Tag: Tara Busch (Page 1 of 3)

A Beginner’s Guide To BENGE

Developing on a childhood fascination with electronic sound, after finishing art school, Ben Edwards set up a music studio in London and began acquiring discarded vintage synthesizers on sale for next to nother to equip it.

Under his nickname of Benge, he released his debut album ‘Electro-Orgoustic Music’ in 1995 on his own Expanding Label.

But in 2011, he became best known for his role as Chief Mathematician and collaborative partner in JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS.

By this time, what had now become Benge’s MemeTune Studios was housing one of the largest collections of working vintage synthesizers in the world and was the location for several interviews filmed for the BBC documentary ‘Synth Britannia’.

Among the equipment were modular systems from Moog, Serge, E-Mu, Formant and Buchla, the ARP 2500 and 2600, digital systems like the Synclavier and Fairlight CMI, drum machines including the Linn LM1, Roland TR808 and CR78 as well as classic polyphonic keyboards such as the Yamaha CS80, Polymoog, Oberheim 4-Voice, ARP Omni and the less celebrated EMS Polysynthi.

As a collaborator, John Foxx said Benge was “Really good – Intelligent, knowledgeable, technically blinding. He does remind me of Conny Plank. Same generosity and ability, same civilized manner – even looks similar.”

Benge left London and relocated MemeTune Studios to Cornwall in 2015, but with artists savouring this more remote setting near some of the most breathtaking coastal scenery in England, he is now busier than ever as his recent production portfolio has shown.

So by way of a Beginner’s Guide to Benge, here are eighteen examples of his work, subject to a limit of one track per artist moniker or combination, presented in yearly and then alphabetical order. As his own blog says “It’s full of stars”!

TENNIS Weakness Together (2001)

Benge’s instrumental duo with Douglas Benford, TENNIS released their second album ‘Europe On Horseback’ just as dub electronica seemed to be all the rage. Scratchy and weirdly hypnotic with hidden hooks at over eight and a half minutes, the metallic percussive notions of ‘Weakness Together’ with its metronomic rhythms and solemn Cold War synths came together for a great highlight. A third long player ‘Furlines’ emerged in 2003 with ‘The Horseback Mixes’ as a bonus.

Available on the TENNIS album ‘Europe On Horseback’ via BiP_Hop Records


BENGE 1969 EMS VCS3 (2008)

Noted for his experimental solo albums, Benge’s most acclaimed was 2008’s ‘Twenty Systems’. It was an insightful soundtrack exploring how electronic sound architecture has evolved from using transistors to integrated circuits and from ladder filters to Fourier approximation. With each track crafted from a singular instrument, Brian Eno described it as “A brilliant contribution to the archaeology of electronic music” while it was via this album that Benge came to the attention of John Foxx.

Available on the BENGE album ‘Twenty Systems’ via Expanding Records


SERAFINA STEER How To Haunt A House Party (2010)

Legend has it that Serafina Steer’s union with Benge occurred when her harp was stolen and he made synths available to fill in for the intended harp parts. One of the more electronic tracks ‘How To Haunt A House Party’ added drum machine and the spacey accompaniment complimented the songstress’ quirky brand of kitchen sink introspection. ‘Change is Good, Change is Good’ got an endorsement from Jarvis Cocker, the PULP front man declaring it one of his favourite albums of the year.

Available on the SERAFINA STEER album ‘Change Is Good, Change Is Good’ via Static Caravan


JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS Watching A Building On Fire (2011)

Joining forces with Benge, John Foxx found the perfect creative foil to further his earlier analogue ambitions, only this time combined with a warmth that had not been apparent on ‘Metamatic’ or his work with Louis Gordon. The best track on their debut album ‘Interplay’ was a co-written duet with Mira Aroyo of LADYTRON entitled ‘Watching A Building On Fire’. With its chattering drum machine and accessible Trans- European melodies, it was an obvious spiritual successor to ‘Burning Car’.

Available on the JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS album ‘Interplay’ via Metamatic Records


OMD Dresden – JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS remix (2013)

The first band that the young Ben Edwards ever saw live was OMD, thanks to them opening for Gary Numan in 1979. He presented a suitably harsh remix to suit the harrowing lyrical tone of ‘Dresden’. But Andy McCluskey of OMD said: “‘Dresden’ is a whopping great, unsubtle metaphor… it’s not about the bombing of Dresden in the same way as ‘Enola Gay’ was about the aeroplane that dropped the atom bomb.”

