Tag: Wrangler (Page 2 of 5)

2018 End Of Year Review

2018 saw JEAN-MICHEL JARRE celebrate 50 years in the business and whether the world really needed another of his compilations, ‘Planet Jarre’ was probably one of the better collected representations of his work for casual admirers.

But not standing still and releasing his fourth new album in three years, ‘Equinoxe Infinity’ continued the story as the French Maestro tuned 70.

SOFT CELL made a totally unexpected return for a huge one-off farewell gig at London’s O2 Arena; and with it came a boxed set, the ‘Northern Lights’ single and other new recordings which have raised hopes for a new album.

From the same era, FIAT LUX announced plans for their debut album ‘Save Symmetry’ with an excellent lead track ‘It’s You’, while B-MOVIE came up with their most synth-propelled single yet in ‘Stalingrad’.

But one act who actually did comeback with a brand new album in 2018 were DUBSTAR; now a duo of Sarah Blackwood and Chris Wilkie, as ‘One’ they reminded audiences as to why they were the acceptable face of Britpop with their bridge to Synth Britannia.

IONNALEE finally released her debut opus ‘Everyone Afraid To Be Forgotten’ and her tour which included choice cuts from IAMAMIWHOAMI, proved to be one of the best value-for-money live experiences in 2018, one that was even endorsed by Welsh songstress Charlotte Church.

CHVRCHES offered up their third album ‘Love Is Dead’ and continued their role as international flagwavers for quality synthpop, while EMIKA presented her best album yet in ‘Falling In Love With Sadness’, an exquisite electronic record with a Bohemian aura.

JOHN GRANT was on an artistic roll both solo and in partnership with WRANGLER as CREEP SHOW with two new albums. However, he was beaten by Neil Arthur who managed three albums over a 12 month period as NEAR FUTURE and BLANCMANGE including ‘Wanderlust’, possibly the latter’s best body of work in its 21st Century incarnation.

It was a busy year for STEVE JANSEN with a new solo ambient work ‘Corridor’, the well-received vinyl reissue of JAPAN’s two Virgin-era studio albums and his epic, more organically flavoured band project EXIT NORTH with their debut long player ‘Book Of Romance & Dust’.

SARAH NIXEY went on some ‘Night Walks’ for her best solo album yet, a wonderful collection of everything she had ever been musically all wonderfully rolled into one.

Meanwhile TRACEY THORN went back to the ‘Dancefloor’ with her ‘Record’ which content wise was right up there with some of ALISON MOYET’s electronica output from the last five years.

Those who liked their electronic music darker were well served with NINE INCH NAILS, IAMX, KIRLIAN CAMERA and HELIX, but after experimenting with the single only format for a few years, Daniel Graves announced he was taking the plunge again with a new AESTHETIC PERFECTION album.

The Sacred Bones stable provided some quality releases from THE SOFT MOON, HILARY WOODS, ZOLA JESUS and JOHN CARPENTER. Meanwhile, providing some fierce socio-political commentary on the state of the UK was GAZELLE TWIN.

Hungary’s BLACK NAIL CABARET offered some noirish ‘Pseudopop’ and promising Norwich youngsters LET’S EAT GRANDMA got more deeply into electronica without losing any of their angsty teenage exuberance on their second album ‘I’m All Ears’.

Less intense and more dreamy were GLASSHOUSE, the new duo fronted by former TECHNIQUE singer Xan Tyler.

Aussies CONFIDENCE MAN provided some wacky dancey glitz to the pop world and after nearly four decades in the business, Canadian trailblazers RATIONAL YOUTH finally played their first ever concert in London at ‘Non Stop Electronic Cabaret’ alongside dark wave compatriots PSYCHE and Numan-influenced Swedish poptronica exponents PAGE.

Sweden was again highly productive with KARIN PARK, JOHAN BAECKSTRÖM, TRAIN TO SPAIN and VAL SOLO while Norway took their own approach with FARAOSOFT AS SNOW and ELECTRO SPECTRE setting their standard. Veteran Deutschlanders THE TWINS and PETER HEPPNER returned with new albums after notable recorded absences while next door in Belgium, METROLAND presented themselves as ‘Men In A Frame’.

While the new HEAVEN 17 album ‘Not For Public Broadcast’ is still to be finished, Glenn Gregory teamed by with live keyboardist Berenice Scott as AFTERHERE. Their long-time friend Claudia Brücken performed as xPROPAGANDA with Susanne Freytag and partnered up with one-time TANGERINE DREAM member Jerome Froese, releasing the ‘Beginn’ album in the process.

It was a year of interesting collaborations all-round with UNDERWORLD working with Iggy Pop, U96 linking up with Wolfgang Flür for an excellent single called ‘Zukunftsmusik’ and German techno pioneer CHRIS LIEBING recruiting POLLY SCATTERGOOD and GARY NUMAN for his Mute released album ‘Burn Slow’.

Based in Berlin, THE KVB offered up some brooding gothic moods with ‘Only Now Forever’ while Valerie Renay of NOBLESSE OBLIGE released her first solo album ‘Your Own Shadow’.

Highly appealing were a number of quirky Japanese influenced female artists from around the globe including COMPUTER MAGIC, MECHA MAIKO and PLASMIC. But there were also a number of acts with Far Eastern heritage like STOLEN, FIFI RONG, DISQO VOLANTE and SHOOK who continued to make a worthy impression with their recorded output in 2018.

Heavy synth rock duo NIGHT CLUB presented their ‘Scary World’ on the back of tours opening for COMBICHRIST and A PERFECT CIRCLE while also from across the pond, NYXX and SINOSA both showcased their alluring potential.

At the poppier end of the spectrum, Holger Wobker used Pledge Music to relaunch BOYTRONIC with their most recent vocal incumbent James Knights in an unexpected twist to once again prove the old adage to “never say never” as far as the music industry is concerned.

Meanwhile, Chris Payne co-wrote and co-produced the excellent ‘Walking In West Berlin’ EP with KATJA VON KASSEL while also revealing plans for an autobiography and opening for his old boss…

The surprise album of the year was CHRIS CARTER with his ‘Chemistry Lessons Volume One’ while using a not dissimilar concept with their second album ‘Hello Science’, REED & CAROLINE took their folk laden synthpop out on a US tour opening for ERASURE.

IMMERSION provided a new collection of their modern Motorik as SHRIEKBACK, FISCHERSPOONER, THE PRESETS, HEARTBREAK and QUEEN OF HEARTS all made comebacks of varying degrees with audiences still eager for their work.

