Tag: Zanias (Page 1 of 3)

ZANIAS Ecdysis

Coming just one year after ‘Chrysalis’, ZANIAS returns with an adventurous new album called ‘Ecdysis’.

The solo vehicle of Alison Lewis who first came into public view as a member of acclaimed dark synth duo LINEA ASPERA, as the album title suggests, the music is the shedding an outer cuticular layer into a new self. Its origins emerged from the same sessions as the more song based material on 2023’s ‘Chrysalis’.

“I call it music from the same planet, just slightly different dimensions”, ZANIAS said to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK, “I made them with many of the same plugins and techniques, just took ‘Ecdysis’ a little further beyond the usual sound structures. I was producing so much music at the time, I wasn’t sure if it would be one long album or two, and then the tracks naturally divided themselves into two camps: the songs with words and the more abstract pieces with no words.”

Brooding and lyric-less, ‘Earthborn’ sets the scene with its other worldly voice texturing and manipulation in tongues. “I was thinking a lot about human evolution and prehistory” Lewis remembered, “I think ‘Earthborn’ was a bit of a soundtrack to how we arrived where we are today. Full of heavy emotion and conflict – hence the sounds of swords and ancient battles”.

Proceedings continue at a moodier tempo on the mantric ‘Mara’ which is heavily influenced by the abstract glossolalia of Lisa Gerrard. Upping to much more frantic pace, ‘Duneskipper’ brings the vocal pitch shifts into a wider deeper spectrum, enhancing the cinematic tension.

The vocal textures are pitched higher and vibratoed to a gentle pulse on the atmospheric Fourth World resonating ‘Acacia’ while the trance-laden ‘Bloodwood’ possesses an eerie quality that absorbs the senses in its cacophony of sound.

Referring to a small bilateral neuronal structure in the brain of vertebrates that can act as a critical node in chronic stress-related anxiety, ‘Habenula’ is like an angel calling to respond and calm while much more ominous, ‘Swim’ evokes slightly more unsettling resonances although ultimately it is escapist.

Bubbly sequences and prominent but minimal beats shape the ‘Ecdysis’ title piece to provide a brighter optimistic closer; embracing a wonderfully mysterious quality, there are hopeful sparkles amongst the strident rhythms.

Is this an instrumental record? Only in the sense of not being conventional songs but Alison Lewis has created an ecstatic language which its creator has said is “Best enjoyed on headphones in total darkness”. Constructed in a whirlwind during a period of adversity, the soothing quality of ‘Ecdysis’ is the sound of things that help make you feel ok when things aren’t ok…

‘Ecdysis’ is released on 16 February 2024 via Fleisch Records (worldwide) and Metropolis Records (North America), available in limited edition blue / white coloured vinyl LP variations, CD and digital formats direct from https://zanias.bandcamp.com/album/ecdysis





Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Tim Darin
14 February 2024

ZANIAS Interview

Photo by Hidrico Rubens

From adversity, there often can come great art…

First coming into public view as the front woman of LINEA ASPERA, Alison Lewis returns as ZANIAS with ‘Ecdysis’, the follow-up to 2023’s acclaimed album ‘Chrysalis’. Something of a rebirth, whereas ‘Chrysalis’ gathered a body of dark brooding songs documenting moments of extreme psychological pain, ‘Ecdysis’ was inspired by the increased acuity for the beauty in her surroundings that were also triggered.

“Ecdysis” is defined as the act of shedding an outer cuticular layer and through the experience of her traumas, Alison Lewis has emerged from her former self with the sound of things that make her feel ok when things aren’t ok…

Immersing herself in the Australian rainforest alone at night with the vibrations of diverse and ancient life, her mindset drifted into a rediscovery of what joy is. ‘Ecdysis’ does away with language and song structures in favour of something more alien and sensual with the end result being an electronically-derived soundscape influenced by DEAD CAN DANCE and FEVER RAY.

Self-describing ‘Ecdysis’ as “The sound of a guardian angel” during a deeply healing process, Alison Lewis spoke to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about its genesis, as well as her concerns for wider issues affecting the world…

Photo by Hidrico Rubens

Now you have had some distance, how do you look back on the making of ‘Chrysalis’ and that period?

It was difficult but I learned and grew so much, so there’s a touch of nostalgia there. The pandemic lockdowns weren’t quite over yet, so I had a stretch of time ahead of me that felt very free and open. I also had a bit more positivity about what the world might be like when the pandemic was ‘over’. I miss that.

The years since the lockdowns ended have felt too intense and hectic, and watching all my friends burn out one after the other isn’t pleasant. And the pandemic didn’t even end as we’d hoped. Instead we continue to sicken and our governments have chosen a war-hungry path in which any facade of ‘caring’ about us is all but dissolved. Our world is so horrifyingly dysfunctional and we need to start doing something about that.

