ULTRAVOX – Brilliant

“Radiate and shine – to light your path to glory…”

As far as new studio album releases go, the collaborative talents of the classic line-up of Ultravox, featuring Midge Ure, Billy Currie, Chris Cross and Warren Cann, have been somewhat buried for twenty-eight years. Thankfully, that’s no longer the case. They’re back, stepping boldly into the spotlight with Brilliant, their new studio album, recorded in Canada, Los Angeles and the UK.

As an album, Brilliant is a contemporary sound art for 2012, yet it’s etched with those deep, idiosyncratic electro sound pictures you’d expect – all contrasted with some moderately rocked-up guitar interchanges. It’s very much punctuated throughout with Chris’ familiar synthesized bass foundation; one that, in this instance, anchors the record to the band’s definitive roots. In addition, there are moments that show the lighter flashes of upbeat popular accessibility that we’ve witnessed on past commercial successes. Lyrically, it’s a poetic narrative, very much gesturing towards the emotional and most certainly reflected back within the musical elements – occasionally in the form of some chilling harmonic sweeps, but mainly with the monochrome cinematic moments of mood magic that Ultravox do so well. There’s an array of treated vocal experiments from Midge – as such giving the album its modern gloss.

‘Live’ is the powerfully outspoken opener, with a fiery mantra, bright melodic contours, interesting shifts in key and not least an intensely powerful drum sound. The piano runs very much mirror the lively motifs of ‘Dancing With Tears In My Eyes’, and the track hosts a similar soaring chorus. The mood magic arrives with overdriven guitar riffs eventually dissolving beautifully to form a simple, yet moving atmospheric break, still underpinned by Warren’s drums; but crossing the map into a modern edged bright and intensely catchy synth hook. A potential tour anthem, very much setting the standard here on in; any pre-held misconceptions about a record that might be lacking some meat on the bones are instantly cast aside. ‘Flow’ outwardly pushes aspects that invade the perimeters of a regular Midge Ure solo effort, albeit with an Ultravox-styled charismatic instrumental break. But it’s the current single, and title track,’Brilliant’, that radiates a glow that’s so unmistakably Ultravox. It’s a luminous construction, articulated by those previous melodic concepts that were so prominent in the past; intensified with a euphoric synth tapestry that goes some way to create an intoxicating nostalgic touch.

But it doesn’t stop there. For the old-school fundamentalists, ‘Change’ is most likely to be one of the highlights of the album. It’s a lusty gathering of reflective imagery : a large-scale tone painting that not only resonates deeply, but filters through electro regions that range from Kraftwerk’s ‘The Model’ to Visage’s ‘Fade To Grey’ – such clever orientation, guided by Billy’s provocative ARP Odyssey lines. Following the mid section, a gracious piano run loans its spine-tingling enchantment, giving way to gentle counter-melodic ripples that become enclosed within the existing deep waves of metallic synth back-story. Nocturnal and intensely European. An absolute classic.

Bringing about a bold rhythmic transformation is the anthemic ‘Rise’. A track that’s sure to become another staple within the newly invigorated Ultravox catalogue; an unbreakable structure consisting of an electro-centric haven, styled with an updated metrical drive that can still kick back to retro. There’s that immense percussive persuasion at work, decorated with one of Midge’s signature elevating vocal melodies. Animated movements slowly become draped in the virtuosity of a saw-tooth Odyssey break. Add to that even more characteristic layers and we have the scents of all those original outbursts, plus enough infectious charm to remind us how we all got here. In complete contrast, like black against white, the haunting reveries of ‘Remembering’ reveal themselves. Backtracking through the echoing corridors of life; later bringing with it some up to date, yet very average laid back pop overtones.

‘Hello’ hails a more traditional rhythmic drive, drenched with eastern-tinged guitar power that’s set against a delicate piano melody. The atmospheric breakout of futuristic vocal is bathed in chilly washes of synth before the elements later develop into an artful web of guitar and hard-edged Odyssey sounds – each taking a lead, pushing and steering towards the vision of a somewhat elegant masquerade. The meandering static of ‘One’ with its melancholy tones, edges it’s way forward and brings a gradual building of echo-like timeline around a strong percussive framework. There’s even a brief moment of chime-like lift.

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For huge dramatic tension however, it has to be ‘Fall’, delivering a scene setting prelude before velvet like vocals align themselves against the abstract backdrop. It’s also decorated with bell like chimes; such gentler moments echoing a close cousin to ‘Lament’. Intrepid weighty synths suddenly swing into action, creating unrelenting depths of cathedral-esque chords. There’s a moment as it edges back to the subdued with an unforgettable Celtic twist of violin melody, but in the main, it’s a multilayered sound, building like thunderclouds; think strength, and a depth of atmospherics laden with textured guitars and fluttering piano motifs – all of which leave in its wake the swirling mists of the ‘Vienna’ video. Keeping the progression dark, despite its upbeat tempo, is ‘Lie’ – another standout track, given that it’s not only drenched in pure synth richness, but completed with emotional guitar work. A shimmering uplift that is simple in concept.

The quick ‘I Remember (Death In The Afternoon)’ style step of ‘Satellite’ has superb vocal/guitar interplay; a subtle layering of vocal that drives depth on the verses and meets the sinister guitar crossfire by way of answer – very evocative. The dazzling, yet subtle swift keyboard movements lift the choruses and there’s a sprightly bridge to the most impressive string break. If an instrument could have an example of a particularly striking moment in its lifetime then this would most definitely be it. So alive, the strings draw breath. Smouldering longingly with thickening timbres, before the organic tone of its smoky lows slip back to mirror the melodic line of the track – now reaching sweet heights. A dramatic closure, fleshed out with guitars – an atmosphere that undoubtedly delivers moments from eden. Another showstopper.

For Ultravox, Brilliant marks out a fundamentally structured pathway to an enriched repertoire, flaunting at times the tonal residue and decay of Rage In Eden. But it’s ‘Contact’ that heralds the pianissimo ending, if you like, and completes the work; in much the same way as ‘Your Name (Has Slipped My Mind Again)’ affects the contours of Rage In Eden. It’s got that intimate vocal. The expressive bass guides the immense sense of loneliness here, while the violin and guitar weep gently within their own space. It almost certainly swings the compass back towards the starting point, which in this case isn’t ‘The Voice’. But ‘Live’, just as uplifting, holds the same portion of contrast. And while some may not consider the band to be breaking new territory, that isn’t strictly speaking the case.