STEVEN JONES & LOGAN SKY harked back to the days when GARY NUMAN and OMD would release two albums in one year by offering ‘Hans Und Lieselotte’ and ‘The Electric Eye’ in 2016. Those veteran acts themselves celebrated their 40th anniversaries by going orchestral, something which SIMPLE MINDS also did when they opted to re-record ‘Alive & Kicking’ for the ’80s Symphonic’ collection although Jim Kerr forgot how a third of the song went!

With SIMPLE MINDS also performing a horrible and barely recognisable ‘Promised You A Miracle’ during BBC’s ‘The Biggest Weekend’, making up for the live joke that his former band have become was one-time bassist Derek Forbes with the album ‘Broken Hearted City’ as ZANTi with Anni Hogan of MARC & THE MAMBAS fame.

Other former members of high-profile bands were busy too with Ian Burden, formally of THE HUMAN LEAGUE returning with the Floydian ‘Hey Hey Ho Hum’ while A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS reformed briefly for an orchestral re-run of their catalogue.

With the release of their second album ‘Kinetik’, EKKOES handed over THE HUMAN LEAGUE support baton to SHELTER who came up with their best body of work yet in the more introspective shades of ‘Soar’

That darker approach manifested itself on singer Mark Bebb’s side project FORM with Keith Trigwell of SPEAK & SPELL whose debut long player ‘defiance + entropy’ also came out in 2018.

Having been championed by RÖYSKSOPP, Wales’ MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY returned with ‘Infinity Mirror’ while riding on the well-deserved momentum from opening for OMD, Ireland’s TINY MAGNETIC PETS embarked on their first headlining tour.

Representing North of the border were RYAN VAIL and HANNAH PEEL, but hailing from Scotland were WITCH OF THE VALE who proved to be one of the most interesting new acts of 2018 having supported ASSEMBLAGE 23 on their most recent UK visit. There was a good showing from UK acts in 2018 with RODNEY CROMWELL, ANI GLASS, THE FRIXION, NEW ARCADES, OLLIE WRIDE and FAKE TEAK all issuing some excellent synth tinged songs for public consumption.

NINA’s long awaited debut album ‘Sleepwalking’ was a fine hybrid of synthpop and the currently fashionable Synthwave aesthetic; her live double billing with Canadian synthpopsters PARALLELS was one of the hottest tickets of the year.

The sub-genre was indeed making waves and there were some very enjoyable artists coming out of it like GUNSHIP, DANA JEAN PHOENIX and MICHAEL OAKLEY.

However, the endless AOR excesses, moonlight sax breaks and highly unimaginative band monikers using numbers between 80 to 89 affixed to an archaic technology reference, illustrated by yet another neon sunset, VCR grid and Lamborghini, were becoming tiresome.

As Synthwave cynics, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s touch paper was being lit big time! The whole point of the synthesizer’s role during the Second British Invasion of the US was to fight against the insipid overtures of AOR like TOTO, CHICAGO and JOURNEY, NOT to make music coated with its horrid stench as THE MIDNIGHT did in 2018 with their long player ‘Kids’.

But there was naivety within some quarters too; electronic music did not begin in 2011 with ‘Drive’, an above average film with a good if slightly over rated soundtrack. However, its cultural influence has led to a plethora of meandering tracks made by gamer boys which sounded like someone had forgotten to sing on them; perhaps they should have gone back to 1978 and listened to GIORGIO MORODER’s ‘Midnight Express Theme’ to find out how this type of instrumental music should be done?

Many of the newer artists influenced by Synth Britannia that ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK has featured have sometimes been accused of being stuck in the past, but a fair number of Synthwave acts were really taking the soggy biscuit with their retro-obsession.

Rock band MUSE’s use of glowing artwork by Kyle Lambert of ‘Stranger Things’ fame on their eighth album ‘Simulation Theory’ sent sections of the Synthwave community into meltdown. There were cries that they had “stolen the aesthetics and concept” and how “it’s not relevant to their sound”!

But WHAM! had Peter Saville designed sleeves and never sounded like NEW ORDER or OMD, while electropop diva LA ROUX used a visual stylisation for ‘In For The Kill’ that has since been claimed by Synthwavers as their own, despite it being from 2009 when Ryan Gosling was peddling graveyard indie rock in DEAD MAN’S BONES 😉

This was one of the bigger ironies of 2018, especially as MUSE have always used synths! One of Matt Bellamy and co’s biggest musical inspirations is ULTRAVOX, indicating the trio probably have a better understanding of the fusion between the synthesizer, rock and classical music, as proven by the ‘Simulation Theory’ bookends ‘Algorithm’ and ‘The Void’, than any static laptop exponent with a Jan Hammer fixation.

It is interesting to note today how electronic music has split into so many factions, but there’s still the assumed generalisation that it is all one thing and that synthpop fans must also like Synthwave, Deep House, EDM, Industrial and those tedious beach chill-out remixes.

Back in the day and even now, some fans of THE HUMAN LEAGUE didn’t like OMD, DEPECHE MODE fans only liked DEPECHE MODE and rock fans had a token favourite electronic band.

Out of all the acts from the Synth Britannia era, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK had very little time for THOMPSON TWINS despite their huge international success, but their leader Tom Bailey’s 2018 solo recorded return ‘Science Fiction’ was warmly received by many.

Just as COLDPLAY and SNOW PATROL fans don’t all embrace ELBOW, it is ok to have preferences and to say so. Not liking the music of an artist does not make you a bad person, but liking everything does not make you a better person either… in fact, it shows you probably have no discerning taste! In 2002, SOFT CELL warned of a ‘Monoculture’, and if there is no taste differentiation in art and music, it will spell the end of cultural enhancement.

Taste is always the key, but then not everyone who loves chocolate likes Hersheys… and with that analogy, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK bids farewell to 2018 and looks forward to a 2019 that includes the return of TEARS FOR FEARS and the first full live shows from GIORGIO MORODER, plus new releases by VILE ELECTRODESKITE, VILLA NAH, I AM SNOW ANGEL and LADYTRON.


