Commercial commentary with an electropop style

This month sees a new outing from synthpop outfit Information Society and The Electricity Club is proud to premiere the video for ‘Nothing Prevails’.

The 1980s managed to spin up a variety of synthpop outfits that established a classic period in electronic music. But while the UK had cultivated many iconic acts over that influential decade, the US had established its own scene with its own unique voice, a voice paved by new wave acts such as Devo and more dedicated synthpop outfits, such as Our Daughter’s Wedding.

1982 saw the emergence of Information Society, a group originally formed in Minnesota that featured Kurt Harland Larson, Paul Robb, and James Cassidy. Information Society took inspiration for their name from Ingsoc, the fictional government that featured in George Orwell’s novel 1984. But it’s a name that also took on a prescient nature, pointing to the computer-dominated future that modern pop culture was evolving into.

Paul Robb drew from hip-hop and house influences, lending these musical styles to the fledgling Information Society (aka InSoc). Indeed, as an outfit InSoc are often difficult to pigeonhole in any clearly defined genre. They’ve embraced synthpop, techno, dance – and all points in-between – over their extensive musical career.

Their 1985 debut ‘Running’ became a club favourite, its combination of electro beats and synthpop established InSoc’s particular template. By this point, the outfit had relocated to New York and signed to the Tommy Boy label. Tommy Boy has chalked up a number of classic artists on its roster over the years (including Afrika Bambaataa, De La Soul, 808 State and Queen Latifah). Plus, its previous association as a subsidiary of Warners also offered a broader distribution network than most independent labels.

It’s a network that certainly benefited the day-glo pop appeal of InSoc’s 1998 release ‘What’s on Your Mind (Pure Energy)’. The single utilised samples from Star Trek – a coup that had been pulled off thanks to the efforts of InSoc fan Adam Nimoy, son of Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy. The single proved to be a big hit in the US, spending 25 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100. But InSoc also later proved themselves with further chart hits in the form of ‘Walking Away’ and ‘Think’.

Over the years, Robb has dabbled in other musical ventures, including being one half of trip-hop duo Brother Sun Sister Moon. He also provided keyboard work (and co-production for 2 tracks) on Kon Kan’s 1990 album Syntonic. Robb has also established himself as a notable TV and film composer outside of his personal music ventures.

Meanwhile, outside of Information Society, Kurt Harland Larson ventured into the audio side of video games, including work for the likes of Electronic Arts and Crystal Dynamics. He’s since taken on the mantle of audio lead at Nihilistic Software, a game studio based in Novato, California. Earlier this year, Larson also lent his vocal talents to one of ELYXR’s releases – in this case the smooth synthpop stylings of ‘Strange Stubborn Proud’.

Information Society’s latest release ‘Nothing Prevails’ presents a thumping electropop workout with strident vocals (German fans should note that a German language version of the video is also available). This release is also significant as it marks Information Society’s first original release on the Tommy Boy label after 25 years (although the label did issue a remix release in 2014).

Taking on a timely theme, the press release suggests that the band are offering up some commentary of contemporary culture. “On the new tune, InSoc sends a chilling message of anti-materialism and self-evaluation in a society dominated by possession and instant-gratification.” Lyrically, the song offers some very blunt thoughts on commercialism (Don’t be fooled by what you have/Nothing prevails and nothing lasts) and wraps the whole thing up in an energetic, if sobering, number that’s laced with meaty percussive stabs and melodies.


Gothic pop from Wakefield’s finest…

It’s often the case that many contemporary electronic outfits seem to be content to rehash the sounds of the 80s. They hold the classic synthpop period in such reverence that the idea of music going beyond that benchmark seems inconceivable. Not to rain down on the obvious audience out there for such music, but at times it seems as if it’s probably overdue perhaps for its own genre. It’s become such a default setting that when bands rock up wearing their influences on their sleeve, yet somehow building beyond the restrictions of their inspirations, it’s not only a surprise but also a refreshing change of pace.