Brilliant presents a re-invigorated Ultravox; a band that are happy to tread familiar boards, yet are self-assured enough to step forwards onto additional floor space in terms of tapping into modernistic post-production tweaks. You’ll hear it all here. The result: not just Brilliant, but both a brilliant and new beginning.


Brilliant is released by EMI Records on 28th May 2012.

Special thanks to Rusty Egan and Ingrid Heckl.


Ultravox tour the UK and Europe in Autumn 2012. Dates include:
Bristol Colston Hall (21st September), Oxford New Theatre (22nd September), Portsmouth Guildhall (23rd September), Nottingham Royal Concert Hall (25th September), Birmingham Symphony Hall (26th September), London Hammersmith Apollo (27th September), Guildford G-Live (29th September), Manchester Palace Theatre (30th September), Southend Cliffs Pavillion (2nd October), Ipswich Regent (3rd October), Sheffield City Hall (4th October), Blackpool Opera House (6th October), Glasgow Clyde Audiotorium (7th October), Gateshead The Sage (8th October), Hamburg Docks (14th October), Oslo Rockefeller (21st October), Berlin Columbiahalle (25th October), Mainz Phoenixhalle (26th October), Leipzig Haus Auensee (27th October), München Kesselhaus (29th October), Memmingen Stadthalle (3rd November), Milan Alcatraz (5th Novermber), Köln E-Werk (7th November), Bielefeld Ringlokschuppen (8th November)

www.Ultravox.org.uk
www.midgeure.com
www.billycurrie.com
www.rememberingeden.co.uk
http://Ultravox.npage.de/
www.midgeure.eu


An Interview With BILLY CURRIE

The True Transmission

Billy Currie is a classically trained, multi-talented instrumentalist / composer. With a serious musical background, he was once offered a place at London’s prestigious Royal Academy of Music back in 1969.

He opted not to go; the prospect of regimented training and academics being promptly traded for a more creative and experimental outlook. He didn’t go far wrong and since then, he’s worked with Tubeway Army and subsequently toured with Gary Numan’s band in 1979. He was also a member of Visage (a studio-based project fronted by New Romantic icon Steve Strange), and co-wrote the smash hit single ‘Fade to Grey’ with Chris Payne and Midge Ure. Now a long-standing member (since 1974) of the new wave electronic rock/pop synth pioneers Ultravox, Billy has long since been associated with the technical side of song crafting. Without a doubt he is Ultravox’s very own virtuoso of counterpoint and melody, and famed for delivering sounds of radical contrast; all of which seem to hold that air of suggestive spontaneity.

Billy is typically noted for his trademark soloing, which in the main, was created using his ARP Odyssey synthesizer. His profound blends of some of the most harmonious and expressive sounds, have not only helped establish him as a player with a unique charismatic edge, and one of unprecedented musical sophistication, but have also brought a somewhat striking shade to the colourful threads that were interwoven to form the music of Ultravox.

As a violinist, Billy would create a stylish, yet subtle classical inflection that still manages to leave a glaze all of its own, some three decades-plus later. On an instrument that perhaps lends itself more to virtuosity than others, he has also given scope to some of the most meaningful and unique aspects of Ultravox compositions, when considering the eloquent melodic violin sequences contained within the vast majority of their earlier material. Alongside his sharp soloing however, be it on violin or synthesizers, there’s also the alto voicing of his viola playing, often understated and played legato – adding yet another dynamic to his sound.

To date, Billy has eight solo albums to his credit. Each exhibits many distinct and individual stylistic features, ranging from the exhilarating and worldly Transportation (Billy’s 1988 solo debut), to the organic violin/viola sounds that constitute Stand Up & Walk. The most diverse of all, perhaps, emerges from the dynamic, intricate orchestration that leaps off the score to form Unearthed – showcasing snapshots of the lively symphonic, all set against contemporary vision, with definite impressionist elements that arguably go a little way to trigger a reminder to the French composer Maurice Ravel. Other works include Accidental Poetry Of The Structure, a delicately voiced dialogue forming an impressive collection of sensual and evocative compositions. There’s the heavily weighted, emotionally charged, upbeat synthesizer sounds hailing as Push, and not least, the wonderful minimalistic expanse that is Still Movement – to mention but a few.

Following the reformation of Ultravox in 2009 for their critically acclaimed Return To Eden tour, there was more to follow in 2010, which saw them stage their show not only in Britain, but also in Europe and Scandinavia. In the space of just two years, fans have been privileged with the release of the Return To Eden DVD (filmed live at the London Roundhouse in 2009) and also 2011’s Moments From Eden EP (recorded live during the German leg of the Return to Eden Part 2 tour.). However, the best and most celebrated news would come in January 2011 with the announcement of a brand new Ultravox album in the making. Fast forward to May 2012 and the album is here. The album entitled Brilliant is ready to hit the streets with Billy lately citing his favourite track was ‘Live’.

Just very recently, Billy stated on his website that he was also working on his next solo output. The Electricity Club caught up with him to talk about his vast body of work and not least, the new Ultravox album.


The news regarding the new Ultravox album only became public knowledge in January 2011 and was a tremendous surprise for fans – when did a new Ultravox record become a very real possibility for the four of you?

It was July 2010. We had a meeting and decided YES!

New music is something you seem to have set your sights on fairly early on, picking up from previous interviews since the live reunion?

That’s correct, I discussed it with Midge and Chris as early as May 2009. They were not very interested then. We all got more serious about it while doing the 2010 Return To Eden Part 2 tour and in Sweden for the festivals, we spent the travelling time discussing how we would go about it. I have a great memory of Chris driving me and Warren all the way across Sweden to Varberg. We talked a lot. Beautiful country, especially in August. We usually went there in winter.

After putting out so much solo material, how did you find working with a full band again?

I was anxious at first. When we went over to Canada the first time in September 2010, we did not bring ideas with us to work on. I thought that was good. We all felt the same way. We had to start from scratch.

I brought a couple of very basic ideas just to fall back on if we got a NOTHING HAPPENING AT ALL moment. One became ‘Rise’. The band put such a great rhythm to it that I had to take my average idea off and do something better. Midge helped. It was a simple pattern of chords. A few 2nd inversions though. That’s an influence from my solo work. It’s just the bass playing the 5th of the chord.

How would you describe the tone of Brilliant?

It’s sounding bright and positive. It sounds like we are having a good time.

Stephen Lipson is an excellent choice as producer. What extra qualities has he brought to the album?

Mostly energy! He has lots of it! He is very organised as well. We mixed it together. He is very good with drums and the bass synth. He would work tirelessly on them. He never forgot the whole picture though. His sounds are powerful and direct. He responded very well to the mid-tempo tracks. With ‘Hello’, he helped us virtually rewrite it in the studio!