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK Contributor Listings of 2018

PAUL BODDY

Best Album: MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY Infinity Mirror
Best Song: MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY Lafayette
Best Gig: TANGERINE DREAM at London Union Chapel
Best Video: THE SOFT MOON Give Something
Most Promising New Act: VOX LOW


IAN FERGUSON

Best Album: BLANCMANGE Wanderlust
Best Song: ELECTRO SPECTRE The Way You Love
Best Gig: OMD at Glasgow Kelvingrove Park
Best Video: NYXX Voodoo
Most Promising New Act: WITCH OF THE VALE


SIMON HELM

Best Album: DUBSTAR One
Best Song: PAGE Start (Poptronica Version)
Best Gig: DIE KRUPPS + FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY at O2 Academy Islington
Best Video: FIFI RONG Horizon
Most Promising New Act: ZANTi


CHI MING LAI

Best Album: EMIKA Falling In Love With Sadness
Best Song: FIAT LUX It’s You
Best Gig: SOFT CELL at London O2 Arena
Best Video: FAKE TEAK Bears Always Party The Exact Right Amount
Most Promising New Act: WITCH OF THE VALE


MONIKA IZABELA TRIGWELL

Best Album: GUNSHIP Dark All Day
Best Song: SHELTER Karma
Best Gig: IAMX at London Electric Ballroom
Best Video: JUNO REACTOR Let’s Turn On
Most Promising New Act: MECHA MAIKO


Text by Chi Ming Lai
8th December 2018

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 30 SONGS OF 2018

2018 was a year of good songs rather than good albums, with many of long players not as consistent or as of high a standard as the bumper crop from the Class of ’17.

However, ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK had plenty of material to choose from for its 30 SONGS OF 2018 and for obvious reasons, cannot include everything that was in this year’s shortlist…

So worthy mentions go to ANI GLASS, BLACK NAIL CABARET, BRÜCKEN FROESE, DANA JEAN PHOENIX, DISQO VOLANTE, DUBSTAR, EKKOES, FAKE TEAK, FRAGRANCE, THE FRIXION, GUNSHIP, HILTIPOP, IAMX, LIZETTE LIZETTE, TRAIN TO SPAIN and WITCH OF THE VALE.

Interestingly, three graduates from the ‘Some Bizarre Album’ made it into the final list, thus highlighting the longevity of that particular vinyl showcase some 37 years on!

So with a restriction of one song per artist moniker, here are our 30 SONGS OF 2018 presented in alphabetical order…


AFTERHERE Breaking Rules

AFTERHERE is the brand new project of HEAVEN 17 singer Glenn Gregory and live keyboardist Berenice Scott, but with their roles reversed. Exploring their inner GOLDFRAPP but in a funkier vein, with groovy reminisces of ‘Twist’ and ‘Yes Sir’, the song seductively boasted a captivating sexually charged electronic energy. Berenice Scott said: “We always wanted to have a driving track on the album that you could hopefully move your feet to, party to… possibly get in a little trouble!”

Available on the AFTERHERE album ‘Addict’ via Manners McDade

https://afterhere.co.uk/wp/


JOHAN BAECKSTRÖM Utopia

While the Clarke was strong with this one, the first impression that came across with ‘Utopia’ was that things became a slight bit darker in the world of JOHAN BAECKSTRÖM. Despite that, there was a rousing chorus and percolating sequences to savour as he pointed out the futility of seeking that perfect future, when life has so much more on offer. “I wouldn´t describe the album as dark though” the DAILY PLANET synthesist helpfully added, “it´s absolutely a pop album.”

Available on the JOHAN BAECKSTRÖM album ‘Utopia’ via Progress Productions

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


BLANCMANGE Distant Storm

For BLANCMANGE, ‘Distant Storm’ was rather unusual with its dance beat, reverberant Moog bassline and dreamy processed vocoder aesthetic. With a rousing, almost spiritual quality and elements of JAMES’ ‘Come Home’ creeping in for good measure, it displayed Neil Arthur’s comfort in working with producer Benge on effectively their third album together. “I wanted to sing it as though it was really detached with my voice being synthesized” he told ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK.

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

http://www.blancmange.co.uk/


B-MOVIE Stalingrad

Veteran Mansfield quartet B-MOVIE made their most electronic pop single to date with the chilling aesthetics of ‘Stalingrad’. Complete with an infectious synth melody, an eerie mezzo-soprano and using the crucial Second World War battle as a metaphor for a doomed relationship, it was possibly Steve Hovington, Paul Statham, Rick Holliday and Graham Boffey’s  best song since their 21st Century reformation; appropriately, its B-side was called ‘Something Cold’…

Available on the B-MOVIE EP ‘Repetition’ via Loki Records

http://www.b-movie.co.uk/


CHVRCHES Graffiti

‘Get Out’ may have acted as a superb launch single, but starting off their ‘Love Is Dead’ album was the wonderful ‘Graffiti’. This was a classic kaleidoscopic CHVRCHES tune that punched the sky with some rousing vocals. It was also a supreme singalong showcasing Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook and Martin Docherty in full bouncy Taylor mode. Despite the downcast lyrical demeanour on lost youth and the passing of time, this was still a grand pop statement.

Available on the CHVRCHES album ‘Love Is Dead’ via Virgin Records

https://chvrch.es/


CONFIDENCE MAN Don’t You Know I’m In A Band

Australian duo CONFIDENCE MAN were a ray of sunshine in 2018 with their own brand of campy dork pop, being everything SCISSOR SISTERS should have been. ‘Don’t You Know I’m In A Band’ was an amusing satire on ego and sense of entitlement in the music industry. With an electro take on the groovy swoop of WAR’s ‘Low Rider’, a pitch shifted Sugar Bones came over like an inebriate Teddy Pendergrass while Janet Planet delightfully counterpointed in her alluring girly manner.

Available on the CONFIDENCE MAN album ‘Confident Music For Confident People’ via Heavenly Records

https://www.confidenceman.com.au/


CREEP SHOW Safe & Sound

CREEP SHOW is the meeting of minds between eclectic singer / songwriter John Grant and the dark analogue electro of WRANGLER whose members comprise Stephen Mallinder, Benge and Phil Winter. On ‘Safe & Sound’, the quartet explored a spacious KRAFTWERK and GIORGIO MORODER hybrid to reveal gradually some wonderfully warm melodic synth textures to accompany Grant’s passionate lead croon. The project led to Benge also working on Grant’s ‘Love Is Magic’ album also released in 2018.

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

http://creepshowmusic.com


RODNEY CROMWELL Comrades

Driven by a meaty electronic bassline and metronomic backbone, the marvellous vocoder-laden ‘Comrades’ by RODNEY CROMWELL captured a really chilling Cold War atmosphere, bathed in an ensemble of sweeping synth oboes and cosmic string machines. “I ended up thumping at the MicroKorg and came up with the opening riff” he said. Rich with melody and a panoramic resonance, it surreally captured the sound of Moroder being played through a Soviet Foxtrot submarine intercom system.

Available on the RODNEY CROMWELL EP ‘Rodney’s English Disco’ via Happy Robots Records

https://www.happyrobots.co.uk/rodney-cromwell


EMIKA Promises

With ‘Falling In Love With Sadness’, EMIKA produced one of the best electronic albums of 2018. The record was a concept album of sorts, a musical reflection on generations of sadness within the Anglo-Czech musician’s family in her most personal statement yet. The pacey ‘Promises’ made the most of her lower and higher vocal registers, providing an eerie cascading harmonic with some rumbling dubby tension and booming stabs driving Eastwards with solemn spine tingling qualities.

