Tag: Yazoo (Page 2 of 6)

Lost Albums: CHINESE DETECTIVES Are Kisses Out Of Fashion?

Norwegian electronic covers combo CHINESE DETECTIVES released their only album ‘Are Kisses Out Of Fashion?’ in 1999.

The brainchild of Per Aksel Lundgreen who had cut his teeth in APOPTYGMA BERZERK, the concept was to be a “SILICON TEENS of the 90s” with frantic dance beats acting as the backbone to accompany the hooks of classic synthpop.

CHINESE DETECTIVES scored a number of Scandinavian hits with songs originally made famous by YAZOO, MEN WITHOUT HATS and DIVINE.

‘Are Kisses Out Of Fashion?’ additionally featured reinterpretations of SPARKS, BRONSKI BEAT, PET SHOP BOYS and several lesser known acts while the album itself was to become something of a cult favourite, partly thanks to featuring the only officially released version of a Vince Clarke instrumental from which CHINESE DETECTIVES got their moniker.

The classic trio line-up of Per Aksel Lundgreen, Preben Bjønnes and Desirée Grandahl kindly reminisced about the making of ‘Are Kisses Out Of Fashion?’.

So what came first, your cover of ‘Chinese Detectives’ or the band concept? How did it come about?

Preben: Per Aksel suggested ‘Chinese Detectives’ as a track and name for the band.

Per Aksel: Being an avid YAZOO and Vince Clarke collector, I had obtained a live tape that I bought at a stand in Camden Market in London of the 1982 gig at The Dominion, and on that tape, the instrumental track ‘Chinese Detectives’ was included. I always loved the track, and also the name, and I really wanted to use it as a band name, so we did. Then the idea was launched to do a cover of ‘Situation’ as the “A-Side” of the single, and a cover of ‘Chinese Detectives’ as the “B-Side”. I know that the track has also been referred to as ‘China’ on early live-recordings etc, but more on that later, ha ha!

Desirée: I´m the lucky one because I didn´t have to give any of that any thought! Got it all served on a silver platter.

The track is often mistaken as being the theme for the BBC TV drama ‘The Chinese Detective’ but is actually a Vince Clarke original. How did you go about interpreting and recording it? Did Mr Clarke give his approval?

Per Aksel: The sound quality on the live tape I had wasn’t really top notch, so we had to do our best to make out all the sounds and figures being played.

There’s also a part on there where it sounds like Vince is talking on top of the track, but we never ever figured out if that was just an accident, or if it was supposed to include some spoken words. I knew at the time that all Vince Clarke material was published via Sony Music Publishing, so I wrote them a letter, inquiring about the track, and asked for permission to do a cover version of it.

I actually received a reply via fax, yes it was that long ago, and in the fax it said something like: “Sony Music Publishing and Vince Clarke hereby grant you the rights to do a cover of the before mentioned track, ‘Chinese Detectives’.”

I was gobsmacked and very very happy of course. I saved that fax for many years, and when I one day went into some boxes to find it, the print had disappeared and the fax paper was all white, ha ha! I wish I’d taken a copy of it, but hindsight is 2020, right!

Preben: Hopefully we did the track justice 🙂

Desirèe: The credit for that goes to the lads. Hopefully Mr Clarke approved and loved it.

Why did you choose ‘Situation’ as a single to debut CHINESE DETECTIVES with?

Preben: We all loved the song and especially Vince Clarke’s song writing.

Desirée: I mean, even if I didn´t do the vocals on the first single, who wouldn´t choose that iconic song with that iconic group?

Per Aksel: We’re all huge YAZOO fans, and it was one of those tracks that we felt we could do something with. It was actually in the Norwegian Dance Charts and it was on a couple of “Eurodance” type compilations here in Norway, and the single sold close to 10.000 copies at the time, so we were very very happy of course. This made us want to do more, and the record company too cheered us on.

Strangely, in Norway we were considered “Eurodance”, but in Sweden and the rest of Europe and the US, they called us a synthpop act, and I for one wanted it to sound “synthpop”, but maybe we leaned towards the “Eurodance” since that was in the charts at the time. I don’t know, but we were treated very differently in Norway and in Sweden.

In Norway, we played “dance party” festivals for 5000 people together with 2 BROTHERS ON THE 4TH FLOOR, SOLID BASE, TWENTY 4 SEVEN, 2 UNLIMITED and stuff like that, but in Sweden we played on Swedish Alternative Music Awards for 500 people together with S.P.O.C.K, IN THE NURSERY and COVENANT, so it was a strange situation, but we just went with the flow and played everywhere we were wanted really.

We also had two other guys involved at the early stage of Chinese DETECTIVES, Trond Haugerud and Lars Kristian Aasbrenn, but they both dropped off. Lars Kristian after the first single, and Trond after the second one. No particular reasons for this, they just left basically, but they did also put in a good deal of work and input before they left, so I feel it’s important to put that out there.

After your second single, a cover of MEN WITHOUT HATS ‘Where Do The Boys Go’, your first singer Kristine Ulfeng departed, what effect did that have on whether to continue with CHINESE DETECTIVES?

Preben: No effect. We already knew we wanted to make a whole album with a different voice.