Wakefield synthpop outfit Berlyn Trilogy do interesting things with these tropes of classic synth and, as a result, have managed to stand out as one of the finest synthpop outfits of the modern era. The release of their 2014 album A Perfect Stranger, for example, presented a collection of solid synthpop that boasted the percussive pop of ‘Synthetic Love’ and the epic tones of ‘The Drone’.

Flowers Fall by Berlyn Trilogy

They’re also more than capable of holding their own in a live setting. The Wakefield trio have previously commanded the stage at events including Silicon Dreams and Synthetic City. Their easy going chemistry on stage lending the band a charm that never undermines their ability to belt out a good tune.

Although the outfit has seen some changes from their initial lineup (original member Dorian Cramm has since gone on to form the equally excellent Promenade Cinema), the current team of James Beswick, Simon Rowe and Faye Williams have wasted little time in demonstrating that they’re a synthpop outfit with some chops.

Their new EP Flowers Fall is no exception, offering darkpop delights that also have a gothic sensibility weaved into the mix. Here, rich textured backdrops present the perfect stage for potent slices of synth-fuelled perfection. There’s nods to the influence of the likes of The Human League, Ultravox and Depeche Mode seeded throughout, but Berlyn Trilogy are an outfit whose voice is wholly unique.

The lyrical content for many Berlyn Trilogy tunes also tend to veer to weighty and unusual influences. The tracks on Flowers Fall being no exception. It’s not often that synthpop outfits pen songs inspired by vast palaces from the period of Ancient Rome, but ‘Domus Aurea’ does just that. Meanwhile, ‘Simone (Nicole)’ takes inspiration from the story of French resistance fighter Simone Segouin.

The idea of weaving in such solemn themes into synthpop tunes could, in the hands of lesser talents, be a ponderous affair that borders on the pretentious. But Berlyn Trilogy have a confidence in the delivery of their music that lends these compositions with exactly the weight they require.

Certainly, the muscular power of opening track ‘Domus Aurea’ gives the EP an immediate impact. This muscular electropop workout boast burbling synth beds that provide a solid foundation for the in-your-face percussive synth tones. Meanwhile, the vocals have a power all their own (“I build my empire on poison and desire (compulsion, corruption; your strategy)/Don’t question my morality, my deftly woven strategy”).

Evocative sirens open up ‘Simone (Nicole)’ for a number that combines sweeping synths with confident electronic melodies. Its lyrical themes, inspired by the aforementioned World War II heroine, have a profundity that lends this outing its own particular nobility (“You’re the heroine of liberty/Effortless style and dignity”).

Conversely, ‘Rain’ offers a more sedate outing in comparison – its driving percussive bass nevertheless giving the track its own impressive power.

Meanwhile, the EP also offers up a generous number of remixes, including contributions by Nature of Wires, Destination, Fourth Engine, Real Experts and Parralox. The Jarre-eseque electropop that Destination lend to ‘Simone (Nicole)’ stands out in particular. But Fourth Engine’s emphasis on the burbling synths that drive ‘Domus Aurea’ and Nature of Wire’s machine-like workout for the same track are also solid remixes.

Flowers Fall is out now.

THE RUDE AWAKENING – Your Wetness is My Weakness

Sinful synth-fuelled pop

With a packed schedule of roles and projects, it’s a wonder that electronic musician, promoter and radio host Johnny Normal can find the time to add something new to the mix.

2017 saw the debut of his latest musical venture, titled The Rude Awakening. ‘Let Nothing Take Your Pride’ emerged as an anthem for all those who have come under fire in life (and which also became one of TEC’s Songs Of The Year). Its defiant tones seems to be a timely response for a man who had battled some major hurdles in recent years (Johnny had spent much of 2014 hospitalised in a coma), but also reflected on the need for anyone to fight their corner.

