Tag: The Hearing

2019 End Of Year Review

2019 was a year of 40th Anniversaries, celebrating the synth becoming the sound of pop when ‘Are Friends Electric?’ reached No1 in the UK chart in 1979.

While GARY NUMAN opted for ‘(R)evolution’ and two of his former sidemen RRussell Bell and Chris Payne ventured solo for the first time, OMD offered a 7 disc ‘Souvenir’ featuring a whole album of quality unreleased material to accompany a concert tour to celebrate four decades in the business. That was contrary to DEPECHE MODE who merely plonked 14 albums into a boxed set in a move where the ‘Everything Counts’ lyric “the grabbing hands grab all they can” became more and more ironic… MIDGE URE partied like it was 1980 with the music of VISAGE and ULTRAVOX, while SIMPLE MINDS announced an arena tour for 2020 so that their audience could show Jim Kerr their hands again.

HEAVEN 17 announced some special showcases of the early material of THE HUMAN LEAGUE and got a particularly warm reception opening on tour for SQUEEZE as a trailer ahead of their own ‘Greatest Hits’ jaunt next year.

Celebrating 20 years in music, there was the welcome return of LADYTRON with a self-titled comeback album, while Swedish evergreens LUSTANS LAKEJER performed the ‘Åkersberga’ album for its 20th Anniversary and similarly GOLDFRAPP announced a series of shows in honour of their magnificent cinematic debut ‘Felt Mountain’.

Cult favourites FIAT LUX made their intimate live comeback in a church in Bradford and released their debut album ‘Saved Symmetry’ 37 years after their first single ‘Feels Like Winter Again’.

As a result, their fans were also treated to ‘Ark Of Embers’, the long player that Polydor Records shelved in 1985 when the band were on the cusp of a breakthrough but ended with a commercial breakdown.

Modern prog exponents Tim Bowness and Steven Wilson got back together as NO-MAN for their dual suite electronic concept record ‘Love You To Bits’, but an even more ambitious undertaking came from UNDERWORLD with their boxed set ‘Drift Series 1’.

Also making live returns were one-time PET SHOP BOYS protégé CICERO with a charity gig in his hometown of Livingston, WHITE DOOR with JOHAN BAECKSTRÖM at Synth Wave Live 3, ARTHUR & MARTHA and Mute Records veterans KOMPUTER.

After a short hiatus, the mighty KITE sold-out three gigs at Stockholm Slaktkyrkan and ended the year performing at an opera house, while GIORGIO MORODER embarked on his first ever concert tour where his songs were the stars.

Although their long-awaited-as-yet-untitled third album was still to materialise, VILE ELECTRODES went back on the road in Europe with APOPTYGMA BERZERK and THE INVINCIBLE SPIRIT. Meanwhile, Chinese techno-rock sextet STOLEN opened for NEW ORDER on their Autumn European tour and EMIKA performed in a series of Planetariums.

Despite the fall of The Berlin Wall 30 years ago, there were more evident swipes to the right than there had been for a long time, with the concept of Brexit Electro becoming a rather unpleasant reality. So in these more sinister times, the need for classic uplifting electronic pop was higher than ever.

To that end, three superb debut albums fitted the bill. While KNIGHT$ offered quality Britalo on ‘Dollars & Cents’, the suave presence of OLLIE WRIDE took a more MTV friendly direction with ‘Thanks In Advance’.

But for those wanting something more home produced, the eccentric Northern electronic pop of the brilliantly named INTERNATIONAL TEACHERS OF POP continued the artistic lineage of THE HUMAN LEAGUE.

QUIETER THAN SPIDERS finally released their wonderful debut album ‘Signs Of Life’ which was naturally more understated and Denmark had some worthy synthpop representation with SOFTWAVE producing an enjoyably catchy debut long player in ‘Game On’.

On the shadier side of electronic pop, BOY HARSHER achieved a wider breakthrough with their impressive ‘Careful’ long player but as a result, the duo acquired a contemporary hipster element to their fanbase who seemed to lack manners and self-awareness as they romped around gigs without a care for anyone around them. But with tongues-in-cheeks, SPRAY continued to amuse with their witty prankelectro on ‘Failure Is Inevitable’.

Photo by Johnny Jewel

Italians Do It Better kept things in house as CHROMATICS unexpectedly unleashed their first album for six years in ‘Closer To Grey’ and embarked on a world tour. Main support was DESIRE and accompanied on keyboards by HEAVEN singer Aja, the pair took things literally during their cover version of ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ with a girl-on-girl kiss in front of head honcho Johnny Jewel.

Other ITIB acts on the tour dependent on territory included DOUBLE MIXTE, IN MIRRORS and KRAKÓW LOVES ADANA. But the best work to appear from the stable came from JORJA CHALMERS who became ‘Human Again’.