Which was the key track for you from ‘Chrysalis’?

I really can’t choose just one. The whole requires every piece to function in the way I intended, and no single track can carry the entire weight of what it meant to me.

Were the shows that came in the lead up to the release of ‘Chrysalis’ and after helping to get things out of your system?

Every performance was a little catharsis, yes. I was also relieved that the tracks didn’t lose their power over time, and some even gained more. When a track is fresh, I need to focus on remembering it, but after a dozen or so shows it’s committed to muscle memory so deeply that I have to make the performance a little wilder in order to keep myself focused and entertained. This tends to always lead to better results.

Photo by Tim Darin

Has having Laura Bailey as a band mate made things more enjoyable for you on the road?

Having Laura a part of the band has increased my enjoyment exponentially. I wouldn’t keep doing this alone, there’s almost no reward stepping off stage without someone there who shared it with you, and having to worry about too many things makes it impossible to let go and really allow the music to speak its full verse.

In what ways is ‘Ecdysis’ a companion record to ‘Chrysalis’?

I call it music from the same planet, just slightly different dimensions. I made them with many of the same plugins and techniques, just took ‘Ecdysis’ a little further beyond the usual sound structures. I was producing so much music at the time, I wasn’t sure if it would be one long album or two, and then the tracks naturally divided themselves into two camps: the songs with words and the more abstract pieces with no words.

Photo by Tim Darin

On ‘Ecdysis’, you do away with conventional song lyrics although the album is not instrumental, how did idea come to use glossolalia about?

Glossolalia is not new for me and has been a natural part of my singing style for as long as I’ve been a singer. Discovering Lisa Gerrard in my teenage years just gave me the confidence to actually practice it, and I used it on one of the earliest demos I ever recorded at age 15. The tracks on ‘Ecsysis’ just didn’t call for lyrics, and by remaining wordless they can convey feelings that defy language.

I’m often frustrated by the limitations of language, the least of which is the fact that we don’t all speak the same one. And even when we do speak the same one, our ability to convey meaning is still subject to infinite subjectivities and misunderstandings. It’s very lonely when you really think about it, realising that no one will ever fully feel what you feel. Music, however, is a method of conveying meaning that remains efficient and accurate, and I think that’s the key to its importance to us. Sharing music allows us to share emotions in a way that can’t be misinterpreted, especially when words aren’t involved. Words are messy.

You’ve mentioned Lisa Gerrard as an influence on your music before, what has impressed you most about her?

Her inimitable voice that never fails to make me cry when I hear it live.

Photo by John Rohrer

‘Earthborn’ sets the scene as the album opener and first single with a variety of operatic and processed vocals over a dramatic soundscape, what was its genesis?

I honestly can’t remember much about it. I was writing from a state of pretty rabid focus at the time. Experimenting with tonnes of samples, plugins, pitching my voice up and down and running it through loads of effects. I’d just sit down at my laptop every night and start something new and see what happened. I was working on about 20 tracks at once. There was no aim in any of it except to create something beautiful and dramatic to work through the potent emotions I was feeling at that time. I vaguely remember that I was thinking a lot about human evolution and prehistory, and I think ‘Earthborn’ was a bit of a soundtrack to how we arrived where we are today. Full of heavy emotion and conflict – hence the sounds of swords and ancient battles.

Photo by Tim Darin

What techniques and tools were you using to manipulate and process your voice to produce the textures heard on the album? Was there something that was a particular creative revelation to you?

Ableton 11’s warp function that allows you to alter the formant of a sound as you pitch it up and down was a pretty huge part of the sound. I also used a bit of Soundtoys’ Little Alterboy but found the Ableton algorithm led to a really nice alteration to my voice that didn’t need much else. I also used the Ableton Grain Delay a lot, and its pitch function. I could create different characters this way. I also used a lot of another granular delay plugin called Portal. I’m really hooked on that now, and Portal abuse has definitely become part of my signature. I use it on everything.

The ‘Ecdysis’ title song has this wonderfully eerie quality yet is sparkles and is quite strident rhythmically, was it straightforward to get this juxtaposition of contrasting moods?

I really can’t say, these tracks come together in such a whirlwind and my process is always just one of “does this sound good to me? …How about this? …How about this?”. I’m not aiming for anything, and a track is just done when I decide there’s no more I can think of to make it sound ‘better’.

Photo by Tim Darin

How are you finding the current climate as an independent artist and label manager, what with also the “who shouts loudest” attitude that is very prevalent on social media now?