Available on the OMD single ‘Dresden’ via BMG


GAZELLE TWIN Exorcise (2014)

The moniker of Elizabeth Bernholz, the secomd GAZELLE TWIN second album ‘Unflesh’ with additional production and mixing by Benge, allowed the Brighton-based songstress to extract her demons with some artistic violence. One of the highlights ‘Exorcise’ was an impressively aggressive cross between PINK FLOYD’s ‘One The Run’ and KRAFTWERK’s ‘Home Computer’. Its uneasy resonance was aided by Bernholz’s harsh, deadpan commentary.

Available on the GAZELLE TWIN album ‘Unflesh’ via Anti-Ghost Moon Ray


HANNAH PEEL & BENGE Find Peace (2014)

Hannah Peel joined JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS in 2011 and became one of the MemeTune family, eventually taking over the studio space when Benge relocated. At the time her most overtly electronic song yet, she teamed up with Benge for a haunting modern day seasonal hymn. With a suitably poignant message, ‘Find Peace’ was a Christmas song longing for the cold but merry winters of yesteryear under the modern day spectre of global warming, armed conflict and political tension.

Available on the HANNAH PEEL single ‘Find Peace’ via My Own Pleasure


WRANGLER Lava Land (2014)

A trio featuring Benge, Stephen Mallinder ex-CABARET VOLTAIRE and of TUNNG’s Phill Winter, the WRANGLER manifesto was to harness “lost technology to make new themes for the modern world”. ‘Lava Land’ saw Mallinder’s voice manipulations ranging from demonic gargoyle to stern drowning robot. The frantic pace was strangely danceable but the twisted mood was distinctly unsettling and dystopian, especially when the screeching steam powered Logan string machine kicked in.

Available on the WRANGLER album ‘LA Spark’ via by Memetune Recordings



GHOST HARMONIC omprisedof John Foxx and Benge alongside violinist Diana Yukawa. ‘Codex’ evolved over the space of a couple of years. Foxx said: “the underlying intention was we all wanted to see what might happen when a classically trained musician engaged with some of the possibilities a modern recording studio can offer…” The result was a startling dynamic between Yukawa’s heavily treated violin and the looming electronics. Closing the album, the title track was a string and synth opus of soothing bliss.

Available on the GHOST HARMONIC ‘Codex’ via Metamatic Records


JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS featuring GARY NUMAN Talk (2016)

‘Talk’ has been used by John Foxx to explore different approaches from a singular idea with other kindred spirits such as Tara Busch and Matthew Dear. ‘Talk (Are You Listening To Me?)’ finally saw Gary Numan working on a track with his long-time hero who he had admired since the ULTRAVOX! days. His take naturally screamed alienation and fully exploited his haunting classic synth overtures, thanks to Benge’s use of a Polymoog and his effective application of its swooping ribbon controller.

Available on the JOHN FOXX album ’21st Century: A Man, A Woman & A City’ via Metamatic Records


FADER 3D Carpets (2017)

While BLANCMANGE’s ‘Unfurnished Rooms’ was the first time Benge and Neil Arthur worked together, their FADER duo project saw the former instigating the music as opposed to working on already written songs. Working on their parts separately, Neil Arthur said “In FADER, Benge will send me the embryonic musical idea and I’m reacting to what he’s given me” ;‘3D Carpets’ captured an independent post-punk intensity, like JOY DIVISION or THE CURE but realised with electronics rather than guitars.

Available on the ‘First Light’ via Blanc Check Records


I SPEAK MACHINE Shame (2017)

“Benge and I had always wanted to write together, so we took the opportunity to do so here, by expanding on the ‘Zombies 1985’ world.” said Tara Busch of how he became involved in the soundtrack of I SPEAK MACHINE’s short film about greed and self-obsession in Thatcher’s Britain as a businessman drives home, oblivious to a zombie apocalypse going on around him. The brilliant ‘Shame’ was a wonderful hybrid of THROBBING GRISTLE, THE HUMAN LEAGUE and GOLDFRAPP.

Available on the album ‘Zombies 1985’ via Lex Records



LONE TAXIDERMIST is the vehicle of Cumbrian lass Natalie Sharp, a performance artist who believes “Your body is a sensory device”. With Phill Winter of TUNNG and WRANGLER among the collaborators, Benge acted as co-producer and released the album himself. The debut album’s opening song ‘Home’ made Sharp’s avant pop intentions clear with a catchy throbbing outline and a wonderfully wayward vocal style crossing Grace Jones with Ari Up.