There were a variety of inventive eclectic works from FAKE TEAK, MAPS, FINLAY SHAKESPEARE, ULTRAMARINE, TYCHO, THE GOLDEN FILTER, FRAGRANCE. and FADER. Meanwhile VON KONOW, SOMEONE WHO ISN’T ME and JAKUZI all explored themes of equality while BOYTRONIC preferred ‘The Robot Treatment’.

But expressing themselves on the smoother side of proceedings were CULT WITH NO NAME and notably SHOOK who looked east towards the legend of YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA.

Dark minimalism reigned in the work of FRAGILE SELF and WE ARE REPLICA while no less dark but not so aggressive, WITCH OF THE VALE cemented their position with a well-received opening slot at Infest.

Touring in Europe with OMD and MIDGE URE, TINY MAGNETIC PETS unleashed two EPs ‘The Politburo Disko’ and ‘Girl In A White Dress’ as fellow Dubliner CIRCUIT3 got political and discussed ‘The Price Of Nothing & The Value Of Everything’.

2019 was a year of electronic instrumental offerings galore from NEULAND, RICARDO AUTOBAHN, EKKOES, M83, RELIEF, FEMMEPOP and OBLONG, although ERIC RANDOM’s dystopian offering ‘Wire Me Up’ added vocoder while BRIAN ENO celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing ‘For All Mankind’.

The King of Glum Rock LLOYD COLE surprised all with an electronic pop album called ‘Guesswork’ just as PET SHOP BOYS set an ‘Agenda’. HOWARD JONES released his most synthy work for years in ‘Transform’ and while CHINA CRISIS acted as his well-received support on the UK leg of his 35th Anniversary tour, their front man GARY DALY ventured solo with ‘Gone From Here’.

Among the year’s best new talents were IMI, KARIN MYGRETAGEISTE and ALICE HUBBLE with their beautifully crafted avant pop.

And with the media traction of artists such as GEORGIA, REIN, JENNIFER TOUCH, SUI ZHEN, THE HEARING, IONNALEE, PLASMIC, ZAMILSKA, IOANNA GIKA, SPELLLING, KANGA, FIFI RONG and I AM SNOW ANGEL, the profile of women in electronic music was stronger than ever in 2019.

Sweden continued to produce quality electronic pop with enjoyable releases from the likes of MACHINISTA, PAGE, COVENANT, OBSESSION OF TIME and LIZETTE LIZETTE. One of the most interesting acts to emerge from the region was US featuring the now Stockholm-domiciled Andrew Montgomery from GENEVA and Leo Josefsson of LOWE, with the catalyst of this unlikely union coming from a shared love of the late country legend Glen Campbell. Meanwhile, veteran trio DAYBEHAVIOR made the best album of their career ‘Based On A True Story’.

However, Canada again gave the Swedes a good run for their money as ELECTRIC YOUTH and FM ATTACK released new material while with more of a post-punk slant, ACTORS impressed audiences who preferred a post-post-punk edge alongside their synths.

DANA JEAN PHOENIX though showed herself to be one of the best solo synth performers on the live circuit, but artistically the best of the lot was MECHA MAIKO who had two major releases ‘Okiya’ and ‘Let’s!’.

Despite making some good music in 2019 with their ‘Destroyer’ two-parter, the “too cool for school” demeanour of TR/ST might have impressed hipsters, but left a lot to be desired. A diva-ish attitude of entitlement was also noticed by ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK to be disappointingly prevalent in several fledgling acts.

Synthwave increased its profile further with the film ‘The Rise Of The Synths’ narrated by none other than John Carpenter. MICHAEL OAKLEY released his debut album ‘Introspect’, BETAMAXX was ‘Lost In A Dreamworld’, COM TRUISE came up with a ‘Persuasion System’ and NEW ARCADES were ‘Returning Home’.

Scene veteran FUTURECOP! collaborated with PARALLELS, COMPUTER MAGIC and NINA prior to a hiatus for the foreseeable future, while there were promising new talents emerging in the shape of POLYCHROME, PRIZM, BUNNY X and RIDER.

However, several of the sub-genre’s artists needed to rethink their live presentations which notably underwhelmed with their static motions and lack of engagement.

While promoters such as Outland developed on their solid foundations, others attempted to get too big too soon like the musical equivalent of a penis extension, leaving fans disappointed and artists unpaid. Attempting to turnover more than 10 acts during in a day with a quarter of an hour changeover has always been an odious task at best, but to try 15?!? One hopes the headliners were well paid despite having to go on at midnight when most of their supporters went home so as not to miss the last train…

Now at times, it was as if a major collective midlife crisis had hit independent electronic music in the UK during 2019. It was not unlike how “born again bikers” have become a major road safety risk, thanks to 40somethings who only managed Cycling Proficiency in Junior School suddenly jumping onto 500cc Honda CMX500 Rebel motorcycles, thinking they were Valentino Rossi.