It’s becoming a bit impossible. I’m not really sure how long I can keep doing this because the demands are so high. We can’t make enough money from touring to justify the extreme toll it takes on us physically, and Bandcamp sales are sliding ever downwards so making money off the music is only getting harder too. We’re entering a stage of capitalism that is just so completely useless that it’s also becoming hard to justify putting so much energy into existing this way at all.

Musicians aren’t the only ones having their labour exploited: literally everyone is. No one is doing ok anymore, not even those completely saturated with privilege who are creating the problem. I think the main issue is that they so often misinterpret their dissatisfaction to mean they don’t have enough, when in fact it’s due to having too much. I’m no billionaire but I still say that as someone with immense privilege for which I am very grateful, yet I’ve still noticed that it doesn’t actually feel good when so many others don’t have it. Humans aren’t built to live in societies that are so highly stratified. We are most comfortable when those around us are ‘in the same boat’.

So we’re in a situation now where those at the top are miserable and desperately digging our grave deeper as though that’ll heal their pain, and those at the bottom are left too exhausted to resist and are even more susceptible to misinformation because stress decreases activity in our pre-frontal cortex, which is the area of our brains responsible for critical thinking. It’s a recipe for imminent disaster if we don’t take action soon, and those of us with any shred of energy left are the ones who need to start taking responsibility. If you can afford to look away, you’re probably in a position to help the most.

We should all be mobilising to take back our power because way too much is at stake. Music is still vitally important of course as a fibre of social connection and a purveyor of hope, but I don’t think anyone’s job is more important than revolution at this point. I’m sick of watching livestreamed genocide and I’m sick of feeling like our planet is dying and no one cares. A better future is 100% possible if we make it happen.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to Alison Lewis

Additional thanks to Dan Volohov at Discipline PR

‘Ecdysis’ is released on 16 February 2024 via Fleisch Records (worldwide) and Metropolis Records (North America), available in limited edition blue / white coloured vinyl LP variations, CD and digital formats from https://zanias.bandcamp.com/album/ecdysis





Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
3 February 2024


Making up for lost time and revenue since 2020, the music industry really went to town on their various income streams in 2023…

Albums were being released in multiple coloured vinyl editions with the same content, sometimes as many as eight versions… while this helped in inflating physical chart positions for marketing purposes, it also gave an incorrect perception of success. As Stephen Morris from NEW ORDER once remarked to Smash Hits back in 1983: “If you believe in the charts, then you may as well believe in fairies…”

With Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino declaring that concert ticket prices were generally too low and that artists could easily “charge a bit more”, this was exactly what quite a few did and there was a noticeable price hike observed across all levels over the year.

But what about the music? This year’s song listing was quite straightforward to compile, with a smaller shortlist compared to previous years with DURAN DURAN, KITE, PISTON DAMP, LEATHERS, DELERIUM and LADYTRON missing the final 30.

Just a note that ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK has never compiled an albums list, due to long form releases now having a much longer gestation period than in the past. Therefore, songs are a much better representation of the music from a calendar year. If you like the song, then check out the parent album or EP if applicable via your chosen music platform…

Selected from tracks available on the usual online retail platforms with a restriction of one song per artist moniker (so yes NINA, John Grant,  Finlay Shakespeare and Laura Bailey each appear twice but in different combinations), here are the ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s 30 SONGS OF 2023 listed in alphabetical order…


Hailing from Melbourne in Australia, Brigitte Bardini is the latest artist to embrace her dark side having begun as an acoustic singer songwriter. Moving away from the dreampop and shoegaze of her earlier material, ‘Start A Fire’ captured an alluring gothique on top of a gritty dance tempo while simultaneously haunting and melodic. The stylised rage was sinister stuff but aurally and visually absorbing.

Available on the BRIGITTE BARDINI single ‘Start A Fire’ via Ruby Valley Records


BEBORN BETON Dancer In The Dark

Not a rework of Bruce Springsteen, the brilliant ‘Dancer In The Dark’ saw BEBORN BETON managing to out Camouflage CAMOUFLAGE with an infectious pop sensibility that more than likely came from front man and lyric writer Stefan Netschio’s love of DURAN DURAN. With another Cold War looming as if The Berlin Wall never fell, ‘Dancer In The Dark’ was a message to remain positive in the face of adversity.

Available on the BEBORN BETON album ‘Darkness Falls Again’ via Dependent Records



A product of lockdown, BLACKCARBURNING is the solo vehicle of Mark Hockings with the lead singer of MESH taking on multiple roles including programming and production. The spikey throbbing energy of ‘The Mirror’ provided a dark disco highlight away from the parent band’s template. “I’m just generally a fan of arpeggiated bass lines” he said, “I don’t think you can go far wrong with a repetitive sequence and a Roland drum machine”.