The Rude Awakening also appeared to be shaping up as a venture not too dissimilar to ELYXR’s approach to musical collaborations. As with Kasson Crooker’s series of releases, Johnny Normal seems keen to bring onboard other talents from the electronic music scene to give each outing by The Rude Awakening a unique profile.


For ‘Let Nothing Take Your Pride’, that meant Brooke Calder’s vocal skills was brought onboard. But for The Rude Awakening’s latest release, the talents of Bridget Gray (Destination) were employed.

‘Your Wetness is My Weakness’ is threaded with strong sexual themes – a 21st Century love song that explores the boundaries of relationships through role-play and fantasy. On that basis then, it’s perhaps not surprising that elements of the new tune seem to reflect some of the sleazy synth territory that Soft Cell managed to dominate in years past.

Certainly the lyrical content doesn’t seem to shy away from fairly blunt expressions of sexual abandon with Mr Normal painting a very explicit image (“Approaching me with confidence she kneels before my feet/And sucks me with an energy that makes me feel complete”). Meanwhile, there’s a sensual backing vocal element from Bridget Gray weaving in and out of a sultry electronic miasma.

The result is a sinful hymn on the pleasures of the flesh hammered out on leather-clad electronics. There’s also a suitably slick production care of both Johnny Normal and Mr Strange.

Along for the ride are some sterling remixes which take the song into new territories. This includes a typically brash Parralox reworking where the whole affair is given an engaging workout that suggests a combo of Giorgio Moroder and Pet Shop Boys.

Your Wetness is My Weakness is out now on Pink Dolphin Music. Available from iTunes, Amazon and most digital outlets.

The Rude Awakening will be performing live at the forthcoming Synthetic City Reloaded event at The Water Rats, Kings Cross London on 22nd September. Also at Massive Ego & Friends on 15th December at Water Rats (full details on the TEC Calendar page).


Glitchy dreampop delights await…

Under the guise of Pinklogik, electronic musician Jules Straw has been producing her own blend of tunes since 2006, chalking up an impressive catalogue of releases since her debut album Mosaic Electro.

The Bristol-based artist released her latest album offering earlier this month in the form of Glint. The new album presents a curious mix of electronica and dreampop that bounces between opaque instrumentals and alluring vocal tracks. Although there is a nod to the more ambient side of the electronic spectrum, the album also boasts an array of gems that deliver a depth and enchantment that at times is quite beguiling.

Glint by Pinklogik

Much of Glint operates on a subtle power with rhythmic beats slotted into busy electronic percussion. The glitchy electronics on tracks such as ‘The Vision’ give it a low-fi pop appeal and Straw’s vocals have a clean and direct approach (“And your choices/they speak voices”).

The instrumental outings also present a few surprises, particularly on the blissful beats of ‘Pangolin’. Elsewhere, ‘Grand Water Trine’ offers a nod to trip hop while maintaining a more contemplative air.

Meanwhile, tracks such as ‘Glasshouse’ have a mesmerising beauty about them, while also showing a deft hand for melody and rhythm. Similarly, the wistful ‘Lost’ has a sense of loss and regret and the idea of the departure of a loved one throwing your life into confusion (“I can’t let you go/your exit froze me”). Warm synth melodies work away in the background while more empathic electronic elements give the whole affair a sturdier frame. Then there’s the marching beats of ‘Big Truths’, revealing a more robust quality to Pinklogik’s talents.

Glitch techniques are utilised on the likes of ‘False Data’, which offers up a machine-like rhythm to the composition. For the album’s final outing, ‘Sparks May Fly’, soft choral effects are dropped into place on a track which also utilises some light vocoder approaches on the vocals.

Glint is an album that adopts reflective musings that offer a dreamy escape for the willing listener. It’s also an album that also boasts a smooth production quality with a polish that makes every track pop.

Glint is out now.

