2017 – Albums Of The Year

This year saw a wealth of electronic music talent competing for the attention of the public. There was a good balance between classic acts that were still capable of crafting solid tunes – and also contemporary acts often taking electronic music in unusual and interesting directions.

Here are 15 albums that are not presented in any particular order (aside from our top choice), but as a whole were the standout long-players for The Electricity Club in 2017.


Album(s) Of The Year

EMPATHY TEST – Losing Touch/Safe From Harm

The blossoming of grassroots electronic acts in recent years has brought a lot of bright talent to the fore. London-based duo Empathy Test have attracted critical appraisal and also managed to smash their PledgeMusic goals to fund their debut albums.

The choice to release two albums rather than one was a topic that Empathy Test’s Isaac Howlett addressed in an interview with TEC earlier this year: “We… felt that the new material was too different to the old to be on the same album. We didn’t like the idea of a double album so we decided to create the album we should have put out in 2015 (Losing Touch) and the album we wanted to put out now (Safe From Harm), and release them both at once”.

If there’s one thing that emerges from Empathy Test’s material, its the chemistry between Howlett and Adam Relf that allows them to compose songs that sound so polished and captivating. Here, there’s a sense of mood and melancholy that’s as heartfelt as it is unique. Relf has also done a stunning job in not only crafting a smooth, engaging production for the albums, but the sleeve designs show that he’s got some artistic chops into the bargain.

On Losing Touch and Safe From Harm, Empathy Test have delivered not one, but two of the finest albums of the year. Standing as a testament to the heights that contemporary electropop can ascend to, Empathy Test suggests that the genre is in safe hands for the future.

TEC Review: Losing Touch/Safe From Harm


GARY NUMAN – Savage (Songs From A Broken World)

Without covering historic pastures, it’s fair to say that those who are familiar with Numan’s work in recent years will connect upon first listen. Savage is unmistakably modern-day Numan. Not only that, unsurprisingly, it has Ade Fenton DNA stamped all over it.

It’s a carefully calibrated mix; a formula that’s based on the sure-fire template previously witnessed on the highly acclaimed Splinter (Songs From A Broken Mind), delivering a flawless production of intrigue; a soundtrack that brings together the atmospheric, the lonely, the eerie and, in places, the added drama of colourful crescendo. In summary, a sub-genre that’s more than suitable.

TEC Review: Savage (Songs From A Broken World)


HANNAH PEEL – Mary Casio : Journey To Cassiopeia

Out of all the electronic music releases in 2017, Hannah Peel’s latest opus has to rank as one of the more intriguing albums to reach the ears of music enthusiasts.

Mary Casio : Journey To Cassiopeia is a concept album of sorts that revolves around Peel’s alter ego of ‘Mary Casio’. Drawing from her influences of electronic pioneers Daphne Oram and Delia Derbyshire, Peel’s back story for Mary Casio is as an elderly stargazing electronic musician. Her lifelong dream is to leave her mining town home of Barnsley in South Yorkshire and journey into space.

The album presents an aural journey of delights, its unusual approach to combining synths and brass managing to present something both accessible and unique. It’s also a testament to Hannah Peel’s seemingly endless abilities to craft new and intriguing ideas out of the ether. It’s a cosmic journey that delivers.

TEC Review: Mary Casio : Journey To Cassiopeia


DEPECHE MODE – Spirit

For the majority of fans and critics choosing not to view Depeche Mode’s latest product through a Vince Clarke/Alan Wilder kaleidoscope, 14th studio album Spirit represented something of a return to form for the veteran synth-rockers. Whilst we weren’t as enthused about Spirit in our original review, there was still plenty to admire about one of the band’s most defining albums of recent years.

First single ‘Where’s The Revolution’ set out the band’s stall, exhibiting some more aggressive – and politically charged – wordplay. Despite its production flaws – ironed out during the Global Spirit shows in the summer – this was a serviceable enough slab of electro-blues. The more ambient ‘The Worst Crime’, meanwhile, spoke of “misinformation” and “misguided leaders” in a less cluttered arrangement. But perhaps the album’s definitive ‘call-to-arms’ statement was represented via the discordant and angry ‘Scum’, featuring some particularly vitriolic swipes from Gore.

Impressive album opener ‘Going Backwards’ had already provided a portent of what was to come, with main songwriter Martin Gore delivering some pretty harrowing lyrical concepts throughout. Gore himself sang the lead on ‘Eternal’, an ephemeral ballad in which the protagonist declares his eternal love in the midst of an apocalyptic horror. Elsewhere, Gahan consolidated his reputation as a more-than-capable songwriter with the Bowie-influenced ‘Cover Me’, while serviceable synth-pop arrived courtesy of ‘No More (This Is The Last Time)’ and ‘So Much Love’.

But, despite its high points, the album suffered from poor production and, disappointingly, featured tracks bordering on filler (see ‘Poison Heart’ and ‘Poorman’).

TEC Review: Spirit


AUSTRA – Future Politics

Many of the releases of 2017 seemed to reflect a troubling period in contemporary culture, particularly with politics providing a turbulent backdrop. Austra were one of those outfits and the release of their album Future Politics offered up some thoughtful insight into troubled times.

Casual Austra fans might be a bit glum that the baroque pop elements that the previous albums held so strong are less evident here. Electronic music enthusiasts will perhaps find Austra adding further colours to the particular musical palette that the Canadian outfit have carefully crafted since 2011’s Feel It Break. Certainly Future Politics offers up a more intimate and personal approach than previous outings, but as an album it still offers up rewards from patient listening.

TEC Review: Future Politics


THE SOUND OF ARROWS – Stay Free

When The Sound Of Arrows appeared to disappear following the release of their 2011 debut album Voyage, it seemed like one of the brighter hopes for electronic music may have gone forever. Stefan Storm and Oskar Gullstrand had brought an optimistic element to their widescreen pop that immediately stood them apart from their contemporaries.

Stay Free is a very different affair to Voyage with a much more grounded sound than the magicpop of old – an evolution in The Sound Of Arrows sound that was hinted at in the earlier Kids Of The Apocalypse output. As Storm suggests: “It’s less conceptual than Voyage and a little more about having two feet on the ground, maybe gazing up at the sky rather than floating up into space this time.”

There’s always been a desire for the outfit to develop and grow rather than repeat themselves and Stay Free offers a solid collection of songs that stands proud against a busy modern music scene.

TEC Review: Stay Free


SUSANNE SUNDFØR – Music For People In Trouble

While the success of her 2015 album Ten Love Songs managed to raise the profile of Norwegian musician Susanne Sundfør, new album Music For People In Trouble took Sundfør back to her singer-songwriter roots. Although the album boasts some fine electronic flourishes, there’s also more nods to jazz and traditional instrumentation.

But the album switches gear for compositions such as ‘The Sound Of War’. Here, it’s the sound of birdsong and rivers that open up a multi-part composition while Sundfør delivers some often grim words (“Leave all that you were/‘Cause you won’t need it where you’re going tonight”). There’s a more mournful quality to ‘No One Believes In Love Anymore’ as the title certainly implies with its thoughts cast on the topic of doomed romance.

‘The Golden Age’ features stunning immersive synth arpeggios and Sundfør’s mesmerising voice (“I wake from a dream/to be in another dream”). But the album’s crowning achievement is clearly the epic ‘Mountaineers’ which starts with the basso profundo voice of John Grant. Here, Grant’s sonorous delivery echoes from the depths. When Sundfør comes in, the song suggests a coming to the light from a great darkness, a sudden revelation and builds to a choral symphony that takes the breath away.

TEC Review: Music For People In Trouble


MARNIE Strange Words And Weird Wars

The release of the Crystal World album in 2013 demonstrated that Helen Marnie continued to display a talent for good electronic music, even while Ladytron were on an extended hiatus. Strange Words And Weird Wars features material penned over a 2-year period and showed a marked direction for the pop end of the scale.