Something similar was occurring in music as a variety of posturing delusional synth owners indulged in a remix frenzy and visions of grandeur, forgetting that ability and talent were paramount. This attitude led to a number of poorly attended events where attendees were able to be counted on one hand, thanks to clueless fans of said combos unwisely panning their video footage around the venue.

Playing at 3:15pm in an empty venue is NOT performing at a ‘major’ electronic festival… “I’ll be more selective with the gigs I agree to in the UK” one of these acts haplessly bemoaned, “I’ve played to too many empty rooms!” – well, could that have been because they are not very good?

Bands who had blown their chance by not showing willingness to open for name acts during holiday periods, while making unwise comments on their national TV debut about their lack of interest in registering for PRS, said they were going to split a year in advance, but not before releasing an EP and playing a farewell show in an attempt to finally get validation for their art. Was this a shining example of Schrodinger’s Band?

Of course, the worst culprits were those who had an internet radio show or put on gigs themselves so that they could actually perform, because otherwise external promotors were only interested in them opening at 6.15pm after a ticket deal buy on for a five band bill. Humility wouldn’t have gone amiss in all these cases.

It’s a funny old world, but as ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK comes up to concluding its tenth year as an influential platform that has written extensively about not one or two or three or four BUT five acts prior to them being selected to open on tour for OMD, luckily the gulf between good and bad music is more distinct than ever. It will be interesting to see if the high standard of electronic pop will be maintained or whether the influx of poor quality artists will contaminate the bloodline.

So ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK ends the decade with a complimentary comment by a punter after attending two of its live events: “You don’t put on sh*t do you…”

May the supreme talent rise and shine… you know who you are 😉


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK Contributor Listings of 2019

PAUL BODDY

Best Album: UNDERWORLD Drift Series 1
Best Song: MOLINA Venus
Best Gig: RAMMSTEIN at Milton Keynes MK Bowl
Best Video: SCALPING Chamber
Most Promising New Act: SCALPING


IAN FERGUSON

Best Album: NO-MAN Love You To Bits
Best Song: NO-MAN Love You To Shreds
Best Gig: RAMMSTEIN at Stadion Slaski Chorzow
Best Video: RAMMSTEIN Deutschland
Most Promising New Act: IMI


SIMON HELM

Best Album: PAGE Fakta För Alla
Best Song: PAGE Fakta För Alla
Best Gig: LAU NAU at London Cafe OTO
Best Video: LAU NAU Amphipoda on Buchla 200 at EMS Stockholm
Most Promising New Act: THE HIDDEN MAN


CHI MING LAI

Best Album: KNIGHT$ Dollar & Cents
Best Song: OMD Don’t Go
Best Gig: KITE at Stockholm Slaktkyrkan
Best Video: NIGHT CLUB Your Addiction
Most Promising New Act: IMI


RICHARD PRICE

Best Album: KNIGHT$ Dollar & Cents
Best Song: OMD Don’t Go
Best Gig: MIDGE URE + RUSTY EGAN at The London Palladium
Best Video: IMI Margins
Most Promising New Act: PLASMIC


MONIKA IZABELA TRIGWELL

Best Album: MECHA MAIKO Let’s
Best Song: KANGA Burn
Best Gig: DANA JEAN PHOENIX, KALAX + LEBROCK at London Zigfrid von Underbelly
Best Video: IONNALEE Open Sea
Most Promising New Act: PRIZM


Text by Chi Ming Lai with thanks to Ian Ferguson
16th December 2019, updated 29th Janaury 2021

THE HEARING Demian

‘Demian’ is the third solo album from Helsinki based artist THE HEARING aka Ringa Manner.

The eager Finn composes, writes and co-produces her latest output, which follows the previous two ‘Dorian’ and ‘Adrian’, completing the trilogy of her ever evolving experimental sound.

Delving into a more polished sound, which cannot be easily pigeon-holed and which sits outside all genres, simultaneously being all genres in one, THE HEARING goes for the kill on her third long player.

From loop pedal experimentation to ‘Demian’, it is “the next evolution stage of a being, and the missing piece of an album trilogy. it’s the start of something new, and an end to something meaningful from before. it’s having your broken heart heal just in time for someone to break it all over. it’s crying for people living in nightmares, and for the deafening beauty of one’s own cosmic uselessness. it’s shielding your mind with a pillow fortress, but inviting everyone else in too.”

The opener ‘Loppu’ eases into the world of THE HEARING with delicate melody, which in no way prepares for ‘ICU’ with its tribal beats and vocals sounding like Björk meeting Ellie Goulding. A mixture of Scandipop and moderate techno enveloped in a light cloud of fluffy, carefree feeling leads into ‘Love=Prison’ containing eerie synthesised voices and a multi-elemental mish-mash of sounds and voices. With the insertion of brilliant club connotations and techno, this is a perfect modern rave tune.

