Sensual electronic delights await…

Darkwave electronic outfit Dicepeople seem keen to explore collaborative work in recent times, with their Moi Saint release being a particular highlight.

Their work with Manchester-based collective The Brooklyn Foundation has also produced dividends. As our earlier review noted, the reworking of Dicepeople’s 2011 composition ‘Control’ put the song into a new perspective with its focus on recent political dramas. The reworked version opts for a more punchy dancefloor vibe with some frenetic percussion. A new vocal element from The Brooklyn Foundation lends the new arrangement some pointed lyrical commentary (“inside your golden tower/you stop this world from turning”).

‘Control’ also features on a new dedicated EP release from Dicepeople/The Brooklyn Foundation which includes ‘Love Parasite’. Here, the collaborative effort tackles a cover version of a 1980 song by Fad Gadget.

The stage name for Frank Tovey, Fad Gadget was an experimental electronic musician who was part of Mute’s original stable of artists. Best known for his 1980 single ‘Ricky’s Hand’, Fad Gadget also employed unusual performance art in his live shows, including theatrical outfits and even covering himself in shaving cream.

His experimental approach to electronic music marked him out as a pioneer of the genre – an element that’s reflected in many of the contemporary electronic acts of today. ‘Love Parasite’ originally appeared on his 1982 album Under The Flag (a release that also features the talents of Alison Moyet and John Fryer).

The Brooklyn Foundation’s take on ‘Love Parasite’ offers up a bassy synth workout and serves as a faithful cover of the original. Meanwhile, the EP also boasts a remix by Dicepeople (the Vampire Stripper Re-Vox Remix) which features a more sensual vocal from Dicepeople’s Zmora.

Dicepeople’s approach, which is the version used for the video above, has a mesmerising quality with dreamlike synth sounds pulsing away on a sexually-charged workout. Or as Dicepeole themselves describe it: “a sensual, grinding feast of visceral visuals and sonic seduction”. Meanwhile, the alluring video also features Atashi Tada and Nera Kimera on pole dancing duties.

Dicepeople vs The Brooklyn Foundation Love Parasite/Control is out now on Sonic Serendipity. https://soundcloud.com/dicepeople/sets/love-parasite-control

Dicepeople will be performing alongside Inertia, Android Lust and Global Citizen on 9th June 2018 at Electrowerkz https://www.facebook.com/events/505546683180011/


FIAT LUX – It’s You

The return of Fiat Lux

Although the 1980s is widely regarded as the classic era of synthpop acts, it’s also a period in which many post-punk bands explored an eclectic approach to instrumentation and arrangement. Synths were seen as an almost de rigueur part of a band’s instrumentation (even The Smiths, who had been vocally anti-synth, eventually relented on this topic), but there was a more concerted effort to draw more warmth from electronic instrumentation.

This was a period in which bands such as The Lotus Eaters and Care crafted their own particular blend of intelligent pop that embraced electronic music, yet were never beholden to it. Equally, acts such as Fiction Factory presented a more commercial approach that helped create a sound that was post-synth, yet still very much connected to electronic roots.

One of the bands to emerge in this fervent period, Fiat Lux, seemed to have captured the best elements of this warm, engaging pop through singles such as the layered melancholia of ‘Feels Like Winter Again’ and the wistful sophistication of ‘Secrets’. As with their peers, there’s a timeless quality to much of Fiat Lux’s material, allowing their songs to still sound fresh today.

Fiat Lux had originally formed in 1982 with Steve Wright (vocals) and David P Crickmore (guitars, bass, keyboards). Along the way, Wright managed to meet former Be-Bop Deluxe guitarist Bill Nelson, an artist who had had enjoyed his own very active music career – which also included outings as a solo artist (including the 1980 single ‘Do You Dream In Colour?’) and had established his own Cocteau Records label. Nelson agreed to take on production duties for Fiat Lux, which resulted in the 1982 release of ‘Feels Like Winter Again’ on the Cocteau label. Nelson’s link with Fiat Lux also led to his brother Ian Nelson later joining the band, expanding the line-up.

As a band, Fiat Lux enjoyed a succession of fairly successful single releases, including ‘Secrets’ and ‘Blue Emotion’, and also embarked on an extensive schedule of live outings (which included support slots for the likes of Howard Jones, Blancmange, John Cale, Thomas Dolby and Nik Kershaw). A mini-album in the shape of Hired History was released in 1984, but a full-length studio album never quite managed to see the light of day.

As with many bands of their era, Fiat Lux disbanded during the mid-1980s with the members moving on to separate musical ventures. However, in 2017, Wright and Crickmore revived the band, beginning with a reworked version of their earlier single ‘Secrets’. The release was dedicated to the memory of Ian Nelson who, sadly, had passed away in 2006.

But Fiat Lux endures with a new release in the form of ‘It’s You’. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Fiat Lux’s new outing is the almost seamless join between their 80s output and the new song. There’s a prominent bass guitar threaded through a composition that boasts a breezy synth sound and a strong vocal delivery. There’s also a warm sax element in the mix, lending the whole affair a summery vibe. As a result, ‘It’s You’ offers a delightful honeyed slice of pop.

Fiat Lux’s return slots in quite neatly with the revival of many of their 1980s peers, yet while Wright and Crickmore appear to be keen to throw a nod to that past, they’re also keeping their eyes firmly on the future.

It’s You is released on 4th May 2018 on Splid Records.



Eclectic electronic delights await…

The DEFSynth team continue to present electronic music events with an eclectic and engaging line-up (as TEC have previously reported). Launched under the tagline of “The New Wave of Waveform”, you’re never quite sure what a DEFSynth night is going to bring, but the selection will always be intriguing (and certainly never dull).

This Friday sees London playing host to another DEFSynth night at Whitechapel’s Urban Bar that offers up a selection of enthralling live acts – including the UK debut of US artists Meganoke, bringing her sultry trip-hop-inspired sounds to London audiences for the first time.


Electronic artist Meganoke has an ability to craft mesmerising rhythms married with soulful vocals. The multi-talented Texan delivers genre-crossing tunes that are both unique and dynamic.

Working with some of the most talented underground musicians in Austin, Texas, Meganoke has created tunes that have seen her work summed up as “an invitation to feel, think, live, change  & wonder” and “a life song, a death song; a celebration, a mourning;  beauty, fierceness & rage”. Produced by the accomplished LA Underground legend Riddlore (Project Blowed, CVE), Meganoke delivers polished electronic goodness.

Meganoke also sees the opportunity for live shows to cultivate each performance as a unique experience. The modern day renaissance woman, Meganoke is a creative tour de force. She wields words, movement, sound & image with expert ability, evoking the ever-present sensual YES with each touch, step and whisper, inviting the audience on a midnight ride into the dark & wild unknown.



