AIVIS The Wilderness

New synth duo AIVIS offer warmth and emotion in their debut release…

It’s always refreshing to discover new electronic bands that offer intriguing, original sounds and can be influenced by a variety of bands without having to mimic any of them. Ultimately, it’s always about the tunes and thankfully new synthpop duo AIVIS have done some sterling work on debut release ‘The Wilderness’.

There’s a nice use of harmonies at play here with a smooth, warm feel underpinning the engaging vocals. The sparse percussion adds to the charm and the result is a song that breathes emotion and a sense of style.

AIVIS consists of Aidan and Travis, the former from Scotland and the latter from the USA. The pair originally met online in 2014 and have been collaborating ever since. AIVIS (which is contraction of the pair’s names) and debut release ‘The Wilderness’ sees the culmination of that collaboration and shows an accomplished pair of hands at work. With influences including Robyn, La Roux, Grimes, Marina And The Diamonds, CHVRCHES and Hurts in the mix, it’s a good foundation for engaging electropop.

Lyrically, ‘The Wilderness’ deals with breakups and the emotional turmoil that comes in the wake of the end of a relationship. Born out of personal experiences, Aidan delivers a compelling vocal that tugs at the heartstrings. It’s also served up with a polished video shot in Illinois during the summer (and also marked the first time that Aidan and Travis had met in person).



The issue of geographical distances involved in any musical collaboration is less of a problem than it would have presented in a pre-internet world. It’s something that hasn’t affected outfits such as Lola Dutronic or Minor Victories. So AIVIS can happily swap music files online and build up the finished songs accordingly. Glasgow-based Aidan provides the melodies, vocals and song structure while Travis in Ohio offers up beats, baselines and instrumentation.

In an interview with The Pansentient League website, Aidan described the music of AIVIS as “Catchy emotional insidious glitchy electronic pop” while Travis adds “Lately I’ve been saying think of Lorde with a male vocalist and darker vocals but more instrument heavy”. The pair also add that fellow Glaswegian electropop outfit CHVRCHES remain a strong inspiration. “They’re definitely heroes of mine” adds Aidan, “and I look up to them for their songwriting and for their authenticity as artists”.

An AIVIS album is already in the works which the pair describe as featuring “Hooks, hooks and more hooks!” and while they haven’t quite tackled the issue of live shows as yet, it’s clear that they’re more than capable of committing to the recorded medium for now.

AIVIS offers up a warmer side of synthpop with an engaging harmonic quality that is certainly worth checking out.

An interview with AIVIS:


This article originally appeared on the Wavegirl site.


Baltic Fleet’s third album sails along with a bolder wind at its back…

The inspiration for Baltic Fleet’s latest album is a suitably unusual one. Multi-instrumentalist and Baltic Fleet founder Paul Fleming had been intrigued by a local church – and in particular the story of the man who had built it in the 19th Century. It was part of an extensive series of building works which had been inspired by his wife, whom he called ‘the dear one’. Told through the pages of his diary, it later transpires that his wife had succumbed to illness and passed away shortly after.

Transposing much of the names and places featured in this diary into the record that became The Dear One, Fleming has managed to perhaps craft Baltic Fleet’s finest moment to date.

Baltic Fleet had already been riding high since winning the 2013 GIT Award (which was designed to celebrate musical talent from the Merseyside area). But Fleming has also turned his considerable talents to score films and had also been part of Echo And The Bunnymen, providing keyboards for both live performances and studio albums.

At its heart, Baltic Fleet is a largely instrumental project which nonetheless manages to craft an evocative and engaging music soundscape. Originally, Fleming merely composed by laptop and added on instrumentation where he could find it. The Dear One utilises the strengths of guitar, bass and drums on the album, which yet manages to retain a distinctly electronic sound.

There’s a bigger, bolder feel to The Dear One, with a cinematic quality to much of its compositions. At the same time, the electronic elements of the record retain a warmth that’s evocative of Merseyside’s classic synthpop outfit Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark. Certainly, Fleming has a similar thoughtful, intelligent approach to melody and rhythm.

There’s an otherworldly quality to the opening track, the curiously titled ‘Sheriff Full Of Blessings Part 1’ whose fractured, spacey beats finally unleash a curiously complex series of elements consisting of evocative melodies and engaging rhythms.

‘Tuns’ combines a raw bass synth sound with some fine percussive elements. Meanwhile, there’s an oddly sinister element to the broody melodies of ‘Royving’.