The pulsing beats of ‘Alphabet Block’ was a good example – a track that Marnie herself described as “shoe-gaze electropop”. Similarly, ‘Bloom’ invites the listener to throw shapes on the dancefloor. “I’m in trouble again/in a no man’s land we’ll bloom” suggests Marnie on a track that boasts strong vocal melodies. Meanwhile, ‘G.I.R.L.S.’ with its cheerleading chants offers up one of the strongest tracks on the album. Equally, ‘Electric Youth’ invites the listener to reflect on nights of teenage abandon on a track that has a bright, airy quality to it.

The album ends on a high note with the rhythmic wonder that’s ‘Heartbreak Kid’, its bass-heavy arpeggios setting the scene for the emotional punch in the vocal delivery. But it’s the melodic flourishes and arrangement that gives this track the polished pop that’s such a central theme to the album as a whole.

TEC Review: Strange Words And Weird Wars


SAILOR & I – The Invention Of Loneliness

Swedish electronic musician Alexander Sjödin caught everyone’s attention in 2017 under the moniker Sailor & I. Debut album The Invention Of Loneliness bounced between icy pop and beats-driven electronica…

‘Chameleon’ has a subtle power to it that can take a few spins to appreciate. There’s a dark piano melody over which Sjödin’s yearning vocal offers hints of change or transformation. Meanwhile, a gradually-building slab of stark electronics gives the track a dark pop appeal. ‘Fire On the Moon’ utilises a lot of elements to arrive at the big, cinematic sound of the final composition. There’s a warmer feel on ‘Supervisions’ with its use of tribal chants and driving bassy synths.

The Invention Of Loneliness is an album that adopts a range of styles that include both the glacial pop of the likes of ‘Chameleon’, as well as more instrumental compositions such as ‘Supervisions’. There’s also a competent sense of production on this release that gives the material a vital humanity next to the icy thematic tunes.

TEC Review: The Invention Of Loneliness


VITALIC – Voyager

There’s a robust quality about the electronic tunes contained on this latest release by Vitalic, which appeared to signal a strong start for electronic music in 2017.

Voyager draws from a wealth of influences, including nods to the likes of Giorgio Moroder and Cerrone. Certainly, standout track ‘Waiting For The Stars’ is an unabashed nod to Arbez’s favourite ’70s and ’80s songs. Featuring vocals from David Shaw, there’s a Moroder-esque beat driving this squelchy and engaging electropop wonder.

But Voyager also features an appreciation for classic synthpop too. Written as a tribute to ‘Warm Leatherette’ by The Normal, ‘Sweet Cigarette’ features similarly deadpan lyrics against machine-like rhythms. There’s also a wealth of hooks and melodies all over ‘Use It Or Lose It’. Elsewhere, ‘Nozomi’ takes its inspiration from the Japanese shinkansen trains. As a result, there’s a constant sense of movement at play driven by the relentless rhythms and the oddly off-kilter synths.

Those that are fans of contemporary electropop will not be disappointed by the contents of Voyager – it’s also a demonstration that decent electronic music can cross many boundaries.

TEC Review: Voyager


PIXX – The Age Of Anxiety

The themes on The Age Of Anxiety, not surprisingly, touch on elements of anxiety – a condition that Hannah Rodgers (aka Pixx) endured from a young age. In particular, she suffered from insomnia caused by persistent nightmares. Songs such as the bassy ‘A Big Cloud To Float Upon’ refer back to her being in primary school age 9 and watching the clock slowly count down. Every ‘tick’ represented one step closer to the dreaded time when she’d have to go to sleep.

Meanwhile, ‘Waterslides’ (which is one of the album’s finest moments) was inspired by an odd nightmare of being trapped in a waterpark surrounded by faceless figures. The song itself is structured around plucked melodies steering the listener to the engaging chorus: “Don’t follow me into my dreams you don’t belong here”. But the album boasts many gems, including the seductive charms of ‘Your Delight’ – an immersive dreampop world which entices the listener to be drawn in by its mesmerising melodies.

The Age Of Anxiety is an album that offers up a combination of smart pop tunes married with thoughtful lyrics, which at the same time presents an evolution of electronic music that suggests there’s still horizons to reach for.

TEC Review: The Age Of Anxiety


A-HA – MTV Unplugged Summer Solstice

It was something of a surprise when a-ha announced plans to release a live acoustic album, having resisted such offers for a number of years. The band had of course performed many of their songs in more pared-down versions during their career, but never on this scale. Further credence was added to the project with its subsequent MTV branding and, in the spirit of the original format, several guest artists were introduced during the shows (notably Ian McCulloch and Alison Moyet). Several locations were touted, but the band settled for Giske, a remote Norwegian island.

The subsequent MTV Unplugged – Summer Solstice album was released in an array of visual and audio formats. The double CD version was a fine document of the two-day event, featuring stripped down versions of classic hits, alongside deep cuts and rarely-played songs. The band also performed two new songs (‘This Is Our Home’ and ‘Break In The Clouds’).

The band was also able to tap into its progressive rock past with a stunning version of ‘Sox Of The Fox’. Aka ‘The Vacant’, the song had originally appeared on the rare album Fakkeltog by Bridges, a Doors-inspired band that included Paul Waaktaar-Savoy and Magne Furuholmen.

Arguably the biggest surprise of the show was the version of ‘Take On Me’, presented in a fresh, ballad-like arrangement. It created a huge online reaction, and the band eventually released a studio version of the track in December.

Whilst some of the arrangements are a little leaden and plodding, it’s a largely crowd-pleasing set, and a fine addition to the band’s impressive catalogue.

TEC Review: MTV Unplugged Summer Solstice


GIRL ONE AND THE GREASE GUNS – Night Of The Living Electrical Appliances

Proving that there was life beyond a series of eclectic 7″ singles (neatly compiled on the album The Strange Little Lines That Humans Draw In The Dust), Girl One And The Grease Guns returned with their first proper album earlier this year.

Stating that the material on Night Of The Living Electrical Appliances was aiming to be “pure electro-pop with more experimental, darker sounding tracks”, the outfit have delivered an album that certainly boasts pop elements on tracks such as ‘He’s A Replicant’, ‘She’s A Calculator’ and ‘Emergency (Dial 999)’. But their more experimental side is evident on the likes of ‘Telegraph Street’, ‘Mute Your Gums’ and the eerie album closer ‘(She Sits) In The Freezer’.

As ever, the enigmatic outfit’s love for ’60s girl groups, combined with a ‘garage punk’ aesthetic, delivers an album whose raw energy weaves a particular magic on the listener’s ears.

TEC Review: Night Of The Living Electrical Appliances


KELLY LEE OWENS Kelly Lee Owens

Perhaps the most striking thing about the debut album from Kelly Lee Owens is its fractured nature. At heart an electronic album, the tracks contained within dart between ambient soundscapes and beat-driven compositions. It’s not a million miles away from the the sounds crafted by the likes of Japanese musician Sapphire Slows in its mesmerising electronics.

The gauzy ambience of opening track ‘S.O’ manages to drop the listener into a warm, immersive cocoon. ‘Arthur’ (a tribute to avant-garde composer Arthur Russell) opens with a soundscape of birdsong and nature sounds. Later, it weaves in subliminal beats combined with a breathy, indistinct vocal. Meanwhile, ‘Anxi.’ (featuring Norwegian artist Jenny Hval) is an intriguing dreamlike composition featuring an amalgamation of dreampop, spoken lyrics and glitchy electronica.

Kelly Lee Owens, as an album, drew critical praise from a range of commentators this year. Owens is clearly someone with a voice and with an interest in exploration. Her debut album provides an intriguing foundation, but it’s what comes next that’s going to convince us to continue exploring with her.

Further reading: Kelly Lee Owens


LO FIVE – When It’s Time To Let Go

Wirral-based electronic musician Neil Grant (aka Lo Five) describes debut release When It’s Time To Let Go as “deep landscape electronics” and “an album of wild spaces and intimate rooms”. It’s an apt description for an album of reflective reveries that both challenges and surprises the listener.