‘Post-punk electronic balladeers’ Cult With No Name, comprise the East London duo of Erik Stein and Jon Boux. Their first two studio albums Paper Wraps Rock and Careful What You Wish For were met with critical acclaim.

In 2014, inspired by their track ‘As Below’, German film-maker Peter Braatz commissioned the band to produce a soundtrack for his documentary Blue Velvet Revisited. 2017 saw Cult With No Name return to songwriting with the magnificent Heir Of The Dog. Featuring the supporting cast of Tuxedomoon members and the talents of Kelli Ali, it saw the band explore touches of Americana, from disco to gospel to blues. The album includes ‘No News’, one of their most remarkable piano ballads to date, as featured over the closing credits of Blue Velvet Revisited.

In addition to their studio albums, the band have appeared on several compilations and have frequently collaborated with minimal techno artist Doudou Malicious. Erik Stein has also acted in several short films made by electronic music pioneer John Foxx as well as the 2011 short film Sonus, produced by Ridley Scott Associates. The band collaborated with Kelli Ali, co-writing and performing on two songs for her 2013 solo album, Band Of Angels.



Drawing from a wide range of influences, including Aphex Twin, Nine Inch Nails, Massive Attack and Moby, Cyberwaste pull together electronic music across hip-hop, industrial, dance and all points in-between.

The female-fronted electronic act have found their home on the Syndicol label (home of Dicepeople and Moi Saint) and have cultivated a talent for immersive soundscapes and bass-heavy beats compositions.

From the glitch beats of ‘Atom Place’ to the subtle rhythms of ‘Metamorphosis’ and the spacey beats of ‘Client’, Cyberwaste manage to draw a stylish aesthetic on their future music compositions.

For live outings, Cyberwaste employ visually-striking projections, offering an hypnotic stage performance against their engaging electronica.



Nitrate Visions by Jan Doyle Band
Acting as the in-house band for DEFSynth events, Jan Doyle Band style themselves as self-proclaimed Insurrectionary Neo Futurists. Fronted by the flamboyant Derek Anthony Williams and backed by Michael Stokes on synths, Jan Doyle Band combine performance art with engaging electronic music.

Zipping through influences that include synthpop, industrial and goth, the electronic outfit offer up glamour and glitz in equal measure. Every live performance is guaranteed to be unique and unpredictable, or as Jan Doyle Band themselves put it: “We acknowledge that fundamentally the concept of flamboyant performance is a ridiculous one and utterly embrace many of the most ludicrous elements of it, but then at the same time we are dedicated to producing a memorable, engaging, exciting live show”.

“Having Williams as your frontman helps. Looking like a wasted teenager who barely gets out in the daylight, possibly on account of reading way too many 2000AD comics in a dingy and grim bedroom.” – Rob Dyer of http://dsoaudio.com


DEFSynth presents Meganoke takes place on Friday 4th May 2018 at The Urban Bar, W176 Whitechapel Road, E1 1BJ London. 8pm to 2pm.

Also featuring DJ sets from Derek Anthony Williams (DEFSynth, Jan Doyle Band) and PaulB (The Electricity Club).


DEFSynth Presents: The New Wave of Waveform

Insurrectionary Neo Futurist Adventures…

The live event circuit has been boosted of late by the regular DEFSynth events. Hosted by the larger than life character of Derek Anthony Williams, the DEFSynth nights are launched under the tagline of “The New Wave of Waveform” and make an effort to combine an eclectic combination of bands and artists as a solid foundation for an electronic music evening.

There’s a rawness to the DEFSynth nights that mark them out from many of the other multi-artist events that pepper the electronic music calendar. You’re never quite sure what any night is going to bring, but the selection is always intriguing (and certainly never dull). Tonight the intimate environs of Whitechapel’s Urban Bar are also graced by many figures from the UK’s grassroots electronic music scene. Consequently, the evening offers up a mingling of talents that includes the likes of LegPuppy, Dicepeople, Shelter and Autorotation among others. Tonight they’re taking a break from the stage themselves, but offer up an enthusiastic audience for the DEFSynth acts to follow.

Punkdisco have graced the stage for DEFSynth events in times past, where Leah’s on-stage presence has radiated a nonchalant, laid-back style. Boasting punk-tinged tunes with an attitude, the boy/girl duo offer up the squelchy delights of ‘I Can Dance’ and the frenetic rhythms of ‘All The Things’ as part of their set.

There’s a heavier impact for the tunes that accompany 3D on stage. Consisting of the charismatic Thomas Kelly on vocals and the accomplished synth skills of Dean Clarke (Brutalist Architecture in the Sun, Bluetown Electronica), 3D waste little time in getting the audience in the mood.

Kelly commands the stage through a strident presence and manages to spice up proceedings by ejecting the mic stand across the floor! Stripping off to reveal a hazard-taped body somehow adds to the unpredictable ambience.

Tonight sees the debut of new 3D song (and new single) ‘Alien Expression’. Here, a bass-heavy number is given some contrast with intermittent bright synth riffs. But there’s a percussive strength to much of 3D’s catalogue of tunes, including the menacing tones of ‘I Wanna Riot’. The outcome is that 3D manage to leave an indelible impression on the DEFSynth audience.

Meanwhile, the dancepop delights of Sheffield’s own Voi Vang are framed by her expressive and energetic on-stage choreography. The in-your-face rhythms of ‘Cards’ and ‘Streets Of Gold’ are balanced up with the more wistful tones of ‘Mirror’.

It’s clear that solo star Voi Vang and her self-styled “Experimental Aphotic Pop” have made an impression in recent months (including a legendary live outing at Silicon Dreams last year) and suggests a bright future for this emerging talent.

The evening’s host, Derek Anthony Williams himself, takes to the stage as part of Jan Doyle Band (serving as the in-house band for the DEFSynth events). Unsurprisingly, Williams cuts a striking figure on stage with his punk hair and facepaint, while Michael Stokes fires up the synths. Jan Doyle Band manage to combine a number of distinct influences, from synthpop through to goth and industrial, while Williams recognises no boundary between stage and audience as he cuts shapes to the tunes. The result is as much performance art as it is music performance and, again, the crowd are fully engaged in this electronic theatre.

Joining Jan Doyle Band at the halfway point is the accomplished guitar licks of Valkyrie (who also performs guitar duties for the likes of Lene Lovitch among others). It’s a powerful combination that presents a dynamic set – one that tails out with the unusual (yet effective) cover choice of Toyah’s ‘I Want To Be Free’.

As well as live music, the night is rounded off with some shrewd DJ tunes (including the likes of TR/ST, Lady Gaga, Grimes and Poppy) that keeps things moving – and which also coincides with Voi Vang’s birthday. It provides a suitable ending to a fine Saturday night’s entertainment. At the same time, tonight serves as a demonstration that the DEFSynth events offer up a music calendar fixture that doesn’t disappoint.