Available on the LONE TAXIDERMIST album ‘Trifle’ via MemeTune Recordings


BLANCMANGE In Your Room (2018)

Working with Benge again on what was effectively their third album together, Neil Arthur has undoubtedly found comfort in their partnership. ‘Wanderlust’ was possibly BLANCMANGE’s best body of work in its 21st Century incarnation and from it, ‘In Your Room’ was a great slice of vintage robopop, with a vocoder aesthetic and an assortment of manipulated sounds at a reasonably uptempo pace. “Lyrically it was about being content with something quite simple” added Arthur.

Available on the BLANCMANGE album ‘Wanderlust’ via Blanc Check Records


CREEP SHOW Safe & Sound (2018)

With eclectic US singer / songwriter John Grant joining forces with the WRANGLER boys Stephen Mallinder, Benge and Phill Winter at MemeTune Studios, CREEP SHOW was something of an electronic meeting of minds. On the resultant album ‘Safe & Sound’, the quartet explored a spacious KRAFTWERK vs Moroder hybrid using dark analogue electronics, gradually revealing some wonderfully warm melodic synth textures to accompany Grant’s passionate lead croon.

Available on the CREEP SHOW album ‘Mr Dynamite’ via Bella Union


JOHN GRANT He’s Got His Mother’s Hips (2018)

Following the artistic success of the CREEP SHOW collaboration, it was only natural that Benge would step up to produce John Grant’s number four solo album ‘Love Is Magic’ to more allow the Icelandic-domiciled American to fully embrace his love of electronic music. Making use of a vintage synth brass line, the mutant crooner disco of ‘He’s Got His Mother’s Hips’ was driven by a delicious synthetic groove while not forgetting to include an uplifting chorus.

Available on the JOHN GRANT album ‘Love Is Magic’ via Bella Union


LUMP Hand Hold Hero (2018)

Lyrically inspired by the apparent emptiness of contemporary life, when British nu-folk queen Laura Marling teamed up with Mike Lindsay, co-founder of acid-folkies TUNNG and Benge’s one-time partner-in-crime, it called for something out-of-the-box and that came courtesy of Benge’s Moog Modulars. A hypnotic sequencer line provided the backbone to ‘Hand Hold Hero’ for a rather unusual slice of Sci-Fi Country ‘N’ Western that met ‘On the Run’ somewhere on the Virginia plains.

Available on the LUMP album ‘Lump’ via Dead Oceans


OBLONG Echolocation (2019)

It only took 13 years to follow-up their debut record ‘Indicator’, but with the second OBLONG album ‘The Sea At Night’, the trio of Benge, Dave Nice and Sid Stronarch delivered a collection of rustic electro-acoustic organically farmed electronica! With mood and pace, ‘Echolocation’ was a classic synth instrumental with its crystalline textures and charming slightly off-key blips, aurally reflecting the remote moorland location in Cornwall where it was recorded.

Available on the OBLONG album ‘The Sea At Night’ via MemeTune Recordings


Text by Chi Ming Lai
9th March 2020

Introducing IMI

Alison Goldfrapp and Tara Busch need to watch out…

There’s a new synth girl in town, she’s got a Moog Sub Phatty and she’s going to use it!

Leeds based singer / songwriter IMI is gifted with a most glorious soprano but not only that, she applies that and her love of analogue synths to an intelligent avant pop aesthetic.

Having opened for LET’S EAT GRANDMA, she has certainly made it clear which playground she prefers to be in. IMI’s recently released EP ‘Lines’ contains three dramatically layered electronic mood pieces that encapsulate the early cinematic ambition of GOLDFRAPP and the more recent esoteric adventures of I SPEAK MACHINE. But crucially like both of them, she does this within a song-based format.

Originally released as a single in 2018, ‘Margins’ synthetically rumbles while side-chained to a cascading train ride, cerebrally meshing brooding atmospherics with IMI’s hauntingly assured smoky high vocal, like an oddball amalgam of opera, trip hop and Synth Britannia.