Available on the EMIKA album ‘Falling In Love With Sadness’ via Emika Records

http://emikarecords.com/


FARAO Marry Me

Taking in more synthetic ambitions, FARAO’s second album ‘Pure-O’ was a playful bleep forward. While ‘The Ghost Ship’ saw Kari Jahnsen focussed on her forlorn little girl lost lyrics, the wonderfully uptempo ‘Marry Me’ offered an accessible PET SHOP BOYS flavour and romantic layers of vocals masking a deep scepticism of the institution of marriage, while the lush backing and chugging electronic backbone carried the air of her compatriot SUSANNE SUNDFØR.

Available on the FARAO album ‘Pure-O’ via Western Vinyl

http://www.farao.info/


FIAT LUX It’s You

Releasing their first new material in over three decades, FIAT LUX returned with the most splendid ‘It’s You’. As well as the bassline and harmony from David P Crickmore, the sax style was a fitting tribute to the sadly departed Ian Nelson. Singer Steve Wright said: “Lyrically, I hope, it expresses feelings that possibly everyone can relate to…” – their long awaited debut album ‘Saved Symmetry’ is expected in 2019.

Available on the FIAT LUX single ‘It’s You’ via Splid Records

http://www.fiat-lux.co.uk


IONNALEE Fold

The ‘Everyone Afraid To Be Forgotten’ album was easily equal to Jonna Lee’s work with IAMAMIWHOAMI. Best of the set was possibly the marvellous closing number ‘Fold’. Featuring exotic cascading timbres and spacey pulsars, distorted string synths added tan appropriate chill as Lee’s passionate vocals completed the filmic vibe. Less mysterious, the IONNALEE transition was a triumph, especially with one of the best value-for-money live presentations of 2018.

Available on the IONNALEE album ‘Everyone Afraid To Be Forgotten’ via To Whom It May Concern

https://ionnalee.com


KATJA VON KASSEL Someday

Asking if “it is foolish to dream”, ‘Someday’ saw KATJA VON KASSEL questioning a moment of passionate haste. “The phrase ‘Someday’ just opened it all up and everything else just fell into place.” the chanteuse said. Capturing the beautiful melancholy of ASSOCIATES’ Billy Mackenzie, the doomed romantic tragedy of the sadly departed Scot was echoed by the chanteuse’s deep forlorn delivery, accompanied by CHRIS PAYNE’s hypnotic bassline and haunting vox humana treatment over a simple rhythmic loop.

Available on the KATJA VON KASSEL EP ‘Walking In West Berlin’ via https://katjavonkassel.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/KatjavKassel/


LET’S EAT GRANDMA Donnie Darko

Despite their age, LET’S EAT GRANDMA have a feisty but mature musical ambition, as successfully realised on ‘Donnie Darko’, an 11 minute tribute to the troubled teenager haunted by a monstrous rabbit-like figure. Utilising a sedate start before morphing into a wonderful movement of cascading electronics set to a metronomic beat, there were passionate reflections on the subject of human suffering. It all went a bit “batsh*t crazy” into a glorious synthony before calming to its conclusion!

Available on the LET’S EAT GRANDMA album ‘I’m All Ears’ via Transgressive Records

http://letseatgrandma.co.uk


CHRIS LIEBING featuring POLLY SCATTERGOOD And All Went Dark

Noted techno exponent CHRIS LIEBING teamed up with Mute label mate POLLY SCATTERGOOD on a stark polyrhythmic number appropriately titled ‘And All Went Dark’. The brooding minimalist electronic piece with its eerily poetic spoken contribution from Miss Scattergood saw the Essex songstress haunted by a “dark shadow on my shoulder” and telling how “a sickness took hold early on”.

Available on the CHRIS LIEBING album ‘Burn Slow’ via Mute Artists

http://www.chrisliebing.com/


MECHA MAIKO False Memories

With the name transcending Toronto based Hayley Stewart’s fascination with Japanese culture, cyber space and a love of vintage synthesis, ‘Mad But Soft’ was her first album as MECHA MAIKO. The magically crystalline ‘False Memories’ could have been part of the ‘Stranger Things’ soundtrack. Uncomplicated on the surface yet multi-layered and airy, this day-glow pink neo-instrumental concoction was well-thought through and deliciously produced.

Available on the MECHA MAIKO album ‘Mad But Soft’ via New Retro Wave

https://www.facebook.com/mechamaiko/


MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY Lafayette

One-time RÖYSKSOPP collaborator Ryan A James continues to hone and develop his hybrid mix of luxuriant synthetics and subtle guitar textures as MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY. He said about the gorgeous electronic bubblebath of ‘Lafayette’: “It’s really a song about the end of a relationship, disguised as a song about Scientology, and how defectors of Scientology are disowned by their loved ones. The name comes from the religion’s founder Lafayette Ron Hubbard.”

Available on the MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY album ‘Infinity Mirror’ via Killing Moon Records

https://manwithout.country/


NIGHT CLUB Scary World

“Beware! It’s a scary world” and with their BRITNEY SPEARS fronting NINE INCH NAILS template, NIGHT CLUB took their sweet but sinister synth rock sound to its zenith with the title track of their second album. And when the children’s choir joined in the chorus to sing of demons everywhere, this was a musical trick or treat that no parent would want their offspring to be part of, the message being “they only love you if you swallow”!

Available on the NIGHT CLUB album ‘Scary World’ via Gato Blanco

http://nightclubband.com/


NINA 80s Girl

A fabulously optimistic closer to NINA’s debut album, ‘80s Girl’ came beaming over like some missing song from the film ‘Mannequin’. With big Simmons drums, sampled orchestra stabs and driving synthbass triplets, it was however delivered with subtlety and restraint so that it wasn’t a HEART or STARSHIP pastiche. Dedicated to her mother, it had a telling message of “don’t let the past hold you back”.

Available on the NINA album ‘Sleepwalking’ via Aztec Records

http://www.ninamusic.co.uk/


SARAH NIXEY Journey

Perhaps best known as the alluring if slightly blunt chanteuse of BLACK BOX RECORDER, SARAH NIXEY released her best solo album to date in ‘Night Walks’, a quality record with air and presence, collecting everything she has ever been musically, all rolled into one. One of its key tracks was the delightful ‘Journey’, a glorious number of the type that Marc Almond has often been so good at, laced with crystalline synths and gorgeously breathy vocal tones à la Jane Birkin.