And with ‘Remembering’, he told us to go away and rewrite it! He does not take any prisoners. It was good that he knew how far to get involved. He knew not to start doing any writing himself. That was our business! We had a good laugh as well!

Violin is your first instrument and you are a left-hander that learned to play right-handed (violin/viola). Did this present any barriers during your early years when learning the instrument?

It did at the very beginning. It seemed so unnatural. It began to mean that I was much quicker making the notes, higher positions and generally faster. More head stuff. I loved the note number-crunching part of music like sight reading. My bowing with the right arm, which really should be the leader and creator, lagged behind a bit in power. My bowing got better when I was at Music College. My teacher likened the movement to animals and reptiles jumping to catch prey which I understood. Natural Instinct!

Did you feel any inclination over the years to become a concert violinist or involved in anyway with symphony productions?

Yes, that is what I intended to do. On viola, I led the viola section in the orchestra for four years, playing symphonies and all sorts of modern stuff. I loved the string orchestra as well.

You are a classically trained pianist. But what first attracted you to the synthesizer?

When I was in a band, I found that hiring a string synth like an Elka Rhapsody could put the track in a different world. A new world! So when I got the chance to buy an ARP synthesizer in 1977, it was to further that quest. It also cut like a chainsaw. It was nice to be heard. It was exciting to make my own softer sounds that would help the song by lifting it. I enjoyed making counter melodies to the vocals. Weird sounds could completely change the feel of a track.

Was it love at first sight with the ARP Odyssey? What made it so special for you compared with say, the Minimoog?

I just liked that honky mad sound. The LFO was in a good position for me. Just moving a slider up and down, forward and back. It felt right. The Minimoog was all knobs, it did not seem as agile. They were both incredibly spacey to use. Very different though. They were abstract times. You came, eventually, to a sound, used it and never got it back again quite the same way. A Minimoog that had to have the panel upright did not look cool for me but it had to be up to play it properly though. The ARP had a lighter keyboard action which I preferred.

Chris Cross had a Minimoog which obviously suited his role in the band and Warren Cann bought his Roland TR77. Was there a particular moment or influence as to when Ultravox Mk1 decided to utilise more electronics?

Our electronic sound started to creep in while making the Ha! Ha! Ha! album. My ARP, Warren playing more fours-on-the-floor like in ‘The Man Who Dies Every Day’, John Foxx’s vocals painting pictures, high synth helping with the pictures and Chris with the repetitive, still, bass guitar at that time, and robotic parts. In 1977, recording ‘Hiroshima Mon Amour’ was a milestone.

You’ve mentioned in the past that when you were asked to join Visage, you had ideas stockpiled from before Systems Of Romance, “things that John Foxx and I argued about that we didn’t use”. So what songs on that first Visage album started off as Ultravox ideas?

‘Mind Of A Toy’ and ‘Tar’. Another became ‘I Remember (Death In The Afternoon)’ by Ultravox and one was used as the melody on ‘Kissing The Shame’ by me on Push.

When the Vienna album was released, ‘Astradyne’ was the perfect opener and a glorious statement of intent. How was the track conceived, especially with all that interplay and the way the final section starts on that unexpected lift?

It is hard to remember now. Midge started with that strong melody, Chris’ bass was also a very strong feature. I played a piano counter melody behind. The track was so strong that we felt at ease to lengthen it with a long textural piano bit that is sort of bell-like with the metronomic bass drum beats and the violin tremolo solo. We even start it with the spacey piano bit. Midge came up with that final section lift taking it out of the long ARP solo. I double it! It is a very good strong keyboard part. I used to say at the time: “Only a guitarist could come up with that!” I meant that as a good thing!

It is very celebratory at the end. Definitely some La Düsseldorf entering the rehearsal studio.

The ARP Odyssey was as good as gone by Lament. But Ultravox were early adopters of digital synths with the PPG Wave 2.2, Yamaha GS1 and DX7…

I loved the PPG. It was hard to programme though. I loved that glassy sound. It could also be crisp and metallic! I changed from turning a knob or a slider to moving numbers or letter increments in a window. A bit like getting your money from the HOLE IN THE WALL at the bank, not a very expressive action.

How were you finding the transformation from analogue synthesis as a player and how it was affecting your creativity?

It was tedious! The DX7… I had a rack of eight, it was good for ending all creativity and causing a severe headache! Good sound though when stacked up. With MIDI, I found myself mixing the more boring DX7 sounds with Oberheim or PPG. That was fun. All my synths seemed to be connected by a MIDI cable, like a washing line, round the studio. I could have five or six different synths linked together to get one sound. That got a bit silly though.

You have worked with soft synths for a good while now and seem quite happy to do so. But at what point did you decide to get the ARP Odyssey fixed up for use on the latest album.

It was a couple of months before the tour. I used it on my Still Movement album on the track ‘Deflect Downward’. I use it on my solo albums occasionally.

Are you able to tell us on how many tracks the Odyssey appears on the new album?

Four tracks…

What was the most disappointing synth that you’ve used, the one that didn’t quite meet up to expectations and why?

Prophet T8. I got it thinking it would be a competitor to the Yamaha CS80 but the action was always far too heavy. It was the only other synth that had a totally polyphonic touch-sensitive keyboard. It was about £4000… a bargain!

You mentioned on a recent update that you have played violin on the new album – something that has always been a big part of the Ultravox sound. Can we expect some immensely atmospheric violin passages similar to those that were prominent on the likes of Vienna and Rage in Eden?

There is a rhythmic violin on ‘Flow’. The rest are solos. One violin part is adding atmosphere behind the vocals.

The Quartet and Lament albums had less obvious violin parts than the previous albums. Were there any particular reasons for that?

No, but Systems Of Romance had no violin on. Sometimes, keyboards are so consuming, especially when there are lots of very interesting changes going on in technology. There certainly was in 1982 to ’84. To flag up your question about the change from analogue to digital, that was what was going on then. I sort of forgot about the violin.

You must be very proud having just completed the first new Ultravox album for many years. Are there any particular highlights for you?

I love the atmosphere of ‘Lie’, the chord changes of ‘Live’, and the simplicity of ‘Change’ and ‘Contact’.

Apart from the fact yourself, Midge Ure, Chris Cross and Warren Cann have all written and recorded material – in your opinion, what makes this latest offering a standout Ultravox record?

It is very positive!