Peppered throughout with evocative chimes that suggest some lost ice cream van song, there’s also a plethora of natural sounds weaved into the mix. Compositions such as ’Sabre Contusion’ have a raw electronic component combined with a fractured production. There’s a more reflective element to ‘Machinations of the World’ with its rainfall effects and soothing tones. While ’Leave You Alone’ offers up haunting qualities with a dub-like approach to synth tunes.

Closing track ‘The Emergence Of Something Familiar’ has a suitable downbeat finality to it with its stark piano and nocturnal atmosphere.

Lo Five presents a sound that’s quite tough to easily categorise. When It’s Time To Let Go throws up plenty of challenging compositions, yet at the same time has the comforting allure of the familiar.

Further reading: When It’s Time To Let Go


2017 – Songs Of The Year

Electronic music in 2017…

If 2017 proved anything it was that the field of electronic music is a broad one. A lot of songs grabbed our attention across 12 months of intriguing, captivating and often challenging music. While many classic synthpop acts proved that they could still hold their own, the next generation of electronic artists also demonstrated that they could craft unique tunes that didn’t rely on the past.

Here are 25 songs that are not presented in any particular order, but as whole were the standout tunes for The Electricity Club in 2017.


GARY NUMAN – My Name Is Ruin


The release of Gary Numan’s 21st studio album Savage (Songs From A Broken World) marked the synthpop pioneer’s highest charting album since Telekon back in 1980. This latest body of work transmited a thoughtful concept, centred around the modern-day issues that would seemingly put into question the survival of the planet.

‘My Name Is Ruin’ was the first single to emerge from the album. It gives Numan himself something to be especially proud of, given his daughter, Persia, provides the unique backing vocals on the track. The results – an eclectic mix of the angelic-like choral tapestry set against robust dance-driven beats.

Further reading: Savage (Songs From A Broken World)
http://garynuman.com/


VITALIC (ft. David Shaw and The Beat) – Waiting for the Stars


There’s a robust quality about the electronic tunes contained on this latest release by Vitalic, which appeared to signal a strong start for electronic music in 2017.

Vitalic, aka Pascal Arbez, had been operating since the late 1990s as an underground artist, but achieved a larger profile with the release of his debut album OK Cowboy in 2005. New album Voyager draws from a wealth of influences, including nods to the likes of Giorgio Moroder and Cerrone. Certainly, standout track ‘Waiting For The Stars’ is an unabashed nod to Arbez’s favourite ’70s and ’80s songs, which in places is deliberately out of tune. Featuring vocals from David Shaw, there’s a Moroder-esque beat driving this squelchy and engaging electropop wonder.

Further reading: Voyager
http://www.vitalic.org/


AUSTRA – Utopia


Many of the releases of 2017 seemed to reflect a troubling period in contemporary culture, particularly with politics providing a turbulent backdrop. Austra were one of those outfits and the release of their album Future Politics offered up some thoughtful insight into troubled times.

The familiar bassy synth tones that Austra’s Katie Stelmanis has crafted as part of the classic Austra sound provided the foundations for ‘Utopia’. This rumination on the “collective depression”, that Stelmanis suggests is a result of city living, has strong hooks and melodies as some smart percussive frills keep the song moving along.

Further reading: Future Politics
http://www.austramusic.com/


EMPATHY TEST – Bare My Soul


London-based duo Empathy Test took us by surprise this year with each successive song. On ‘Bare My Soul’, the soaring melodies and heartfelt lyrics have a particular power that manages to undo all those tired old tropes about synthpop being cold and unemotional in one song.

The lyrics offer up brief vignettes, each of which manage to elicit the idea of something being both “tragic and beautiful”. At the same time, there’s a subtle building up of layers of electronic elements that culminates in a powerful delivery that’s both mythical and melodious.

Further reading: Bare My Soul
EmpathyTest.com


TR/ST – Destroyer


One of Canada’s electronic music gems re-emerged earlier this year with a new song and talk of a new album. ‘Bicep’ delivered the trademark sleazy synths and unsettling sounds that made TR/ST (aka Robert Alfons) such a captivating act over the course of 2 previous albums.

‘Destroyer’ shows a departure of sorts here for Alfons, with a much more restrained composition. It’s a more nocturnal affair peppered with reedy intermissions, although Alfons’ grimy vocals are present and correct. The video itself is produced by, and stars, choreographer Ryan Heffington (Sia, Lykke Li, Florence and the Machine, Arcade Fire). It charts a journey through a late night streetscape which is interspersed with oddly unsettling choreography.

Further reading: Destroyer
https://www.facebook.com/dressedforspace


OMD – La Mitrailleuse


Culled from their 2017 album The Punishment Of Luxury, ‘La Mitrailleuse’ takes its inspiration from a painting by the artist CRW Nevinson (regarded as one of the most famous war artists of World War I). Nevinson was deeply affected by what he saw in France during World War I, which had a profound effect on the paintings that he produced at the time. This included the 1915 work La Mitrailleuse, which translates from the French as “the machine gun”.

In the hands of OMD, ‘La Mitrailleuse’ is composed of a mesmerising droning intro which leads to a rhythm track designed to emulate explosions and, in particular, machine-gun fire. Meanwhile, Andy McCluskey intones “Bend your body to the will of the machine”. It’s the perfect companion to Nevinson’s work which sees the style of the soliders rendered in angular shapes, suggesting a merging of man and machine – a theme carried over in the video, which again features the distinctive style of Henning M. Lederer, who previously worked on videos for OMD’s English Electric album.

Further reading: La Mitrailleuse
http://www.omd.uk.com
www.omd-messages.co.uk


SUSANNE SUNDFØR (feat John Grant) – Mountaineers


While the success of her 2015 album Ten Love Songs managed to raise the profile of Norwegian musician Susanne Sundfør, new album Music For People In Trouble took Sundfør back to her singer-songwriter roots. Although the album boasts some fine electronic flourishes, there’s also more nods to jazz and traditional instrumentation.

The album’s crowning achievement is clearly the epic ‘Mountaineers’ which starts with the basso profundo voice of John Grant. Here, Grant’s sonorous delivery echoes from the depths with its lines about “Jumbo jets spiralling down like vultures of the stars”. It’s suggestive of the type of composition that This Mortal Coil were noted for with the emphasis on the voice to provide an compelling hypnotic effect.

When Sundfør comes in, the song suggests a coming to the light from a great darkness, a sudden revelation (“What it means/Now I know”) and builds to a choral symphony that takes the breath away.

Further reading: Music For People In Trouble
http://susannesundfor.com/


DEPECHE MODE – Cover Me


Released in March this year, Depeche Mode’s 14th studio album Spirit has proven to be one of the most divisive collections of new songs in their 37-year career. A sonically-challenging (and often unsettling) listen, the album has certainly divided fans; many of whom haven’t gotten over the fact that Alan Wilder left the band 22 years ago. By contrast, most music critics were united in their affection for the new album, praising the band for their aggressive and new approach, and also for Martin Gore’s politically-charged wordplay.

Like ‘Broken’ on Depeche Mode’s previous album Delta Machine, singer Dave Gahan once again provided the album’s best track in ‘Cover Me’, a slow-building, other-worldly electro-ballad with a Bowie-inspired lyric: “It’s about a person who travels to another planet only to find that, much to his dismay, it’s exactly the same as earth” Gahan explained to Rolling Stone magazine. Featuring some sinister electronics and a beautiful coda that recalled ‘Clean’ from 1990’s career peak Violator, this was space-aged synth rock at its finest.

Further reading: Spirit
http://www.depechemode.com/


LOLA DUTRONIC – My Name Is Lola


As Lola Dutronic, the Toronto/Düsseldorf electronic duo of Richard Citroen and Stephanie B have carved out an impressive career of engaging pop tunes. They jumped back in earlier in the year with a sequel to one of their best known tunes ‘Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead, but it was their love letter to Berlin later in 2017 that stood out for us.