‘Overtaking’, predeceased by its own interlude, represents a brand new take on drum n bass done a girly way. It’s weightless and uplifting, providing an endless amount of quirky vocal and capable programming.

The “pain of the world” or ‘Weltschmerz’ doesn’t feel like anything described on the tin.

It’s an uplifting number with poignant lyrics, approaching the issues from an observer angle, while ‘Jello’ with its interesting interlude presents the modern world with the help of various electronic elements and that processed male vocal again.

The inclusion of the above can be disappointing at times, since every Tom, Dick and Harry attempting music making on their Mac seems to make use of it, otherwise rendering the song useless. Still, it may as well appeal to younger audiences, who appreciate the saturation of any modern tune with some sort of synthesised voice. If this is the best you can do THE HEARING, make songs like ‘Best I Can Do’, which showcases your delicate vocal and a plethora of electronic magic instead.

Next comes in the eponymous track and here is where the listener gets invited to enter the charming forest of ethereal melodies presented over gentle choirs and spacious musicality, before ‘WYD’ (or ‘When In Doubt Repeat Those Words’) continues the demure landscapes, delicately painting a vision of calmness and peacefulness.

The closing ‘Just Like You’ is like watching tidal waves come in and drift out. A very filigree piece with stunning nature connotations, it shines like a beacon towards THE HEARING’s musical future. Although ‘Demian’ could be perceived as a mixed bag for some, it is predominantly filled with wonderfully moreish melodies and packed full of lovely vocals. Sitting somewhere between modern synth and plain pop, it is definitely youthful and appealing.

One thing for certain: it cannot be easily defined, so don’t try to label it, because it stands alone, no matter what genre you’re into.


‘Demian’ is released by Solina Records on 25th October 2019 in vinyl LP and digital formats

THE HEARING opens for CHASMS at London O2 Academy2 Islington on 10th December 2019

https://www.facebook.com/Ringasofi/

https://www.instagram.com/ringasofi/

http://solinarecords.com/the-hearing/

https://open.spotify.com/artist/3j8670qQ1dKlOuXMnGrbv0


Text by Monika Izabela Trigwell
22nd October 2019

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 30 SONGS OF 2016

Overall, 2016 was not a vintage year…

But there were plenty of quality songs on offer throughout the year and a number were significantly outstanding. Rounding down to a final 30 songs is always difficult and among the acts in the initial shortlist were ADAM IS A GIRL, BRIAN ENO, DELERIUM, EMIKA, KALEIDA, LADYHAWKE, METROLAND, PRESENCE OF MIND, REIN, FIFI RONG, SPRAY, WHITE LIES and the now disbanded ANALOG ANGEL.

After much deliberation and with a restriction of one song per artist moniker, here are ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 30 Songs of 2016 in alphabetical order…


APOPTYGMA BERZERK Rhein Klang

Futurepop veteran Stephan Groth certainly put his head on the line releasing an instrumental Sci-Fi concept album as an APOPTYGMA BERZERK long player. But with influences like KRAFTWERK, TANGERINE DREAM and JEAN-MICHEL JARRE, ‘Exit Popularity Contest’ was an undoubted artistic success and perhaps what ‘MG’ should have sounded like. Full of Groth’s electronic lifeblood, ‘Rhein Klang’ was a wonderful oscillating slice of synth motorik in tribute to NEU!

Available on the album ‘Exit Popularity Contest’ via Hard: Drive

http://www.theapboffice.com/


JOHAN BAECKSTROM Like Before

JOHAN BAECKSTRÖM has been involved in electronic music for several decades, but it wasn’t until 1994 that he gained recognition as part of DAILY PLANET with vocalist Jarmo Ollila. His first album ‘Like Before’ in 2015 drew favourable comparisons to Vince Clarke. A competent vocalist himself, the long player’s title song got a standalone release in 2016 and instantly recalled the glory days of ERASURE with its precise, yet emotive synthpop with a message to “swim the oceans like before”.

Available on the album ‘Like Before’ via Progress Productions

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


BEYOND THE WIZARD’S SLEEVE Diagram Girl

BEYOND THE WIZZARD’S SLEEVE Diagram GirlPossibly one of the songs of 2016, BEYOND THE WIZARDS SLEEVE’s ‘Diagram Girl’ was the work of Erol Alkan and Richard Norris, formally 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. Meanwhile the pulsing electronic soundtrack had surreal echoes of OMD, in particular their lesser known minor hit ‘Secret’.

Available on the album ‘The Soft Bounce’ via Phantasy Sound

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


BLACK NEEDLE NOISE featuring KENDRA FROST Warning Sign

It can be tricky keeping up with the prolific studio legend John Fryer. Following the critical success of his projects MURICIDAE and SILVER GHOST SHIMMER, BLACK NEEDLE NOISE employed a flexible lead vocal policy and did away with the idea of albums or EPs, focussing on just single songs. Magically breathy, ‘Warning Sign’ employed the soaring vocals of Kendra Frost from KITE BASE against a spacious backdrop of synths, beats and guitars for a brooding sonic amalgam.