Per Aksel: When we started recording the third single, ‘You Think You’re A Man’, it became evident very early that Kristine’s voice wouldn’t cut it for that track. We took the harsh decision of telling her to leave and then asked Desirée to join the band. Not our proudest moment, and it wasn’t really fair to Kristine as she was fully devoted on the two first singles, but Preben and I were young and ambitious and had huge egos, so I’ll have to blame it on that.

Desirée: It had the wonderful effect of giving me the role of the mysterious and handsome girl at the mic.

Desirée had a deeper resonance to her voice and her first single with CHINESE DETECTIVES was a cover of DIVINE’s ‘You Think You’re A Man’ in 1996; did you know that song was written by Geoffrey Deane who was the original lead singer of MODERN ROMANCE?!!? ?

Preben: News to me 🙂

Desirée: Ooops, you got me there! Shame on me for not knowing that…

Per Aksel: All I know is that when I wrote the credits in the booklet, it said “G Deane”, but I had no idea it was the original lead singer of MODERN ROMANCE! :O

We all love a bit of HI-NRG, and especially DIVINE and Bobby O productions in general, and I really think we nailed that one! Very happy with that single to be honest! The two first ones were good too, but the sound on ‘You Think You’re A Man’ is still holding up in my opinion.

The album ‘Are Kisses Out Of Fashion?’ finally came out in 1999, had it been a challenging project to finish?

Preben: It was a labour of love, I loved every bit of it. Working in a pro-studio with Erik Wøllo was a high point for me as I have mostly worked in my own studio. We had a very nice atmosphere in the studio where we loved every song we worked on. It became a very eclectic album I think. 🙂

Desirée: On the subject of who was gonna be our label and who was gonna release it – it was a challenge. The process of making the album wasn´t all that bad. We took some time picking and agreeing on the songs, then finding the right producer and of course getting it right in the studio. I will say that there was more laughter than fights.

Per Aksel: The truth is that the album was already finished late 1996 or early 1997, I can’t remember exactly now, and at the time, the label had a bit of a dry spell and didn’t have the money to finance the printing of the album, and the third single didn’t do as well as the first one, so maybe they lost a bit of faith in us, I’m not sure.

Anyway, in 1999 I kinda pushed them to release it, as 80s sounding synthpop was returning more and more.

The first pressing of 5000 copies sold pretty quickly, so I know the label never regretted it in the end. It was the label that also paid the £3500 for the studio and recording of the album, so I was surprised that they didn’t want to try and recoup their money.

The process in Wintergarden Studio with Erik Wøllo as our co-producer really helped and lifted this record into what it became. We never could have achieved that result without Erik. His studio was in his basement, so we jokingly said we we’re recording “Downstairs At Erik’s”, ha ha! He also had a lot of cool equipment in his studio that we could use to fatten up our sound and to make the songs more diverse than they were in their original demo-form.

Stephan Groth of APOPTYGMA BERZERK had also bought a Novation Bass Station at the time, and we borrowed that for some tracks too, and it’s especially evident on ‘Hit That Perfect Beat’. I also had a Roland JX3P that we used heavily and a Yamaha TX7 that was in Erik’s studio that we used for the FM-bass lines and such.

Most of the ‘Are Kisses Out Of Fashion?’ album sounds a bit like Alison Moyet fronting a frantic Eurodance covers project, there was a distinct HI-NRG bent with tunes like ‘Hit That Perfect Beat’, ‘All You Ever Think About Is Sex’, ‘You Think You’re A Man’ and a very pacey version of ‘Johnny & Mary’? Was the club market where you were aiming CHINESE DETECTIVES?

Desirée: Oh, I love me a bit of frantic Moyet!! Seriously, I think the club market was THE market at the time, but I also think we were a little bit a head of our time. If the album had hit the club market a bit into the 2000s, I personally think we would have had an even greater success with it. The trend of picking up great tunes from the 80s didn´t really kick in until 2004-2005. Maybe we can say that we started the trend? Let´s keep that illusion.

Preben: We all love HI-NRG and especially songs produced by Bobby O. Having said that, we wanted to do our own versions of our favourite songs.

Per Aksel: Alison Moyet is probably THE BEST female voice in the world of music in my opinion, and Desirée is blessed with a serious set of pipes and a voice that is very close to Alison’s, so we felt we’d struck gold when she wanted to join us to be honest.

I’m not quite sure we went for the club market OR “Eurodance” to be honest, it was all “synthpop” to us, but looking back, I can see how the music in the charts and the new synths coming out etc flavoured our sound and the outcome of the finished result. Having had chart success in Norway with the two first singles, we were actually on Norwegian television at the Norwegian Top 20 being interviewed about the ‘Where Do The Boys Go?’ track and video, so that probably also told us that we had a shot at “this chart stuff”, but we failed to chart after that, and became more of a thing for the synthpop fans instead. That’s a good thing, because that’s where we belong anyway, ha ha!

When the album slows down a bit in the middle, the album gets very interesting with your covers of ‘Love Is Just A Word’ by SILENT CIRCLE and ‘Run For Love’ by WINDER, two acts which would have been largely unknown outside of mainland Europe, what is the story behind these?