You have mentioned that you are working on a new solo record. Based on the superior quality of 2006’s Accidental Poetry Of The Structure and 2009’s Refine, that is another wonderful piece of news. How far are you with it, and have you incorporated any new influences picked up from perhaps working with Ultravox once again?

I have got eight tracks going now. Working with Ultravox has encouraged me to get out my fiddle but I also thought: “Why not get my viola out as well!” It is quite a dramatic track with impOSCar sounds. Not too fancy. Mostly the violin and viola are in octaves. There’s some very strange violin on another. One violin is straight, the other is very effected! One track is very up with a tempo of 130 BPM.

I’m using Nexus, that is a synth that I used on Ultravox’s ‘Live’ (in the middle solo section) and ‘Remembering’. That could very well be an influence from writing with Ultravox. The album will be released realistically early next year.

Your first solo album was Transportation in 1988 but why was that released before the material you were working on which ended up as Keys & The Fiddle?

I started a solo album in early 1983. I expelled much energy but then decided to shelve the music. I had just come off the eight month Ultravox Quartet tour and we were soon to start the Lament album. Visage was breaking up. I had to keep an eye on my energy. I worked with Steve Howe on a couple of the tracks so when I started work on Transportation in 1987, I got in touch with Steve again as I loved working with him! Keys & The Fiddle was an album that Rob Ayling at Voiceprint wanted me to do in 2001. It was a process of putting out all the music I had in the vaults. So to speak!

Your solo work is primarily instrumental – how do you find your titles?

They come according to the nature of the finished piece.

So what’s coming up that you’re able to tell us about?

There’s the British and European tour with Ultravox. We may be venturing out further in the New Year. I cannot say where yet as nothing is definitely booked.

If you had to take just one of your instruments to a desert island with you, which one would it be and why?

My viola. I sometimes hate playing it. It’s so big and hard to get round if I am out of practise. I love the look and smell of it!


The Electricity Club gives its sincerest thanks to Billy Currie.

The album Brilliant is released by EMI Records on 28th May 2012.

Ultravox tour the UK in Autumn 2012. Dates include:

Bristol Colston Hall (21st September), Oxford New Theatre (22nd September), Portsmouth Guildhall (23rd September), Nottingham Royal Concert Hall (25th September), Birmingham Symphony Hall (26th September), London Hammersmith Apollo (27th September), Guildford G-Live (29th September), Manchester Palace Theatre (30th September), Southend Cliffs Pavillion (2nd October), Ipswich Regent (3rd October), Sheffield City Hall (4th October), Blackpool Opera House (6th October), Glasgow Clyde Audiotorium (7th October), Gateshead The Sage (8th October)

www.billycurrie.com
www.Ultravoxbrilliant.com
www.Ultravox.org.uk

Interview and live photos by Jus Forrest.
Banner by Toni Hearn.


TASTY FISH : 30 Lost Songs of the CD Era


By no means a comprehensive list, here is a snapshot of electronic music from between 1990 to 1999 featuring 30 near-hits, minor hits, flops and oddities.
Not all of these were released in the UK, with many treasures emanating from other European territories in a period when the guitar returned with a vengeance through Grunge and Britpop.

BEAT CLUB featuring Bernard Sumner Security (1990)

This was the first ever release on Rob’s Records; the ‘Rob’ in question being the late Rob Gretton, famed manager of New Order. The Miami duo, comprising members Ony Rodriguez and Mirey Valls, had originally released the house music staple, ‘Security’, on Atlantic Records in 1988 before signing with Gretton’s fledgling label. Bernard Sumner’s additional remix and production saw an overhaul of the original version, with the addition of his crucial vocal contribution giving it a predictably New Order-esque sheen. Other notable acts signed to Gretton’s label were A Certain Ratio and fellow Mancunians Sub Sub who scored a huge hit with ‘Ain’t No Love (Ain’t No Use)’. Sumner had ties with both bands, and guested on the latter’s more guitar-oriented ‘This Time I Ain’t Wrong’ single… Sub Sub would of course metamorphose as indie act Doves.

Available on the CD single ‘Security’ via Rob’s Records

www.discogs.com/artist/Beat+Club,+The


KON KAN Liberty (1990)

The brainchild of vastly talented Canadian DJ, remixer and musician, Barry Harris, Kon Kan burst onto the scene in 1989 with the award-winning New Order-esque international hit ‘I Beg Your Pardon’. Subsequent singles such as the Pet Shop Boys-influenced ‘Harry Houdini’ failed to dent the UK charts. ‘Liberty’, the lead-off single from their excellent second album Syntonic, also sank without a trace upon its release in the autumn of 1990. By this time, Kon Kan was effectively a solo vehicle for Harris, following lead singer Kevin Wynne’s departure after the Move To Move album. Liberty is a brilliant pop song showcasing both Harris’ deadpan vocal delivery and his strong melodic sensibilities. Background vocals were courtesy of Debbe Cole whose CV includes Malcolm McClaren’s brilliant Stephen Hague-produced hit single ‘Madam Butterfly’ from 1984. Kon Kan released a third and final album Vida! in 1993 but, once again, it was not successful.

Available on the CD album Syntonic via Atlantic Records

www.discogs.com/artist/Kon+Kan


CICERO featuring SYLVIA MASON-JAMES Live For Today (1991)


Whilst there was no single from the Pet Shop Boys in 1992, the spectre of messrs Tennant and Lowe loomed large on ‘Love Is Everywhere’, a top 20 hit for Scottish artist Cicero who had signed to their Spaghetti Records label the previous year (you may recall that the song is essentially Pet Shop Boys with bagpipes!). Cicero’s only album Future Boy, despite heralding a strong contribution from the Pet Shop Boys, unfortunately didn’t emulate this success, despite containing a number of worthy tracks. His final – and arguably greatest – collaboration with Tennant and Lowe was ‘Live For Today’, taken from the soundtrack of the 1992 film, The Crying Game. Backing vocals were provided by Sylvia Mason-James who had sung on Jimmy Nail’s insipid number one hit, ‘Ain’t No Doubt’. Whilst Boy George had earned a hit single from the same film, the same fate wouldn’t befall Cicero and he soon faded from public attentions. He would later reappear in the mid-1990s with some uninspiring dance tracks, including a terrible cover of Soft Cell’s ‘Say Hello, Wave Goodbye’.

