Tag: Vince Clarke (Page 2 of 9)

SOFTWAVE Game On

Since their debut EP ‘Together Alone’ in 2016, Danish duo SOFTWAVE have been gaining momentum with well-received live performances and endorsements from luminaries such as one-time member of THE HUMAN LEAGUE Jo Callis and former Numan sideman Chris Payne.

From their studio in Herlev, Catrine Christensen and Jerry Olsen have not stood still, learning from their first release and actually improving on it, particularly with Jerry’s Alternate Version of the catchy ‘On & On & On’ on the companion remix EP.

And now sees the release of the couple’s debut long player with a declaration that it’s all now ‘Game On’. Cross ERASURE with the influence of singers such as Celine Dion, Tina Turner, Madonna, Gwen Stefani and Avril Lavigne, and you get the picture that while female fronted synthpop is a plenty, SOFTWAVE offer something special in the vocal department for their first album.

It’s a journey that has excited Catrine Christensen who told ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK in Autumn 2017: “An album is like a story with smaller parts that connects and become that greater story. It’s small parts and emotions from your life that fits together, some being uptempo and energetic, some being slow and some sad etc.”

With a dramatic intro appropriately titled ‘Takeoff’, SOFTWAVE’s inaugural full length mission features a spoken commentary and countdown from Christensen to connect to the album’s futuristic gamer theme.

The album’s first single and calling card ‘Something Is Missing’ is buzzingly sub-ERASURE, an alluringly catchy and assured synthpop statement with melodies and counter-melodies galore.

In a tune partly inspired by her unique relationship with her dog Nero, as Christensen puts it: “life contains greater things than just temporary material things”.

More uptempo but punctuated by machines of ice, ‘No Need To Hide’ is undoubtedly Clarkean too, celebrating positivity in possibly SOFTWAVE’s finest moment yet with one of those rousing Scandipop choruses.

‘Reflected Memories’ sparkles but retains that touch of melancholy which Nordic acts are so good at. Here, Christensen is vocally rich and more confident while Olsen has upped the ante on production values since the debut, applying bravado and vibrato as appropriate.

Comparatively more sedate, ‘Guardian Angel’ plays with dripping arpeggios, airy soundscapes and the occasional Celine Dion hairbrush moment for something that Christensen declares is almost spiritual.

Rewarding their ‘Valor’, this enjoyable filmic instrumental sets the second for the second act; so with bursts of stabbing electronic energy, ‘I Need Love’ take a leaf from its Moroder-esque title, but with an effective offbeat on it rhythm construction for a love song for people who hate songs about love but who need it and feed on it.

‘Curiosity’ provides a breather and another ballad moment with Christensen displaying her range over Olsen’s sympathetic backdrop; it’s an inventive fictional story about a forgotten “one-hit-wonder” who is deep frozen in an underground laboratory, brought back to life by a fan and together they make another hit record… the concept is downright bizarre but brilliant, showing how much SOFTWAVE are thinking outside of the box.

The trancey ‘Human Beings’ is set at dancefloor pace, but Olsen’s production puts the song itself at centre stage rather than percussively overdriving it. With a commentary about how people use people and love things, rather than the other way round, the end result all the much better for it. Closing the album, the sweet ‘Galaxy Of Stars’ is classic ERASURE, pulsing and signalling gloriously as Christensen stares into the night sky reflecting on her day.

So with ‘Game On’ now “game over”, what is the verdict? SOFTWAVE have delivered a fine and enjoyable debut album with off-the-wall narratives contained within a classic melodic framework. So the natural reaction is to press “play” again.

Striving for continual artistic improvement and displaying a willingness to learn as they progress, there is no doubt that based on this documentary evidence, SOFTWAVE’s synthpop heart will go on…


‘Game On’ is released on 11th April 2019, available as a download album from https://softwave.bandcamp.com/album/game-on

http://www.softwavemusic.com/

https://www.facebook.com/SoftWaveMusic/

https://twitter.com/SoftWaveMusic

https://www.instagram.com/softwave_music/

https://softwave.bandcamp.com/

https://open.spotify.com/artist/5wo2L2BtVUYsopJnWAo8Z6


Text by Chi Ming Lai
4th April 2019

Good Times: The Legacy of YAZOO

This November sees the release of a box set of ‘Upstairs at Eric’s’, ‘You & Me Both’, an 8 song remix set and some previously unreleased John Peel / David Jensen BBC session tracks.

YAZOO were a candle that burned stunningly bright, only creating two albums before Vince Clarke and Alison Moyet split and went their separate ways.

YAZOO’s gestation started whilst Clarke was still in DEPECHE MODE; the debut single ‘Only You’ was written and offered to Andy Fletcher and Martin Gore but they declined it for the band. Clarke first became aware of Moyet after seeing her sing in THE VANDALS, a band featuring his mate Robert Marlow and a connection was made when he was the only person to answer her Melody Maker ad seeking a “rootsy blues band”. A demo of ‘Only You’ was recorded with Moyet and despite initial reservations from Mute Records boss Daniel Miller, the duo were asked to record a new version for potential single release.