Preben: We loved the songs. WINDER’s is an all-time favourite of mine from Denmark. I think they only did three singles and an album.

Desirée: Those two songs were kind of pushed by the lads. I thought at first that ‘Love Is Just A Word’ was too “German lighter ballad-ish”, but it grew on me really. And after doing it live, it kind of gave you that arena-effect, with people singing along and of course waving their lighters.

When the song ‘Run For Love’ came up, I wasn´t sure what to do. I felt that it was so girly and non-edgy. The fun part is though, that so many reacted to this song and really liked our version. Let´s just say that this was my “swallow the camel” moment.

Per Aksel: The WINDER track was an old “guilty pleasure” of mine, and I thought that we could do a really good job with it.

I know Desirée really didn’t like it much, but she played along, and the version we ended up with is ok I guess, but far from my favourite on the album. A lot of people seem to love this version though, which is great, but I don’t know, it’s still a bit Eurovision sounding and a bit cheesy!

‘Love Is Just A Word’ was picked as the idea of having a ballad on the album, but now that I think of it, we should have done ‘Touch In The Night’ instead. CHINESE DETECTIVES were never meant to do ballads, ha ha! I remember seeing SILENT CIRCLE performing ‘Touch In The Night’ on Peters Pop Show from Germany via Swedish Television back in the 80s, and that’s how I got turned onto the band. Their first album, ‘No 1’, is still a good album I think, a hidden gem for many, but a good synthpop album.

The album title song features something of an orchestra stab frenzy and was originally by SUDETEN CRÈCHE, a very obscure British duo. How did you hear about this song?

Preben: Per Aksel introduced us to the song and we knew immediately that we could make our mark on it.

Desirée: Why wouldn´t a bunch of nerdy electronic music people have heard about that one?

Per Aksel: Going back to me being an avid YAZOO and Vince Clarke collector, I’d heard from some other collectors that the compilation album ‘Europe In The Year Zero’ included a different version of ‘Goodbye 70s’ than the one on ‘Upstairs At Eric’s’, so I ended up getting hold of a copy of that LP.

It had a different version of ’Goodbye 70s’ indeed with some extra echoes and delays to the vocal, and it was a bit shorter with a strange fade, but still a different version. Anyway, on that same album was the band SUDETEN CRÈCHE with their track ‘Are Kisses Out Of Fashion?’.

My girlfriend at the time loved this track and had it on several mixtapes, so I knew it well, and when it came time to pick track for the album, Preben, Desirée and I wrote down our suggestions of what tracks to do covers of, and we immediately agreed that we could do something with this minimal wave classic. We also decided to use the title of the track as the title of the album, as it was very 80s sounding and cool.

In 2006 or so, I got contacted by Mark Warner from SUDETEN CRECHE who asked us about this cover, because we tried to get hold of them back in 1996, but it was impossible to find any information. So we started emailing them back and forth, and they said they really liked the version we had done. Later I was invited to be live keyboarder for SUDETEN CRECHE on a European tour they did together with OPPENHEIMER ANALYSIS and a couple of other bands, but I couldn’t accept that offer since I had other commitments at the time, but the offer itself meant a lot to me and I was really flattered by it.

Later on, after a lot of emails and a growing friendship, Mark Warner invited me to come stay with him at his house outside Bedford where he’s got a studio in his back yard, to work on some music together.

This is how I ended up doing three EPs with ROSSETTI’S COMPASS together with Mark. He wrote all the material, and I was more in on the production side of things, but we had great fun in the studio, and I got to know his lovely wife and two daughters who now just call me Uncle Per.

I visited Mark as late as January this year, and a lovely and lasting friendship has come out of doing that cover version. Who would have thought ha? Life can serve you up some wonderful things sometimes, especially when you meet great people like Mark Warner. A true friend.

You covered INDUSTRY with ‘State Of The Nation’ so the range of genres you sourced on ‘Are Kisses Out Of Fashion?’ was very varied in hindsight?

Preben: We wanted music from all over the spectrum; obscure to the big hits.

Desirée: There is and there was so much good music to choose from, in many genres. The list of songs we would have loved to put on the album was long, but I think we´re all quite happy with the once we chose. I also think that it shows that we´re influenced by many genres.

Per Aksel: ‘State Of The Nation’ to me was a “synthpop” song, and I really really liked it, and I also think we did a great version of it. There was a vocal part there at the end of the track, after the music ended that we should’ve kept though. Desirée wanted to keep it, but Preben and I voted against it, ha ha. Looking back, Desirée was right, we should’ve kept it. Wonder if I’ve still got that other version on DAT-tape somewhere. Hmmm…

What are your own personal favourites on ‘Are Kisses Out Of Fashion?’ and why?

Desirée: Oh, that´s a hard one. I should of course say ‘Situation’ but I´m not gonna say that. I just love ‘State Of The Nation’; loved the song originally and loved to sing it. ‘Are Kisses Out Of Fashion?’ and ‘All You Ever Think About Is Sex’ come in at second place. Just because ‘Are Kisses…’ became almost a completely new song when we did it and ‘All You Ever Think About Is Sex’ is a fun and theatrical song which I love.