Available on the CD single ‘Live For Today’ via Spaghetti Records

www.discogs.com/artist/Cicero


THE OTHER TWO Tasty Fish (1991)


Following the career-best Technique album in 1989, New Order’s four members would all work on side projects. Bernard Sumner had formed Electronic with musical journeyman Johnny Marr; Peter Hook had tentatively started his Revenge project, while Gillian Gilbert and Stephen Morris eventually formed the appropriately, but rather lazily named The Other Two With Factory Records teetering on the brink, their one and only single on the label was released in October 1991. Amusingly titled ‘Tasty Fish’ after a Fish and Chip shop near Stockport, this catchy electropop single, boasting a surprisingly assured vocal from Gilbert sounded terrific on the radio. The single disappointingly stalled at no. 41. The collapse of Factory Records meant a lengthy delay for The Other Two’s debut album, which eventually surfaced late 1993, prefaced by the fine single ‘Selfish’. Their second album Super Highways was released in 1999.

Available on the CD album And You via LTM Records

http://theothertwo.co.uk/


REVENGE State Of Shock (1991)


Revenge were formed by Peter Hook in the wake of an enforced hiatus from New Order. This brilliant 6-minute plus track, originally from the Gun World Porn EP, is quite simply one of the best tracks that New Order never recorded! From the deadpan vocals to the distinctive melodic basslines, ‘State Of Shock’ exemplified all that was good about New Order. Sadly, the latter’s next three albums would only contain flashes of the brilliance that made them such a creative and inspirational force in the 1980s. Amongst Revenge’s members was David Potts who would be retained for Hooky’s next side project Monaco.

Available on the CD album One True Passion (v2.0) via LTM Records

www.peterhook.co.uk


WOLFSHEIM The Sparrows & The Nightingales (1991)


A truly classic synthpop single. Named after a character in F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, electronic duo Wolfsheim scored a hit in their native Germany with memorable debut single, ‘The Sparrows and the Nightingales’. Combining a strong synth melody with Peter Heppner’s poetic lyrics, this was one of the standout singles in 1991. Between 1992 and 2003 Wolfsheim would release five studio albums before an acrimonious split saw the Hamburg duo of Heppner and Markus Reinhardt end up in court over the rights to the name. Heppner finally released his debut album, appropriately titled Solo, in 2008. Interestingly, his distinctive vocals would later end up on a recording with compatriot Nena of ’99 Red Balloons’ fame.

Available on the CD album No Happy View via Strange Ways Records

www.wolfsheim.de


NEIL ARTHUR One Day, One Time (1992)


By the time of disappointing third album, Believe You Me, the Blancmange brand had run its (third) course. Whilst there was still a market for synth duos in the mid-1980s (see Pet Shop Boys and Erasure), Neil Arthur and Stephen Luscombe decided to call it a day. Luscombe would eventually release an album with side project West India Company with regular Blancmange collaborator Pandit Dinesh, called Music From New Demons in 1989. Arthur, meanwhile went solo and released the engaging ‘One Day, One Time’ single in 1992. The single is not a radical departure from the Blancmange’s musical template; in fact, the track features David Rhodes, their regular session guitarist. It is also notable in that it features programming from renowned music producer (and former Blow Monkeys keyboardist!) Marius de Vries. The next, rather pedestrian single ‘I Love I Hate’ didn’t trouble the charts. Arthur and Luscombe reunited for the well received Blanc Burn album in 2011.

Available on the CD album Suitcase via Chrysalis Records

www.blancmange.co.uk


RECOIL Faith Healer (1992)


Recoil is the brainchild of Alan Wilder, who left Depeche Mode on his 36th birthday in 1995, following the exhausting Devotional tour. He had released his first Recoil recordings in 1986. ‘Faith Healer’, a cover version of a track by The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, was from Recoil’s second album Bloodline in 1992. The album gave some pointers as to the direction that DM would undertake on their next album, Songs of Faith and Devotion, which would herald a harder-edged and rawer sound than that of its predecessor, Violator. On Bloodline, Wilder was utilising outside vocalists such as Moby and Curve’s Toni Halliday to complement his experimental, electro-industrial productions. ‘Faith Healer’ was no exception in that it featured Mute label mate Douglas McCarthy of Nitzer Ebb. The pair had already been acquainted during the sessions for Nitzer Ebb’s 1991 album Ebbhead which Wilder had produced.

Available on the CD album Selected via Mute Records

www.recoil.co.uk


S.P.O.C.K. Never Trust A Klingon (1992)


With The Next Generation still being broadcast to hoards of devoted Trekkies in the early 1990s, the Star Trek franchise was showing no signs of abating. In 1992, a Star Trek-loving synthpop act named S.P.O.C.K. (Star Pilot On Channel K) scored an unlikely hit in Germany with ‘Never Trust A Klingon’. The quirky Swedish band were originally called Mr Spock but an official approach to Paramount Pictures for the rights to the name resulted in disappointment – in the words of their official biography, the response was a slightly condescending “that’ll be expensive, guys!” Slightly clunky, musically, but lyrically hilarious, ‘Never Trust A Klingon’, still sounds great today. It is also notable for its sampled dialogue of Captain James T. Kirk in Star Trek III – The Search For Spock memorably declaring: “Klingon bastard! You killed my son!” Parent album Five Year Mission and subsequent albums such as Alien Worlds haven’t aged as well, with the novelty wearing thin fairly quickly… although there’s plenty for Trekkies to enjoy, with the likes of ‘Mr Spock’s Brain’, ‘Trouble With Tribbles’ and ‘Dr McCoy’ amongst their electro-goth repertoire.

Available on the CD album Five Year Mission via Energy Rekords

www.myspace.com/spockorbit


DE/VISION Dinner Without Grace (1993)


Still relatively unknown in the UK, De/Vision are one of the finest and most prolific electronic bands to have emerged in the last 25 years. Hailing from Darmstadt in Germany, they were formed in 1988 with members Steffen Keth and Thomas Adam the mainstays of the band. While there is some merit to some cruel claims that the band are mere Depeche Mode copycats, particularly when you hear some of the early recordings (collected on 1995’s Antiquity), the band’s sound has evolved over the years, encompassing a variety of electro genres. ‘Dinner Without Grace’ with its infectious tune, fluid bassline, and lyrics that recall latterday Gary Numan, was a fine single typifying the band’s sound from their formative years. Eleven studio albums into their career they still continue to deliver consistently appealing synthpop, something Depeche Mode have, arguably, only managed to do in fits and bursts since their 1990 peak.