DEFSynth return on 4th May with Meganoke (UK debut) along with Cult With No Name, Cyberwaste and Jan Doyle Band. More details: https://www.facebook.com/events/2173549989546143/


All photos by Paul Browne.

VOGON POETRY – Life, the Universe and Everything

Don’t forget your towel…

The latest offering from synthpop outfit Vogon Poetry continues the Swedish band’s flair for accessible electronic music and science fiction themes. Life, the Universe and Everything marks the band’s third album release, following on from 2014’s Don’t Panic and The Prefect Stories in 2015.

Vogon Poetry themselves have been doing the rounds since 2012. Consisting of Roger Tell, Daniel Önnerby and John Andersson, the trio have previously cited the likes of IAMX, Yazoo, S.P.O.C.K and Elegant Machinery as influences.

As both the band’s name (and album titles) suggest, the Swedish outfit draw a lot of their inspiration from Douglas Adams’ classic radio/TV/book series The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. On that basis, their choice of name seems a bit misplaced. In HHGTTG, the Vogons are an officious alien species ultimately responsible for the destruction of Earth (to make way for a new hyperspace bypass, naturally), but are more notable for their poetry which is regarded as “the third worst poetry in the universe”.

So the question here, as HHGTTG aficionados might ask, is the new album hoopy or is it Belgium?

Pulling its inspiration from the cult TV series Stranger Things, ‘The Upside Down’ has hints of Blade Runner-era Vangelis in the mix. There’s a rugged quality to the rhythmic percussion underpinning the track and it serves as an effective intro number.

Taking inspiration from Alien prequel movie Prometheus, ‘Dangers In Space’ (which also drops in samples from the film) has a crunchy, percussive quality to it. Andersson’s vocals have an effective urgency to them, lending the whole affair a thrill-paced delivery. ‘Dangers In Space’ preceded the album as a release and also came complete with a video (directed by Jonas Wolcher) inspired by old school sci-fi visuals.


‘Heart Of Gold’, which again has lyrical themes drawn from The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, offers up some Jarre-style melodic riffs. Elsewhere, ‘Spacewalk’ opts for a more punchy electropop approach with its busy layers of synth melodies and electronic effects.

Vogon Poetry add their own polish for a cover of S.P.O.C.K classic ‘In Space No One Can Hear You Scream’. A busy, burbling synth foundation builds up a strident piece of synthpop – one which seamlessly fits into the album as a whole.

Meanwhile, ‘Serenity’ throws a nod to the classic cult series Firefly. Samples from the feature film outing of Joss Whedon’s sci-fi/western mashup are weaved into this instrumental number, which also throws a few touches of Kraftwerk into its clean, electronic lines.

Closing the album, there’s a hint of Erasure on ‘Tomorrow’ with its subtle silky synths (For those purchasing the Bandcamp version, it also includes an exclusive remix of the track by Glenn Main).

In a hectic electronic music scene, it’s often refreshing to see a band adopting a quirky approach to synthpop, yet steering clear of falling into novelty band territory. Life, the Universe and Everything boasts some effective synthpop and is a continuing demonstration of Sweden’s rich electronic music culture.

Life, the Universe and Everything is out now.


EDEN – Only Lovers Do

Euphoric synthpop from Dublin duo

One of the star turns at the 2017 Synthetic City event was Irish synthpop duo Eden. Consisting of Mark Power and Ian Henderson, the duo delivered some polished tunes (culled chiefly from the duo’s 2016 album Outbound To Wonderland). Songs such as ‘Don’t Wanna Lose You’ and ‘New Age’ demonstrated Eden’s chops for delivering memorable pop, while Power’s driving vocal style gave the performance an engaging dynamism.

Before they became Eden, Power and Henderson originally debuted under the name In Utopia back in 1998. Signed to the Warner label, In Utopia released their first single ‘Only Lovers Do’ in 1998 – a track produced by U96/Boytronic duo Hayo Lewerentz and Ingo Hauss.

In a period where boybands were enjoying a flourish of success, In Utopia’s pop-flavoured synth tunes struck favour with Boyzone, who featured the duo as support for their UK/Ireland tour at the time. They switched their base of operations to Germany and, in 2001, changed their name to Eden.

Their achievements included playing to 100,000 people at the Brandenburg gate in Berlin in 2006 for Berlin Pride. Meanwhile, their 2001 single ‘Let It Flow’ enjoyed popularity in Germany (and Europe), care of a community that embraced synthpop during a period in which it had fallen out of favour in the UK and Ireland.

Eden’s material pulls from a variety of influences, notably the likes of Erasure and Pet Shop Boys (their 2010 single ‘If I Was Pet Shop Boy’ saw the duo throwing a nod to those influences). There’s a strong emphasis on pop for Eden, but also a firm hand on employing synths front and centre.

Deciding to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of their debut single release, Eden are reissuing ‘Only Lovers Do’ as part of a plan for special projects this year.

‘Only Lovers Do’ boasts euphoric synth hooks and a dance-pop sensibility. Despite it being Eden’s first outing from 1998, the song has a remarkably timeless appeal weaved into its energetic electropop. Also included on the reissue is the more sober piano-led ‘Can You Remember’ which presents a wistful contrast to Eden’s otherwise jubilant synthpop.

Meanwhile, the Dublin-based duo have drawn up plans for releasing special editions of their earlier albums, including the reissue of their 2006 album Desolate Shores. This expanded edition will be remastered and will also feature unheard tracks, demos and remixes.

Only Lovers Do is due for release on 27th April 2018.


Echoes of Electronica Event at The Flapper, Birmingham

An evening that’s Fast-paced, fun, celebratory, emotional… and everything in-between

Walking through the heart of Birmingham’s vibrant Canal network – there’s a biting chill now present in the early evening air, yet our welcome at one of the city’s most iconic venues – The Flapper – couldn’t have been warmer. Tonight, the venue plays host to the Echoes of Electronica event, featuring Def Neon, Johnny Normal (of Synthetic Sunday radio show fame), topped off nicely with headliners, and Birmingham’s very own, Among the Echoes (ATE) whom are all set and ready to induct new followers into their very own granite-edged blend of electro-synth rock.

Back Through Time

While tonight’s proposed soundtrack delivers heavily laden journeys that merge into the darker edges of the earth, it also brings with it a different kind of weight. It comes in the form of what will be a heavy heart for many – attributed only to the limited life-span of the pub and the current plans to replace it with a modern 66-flat apartment building.

On entering The Flapper, one cannot help but embrace an almost living, breathing, treasure trove of memories. Such historical significance had long manifested the heart and soul of what we have come to identify as the dynamic live music scene, that Birmingham in particular, has always been noted for.