Released on 15th March 1982 with the future US club hit ‘Situation’ on the B-side; the track was a slow burner but eventually climbed to No2 in the UK charts, giving Clarke single success that easily eclipsed his former bandmates in DEPECHE MODE. The performance of the single gave Mute the confidence to allow the duo to record a full-length album which resulted in ‘Upstairs at Eric’s’.

‘Upstairs at Eric’s’, named after a place where Blackwing Studio engineer Eric Radcliffe lived and not as is usually thought the space above the studio, was a stellar jump for Clarke following DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Speak & Spell’ album.

Although there were similarities in sound with Daniel Miller’s recognisable ARP2600 drum sounds were still present and correct, gone were the lightweight/throwaway lyrics and in was a mixture of emotionally charged electronic pop like ‘Don’t Go’ and ’Only You’ with leftfield experimentation such as ‘I Before E Except After C’ and ’In Your Room’.

Having recorded ‘Speak & Spell’ at Blackwing, it was the logical choice for Clarke to reconvene there for ‘Upstairs At Eric’s’ but there was an initial hitch; fellow Mute artist FAD GADGET was booked into the main room with Miller, meaning that YAZOO had to work unsociable early morning shifts to accommodate labelmate Frank Tovey.

In an interview with The Quietus, Clarke is quoted as saying that neither he or Moyet really knew what they were doing in the studio and that songs were completed quickly without any unnecessary overdubs or re-works. Listening back to the album now, it is still astonishing how sparse and how few musical elements are present on the tracks.

The fact that ‘Upstairs at Eric’s’ just WORKS is down to the combination of beautifully direct songwriting, carefully programmed interlocking monosynth parts (at this point Clarke was still of the opinion that using chords was a “cop out”!) and Moyet’s incredible voice. In a KRAFTWERK aesthetic, there are no superfluous production elements and the tracks are allowed to breathe and give space to Moyet’s still stunning vocals and Clarke’s synthetic mastery.

A lot of credit for this must also be given to Eric Radcliffe; in interviews Clarke praises the producer’s openness with his studio techniques and commented “if I wanted to run a tape loop around the studio I could!”.

From the single opener ‘Don’t Go’ through to proto-house track ‘Bring Your Love Down (Didn’t I)’, the album showed that soulful vocals and cold electronics could be fitting bedfellows and still remains the measure against which any vocal / synth album should be judged.

Created using relatively minimal equipment like the ARP2600, Sequential Circuits Pro-One, Roland Juno 60, Roland TR808, Roland MC4 / ARP sequencers and a very recognisable Linn LM-1 on ‘Bring Your Love Down’, the album was (at the time) an ambitious piece of work that 36 years later, remains a career peak for both Clarke and Moyet.

Tracks such as ‘Midnight’ and ‘Don’t Go ‘ B-side ‘Winter Kills’ still pack a huge emotional punch and the beautifully understated latter would come as a huge shock for those used to the synthetic cheesiness of some of Clarke’s earlier work (see: ‘What’s Your Name?’).

The spoken word-based ‘I Before E Except After C’ was yet another curveball, featuring Eric Radcliffe’s mum and cut-up vocals by both Clarke and Moyet, it still remains a wonderfully eerie and hypnotising track, despite being very much at odds with the other pieces on the album. Tellingly, the track was maybe deemed a bit too experimental by Mute and was dropped for the first CD release of the album in favour of versions of the more commercial ‘The Other Side of Love’ and ‘Situation’.

Highpoints of the album include the era-baiting ‘Goodbye 70s’ and mainly instrumental ‘Too Pieces’; only the telephone-themed love song ‘Bad Connection’ comes across as slightly throwaway, but does at least counterpoint some of the darker-themed songs.

Upon release, the album proved itself to be a huge success on both sides of the Atlantic, hitting No2 in the UK and eventually going on to hit platinum status in the USA. Tracks from ‘Upstairs At Eric’s also latterly got syncs in the spy series ‘The Americans’ with both ‘Don’t Go’ and ‘Only You’ being featured in season 3 when Paige Jennings’ dad buys her the album as a far cooler alternative to a DURAN DURAN one. As a stop-gap, Mute released the lightweight ‘The Other Side of Love’ as a single before the duo reconvened.

Retrospectively, Moyet was less than charitable as to why the song wasn’t performed on the ‘Reconnected’ reunion tour: “We left out stuff that translated less well to live work. Personally I always thought ‘The Other Side of Love’ was a bit w*nk! It is my least favourite track. I didn’t like singing it and Vince was not bothered by it, so we left it out!” – it’s excluded from this retrospective as well.