Available on the SARAH NIXEY album ‘Night Walks’ via Black Lead Records

http://www.sarahnixey.com/


GARY NUMAN It Will End Here

The ‘Savage’ album turned out to be both an artistic and commercial vindication for GARY NUMAN. ‘It Will End Here’ from ‘The Fallen’ EP was a natural progression from that, exploring a heavy but melodic electronic sound without relying on the predictable backing of rock guitars. With and anthemic chorus and the apocalypse is looming over the aural desert, there was even a soaring vocal pitch shift up at the song’s conclusion which added an extra eerie vampiric quality.

Available on the GARY NUMAN EP ‘The Fallen’ via BMG

https://garynuman.com/


NYXX featuring AESTHETIC PERFECTION Voodoo

NYXX is very much her own woman, like the Greek goddess of night she is named after, a figure of power and beauty with a Britney-like vocal presence that sweetly offsets some of her darker overtones. A collaboration with Daniel Graves of AESTHETIC PERFECTION who contributed a glorious evangelical middle eight, she said “It would not be what it is without him. I came in with a sketch of a song, a melody and lyric of another song… Daniel heard nuances in it and we built what is now ‘Voodoo’.”

Available on the NYXX single ‘Voodoo’ via Close To Human Music

http://www.nyxxnyxxnyxx.com/


PAGE Nere För Räkning

Eddie Bengtsson and Marina Schiptjenko initially came together in PAGE releasing their first single ‘Dansande Man’ in 1983. Since then, the pair have parted and reunited on a number of occasions but the mission for the ‘Start’ EP was to party like it’s 1979 when GARY NUMAN was No1. ‘Nere För Räkning’ was an urgent slice of pulsing synthrock with a piercing vibratoed lead line akin to the keyboard interventions heard on ‘The Pleasure Principle’.

Available on the PAGE EP ‘Start’ via Energy Rekords

https://www.facebook.com/PageElektroniskPop/


PLASMIC Baby Machine

From Mission Viejo in California, PLASMIC describes herself as an “Orange County one-woman dervish” and in a vivid haze that’s pretty in pink, “your abused Barbie doll from childhood”. Combining J-Pop with CRYSTAL CASTLES and DEVO, the undoubted standout from her ‘Validation Nation’ EP was ‘Baby Machine’, an immensely catchy feminist electropop anthem utilising a mixture of vintage Casio and Yamaha sounds that challenged the expectations of women to bear children.

Available on the PLASMIC EP ‘Validation Nation’ via Devour Records

http://www.plasmic.rocks


REED & CAROLINE Entropy

Championed by none other than Vince Clarke, REED & CAROLINE successfully combine tunes with electronic experimentation. The haunting ‘Entropy’ was a tribute to a departed friend and a fabulously touching GARY NUMAN homage to his ‘Dance’ period, in particular ‘Cry The Clock Said’. The hypnotic soundtrack of gentle preset rhythms and eerie electric piano, courtesy of a Buchla modular synth, was complimented by Schutz even adopting the phrasing of the man born Gary Anthony James Webb.

Available on the REED & CAROLINE about ‘Hello Science’ via Very Records

https://www.reedandcaroline.com/


FIFI RONG Red Moon Voyage

Weird and wonderful, ‘Red Moon Voyage’ was a ghostly 10 minute epic comprising of glitchy voices and varying rhythm constructions recorded especially for Halloween. Free of album concepts and the pop song format, this was FIFI RONG at her most adventurous yet, delightfully adding her native Mandarin language towards the third part. “Having a long journey means you can get very deep and lots of moods and transitions” she told ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK

Available on the FIFI RONG single ‘Red Moon Voyage’ via https://fifirong.bandcamp.com/track/red-moon-voyage-full

http://fifirong.com/


SOFT CELL Northern Lights

Marc Almond and Dave Ball were the boys who came back-back-BACK as SOFT CELL in 2018. ‘Northern Lights’ reminisced about their days at the Wigan Casino and recaptured the pop essence that led to the duo having five consecutive Top 10 hits! Despite the grittiness and energetics, the duo always had melody and that came back in abundance on their welcome recorded return. The darker B-Side ‘Guilty (‘Cos I Say You Are)’ affirmed that as a creative force, SOFT CELL still had it.

Available on the SOFT CELL EP ‘Northern Lights’ via Universal Music

http://www.softcell.co.uk/


STOLEN Turn Black

Chinese six-piece STOLEN are reckoned by Berlin-based producer Mark Reeder to be possibly the most exciting band he has seen since NEW ORDER. Certainly their debut album ‘Fragment’ was impressive and one of the best of 2018, with ‘Turn Black’ being one of the standout tracks. “I like the idea of mixing of rock with techno…” said growly lead vocalist Liang Yi to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK, “we are very proud that we don’t sound like any of the other Chinese bands.”

Available on the STOLEN ‘Fragment’ via MFS

https://www.facebook.com/strangeoldentertainment/


U96 + WOLFGANG FLÜR Zukunftsmusik

Ingo Hauss and Hayo Lewerentz handed back the BOYTRONIC brand to Holger Wobker and returned to being U96, teaming up with former KRAFTWERK percussionist Wolfgang Flür for the best track by either party in recent years. Stark and Teutonic with stark robotic vocoder aesthetics, the union of two German musical heavyweights from different generations was equal to Flür’s ‘Activity Of Sound’ collaboration with Ireland’s iEUROPEAN.

Available on the U96 single ‘Zukunftsmusik’ via UNLTD Recordings

https://www.facebook.com/U96reboot/


HILARY WOODS Jesus Said

Combining piano, synths, field recordings, drones, occasional beats, old string instruments and HILARY WOODS’ wonderfully forlorn voice in the vein of Julee Cruise, ‘Jesus Said’ questioned the existence of God. Described by the Irish songstress herself as “a song that seeks catharsis”, her child-like expression over the drifting synthesized tones and hypnotic drum machine to augment her beautiful piano playing gave ‘Jesus Said’ a gentle meditative quality.

Available on the HILARY WOODS album ‘Colt’ via Sacred Bones

http://www.hilarywoods.com


Text by Chi Ming Lai
3rd December 2018

CREEP SHOW Mr Dynamite

CREEP SHOW is an electronic meeting of minds between eclectic US singer / songwriter John Grant and the dark analogue electro of WRANGLER, the trio comprising Stephen Mallinder, Phil Winter and Benge.

Brought together for the Rough Trade 40th Anniversary celebrations in 2016, the first fruit of this collaboration is ‘Mr Dynamite’ – an album which was recorded in Cornwall following the move of Benge’s Memetune studio from its original Hoxton location.

Opening with the title track, ‘Mr Dynamite’ sees Grant’s vocal cut-up, pitch-changed and split over different keys on a vintage AKAI sampler.