‘Lines’ opener ‘The Fence’ drops incessant warbling vintage synth textures over a steadfast metronomic back beat as IMI offers a traditional folk laden topline not far off Susanne Sundfør. Building to a ritualistic percussive fervour that chillingly darkens the Northern sky, there however remains a stark beauty, marking a clear demarcation line in keeping with the EP’s theme.

Meanwhile, ‘I Feel Alright’ with its sharp melodic call and ethereal voices heads into something more threatening, with pulsing rumbles and squelches facing off against swirls and sweeps, although in this song about acceptance, it all rewardingly comes over with a strong sense of musicality.

IMI’s artistic promise was there from the off with her debut single ‘Born For What?’ in 2017, but what the ‘Lines’ EP showcases is an increased confidence and maturity.

With her Instagram indicating further experimentation with the Korg Mono/Poly, EDP Wasp and Moog Modular, there are certainly more artful adventures to come.

The ‘Lines’ EP is released by Bibliotek, available as a CD or download direct from https://imimusicuk.bandcamp.com/album/lines




Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Portia Hunt
8th April 2019


Possibly one of the best electronic albums of 2017, ‘Zombies 1985’ is the latest release by I SPEAK MACHINE, the enticing audio / visual collaboration between musician Tara Busch and filmmaker Maf Lewis.

‘Zombies 1985’ tells the story of greed and self-obsession in Thatcher’s Britain as a businessman drives home, oblivious to the zombie apocalypse going on around him.

The live score was performed with the film by Busch as the opening act at UK and US shows with GARY NUMAN in 2015; the film incidentally also features his three daughters in cameo roles.

The soundtrack itself is a musical collaboration with Benge Edwards, best known for his work as a member of WRANGLER and JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS. But what had been intended to be a more abstract EP turned into a full length album, bolstered by superb mutant electronic pop songs like ‘Blood From A Stone’, ‘Shame’ and ‘Demon Days’. The end result will no doubt satisfy the curiosity of those with a penchant for stranger things.

I SPEAK MACHINE kindly chatted about the creative in-roads that led to their own day of the dead…

Tara, you’ve worked under your own name, as ANALOG SUICIDE and was a member of DYNAMO DRESDEN. How does I SPEAK MACHINE differ from all those?

Tara: Well, all four differ quite a bit from each other – one is a blog, the other is a band, and the other a rather leftfield film / music project. Prepare for a long answer!

DYNAMO DRESDEN was formed in 2001 with Maf and another producer/ engineer named Rohan Tarry. It was a particularly great learning experience for me as it was the first electronic project I was ever involved in that I liked; Maf and Ro were quite accomplished as producers and in the music business with Maf’s label, Plastic Raygun. I had come over to the UK from North Carolina after being in loads of bands and working as a session singer and was thrilled to finally get out of the States and be in a country that created the music I love the most.

It was a sample-based downtempo electronica that was hugely influenced by THE AVALANCHES and AIR’s ‘Moon Safari’.

ANALOG SUICIDE was a blog that Maf and I started in 2007 just for fun, and in my case, to learn more about synthesizers and production – I thought that if I found it interesting, perhaps some other people might? I would seek out artists I loved and interview them about their creative process and “how they got that sound” – sometimes visiting their studios or interviewing them on camera.

We also did a big series of gear videos, interviews and “making of” videos for remixes and songs on my “tarabusch” Youtube channel. It got to where it’s taken a backseat as other projects became more important and I became less interested in making videos that involved me talking to the camera. It’s a huge commitment to keep up a big blog and do it properly, so now it’s more of a so-called personal creative diary about how I make music, etc that I update from time to time.

I released a solo album on Tummy Touch Records, ‘Pilfershire Lane’ in 2009 after DYNAMO DRESDEN disbanded and Maf and I moved to the States. I was very intent on writing, engineering and producing the album myself. I had previously worked with several producers in my attempt to make a solo album, all of which were classic situations where they would take what I was trying to create and go a completely different direction with it. I just wanted to make what was in my mind, so I had to learn how to do it. Anyway – I threw as many learning curves at myself as possible, for better or for worse!

It was about as “psychedelic rock” of an album as I’d ever make, very influenced by ‘Pet Sounds’ and ‘Dark Side of the Moon’. It was lovingly maddening process, my first where I felt I was just finding my own voice at the age of 33 and really truly being in control of what I wanted to create and being totally obsessed with the process. Perhaps someday I’ll make another “Tara Busch” album.