Available as a download single via https://blackneedlenoise.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/BlackNeedleNoise/

https://www.facebook.com/kitebasemusic/


CIRCUIT3 Hundred Hands

With the sort of mighty Linn Drum engine room that would make Martyn Ware proud and punctuated with some rugged lead synth, ‘Hundred Hands’ was the best track on CIRCUIT3’s debut album. The work of Dublin based musician Peter Fitzpatrick, he even dropped in hints of KRAFTWERK’s ‘Showroom Dummies’ by way of a musical tribute. The parent album ‘siliconchipsuperstar’ was classic styled synthpop made by someone weaned on classic synthpop.

Available on the album ‘siliconchipsuperstar’ via https://circuit3.bandcamp.com/

http://www.circuit3.com/


RUSTY EGAN PRESENTS Thank You

rusty-egan-presents-wttdfThe elegiac ‘Thank You’ utilised some ‘Endless Endless’ vocodered stylings over layers of sweeping synthetic strings and a gentle metronomic pulse. A list of RUSTY EGAN’s musical heroes and associated beneficiaries in no particular order, this tone poem was a touching acknowledgement of electronic music’s marvellous history. A simple yet highly effective idea, the beauty is in its realisation. Appropriately, it ends with a touchingly poignant “VISAGE… thank you”.

Available on the album ‘Welcome To The Dancefloor’ via Black Mosaic from
http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/rusty-egan-welcome-to-the-dancefloor

http://rustyegan.net/


JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS A Man & A Woman

A previously unreleased song for a compilation of Foxx’s song based work in the new millennium, ‘A Man & A Woman’ was a surprise in that it was less rigid than previous JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS recordings. Featuring some enchanting whispers from the seemingly ubiquitous HANNAH PEEL, it was an interesting departure that even featured some subtle acoustic guitar flourishes. Foxx’s work is still under-appreciated, so for many ‘21st Century: A Man, A Woman And A City’ provided an opportunity to catch up.

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

http://www.metamatic.com/


ANI GLASS Y Ddawns

Ani Glass - Y Ddawns (photo by Rhodri Brooks)Welsh songstress ANI GLASS served her apprenticeship with girl groups GENIE QUEEN and THE PIPETTES and worked with Andy McCluskey and Martin Rushent respectively along the way. ‘Y Ddawns’ (‘The Dance’) was a wonderfully exhilarating pop art adventure. Swathed in synths and driven by a metronomic beat, it was a declaration of hope, deeply voiced in the verse with a gorgeous soaring resonance in the chorus, about “finding solace and meaning in music, dance, art and culture”.

‘Y Ddawns’ is available as a download single from https://aniglass.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/aniglasscymru/


THE HEARING Kabeldon

Helsinki-based Ringa Manner has been making crystalline sine waves as THE HEARING. Her second album ‘Adrian’ boasted the sub-eight minute epic ‘Kabeldon’. A outstanding electronic work with an affinity to Norwegian songstress SUSANNE SUNDFØR, there were also bows to DAVID BOWIE’s ‘I’m Deranged’ when the mad cascading piano kicked in alongside the frantic drum ‘n’ bass and steadily building cacophony of noise. Then, when it appeared all over, the song mutated into an eloquent Nordic dubstep ballad!

Available on the album ‘Adrian’ via Solina Records

https://www.facebook.com/Ringasofi/


I AM SNOW ANGEL Losing Face

I AM SNOW ANGEL DesertThe project of Julie Kathryn, the haunting tension of ‘Losing Face’ accentuates a variety of electronic and organic colours. A muted chop’ n’ chuck provides the percussive backbone while an eerie soundscape is steadily configured as Kathryn succumbs to lust. “You’re different when you’re on top of me… how I hate the state I’m in” she paradoxically reflects, as bubbling detuned synth swirls and acoustic guitar penetrate the foreboding atmosphere in the vein of ‘Felt Mountain’ era GOLDFRAPP.

Available on the EP ‘Desert’ via I Am Snow Angel

http://iamsnowangel.com/


JEAN-MICHEL JARRE & CYNDI LAUPER Swipe To The Right

Jarre-electronica2After decades of composing lengthy synth symphonies, there must have been times when the France maestro must have just wanted to do a four minute pop tune. This JEAN-MICHEL JARRE managed in a quirky collaboration with Brooklyn’s CYNDI LAUPER. No stranger to electronic forms, particularly with her under rated ‘Bring Ya To The Brink’ album of 2007, ‘Swipe To The Right’ had big bass riffs galore for a great poptastic exploration, while reflecting on the use of Tinder in modern relationships.