Available on the CD album World Without End via Strange Ways Records

www.devision-music.de


ELEGANT MACHINERY Hard to Handle (1993)


Elegant Machinery were part of a burgeoning scene of Swedish synthpop acts to emerge in the 1990s (see also Covenant, S.P.O.C.K. and Page). This single from their second album typified their early 1980s electronic influences, the band citing Depeche Mode, Yazoo and The Human League as their main sources of inspiration. But it’s the former of this triumvirate of Synth Britannia masters that engrain themselves most in the music of Elegant Machinery, with a typically cynical Gore-ish lyric cutting through the Some Great Reward-era electronics. The band originally split after three albums in 1999, before reforming in 2005. They released another album, titled A Soft Exchange in 2008 before breaking up part way into the production of a fifth album. Member Richard Jomshof was elected as a Swedish MP in 2010.

Available on the CD album Shattered Grounds via Energy Rekords

www.elegantmachinery.se


ELEKTRIC MUSIC TV (1993)


“In press the key, and watch TV”… you can just picture Messrs Hütter and Schneider from Kraftwerk kicking themselves having not thought of such a simplistic couplet, one which certainly wouldn’t have sounded out of place on an album such as Computer World. Having become disillusioned with the working practices of his former employers, Karl Bartos left Kraftwerk in 1990 and formed Elektric Music with Lothar Manteuffel. The first fruits of this collaboration were via NME’s Ruby Trax compilation and a risible, vocoder-heavy cover version of The Equals’ ‘Baby Come Back’. But it was ‘TV’ that really stood out, with its simple lyrics underpinned by a wonderful melody that proved that Bartos really was the creative equal of his Kling Klang compatriots. Bartos had, of course, already proven himself as a competent vocalist on lacklustre Electric Café’s standout cut, ‘The Telephone Call’. The parent album Esperanto was notable for the two collaborations with OMD’s Andy McCluskey on ‘Showbusiness’ and ‘Kissing The Machine’. The latter was certainly the perfect antidote for those disappointed with that year’s overproduced, and decidedly patchy OMD album, Liberator. Bartos would later collaborate with Electronic on their second album, Raise The Pressure, before committing career suicide dabbling with guitars on follow-up album, Electric Music. He is currently working on the follow-up to 2003’s back-to-form solo album, Communication.

Available on the CD album Esperanto via SPV Records

www.karlbartos.com


ULTRAVOX Systems Of Love (1993)


Following the Ultravox split in 1987, Billy Currie released a brace of solo albums before forming a new version of his former band in 1992 with vocalist Tony Fenelle. Could they repeat the success of his predecessors whilst simultaneously banishing the memory of 1986’s decidedly naff U-Vox opus?! Sadly, the answer was an emphatic NO! A reasonably faithful re-recording of ‘Vienna’ was followed in 1993 by an album of original material. Revelation, despite its bold title, was actually nothing of the sort. Single ‘I Am Alive’ was a good indicator of what was to come; pleasant but uninspiring AOR that was permeating the airwaves at the time like Living In A Box. Indeed, its co-writer and producer, Rod Gammons, currently boasts a CV that includes David Hasselhoff! But the single’s B-side ‘Systems Of Love’ was much more palatable. With its Numan-esque metal rhythms, and a breathtaking 30-second instrumental break 3 minutes in, there were glimpses of the Currie magic. But these moments were few and far between on an album lacking in both inspiration and invention. Fenelle’s tenure was as shortlived and he was replaced by Sam Blue for 1994’s Ingenuity album, which was even worse than its predecessor! Of course, the classic Midge Ure-fronted line-up of Ultravox has since reformed.

Available on the CD album Revelation via Puzzle Records

www.ultravox.org.uk


WILLIAM ORBIT featuring BETH ORTON Water From A Vine Leaf (1993)


William Orbit is perhaps best known for his club hit ‘Barber’s Adagio for Strings’, as well as his creative production work with Madonna and Blur. He is also a highly respected remixer, with Kraftwerk, OMD, Erasure, Depeche Mode, The Human League and Camouflage amongst his considerable list of clients. He was also the driving force behind Bassomatic, who had a top 10 hit with ‘Fascinating Rhythm’ in 1990. ‘Water from a Vine Leaf’ is an electro-ambient single from 1993, featuring Orbit’s trademark production and an understated vocal from a then relatively unknown Beth Orton who went on to have a big hit with her acclaimed second album, Trailer Park.

Available on the CD album The Best of Strange Cargos via IRS Records

www.williamorbit.com


ALPHAVILLE Fools (1994)

Much like A-Ha, Alphaville’s sound had steadily strayed from their synthpop origins, becoming more guitar-oriented in the early to mid-1990s. And continuing with the comparisons with their Europop contemporaries, the vocal from Marian Gold on this single is decidedly Morten Harket-esque in its delivery. Whilst Gold’s plea to “keep on dancing” isn’t quite in keeping with this medium-paced, radio-friendly track, it’s still a fine single. The band are still active and released a new album, Catching Rays On Giant in 2010.

Available on the CD album Prostitute via WEA Records

www.alphaville.info


A CERTAIN RATIO Shack Up – Electronic Remix (1994)


Arguably the cult band’s best known song, A Certain Ratio’s original version of ‘Shack Up’ (actually a cover of an obscure track by Banbarra in the mid-1970s) was originally released in 1980 but has manifested itself in a variety of versions since, notably by Norman Cook in 1990 and with Electronic (aka Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr) in 1994. The latter’s excellent production and remix of this iconic track retains the original track’s trademark funky guitar, but with a faster-paced, more synth-driven gloss. Sumner also provided the highlight of ACR’s MCR album, remixing the excellent ‘Won’t Stop Loving You’.

Available on the CD single Shack Up via MCA Records

http://acrmcr.com/


INTERNATIONAL CHRYSIS Rebel Rebel (1994)


Five studio albums into their career, Dead Or Alive went into semi-retirement in the early 1990s. Long-term members Pete Burns and Steve Coy would eventually resurface as International Chrysis (named after a transsexual performer who had died in 1990). Released on the PWL label, this one-off single was, appropriately, a high-energy version of David Bowie’s gender-bending 1974 single, ‘Rebel Rebel’, with an intro evoking Echo And The Bunnymen’s ‘The Cutter’. Coincidentally (or not), this non-charting single was dedicated to Courtney Love who, of course, had befriended Ian McCulloch whilst living in Liverpool in the early 1980s. Rendering the project completely pointless, ‘Rebel Rebel’ and its B-side, ‘The Right Stuff’, both ended up on the next Dead Or Alive album, Nukleopatra, in 1995.