Available on the BLACKCARBURNING album ‘Watching Sleepers’ via COP International



With Lloyd Cole “excited to still be finding new methods, new perspectives, new sounds”, the standout song ‘The Idiot’ from his Chris Hughes’ produced album ‘On Pain’ gave a touching synth-laden narrative on the relationship between David Bowie and Iggy Pop as they relocated to Berlin in 1976 in an imagined conversation as the pair escaped their narcotic dependency while cycling to the studio and discothèque.

Available on the LLOYD COLE album ‘On Pain’ via earMUSIC


CREEP SHOW The Bellows

A supergroup comprising of John Grant and the trio WRANGLER comprising of Stephen Mallinder, Ben Benge Edwards and Phil Winter, CREEP SHOW released their acclaimed debut album ‘Mr Dynamite’ in 2018. Utilising a punchy backing track, ‘The Bellows’ was like a blippy PET SHOP BOYS with layers of treated and vocodered vocals before being countered by enticing Middle Eastern resonances in the synth solo.

Available on the CREEP SHOW album ‘Yawning Abyss’ via Bella Union


DAWN TO DAWN Seventh Floor

Their first new track from DAWN TO DAWN since their 2022 debut album ‘Postcards From The Sun To The Moon’, the Montreal trio of solo artist Tess Roby with THE BEAT ESCAPE’s Adam Ohr and Patrick Lee conjured images of headlights on night drives with the shimmering story of love and lust that was ‘Seventh Floor’. With dreamy synthscapes and hypnotic drum machine, this was a wonderfully understated dance number.

Available on the DAWN TO DAWN digital single ‘Seventh Floor’ via SSURROUNDSS



Creating their own “Feraltropolis”, the palette of tools on ‘Truth Is The New Gold’ saw FERAL FIVE use traditional instruments, electronica and AI voicing in a quirky but accessible fashion for a commentary on today’s strangely dystopian post-truth world. Exploring the theme of light pollution, the fine squelch laden ‘Silver Sky’ saw great vocals and backing reminiscent of INTERNATIONAL TEACHERS OF POP and DUBSTAR meeting GOLDFRAPP.

Available on the FERAL FIVE album ‘Truth Is The New Gold’ via Reckless Yes


FRAGRANCE. Much More Like A Wave – M!R!M Remix

Matthieu Roche is the enigmatic Parisian behind FRAGRANCE. whose debut ‘Dust & Disorders’ was expanded in 2023 with five new tracks. The first remix from it came in the shape of an excellent ‘Much More Like A Wave’ rework by London-based Italian producer M!R!M. “I love his take on the song” said Roche, “I always felt that the chorus of this song could work as an anthem and he definitely achieved that with his remix”

Available on the FRAGRANCE. digital single ‘Much More Like A Wave – M!R!M Remix’ via Sugarcane Recordings


GLÜME Dangerous Blue

Following the acclaim for her debut ‘The Internet’ and her first liev appearences, the second Glüme album ‘Main Character’ with high profile guests such as Sean Ono Lennon and Rufus Wainwright was set to elevate her to the next level. However, things did not quite work out that way with health and financial concerns by the end of the year. ‘Dangerous Blue’ was one of the sparkling highlights despite its cooing melancholy.

Available on the GLÜME album ‘Main Character’ via Italians Do It Better



Formally of synth-tinged Portland band FRINGE CLASS, Madeline Goldstein presented her best single yet in ‘Seed Of Doubt’ to launch her ‘Other World’ EP. With a wider narrative on “the restlessness of alienation and isolation, the longing to move, to feel power, and to flee”, ‘Seed Of Doubt’ was a brooding slice of gothwave in a manner tinged with some ghostly allure thanks to a haunting soprano delivery.

Available on the self-released MADELINE GOLDSTEIN EP ‘Other World’


JORI HULKKONEN featuring JOHN GRANT I’m Going To Hell

“For my 50th birthday I wanted to do something a bit special” said Jori Hulkkonen, “however, the list of realistic projects quickly narrowed down on yet another album. I did manage to invite some friends and heroes to be featured on it, though.” The album assembled an impressive supporting cast; displaying his love of PET SHOP BOYS, hearing John Grant with his rich baritone on a house-driven pop track like ‘I’m Going To Hell’ was pure joy.

Available on the JORI HULKKONEN album ‘There Is Light Hidden In These Shadows’ via Blanco & Tinto Recordings



ITALOCONNECTION’s long player ‘Nordisko’ came with a twist by paying tribute to pop from the Nordic region via a collection of cover versions. Written by Jay-Jay Johanson, his marvellous 2002 tune ‘On The Radio’ was given an airy feminine disco makeover featuring Jaia Sowden on vocals. With absorbent sequences and glistening keys, it was a fine disco friendly shapeshift from the artpop original.