I SPEAK MACHINE is, first of all, is a multimedia film / music project – Maf does the film component and I the music. Our basis for every project is that we try to create both components in tandem with each other so that neither are an afterthought. Then, the films are screened with me playing the score live. We don’t screen the films without the score – the only way to see them is our live shows. We also are quite keen to bring other collaborators in – I feel this project has a far more open minded creative approach than anything else I’ve ever done. We release our soundtracks on Lex Records.

You first became more widely known within the electronic community when you recorded ‘Where You End & I Begin’ with JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS?

Tara: Luke Turner from The Quietus contacted me to see if I’d like to come record a piece with John and Benge, to have featured on their site. Of course I jumped at the chance! It was fantastic to work with the both of them, and turned out to be a great ongoing personal and working relationship, especially with Benge.

This led to you reinterpreting ‘My Sex’ and ‘I Want To Be A Machine’ for the ‘Exponentialism’ tribute EP. What was it like to tackle two cult classics from the first ULTRAVOX! long player?

Tara: When covering songs, I always try to start with a totally clean slate and approach it as if someone gave me the song to produce as my own – to “adopt it”, so to speak. I don’t see the point in doing a “sound-alike” of someone else’s work. It has to be something I can really pump a lot of blood and guts into!

And with these two songs, I was lucky – they both hit me hard right off the bat. Both have such profoundly beautiful lyrics that I as a vocalist I was chomping at the bit to sing…. my production on ‘My Sex’ came together pretty quickly as I felt a super filthy, crunchy, slimy bass would be perfect, a bit like a crumbly, concrete wall under the vocal line, and drums that punch so hard they could give you a bloody lip (I hoped so, anyway).

‘I Want To Be Machine’ was a lot more stubborn – I wrestled with it for a good month until one day, totally frustrated, I picked up this SK1 that I had neglected for so long that the batteries inside of it were corroded. I had Logic going, plugged it in and turned it on, so I could record any odd sounds it might make when switching it on – and lo and behold, it makes a noise like a blender being chucked in a bathtub – and off I went. But that song took ages. You basically have to distance yourself from the originals and trust that you can hopefully create something that does it justice.

You’re no stranger to covers and a wide spectrum of classics such as ‘Cars’ and ‘The Sound Of Silence’ formed part of your Troika! live set. You’ve also recorded songs like ‘Our House’ by MADNESS and ‘Let’s Go To Bed’ by THE CURE in your own style, what attracted you to these songs?

Tara: It’s just so random how I choose these things. Sometimes I’ll hear the song in the grocery store (as is the case with ‘Our House’) and think “YES. I want to dissect this!”… or I’m just messing around in the studio and I start singing the line over something I have cooking, as is the case with ‘Cars’, ‘Ticket to Ride’ and ‘The Sound Of Silence’. With those, I also was creating my live set, so I wanted to add those as pieces that were just the synths and my voice, no samples or backing tracks.

It must have been interesting to perform ‘Cars’ in front of Numanoids when you toured with GARY NUMAN?

Tara: I was pleasantly surprised by how well it went down with Gary and his fans! Performing something as brilliant as ‘Cars’ where the original is so perfect is scary but thrilling. It was a bit surreal playing it and seeing Gary, Gemma and the band in the wings watching me…it was lovely.

Have you any more covers you would like to do?

Tara: Every day one pops into my head, but I have to discipline myself to steer the focus towards my own work! The ‘Dr Who’ theme was in my head in a loop for days after they announced the new doctor! Also, there’s a lovely Skeeter Davis song, ‘The End Of The World’ that I would love to do and I’ve always wanted to do Nick Cave’s ‘People Ain’t No Good’. Also a very morbid version of ‘Here Comes the Sun’ would be fun, since I’m not a fan of the California summers. I really enjoy covering songs that are radically different from what I write myself.

How did you both conceive ‘Zombies 1985’?

Maf: Zombies are my favorite monster, as they’ve often been used as a reflection of our culture. I wanted to turn it around a bit and tell a story against the background of the emerging zombie apocalypse, and a man (Steve) who is so self-obsessed and greedy that he doesn’t notice it happening around him. He sees everyone else as a zombie, because they are not as driven and ambitious, but ultimately he is the zombie, both figuratively and literally. Also, who doesn’t want to make, be in, write the score to a zombie film? We had the idea to set it in 1985, as Tara and Benge wanted to be really strict with the score, with everything was created on pre 1985 equipment.