Available on the Dead Or Alive CD album Nukleopatra

www.deadoralive.net


THE LISTENING POOL Meant To Be (1994)

Creatively washed up, and drained by their attempts to crack the US market, OMD split at the end of the 1980s. Whilst co-founder and singer Andy McCluskey pondered his next move, his former band colleagues Paul Humphreys, Martin Cooper and Malcolm Holmes resolved to record as a trio. McCluskey bought the rights to the OMD name and released what would become 1991’s Sugar Tax album. Meanwhile, The Listening Pool, for legal reasons, couldn’t release any material until McCluskey’s album was in the shops. In 1993 their charming, but underwhelming debut single, ‘Oil For The Lamps Of China’ promptly bombed. The band’s organic sound was as far removed from OMD’s Kraftwerk-inspired roots and was more akin to latter day China Crisis. Debut album, Still Life was released to mixed reviews in 1994 and followed the same commercial fate as the single. It was a shame because it was a fine album. One of the album’s best tracks, the second single ‘Meant To Be’, retained much of OMD’s melodic charms. The band would soldier on for another couple of years before calling it a day part way into the recording of a second album.

Available on the CD album Still Life via Telegraph Records/Fin Music

http://thelisteningpool.finmusic.co.uk


INTASTELLA The Night (1995)

Perhaps best described as a poor man’s Saint Etienne, Intastella had started life as indie band Laugh before taking a more dance-oriented direction upon their formation in the early 1990s. ‘The Night’ was a highly enjoyable and respectful version of the 1975 hit by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, but it unfairly stiffed at no 60. Fellow Northern Soul enthusiasts Soft Cell would later record a version of ‘The Night’ for their 2002 comeback album, Cruelty Without Beauty. The duo had actually considered recording the song for their 1981 debut album, but opted for the lesser known ‘Tainted Love’ instead – in hindsight, the best decision they ever made! As for Intastella, the Manchester–based combo would release three albums and a string of singles, but they were not successful. Singer Stella Grundy eventually turned to acting, and wrote and starred in a play about the troubled singer Nico. She is currently a drama coach.

Available on the CD album What You Gonna Do via MCA Records

www.myspace.com/intastellaovrdrive


U96 Boot II (1995)


A restyling of Klaus Doldinger’s film theme, Das Boot was a huge number one hit throughout Europe upon its 1991 release. Eventually hitting the top 20 in the summer of 1992, ‘Das Boot’ sounds dated now with its cacophonous stabs of vocoder and muted beats. Whilst the debut album by U96 was largely built around the smash hit single ‘Das Boot’, follow-up album Replugged from 1993 was a far more diverse album, with a range of electronic and ambient sounds. Third album, Club Bizarre was a more dance-flavoured affair. Taken from the latter album, the little-known sequel to Das Boot, cunningly titled Boot II was less immediate than its predecessor, but nonetheless engaging. Boot II employed a characteristically cinematic intro, replete with trademark submarine noises, but was more frenetically paced.. Boot II didn’t emulate the success of their debut techno anthem, but main man Alex Christensen limped on with further U96 material (including further versions of ‘Das Boot’). He has also represented Germany during the 2009 Eurovision contest performing his co-written ‘Miss Kiss Kiss Bang’ track with Oscar Loya. They finished 20th.

Available on the CD album Club Bizarre via Guppy Records

www.myspace.com/alexchristensenu96


DENIM It Fell Off The Back Of A Lorry (1996)


In some respects Felt were the ultimate cult indie band of the 1980s, releasing an impressively prolific ten albums during their existence. The band’s slightly eccentric singer was Lawrence. Not only had he declined to declare his surname, but he’d also allegedly fired the band’s original drummer for having curly hair! Like Sparks, they instilled a sense of humour into their music, delivering great titles such as ‘Let The Snakes Crinkle Their Heads To Death!’ Lawrence’s next project was Denim who released their debut album, Back In Denim in 1992. Amongst Lawrence’s admirers were Pulp who invited Denim to support them during their Different Class tour in 1996. ‘It Fell Off The Back Of A Lorry’ employed a typically satirical lyric, but with the music moving in a more synth-flavoured direction (also check out the hilarious instrumental B-side ‘Snake Bite’). Somehow Denim were bypassed by a generation obsessed with Britpop. Lawrence later formed Go Kart Mozart; their second album bearing the sarcastic title, Tearing Up The Album Chart.

Available on the CD album Denim On Ice via Echo Records

www.myspace.com/denimonice


INAURA Soap Opera (1996)


Also known as the band that EMI swallowed up and promptly spat out, Inaura first came to attention when they supported The Human League in 1995. Originally named Poloroid, they had been signed by EMI who had predicted big things for them; spending heavily on promotional videos and a Steve Osborne-produced album. Unfortunately they were lumped in with the ill-fated Romo scene of the mid-1990s and the signs looked ominous for the band when their ill advised, and rather grandiose, 8-minute Pink Floyd-tinged debut single, ‘This Month’s Epic’ flopped – it was no ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, and garnered little radio play. Follow-up single, the rather more immediate and less pretentious ‘Soap Opera’, sounding like Nine Inch Nails fronting Duran Duran, emulated its predecessor’s fate. An album, One Million Smiles, had been earmarked for release on February 1997 but was cruelly pulled from the schedule after this latest setback. The album was eventually picked up by Org Records in 1998 but by then it was too late.

Available on the CD single Soap Opera via EMI Records

www.discogs.com/artist/Inaura


KOMPUTER Valentina Tereshkova (1996)


Oscar Wilde once declared, “Talent borrows, genius steals” but this is ridiculous! On this EP by Komputer, members Simon Leonard and David Baker have taken plagiarism to new levels. Seemingly plugging a void created by their Kling Klang counterparts (10 years had lapsed since Kraftwerk’s last album of original material, Electric Café), Komputer released an interesting EP in 1996. The best of the 4 tracks is an ode to the Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova who famously became the first woman in space; its simple biographical lyrics underscored by a distinctly “Model”-esque tapestry of sounds. Closing EP track ‘Oh Synthesizer’, meanwhile, is a virtual re-writing of ‘Neon Lights’! Incredibly, Leonard and Baker have been recording together for nearly 30 years under various guises. The duo originally began life as experimental synthpop act I Start Counting and later became the more experimental, dance-oriented act Fortran 5 before returning to their Kraftwerk-inspired roots with Komputer. Some of their best recordings have recently been remastered by Mute Records for this year’s Konnecting compilation.