Preben: ‘Hit That Perfect Beat’ by BRONSKI BEAT. I loved the vocals on it. And the mix still holds up. Very happy with the bassline 🙂

Per Aksel: I still think that our version of ‘I Want A Lover’ by PET SHOP BOYS is the best one, but nobody seems to agree with me! LOL! I also have a huge fondness for ‘You Think You’re A Man’, ‘Hit That Perfect Beat’ and ‘All You Ever Think About Is Sex’, great versions that differ from the original and still add something extra. I also love the energy that we managed to put into those tracks. They’re explosive in a way, and I’m very proud of what we managed to do together on those tracks! Would’ve been even better if we’d written the tracks ourselves of course, but hey, we borrowed someone else’s songwriting talent and built on that, that will have to do.

Was CHINESE DETECTIVES, like SILICON TEENS, destined to just do the one album?

Desirée: No, not really. We had plans and visions. Preben and I did our own project with POSH. We had so many ideas for our own music and CHINESE DETECTIVES was a cover project. But the intention was to make more music with CHINESE DETECTIVES as well.

Again the situation with getting a label, getting us distributed and of course the sign of the times in the music industry put a stop to more albums at the time. We do however, have some new covers done. We did some new tunes for a couple of gigs some years ago and that was great fun. So you never know, maybe we´ll be back.

Preben: I don’t think we had any plans beyond an album. Might have played it by ear.

Per Aksel: Funny you should say that! My own catch phrase / slogan was that we aimed to be a “SILICON TEENS of the 90s”! We are huge fans of the ‘Music For Parties’ album, and doing 80s tracks in the 90s before that became fashionable kinda put us in the same category at least as SILICON TEENS.

I never had plans beyond that one album back then at least. While waiting for the CHINESE DETECTIVES album to be released, Preben and Desirée continued on the side with their own project, POSH, that released a great album called ‘In Vanity We Trust’ on CD in 1999 too. That is also a great but sadly forgotten album by many. Sounds like YAZOO with a more modern sound.

CHINESE DETECTIVES reformed for Electronic Summer 2016 in Gothenburg, how was that for you?

Preben: I unfortunately had to pull out of it due to illness. But I hear it went down well 🙂

Per Aksel: That was amazing! We had a great great time, and back then it was exactly 20 years since we last played in Gothenburg, so it was a celebration and a huge kick being on stage with CHINESE DETECTIVES again in front of 600 people at The Brewhouse.

People loved it and we got so many people coming up to us after the show saying “finally I got to see you live” and stuff like that, including Hannes Malecki, the singer from WELLE: ERDBALL, who was also playing at the same festival. He confessed to being a huge fan of CHINESE DETECTIVES when I met him there, which was a very nice compliment, coming from a guy whose work I admire very very much. I have a complete collection of all the WELLE: ERDBALL CDs, so…

Desirée: Oh my Lord that was fun. I had no expectations for that gig. I thought we were forgotten and obsolete. We started the evening with our set and I thought that there would be close to no one in the audience. When the music started and I went on stage, I got a pleasant shock. The place was packed and people sang along and had a jolly good time. So did we! People were so positive and loving. That was just a blast!

Over twenty years on, how do you view the way an electronic pop cover should be done? With so much history, is going outside of the genre more preferable to achieve something different, rather than just cover say DEPECHE MODE, NEW ORDER, SOFT CELL and ERASURE, who interestingly CHINESE DETECTIVES didn’t cover?

Preben: We tried to stay away from the obvious songs. But there are millions of great songs we could have done. We have tried to do some new ones few years back. ‘The Metro’ by BERLIN was one of them. We have played it at some concerts. We also demoed ‘You Spin Me Round’ by DEAD OR ALIVE and even made an instrumental of ‘Heartbeat City’ by THE CARS. And a few others. Hopefully we will make another album in the future 🙂

Desirée: The term electronic pop is no longer obscure and for the few and nerdy. So to make an electronic pop cover today, the bar is lifted. We did go outside the electronic genre when we did our album and I think that by doing that, the songs got a new life. This, I think, is still the case. A good song is a good song in any genre. Even if it would be great fun to cover, let´s say a EURYTHMICS tune, the approach I think would be different now than it was twenty years ago. And no wonder, we´ve learned a lot in twenty years!!!

Per Aksel: We definitively tried to AVOID the “usual suspects” when picking tracks for the album. I know Desirée wanted to do both a cover of a EURYTHMICS track, and a CULTURE CLUB track, and that didn’t happen, probably because they were too big and famous or whatever. We had some strict but strange rules back then, ha ha!

The truth is that I’m usually not a big fan of cover versions myself, and it’s only a few that I really like, and I try to avoid them when other bands do covers. Strange to think of when I was in a band that did a whole album of them, right?

We had ‘Send Me An Angel’ by REAL LIFE half-finished in demo form back then, but it never came to fruition, and that’s about it I think from back then. Preben did demo some other tracks that I don’t remember right now, but we ended up with those that are on the album, and I think the selection is pretty much good. When it comes to DEPECHE MODE, we’ve had enough covers there already, haven’t we? I mean, we’ve had enough of the band itself even, so never mind covers ha ha!