Available on the ITALOCONNECTION album ‘Nordisko’ via Mordisco / Blanco Y Negro



Athens-based Finn Jaakko Eino Kalevi sought to find beauty in the chaotic nature of the everyday on his new double album ‘Chaos Magic’. One of its many highlights ‘The Chamber Of Love’ bore a resemblance to WHAM! “I wrote the song before I ever heard ‘Everything She Wants’ but the arrangement was different” the Finn said, “I love ‘Everything She Wants’ so I arranged this song sounding more like that. It is more electronic now…”

Available on the JAAKKO EINO KALEVI album ‘Chaos Magic’ via Weird World / Domino Recording Co



When artists are mutual fans, it can lead to collaborative possibilities and even ‘Lust’. KID MOXIE and NINA teamed up via Italians Do It Better to capture a seductive film-noir tension within a fantasy world with the EP launched by a cover of ‘Waiting For The Night’, a song made famous by Jennifer Lopez. With a cool air of enigmatic mystery, the downtempo synthwave treatment on ‘Lust’ exuded a sensual anticipation of consummation in their duet.

Available on the KID MOXIE & NINA EP ‘Lust’ via Italians Do It Better



KNIGHT$ What Planet Did You Come From?

The first new music from KNIGHT$ since 2021, the vibrant hook-laden Eurobeat of ‘What Planet Did You Come From? (Baby)’ threw in the kitchen sink with synth, sax and vocoder. With shades of Patrick Cowley’s work for Sylvester and Bobby Orlando’s Divine productions, it affirmed that James Knights’ Britalo was just the tonic in these difficult times despite highlighting existential issues closer to home.

Available on the KNIGHT$ EP ‘$auna Mu$ik’ via Specchio Uomo



From their third album ‘Strange Disciple’ themed around “toxic infatuation”, the fittingly titled ‘I Will Never Learn’ summed up life’s trials and tribulations in a wonderful example of why NATION OF LANGUAGE appeal so much in their glorious mix of synths, live bass, sequencers and electronic percussion. A haunting girly falsetto howl provided a beautiful touch alongside their usual NEW ORDER, OMD and ULTRAVOX influences.

Available on the NATION OF LANGUAGE album ‘Strange Disciple’ via PIAS



Having impressed with her first NEU-ROMANCER EP ‘Neue Romantika’ earlier in 2023 while touring the world with ZANIAS, Berlin-based Australian Laura Bailey ended the year with the cowbell heavy Hi-NRG romp ‘Burning Eyes’ on CURSES’ enjoyable album ‘Next Wave Acid Punx DEUX’ compilation. It made use of both her vocal and bass prowess which were less prominent on her largely instrumental debut release.

Available on the compilation album ‘Next Wave Acid Punx DEUX’ (V/A) via Eskimo Recordings


NNHMN Soldier of Beauty

As NNHMN, wife and husband “non-humans” Lee Margot and Michal Laudarg have been encapsulating these unsettling times in music. Adapting their dark electronic body style with more varied dance elements on their appropriately titled ‘Circle of Doom’ album, courtesy of a particularly hypnotic bassline, the wonderful serene glory of ‘Soldier of Beauty’ gave the viewpoint that the only honest thing to fight for is peace.

Available on the NNHMN album ‘Circle of Doom’ via Young and Cold Records


OMD Look At You Now

Derived from a Paul Humphreys demo with the working title of ‘Zimmer Frame for Andy’, this came bursting with the usual OMD hooks and was perhaps only missing a Paul Humphreys lead vocal. Lyrics such as “When the energy is gone and the feeling is just wrong” and “The power in your hand is pouring out like sand” pointed towards the ‘Bauhaus Staircase’ album’s political themes on the blind stupidity of Brexit.

Available on the OMD album ‘Bauhaus Staircase’ via 100% Records


PAGE Det Här Är Mitt Sätt

Although the ‘En Ny Våg’ album title song took the PAGE “Numanisation” process to its zenith by featuring Chris Payne, outstripping it was the excellent jaunty robopop of ‘Det Här Är Mitt Sätt’. Within its four chord progression, there were catchy riffs and some fabulous vintage Moog soloing in what was originally conceived as a homage to ‘Fade To Grey’, song which Payne co-wrote.

Available on the PAGE album ‘En Ny Våg’ via Energy Rekords


THE REMAINDER Broken Manhole Cover

As well as Neil Arthur, THE REMAINDER also comprises Liam Hutton and Finlay Shakespeare, both members of the live BLANCMANGE family. The excellent dance friendly ‘Broken Manhole Cover’ recalled LCD SOUNDSYSTEM and it was all intentional as Neil Arthur told ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK “you’ll hear me singing via a gated tremolo FX the words ‘LCD SOUNDSYSTEM’ most of the way through the song.”