With Clarke only envisaging the act as a one-album project, it took pressure from his publisher to persuade the duo deliver a follow-up which meant that ‘You & Me Both’ became the second and final YAZOO work.

In comparison with its predecessor, there were two major differences in the overall concept of ‘You & Me Both’.

Firstly Clarke’s newly purchased Fairlight CMI (one of two bought for their earlier tour) is all over the album, giving a far more organic sound with marimbas, vibes and brass textures often taking precedence over the trademark synthetic ones.

In an early interview with Deb Danahay for the YAZOO Information Service, Clarke confessed that the Fairlight was his “favourite synth”, primarily because “I don’t have to tune it!”.

Secondly, with a couple of exceptions, most of the lyrical content on ‘You & Me Both’ is an icy cold soundtrack to a break-up; the one and only single ‘Nobody’s Diary’ is a gut-wrenching tale; Moyet’s vocal line “…for the times we’ve had I don’t want to be, a page in your diary babe” could easily be directed at Clarke and his now notorious refusal to stick at his musical projects.

The working pattern on the album was more of a 9 to 5 affair, but involved Clarke creating his musical parts in isolation and then Moyet turning up at Blackwing to lay down her vocals without him around. ‘You & Me Both’ remains the only album to have a song fully vocalled by Clarke in ‘Happy People’ which MOYET refused to sing and also contains an early un-recorded Depeche live track ‘Secrets’ which became ‘Unmarked’.

The band announced their split shortly after the release of ‘Nobody’s Diary’ and this resulted in Clarke refusing to be involved with promotion of the album, leaving Moyet to talk to the press alone.

Although the new long player secured the duo a critically acclaimed and deserved No1 album, the lack of tour and promo meant that sales tailed off; ‘You & Me Both’ sold approximately half the units of ‘Upstairs At Eric’s’.

Even the 23 Envelope-designed album cover of two barely visible dalmatians fighting appeared to be a talisman for the sadly doomed musical relationship. Despite the acrimonious dissolution of YAZOO, the sense of their being unfinished business meant that Clarke and Moyet did reconnect for some live performances in 2008 which gave audiences a chance to experience the ‘You & Me Both’ tracks live for the first time.

Finally, a one-off get together at the Mute Short Circuit Festival in 2011 was the last time the duo would appear on the same stage. When asked as to whether this performance would be the band’s ‘last hurrah’, Moyet told ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK: “Never say never, but I would say I doubt it would happen again.That’s more to do with the fact that Vince was married to DEPECHE MODE, he’s married to ERASURE and I’m like that transitional relationship. So it’s almost like when he comes back to perform with me, it’s almost like when he comes back to perform with me, it’s a bit like kinda having a shag for old times’ sake and that doesn’t really work when you’re married!”

So what of the legacy of YAZOO? A musical partnership which appeared an unholy alliance on paper worked out so well that it indelibly changed the face of modern pop music.

Before even discussing credible artists which were influenced by Vince and Alison, ‘Only You’ cemented itself as a huge popular favourite with the acapella cover by THE FLYING PICKETS and a hybrid orchestral version (also featured in this package) was used as the soundtrack for the 2017 Boots Christmas advert.

It’s almost impossible to imagine artists such as LA ROUX, LADY GAGA, ROBYN or GOLDFRAPP existing without the template that Clarke and Moyet forged and ‘Four Pieces’ provides a welcome opportunity to reassess their impact.

The BBC sessions will be the reason most will invest in this new collection, the versions of songs recorded for John Peel and David Jensen showcase a rawer sound with many alternative synth and drum sounds.

The Peel version of ‘Don’t Go’ showcases a completely different lead sound which is a lot less sawtoothy, whilst ‘Midnight’ features an alternative synth arrangement to the one on ‘Upstairs at Eric’s’. The mix of ‘Bring Your Love Down (Didn’t I)’ recorded for Jenson features a contrasting lead melody synth, while ‘Too Pieces’ brings Clarke’s Fairlight to the fore and arguably ‘In Your Room’ excels over the one featured on the original album. Meanwhile, fans of Moyet’s vocals will also enjoy the subtle phrasing differences to those which appeared on the final mixes of the two albums.

Omissions?

YAZOO completists would have appreciated the appearance of the duo’s TV work including ‘Get Set’, ‘The Other Side Of The Tracks’, ‘Trak Trix’ and ‘Data Run’ as well as the debut tour interval instrumental ‘Chinese Detectives’ and ‘Nobody’s Diary’ B-side ‘State Farm’, but this would be a minor quibble.

These are classic albums that will never get old, never really date and if you don’t have them in your collection now you have no excuse not to invest in a copy. Absolutely essential.