This is then laid over a minimalist drum machine, bass pulse and a signature John Grant synth lead.

‘Modern Parenting’ sees a hybrid of funky bass synth and echoed sequenced synths with a typical quirky Grant vocal. The addition of female backing vocals give the overall impression of TALKING HEADS ditching their guitars and going fully electronic instead; the surreal chorus hook of “when your doggy jumps the fence and sets its sights on you” also adds to the playful, funky nature of the track.

‘Tokyo Metro’ is a KRAFTWERK-inspired 8-bit Chip-Tune style piece, the vocodered vocal very reminiscent of ‘Dentaku’, their Japanese version of ‘Pocket Calculator’.

‘Endangered Species’ is a chilled glitchy piece with a floaty string synth; the track also gives Grant a chance to go into his full-on crooner mode and take a squealing lead synth solo. The song ramps up a level with the unexpected addition of CULTURE CLUB’s original backing vocalists Mary Pearce, Maria Q and Zee Asher; having originally toured with Grant, they give the slightly creepy “You are the endangered species” hook a brilliantly quirky resonance. For those familiar with Grant’s work, the nearest comparison here would be his solo tracks ‘Voodoo Doll’ and ‘Black Belt’; the ones where he mixes vitriol and downright bitchiness…

On the final two lengthy tracks ‘Fall’ and ‘Safe & Sound’, the band go full-on KRAFTWERK and GIORGIO MORODER; the songs are given room to breathe and reveal themselves gradually with some wonderfully warmly melodic synth parts. On ‘Fall’, there are tiny slithers of voices which float over the instrumental backing and on ‘Safe & Sound’, Grant reins in the quirkiness to deliver a hazy vibrato-filled vocal.

‘Mr Dynamite’ is a really fresh and uncontrived sounding album, it’s not over-produced and comes across as a piece of work that all involved had a real blast making. It would have been interesting if the band had pursued the sound of the final track a little further though. There still remains a gaping hole in the market for retro synthesizer-based tracks featuring a real vocalist, not just someone that’s appears to have been drafted in as an afterthought (see: some underperforming UK-based synth acts).

The CREEP SHOW album really plays to the combined strengths of WRANGLER and John Grant; the latter’s vocals being the icing on the proverbial electronic cake and ensuring the listener will undoubtedly reacquaint themselves with ‘Mr Dynamite’ time and time again and again.


With thanks to Danielle Carr at Bella Union

‘Mr Dynamite’ is released on 16th March 2018 by Bella Union

CREEP SHOW 2019 live dates:

Sheffield The Foundry (5th October), Liverpool Arts Club Loft (6th October), Bristol Trinity Centre (8th October), London Scala (9th October), Hove Old Market (10th October), Newcastle Boiler Shop (12th October), Glasgow Art School (14th October)

http://creepshowmusic.com

https://www.facebook.com/creepshowmusic/

https://twitter.com/CreepShowMusic

https://www.instagram.com/creepshowmusic/


Text by Paul Boddy
14th March 2018, updated 26th June 2019

CREEP SHOW Interview

CREEP SHOW sees a dream team collaboration between US singer-songwriter and professed synth-lover John Grant with the established experimental electro triad of Stephen Mallinder, Benge and Phil Winter, collectively known as WRANGLER.

The two parties started to develop a working relationship after the latter remixed Grant which then lead onto live dates at The Barbican and The Royal Albert Hall.

The resulting link-up has since given birth to the ‘Mr Dynamite’ album.

It’s a meeting of minds that in the words of Mallinder is: “…a Hydra. A beast with multiple heads and voices, so no one is quite sure who is saying and doing what. Everything is permitted and everything is possible”

CREEP SHOW spoke about the gestation of the album, the impact of Benge’s studio relocating to Cornwall and some of the tech involved in the making of ‘Mr Dynamite’.

WRANGLER opened for John at The Royal Albert Hall, was this a calculated attempt by John to engineer a collaboration between both parties? 😉

Mal: Well, we’d already collaborated by this point as John and myself had been talking and WRANGLER had done a remix of ‘Voodoo Doll’ from the ‘Grey Tickles, Black Pressure’ album. It was around the time of the Albert Hall show that we’d been asked to work together and play at the Barbican, so the Albert Hall was just a nice cherry on the cake of us joining forces. We were very chuffed being asked to play, it was a lovely gesture by JG and all the team.

Phil: I just remember it being a very surreal evening, but we were made to feel very welcome.

Benge: I think at the time it was the biggest gig we had done – and certainly the poshest! It doesn’t get much posher than the Royal Albert. We even got to meet The Queen (Kylie Minogue)!

JG: Everything I do is carefully calculated which is why I am also a real estate magnate.

With John involved, how did this change the working dynamic of WRANGLER?

Mal: I don’t know if anything had to change too much as we all integrated so well; we worked in the studio with consummate ease. It was just nice to have another element, another tangent to go to, another voice – quite literally when John did vocals. But we all worked on every aspect of the tracks together, no roles were defined which is exactly how WRANGLER work anyway. It was fun though, so just a case of going from being a wonky tricycle to being a wonky car… the fourth wheel was very handy.

Phil: Yeah, nothing really changed, we just had another pair of hands (that could even play chords) and another mouth to feed !

Benge: It was good to find out that John is as up for experimenting with sounds and ideas as we all are. We deliberately don’t usually have many boundaries when we work together as WRANGLER, so I guess it could have been problematic adding in another personality to the mixture, but John is so open minded and up for experimenting that it felt really natural.

JG: It’s always the perverts who are up for “experimenting” – I’m calling my solicitor!

Were they any prior decisions on the direction for the album or did things evolve organically?

Mal: Well the three of us did some preliminary sketches, as John was on tour, but they were very broad ideas that quickly changed when we got together. Plus John had already sketched out the ideas for ‘Mr Dynamite’. After that, it was just all hands on deck but there was no prior discussion about what it should sound like … apart from f*cking great.

Phil: Even if there were, they disappeared very quickly once we realised we were heading in roughly the same direction .

Benge: Before we started, I was asking myself, how is this going to work vocally as Mal and John are stylistically polar opposites – there was a lot of room for it to go horribly wrong! But the interesting thing was that the addition of John’s new dynamic, lyrically, vocally and musically mutated what we do as WRANGLER into something completely new and unique. Originally we weren’t going to have a new band name, we would have been called “Wrangler featuring John Grant” or “John Grant featuring Wrangler”. But we felt we had created something that had its own strong personality

JG: I felt it was very organic and soon we had settled into a comfortable atmosphere of resentment, competitive pettiness and sardonic laughter.

How did the songwriting process work on ‘Mr. Dynamite’?