Continuing the duo’s talents for crafting accessible electronic pop with engaging melodies, ‘My Name Is Lola’ is a track that Richard Citroen describes as “a bit of a departure from our usual ‘Wall Of Sound’ approach, we’ve taken on some of Alle Farben & Robin Schulz’s colours”. It’s a quirky pop tune that’s a lot of fun and includes shout-outs to all of the duo’s favourite Berlin haunts.

Further reading: An Interview With Lola Dutronic
https://www.facebook.com/lola.dutronic


DICEPEOPLE – Synthetic


Dicepeople, an electronic outfit from London, had a very busy year with several live performances and also a muscular cover version of Depeche Mode’s ‘Strangelove’. The group have an emphasis on strong visuals as part of their live shows and they draw inspiration from the likes of Depeche Mode, John Carpenter, Siouxsie Sioux, Front 242 and all points inbetween.

‘Synthetic’ is pretty much on-point with its brooding gothic synth melodies against a burbling electronic background. Atashi Tada’s vocal lead is tweaked and distorted and lends the whole affair a cyberpunk aesthetic.

Further reading: Synthetic
An Interview With Dicepeople
http://dicepeople.com/


LEGPUPPY – #Selfie Stick – Narcissistic Prick


Electro punk outfit LegPuppy have a knack for cultural commentary. Take ‘Selfie Stick’, which the 4-piece outfit released earlier this year. There’s a brooding quality to the song; a prowling tonal mood with cynical synths that provides the foundation for a lyrical dragging on Instagram culture (“Instagram that pic/Snapchat me a vid/I’ll show you my dick”). It’s a timely theme in a world where people are measured on the number of followers they have on Twitter or the belief that 17,000 ‘Likes’ can provide a fig-leaf of sorts for an empty, shallow soul.

Or as LegPuppy themselves put it: “Welcome to the Age of Narcissism where our future leaders are more interested in how many likes their stupid selfie gets on social media. Where their heroes and inspirations are Reality TV stars.”

Further reading: Selfie Stick
http://legpuppy.net/


ELYXR (feat Naoko of Princess Problems) – Godspeed


Seattle-based electronic musician/producer Kasson Crooker put together a new project for 2017 which sought to include his particular take on electronic music with a diverse range of singers.

‘Godspeed’ marked one of these releases, with the vocals coming care of Naoko Takamoto (Princess Problems). There’s a raw energy at work on a busy composition that also seems to elicit a sense of unease. Despite this, there’s a kinetic quality to the electronic melodies threaded through the piece. Conceived before Trump’s US victory, ‘Godspeed’ was penned as a reverie on the concerns such a presidency would bring. Lyrics such as “gather up your belongings/’cause he’s coming” pretty much seals the deal.

Further reading: Godspeed
http://www.symbionproject.com/


CURXES – In Your Neighbourhood


When Curxes first made their presence known several years back, they brought with them a very different approach to electronic music that presented one of the more captivating acts on the scene. Pulling from a variety of influences, the Curxes unique sound of stark pop ran through songs such as ‘The Constructor’ and ’Creatures’.

Describing themselves as “a decorative set of bones, channeling the ghosts of Discothéques past”, Curxes were a perfect fit for the first Electricity Club event staged in 2011. But it was a journey that also saw them later remixing the likes of Chvrches on the Scottish trio’s 2013 Recover EP.

‘In Your Neighbourhood’ (taken from new album Gilded Cage) shows Roberta Fidora opting for a much more languid style of singing combined with a warm, engaging layer of electronics. Meanwhile, the video is a strange amalgamation of a lost children’s puppet show and a TV repair shop.

Further reading: In Your Neighbourhood
www.curxes.com
www.robertafidora.com


THE SOUND OF ARROWS – Beautiful Life


‘Beautiful Life’ marked the welcome return of Swedish synthpop outfit The Sound Of Arrows in 2017. It’s a composition that continues the electronic duo’s talent for cinematic pop, but there’s also a more organic element with big string arrangements prominent in the mix. “Turn up the music and bring down the rain” suggests the dreampop lyrics atop subtle synth rhythms. Meanwhile, the track is given plenty of epic sweeps courtesy of the strings section.

The band later released new album Stay Free, presenting a more grounded take on the classic Sound Of Arrows formula.

Further reading: Stay Free
http://www.thesoundofarrows.com/


PIXX – I Bow Down


Taking her name from a nickname associated with her grandmother, Hannah Rodgers embarked on her musical career as Pixx in 2015. A former Brit School student (where the likes of Adele and Amy Winehouse had their roots), Rodgers signed to the 4AD label at the impossibly young age of 19.

Debut album The Age Of Anxiety, presented a collection of songs that offer up electronic music that’s both accessible, yet also has a sense of quirkiness and charm. ‘I Bow Down’, for instance, starts from simple foundations before building an insistent beat that works its magic. The video, with its strange visuals, also keeps things interesting.

Further reading: The Age Of Anxiety
http://pixxmusic.com


FIFI RONG – The Same Road


The soulful, beguiling style of Fifi Rong has been winning over both the press and the public for many years via releases such as Next Pursuit and Future Never Comes. It’s an impressive catalogue that also suggested that the London-based musician had carved out her niche and was happy with heading in that particular musical direction.

However, her new release ‘The Same Road’ sees Fifi do a left turn with a tune that’s distinctly more electropop-orientated than previous outings. Here, the lush soundscapes are put to one side for a cleaner, sharper approach to song arrangement. Electronic melodies echo through the song, augmented by Fifi’s familiar mesmerising vocals. At the same time, this is a tune crafted in the form of contemporary electronic music, rather than as a pastiche of ‘80s synthpop, which is always a bonus.

By bringing onboard the mixing talents of Max Dingel, who previously worked with the likes of Goldfrapp (as well as White Lies and Muse), the dynamic qualities of ‘The Same Road’ presents an engaging number that’s likely to surprise long-term Fifi Rong enthusiasts.

Further reading: The Same Road
http://www.fifirong.com


WAAKTAR & ZOE – Open Face


With much of the attention this year centred around a-ha’s new acoustic project, Paul Waaktaar-Savoy’s collaborative album with singer Zoe Gnecco, World Of Trouble, passed by almost unnoticed earlier this year. Which was a shame because this was as good as – if not better than – a-ha’s last studio album Cast In Steel. In fact, one such track, ‘Open Face’, almost made it on to a-ha’s 2015 comeback album, but was overlooked in favour of inferior cuts such as ‘Door Ajar’.

Released as a single in April this year ‘Open Face’ is certainly the most electronic track on the New York-based duo’s album, and boasts some fine Kraftwerkian synth work from Kurt Uenela, who has also collaborated with Dave Gahan on some of Depeche Mode’s recent releases (including this year’s Spirit).

Further reading: Lifelines: The Side Projects of a-ha
http://waaktaar.com/


THE RUDE AWAKENING (feat Brooke Calder) – Let Nothing Take Your Pride


When he’s not promoting the likes of the Synth City event electronic music event, Johnny Normal also spends time on writing and composing under his own steam.

Under the banner of The Rude Awakening, which sees Johnny bringing onboard the talents of Brooke Calder (Lolly Pop, A*O*A, POP INC), new release ‘Let Nothing Take Your Pride’ offers a reflection of our times in its themes. There’s a defiant tone to the track which deals with anyone who’s come under fire from life: “Struggling with your conscience I try to make you see/but all around your friends surround taking a piece of me”. Revolving around themes of resilience and fighting your corner, the song could be said to be a rallying call for those that have been beaten down.

The track (which also saw its live premiere at September’s Synth City event) draws from the classic synthpop template with an anthemic pop approach peppered with synthetic brass stabs. With some polished backing vocals by long-time friend and collaborator Brooke Calder, ‘Let Nothing Take Your Pride’ presents an electropop tune with some whack.