The album’s finest moment however is the title track. ‘The Dear One’ just breathes compelling synth melodies atop crunchy rhythm beds. There’s an ethereal quality to the whole affair that will stay in your head for days.

Perhaps one of the strengths of Baltic Fleet’s mission is in Fleming’s willingness to use a combination of instrumentation to achieve his sound. It’s perhaps a rare quality in a period in which a bizarre form of music fundamentalism has taken over elements of the UK electronic music scene (guitars are seen as the enemy in some camps, apparently).

Recruiting members of his live band during the recording of the album has given Fleming a much broader canvas to work on here. Certainly Simon Finley does an amazing job with some muscular drumming. Often the motorik beats and melodic flourishes suggest nods to the likes of Krautrock icons such as Neu! So it’s not surprising to learn that Fleming counts the likes of Neu! as influences alongside Eno, Sigur Ros and Low-period Bowie.

There’s certainly an aural kinship with acts such as Public Service Broadcasting in the way that Baltic Fleet adopt a combination of beats and instrumentals. But Baltic Fleet appear to have a much tighter and engaging approach here. There’s a peculiarly dense quality to Baltic Fleet’s deeply layered compositions, which appears to render everything on a larger than life scale. At the same time, there’s always a human quality that keeps the music grounded.

The result is perhaps one of the best albums of the year – and a particularly refreshing accomplishment in the world of electronic music, which has served up so many disappointing retro acts in recent years.


This article originally appeared on the Wavegirl site.

IS THAT THE 12″ REMIX? Rob Grillo

The rise of the 12″ format – and an engaging exploration of the ’80s music scene

Rob Grillo’s 2010 book Is That The 12” Mix? acted as both a history of the rise of the 12″ format as well as a compelling memoir of his own experience growing up with music in 1980s Yorkshire.

Is That The 12″ Mix? managed to convey an educational exploration of the ’80s music scene with insight and humour, while deftly avoiding the traps of either using it as a soapbox or making errors in factual details. If there’s a key element here it’s the fact that Grillo knows his music, which gives him an informed view of a turbulent period in modern pop culture that has often been skewed by nostalgia.

Now Grillo has revisited the book and revised and expanded its contents for Is That The 12″ Remix? At its heart, the book is a history of the 12” format and the era that saw its rise to prominence. It marked a change in the way that record labels and artists alike approached chart music and resulted in some of the most iconic recordings by classic artists of their day.

During these formative years, the young Grillo would studiously tape songs off the radio, keeping detailed lists of the UK charts. It’s perhaps difficult for a post-80s audience to appreciate the determination and devotion of music fans during this pre-internet era. While today it’s a simple job to simply do a Google search for information on any music artist, record or label, the music fan in the pre-internet era relied on sheer dogged detective work on their own part. To some extent, this was augmented by the music press – then going through its most prolific era with the likes of Smash Hits, NME and Record Mirror at the peak of their powers – another element that Grillo covers in the book.

Along the way, Grillo also explores the history of HI-NRG and the rise of the Record Shack label in the early part of the 80s. It’s a period in time in which remixes played an important role in the emerging club scene of the time.


But, as the book’s title suggests, the 12″ format also gave way to a new marketing strategy of remixes which were often designed to keep a record charting. It’s an era in which outfits such as Frankie Goes To Hollywood, New Order and Heaven 17 were in their prime and in which some of their best work was delivered in the 12” format.

While the book chiefly delivers Grillo’s personal (and encyclopaedic) view on the era, he also makes room for other voices, quizzing blog writers who all lend their own perspectives on the music of the 1980s. Along the way we also get commentary from the likes of Neil Tennant, Rusty Egan and Heaven 17’s Martyn Ware (who also provides the foreword to the book).

Pop culture has suffered in recent years with a troubling obsession with the past. It’s delivered from blogs, websites and other publications whose personal viewpoints struggle to contend with a post-80s music scene (unless it apes the music of that era) as well as a broader desire to reheat and repackage the past by record labels and film companies alike.

Grillo, however, manages to cleverly tell a story that makes no bones in telling a narrative that focuses on a vanished past, but also gives a very concise and shrewdly observed view on record formats and music industry practices as a whole.

Obviously there are a selection of music history books which offer a more analytical perspective of this period, but there’s very few that give it the personal touch that Grillo has brought to Is That The 12″ Remix?

This article originally appeared on the Wavegirl site.