 Records as a 10 inch vinyl EP, cassette and download






Text by Chi Ming Lai with thanks to Adam Cresswell
27th May 2017


HOLOGRAM TEEN Marsangst EPHOLOGRAM TEEN is the solo project for Morgane Lhote, probably best known as the long-term keyboard player in respected indie act STEREOLAB; she featured on their seminal ‘Emperor Tomato Ketchup’ album and latterly went on to work with members of SIMIAN MOBILE DISCO.

Los Angeles-based Lhote describes her music as “electronic, motorik disco” and it’s the Kosmische / Krautrock elements in these tracks that help set them aside and stand out from the typical instrumental synth pack.

Opening track ‘Marsangst’ is a quirky mix of choppy DEADMAU5-style synths, blippy sequencers and lo-fi modular electronic percussion. A third of the way through the piece goes on a trippy percussion-based detour with echoed vocals and the sort of pitch-descending Moog sound that TOMITA favoured on his seminal ‘Snowflakes Are Dancing’ album. Cramming a bucketful of ideas into its six minute running time helps the track retain its momentum throughout and the mainly major chord vibe makes the track very hard to dislike.

‘Hex These Rules’ starts off with a ‘Blue Monday’ influenced kick drum pattern and resonant synth bass before evolving into a cheeky Balearic-influenced disco piece, all hand claps, “oohs” and funky octave bass. Evoking the sound of the influential Spanish Suara record label, the coolest features here are the lo-fi piano and early clipped Kosmische sounds which when set to a disco beat, conjure up images of a young Ralf Hütter drinking Sangria and shaking his stuff in a Barcelona nightclub.

‘Scratches en Series’ revolves around an analogue step sequencer part and 808 snare, rimshot and cowbell percussion. Although it was Lhote’s intention with the track to pay homage to acts such as THE SUGARHILL GANG, the piece actually ends up recalling the work of UK duo ULTRAMARINE and their album ‘Every Man & Woman is a Star’. Some light-hearted scratching and vocal sampling keep the playful nature of the track going and again the abundance of ideas mean that ‘Scratches en Series’ never outstays its welcome.

The wonderfully-titled ‘Franmaster Glash’ closes the EP with an electro-influenced drum pattern, filtered hi-pass octave PWM bass and a discordant synth line. Clocking in at just over four minutes, the track effortlessly flies by and the mix of early synthpop and ‘Street Sounds’ electro is a wonderful combo.

In terms of an overall contemporary comparison, the work of Nordic producer Todd Terje would be a good starting point here.

The mix of early German keyboard work, analogue sequencers and scattershot percussion mean that there is plenty to love and repeated listens reveal new elements each time. In an age when it is far too easy to produce soul-less and lazy, overly repetitive synth-based music, this HOLOGRAM TEEN EP bucks that trend. It also brings a welcome element of light-heartedness which is a real breath of fresh air and quite possibly ushers in a brand new genre… electro-Krautrock.

‘Marsangst’ is released as an extended four track digital EP by Happy Robots Records




Text by Paul Boddy
Photos by Shanna Fisher
19th August 2016