You opted to crowdfund ‘Zombies 1985’, what were the pros and cons?

Tara: We didn’t ask for a huge sum, and we got what we needed in a couple of days – then it went continued and luckily wound up raising a lot more than our goal. It made it so that everyone could get paid decently at least. The pros are of course that you can fund projects you love, but the cons – you really have to, for want of a better word – do quite the sh*t ton of whoring for the 3 weeks or so that you have to raise funds. And it can be stressful as everything hinges on being able to raise those funds.

The first three tracks on ‘Zombies 1985’ are distinctly soundtrack based while the rest of the material comprises of various song-based formats. How and why did the project expand?

Tara: It happened pretty organically. Benge and I had always wanted to write together, so we took the opportunity to do so here, by expanding on the ‘Zombies 1985’ world. I wanted to create something of an “imaginary soundtrack”, something that the characters in the film would have been listening to in 1985. So, after we finished the score, we remotely wrote 6 more songs. I guess we just had a bit more to express, and we wanted to explore more of a CHRIS & COSEY, GRACE JONES, GARY NUMAN, CABARET VOLTAIRE sort of territory.

What was the general creative dynamic between you, Maf and Benge?

Tara: Well, I feel a great equilibrium myself with Benge and Maf of this project – there was no one person that was anointed “boss”. Benge and I write very easily together, I guess there’s a lot of respect between the three of us and a lot of humor! Benge and Maf are both incredibly skilled at what they do, so it’s also a great learning experience.

I don’t ever feel like “the woman in the back of the studio waiting to sing over some guy’s tracks”. It all feels very natural and equal, as it should.

The album had an artistic self-imposed restriction of using only “1985 period equipment”. Which synths and bits of gear came to be your favourites to give you the textures you wanted?

Tara: SO many! Benge has some incredible machines, and I’ve recently come into a nice handful myself, so it was a blast to work with these “personnel”, so to speak.

The one that stood out for me the most was Benge’s ARP 2500 – it’s like conversing with a beautiful ghost – I mean, this was the machine they used in ‘Close Encounters Of The Third Kind’ to communicate with the aliens! It brought tears to my eyes to play it.

I had also just adopted an ARP 2600, Roland SH5, 808, Oberheim 2 voice and a Model D in my own studio, which I used a lot on the songs we did remotely. Benge used an Oberheim DMX on the soundtrack part of the score, and I loved it so much I ran out and grabbed one myself. Anything by Oberheim is gorgeous though!

And of course my ever -present Pro One. I always have to pinch myself that I own these things and get to work with them. The restriction wasn’t too big a deal, as I now tend to use machines that are pre ’85 most of the time anyway… except for my laptop of course!

‘Shame’ recalls ‘Hot On The Heels Of Love’ by THROBBING GRISTLE, what first drew you to that early British electronic experimentation?

Tara: Thanks, that’s a big compliment! That is one of those “holy grail” songs for me – if I live to write anything even half that beautiful, I’ll be pleased. Anyway – when Benge and I wanted to expand the score into an album with extra songs, that was just simply the atmosphere that we wanted to call upon – THROBBING GRISTLE, CHRIS & COSEY etc.

Meanwhile, ‘Trouble’ appears to have been inspired by ‘No-One Receiving’ by BRIAN ENO?

Tara: I shamefully admit I’m not familiar with that song! I must research… ‘Trouble’ was the first of the songs we did together, in fact it’s the one that did not adhere to the “early industrial” vibe I was after. But it just came out that way, more atmospheric and mellow.

‘Demon Days’ does what it says on the tin, what was the genesis of that one?

Tara: That plays over the ending credits, it closes the film. I pulled components of the score out to create a cohesive song – and the lyrics are about how much I hate summer (or in general hot weather) in LA.

We were doing a residency of shows with Gary in LA at the same time I was writing that, and I think ‘Down In The Park’ was creeping around in my head a lot at the time! That was very much influenced by ‘Replicas’- era Numan.

‘Blood From A Stone’ is a brilliant track and has this eerie early GOLDFRAPP feel?

Tara: Thank you! I’m not totally sure what influenced me here if that’s what you’re asking; most likely I was happily overdosing on GAZELLE TWIN at the time or THE KNIFE… I was really into bleak, dark, disorientating artists at the time, GAZELLE TWIN being my favorite.