Further reading: Let Nothing Take Your Pride
www.abnormalproductions.rocks


PARRALOX – Electric Nights


Johanna Gervin once again demonstrates that she’s one of the finest voices in the world of electropop with her vital vocals on ‘Electric Nights’.

It’s a euphoric floor-stomper crafted in the style that only Parralox can pull off. ‘Electric Nights’ also comes with a suitably dynamic video packed with visual delights. It’s an explosion of primary colours and effects that lends the whole affair a dayglo sheen. The composition actually dates back to 2002, back when Roxy was part of the Parralox line-up (she also co-wrote the song). The tune was submitted to the Australian Independent Music Awards – and apparently won Best Dance song in 2003, but plans to release it seemed to get delayed due to Parralox’s hectic schedule.

Further reading: Electric Nights
www.parralox.com


BRUCE WOOLLEY & POLLY SCATTERGOOD (with The Radio Science Orchestra) – Video Killed the Radio Star


When it comes to pop tunes, there’s a select few that manage to be immediately recognisable regardless of whatever decade they were recorded in. So the iconic opening bars of The Buggles’ ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’ have been so impressed on popular culture that it’s difficult to imagine that there’s anyone unfamiliar with the tune anywhere on the planet.

The song was reimagined earlier this year care of one of the tune’s original composers – Bruce Wooley – in collaboration with dark pop chanteuse Polly Scattergood. The new version (which carries the subtitle of ‘Dark Star’) opts for a radical deconstructed adaptation of the song in conjunction with the Radio Science Orchestra (a project established by Bruce Wooley). As a result, Polly Scattergood’s laconic vocals in tandem with the orchestral arrangement lend the song an intriguingly evocative sound that still manages to lose none of the original composition’s power.

Further reading: Video Killed the Radio Star
www.radioscience.com


MARNIE – G.I.R.L.S


The release of 2013’s Crystal World album demonstrated that Helen Marnie continued to display a talent for good electronic music, even while Ladytron were on an extended hiatus.

Drawing comparisons with the likes of Ladyhawke and Goldfrapp, Marnie’s latest album Strange Words And Weird Wars has opted for a much more electronic palette on this release, which also throws a nod or two to synthwave. ‘G.I.R.L.S’, with its cheerleading chants, offers up one of the strongest tracks on the album. It’s Pop with a capital ‘P’.

Further reading: Strange Words And Weird Wars
http://www.helenmarnie.com/


TWIST HELIX – Little Buildings


There’s an energy to Twist Helix that definitely leaves an impression. Hailing from Newcastle, Twist Helix consists of singer and synth player Bea, bassist Michael and drummer James.

New release ‘Little Buildings’ (taken from forthcoming album Ouseburn) has a solid sound to it which is helped by their willingness to embrace a variety of instrumentation, including guitar and live drums. The result is a robust tune which is topped off with Bea’s powerful vocals.

Further reading: Twist Helix
https://www.twisthelix.com/


SIMEN LYNGROTH – The Waves


Simen Lyngroth is a Norwegian singer-songwriter with a distinctively soft and crystalline voice, who is currently enjoying a dual career; as both a member of folk-pop trio Ask and as a solo artist exhibiting more electronic influences.

Awash with snowcapped melancholia, debut solo album Take All The Land is strongly influenced by Radiohead and features a number of fine jazz-infused electro-ballads. Arguably, one of the album’s most immediate and commercial cuts was ‘The Waves’, and it was duly released as a single in October. Deviating from the formula slightly with its use of programmed electronics, this was a standout track from one of this year’s most exciting new releases.

Further reading: Take All The Land
http://www.simenlyngroth.com/


SAILOR & I – Chameleon


Swedish electronic musician Alexander Sjödin caught everyone’s attention in 2017 under the moniker Sailor & I. Debut album The Invention Of Loneliness bounced between icy pop and beats-driven electronica…

Nestling among the tracks on the album, ‘Chameleon’ has a subtle power to it that can take a few spins to appreciate. There’s a dark piano melody over which Sjödin’s yearning vocal offers hints of change or transformation. Meanwhile, a gradually-building slab of stark electronics gives the track a dark pop appeal.

Further reading: The Invention Of Loneliness
http://sailorandi.se/


VOI VANG – Mirror

As one of the artists performing at last summer’s Silicon Dreams event, Voi Vang made an impression as someone to watch.

‘Mirror’ demonstrates her knack for dancepop with an electronic flavour. The track starts out with a plaintive piano melody before transforming into a much more dynamic outing. Bouncing between pop and EDM elements, there’s a captivating use of rhythms and melodies to produce a powerful dance floor filler. It’s also a track that reveals Voi Vang’s impressive vocal range, which has a punchy, direct power that sits in tandem with the driving electronic beats.

Further reading: Voi Vang
https://voivang.bandcamp.com/releases


Text by Paul Browne and Barry Page.


SCANNER – The Great Crater

Exploring glacial landscapes in sound…

Crafting sound into an almost physical presence is quite a feat. But with The Great Crater, Robin Rimbaud aka Scanner has managed to compose a piece of work that swerves from awe-inspiring aural soundscapes through to oddly unsettling reveries.

The Great Crater is a work that had been commissioned by independent label Glacial Movements, inspired by the strange stories of odd circles appearing in Antarctica.

Initially thought to be an impact crater from a meteorite, ground surveys revealed a 2km diameter depression with vertical shafts in the middle. Drilling into the ice, scientists discovered lakes beneath the surface showing evidence of a ‘hot spot’ or melting ice. Researchers suspect that although the formation was triggered by natural processes, the effects of global warming were making things worse.

As a result, The Great Crater combines a series of immersive soundscapes that at times bring to mind chilly icy landscapes. At other times, there are booming bass-heavy numbers that call to mind the imposing soundtrack that Jóhann Jóhannsson produced for the film Arrival.

Even the track titles seem to tell their own stories, with ‘Katabatic Wind’, ‘Exposure, Collapse’ and ‘Underwater Lake’ conjuring their own narratives outside of the music.

Over the years, Robin Rimbaud has charted an intriguing exploration into the world of experimental electronic music. Albums such as Mass Observation and The Garden Is Full Of Metal drew critical acclaim, while Rimbaud has also collaborated with a broad spectrum of artists. This includes projects with Bryan Ferry, Laurie Anderson and Michael Nyman. He also presented an audiovisual show titled Live_Transmission: Joy Division Reworked, a collaboration with Heritage Orchestra.

Scanner presented one of the standout moments at the 22rpm event earlier this year. It provided an opportunity for Rimbaud to showcase The Great Crater, where the work was augmented with striking visual projections of bleak landscapes and floating clouds.

Listening to The Great Crater is like being exposed to the sounds of an alien world. The tonal shifts and brooding unease broken up with more fragile, airy compositions. The end result is less listening to a body of work and more being immersed into a physical experience.


The Great Crater is out now on Glacial Movements.
https://glacialmovements.bandcamp.com/album/the-great-crater

www.scannerdot.com
facebook.com/scannerdot
glacialmovements.com


EMPATHY TEST Live In London

The truth can be so tragic and beautiful…

It’s been quite the year for London-based electronic outfit Empathy Test. Their successful PledgeMusic campaign saw the band reach over 600% of their target – an effort that also resulted in the production of not just one, but two debut albums. It’s a result that’s certainly buoyed up the spirits of Empathy Test’s core duo of Isaac Howlett and Adam Relf, who set the date for a launch party for both albums.

Losing Touch and Safe From Harm (see TEC review previously) demonstrated that Empathy Test have a talent for polished electropop, but the announcement that they were going to perform every song from both albums seemed like an ambitious undertaking.

Their venue of choice was Zigfrid von Underbelly, an independent venue nestled in London’s Hoxton Square. Setting the mood for the evening, the tunes wafting over the PA pre-gig drew from the Drive soundtrack. With the likes of Electric Youth and Kavinsky lending a mirror of sorts to Empathy Test’s own brooding compositions, it’s an apt choice.