LEGPUPPY – Meds and Beer

There’s no need to fear…

Electronic anarchists LegPuppy have plenty to say on themes such as narcissism, social media addiction, paranoia and identity theft. Their album You Should Be Paranoid tackled such diverse topics (and more besides) earlier in the year, while also utilising an intriguing mix of music styles.

But on stage is where LegPuppy really come into their own. Their legendary live shows introduce an element of performance art that can be either witty, disturbing or engaging – even a combination of all 3.

Among the arsenal of tunes that the outfit rely on for many of their live shows is the emphatic ‘Meds And Beer’, particularly because it offers up an opportunity for the audience to join in.

A wry stab at corporate culture with an electro punk aesthetic, it’s a track that’s finally been granted a proper release. An ode to the daily grind of office life (“I’m in a meeting about a meeting”), ‘Meds And Beer’ runs like a checklist of corporate buzzwords and cliches. The “Spreadsheet/PowerPoint” mantra runs throughout, alongside a chugging rhythm and a composition that’s focussed on a monotone vocal.

As with the likes of ‘Selfie Stick’, the arrival of ‘Meds And Beer’ is its own timely anthem for the 9-to-5 routine.

Meanwhile, the video for the song features weary commuting, inspired dance routines, heavy drinking – and exceptional PowerPoint tips. Team LegPuppy offer up the perfect prescription for the post-work blues.

A heady mix of sarcasm, commentary and attitude, ‘Meds And Beer’ is a raw workout of frustration likely to resonate with corporate culture. Schedule your meeting today.

Meds and Beer is out now.


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SHE’S GOT CLAWS – Synthetic Emotion (Rewired)

Artificial love finds a way…

The starkly resonant electronic tunes of She’s Got Claws made a significant impact with the release of new album War Torn earlier this year.

But it wasn’t just The Electricity Club who were acknowledging the talents of this female electronic musician and composer. OMD’s Andy McCluskey had also championed her work previously, commenting on Synthetic Emotion at the time: “The tracks ‘I Die for You’ and ‘Hurt Beat’ are two of the best modern electronic songs you will ever hear”. Meanwhile, iconic electronic musician Chris Payne was equally impressed and signed her to his publishing company.

Back in 2015, She’s Got Claws released the Synthetic Emotion EP. The compositions on this release offered a concept exploring themes of synthetic love, or as She’s Got Claws explains: “a beautiful electronic love story from the robot’s point of view and how she deals with human emotion”.

Fresh from the release of War Torn, the tracks on this early EP have been remastered along with new artwork for a timely reissue. Timely, because the ideas of artificial intelligence and advances in robotic technology are reflected in a culture increasingly fascinated with the concept.

Science fiction has, of course, been the foundation for a lot of these ideas, from the idea of artificial life developing human traits, as with the character of Data in Star Trek The Next Generation, through to erasing the line between the artificial and the human completely – a concept explored in the anime series (and recent western adaptation) Ghost In The Shell.

More recently, the weighty moral issues associated with AI and synthetic lifeforms have been the staple of the TV show Westworld. A visually stylish TV series, it’s an intriguing (and often brutal) window on the possible evolution of artificial intelligence.

Many of these ideas are also being reflected in real life technology. Google is busily conducting research that advances the use of AI in a variety of different fields. Meanwhile, companies such as Boston Dynamics are developing eerily familiar robots that are increasingly more and more like their science fiction counterparts.

Synthetic Emotion riffs on these ideas, while also delivering 4 tracks of shrewdly composed electronica.

‘I Die For You’, which opens the EP, looks at the creation of an artificial human-like robot. As she grows and learns, she sings to her creator. The staccato rhythms on the track combined with the treated vocal effects give this song an oddly evocative feel. The sultry vocal delivery on the chorus offers up curiously effective yearnings of synthetic love (“Hold me close you’re my maker/I would die for you”).

There’s a colder, more mechanical feel to ‘Hurt Beat’. Here, the lyrical elements deal with loss and the burden of emotions (“If this is really love/then why do I feel blue?”). As our artificial human has to contend with the death of her creator, the song adopts engaging electronic melodies that throw a nod to classic electronic outfits such as Kraftwerk.