It’s implied that the venue itself was born in 1968 and that it became a hub for live music some 25 years ago. The bar area is adorned with posters of music icons from eons gone by. Combine such ambience with the gritty live room located downstairs, and you start to feel the warmth in the textures of that grainy mental picture. The Flapper is where many a band first rested their foot atop a stage monitor and hailed dedicated music fans to follow their progress up and through the ranks. They were made here, cutting their teeth, honing their skills while making a huge contribution to what has made Birmingham so relevant today – you only have to delve back through musical history in order to see how The Flapper, and other similar venues – some long since closed – made that possible. Music did indeed breed more music; the scene thrived, and stories set alongside their soundtracks that provoked poignant feelings in many, were woven through time. However, the threads became weaker with the loss of more and more venues.

There’s a brief high note in that Among the Echoes (ATE) will film their video for their latest single ‘The Fear Inside,’ right here tonight, yet the real fear inside is the disintegration of our cultured identity expressed through organic, live music, at intimate venues such as The Flapper.

Birmingham’s contribution to the music scene is not genre specific, however; Sir Simon Rattle, one of the most prolific British conductors of his generation, worked with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) for 18 years – a partnership that placed Birmingham firmly on the orchestral map.

Living in the Moment

Def Neon are just finishing up their set when we arrive; a loud warm-up call to the crowd prior to Johnny Normal, who brings home a beat-driven, dance-paced electro set, including his noteworthy ‘Alive’ track, that dutifully reminds us of the fragility of life itself. It’s immediately obvious that the support acts have the approval of tonight’s audience, which is always good to see.

In no time at all though, it’s enter Among the Echoes, with their energetic synthesized gothic storm of an opener that is ‘Freak,’ off 2014’s Fracture album. It’s enough to raise temperature levels – just a touch – and get the crowd moving. It’s incredibly catchy and coupled with some of the most densely moody synth sounds. There’s lashings of light and dark in this track and the good news is, its urgency doesn’t fail to come across in the live environment – it all starts here.

It’s been a good while since I was first introduced to the music of Among the Echoes and the gig tonight makes for easy recollection of that initial fizz of excitement that registered on my radar upon first hearing their material. Tonight, their on-stage presence is as vibrant as any in-cloud lightening discharges splintering across a night sky, and what is also true of the set tonight, is that it represents a good cross-section of ATE’s identity, but in the raw form often associated with the live environment, offering plenty of intimation for what lies ahead. And hereon in follows the alternative progressive ‘This is a Love Song!’ complete with spikey-styled guitar work and a strong template of space-defying beats; an audio setting that evokes an eerie surrealist vision. Then there’s ‘Hate,’ featuring an all too common blunt reality in its lyrics – add to that the undisguised angst in the music. By now, the audience are edging ever closer to the small stage, keen for more. And more they get. ATE hit out with prominent album classics; ‘Fracture’ delivers an upbeat synthetic wash that’s dreamily expressive – a suitably dark track with plenty of opaque undertones – all mirrored in Ian’s vocal. The filmic synthesized and dramatized ‘Breathe’ features later.

The live synth sounds continue to create essential emphasis towards the hair-raising atmospherics that fuel their signature sound; it’s steeped in anxiety, there’s plenty of sentiment, while alternate guitar tuning delivers that overall intensity and depth to the music. In fact, their overall sound wouldn’t be out of place on a Gary Numan record and all things considered, it’s no surprise then that ATE, by popular request, offer up such an authentic rendition of Numan’s ‘Pure.’

‘The Fear Inside’ brings us to ATE’s very latest offering and it features twice this evening, significant in that the video to accompany this recently released single is being filmed. Consequently, Ian encourages the audience to look to be having themselves some fun – and in this instance, nothing’s too much trouble. ‘The Fear Inside’ is a notable record, made up of suitably heavy riffage, swathes of eerie shadows, plenty of subtle embellishments from the keyboards, plus the kind of electro beat that means no one is standing still for long. The reprise is a grand finale, of sorts, until the next time that is.

Among the Echoes have definitely established their own model for a personified and uncompromising blend of synth rock. The intertextual elements of their songs work evocatively with arrangements that portray plenty of suspense, the result being a unique blend of dark gothic-inspired danceable anthems. And it’s easy to hear the influences as cited by keyboard player, Steve Turrell (see our interview). What’s also refreshing, is to witness that fun element – one that’s not lost on ATE – they don’t take themselves too seriously. When Ian’s not bantering with the crowd, or getting horrified at the thought of the band’s very own take on Depeche Mode’s ‘Personal Jesus’ – which, incidentally, goes down very well and is closely followed up with the Human League’s ‘Being Boiled’ – he’s kindly requesting the audience sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Mesh’s Richard Broadhead, who got up on stage, happy to accept his cake and well, if you can have your cake and eat it then why the hell not?

Among the Echoes definitely possess a supreme entertainment factor and the live environment of course, is nothing new to them, given they’ve played support to the likes of Toyah, The Birthday Massacre and Cruxshadows, to name but a few.

Tonight, it’s been both immense fun and a pleasure; we’ve bathed in synthesized ambience and swooned over Wayne Page’s guitar sound; there’s a real friendly vibe in the venue, so much so, we don’t feel like we’re gate-crashing a private house party, and not least, we’ve become part of the legendary Flapper’s history – if not only briefly – but sadly, it’s not without the downsides that surround the controversy over the future of the venue itself.

All Things Echoes

Prior to the Echoes of Electronica event, Among the Echoes took time out to chat to The Electricity Club and reveal a little more about their darker selves.

Ian Wall (IW) – Steve Turrell (ST) – Wayne Page (WP).

TEC: Can you give us some background about how the band was formed and what your ultimate vision was at that time?

IW: The band formed in 2012 as a project to enable a few friends to write songs together and maybe demo a couple of tracks. Fairly quickly we had a number of completed tracks so agreed that we should consider playing a couple of gigs together to see what reaction we would get. Well the ATE beast was soon unleashed and world domination seemed the next logical step.

As a collective we didn’t have an ultimate vision – rather a passion for writing and recording the music we enjoyed ourselves and a hope that it would connect with others.

ST: As Ian says, we got together to write songs. Personally, I’d been looking for someone who could sing and write lyrics to the musical ideas that were buzzing around my head at that time and it just seemed to click.

TEC: ATE were born in Birmingham. There’s a lot of notable music history in Birmingham – from the days of the Rum Runner Club to Duran Duran and beyond. How do you feel about sharing a home with some of Birmingham’s notable history?

IW: Birmingham has a fantastic rich history, music being just one part of it. We have really enjoyed adding to that history by playing some of the great music venues around the city. We are thrilled that friends of the band from around the UK and Europe have travelled to our gigs and enjoyed this wonderful City of ours. Obviously, we have enjoyed taking ATE on the road around the UK too and are hopeful the invites to play across Europe come really soon – we are waiting by the phone!