‘Four Pieces’ is released as a vinyl boxed set by Mute Records, a CD variant entitled ‘Three Pieces’ is also available from on 2nd November 2018

http://yazooinfo.com/

https://twitter.com/yazooinfo

http://mute.com/artists/yazoo


Text by Paul Boddy
25th October 2018

REED & CAROLINE Interview

Championed by none other than Vince Clarke and signed to his Brooklyn-based VeryRecords, REED & CAROLINE have just completed a successful US tour with ERASURE.

Reed Hays and Caroline Schutz’s 2016 debut album ‘Buchla & Singing’ did what it said on the tin, combining tunes with electronic experimentation.

But released in 2018, its follow-up ‘Hello Science’ is a much more on point as a distinct pop focussed offering suitable for live concert performances.

Marvellous quirky pop songs from the new album like ‘The Internet Of Things’ highlight the potential downfalls of modern society’s over-reliance on web-connected devices and home appliances, while there are also more personal moments like the stark eulogy of ‘Entropy’. It’s a reminder that it’s the juxtaposition of humans and electronics that made the best classic synthpop what it was and how synthesizers should never be the excuse for a song…

Now back home, Reed Hays kindly chatted to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about science, Buchlas, Orchestrons and his radio show with Vince Clarke

What would you say is the creative dynamic of REED & CAROLINE?

We have always contributed our musicianship to each other’s works. When Caroline was working with her band FOLKSONGS FOR THE AFTERLIFE, I was playing cello on music she wrote. For REED & CAROLINE she is singing on songs I wrote.

How do you look back on your debut album ‘Buchla & Singing’?

I still like to listen to it, and we’ve performed some of the songs while we’ve been supporting ERASURE. The audiences have got misty-eyed during ‘John & Rene’, which is wonderful to watch.

How did the Buchla come to be the instrument of choice for REED & CAROLINE?

The Buchla spoke to me as soon as I heard my dad play a MORTON SUBOTNICK LP when I was a kid. I went to the only college in the US that would allow 18-year-olds to touch a Buchla. As soon as I made enough money from writing TV music, I started buying Buchla instruments.

The pattern over several years was that I would use the Buchla more and more and sell off my other analogue synthesizers. When it came to doing other music, apart from TV stuff, it felt most comfortable for me to do it solely on the Buchla.

You’ve added a Vako Orchestron to your armoury, where did you find that and what’s it like to use?

It came from the fabled Sound City studio in Los Angeles during a revamp a couple years ago. It’s only real appearance in the pop canon is on three KRAFTWERK albums, and I’m a huge fan of how it sounds. The crackly, low-bandwidth character of the instrument sounds like you’re peering at the future from the past.

You had sounds of your own customised and made into optical discs to use with the Orchestron, so who makes these then now?

Once I started searching for people who knew about Orchestrons, I discovered Pea Hicks who lives in San Diego.

Pea has access to the old machinery that made discs for the Orchestron and its predecessor the Optigan.

What other synths or software are used in your recordings?

I pretend ProTools is a tape recorder. For synchronization, I feed 16th-note audio clicks into the Buchla’s Envelope Follower.

Your songwriting appears to come from a folk tradition which is something you have in common with Vince Clarke?

I like simple melodies and whatever chords make them speak the best. I like modal interchange as much as the next guy, but Vince once reminded me that ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ takes you on a journey with only three chords.

How did Vince Clarke and VeryRecords become interested in REED & CAROLINE?

My friend Mark Verbos of Verbos Electronic helped to produce an event in Brooklyn called ‘Machines In Music’. He asked me if I’d give a lecture about using old synths in new productions.

Halfway through the lecture Vince walked in with a mutual friend, and we wound up having lunch. Later the friend played my song ‘Henry The Worm’ from what would become ‘Buchla & Singing’ for Vince, who decided it would be fun to release on his VeryRecords label.

What inspired the concept of ‘Hello Science’?

I grew up in a science and engineering town that also had a space museum so I was surrounded by it from an early age.

When I was little, there was a lot of idealism that science and technology would solve everyone’s problems. Now that I’m older, it’s less about a shiny future and more about science being discredited in these crazy modern times. Scientific concepts also make for convenient metaphors.

The ethical dilemmas behind technological progress with regards the backgrounds of some of those scientists must have provided an interesting background to write to?

Details of Operation Paperclip and the Dora Camp weren’t too public while I was growing up, but the concert hall where I played in the symphony orchestra did have a gigantic painting of Wernher von Braun.

Interestingly, the title song of the new album is all cello?

I took a small Buchla system and a cello to provide background music for an event that my painter friend Stephen Hall was involved in. When Vince heard a recording of it, he put it on the VeryRecords Soundcloud, and that set the stage for using cello on other projects.

I didn’t know how Vince would react if I did something entirely on the cello, so at the very end of ‘It’s Science’, there’s one chime note on the Buchla, just in case he didn’t like it.