Mal: We were backstage after his show at the De La Warr Pavilion and John played me the ideas of rhythms for ‘Mr. Dynamite’ that he’d done. We took it all into the studio and then began working on it.

Phil: Do you mean the track, or the album as a whole? Either way it was pretty much the same, get a load of sequences, a beat , and then play and sing over the top .

Benge: And then shove it all through a pitch shifter and flanger.

JG: For my part, Benge and I sampled every single word into an old Akai sampler from the 80s and then played them at different pitches on a keyboard.

Whose idea was the big girlie backing vocals on ‘Endangered Species’?

Mal: I’ll let JG answer that one, but suffice to say we were all happy with it. John and I sat in the studio with the girls and let them rip through it. It was great as they all loved the tracks… when we got to sing on ‘Modern Parenting’, they made the right connections to George Clinton and FUNKADELIC so we knew it was going to work.

Phil: John’s… great call, we’d never do anything like that, love it!

Benge: I think originally John had put some backing vocal parts in at the end of that one, then he casually said “why don’t I get Culture Club’s original backing vocalists to redo them?” – when we realised he wasn’t joking, it was a no brainer.

JG: I don’t mind taking credit for this one. Mary Pearce, Maria Q and Zee Asher have worked with CULTURE CLUB for yonks and I just wanted an excuse to be in the same room with them again as they have toured with me and they are fantastic as you can hear.

Alongside the obvious CABARET VOLTAIRE influence, much of the synth bass on ‘Mr Dynamite’ is reminiscent of classic electro like ‘Bassline’ by MANTRONIX, how much of an influence is era this on your work?

Mal: That period is so important to us all. Technology-wise Benge’s studio is massively invested in that sound and we all love that period as it represents a very dynamic collaboration between machines and people. The whole idea of drum machines, synths and basslines all talking to each other in a very live way. We all grew up with that sound, and on opposite sides of the Atlantic, so it is an important way for all four of us to connect. Phil and I have been friends, and worked together, for years and the whole electro period is our provenance – put on an Oberheim DMX drum machine and Juno bassline and we turn to liquid.

Phil: I guess if we have a default setting it’s that sound, but I’d like to think there are wider aspects to our sound.

Benge: Yes, but when you walk round the studio and you are confronted by a corner of the room that has a DMX, a Roland SH101, Oberheim 4-voice and a Claptrap all connected together, it’s hard not to slip into electro-mode, even just a little bit.

JG: Yeah, that’s just part of my DNA, the synth basses of the 80s – the SH-101 from Roland is beyond all human understanding.

MemeTune studio and its synths has now relocated down to Cornwall, has the change of location had any effect on the music making process?

Mal: Well, it takes a little bit longer to get to, but once we’re there it means we have no distractions. When MemeTune was in Hoxton, there were too many people and places to tempt us out so the working process different. But wherever it is we’ll go and work – I think using ‘Space 1999’ as an inspiration, we need to have a MemeTune Moonbase.

Phil: Obviously, it’s a very different experience to working in a studio in London. But as mentioned, it’s all about the people really (and the dog).

Benge: What’s nice now is when people come down here, it’s a total lock-in. No-one can escape for days on end! It’s a good focus. And yes, even Rothko (my dog) gets involved.

JG: I always feel completely invigorated and inspired by the beauty of Cornwall and Benge’s amazing studio, so it certainly affects me. Sadly, I never saw the London MemeTune studios 🙁

John’s professed love of the Roland Juno 106 is well-known, how well-used was this synth on the album?

Mal: Not at all!

Phil: I think the CS80 has taken his heart ❤

Benge: Or was it the Sequential Prophet VS?

JG: It is indeed the CS80 (the greatest synth of all time) and the Prophet VS which have stolen my heart. But the Juno 106 is still precious to me.

So were there particular go to synths on this album?

Mal: There is always ‘synth of the week’ – usually the one that’s just come back from the Keith the Synth Cobbler – but that’s always changing. There’s a particular little Akai machine that’s been made to work its socks off in the last few sessions.

Phil: I seem to remember the Roland SH2 and the Minimoog providing a lot of the basslines .

Benge: As always at MemeTune, there’s a lot of interplay between all the instruments. Keyboards, drum machines, effects units, analog sequencers, modular systems all get connected together in millions of ways. It’s impossible to keep track of it all

‘Fall’ in places is akin to a lost ‘Autobahn’ era KRAFTWERK track, do you think electronic artists will ever stop paying homage to the German meisters?

Mal: Who? Never heard of them!

Phil: Why would you?

Benge: I’ve heard of an English band called Craftwork

JG: My mother did a lot of craft work as well and there were latch hook rugs all over the place. But to answer your question: I hope not.

‘Safe & Sound’ is a wonderful mix of old-school crooner vocals and analogue electronics and is ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s favourite track on ‘Mr Dynamite’, can you each select a favourite from the album and why?

Mal: ‘Endangered Species’

Phil: Impossible, sorry!

Benge: I like the way ‘Fall’ turned out – I think it’s got a simplicity and beauty and groove that I’m into at the moment

JG: ‘Endangered Species’ for me too. Loved doing that vocal and lyrics and the combo of bassline and pad makes my legs go all rubbery.

So… ‘Mr Dynamite’ a glorious one-night stand of an album or the start of a continuing meaningful relationship between all the parties involved?

Mal: It would be so rude not to call after such a memorable night!

Phil: And I need my scarf back!

Benge: It wasn’t goodbye, it was au revoir.

JG: What they said…


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its sincerest thanks to CREEP SHOW

Special thanks to Danielle Carr at Bella Union

‘Mr Dynamite’ is released on 16th March 2018 by Bella Union in CD, vinyl LP and digital formats

CREEP SHOW 2019 live dates:

Sheffield The Foundry (5th October), Liverpool Arts Club Loft (6th October), Bristol Trinity Centre (8th October), London Scala (9th October), Hove Old Market (10th October), Newcastle Boiler Shop (12th October), Glasgow Art School (14th October)

http://creepshowmusic.com

https://www.facebook.com/creepshowmusic/

https://twitter.com/CreepShowMusic

https://www.instagram.com/creepshowmusic/

http://www.johngrantmusic.com

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


Text and Interview by Paul Boddy
21st February 2018, updated 16th June 2019

FADER Interview

FADER is a new collaboration between Neil Arthur of BLANCMANGE and Benge, best known for his synth work with WRANGLER and JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS.

The FADER album ‘First Light’ showcases the strengths of both involved, whilst evoking a purist analogue electronic sound that harks back to the first wave of Synth Britannia when acts like THE NORMAL brought technology into the punk ethos.

Neil Arthur and Benge kindly spoke to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about their methods of collaborating, influences and threw in a bit of tech talk along the way.