Some cover versions that I do like though, are: FAIRLIGHT CHILDREN – ‘Bedsitter’, LEMONHEADS – ‘Mrs. Robinson’, APOPTYGMA BERZERK – ‘Major Tom’, WOLFSHEIM – ‘Ruby, Don’t Bring Your Love To Town”, MALARIA – ‘Lay, Lady Lay’, and BIGOD 20 – ‘Like A Prayer’.

The “perfect” cover version in my opinion though, is the one that RÖYKSOPP feat. Susanne Sundfør did of ‘Ice Machine’. Absolutely love that one!

What songs would you cover today if you were to do a new album?

Preben: BLANCMANGE – ‘Blind Vision’ or ‘Don’t Tell Me’, THE CARS – ‘Heartbeat City’, ABC – ‘Be Near Me’, JAPAN – ‘Life In Tokyo’, CRETU – ‘Samurai’, THE HUMAN LEAGUE – ‘Boys & Girls’, OMD – ‘Telegraph’, BERLIN – ‘Metro’, SECRET SERVICE – ‘Flash In The Night’, DEAD OR ALIVE – ‘Big Daddy Of The Rhythm’, CLOCKWORK ORANGE – ‘Sensation Boys’, THOMPSON TWINS – ‘In The Name Of Love’ or HEAVEN 17 – ‘Come Live With Me’. All of those would have worked I suppose!

Desirée: I’ve always wanted to do a cover of ‘Sexuality’ with Erasure, but never got around to it. Maybe the time is now?

Per Aksel: Hmmmm… THOMPSON TWINS – ‘We Are Detective’ would fit us perfectly I think, and I also agree with Preben on ‘Big Daddy Of The Rhythm’, such power and energy! Maybe we should accommodate Desirée too, and do ‘Here Comes The Rain Again’ or ‘Paint A Rumour’ by EURYTHMICS? I also would’ve picked another minimal wave track or two, like ‘Night In June’ with LINEAR MOVEMENT, or ‘All Rights Reserved’ by FRED. Great tracks, real gems that one could bring out to the masses!

That’s the best thing I think, when you can get people to discover a track they’ve never heard before through your cover version! All in all though, I’m a little fed up with covers at the moment as I told you, but I’m not going to be a killjoy.

Preben, Desirée and I live nearby each other, and if we find the time and inspiration, I don’t see why we couldn’t / shouldn’t do some more stuff together. All that without giving any promises though, ha ha!


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its sincerest thanks to CHINESE DETECTIVES

‘Are Kisses Out Of Fashion?’ is available via Sub Culture Records as a download album direct from
https://chinesedetectives.bandcamp.com/album/are-kisses-out-of-fashion

https://www.facebook.com/ChineseDetectives/

https://open.spotify.com/album/3rhx1YmkwXeeFF0ZTdR6eN

http://www.subculture.no/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Jon Sverre Høiden, Kjetil Berg and Khyber Westlund
9th April 2020

A Short Conversation with SOFTWAVE

It often takes an album for an act to more fully realise their sound.

This has certainly been the case for SOFTWAVE with their debut ‘Game On’. With the influence of big voiced singers such as Celine Dion, Tina Turner, Madonna, Gwen Stefani and Avril Lavigne, the Danish couple add a twist to sub-ERASURE flavoured synthpop.

Laced in Nordic melancholy, SOFTWAVE have delivered a fine debut album with off-the-wall narratives contained within a classic melodic framework.

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

From their studio in Herlev, Catrine Christensen and Jerry Olsen kindly talked about ‘Game On’ and what is turning out to be their busiest year to date…

How has the reception to ‘Game On’ been for you?

Catrine & Jerry:  It was a great success. We sold way more vinyls that we thought we would. We were warned by so many Danes about producing vinyls, but we did it anyway because it was our personal wish to have our debut album on that format. We received good feedback from several reviewers.

Looking back, how was making ‘Game On’ compared with your first EP ‘Together Alone’?

Catrine & Jerry: It was more professional and serious with a strict deadline and a lot of collaborators. We constantly gain experience, so we completed tracks faster and the workflow was much better. When making the EP everything was new to us; the whole music scene, how you interact with people involved, is all something we are more familiar with today.

‘No Need To Hide’ has been cited by a number of people as one of the highlights from the album, what was that inspired by?

Catrine: This was the second song we worked on for the album. Lyrics wise, the song is inspired by my past time with a critically ill dad and how much I experienced from group therapy sessions. For me, it wasn’t a taboo and I wasn’t afraid to expose my feelings with others. Therefore I named the song ‘No Need To Hide’.

Jerry: Music wise, I wasn’t inspired by anything in particular; it was just a creative idea. If I were to name the title, as the shy guy I am, it would have been ‘I Need To Hide’ … *laughs*

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK understands ‘Something Is Missing’ is about your dog Nero?

Catrine: Haha… yes it is. I haven’t said that directly in the lyrics, because it was important for other people without a dog-relationship to relate to it as well. But basically this song is dedicated to everybody who lost something or someone valuable in their lives.

“As a child all my dreams came true” – The life before my dad got ill, I was spoiled. Apart from games, movies and toys, I always wanted a dog so badly, so he gave one to me. After 15 years with a lovely time with my dog Nero, he passed away. Therefore I named the song ‘Something Is Missing’.