Available on the album ‘Electronica 2: The Heart Of Noise’ via Columbia / Sony Music

http://jeanmicheljarre.com/

http://www.cyndilauper.com/


KID MOXIE Still High

KID MOXIE Perfect ShadowKID MOXIE is Elena Charbila, the Greek born singer and actress who likes to make music with friends. Working best in collaboration, her well-received album ‘1888’ showed she had blossomed and displayed an inventive maturity following the gutter pop of her early releases. From her best body of work yet in ‘Perfect Shadow’, the seductive ‘Still High’ was gloriously cinematic synthpop with a touch of maiden iciness that affirmed this artistic progression.

Available on the mini-album ‘Perfect Shadow’ is via West One Music Group

http://www.facebook.com/kidmoxie


LIEBE The Box

One-time label mates of MARSHEAUX, LIEBE are the electro disco duo comprising of George Begas and Dimos Zachariadis who could be considered the Greek PET SHOP BOYS. Sitting on that difficult bridge between pastiche and post-modern, their romantic disco friendly sound mines Europop while adding the vocal drawl of Jarvis Cocker. The magnificent JEAN-MICHEL JARRE goes Italo disco of ’The Box’ was the highlight of their wonderfully escapist pop album ‘Revolution Of Love’.

Available on the album ‘Revolution Of Love’ via Emerald & Doreen Recordings

http://www.liebe.gr


MARSHEAUX Burning

Marsheaux-Ath.Lon_Cover1500Recorded in London and Athens, a new approach saw MARSHEAUX’s trademark wispiness blended in with a subtle tone of aggression. The opening song on ‘Ath.Lon’, the album title of which was derived from the cities of Athens and London, ‘Burning’ was a harsh but sexy slice of synth expressionism. While clearly referencing darker electronica forms with its hypnotising percussive motif, it crucially maintained the essence of a good tune.

Available on the album ‘Ath.Lon’ via Undo Records

http://www.marsheaux.com/


MESH The Fixer

MESH-Looking-SkywardWith their new album ‘Looking Skyward’, MESH alleviated any fears that they might not be able to sustain the artistic momentum seeded by 2013’s ‘Automation Baby’. Despite the lyrically negative nature of ‘The Fixer’, a driving bass triplet attached to a solid four-to-the-floor beat and an anthemic topline shed a light of optimism amongst the gloom. MESH have firmly carved their own niche and any disillusioned DEPECHE MODE fans should consider joining the fold immediately…

Available on the album ‘Looking Skyward’ via Dependent Records

http://www.mesh.co.uk/


METROLAND Man / Machine

In August 2015, METROLAND’s sound engineer and close friend Louis Zachert, aka Passenger L, passed away. The Brussels based duo recorded ‘Things Will Never Sound The Same Again’, a musical eulogy created from scratch as their way of paying homage to their fellow passenger. The uplifting ’Music / Machine’ with its Jarre-esque melodies started as a METROLAND remix of MUSICOCOON, a project involving Louis and his friend Philippe Malemprée. Kindly donated, its presence is in honour of Louis as the last piece of music he ever worked on.

Available on the album on the album ‘Things Will Never Sound The Same Again’ via Alfa Matrix

http://www.metrolandmusic.com/


NIGHT CLUB Pray

night-club-requiem-for-romanceBuoyed by the acclaim of their EP trilogy and their power as a live act, NIGHT CLUB experimented with a more aggressive synth rock disco sound for their debut long player ‘Requiem For Romance’. Playing around with a range of unsettling vocal pitch shifts and religious imagery for the sinister overtones of ‘Pray’, Emily Kavanaugh and Mark Brooks have more than substantiated their position as one of North America’s best independent electronic pop duos.

Available on the album ‘Requiem For Romance’ via Gato Blanco from http://nightclubband.com/album/requiem-for-romance

http://nightclubband.com/


HANNAH PEEL All That Matters

HANNAH PEEL Awake But Always DreamingIt’s been a busy year for HANNAH PEEL; layered with staccato voice samples and uplifting bursts of symphonic strings, the driving arpeggio laden ‘All That Matters’ was her calling card, not just as her most synthpop offering yet but also as a mantra to live in the moment. The opening track of her second album ‘Awake But Always Dreaming’, her very personal musical journey themed around memory and the effects of dementia was a startling artistic triumph.

Available on the album ‘Awake But Always Dreaming’ My Own Pleasure

http://www.hannahpeel.com


PET SHOP BOYS The Dictator Decides

petshopboys-superNever mind their age, PET SHOP BOYS are still ‘The Pop Kids’ and ‘Twenty-something’ ones at that. But on the moodier ‘The Dictator Decides’, there comes one of those politically laced introspective numbers in the vein of ‘My October Symphony’ and ‘Don Juan’ that Tennant and Lowe always do so well. As Tennant deadpans “if you get rid of me, we can all be free”, the song provides an amusing surreal narrative of a tyrannical politician bored of his outright power and wanting to live a normal life.