Empathy Test have built up quite a fan following from the Mesh community, a following founded on the band’s previous live outings with the Bristol band. That loyalty was in evidence tonight with a strong turnout of hardcore fans – including Mesh’s own Rich.

Opening act Nina presented some effectively energetic synthwave-flavoured tunes. Her performance was also boosted by fellow musician Laura’s suitably dynamic work on electronic percussion and backing vocals.

Nina’s set provided a pop-fueled atmosphere for the venue, which swiftly reached full capacity. Time for Empathy Test to finally take to the stage and power through their extensive live set. For their live outings, the duo of Isaac Howlett and Adam Relf are also joined by Samuel Winter-Quick on synths and Christina Lopez on drums.

The set kicks off with a surprisingly powerful ‘Kirrilee’, which sets the standard for the evening. On record the songs have an evocative twilight feel at times, but for their live outings, many of them take on a more muscular delivery.

Empathy Test have also carefully crafted their stage presence to give a sense of dynamism and energy. Howlett crouches low in a boxer’s stance to dance during songs at times, suggesting a coiled energy. When the tempo of the songs steps up, he’s fully ready to take up a more striking position at the edge of the stage (and, as we see later, into the audience itself).

The next sequence of songs keeps things moving at a steady pace. ‘Vampire Town’ breathes a bass-heavy moody atmosphere while ‘By My Side’, with its introspective nature, has Howlett casually wandering back and forth to the smoke machine in a bid to give the gig some physical sense of mood. At one point, he realises that he’s overdone the smoke machine as the band are completely obscured in a stage blanketed in fog! And yet, it seems to be the perfect visual metaphor for Empathy Test’s immersive soundscapes. As Howlett emerges from the clouds, it could almost be a purposeful sense of theatre.

“It took us 2 years to release this one” Howlett comments before delivering a heartfelt ‘Siamese’. Its percussive tones given a heavier presence thanks to Chrisy Lopez’s talents on the drums.

By the time that ‘Throwing Stones’ gets performed, the audience are moving as one and with some encouragement from Howlett, the wistful tones of the Losing Touch track turns into a singalong.

It’s also clear that there’s a fine chemistry on stage between the band. Although Adam Relf is happy to focus purely on playing music in his corner, Howlett jokes with synth player Samuel Winter-Quick about not actually singing any backing vocals. It’s a task that drummer Lopez is happy to take on however, something which adds to the fact that there does seem to be a notable contingent of Chrisy fans in the audience.

Meanwhile, ‘Bare My Soul’, whose distinctive icy opening gives way to curiously intriguing vignettes about people’s lives, leads to a powerful delivery on stage. It’s no wonder that TEC’s review pinpointed this particular track as an example of the band’s talent to be “both mythical and melodious”.

The rolling bass of ‘Burroughs & Bukowski’ provides the foundations for a moment of dreampop perfection. There’s a personal element to this song that seems to find its home in the hearts of the audience (which is quite a feat for a song inspired by pair of goldfish!).

Introducing the next song, Howlett jokes with Winter-Quick about how the set is about to step up to a more “dance-orientated” direction. Introducing ‘Sleep’ he adds an amusing dedication that has connections to TEC (but which for discretion, we’ll gloss over here) and, after, asks the crowd if any of them are feeling sleepy. The huge roar that erupts suggests the complete opposite.

Speeding towards the end, there’s a powerful sequence of tunes consisting of ‘Everything Will Work Out’, a euphoric ‘Holding Out’ and an emotional ‘Demons’.

Saving the best until last, an enthusiastic encore brings a truly superb ‘Losing Touch’. Howlett now encouraging the crowd to join in. Wanting to erase the line between audience and band, he gets down into the crowd itself and inspires a hasty circle of fans to join in the singing.

Empathy Test’s musical journey, from early EPs through to their fledgling live performances and finally to the successful launch of their albums reaches a satisfying conclusion of sorts tonight. It’s a moment that seems to have captured lightning with the perfect audience and a flawless stage performance.


Soundcloud.com/EmpathyTest
Facebook.com/EmpathyTest
EmpathyTest.com
https://twitter.com/empathytest

http://www.ninasounduk.com/


SIMEN LYNGROTH – Take All The Land

Impressive Radiohead-inspired electro-balladry from Norway

Released recently on the Apollon Records label, Take All The Land is the debut solo album by Simen Lyngroth, a singer-songwriter with a burgeoning reputation in his homeland of Norway. But, despite his young years, this promising new talent is actually something of a veteran on the live circuit…

During his formative years, Lyngroth formed the folk-pop trio Ask with childhood friends Andrea Ettestøl and Karsten Tønnessen in 2005. Based in the lowly-populated municipality of Froland in Southern Norway, the close-knit threesome began their music career by performing Beatles and Coldplay covers, before eventually progressing to self-written material.

With Lyngroth on acoustic guitar and vocals, Tønnessen on electric guitar and keyboards and Ettestøl on lead vocals, the trio – plus assorted guest musicians – soon garnered favourable notices as a live act; even attracting the attentions of the Crown Prince of Norway (who invited the band to personally perform for him in 2011). The next logical step was the recording studio, and fate was to intervene in the shape of Bjørn Ole Rasch. A renowned musician and producer, Rasch was – crucially – also a professor of music at the University of Agder, where the fledgling musicians were studying. The band soon formed a good relationship with Rasch, and they recorded the 5-track Little Bird EP at his Kongshavn Studios (in Kristiansand) with producer Øyvind Nypan in 2011.

Photo: Siri Sødahl

Bjørn Ole Rasch took the production reins himself for Ask’s debut album, Blinded. Ostensibly a showcase for the considerable talents of lead vocalist Andrea Ettestøl, the acclaimed 12-track album also highlighted the trio’s gift for melody and vocal harmonising (notable tracks included ‘You And Me’ and ‘Blinded’ – both singles – plus the gorgeous Ettestøl-Lyngroth duet ‘Hide’). But, perhaps more importantly, the album marked Lyngroth out as a potential artist in his own right. With his soft and crystalline tones, Lyngroth was a singer with strong commercial possibilities.

Indeed, by time of the release of Blinded in February 2016, Lyngroth had already embarked on a solo project, having already premiered the tender ballad ‘You Told Me’ the previous year. Aside from his work with Ask, Lyngroth had already worked with other singers such as Kristin Dahl and Oda Ulvøy from the band KELVIN (now known as I Am K), who encouraged him to expand his creative boundaries. He eventually assembled a new band that comprised I Am K’s Torstein Lauvvik Ørland (synths), Jonas Dyrstad Valberg (guitar) and Magnus Lygren (drums).

Drifting away from Ask’s more acoustic set-up, Lyngroth abandoned his routine of composing songs on guitar and switched to piano; soon amassing a number of new songs that didn’t quite fit in with Ask’s more organic template.

“The sound is colder and more distant,” Lyngroth explained to NRK. “And the lyrics have a different character.” Certainly, ‘You Told Me’ hinted at a new direction, building on Ask’s more introspective and melancholic side (‘Wintersong’, for example). Listened to as a whole, Take All The Land is certainly more thematic in its lyrical approach. The beautiful ‘You Told Me’, for example, hints at sexual adventure (“You told me to walk through the garden of hope/ You thought this was new to me/ But I’ve seen this garden before”), while the title track ‘Take All The Land’ – released as a single in September this year – deals with jealousy (“You already have the biggest house/ You’ve got the most jewels/ And you can have mine as well”).

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Whilst Lyngroth’s songs have understandably drawn comparisons with acts such as Sigur Rós and Susanne Sundfør, there’s also a strong Radiohead influence threading through the 8-track album. The title track (which was also released as a single in September this year), certainly bears the Oxfordshire band’s hallmarks, with its subtle use of electronics, inventive chord changes and climactic guitars. Similarly, there’s the high-rise drama of ‘Buildings Bloom’ which sets vivid lyrical couplets (“Buildings bloom like flowers in the forest/ Reaching high above us”) against a bleak, glaciated soundscape. And then there’s ‘Wake Me Up’, which slowly builds from a dreamy, minimalist foundation to a crescendo of guitars, with backing vocalist Emilie Bjornstad heightening the tension.