TEC: You’ve recently released a new single ‘The Fear Inside’; can fans expect a new album in the near future? Can you tell us more about your plans?

IW: Well we have written lots of new material since we released the Fracture album and yes, we would really love to release another album. Personally, I think an album should be enjoyed and promoted for (at the very least) two years, even longer if it’s good enough! Are we overdue an album? Absolutely yes! However, it’s a costly process and we need to be sure that there is enough interest in releasing an album and that we are not just satisfying our own egos. If the demand is there, then yes, we will record an album.

TEC: How has your musical journey evolved so far? Is there an ultimate direction for the band?

IW: As I said previously – very fluid and to keep enjoying what we do. We have never wanted to fit into one set genre or try to please everyone, how boring would that be? The band would really like to play live across Europe and if we get to achieve that then we’ll be very happy. We’ve had the privilege to share the stage with some amazing bands over the last few years and made some wonderful memories. If the next year brings an album, more dates across the UK and some invites further afield.. We’ll be a happy band!

TEC: Out of the ATE catalogue, do the band have any personal favourites? And if so for what reasons?

IW: With most bands it is usually the new material that is your current favourite and in that respect we are generally the same. To be honest, I look back at some set lists from past gigs and can’t believe there are songs I thought we’d always play that don’t even get played at rehearsals. I wrote the lyrics to ‘Freak’ in about 20 mins and I have always been proud of them. For me, ‘Breathe’ is probably the track that just feels so natural and I enjoy performing it live.

ST: I love playing ‘Freak’, and lyrically, I think it’s Ian’s best. I’m afraid I get bored quite quickly and I’m quick in moving onto the next idea or tinkering with our older songs, much to the band’s annoyance! There are a couple of songs that are quite personal to me that I still love but rarely listen to. ‘Heart of a Machine’ was a song for my wife and ‘Flowers and Plastic Butterflies’, which is one of our very early songs, will always mean a lot to me.

WP: For me it would be our latest track ‘The Fear Inside.’ I just love that Celtic vibe (private band joke).

TEC: Can you give us some detail about the creation of your synth sounds – what you try to achieve with synths and what specialist equipment you use and/or prefer? It would be interesting to get a technical aspect on this element of your music.

IW: I’m interested to read what Steve answers!

WP: What Ian said!

ST: In the studio, I use Cubase to record. All the instruments are software, I love Omnisphere. It has some great sounds. Drums and percussion are usually Addictive Drums and Izotope iDrum. I also use Alchemy and a few Native Instruments synths.

I start with a basic drum beat and build the song from there. Obviously, I have an idea for a melody to start with and I just see where the mood takes me. I love to ‘layer’ sounds to try and achieve a big sound. With ATE, I’ve learnt to write from a more ‘Pop’ angle, even though we do still sound quite ‘dark’.

Live I use Roland FA06 and Gaia. The FA06 has the function to play the backing tracks and has great piano and choir sounds. The Gaia is just a great synth!

TEC: Do you have any big influences – both modern day and also historical? Your music is quite industrial sounding at times – any interest in krautrock at all?

IW: I just have a very eclectic taste in music. I must admit a lot of what we have written in the band evolves from sounds and bands that have influenced Steve. I just look for a platform to deliver the words that spin around in my head. I call Steve the “accidental genius” for having created so many great tunes for me to write to. Obviously I know it’s not accidental, however we must manage his ego!

ST: I love most music, but I guess my main influence is Gary Numan. Music that has a ‘dark’ edge will always be at the forefront. My ‘go to’ playlist will have Numan, The Cure, Sisters of Mercy, John Foxx, NIN to name but a few. Recent bands I’ve loved are Mr Kitty, Empathy Test, Celldweller, Hearts of Black Science & IAMX.

TEC: How do you think the use of synths has evolved over the decades?

ST: Wow, tough question. You can hear synths everywhere now. Bands that have historically been ‘anti’ synth use them all the time. The technology has advanced so quickly. You can write and record everything from your bedroom nowadays. Whole orchestral pieces can be written using software.

TEC: Sometimes during gigs you play with a live drummer but not always. Many fans think the live drum aspect adds a heavier edge to the music. Do you have a preference?

IW: I love playing with a live drummer. Unfortunately, the best drummer we have had in the band is our current guitarist – how did that happen? Fusing the electronics with live drums can sound immense, however if you don’t get it right it sounds .… erm, not so immense. Currently we play without a live drummer, however who knows what tomorrow will bring.

WP: With our music style, I don’t think a live drummer is really necessary. Our last couple of singles have been recorded with programmed drums, so our live performance is an honest reflection of them. I’ve seen Depeche Mode twice now and in my opinion, there was only one track that benefitted from having a live drummer.

TEC: What is the fundamental driver behind your songs and your lyrics – how does the writing process work for you? Do you have any significant influences?

IW: Influences can and should come from all directions. I absolutely love writing lyrics and I passionately believe that there should be a narrative in a song, especially if I am writing and singing it. Every day I see, hear, feel and live many emotions that I can put into a small story and deliver it through a song. To see a crowd singing my words back to me is priceless and something I hope I get to experience on many more occasions!

ST: Writing music is cathartic for me. At the end of a stressful day I can go to my tiny studio and create the music that I love. It’s not always good music, but I can just disappear into a world of sounds. That sounds a bit pretentious, but it’s the only way I can describe it. I create music that makes me excited. There’s nothing quite like coming up with a melody that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.

WP: Is that synth porn Steve? And does Cybill Shepard still play her part in your mucky moments?

TEC: Some common debates include Analog v Digital. Vinyl v MP3. What’s your views/preference?

IW: While it’s being debated, it’s not being listened to. Just enjoy it all!

ST: Ditto what Ian has said. I listen to both MP3 and vinyl. Recording music, I will always favour digital. It makes the process so much easier.

WP: Analogue is an expensive way to record and requires a very skilled studio engineer/technician. Many music fans do not understand the variable methods for recording – it’s about their appreciation of the sound of the track and probably rightly so. I definitely prefer records to high definition sound, and believe a recording should be about the blending of sounds rather than being able to hear each individual component.

TEC: Tonight’s gig at the Flapper in Birmingham has something of an emotional attachment for the band – can you tell us why this venue is so important to you?

IW: We played our second ever gig at The Flapper and this show will be the tenth time we have played here. Far too many small venues are closing down and I shall shed a tear when we lose this venue to the developers this coming June. Whatever the politics behind the decisions to close venues, if we don’t support live music and the venues that give bands the stage on which to play their new music, then we can have no complaint when they are all gone.

It’s such a small cost to see bands play at these small venues, however the rewards to the bands, the venues, music lovers and the music scene is absolutely priceless.