How, when and why did you both hook up together musically?

Neil: We were introduced to each other by our manager Steve Malins. I’d heard Benge’s work with WRANGLER, JOHN FOXX and his own work. Steve mentioned Benge had some ideas he’d put together initially while he was out in LA. He started sending over the tracks and I started writing lyrics. I quite liked the idea of receiving all this info, having only met Benge once briefly.

Benge: Yes I had decided to move to LA for a few months and set up a little studio there. I rented out my studio in London to some friends and with the proceeds I rented a small space up in the hills, got onto eBay to buy a few choice pieces of analogue gear, and spent every day writing tracks. Some I put out myself and some got used with WRANGLER, but I had a whole bunch of tracks that fitted together as a body of work, but it lacked something… that’s where Neil casually stepped in!!!

Did you have a shared musical manifesto for the album before starting?

Benge: Originally when I was writing in LA, I had a sound in my head I was trying to get out. It was inspired by the edgy city-type sounds of some of my favourite films such as ‘To Live & Die In LA’, ‘Assault On Precinct 13’ etc. There is a weird undercurrent in that place that got under my skin. Also living in a new city on your own is a strange experience and I think some of that came out in the backing tracks too. I think Neil’s lyrics picked up on these things without us really discussing them. I am very happy with the result.

Neil: No. Well maybe an unspoken one – all instruments must be analogue. That extended as far as possible to the artwork design. Once we came up with a design, Benge wanted the type to be set from the typewriter he owns. It took a while but we got there.

The press biog that accompanies ‘First Light’ suggests that you mainly worked separately on the album, was that the case and how did that pan out?

Neil: Yes, Steve sent the files he’d received from Benge. I in turn sent my efforts back via Steve. I think it worked well, in terms of getting the album finished, fitting in other commitments etc.

‘Check The Power’ is a haunting tale about OCD, is this subject matter that is close to home for either of you?

Neil: Yes, it’s happening now. There was a time when aspects of OCD controlled my life. Not just my life but those around me too sadly.

The trusty Linn Drum makes a welcome reappearance on ‘Check The Power’, is there a certain amount of nostalgia attached to this device for you now?

Neil: The Linn Drum is there because Benge chose to use it. I like the Linn and use it on my own work, it doesn’t really carry nostalgia though, that is unless I get misty eyed and wistful.

MemeTune studio has such a large collection of synthesizers and drum machines, how do you go about choosing which ones to use on certain tracks?

Benge: When Neil started sending over his vocal ideas, I was very excited because I could hear how far he was taking the tracks, into this new place that I could not have imagined. At that stage we started adding a few synth parts and rhythmic developments, and worked on the arrangements. We tried to keep the new parts simple to fit with the idea of this weird edginess that had developed.

Neil, did you ever at any point get studio envy about Benge’s synth armoury?

Neil: I was running around like a child in a sweet shop, unable to take it all in and honestly, there wasn’t time to absorb everything. The emphasis was on getting the mixes done, so we could get down the pub. I hope to return, to his studio and the pub!

Benge, was your approach to working with Neil different to (say) JOHN FOXX and if so, in what way?

Benge: I do tend to work in a similar way with people I collaborate with, in the sense that I like to have some fairly strong frameworks for tracks to start with. One problem with having a lot of options available in the studio is knowing where to start a piece. If there isn’t a strong backbone to work around, you can end up spending hours going round in circles. Although it’s still fun going round in circles sometimes.

In comparison with your work with WRANGLER or JOHN FOXX & THE MATHS, FADER sounds much more musically upbeat and melodic, was this a refreshing approach to take?

Benge: We tried to keep the tracks as simple as possible and I think this helps the album sound fresh. We also wanted the album design and artwork to keep true to a fairly minimalist approach.

There’s a strong undercurrent of THE HUMAN LEAGUE Mk1 running through this album, if you could choose a Desert Island Disc track from them, what would it be and why?

Neil: ‘Being Boiled’. I saw their first show in London and was immediately hooked. The Fast EP is wonderful. Although the song that I used to look forward to them performing was ‘You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling’. Mr. Ware has quite a voice!

‘3D Carpets’ sounds a bit like if ‘Faith’-era THE CURE had ditched guitars altogether, what are your viewpoints on mixing guitars with electronics?

Neil: It wasn’t even considered with FADER. With BLANCMANGE, it’s there just like any other instrument, if it fits and serves the purpose I’d use it.

With ‘First Light’, do you feel that you’ve almost arrived full circle with the sound that you started on the first BLANCMANGE ‘Irene and Mavis’ material?

Neil: No, this is more sophisticated technically, where ‘Irene and Mavis’ is really lo-fi and DIY. There’s not a synth to be seen or heard on that EP. The nearest we got was the rhythm unit on ‘Outro’, when we borrowed Mark Cox of MASS and REMA REMA’s unit. I think it was a Roland Rhythm Arranger TR66. The rest was home found or made instruments, a cheap guitar, an organ and echo unit.

Is there any point when the seed of an idea comes to either of you where you think “Oh, this will be great for…” or are you always focussed on the project in hand?

Neil: Lyrics sometimes come along that end up in a pile marked “use somewhere else”. In general, I reacted to what Benge was sending me, although a few like ‘Liverpool Brick’ were written prior to hearing the music.

Benge: I definitely put tracks aside and save them up in categories and compilations – that’s just how this album came about, except I didn’t know at the time that Neil would be working on them too!

BLANCMANGE have been occasionally well known for their covers for ABBA through to CAN and CHIC, were you not tempted to include an electronic re-interpretation on ‘First Light’?

Neil: No, that wasn’t going to happen from my point of view. I was very happy to work on the ideas Benge sent over to me.

Can we expect future collaborations between you both and will there be any live shows to back up the release?

Neil: We did mention a FADER 2 album in conversation. Live shows, no.

Your album opener ‘3D Carpets’ was inspired by Hunter S. Thompson’s ‘Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas’. TEC has it from reliable sources that Johnny Depp spent $3 million firing Thompson’s ashes out of a cannon perched 153 feet on top of a hill! Do either of you have an exotic request that could match this once you’ve both shuffled off this mortal coil?

Neil: Something pretty much like that, but from lower down, if Mr Depp is ok with it.

Benge: I wonder if Mr Depp can write that off against tax?


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its sincerest thanks to Neil Arthur and Benge

Special thanks to Steve Malins at Random Music Management

‘First Light’ is released as a CD and download by Blanc Check Records on CD, vinyl LP and download on 23rd June 2017, pre-order from https://fader.tmstor.es/

https://www.facebook.com/WeAreFader/

https://twitter.com/WeAre_Fader


Text and Interview by Paul Boddy
10th June 2017

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