I love GOLDFRAPP, but they’re not in the front of my mind as an influence – it’s odd… I think people compare me a lot to Alison Goldfrapp because we have the same vocal range, we’re both women and synths are involved? Women get clumped together like that constantly, and it’s bizarre – I guess that’s another topic for another time.

Production-wise, this was the first one I got to use my 808 on as well which was a huge thrill – it sounds so meaty and satisfying.

You’re an Anglophile but on ‘Petrified Mind’, you seem to head towards more Stateside vibes. Who were your influences on that track?

Tara: That was a straight up Peter Murphy imitation, actually. I was listening to ‘Third Uncle’, ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ and wanted something boomy and gloomy like that. So I’m still straight up Anglophile, no worries there.

What are your own favourites on ‘Zombies 1985’?

Tara: ‘New Dawn’ has taken on an even more disturbing context since the so-called US election. It reminds me of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ more and more each time I listen to it. That’s my current favorite, plus ‘Gone To LA’ and ‘Shame’.

How is the ‘Deep Clean’ project with KITE BASE who you toured with, coming along?

Tara: I believe they’re in the process of filming it! More to come, not sure I can say much else about it, other than I’m very excited to work with Kendra and Ayşe from KITE BASE – I absolutely adore them as artists and humans.

What else is next for you?

Tara: ISM are working on 2 new short films this summer, one with Raven Numan who impressed us so much in ‘Zombies 1985’, we wanted to work with her again, and an animated project with our label Lex and comic book illustrator/ writer/ director Tommy Lee Edwards.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its sincerest thanks to I SPEAK MACHINE

Special thanks also to Steve Malins at Random PR

‘Zombies 1985’ is released by Lex Records in CD, red blood vinyl LP and digital formats, available from https://shop.lexrecords.com/products/pre-order-zombies-1985





Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
12th August 2017, updated 23rd August 2017

I SPEAK MACHINE Zombies 1985

I SPEAK MACHINE is the audio / visual collaboration between musician Tara Busch and filmmaker Maf Lewis, inspired by Ennio Morricone and Sergio Leone who used to discuss score ideas while scripts were being written for the classic Spaghetti Westerns.

Having released the soundtrack to their horror short ‘The Silence’ in 2015, their latest offering is ‘Zombies 1985’, a musical collaboration with Benge of WRANGLER and JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS fame. In Busch’s own words “What was meant to be a 3 song EP by Benge & I morphed into an 11 song brain chomping monster”.

The ‘Zombies 1985’ film itself tells the story of greed and self-obsession in Thatcher’s Britain as a businessman drives home, oblivious to the zombie apocalypse going on around him. It features GARY NUMAN’s three daughters Persia, Raven and Echo in cameo roles and was screened with the live score performed by Busch on a UK and US tour with Numan.

Fitting in with the film and album’s title, a conceptual rule of using only “1985 period equipment” was imposed including mixers and effects units. The end result is striking with the station idents, drones, percussive mantras and abstract electronic screeches forming the start of the album, supplemented by apocalyptic mutant pop songs influenced by the likes of CHRIS & COSEY and CABARET VOLTAIRE.

The hazy ‘Demon Days’ is the first of these songs and sounds like early GOLDFRAPP trapped aboard the starship Nostromo with Busch’s unsettling gothique and siren synths penetrating a distinct horror movie vibe.

The mysterious workshop electronica of ‘Blood From A Stone’ also evokes even more overtones of early GOLDFRAPP and while the superb track is perhaps nearer to Busch’s excellent solo ‘Rocket Wife’ EP from 2011, it is far less conventional as the pace picks up in a militaristic fashion with a vocoder harmony in tow.

The pacey ‘Hollywood Power’ is driven by fat sequences, with claustrophobic radio announcer samples and cold string machines capturing the tension as the airwaves get taken over by dark forces. Meanwhile, the brilliant ‘Shame’ with its cascading synths and noise percussion is equal parts THROBBING GRISTLE, THE HUMAN LEAGUE and again GOLDFRAPP.

The robotic tech house of ‘Gone To LA’ leads to the crystalline arpeggios of ‘Trouble’ where a wholly synthetic reimagining of BRIAN ENO’s ‘No One Receiving’ is given an angel of death twist.

With a stuttering rhythmic passage and swimmy atmospherics, the deep bass driven ‘Petrified Mind’ sees Busch cross HEART with GAZELLE TWIN for the most American sounding track of the collection.