Available on the album ‘Super’ via x2

http://www.petshopboys.co.uk/


PSYCHE Ring The Bells

From the Cold War Night Life curated ‘Heresy: A Tribute To Rational Youth’, one of the highlights from the collection is PSYCHE’s take on ‘Ring The Bells’ from appropriately, RATIONAL YOUTH’s ‘Cold War Night Life’ debut. The clattering 808 beat and elegantly haunting sweeps combined with Darrin Huss’ mournful vocal provide an atmospheric reworking that betters the original and reflects the decades long kinship between RATIONAL YOUTH and PSYCHE.

Available on the album ‘Heresy: A Tribute To Rational Youth’ (V/A) via Cold War Night Life from http://www.stormingthebase.com/various-heresy-a-tribute-to-rational-youth-3lp-vinyl-2cd/

http://www.psyche-hq.de/


SARAH P. I’d Go

SARAH P FreeGreek electropop goddess SARAH P. started her music career as the frontwoman of KEEP SHELLY IN ATHENS. With ‘I’d Go’ she said: “Most of the people do not get that this song is not as happy as it sounds at a first listen”. In her own words she confesses: “I’m a childish woman and nobody can stop me from being one” and adds “If there’s anything I stand for with all my heart is the ‘Go be you’ motto!” – her full length debut long player ‘Who Am I?’ is eagerly awaited.

Available on the mini-album ‘Free’ via EraseRestart

http://sarahpofficial.com/


SILENT WAVE War

SILENT WAVE WarEnigmatic Gothenburg electronic trio SILENT WAVE possess the hauntronica hallmarks of fellow Swedes THE KNIFE. ‘War’ is a reminder of how that sibling duo once combined tunes with their experimentation. With a suitably dark Nordic vibe, it could easily have come off ‘Silent Shout’ and while the template is undoubtedly derivative, ‘War’ is extremely well executed.

Available on the download single ‘War’ via Silence Records

https://www.facebook.com/silentwaveofficial/


STARCLUSTER & MARC ALMOND To Have & Have Not

starcluster-marc-almond-silver-city-rideWith his career spanning 10 CD box set ‘Trials Of Eyeliner: Anthology 1979-2016’, the last thing anyone expected from MARC ALMOND this year was an electronic pop album. Almond first recorded with Anglo German production duo STARCLUSTER in 2008. A great cover version, ‘To Have & Have Not’ was originally recorded by RONNY and retains the stern manner of the former Parisian model, while giving this slice of modern Weimar Cabaret a new lease of life.

Available on the album ‘Silver City Ride’ via Closing the Circle / Private Records

http://www.marcalmond.co.uk/


TINY MAGNETIC PETS Not Giving In

An appearance at the 2015 ELECTRI_CITY_CONFERENCE in Düsseldorf reinforced TINY MAGNETIC PETS’ reputation as an intriguing live act by winning over figures such as Rusty Egan and Andy McCluskey. The soulful ‘Not Giving In’ makes the most of Paula Gilmer’s enticingly wispy voice. With detuned pulses contrasting the digital chimes and staccato voice samples, an unusual stuttering reggae inflected beat enhances the atmosphere.

Available on the EP ‘The NATO Alphabet’ via https://tinymagneticpets.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Tiny-Magnetic-Pets-69597715797/


TRAIN TO SPAIN Believe In Love

TRAIN TO SPAIN Believe In LoveHighly exuberant and featuring a poptastic four chord progression, ‘Believe In Love’ was TRAIN TO SPAIN’s first recording to feature producer Lars Netzel aka NOT LARS as a full-time member. It developed on the promise of songs like ‘Passion’ from their debut album ‘What it’s All About’ released in 2015 and significantly gave more space within Jonas Rasmusson’s classic synthpop framework for lead singer Helena Wigeborn to exude her charm in. But it seems TRAIN TO SPAIN are back to a duo again…

Available on the download single ‘Believe In Love’ via Subculture Records

http://www.traintospain.se/


TRENTEMØLLER River In Me

TRENTEMØLLER River In Me‘River In Me’ was an unusual TRENTEMØLLER recording in that Jehnny Beth from SAVAGES actually came to his home studio in Copenhagen to lay down her vocals. The end result possessed a Gothic intensity, yet was vibrant and melodic with Beth’s Siouxsie-like tones complimenting the hybrid synth laced soundscape. While some complained that ‘River In Me’ was not as dark as the Dane’s previous work, it was his most immediate offering yet with a fine balance of accessibility and mood.