‘Entropy’ was an intriguing number and sounded like it was influenced by the ’Dance’ album period of GARY NUMAN which people rarely highlight?

America’s introduction to synthpop was through GARY NUMAN on ‘Saturday Night Live’ at the very end of 1979. As a child, I was captivated. I hated the saxophones on ‘Dance’, but the pitch-shifted CR-78 drums were so cool. ‘Entropy’ was an opportunity to recreate that feel on the Buchla. I even made a polyphonic patch to mimic the Yamaha CP-30 electronic piano.

‘Dark Matter’ is a quirky little pop tune recorded with KITE BASE? How did that come together?

There’s a YouTube video called ‘Two Bald Blokes & a Buchla’ where Vince interviews me and the camera pans to some rock stars that our friend Elia Einhorn brought to the studio. One of the rock stars was Ayşe Hasan of SAVAGES.

Later on, while producing ‘Dark Matter’, I had a terrible time with the synth bass line. Everything seemed to slow down the track. Just when I wanted to scrap the whole song, I got a text from Ayse and her friend Kendra Frost that they were in New York. I set them up in the studio with two bass guitars and the rhythm track for ‘Dark Matter’.

It was amazing watching them work out parts for the song. For the verses Kendra played low notes and Ayse played high notes, and for the choruses they switched roles. To come up with parts they sang them to each other, “Da da da da”. That sounded great, too, so I got them on mic singing for the breakdowns in the middle and the end.

There seems to be a love / hate relationship with how technology has affected the world, ‘Digital Trash’ being a case in point which can be taken in many ways?

Vince kept gently asking me to join social media after we made the first album, so there I was on Facebook and Twitter ten years after everyone else. I’m sure my friends went through that “nothing dies on the internet” thing a lot earlier than I did.

‘Computers’ is another one, what’s that about?

Over the past couple hundred years, prominent male astronomers and rocket engineers had employed uncredited women to crunch the numbers. They were actually referred to as computers. The song wrote itself!

You’ve just finished touring North America with ERASURE, what was that like and how did you adapt you sound for the stage?

After we did a little club date in New York to celebrate the release of ‘Buchla & Singing’, Vince asked if we’d tour with ERASURE.

Upon realizing he wasn’t kidding I wrote the ‘Hello Science’ album with performance in mind.

The big departure from the recorded albums is that I sing the backup vocals through a Xils EMS-5000 vocoder plug-in. There’s a small Buchla cabinet with patches accessible by unmuting channels in the mixer module. There’s also a NS Design cello on a tripod.

Tell us about ‘The Synthesizer Show’… 😉

It’s the ideal venue to hear two grown men eating roasted peanuts while listening to VISAGE.

What’s next for REED & CAROLINE?

Caroline is going straight from the airport to her daughters’ school to sign people up for the Parent-Teachers Association. That’s as far ahead as we’ve planned!


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to Reed Hays

Special thanks to Mat Smith at Documentary Evidence

‘Hello Science’ is released by Very Records in CD and digital formats

‘The Synthesizer Show’ with Reed Hays and Vince Clarke can be listened to at http://makerparkradio.nyc/

https://www.reedandcaroline.com/

https://www.facebook.com/reedandcaroline/

http://veryrecords.com


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
28th August 2018

The Electronic Legacy of AMBIENT

Ambient electronic music is a much misunderstood genre.

One is not talking about JEAN-MICHEL JARRE or VANGELIS who are far too comparatively lively to be truly considered ambient. And it is not ‘chill out’ that’s being talked about either, which seems to lump in any form of dance music that is under 112 beats per minute.

Modern ambient probably came to prominence with BRIAN ENO. While lying in a hospital room after a car accident in 1975, a friend visited him and put on a LP of harp music. However the volume had been set at an extremely low level and one of the stereo channels had failed. Unable to move to adjust this, Eno had a new way of listening to music forced onto him.

In recalling this story for the sleeve notes of his ‘Discreet Music’ album, Eno said the music now became “part of the ambience of the environment just as the colour of the light and the sound of rain were parts of the ambience.”

Eno may not have been the inventor of ambient, but he was almost certainly was its midwife. With its lengthy gradual processes and unpredictable changes, ambient can be listened to and yet ignored. Going against the Western tradition of music where vocals, melody and rhythm are essential components, ambient music is designed to accommodate many levels of listening without enforcing one in particular.

One of the other beauties of ambient music is that the pieces are often so progressive that it becomes quite difficult to remember individual sections.

Therefore on repeated plays, the music can still sound fresh and rewarding. It was an approach that fascinated many and while they may not have released whole works, artists such as DAVID BOWIE, THE HUMAN LEAGUE, OMD, BLANCMANGE and RADIOHEAD recorded ambient pieces for album tracks or B-sides.

Comments about ambient music being “boring” are missing the point, because at points of the day where the state of near sleep looms, music with no vocals, no rhythms and not too much energetic melody is perfect.