TEC: What do you think the long-term impact on local music will be due to the loss of this venue – including bands such as ATE?

IW: Take all music that has shaped your life and imagine it never happened. All memories and emotions attached to it are all gone! All those bands started their careers playing at venues like The Flapper. ATE may not follow the path of some of those acts that have influenced us all, yet we have been very fortunate to share the music we write with so many amazing people, and made many new friends, heard some brilliant bands play live and hopefully influenced a few more people to follow their passion for music.

WP: I’ve been playing gigs at The Flapper for over 20 years (I know I don’t look old enough). Nothing replaced The Old Railway so The Flapper was the only venue of its kind left. It has been instrumental for supporting up and coming bands, but has also catered for generations of rock fans. It’s incredibly frustrating that more flats and apartments are being built instead of an investment supporting the Birmingham music scene, aka “The Home of Metal”.

TEC: What has been the biggest challenge for the band so far?

IW: Answering these questions! Seriously, probably far too many challenges to be honest. Whatever level you play at there are always people who work against you for their own gain. That said, you get out what you put in and we’ve had some great fun over the last few years. Would we like to achieve more? Yes. Would we still like to share our music to a bigger audience? Absolutely Yes!

ST: Trying to stop Ian talking so much!

TEC: What can fans expect at your gigs? What has been the best gig for you so far and why? Any unusual experiences while being part of a band?

IW: Expect us to give you a great performance. To absolutely love the privilege of standing on the stage. Turn up, have fun and stay for a drink with us after!

I think my best gig would be the first time we supported The Birthday Massacre in Birmingham in 2015. I just felt that the crowd totally engaged with us. Although we were there as one of the support bands, they totally embraced us, and I literally floated off the stage that night. I’m not sure about unusual, however there have been many surreal moments and I’ll be sure to mention them all when I write my book!

ST: For me, the tour with The Birthday Massacre was a blast. Especially the Birmingham gig. The tour had its challenges but was so much fun.

Words, interview and live photos by Jus Forrest.
The Electricity Club would like to thank Among the Echoes and Carol Canfer.

Among The Echoes play the London Cav Club, 18th May and support Jean Genie at Wolverhampton’s Robin 2 on the 21st July, with more gigs to be announced shortly. The single ‘The Fear Inside’ is out now.



Electronic music magnificence descends on London…

As ever, the Synthetic City music festival keeps things ambitious with an all-day event boasting 11 acts. The 2018 affair offered up a range of styles and approaches, while also throwing a nod to the more diverse ends of the electronic music world. Once again, host and promoter Johnny Normal has managed to pull together a live bill that promised some heavy hitters, but also threw some wild cards into the mix.

Despite some teething problems with the timing of the performances, there was a palpable air of anticipation in the pub end of The Water Rats (the venue of choice once again for the event). Conversations between a variety of musicians, promoters, bloggers and assorted figures managed to touch on some intriguing topics over the course of the evening. Whether or not acts should employ an element of performance art into proceedings proved to be one of the most engaging debates (the general consensus being “Yes”, although as it was mostly members of anarchic outfit LegPuppy arguing the case, it was a foregone conclusion!).

As ever, the reliable Mr Rob Harvey (Synth City) slotted in some perfect DJ setlists around the stage performances. In fact, over the course of a very long day he seemed to offer up a concise history of electronic music for the gathering crowd.

Kicking things off on stage, Tenedle offered up a solid performance which merged a Eurocentric taste of electropop with subtle guitar elements. Keen to get an atmosphere going, Dimitri Niccolai (aka Tenedle) encourages some audience participation through clapping. Niccolai’s vocals deliver a laid-back warmth across a foundation of busy electronic elements. It’s an approach which lends songs such as ‘Stranger In My Own Tongue’ and ‘Sentenced To Death’ (from Tenedle’s polished album Traumsender) an easy appeal.

Tenedle’s performance is also given an additional attraction with the addition of guest singer (and radio presenter) Bridget Gray, whose own vocal talents give songs such as ‘Sparkle’ a particular impact.

The combined talents of Erik Stein and Jon Boux come together under the banner of Cult With No Name. Although on stage they present a lounge quality to their performance – with Boux effortlessly tickling the ivories and Stein presenting a stoic confidence on stage – there’s a potent energy to tunes such as ‘Wasted’.

Subtle synths slide in and out of ‘Swept Away’, a tune with perhaps a timely political note in its lyrics (“Inside this rain-soaked mess/lies the president elect”). A buzzier collage of electronics comes with ‘Everything Lasts An Age’ (“for people celebrating their 18th birthday today”), a pulsing collage of electronic effects through which Stein’s vocals soar. Meanwhile, there’s a slow-burning power to ‘When I Was A Girl’ with its layers of synths and choral effects.

Straddling the gap between the UK and Denmark, Ian Harling and Martin Nyrup form the nucleus of electronic outfit Perpacity. The duo have attracted acclaim for their recorded output in times past, including their 2016 album Arise, and have their eye on a forthcoming new studio album The Order Of Now on the horizon. On stage, Perpacity offer up some serviceable synthpop, including the sturdy power of new single ‘Rule The Day’.

By now, there’s a busy, thriving crowd filling the venue. The merchandise stall is doing brisk business and artists still waiting to grace the stage are discussing plans and ideas for the future. A few funny stories come out of the various conversations, including a drama with a can of Pringles concerning Derek Anthony Williams (Defsynth, Jan Doyle Band) and an intriguing suggestion for YouTube called The Glowstick Challenge which is probably best left in the bar of The Water Rats…

Meanwhile, on stage, things take a heavier direction with the strident tones of La Lune Noire. There’s a thumping presence to the duo’s live show, with Sven Vogelezang’s muscular percussion and Victor Verzijl’s dynamic vocal delivery offering a trip into darkwave territory.

The Circuit Symphony brought a dazzling laser show with them for their stage performance. Joined by Ladywolfe onstage, there’s some nice nods to Jean-Michel Jarre in the mix which delivered tunes care of some E-mu Emax strings, LinnDrum and PolySix elements. ‘Warrior’ in particular had a potency to its clean lines, while the effective laser light show gave the stage an amazing backdrop.

Later, the duo of Palais Ideal deliver a raw energy to proceedings with a little gothic flavouring whipped up in their gritty post-punk tunes.

Johnny Normal, taking time out as host for the evening, also takes a turn on the stage. A particularly powerful ‘Miss Razorblade’ is one of his set’s highlights, along with a robust cover of OMD classic ‘Enola Gay’. One of tonight’s performers (in the form of Mr Strange) also joins Johnny on stage for a strapping live performance of ‘Let Nothing Take Your Pride’.

For his own stage show, Mr Strange provides it loud and heavy. There’s a sleazy electro-rock delivery for tunes such as ‘Disco Bitch’ and a song inspired by the late great Pete Burns (“I want to do it like Pete Burns/My gender you can’t discern”).