Available on the album ‘Fixion’ via In My Room

http://www.anderstrentemoller.com/


VILE ELECTRODES The Vanished Past

vile-electrodes-in-the-shadows-of-monumentsIt’s the avant pop approach reminiscent of early OMD that sets VILE ELECTRODES apart from and makes them so captivating. ‘The Vanished Past’ is a potent successor to the drama of ‘Deep Red’, complete with a mighty drum cacophony à la OMD’s ‘Navigation’. Bleak and wonderful, “not everything is as it seems” as a forlorn stranger joins in. As the seven minute adventure unfolds like a lost OMD epic, that stranger begins to sound like a certain George Andrew McCluskey!

Available on the album ‘In The Shadows Of Monuments’ via http://vileelectrodes.bigcartel.com/

http://www.vileelectrodes.com/


VILLA NAH Stranger

villa-nah_ultimaFrom their superb second album ‘Ultima’, ‘Stranger’ was a brilliant return for VILLA NAH after a five year absence. Front man Juho Paalosmaa said: “‘Stranger’ is a play on words; how somebody you’ve known can turn stranger over the span of time… and end up as a complete stranger in the process. I don’t think it’s a track I would’ve written as a 20 year old. It requires some years of age and experience to really understand how time can change people, including yourself.”

Available on the album ‘Ultima’ via Solina Records

https://www.facebook.com/villanah/


WRANGLER Stupid

If CABARET VOLTAIRE had hijacked Compass Point Studios in The Bahamas while TALKING HEADS were recording ‘Speaking In Tongues’, the end result might have ended up sounding a bit like this. ‘Stupid’ sees Stephen Mallinder in warped falsetto mode over a hypnotic sequence of menacing synths from Benge and Phil Winter. The track’s rhythmic heart creates an almost robotic, yet electro-funk feel for one of the undoubted highlights on WRANGLER‘s ‘White Glue’ album.

Available on the album ‘White Glue’ via MemeTune

https://www.facebook.com/mallinderbengewinter/


YELLO Electrified II

Despite 37 years of making music together, the distinctive sound of YELLO remains intriguing and distinctly European and the new album ‘Toy’ delighted fans. On the superb ‘Electrified II’ (the original version appeared on Boris Blank’s boxed set of the same name), Dieter Meier has his mind blown by the velvet voice of Malia. As she exclaims “Life’s a bitch and I’m no witch”, this could be Shirley Bassey indulging in some seductive energetic electro-cabaret.

Available on the album ‘Toy’ via Polydor / Universal Music

http://yello.com


Text by Chi Ming Lai
8th December 2016

Introducing THE HEARING

Over at The Finland Station, Helsinki-based musician Ringa Manner has been making crystalline sine waves with her project THE HEARING.

There are obvious parallels with SUSANNE SUNDFØR, as a singer / songwriter from a folk laden tradition influenced by Freddie Mercury and Kate Bush, slowly developing with enhanced technological support and innovation. Like MARSHEAUX, THE HEARING has also opened for 30 SECONDS TO MARS. Her debut album, ‘Dorian’, was released in Finland in 2013 by Gaea Records. The solemn but frantically percussive ‘Wohu Wohu’ was a good representation of her initial template while ’Sands’ utilised synths and drum machine.

Now signed to Solina Records, home of SIN COS TAN, ‘Backwards’ from the new album ‘Adrian’ is a great bleep forward. Romantic and dreamy, yet harmonically tense in the way that makes Nordic electronic pop so intriguing, ‘Backwards’ sets the tone for ‘Adrian’ with an expanded palette of synths, soaring pop melodies and busy rhythm construction.

‘Straight Teeth’, the opening song on Adrian’ is sharp with profanity, while a stark arpeggio provides the backbone for the sub-bass laden ‘Rehearsal’. Both ‘Too Happy’ and ‘Color Code’ are songs of many intricate layers that recall GRIMES and THE KNIFE respectively before the lively percussive chant of the album’s title track.

But the highlight is the sub-eight minute ‘Kabeldon’, the most frantically electronic item on the album and perhaps the one with the closest affinity SUSANNE SUNDFØR’s more recent work with bows to DAVID BOWIE’s ‘I’m Deranged’. A mad cascading piano kicks in alongside the steadily building drum ‘n’ bass cacophony of noise before it all slows down into an eloquent Nordic dubstep ballad!

After all that, there comes the comparatively conventional and sweet Scandipop of ‘Faint’ while the dramatic closing number ‘I Dream Of Demian’ wouldn’t sound out of place on an IAMAMIWHOAMI long player. A worthy sophomore offering, ‘Adrian’ paves the way for THE HEARING to make even further artistic gains; after all, SUSANNE SUNDFØR’s international breakthrough ‘Ten Love Songs’ was her fifth album proper.


‘Adrian’ is released by Solina Records as a vinyl LP and download on 22nd April 2016

The HEARING plays The Great Escape in Brighton on 20th and 21st May 2016

http://altagency.fi/artists/the-hearing/

https://www.facebook.com/Ringasofi/

http://solinarecords.com/the-hearing/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
20th April 2016