Restricted to one album per moniker or collaborative partnership, here are the twenty long players presented in chronological and then alphabetical order which form The Electronic Legacy of Ambient. Acting as a straightforward introduction to the genre, it refers to many artists whose comparatively mainstream works may already be familiar.


KLAUS SCHULZE Timewind (1974)

A one-time member of TANGERINE DREAM and ASH RA TEMPLE, ‘Timewind’ was Schulze’s first solo album to use a sequencer, evolving as a longer variation on his former band’s ‘Phaedra’. Referencing 19th century composer Richard Wagner, Schulze transposed and manipulated the sequences in real time, providing shimmering and kaleidoscopic washes of electronic sound using equipment such as the EMS Synthi A, ARP 2600, ARP Odyssey, Elka string machine and Farfisa organ.

‘Timewind’ is available via Mig Music

https://www.klaus-schulze.com


TANGERINE DREAM Phaedra (1974)

‘Phaedra’ was the breakthrough record for TANGERINE DREAM which saw them using sequencers for the first time. Featuring the classic line-up of Edgar Froese, Peter Baumann and Chris Franke, the hypnotic noodles of EMS VCS3s and Moogs dominated proceedings while Mellotrons sounding like orchestras trapped inside a transistor radio. Organic lines and flute added to trancey impressionism to produce a fine meditative electronic soundtrack.

‘Phaedra’ is available via Virgin Records

http://www.tangerinedream.org/


CLUSTER Sowiesoso (1976)

The late Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius were CLUSTER. Having released their first long player together in 1969, their fourth album ‘Sowiesoso’ was CLUSTER’s first fully realised exploration into ambient electronics. With gentle melodic phrasing and unimposing rhythmical patterns, the title track was a wonderfully hypnotic adventure that welcomed the listener into the soothing world of the longer player’s remaining aural delights.

‘Sowiesoso’ is available via Bureau B

http://www.roedelius.com/


ASHRA New Age Of Earth (1977)

ASH RA TEMPLE’s Manuel Göttsching was looking to visit synthesized climes and explored more progressive voxless territory armed with an Eko Rhythm Computer, ARP Odyssey and what was to become his signature keyboard sound, a Farfisa Synthorchestra. An exponent of the more transient solo guitar style of PINK FLOYD’s David Gilmour, this template was particularly evident on New Age Of Earth’, a beautiful treasure trove of an album.

‘New Age Of Earth’ is available via Virgin Records

http://www.ashra.com/


STEVE HILLAGE Rainbow Dome Musick (1979)

One-time member of GONG, solo artist and an in-house producer at Virgin Records, Steve Hillage had a love of German experimental music and ventured into ambient with long standing partner Miquette Giraudy. Recorded for the Rainbow Dome at the Festival for Mind-Body-Spirit at Olympia, these two lengthy Moog and ARP assisted tracks each had a beautifully spacey quality to induce total relaxation with a colourful sound spectrum.

‘Rainbow Dome Musick’ is available via Virgin Records

https://twitter.com/stevehillage


HAROLD BUDD & BRIAN ENO The Plateaux Of Mirror (1980)

Mostly piano-oriented, its backdrop of shimmering synthesizer and tape loops of voices was conceived in a sound-world that Eno had created via his various instrument treatments. With Budd improvising live, Eno would occasionally add something but his producer tact was to step back if nothing extra was needed. ‘The Plateaux Of Mirror’ was a lovely work with resonating ivories of the acoustic and electric variety. A second collaboration came with ‘The Pearl’ in 1984.

‘The Plateaux Of Mirror’ is available via Virgin / EMI Records

https://www.haroldbudd.com


BRIAN ENO Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks (1983)

Recorded as a soundtrack to a documentary film about the Apollo Missions to the moon, one of the inspirations was to react against the uptempo, manner of space travel presented by most TV programmes and news reels of the day with its fast cuts and speeded up images. Eno wanted to convey the feelings of space travel and weightlessness. Although based around Eno’s Yamaha DX7, the album was quite varied instrumentally, featuring his brother Roger and Daniel Lanois.

‘Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks’ is available via Virgin / EMI Records

http://www.brian-eno.net


ROGER ENO Voices (1985)

The debut album from the younger Eno, ‘Voices’ captured a sustained mood of dreamy soundscapes and aural clusters with its beautiful piano template strongly reminiscent of Harold Budd’s work with brother Brian, who was also involved on this record via various electronic treatments although it was actually Daniel Lanois who produced.

‘Voices’ is available via Virgin / EMI Records

http://www.rogereno.com


DAVID SYLVIAN & HOLGER CZUKAY Plight & Premonition / Flux & Mutability (1988 – 1989)

By 1986, the former JAPAN front man wanted to get away from singing as reflected by the ‘Gone To Earth’ bonus album of instrumentals. Sylvian found a willing conspirator in CAN’s Holger Czukay who had developed several unconventional compositional techniques using devices such as short wave radios and Dictaphones. Through a series of improvisations, the duo came up with two companion long players that conveyed a sinister yet tranquil quality drifting along in complex spirals.