Despite its grammatical quirks (“I still got the waves in my mind/ I hear the sounds from the years in disguise”), recent single, ‘The Waves’, is arguably the album’s most immediate song. Utilizing propulsive electronics and some expressive backing vocals (by Iris Marie Gusfre), it’s certainly the most commercial track. Elsewhere, ‘Day After Day’ employs a more jazz-like approach (melodically recalling Innervisions-era Stevie Wonder), while stunning album closer ‘Silence’ is another understated affair that exhibits both the fragility and vulnerability in Lyngroth’s distinctive voice.

Whilst a running time of just over half an hour doesn’t exactly represent great value for your kroner, this is nonetheless a beautifully well-crafted and intimate album, intelligently produced by Christer-André Cederberg (a former member of Norwegian rock band Animal Alpha). Whether it’s as a solo artist or a member of Ask – who are officially on hiatus – the future for Simen Lyngroth certainly looks promising.


Take All The Land is out now on Apollon Records

Many thanks to Inger Bråten at Killer Inc.

www.simenlyngroth.com
www.facebook.com/simenlyngroth
www.twitter.com/SimenLyngroth


PARRALOX – Electric Nights

Only a limousine can take you there…

Melbourne-based outfit Parralox need little introduction. Founder-member John von Ahlen’s work ethic alone serves as an inspiration for the heights other artists can reach, but at the same time the electronic outfit continue to produce Pop with a capital ‘P’.

Johanna Gervin once again demonstrates that she’s one of the finest voices in the world of electropop with her vital vocals on ‘Electric Nights’. It’s a euphoric floor-stomper crafted in the style that only Parralox can pull off. ‘Electric Nights’ also comes with a suitably dynamic video packed with visual delights. It’s an explosion of primary colours and effects that lends the whole affair a dayglo sheen.

Back in June, John von Ahlen discussed the track ahead of its release in an exclusive interview with The Electricity Club: “The next single for Parralox is ‘Electric Nights’ feat Johanna, and it should have been released at the start of 2017. We have all the remixes ready, all the artwork is done. The only thing holding up the release is the film clip. We shot the film clip last year at the same time we did the photo shoot at Nik Pate’s studio.” After spending some time editing the video, ‘Electric Nights’ was finally ready to be let loose on the world this month.

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The origin of ‘Electric Nights’ actually dates back to 2002, back when Roxy was part of the Parralox line-up (she also co-wrote the song). The tune was submitted to the Australian Independent Music Awards – and apparently won Best Dance song in 2003, but plans to release it seemed to get delayed due to Parralox’s hectic schedule.

The song has been redefined for 2017 – and there’s also a special bundle version available featuring 3 bonus CDs. As a result, ‘Electric Nights’ comes armed with an arsenal of remixes from a wealth of electropop’s finest talents. This includes the likes of Pete Hammond, who’s worked his magic for artists such as Kylie Minogue, Bananarama and Dead Or Alive (and who worked his magic on ‘Sharper Than A Knife’ previously). Tobias Bernstrup and Will Alonso also feature and The People Theatre’s Cable Remix gives the track a thumping EDM workover.

There’s also a selection of additional tracks which have their own appeal. ‘Artificial’ channels Giorgio Moroder while von Ahlen demonstrates that he’s also got some decent vocal chops on the cyberpunk delights of ’I Hear Voices’, which also has a nice line in vocoder elements.

Among the bonus CDs is a dedicated Will Alonso remix CD. This features some classic Parralox tunes, including ‘Aeronaut’, ‘Crying On The Dancefloor’ and the iconic ‘Sharper Than A Knife’.

Also included is The OXY Mashup which features remixes from OXY (aka Breezesquad) from Japan. The results are some sterling combinations of Parralox alongside some Japanese tunes. One of the standout moments is ‘Moonwalkin’ Disco’, which combines Parralox’s ‘Moonwalking’ with Japanese technopop outfit Perfume’s ‘One Room Disco’.

Dedicated to cult film director John Carpenter, ‘Electric Nights’ arrives during a typically busy period for the Australian electropop gang. Their continuing series of unique cover versions reaches the next chapter with the release of Holiday ’17. Plus, Parralox have their sights set on a new studio album for 2018 titled Genesis.


‘Electric Nights’ is out now on Subterrane Records.

www.parralox.com
https://parralox.bandcamp.com
https://soundcloud.com/parralox
https://www.facebook.com/parralox
https://twitter.com/parralox

http://www.conzoomrecords.com


LEGPUPPY – Running Through A Field Of Wheat

Electro punk outfit get their running shoes on…

In a year that’s been full of surprising acts, it’s the electro punk foursome of LegPuppy that have somehow managed to carve out their own particular niche.

Consisting of Darren Laurence, Claire Jones, Pups and Hugo Bamboo, LegPuppy’s live outings offer a combo of good tunes, theatre and just plain bonkers (their more recent live shows have also been augmented by the vocal talents of rising star Voi Vang).

Meanwhile, their recorded output shows a band that refuse to be nailed down to any one genre. ‘Selfie Stick’, which LegPuppy released earlier in the year (see TEC review) had an unsettling, brooding quality to it. It’s a tune that was dreamt up as an anthem of sorts for an ‘Age of Narcissism’ typified by social network culture – and pretty much nails its colours to the mast.

It’s typical for LegPuppy to pass comment on popular culture in this fashion, although sometimes the commentary takes more of a backseat to the tunes themselves. Take their new outing ‘Running Through A Field Of Wheat’ as an example. Casting a sly nod to the “naughtiest thing” that Theresa May once confessed to, the track itself is a mesmeric dancepop outing that the band suggest is “Underworld meets Fleetwood Mac”.

It’s an apt description for a composition that pulls from classic techno while an airy vocal drifts in and out. Produced by Paul of Sound (Shame, Roots Manuva, HMLTD, Sex Cells), ‘Running Through A Field Of Wheat’ is a solid tune whose groove revolves around the lyrical musings of “like a rabbit caught in headlights/I don’t know which way to turn”.

The track is actually a remixed version of a number culled from LegPuppy’s forthcoming studio album You Should Be Paranoid, which is due out in the new year. Meanwhile, the band are taking note of a significant pop culture movie moment by promoting the new song through a series of ads proclaiming ‘May the Farce be with you’.

The world of electronic music is a broad and diverse landscape – and the likes of LegPuppy continue to also make it a surprising and interesting one.


‘Running Through A Field Of Wheat’ is out today via https://soundcloud.com/legpuppy

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/3c9pRUXNMYRsCQzku0JuGM

You Should Be Paranoid is out 2nd February 2018.

LegPuppy will also be performing on the following dates:
69XMusic End Of Year Show (in support of the homeless) Cargo, Shoreditch 16th Dec, Windmill, Brixton Dec 30th, Sebright Arms, Jan 5th.

http://legpuppy.net/
https://www.facebook.com/LegPuppy/


Teclist: GGOOLLDD, EAST OF MY YOUTH & SUPERDIVORCE

This weeks tunes feature the synth-infused pop of GGOOLLDD, the Nordic charms of EAST OF MY YOUTH and the synthwave stylings of SUPERDIVORCE

GGOOLLDD – The Way That I Feel

TEETH by GGOOLLDD
The strangely monikered GGOOLLDD are keen to express their influences, which cover a peculiarly wide base. Ranging from the bombastic Queen and the raw energy of Black Sabbath through to the art rock of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, it suggests a slightly disconcerting combo. In fact, GGOOLLDD dart around an alt-rock foundation that’s augmented with some engaging electronics and topped off with Margaret Butler’s emphatic vocal delivery.