Was the dancefloor friendly ‘Human Beings’ an observation of modern society?

Catrine: Yes. In today’s society, my experience is that only a few people have the time to study and analyze important subjects.

Some people only have the time to be superficial and then they forget about each other. That is a sad development when it doesn’t demand much more from you than to give “one smile one hug, empathise and having fun – in giving we receive, we are human beings”.

‘Galaxy Of Stars’ was quite an appropriate song to release in 2019, the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, did you watch any of the many fascinating documentaries about it? Would you like to travel in space?

Catrine: We haven’t seen any recent documentaries about it. In fact we didn’t realise it was the 50th anniversary when we wrote the song, so we can label it as a happy accident.

Jerry: I love science fiction, so travelling in the great unknown would indeed be exiting. I wouldn’t rely on a metal tube with fire in the bottom to travel to other galaxies, but if some friendly ETs came by and offered me a ride in their shiny UFO, I would definitely go for it.

If Celine Dion fronted ERASURE, it would probably sound like SOFTWAVE, please discuss… 😉

Catrine: I would love someone to introduce us like that someday. As the humble person I am, I wouldn’t say that I have a voice like Celine Dion. But Jerry definitely has the talent of a young Vince Clarke 😉

Jerry: An interesting theory. Maybe someone should propose the two of them to collaborate. Then we can discuss if it sounds SOFTWAVE-ish.

Speaking of ERASURE, you covered ‘Siren Song’ live with a choir as part of the promotion for ‘Game On’, how was the experience and why did you choose that song in particular?

Catrine & Jerry: The song wasn’t really chosen by us, but by ELEKTROKOR (Electrochoir). For a long time, we had a request from a huge fan for us to make an ERASURE cover song. After discovering ELEKTROKOR by a coincidence via Facebook, we saw an opportunity to meet our fan’s request.

ELEKTROKOR has a huge talent and passion covering songs by DEPECHE MODE, YAZOO and ERASURE, which was a perfect match. It’s not often you get an opportunity like that in little Denmark. There was no doubt that we should collaborate. The idea was for guest them at their concert in a church. Afterwards we thought it was a perfect fit for them to join our release concert, which was welcomed by most of the audiences and the reviewer Teddy Bjørklund. Next time we do an ERASURE cover, we will choose the song ourselves.

Which tracks have been your own favourites from ‘Game On’ and why?

Jerry: My personal favourites are: ‘Something is Missing’ because I felt it had something to it from the very beginning and it’s quite catchy as well. Also ‘Galaxy of Stars’ because it’s very ERASURE like in its sound and ‘I Need Love’ is upbeat and in my own opinion, I think it has a YAZOO feeling to it.

Catrine: ‘Galaxy of Stars’ was my first challenge singing in a downbeat tempo and maintain the joy in my voice while singing. It was a lovely song to work with. I actually loved everything about it. It was written without struggling at all, the lyrics came easily to me. I really dreamed myself into the ‘Galaxy of Stars’. Even the vocal recordings were lovely. Normally I prefer to sing live, because singing in a box feels unnatural to me. I had the same experience with ‘Guardian Angel’. Music wise and in general, I like how much ‘Human Beings’ and ‘Curiosity’ differ from the other tracks. My favourite live performance track would be ’No Need To Hide’.

Remixes can be a bit hit and miss but Jerry’s Alternate Version of ‘On & On & On’ was an improvement on the original, have you any more planned for release?

Catrine & Jerry: Thank you, we feel so too 🙂

We are planning a new remix release of ‘Game On’ (release date TBA soon). As something new, there has been a surprisingly great interest from talented producers this time. So we don’t feel the need to do a remix by ourselves and besides, we’re busy producing new original SOFTWAVE tracks.

One of the producers we’re very proud to have on the compilation is ex-HUMAN LEAGUE member Ian Burden who we were lucky to meet last year in addition to our tour in London, thanks to a good friend who invited us to Ian’s solo album release in Soho.

An extended version of ‘Something is Missing’ will be released by the well known German label ZYX Music on ‘New Generation 15’ released September 6th and ‘I Need Love’ by Conzoom Records on ‘Electropop.15’ released September 13th.

You are performing at the ‘Pop+Synth Festival’ in Copenhagen in November, along with JOHAN BAECKSTRÖM, TRAIN TO SPAIN and OCTOLAB… this might actually be the first event of its kind in Denmark if ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK is not mistaken?

Catrine: Well. In Denmark the synthpop scene isn’t that big, actually non-existent. But in Sweden, the scene is bigger and therefore I decided to increase the attention to the genre by inviting a bunch of Swedish synthpop bands to my debut synth event ‘Pop+ Synth Festival’ along with other international bands.

I have also succeeded with some great collaborations and tickets are already selling fast. Some wrote “This might be the synth-event of the year” and “Great initiative!”. My concept is to support the artists, because as an artist, I know how much work we put into gigs etc. No one deserves to perform for free. And when I experience a lot of Swedish bands (whom I have never heard of) contacting me to get a spot on my line up – it touches me deeply. I feel I’m doing a good thing here. “Something is Missing” in Denmark – and I hope I can make a difference. Even though the scene isn’t big, I know there’s a synthpop and Italo audience out there.