‘Plight & Premonition / Flux & Mutability’ is available via Grönland Records

http://www.davidsylvian.com/

http://www.czukay.de/


HAROLD BUDD The White Arcades (1992)

Unlike the comparatively optimistic air of his work with Eno, Harold Budd’s solo journeys often conveyed a more melancholic density, probably best represented by the haunting immersive atmospheres of ‘The White Arcades’. An elegiac combination of shimmering synthesizers and sporadic piano  provided an austere depth that was both ghostly and otherworldly, it was partly inspired by his admiration of COCTEAU TWINS whom he collaborated with on the 1986 4AD album ‘The Moon & The Melodies’.

‘The White Arcades’ is available via Opal Productions

https://www.facebook.com/music.of.harold.budd/


STEVE JANSEN & RICHARD BARBIERI Other Worlds In A Small Room (1996)

With ‘Other Worlds In A Small Room’, Steve Jansen and Richard Barbieri created an atmospheric collection of electronic instrumentals that they considered “Ambient in the traditional sense”. Alongside the three new pieces, there was an appendix of four suitably complimentary tracks from their 1984 album ‘Worlds In A Small Room’ had originally been commissioned by JVC to accompany a documentary about the Space Shuttle Challenger and its various missions.

‘Other Worlds In A Small Room’ is available via https://jansenbarbieri.bandcamp.com/releases

http://www.stevejansen.com/

http://www.kscopemusic.com/artists/richard-barbieri/


VINCENT CLARKE & MARTYN WARE Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle (2000)

‘Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle’ was composed by Vince Clarke and Martyn Ware as part of an Illustrious art installation at The Roundhouse in a circular, white clothed room where the colours referred to in the titles of the six lengthy pieces were “programmed to cross fade imperceptibly to create an infinite variation of hue”. Using binaural 3D mixing techniques, the sleeve notes recommended it was best heard using headphones while stating “This album is intended to promote profound relaxation”.

‘Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle’ is available via Mute Records

http://www.illustriouscompany.co.uk/


WILLIAM ORBIT Pieces In A Modern Style (2000)

Trance enthusiasts who loved Ferry Corsten’s blinding remix of Samuel Barber’s ‘Adagio For Strings’ will have been shocked if they had bought its virtually beatless parent long player. Orbit’s concept of adapting classical works was that he wanted to make a chill-out album that had some good tunes. In that respect, a collection featuring lovely electronic versions of Beethoven’s ‘Triple Concerto’ and John Cage’s ‘In A Landscape’ could not really miss.

‘Pieces In A Modern Style’ is available via WEA Records

http://www.williamorbit.com


ALVA NOTO & RYUICHI SAKAMOTO ‎Vrioon (2002)

Alva Noto is a German experimental artist based in Berlin and ‘Vrioon’ was his first collaborative adventure with YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA trailblazer Ryuichi Sakamoto. A beautiful union of piano, synth shimmers and subtle glitch electronics proved to be an unexpectedly soothing and  meditative experience that was gloriously minimal over six starkly constructed mood pieces.

‘Vrioon’ is available via Raster-Noton ‎

http://www.alvanoto.com/

http://www.sitesakamoto.com/


MOBY Hotel: Ambient (2005)

Originally released as part of the 2CD version of ‘Hotel’ in 2005, Moby couldn’t find his copy and decided on an expanded re-release. Inspired by the nature of hotels, where humans spend often significant portions of their lives but have all traces of their tenancy removed for the next guests, the ambient companion progressively got quieter and quieter. The emotive ‘Homeward Angel’ and the solemn presence of ‘The Come Down’ were worth the purchase price alone.

‘Hotel: Ambient’ is available via Mute Records

http://moby.com


ROBIN GUTHRIE & HAROLD BUDD After the Night Falls / Before The Day Breaks (2007)

Robin Guthrie and Harold Budd first collaborated on ‘The Moon & The Melodies’ album along with the other COCTEAU TWINS. ‘After the Night Falls’ and ‘Before the Day Breaks’ were beautiful experiments in duality but it would be unfair to separate these Siamese twins. Serene, relaxing, abstract and distant, Guthrie’s textural guitar and Budd’s signature piano were swathed in drifting synths and treatments that complimented each album’s self-explanatory titles.