The deadpan ‘New Dawn (1986)’ has that air of finality about it, doomy and reminiscent of JOHN CARPENTER with rich synth tones that are complimented by Busch’s eerie vocal presence of spoken and sung phrases.

‘Zombies 1985’ is a wonderfully mutant mix of vintage synth collages and “Doris Day in outer space”, as JOHN FOXX once described Tara Busch and her delightfully odd electronic pop sound. And with the recent passing of George A Romero, the modern day Zombie film’s Godfather, this I SPEAK MACHINE album also now acts as a fitting tribute to his legacy with movies such as ‘Night of the Living Dead’ and ‘Day Of the Dead’. One of the best electronic albums of 2017? ‘Zombies 1985’ is definitely a contender and will satisfy the curiosity of those with a penchant for stranger things.

‘Zombies 1985’ is released by Lex Records on 18th August 2017 in CD, vinyl LP and digital formats, available from https://ispeakmachine1.bandcamp.com/album/zombies-1985








Text by Chi Ming Lai
24th July 2017


With a manifesto that “explores common ground in a strong aesthetic approach towards art, film, music, technology, science, and nature”, the Brighton based artistic co-operative Anti-Ghost Moon Ray founded by GAZELLE TWIN, BERNHOLZ, ACQUAINTANCE and GREAT PAGANS have released a new compilation of music made by themselves and like-minded friends, entitled ‘Annual General Meeting Record – Volume 2’.

‘Volume 1’ was in aid of Médecins Sans Frontières, raising £535 and ‘Volume 2’ proceeds will go to Refugee Action (UK) who provide advice, support and guidance to refugees and asylum seekers in the UK.

The international cast contribute 14 tracks emcompassing dark electronica, lost soundtracks and field recording experiments. ITAL TEK’s ‘To Dust’ provides a deep synthy rumble as an introduction to proceedings while Russian artist ROSEMARY LOVES A BLACKBERRY offers ‘Play or Pay’, a slice of screechy Euro-rythmics that comes over like an artier LADYTRON circa ‘604’

TIMERON’s ‘Risers’ blips and swirls in an enjoyable experimental cocoon, but it’s I SPEAK MACHINE and ‘Blood From A Stone’ that is possibly the highlight of the collection, the mysterious workshop electronica recalling the eerie overtones of early GOLDFRAPP. The project of Tara Busch, the track is perhaps nearer to the song based solo work of her excellent ‘Rocket Wife’ EP than the other material on her soon-to-be-released soundtrack to ‘Zombies 1985’.

The wacky LONE TAXIDERMIST does her bit on the scary avant house of ‘Red Kiss’ with a mixture of weird noises and horror film vocal stylings coupled to a 4/4 beat. Much gentler, ‘These Lands’ by ANNEKA showcases the glorious vocal talents of the young songstress with a quality equal to a Morricone soundcsape in the vein of ‘Ecstacy Of Gold’.

Adding some supernatural spectres, Anti-Ghost Moon Ray’s best known artist GAZELLE TWIN contributes the ritualistic ‘Smash’ which recalls a more electronic RAIN TREE CROW, while FOG SCHOOL’s ‘You Were Born for Chilling Deeds’ with its ghostly voice pitch shifts is self-explantory.

The lengthy ‘We’ve Got to Have Some Music On The New Frontier’ from ACQUAINTANCE and the woodwind laden ‘Sweetness’ from GREAT PAGANS’ Alex Painter both explore more artier climes.

Following a similar path, ‘Divides At’ is a stark railroading instrumental from NEAR FUTURE, the duo comprising of BLANCMANGE’s Neil Arthur and BERNHOLZ; the latter also provides his own solo experiment ‘58’ which sits comfortably with the aural sculpture of LIGHGHT’s ‘Gutter’. Closing with soundtrack composer Nick Sutton and the uneasy ambience of ‘Prayer’, ‘Annual General Meeting Record – Volume 2’ is another inventive and well curated collection.

It showcases some varied interpretations of electronic music, providing an assorted degree of cerebral fulfilment while also supporting a highly worthy cause.

‘Annual General Meeting Record – Volume 2’ is released by Anti-Ghost Moon Ray as a digital download and limited edition cassette in aid of Refugee Action (UK), available exclusively from https://antighostmoonray.bandcamp.com/album/annual-general-meeting-record-vol-2




Text by Chi Ming Lai
9th June 2017

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