Classical composer Maurice Ravel said: “Whatever sauce you put around the melody is a matter of taste. What is important is the melodic line”, any thoughts?

Jerry: I totally agree. Without it there’s nothing.

Catrine: The melody relates to so many feelings and can be part of a memory from your life. Even though I’m not a producer, I guess it’s easier to produce a great beat than a great melody. Therefore SOFTWAVE tries to combine melodies from both vocals and music.

So how will SOFTWAVE’s synthpop heart will go on?

Catrine: Always by striving for improvement, never to give up and to reach new listeners with our music.


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to SOFTWAVE

‘Game On’ is released by Gateway Music in vinyl LP and download formats, available from https://gatewaymusic.dk/kunstner/26025

SOFTWAVE play the ‘Pop+Synth Festival’ at Krudttønden in Copenhagen on Saturday 2nd November 2019, also performing are JOHAN BAECKSTRÖM, TRAIN TO SPAIN + OCTOLAB with more acts to be announced, tickets available from https://billetto.dk/e/pop-synth-festival-billetter-365508

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Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
17th August 2019

TEARS FOR FEARS + ALISON MOYET Live in London

Whoever came up with the idea of putting TEARS FOR FEARS and ALISON MOYET together on a concert bill was a total genius!

They each have scored six Top 10 UK singles and two No1 UK albums while also winning various BRIT Awards, all this without including Moyet’s stint in YAZOO with Vince Clarke which netted a further three Top 5 UK singles and a further No1 album!

Unsurprisingly at London’s O2 Arena, people started taking their seats early for ALISON MOYET’s eleven song opening set. Over the last six years, she has seen something of an artistic renaissance with her two most recent albums ‘the minutes’ and ‘Other’ showcasing a return to electronica, thanks to a new fruitful partnership with Guy Sigsworth.

Beginning with ‘I Germinate’ from ’Other’, there was a format change from that tour in 2017 with the inclusion of Paul Jones on electronic percussion alongside regular Moyet multi-instrumentalist Sean McGhee. As some of the audience pondered whether she would play any YAZOO material, Ms Moyet introduced a song that she wrote when she was just 16. With its iconic burst of synth, the crowd roared their approval for a the wonderfully melancholic ‘Nobody’s Diary’.

‘Beautiful Gun’, Moyet’s gusty attack on the NRA showed her old classmates in Basildon a thing or two about authentic blues while on ‘All Cried Out’, McGhee was particularly superb in his falsetto harmonisation with his boss’ deeper gutsy growl. Following on, ‘The Rarest Birds’ celebrated Moyet’s recent rejuvenation thanks to a relocation to Brighton while there was a surprise with a rendition of ‘The Sharpest Corner (Hollow)’ from 2007’s ‘The Turn’.

As the crowd held their breath for more YAZOO, Moyet delivered with ‘Situation’ as the first pockets of the audience cautiously stood up before a practically Vince Clarke faithful ‘Only You’ initiated the first massed singalong of the evening. The spectre of her former YAZOO bandmate continued to loom during a superb synthed-up arrangement of the saucy ‘Love Resurrection’, while the distinctive meaty tones of ‘Don’t Go’ put a now nearly full O2 on their feet with our heroine even pulling a few dance moves herself.

Of course, the crowd were there for TEARS FOR FEARS, but there was a time ten months ago when all that was thrown into doubt due to “unforeseen health concerns” which postponed the original May 2018 tour. More recently, Roland Orzabal undertook rehearsals with the band alone while Curt Smith made cryptic comments on social media about possibly not being on board and all not being well! Certainly their split back in 1990 was fractious.

However, the pair got back together in 2004 for the ‘Everybody Loves A Happy Ending’ album which attracted mixed responses from fans and critics alike, but re-established TEARS FOR FEARS in their classic duo guise.

The pair certainly didn’t mess about with the start of their biggest ever UK show, launching straight into ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’ following a taped intro of Lorde’s cover version. One of the most perfect driving songs, Smith and Orzabal seemed to be in good spirits although any onstage chemistry between them was notably absent.

From ‘Everybody Loves A Happy Ending’, ‘Secret World’ featuring a section of Paul McCartney’s ‘Let ‘Em In’ went down well, the song getting better over the years like a fine wine. Continuing THE BEATLES themed vibe, the rousing ‘Sowing the Seeds Of Love’ also did the job.

Meanwhile the classic ‘Pale Shelter’ recalled the emotional angst that was part of TEARS FOR FEARS’ original appeal with drummer Jamie Wollam remaining largely faithful to the original, but providing the necessary dynamic bite for the occasion by substituting the programmed synthetic claps towards the end with snare rolls.

This approach didn’t work all night however, with Wollam having a bit of a Christian Eigner moment during ‘Memories Fade’ which did not suit the solemn electronic goth at all, but at least it was mercifully short!

‘Break It Down Again’ from the solo Orzabal incarnation of TEARS FOR FEARS got an airing but suffered from the quality of material around it. ‘Change’ got the squeaky audience vocal treatment but as mighty as ever, ‘Mad World’ had everyone mesmerised, although Orzabal eschewed his iconic jerky dance from the video which was often ridiculed but captured the song’s percussive intensity.