Berlyn Trilogy can always be relied upon to present a solid live show and tonight is no exception. An effectively bassy ‘Tokyo Rooftops’ wins over the crowd very early, followed by a languid ‘Rain’. Things go darker for the emphatic tones of ‘The Drone’, with James and Simon alternating vocal duties. Faye, meanwhile, has switched out her trusty bass to take on keyboard duties.

A dynamic rendition of ‘Synthetic Love’ also features in the setlist, but the trio also have a treat for the Synthetic City audience with the unveiling of new song ‘Simone Nicole’. A siren-like intro opens up the new outing, which also employs a lighter melodic touch against repetitive brass sounds. The contrast between lighter and darker elements suggests an evolution of Berlyn Trilogy’s sound and is a nice touch to their live show. Meanwhile, the trio close the set out with another new number ‘Domus Aurea’ which has a more classic Berlyn Trilogy feel to it with its sombre lyrics (“building my empire/on poison and desire”).

Once LegPuppy take to the stage, it’s a fair bet that something surprising or disturbing (or possibly both) will happen. Tonight’s performance features an ensemble cast (including stellar singer Voi Vang) who just about manage to fit on stage. The announcement that their ranks would also include a new dancer had people peering to discern her in the line-up, but in fact the new ‘dancer’ was stage-left in rollers and night dress ironing LegPuppy merchandise (because why not).

‘Paranoid’ elicits a neurotic theme through its dance-beat rhythms. Elsewhere, ‘Selfie Stick’ maintains its brooding, sinister menace as part of LegPuppy’s consistent live numbers. To drive the point home, LegPuppy’s Darren proceeds to smash an actual selfie stick on stage, which results in some worried looks in the audience.

Meanwhile, tracks such as ‘Running Through A Field Of Wheat’ take on a spacey vibe. The combination of LegPuppy’s Claire and Voi Vang on vocals for some tunes provides the electropunk outfit with an effective harmonising quality that’s tough to beat.

Closing out this year’s Synthetic City event is the darkpop trio of Dicepeople, who can always be relied upon to deliver a heavy yet engaging live performance. Taking position stage centre, Zmora Monika bobs back and forth in a striking outfit that’s given a final flourish by a pair of wings arcing out from her back. Meanwhile, fellow members Matt and Rafael earnestly focus on their work stations either side.

The stage is almost total darkness with only the strobe-like lights lighting up the audience in time to the darkwave rhythms. In particular, a robust version of ‘Control’ is delivered with an effectively powerful vocal from Zmora. It seems like a perfect way to close out another successful electronic festival.

As TEC has said previously, Synthetic City represents an important element of the electronic music calendar that help to promote interest and growth in the grassroots scene. In a period in which there are so many new artists often struggling to find a platform for their music, Johnny Normal and his dedicated team are providing a valuable service.




Newcastle’s power-pop trio drop by TEC HQ for a chat…

If there’s one sound that’s made us sit up and take notice of late, it’s the euphoric widescreen pop of Twist Helix. Based in Newcastle, the electropop outfit consists of Bea Garcia (vocals & keyboards), Michael Humble (bass) and James Walker (drums). Currently signed to Madrid-based record label Paul Back Music, Twist Helix have delivered a series of powerful single releases in the form of ‘Little Buildings’, ‘Pulse’ and ‘Ouseburn’.

Much of Twist Helix’s material weaves in lyrical themes that present social commentary on the changing landscape of Newcastle, particularly the decline of communities. These songs have been given an extra boost by the band’s dynamic live performances, which showcase the power of James Walker’s muscular percussion, Michael Humble’s driving bass and Bea Garcia’s dramatic vocals.

With new album Ouseburn in the pipeline, Twist Helix sat down with The Electricity Club to discuss their music and plans for the future…

How did Twist Helix spring into life?

Bea: The same way most things get started musically I suppose. James and I had known each other for some time and began songwriting together, for enjoyment. It went well, and we cut a demo of a track called ‘Flare’, which got picked up by our local BBC Introducing, one thing led to another and we put a band together.

What artists or bands do you think have had the strongest influence on Twist Helix?

Bea: I have always used M83 as a reference for my keyboard parts, but apart from that, anything classic synth pop really. James and I are both fans of the groups associated with La Movida Madrileña, Factory Records, Mute Records… Our only big difference really is I (correctly) think Violator is the best Depeche Mode album while James believes Playing the Angel is…

James, what drummers would you say have been a big influence on your style?

James: I suppose I have quite an angular playing style… drums is an odd instrument, it’s all about feel so I’ve always just tried to play what feels right to me. Stephen Morris (New Order, Joy Division), Ed Lay (Editors) and Matt Tong (Bloc Party) are all pretty angular players. I would probably say they’d be the most obvious influences in that respect.

Photo by Rob Irish

Recent songs seem to have a focus on Newcastle (‘Ouseburn’, ‘Little Buildings’) and the decline perhaps of communities and music scenes in general. It’s an issue that plagues many many music communities, but what inspired you to write about this in particular?

James: At heart we’re just music fans; avid gig goers. Losing venues hurts our city, its artists and everyone invested in its scene. The real catalyst was a series of closures of art spaces that started around 2016. One of the most noticeable losses in Newcastle was the closure of a community-ran venue called the Star & Shadow Cinema; the S&S was an amazing space, cinema, political bookstore… you name it, it had everything. Shortly after that the Northy Arms which hosted the DIY Massa Confusa Presents shows (what was the cornerstone of the NE punk scene) seemed to close almost overnight and it was a similar story for the North Wing which was one of the Evolution Emerging Festival venues. All the while the press was churning out articles saying Newcastle is hip, Ouseburn is trendy, and we were thinking… “well sure it is, but for how much longer”?

The music industry itself has been going through dramatic changes for a number of years. Bands these days are often acting as labels themselves by financing record releases via outlets such as PledgeMusic. What are your thoughts on the current music industry?

James: Anything that allows artists and small labels to sustain themselves or to punch above their weight can only be a good thing. I think one of the great things about the modern music landscape is the internet has created channels for distribution which would have been impossible 20 years ago.

I’m not denying music is a hard business. It’s rough and it’s not just difficult for the bands, it’s tough on everyone from labels to magazines, venues to promoters. So, everyone is looking for new ways to innovate, be sustainable and to get new music to the fans. Because that’s what it’s all about at the end of the day.

Twist Helix straddles its sound between both a traditional rock sound and electropop, how would you describe Twist Helix’s sound yourself?

Bea: We’ve called ourselves everything under the sun and still haven’t quite got the genre right. Electronic-alt-pop, synth-pop, electro-pop, industrial pop, indie-electronic… none of them really fit, but does it matter? Not really. We’re friends who make a big joyous, uptempo racket. We smile when we play, and we don’t ever shy away or dial things down. We just play big bold songs we love. Because if a song feels good to play then for us, it’s a keeper… we’ll worry about the audience later, ha-ha!