Available on THE REMAINDER album ‘Evensong’ via by Blanc Check Ltd




R. MISSING All Alone With Seas

Fronted by enigmatic Sharon Shy, having released enough singles this year to make up an album, R. MISSING are in danger of falling under the radar with the bubbly electronic pop noir of ‘All Alone With Seas’ almost passing by unnoticed despite being one of their best songs of late. A long playing release, while old fashioned and not playing the modern streaming algorithms, may provide the focal point that the New York-based duo deserve.

Available on the R. MISSING single ‘All Alone With Seas’ via Terminal Echo



Covered by acts as diverse CARTER THE UNSTOBBALE SEX MACHINE and Liza Minnelli, the latest interpretation of PET SHOP BOYS stark narrative of a kept woman came via this wispy account by Swedish duo SALLY SHAPIRO. Keeping the original theme of relationship dependency close to its heart but offering an icier Nordic vision from a female perspective, Neil Tennant said “We’ve heard it! The chorus in particular sounds good”.

Available on the SALLY SHAPIRO single ‘Rent’ via Italians Do It Better


DIE SEXUAL Bound, I Rise

From out of the shadows to under the strobe lights, DIE SEXUAL are the Los Angeles-based wife-and-husband duo of Rosselinni and Anton Floriano, the latter part of BLACK LIGHT ODYSSEY who remixed the DEPECHE MODE bonus track ‘Oh Well’. Their dark electronic influences examine themes of domination and submission with the seductive ‘Bound, I Rise’ seeing the bottom switch to the top in a hypnotic EBM friendly stomper.

Available on DIE SEXUAL EP ‘Bound’ via A System Exclusive / Hush Ltd.



“It’s an absolute rip off of OMD’s ‘2nd Thought’!” admitted Finlay Shakespeare of his glorious ‘Illusion + Memory’ album highlight ‘Ready Ready’. Almost Motorik in presence with a wonderfully pulsing drive and gorgeous synth tones, our hero doesn’t refrain from thoughts about “feeling at home through just a voice on the shortwave, when in fact you don’t know where you are and you could be in the crosshairs at any time and place.”

Available on the FINLAY SHAKESPEARE album ‘Illusion + Memory’ via Alter


SIERRA Stronger

Parisian producer Annelise Morel has been quietly impressing audiences over the past few years as SIERRA with her brand of intriguing darkwave. After several EP releases, her debut album ‘A Story Of Anger’ was a major artistic leap forward. Including collaborations with Carpenter Brut and HEALTH, the standout track was her autobiographical statement ‘Stronger’.

Available on the SIERRA album ‘A Story Of Anger’ via Universal Music


SOFT CELL The Day The World Turned Day-Glo

Always adept at doing covers having had hits with ‘Tainted Love’ and ‘What’, SOFT CELL presented a brilliant electro tribute to Poly Styrene with ‘The Day The World Turned Day-Glo’. Taking a musical leaf out of ‘Sex Dwarf’ with Dave Ball making his syndrums and synths sound so menacing yet accessible, while Marc Almond delivers a vocal recalling the anguish of ‘Martin’ with sleazy sax passages resonating with the dystopian lyrics.

Available on the SOFT CELL album ‘*Happiness now completed’ via BMG


SOFTWAVE Taking Life For Granted

Despite its positive pop sound, the reflective lyrics on the second SOFTWAVE album ‘things we’ve done’ highlighted the challenges of living in a modern world full of dualities. ‘Taking Life For Granted’ saw the Danish duo of Catrine Christensen and Jerry Olsen go all ABBA-esque with someone “lacking gratitude” under attack, although the rousing chorus and a particularly joyous instrumental break gave the infinite hope.

Available on the SOFTWAVE album ‘things we’ve done’ via Electro Shock Records



A fabulous cover of the Italo flavoured Kim Wilde B-side to ‘The Second Time’ from 1984, the throbbing ‘Lovers On A Beach’ is NINA sounding sexier than ever before. Ricky Wilde said “I just thought there was a little bit more that it needed that I maybe wanted to add back in the day”. With sharp spikey edges boosting the trancey template, he provided a superb extended end section that paid homage to Giorgio Moroder in the best way possible.

Available on the RICKY WILDE X NINA album ‘Scala Hearts’ via New Retro Wave



ZANIAS Lovelife

Following one of the most traumatic periods of her life, Alison Lewis returned as her solo alter-ego Zoe Zanias to present ‘Chrysalis’.  As the title suggests, it was a rebirth. With glorious arpeggios and lush synth strings, ‘Lovelife’ was bolstered with bass guitar by live bandmate Laura Bailey aka NEU-ROMANCER while an array of pitch-shifted voice samples acted as an abstract lead vocal before the actual one kicked in.