A huge surprise came with a stripped down piano version of ‘Suffer The Children’ sweetly sung by backing singer Carina Round; covered in more recent times by MARSHEAUX, the song certainly suits a female voice although Orzabal joined in for the closing title refrain.

Carina Round also did a wonderful job replicating Oleta Adam’s part in ‘Woman In Chains’ while Smith took the lead again on ‘Advice For the Young at Heart’.

Defeat was almost snatched from victory with the inclusion of the dreadfully self-indulgent ‘Badman’s Song’ which promoted much of the audience to sit down, but everything got back on track with the anthemic ‘Head Over Heels’ before the band left the stage to the frantic rock of ‘Broken’.

As the lights went down to tease an encore, the audience began to chant the chorus of ‘Shout’, a moment which Smith decided to capture on his phone as he returned. And with blood red visuals and shots of confetti, a brilliant performance of the lead track from ‘Songs From The Big Chair’ complete with Drumulator and live rhythmic interplay concluded a professionally slick presentation where the songs were the stars.

But it must be said that things appeared tense between Orzabal and Smith. There was certainly none of those hand on shoulder moments that are commonly associated with band mates but then, TEARS FOR FEARS have never been that kind of band.

That aside, it was fabulous that the pair were able to remind the wider public of their enduring catalogue and whatever the state of their personal relationship, the evening mostly delivered and entertained.


TEARS FOR FEARS rescheduled 2019 UK tour with special guest ALISON MOYET continues:

Leeds First Direct Arena (9th February), Glasgow SSE Hydro (11th February), Birmingham Genting Arena (12th February), Nottingham Motorpoint Arena (13th February)

Other UK dates in 2019 include:

London Hampton Court Palace (18th – 19th June), Northwich Delamere Forest (21st June), Woodstock Blenheim Palace (22nd June)

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ALISON MOYET reunites with TEARS FOR FEARS at Munich Sommer Tollwood (12th July)

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Text and Photos by Chi Ming Lai
7th February 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

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Text by Paul Boddy
25th October 2018

TRAIN TO SPAIN A Journey

Producer Jonas Rasmusson had been recording as TRAIN TO SPAIN since 2011, but it wasn’t until the recruitment of singer Helena Wigeborn in 2013 that things begin to gather momentum.

The 2015 debut album ‘What It’s All About’ featured songs such as ‘Passion’ and ‘Remind Myself’ which showcased the duo’s potential, coming over at times like like Lana Del Rey fronting YAZOO. ‘Believe In Love’, the brilliant first new song issued in 2016 after ‘What It’s All About’ developed on its promise, allowing more space within Rasmusson’s classic framework Wigeborn to work in.

With the aforementioned included as a bonus track, ‘A Journey’continues… riding on an upward momentum, the vibrant opening salvo ‘I Follow You’ is an optimistic pop statement in the Kylie vein. The upbeat fervour continues on ‘Saviour’, with Wigeborn hunting high and low over Rasmusson’s energetic backing. ‘You Got To Do It’ shows what TRAIN TO SPAIN can do using a more restrained approach, while the frantic pace of ‘Not With Me’ utilises the metallic klang of Berlin-era DEPECHE MODE.

‘Pretend We Won’ moves away from the usual TRAIN TO SPAIN four-to-the-floor template during its intro which is attached to a good melodic structure. But the gloriously guilty pleasure of ‘Monsters’ is one of those Eurodance stompers with chunky triplets that filled German discos once upon a time and at various points, it feels as though a rapper will make their presence felt!

The more midtempo ‘Confused’ allows for a breather and is another highlight, featuring an alluring chorus from Wigeborn and filmic synths from Rasmusson. Taking things down further, ‘Teaser’ about a girl “who knows how to mess with your mind” is a ballad that shows subtlety in its rhythmic backbone while swathed in atmospheric electronic sweeps, while ‘What If’ is another midtempo offering although driven by heavy electronic drums and shaped by Wigeborn’s lower vocal register which suits both her and the tune.

But the closing ‘80s Drum Machine’ is the disappointing ‘Martin, David & Fletch’ of ‘A Journey’. Like its ‘What It’s All About’ cousin, the song is intended as an affectionate tribute to TRAIN TO SPAIN’s influences, but actually is a throwaway novelty that is not entirely essential with its spoken vocal and stripped down production.

Another bonus track ‘Dominant One’ plays with octaves and crashing metronomic drums in the vein of ‘Blip Blop’ from ‘What It’s All About’ and as with ‘80s Drum Machine’, it could have been left off ‘A Journey’ altogether to leave a tighter collection of ten tracks. All-in-all, ‘A Journey’ is a progression from ‘What It’s All About’ on all fronts musically, vocally and aurally. But most importantly, it is good old fashioned appealing synthpop with a Eurocentric twist. So take a TRAIN TO SPAIN and go round the world again…


‘A Journey’ is released on 31st August 2018 by Sub Culture Records in CD and download formats, available via https://subculturerecords.bandcamp.com/album/a-journey

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Text by Chi Ming Lai
24th August 2018

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