As a band, you’ve carved out a reputation via Festival appearances and other live outings. How do you find Festival audiences respond to Twist Helix as an electronic outfit?

Bea: We generally go down pretty well at festivals. The synths definitely reap the benefit of a bigger sound system, leaving crowds a bit taken aback by how full we sound for such a compact group. And it’s amazing that it’s the same story here as in Spain. I remember we were mobbed after our set at Alacant Desperta Festival last year, which felt incredible. Probably one of our favourite gigs to date.

Photo by Paul Murray

The artwork for your songs have something of a dystopia theme – which is reflected in the lyrics to an extent. At the same time, your music has this uptempo euphoric feel to it. How do you reconcile these two distinct elements?

James: As much as Ouseburn (the album) is about the rise and fall of a place, the real subject and constant theme that runs through the work is the exploration of the impulse to create. ‘Creative energy’ and Art we believe to be intrinsically human and therefore valuable; it comes from and reaffirms our and its existence through the act of its making. It is therefore inevitably optimistic, regardless of intention.

Artwork by Trevor Storey

You’ve performed alongside acts such as Avec Sans. What did you learn from that particular duo?

James: Definitely the importance of stagecraft. This is a bit of an ongoing project for us but seeing their light show (which is incredible) really got us thinking – it was a total eye-opener.

Bea: The other thing we got from that night was just how much of a difference it is to work with a pair of artists who are nice; weird to say but it’s not always the case! We were playing a pretty cosy venue, and the shared ‘Green Room’ (for want of a better word) was essentially a kitchen that someone had put a sofa in. But they made light of it and watched our set, so we went home happy.

The Madrid-based record label Paul Back Music is your new home. How is that working out compared to the DIY route?

Photo by Paul Murray

Bea: Well it’s given James more impetus to practice his Spanish for one! But more importantly, it’s really expanded our network of support… helping us run our socials, calendars and all that other rock n’ roll admin that consumes about 80 percent of a band’s time. Basically, we feel happy that someone has our back now.

James: DIY was at best a liberating venture for us, with some discovery and innovation. But at its worst (which felt like most of the time) being DIY was a bit of a lonely experience and felt like climbing an MC Escher staircase to the promise of a glass ceiling.

A new album is on the horizon, how are things progressing on that?

Bea: I’m sure we’ll live to regret this once the clock starts ticking but because it’s the Electricity Club… yes, Ouseburn will be out this autumn.

The Electricity Club extends its warmest thanks to Twist Helix.

Title pic by Paul Murray.



Darkwave ghosts haunt the aisles…

Emerging from a city with its own legendary musical history, Sheffield duo Promenade Cinema have delivered a debut album that keeps that legacy very much alive. Best known for giving the world the likes of The Human League, Heaven 17 and Cabaret Voltaire, Sheffield has again brought forth another electronic act that manage to stand on their own – and have the tunes to prove it.

Describing their sound as ‘Cinedramatic Synthpop’, Dorian Cramm and Emma Barson have rapidly chalked up critical appraisal for their darkwave delights. As a niche, the darkwave end of the synthpop spectrum has cultivated some classic bands of the past, although there’s always a danger that treading the same ground is going to result in a stale, by-the-numbers synth act. But Living Ghosts is a much subtler beast that shows a band evolving and makes Promenade Cinema’s work a likely candidate for album of the year.

Formerly part of Berlyn Trilogy, Dorian Cramm has since joined forces with Emma Barson to establish in this new venture which serves as a reminder of the talent that the northern electronic scene has to offer. Acts such as She’s Got Claws, Future Perfect, Twist Helix and the aforementioned Berlyn Trilogy all represent a healthy synthpop environment – and one in which Promenade Cinema slot into quite neatly.

Living Ghosts presents a concise collection of the duo’s work, wrapped up in an album that traces a distinct arc over the course of 10 tracks. Interestingly, opening track ‘As The World Stops Revolving’ doesn’t quite blow your socks off. It’s a serviceable slice of synthpop, but not quite on par with the rest of the album’s content. Instead, ‘Spotlight’ is where the album starts showing its true power. It’s a dense, layered composition with a flourish for treating vocals in intriguing layered ways. A pulse-driven composition that’s contrasted with the slightly melancholy piano elements.

The gothic charms of ‘Polaroid Stranger’ keeps things on track. Emma Barson’s vocals have a haunting quality to them and they work in tandem with the song’s spacey rhythms and thumping percussive drive.

But one of Living Ghost’s finest moments is served up in the form of ‘A Chemical Haunting’. The interplay between Cramm and Barson’s vocals provide a nice counterplay against each other, while the lyrics toy with themes of memories and the idea of someone leaving an impression that’s tough to shake (“You’re like a chemical haunting/a ghost inside my veins”). As with the rest of the material on the album, there’s an engaging use of wordplay and rhythms, with phrases such as “Slow motion electrocution” having a surprisingly powerful effect.


The stark tonal moods of ‘Stock Image Model’ calls to mind the German school of synthpop, although to these ears it’s reminiscent of acts such as Twins Natalia – another outfit that crafted interesting compositions from contrasting vocals and wordplay.

There’s a more bombastic approach on ‘Cassette Conversations’, a slow-burning panoramic tune with its own particular power. Elsewhere, ‘The Quiet Silently Wait’ suggests elements of Propaganda in the mix. Its 2-speed electropop elements lending a quirky frisson to the track.

Promenade Cinema opt for some synth noir touches on ‘Softly, The Sinister Hold’, its lyrical compositions calling to mind the cryptic musings of Vile Electrodes as the dreamlike fugue slowly unfolds.

There’s a step into more cinematic styles for ‘Credits’, not only for its allusions to film, but there’s a widescreen element at play here which renders the track like some lost Blade Runner composition. A slow tumbling arpeggio stalks a melancholic landscape (“A cinematic showcase/in photographic embrace”) and its baroque beats recall the ethereal moods of This Mortal Coil at times.

Closing the album out, the self-referencing track ‘Norway’ conjures visions of a storm-lashed ship sailing over turbulent grey seas. Subtle electronic elements bring to mind the classical-leaning synthpop of Ultravox at moments, but the end result is firmly planted in the world of contemporary electropop.

Living Ghosts is, at its heart, both a fine collection of songs , as well as a shrewdly sequenced album. The solid production by Steve Whitfield gives the album a tightly polished veneer, bustling with carefully layered elements whose broad sound is indeed deserving of the tag ‘Cinedramatic Synthpop’.

Living Ghosts is out now.

Promenade Cinema are appearing at Infest this August. Details via https://infestuk.com