Available on the ZANIAS album ‘Chrysalis’ via Fleisch


A selection of ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK’s favourite music of 2023 featuring 230+ tracks has been compiled for its ‘Initial After Brilliance’ playlist

Text by Chi Ming Lai
7 December 2023

CURSES Presents: Next Wave Acid Punx DEUX

Berlin-based musician and DJ Luca Venezia, better known as CURSES, presents ‘Next Wave Acid Punx DEUX’, his second curated compilation exploring the darker side of club music though the decades. The first volume had been a lockdown inspired exploration of his own record collection.

Released by Eskimo Recordings and featuring 49 tracks, the music is split into three distinct chapters with more than half being previously unreleased; “Many of these songs come from friends close of mine, or artists I perform with and tour with a lot, whose music and craft I admire and champion.” Luca Venezia told ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about the set, “We are all making a very niche style of music, and everyone is approaching it in their own unique way, it is only natural we migrate to be friends and share the stage together… like a primal instinct.”

Conceived with his ideal night out in mind, compiling such an compilation was not without its headaches; “Fortunately with the help of Eskimo and N.E.W.S., the licensing team are an absolute powerhouse” recalled Venezia, “It wasn’t easy, especially the older material, like Malcolm McLaren’s ‘Madame Butterfly’… and yes, there was SO much music I wanted but couldn’t get the rights to. Not because the artists said no, but because it was impossible to find WHO owned the rights now. Members in bands split up, some pass away, some vanish… it’s a puzzle at times to license the 80s underground electronic gems”.

Chapter 1 contains the pioneering acts of the past that were occasionally signed to major labels and even flirted with the mainstream pop charts. The set opens with ‘Distant Dreams Pt 2’, a wonderful suitably obscure 1980 B-side from THROBBING GRISTLE, while another lesser known gem comes from BIG AUDIO DYNAMITE with ‘The Big V’, the instrumental variant of the 1986 single ‘V. Thirteen’.

The first name likely to be recalled when dark club music comes to mind, especially to Taylor Swift fans, are CABARET VOLTAIRE and they fit like a glove on this compendium with ‘Blue Heat’ from ‘Micro-Phonies’, as do Dutch band CLAN OF XYMOX with ‘Obsession’, an excellent example of classic electro-goth disco.

Of course, NITZER EBB are present and correct with ‘Hearts & Minds’ while DAF stand firm with their declaration as ‘Brothers’ in their appealing but less heralded English language disco phase.

Collecting superb tracks from various acclaimed cult acts, ‘The Murder Of Love’ by PROPAGANDA and the I Dream Of Jeanne Mix of ‘Modigliani (Lost In Your Eyes)’ by BOOK OF LOVE demonstrate how the developing digital technology enabled powerful sampled sounds effectively at the flick of a switch. However, best of all are former SOFT CELL backing singers VICIOUS PINK who really should have had a huge worldwide hit with the brilliant Tony Mansfield produced ‘Cccan’t You See’

Chapter 2 moves the night on starting with ‘Voloczny’, an unreleased song from back in day by BOYTRONIC towards the present with modern day electronic producers such as Jennifer Touch and Kris Baha. In a new 2023 version, THE KVB come over like THE JESUS & MARY CHAIN with synths on ‘Still Warm’ while YEARS OF DENIAL capture plenty of stark menace on ‘It Sucks.

Canadian wife-and-husband duo ESSAIE PAS provide enigmatic prose en Français over a cascade of pulsing synths on ‘Retox’ while Berlin-based trio DINA SUMMER update the gothic disco template on ‘Darkness’. Affirming the international cast of ‘Next Wave Acid Punx DEUX’, Spain’s DAME AREA go on a heavier industrial club excursion via ‘Buon Cittadino’ but on the opposite side of the coin and Atlantic, DESIRE offer enigmatic coyness on ‘Love Races On’ outside of their Italians Do It Better stable.

Chapter 3 is the part of the night you probably should go home but don’t… a wilder, harder and more aggressive energy is here if you so desire. There is naturally a Dark Remix of ‘Machina’ from BOY HARSHER with guest vocals by Mariana Saldaña. But utilising tense triplets and brassy melodramatic stabs, CURSES revamps J.W.B. HITS THE BEAT’s ‘Body On Body’. CURSES returns to remix NUOVO TESTAMENTO’s ‘Heartbeat’ and there is an enjoyable instrumental in ‘Non Fiction’ by SILENT SERVANT.