Musically, the Milwaukee-based 4-piece outfit are closer to a sound that suggests a harder-edged Purity Ring, although they manage to keep things interesting with a variety of styles on new EP Teeth. ‘The Way That I Feel’ has a raw energy to it with its guitar-fueled drive. ‘Undercovers’, on the other hand, suggests elements of Grimes while ‘Secrets’ conjures up visions of a rockier Lana Del Rey.

GGOOLLDD are also due to step into the support role for OMD on their US adventures in the new year, allowing the outfit a much wider profile.

The Teeth EP is out now on Roll Call Records.
Spotify: http://open.spotify.com/album/7CAZpXt7zw4HcVQqWUUYrg
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/rollcallrecords/sets/ggoolldd-preview/s-YxFt7
http://www.ggoollddband.com/


EAST OF MY YOUTH – Go Home

Icelandic duo East of My Youth present a flavour of synth tunes that sounds strangely organic, yet nonetheless captivating. Consisting of Thelma Marín Jónsdóttir’s rich vocals and Herdís Stefánsdóttir’s evocative beats, East of My Youth formed in 2015 and have since won over press praise as well as a fanbase via their appearances at festivals such as SXSW.

There’s a simple charm to the duo’s output on tunes such as ‘Broken Glass’, while ‘M O T H E R’ has a much more obvious synthpop foundation.

At times recalling the Nordic sweep of artists such as Susanne Sundfør, there’s a fragile pop quality to latest outing ‘Go Home’ which has an evocative quality with some subtle icy synth elements.

‘Go Home’ is out now via West Of My Future Ltd.

https://soundcloud.com/east-of-my-youth
https://www.facebook.com/eastofmyyouthreykjavik
https://www.instagram.com/eastofmyyouth/
https://twitter.com/EastOf_MyYouth


SUPERDIVORCE – The Predator

Describing themselves as a “Synthpop phoenix from a smokey arcade” the Ohio-based synthpop duo draw from a deliberately ‘80s/analogue sound palette. Nick Villars and Zach Bender, who make up Superdivorce, have a storied history within the music community. Originally gravitating to the post-hardcore scene, the duo have taken a different direction under the guise of Superdivorce.

‘The Predator’, culled from their debut album Action Figures, trades on elements of synthwave yet manages to take a neat swerve from pastiche ‘80s. There’s an accessibility to the tune allowing it to slip the knot of being niche synthpop by numbers.

Action Figures is out now on Too Sweet Records.

https://www.superdivorceme.com/
https://www.facebook.com/superdivorce/
https://twitter.com/superdivorce


TR/ST – Destroyer

Canada’s sleazy synth prodigy returns…

One of Canada’s electronic music gems re-emerged earlier this year with a new song and talk of a new album. ‘Bicep’ delivered the trademark sleazy synths and unsettling sounds that made TR/ST such a captivating act over the course of 2 previous albums.

Referring to ‘Bicep’ TR/ST’s Robert Alfons commented at the time: “This song and much of the album was written in isolation in a farmhouse in rural Canada. It’s about the journey of a figure — essentially a narcissist — fighting with ideas of impurity and worthlessness. It’s about the struggle between accepting and resisting shame, as well as an expression of sexual fantasies.”

Now the ‘Goth Eeyore’ has returned with a new song – and a new video – in the shape of ‘Destroyer’, which premiered on Nowness this week. There’s a departure of sorts here for Alfons, with a much more restrained composition. It’s a more nocturnal affair peppered with reedy intermissions, although Alfons’ grimy vocals are present and correct.

The video itself is produced by, and stars, choreographer Ryan Heffington. It charts a journey through a late night streetscape which is interspersed with oddly unsettling choreography. Heffington has worked with the likes of Sia, Lykke Li, Florence and the Machine and Arcade Fire in times past. He’s also responsible for the choreography in the bonkers Netflix series The OA, in which interpretive dance is actually one of the plot elements in the cult series.

All this points to the next TR/ST album outing, which is scheduled to drop sometime in 2018. It’s also looking likely that original TR/ST collaborator Maya Postepski (Austra, Princess Century) is back in the frame. Postepski has made a few cryptic posts on social media in recent months, some of which refer to Alfons, but which also feature video and photo posts that show a remarkably Alfons-like figure in the background.

Postepski is no slouch in producing her own music either. Although she’s achieved a high profile for bashing the skins as part of Austra, she’s managed to craft a compelling sound under her Princess Century moniker. The idea that both Alfons and Postepski are once again joining forces suggests great things for TR/ST’s 2018 outings.


https://www.facebook.com/dressedforspace

https://www.nowness.com/story/trst-destroyer-ryan-heffington


ELYXR – The Last Day of Summer

The collaborative outfit return with a taste of summer…

Earlier this year, Seattle-based electronic musician/producer Kasson Crooker conceived of a new project, titled ELYXR. The aim of the new musical venture was to collaborate with a variety of singers to produce a series of releases that would feature an intriguing combination of talents.

The first of these releases, ‘Engine’, which was premiered here on The Electricity Club back in May (see review here) engaged the talents of Elissa LeCoque from Brooklyn indie-electronic act Kodacrome. The result was a subtle, layered electronic pop outing that, combined with LeCoque’s soulful vocals, lent the whole composition a certain sadness.

Equally, ‘Godspeed’ (featuring Naoko Takamoto of Princess Problems) which marked the second ELYXR release had an unsettling raw energy to a timely musing on America’s troubled political climate.

The Last Day of Summer (ft Color Theory) by ELYXR

A founder-member of legendary synthpop outfit Freezepop, as well as creating Symbion Project (whose Gishiki album lent a more reflective element to the electronic musician’s musical palette), Crooker has just released the 6th ELYXR single titled ‘The Last Day Of Summer’. While previous releases have focussed on female vocalists, for this latest outing Crooker has opted to work with Brian Hazard of Color Theory.

Hazard is no stranger to the world of synthpop. Color Theory has been active for many years, with some intriguing outings peppering the California-based musician’s career. This includes a jazzy cover version of OMD’s ‘Hold You’ for an album of covers dedicated to the iconic Wirral band. Hazard also conceived of Color Theory presents Depeche Mode, a modern take on the classic electronic outfit.

Yet Color Theory continues to output great music in its own right. Check out the synth goodness of recent release ’The Ghost In You’ by way of example – an engaging synthpop cover of a Psychedelic Furs song.

“When Kasson asked me about collaborating, my first thought was, ‘Why haven’t we done this already?’” comments Hazard. “He gave me a wonderful idea for the lyric, which I elaborated on and free associated from until it told its own story, a distant cousin to the one it came from.”

‘The Last Day of Summer’ offers a shimmering, sunny number that brings some brightness to the winter period. At the same time, the lyrics revolve around the revival of memories and the immutable passage of time. ‘The Last Day of Summer’ also has a poignant feel, being dedicated to the memory of Bryan Rudell of synth outfit Duck Duck Punch, who tragically passed away earlier this year.

Prior to this release, ELYXR have also released a whole selection of electronic gems. ‘Planes’ featured the return of Kodacrome’s Elissa LeCoque on a sultry synthwave outing. Meanwhile, ‘Crystalline’ employs some chiptune elements combined with the engaging vocal talents of Katrina Kope (Purr Gato).

ELYXR remains a fascinating musical endeavour by the ever-talented Kasson Crooker and suggests that more intriguing collaborations may well be lined up as 2018 approaches.


‘The Last Day of Summer ‘ is out now on the Speed Of Dark label.

https://elyxr.bandcamp.com/track/the-last-day-of-summer-ft-color-theory
https://open.spotify.com/album/1oPKGRdABgmetPWRpqMWVb
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-last-day-of-summer-feat-color-theory/1316301623?i=1316301637
https://soundcloud.com/elyxrband/the-last-day-of-summer-ft-color-theory/s-D4yiU

https://www.facebook.com/ELYXRband/

http://colortheory.com/