‘After The Night Falls’ and ‘Before The Day Breaks’ are available via Darla Records

http://www.robinguthrie.com


JOHN FOXX & HAROLD BUDD Nighthawks / Translucence / Drift Music (2003 – 2011)

A sumptuous trilogy featuring two artists who had both worked with Brian Eno. ‘Nighthawks’ was John Foxx and Harold Budd’s most recent collaboration with the late minimalist composer Ruben Garcia and a soothing tranquil nocturnal work with tinkling ivories melting into the subtle layered soundscape with its Edward Hopper inspired title. Meanwhile, the earlier ‘Translucence’ from 2003 was a close relative and classic Budd, partnered with the more subdued overtures of ‘Drift Music’.

‘Nighthawks’ and ‘Translucence / Drift Music’ are available via Metamatic Records

https://www.facebook.com/johnfoxxmetamatic/


JOHN FOXX London Overgrown (2015)

‘London Overgrown’ was John Foxx’s first wholly solo ambient release since the ‘Cathedral Oceans’ trilogy. With the visual narrative of a derelict London where vines and shrubbery are allowed to grow unhindered throughout the city, the conceptual opus was a glorious ethereal synthesizer soundtrack, smothered in a haze of aural sculptures and blurred soundscapes. With ‘The Beautiful Ghost’, as with William Orbit’s take on ‘Opus 132’ from ‘Pieces In A Modern Style’, this was Beethoven reimagined for the 23rd Century.

‘London Overgrown’ is available via Metamatic Records

http://www.metamatic.com


STEVE JANSEN The Extinct Suite (2017)

“I like the effects of calm and dissonance and subtle change” said Steve Jansen; not a remix album as such, the more ambient and orchestral elements of ‘Tender Extinction’ were segued and reinterpreted with new sections to create a suite of instrumentals presented as one beautiful hour long structured ambient record. A gentle blend of electronic and acoustic instrumentation including piano and woodwinds, ‘The Extinct Suite’ exuded a wonderful quality equal to Eno or Budd.

‘The Extinct Suite’ is available via https://stevejansen.bandcamp.com/album/the-extinct-suite-2

http://www.stevejansen.com/


PAUL STATHAM Asylum (2017)

B-MOVIE guitarist and pop tunesmith Paul Statham began his experimental music account with ‘Ephemeral’ and ‘Installation Music 1’. ‘Asylum’ was a more ambitious proposition and featured in an audio visual installation created with painter Jonathan McCree in South London’s Asylum Chapel. The eight compositions together exuded a cinematic, ethereal quality with some darker auras and an eerie sound worthy of the ambient pioneers Statham was influenced by, especially on the gorgeous closer ‘Ascend’.

‘Asylum’ is available via https://paulstatham.bandcamp.com/album/asylum

http://paulstathammusic.com


Text by Chi Ming Lai
22nd August 2018

REED & CAROLINE featuring KITE BASE Dark Matter

Currently opening for ERASURE in North America, REED & CAROLINE are the quirky Buchla driven duo who in the mission statement for their second album declared “Formulate hypotheses and gather all the facts – it’s science! It’s all about science!”

That second album entitled ‘Hello Science’ was released by Vince Clarke’s Very Records and song titles have included ‘Entropy’, ‘Another Solar System’, ‘Digital Trash’ and ‘Dark Matter’. Like AU REVOIR SIMONE meeting NEW ORDER for a jam session in Greenwich Village, the latter asks “Does dark matter matter?”

‘Dark Matter’ features Ayşe Hassan and Kendra Frost of KITE BASS who join Caroline Schutz for some endearing triple vocal accompaniment, especially in the closing “dah-da-da-da” refrain while also providing dual melodic bass backing to compliment Reed Hays’ electronics.

The appealing tune is now presented in a brand new video accompaniment directed Simon Lowery featuring the entire ‘Dark Matter’ ensemble.

Reed Hays and Caroline Schutz first presented their hybrid of traditionally derived tunes with electronic experimentation on their 2016 debut album ‘Buchla & Singing’, which did what it said on the tin. Hays also hosts a recurring Maker Park Radio series appropriately called ‘The Synthesizer Show’ with Vince Clarke which broadcasts from Staten Island.

In the meantime, REED & CAROLINE continue their Stateside tour with ERASURE until the end of August, while KITE BASE will be opening for NINE INCH NAILS in Washington DC and New York this October as well as New Orleans in November.


‘Dark Matter’ is from the album ‘Hello Science’ released by Very Records in CD and digital formats

REED & CAROLINE open for ERASURE on all remaining dates of their 2018 ‘World Be Gone’ North American tour, further information at http://www.erasureinfo.com/concerts/

KITE BASE play selected dates with NINE INCH NAILS in North America this Autumn, details at http://www.nin.com/live/

https://www.reedandcaroline.com/

https://www.facebook.com/reedandcaroline/

https://twitter.com/reedandcaroline

https://www.instagram.com/reedandcaroline/

http://veryrecords.com

http://kiteba.se/

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

https://twitter.com/KiteBaseMusic

https://www.instagram.com/kiteba.se/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos from Reed & Caroline Facebook
9th August 2018

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