Available on the CD EP Komputer via Mute Records

http://mute.com/artists/komputer



OUTTA CONTROL Sinful Wishes (1996)


After virtually retiring the Kon Kan name in 1993, veritable musical chameleon Barry Harris began to explore new outlets for his considerable talents. Following the Hi-Energy House album under the pseudonym Top Kat in 1994, he formed Outta Control with keyboardist Rachid Wehbi and vocalist Kimberley Wetmore. Utilising a Eurodance template that was synonymous with Haddaway, Snap! and Culture beat, the trio released a string of little-known singles and one self-titled album. One of these singles was ‘Sinful Wishes’, a song that Harris had originally recorded with Kon Kan in 1993 but one that hadn’t quite met its full potential. The new version, employing a full Eurodance makeover, provided quite a contrast with Kimberley Wetmore belting out Harris’ sexually-charged lyrics in style. The parent album also afforded Harris a chance to indulge in some of his disco influences with Giorgio Moroder and Donna Summer’s 1979 collaboration ‘Our Love’ faithfully covered with Wetmore on vocals. Meanwhile Harris sang the lead on an interesting cover of ‘Together in Electric Dreams’, which was also a single. Harris later formed a highly successful partnership with DJ Chris Cox as Thunderpuss, producing a plethora of highly rated dance remixes for the likes of Madonna, Christina Aguilera and Whitney Houston.

Available on the CD album Outta Control via Interhit Records, currently unavailable

www.discogs.com/artist/Outta+Control


PEACH On My Own (1996)


Electropop trio Peach (or Peach Union in the US) comprised jazz singer Lisa Lamb, Paul Statham (a former member of B-Movie) and writer/producer Pascal Gabriel. Originally released in 1996, their immaculately-produced debut single, ‘On My Own’ was reminiscent of Saint Etienne, but with a definite Belinda Carlisle-esque lilt. Its use in the Gwyneth Paltrow film, Sliding Doors, led to the single being re-released and subsequently hitting the top 40 of the US Billboard chart. Unfortunately, the transatlantic success wasn’t replicated in the UK, with the single stalling at no. 69 in 1998. The trio recorded one album, Audiopeach, before disbanding. Statham has since become a prolific writer and producer, and has worked with the likes of Sophie Ellis-Baxtor, Kylie Minogue, Sarah Nixey and Chew Lips. Gabriel continues his career as a successful producer.

Available on the CD album Audiopeach via Mute Records

www.inspiracy.com/peach


SEXUS The Official End Of It All (1996)


Mancunian duo Sexus were also part of the short lived so-called Romo movement. Signed by ZTT, vocalist David Savage and instrumentalist Paul Southern released their second single, ‘The Official End Of It All’ in 1996. Best described as ABC-meets-Pet Shop Boys, this fine single (like so many from the ill-fated scene) failed to chart, despite lavish praise from both Melody Maker and Smash Hits, and extensive radio play. The duo would soon fall out with ZTT who had, apparently, remixed their next single, ‘How Do You Kiss?’ behind their backs. Both this single and parent Trevor Horn-produced album, The Boyfriend Olympics, were subsequently shelved and SEXUS disappeared. They re-emerged as Psychodelicates and released an album, Go Adventuring, in 2002. Paul Southern later became a novelist.

Available on the CD single The Official End Of It All via ZTT Records

www.discogs.com/artist/Sexus


YAMO Stereomatic (1997)


Once amusingly described by OMD’s Andy McCluskey as the “Julio Iglesias of electronic music”, Wolfgang Flür had left Kraftwerk in 1987. According to his insightful autobiography, I Was A Robot published in 2000, he had received an offer to join his fellow Kling Klang compatriot, Karl Bartos, in Elektric Music, but decided to begin his own music journey. This culminated in the release of the debut Yamo single ‘Stereomatic’ in 1997, described as “a homage to the invention of the stereotone”. Displaying a wealth of musical invention that had been missing from his former employers’ recent material (see The Mix), parent album Time Pie was a bold and diverse album, containing a wealth of electronics, samples and ambient textures; its undoubted highlight being the superb 7-minute epic ‘Guiding Ray’ with its enchanting melody, simplistic phrasing, and driving, NEU!-esque beat.

Available on the CD album Time Pie via EMI Electrola

www.yamomusic.de


THE ALL SEEING I (featuring Phil Oakey) 1st Man in Space (1999)


In between the release of The Human League albums Octopus and Secrets, Phil Oakey released this rather quirky collaboration with fellow Sheffield electronic act The All Seeing I in 1999. The trio had already secured a top ten hit with ‘Walk Like A Panther’ (featuring crooner Tony Christie) and ‘1st Man In Space’ was a minor top 30 hit in September. With Oakey having recently penned the lyric “Keep your cornflakes in your freezers” (see ‘Night People’) you could easily be forgiven for thinking that he had also provided the lyrics for ‘1st Man in Space’, but it was in fact Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker (again the Sheffield connection is prevalent here), bemoaning the lack of Golden Nuggets and whingeing about milk carton packaging!

Available on the CD single 1st Man In Space on FFRR Records

www.discogs.com/artist/All+Seeing+I,+The


LES RYTHMES DIGITALES featuring NIK KERSHAW Sometimes (1999)


It had been ten years since Nik Kershaw had last recorded an album (The Works), the diminutive singer and guitarist having spent a decade writing and producing songs for the likes of Let Loose and of course, Chesney Hawkes who had enjoyed a huge number one hit with ‘The One and Only’ in 1991. All this was about to change with the imminent release of his excellent album, 15 Minutes, in the spring of 1999. Meanwhile, a certain Jacques Lu Cont was about to release a second album under the name of Les Rythmes Digitales. Lu Cont was of course Stuart Price who is these days more renowned for his writing and production work for the likes of Madonna, Kylie Minogue, The Killers and Take That. Price’s impressive collaboration with Nik Kershaw, the catchy, effervescent ‘Sometimes’, had been heavily influenced by The Human League’s ‘Love Action (I Believe In Love)’. During press interviews at the time, Price insisted that Kershaw had always been his singer of choice for the project, with Phil Oakey too obvious an option. Price (or should I say Lu Cont?!) has recently brought the Les Rythmes Digitales brand out of retirement.

Available on the CD album Darkdancer via Wall Of Sound

www.myspace.com/lesrythmesdigitales0


VNV NATION Standing (1999)


This truly stunning, electro-industrial single is typical of the VNV (Victory Not Vengeance) sound, categorised as “futurepop” by their singer Ronan Harris and employs a trance-like quality that hypnotically captivates the listener. The award-winning single was number one in Germany’s DAC (alternative) chart for an impressive 8 weeks. Currently based in Germany, the duo hail from Dublin and the UK, and have released 8 studio albums since 1995. Like Muse they weave classical music influences into their electronic soundscapes, while much of their music is complemented by intelligent and profound lyrics.

Available on the CD album Burning Empires via Dependent Records

www.vnvnation.com


Text by Barry Page
3rd May 2012