Two of the best tracks come via Australia; ‘Burning Eyes’ is a Hi-NRG romp with wispy voice ad-libs courtesy of NEU-ROMANCER and ZANIAS’ ‘Tryptamine Palace’ is a tremendous textural dance track. ANDI VS RANDOLPH & MORTIMER make their presence felt with big beats on ‘Formidable Truths’ while Michel Amato aka THE HACKER does not disappoint with the previously unreleased ‘Monopoly’. To end, Greek synth duo PARADOX OBSCUR make a beefy contribution in ‘Evo-Devo’ that recalls French art pop duo LES RITA MISOUKO.

On the spiritual and musical thread that helped make this cohesive collection, Luca Venezia surmised: “Every artist involved has their own personal and unique take on the timeless love affair between human and machine. All the music on ‘DEUX’ also embraces the punk and DIY raw energy of live music into electronic music; artists LIKE YEARS OF DENIAL, BOY HARSHER, NUOVO TESTAMENTO, NITZER EBB, BOYTRONIC and DINA SUMMER are all good examples of how the music is very personal, verse chorus verse song-based concert music, yet can also be DJ’d in a club at 4am in a dusty thriving warehouse rave.”

Music from the past and present can sit comfortably together in the same place and ‘Next Wave Acid Punx DEUX’ proves it.

With thanks to Luca Venezia and Mirren Thomson at Eclectica

‘Next Wave Acid Punx DEUX’ is released by Eskimo Recordings, available now as three separate chaptered double vinyl albums, a three chapter vinyl combo pack, a triple CD box set and high quality download direct from https://cursesforever.bandcamp.com/album/next-wave-acid-punx-deux-2








Text by Chi Ming Lai
7 November 2023

ZANIAS Chrysalis

Following one of the most traumatic periods of her life which also led to one of her most artistically prolific, Alison Lewis is back as her solo alter-ego Zoe Zanias to present ‘Chrysalis’.

As the title of the album suggests, ‘Chrysalis’ is a rebirth. Her emotional catharsis to music is ever present, but there is also an emergent avant-pop sensibility providing hope, despite the dark times that the world finds itself with a new Cold War and environmental catastrophe looming.

Alison Lewis made her name as a member of the acclaimed minimal synth duo LINEA ASPERA with Ryan Ambridge. While they delivered an excellent comeback album ‘LPII’ in 2020, her focus has since been as ZANIAS with the most recent album ‘Unearthed’ emerging in 2021.

‘Chrysalis’ was seeded by a number of unfortunate events in Lewis’ life but using her own music as therapy, she has weaved a cocoon of hope from the despair. Song topics include the human condition, burnout, disillusionment, bereavement and the toxicity of capitalism. Written and recorded between her adopted home of Berlin and the rainforest of Queensland in Australia, despite the various foods for thought, this is the possibly the most accessible ZANIAS album yet.

The excellent ‘Simulation’ opens and is a bittersweet ode to Berlin where “This city is a fable, nowhere else to go. This city has enabled us all and it’s breaking my soul”. Despite the introspection as expressed by a hauntingly contralto vocal, the backdrop glistens. Capturing “a broken reality” where “everything’s shattering”, a joyful escapist euphoria counters those feelings.

The swaying avant pop of ‘Metrics’ is beat-centric, ghostly yet danceable with a catchy buzz. Meanwhile if Madonna had more gothic tendencies around her ‘Bedroom Stories’ period, the dark and ethereal ‘Burial’ might have been the end result. Its lush synth strings and voiced-derived layers points towards the “Global Pop” of PRAISE but is much deeper.

With glorious arpeggios and lush synth strings, ‘Lovelife’ is wonderfully trance, bolstered with bass guitar by live bandmate Laura Bailey aka NEU-ROMANCER while an array of pitch-shifted voice samples act as an abstract lead vocal before the actual one kicks in. With ominous tones reminiscent of THE CURE’s ‘A Forest’, ‘Closing’ uses a number of interesting vocal treatments which provide intensity over the snappy rhythmics.

In a departure, ‘Teatree’ features virtual strums and could be considered an eerie ZANIAS folk ballad while also taking a more sedate approach, ‘Departure’ projects a more atmospheric tone with rung textures and a white noise backbone. To close, the ‘Chrysalis’ title song goes for a full acoustic intro before beats and electronics make their presence felt as our heroine emerges from her sheltered state into her next stage of growth.

Evocative and captivating, ‘Chrysalis’ is the best Zoe Zanias long player to date. Alison Lewis remains independent and true to her art while providing a new found immersive immediacy that will help her music reach a wider audience. That balance is no easy feat to achieve but with some new approaches, she has managed it.

‘Chrysalis’ is released by Fleisch as a limited edition black/blue or blue/green vinyl LP, CD + digital release, available direct from https://zanias.bandcamp.com/





Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Hidrico Rubens
1st May 2023

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