Inspired by her creator’s work, our robot protagonist explores the idea of creating her own companion. ‘Manchine’ offers an electronic reverie on crafting her creator’s likeness in an artificial form. The machine-like rhythms blend in with some captivating synth stylings, giving a polished sheen to the whole affair.

The closing track ‘Utopia’ posits thoughts on the future of mankind as a race of artificial lifeforms. Here, there’s a robust, buzzy sensibility to the tunes on a busy layered composition. Synthetic melodies zip back and forth on a song that throws a nod to dancepop in its execution.

Synthetic Emotion is a perfect companion piece to War Torn, offering a similar raw quality to the electronic compositions within. As both a concept and a collection of songs it also offers a further demonstration of the talents that She’s Got Claws has to offer.

Synthetic Emotion (Rewired) is out now on iTunes, Amazon and streamed on Spotify and Apple Music.


Experimental electronic curios…

Perhaps one of the most compelling mysteries of the current electronic music scene is the resurgence of interest in the humble cassette. For those of a certain age, it likely conjures memories of rewinding cassettes with the aid of a handy pencil – or attempting to retrieve tape that had decided to wrap itself around the heads of your Binatone cassette deck.

There was still a certain charm to cassettes, mainly encapsulated in the portability of music (in an era before iPods, this was essential). Plus, the vital art of the mixtape was something that became the secret language between friends – and potential love interests.

With the uplift in the interest in vinyl releases in recent years, it seems almost predictable that cassettes would follow on. This is despite the practical issues associated with cassettes and their use. Aside from the inability to jump to the tunes of your choice, the ability to play cassettes can only be achieved by having a cassette deck to begin with. In an era where CD players are being considered obsolete, this is no small issue.

Chiefly, cassette releases appear to be the reserve of small record labels (although larger outfits are still happy to play with the medium, including electropop pioneers OMD who released The Punishment Of Luxury on cassette in 2017). Many of these labels cultivate these releases so they’re as much artefacts as they are a music format. As with vinyl, it gives cassettes a certain kudos when measured against ephemeral downloads and digital releases.

Scottish label The Dark Outside occupies a more left-field position in this market that seems tailor-made for the unusual. The concept was originally designed as a site-specific 24 hour radio broadcast that performed sounds and music in a place where nobody might hear in the darkest place in Scotland. Or as the TDO team explain it: “On a Saturday in October 2012, 24 hours of music that nobody (or next-to-nobody) had ever heard was broadcast in The Galloway Forest to an audience that consisted mostly of goats, deer, bats, red kites, red squirrels and a handful of brave souls who made the journey into the forest to listen”.

Among the early contributors to this intriguing concept were a few well-established names in the electronic music community, including Martyn Ware, Scanner, TVO, Factory Floor, Blancmange, Imogen Heap and Gazelle Twin.

Although the concept included the idea that the broadcast tracks would be immediately deleted after broadcast, the idea that some of these tracks should be preserved for posterity led to the idea of producing limited edition cassettes (there are no digital releases of any of the tracks available).

The tape releases have blossomed into an ongoing archive that feature a wide variety of electronic music alongside some truly unusual compositions. Volume 3 of Music From The Dark Outside is a case in point. Featuring tracks from Curxes, Near Future and Machines in Heaven among others.

Machines In Heaven’s contribution, ‘Last Days of the Trams part III’, is a minimalist composition whose melancholic drone has an oddly mesmerising effect. By the time the solemn vocal element comes in, the whole piece takes on a hymnal quality that has a curious beauty to it.

Curxes sprang back into life recently with the 2017 release of new album Gilded Cage. Here, Roberta Fidora presents a demo track titled ‘Melt You Down’, a sober composition of brooding synths opening into a collage of clashing electronics and vague vocals.

Near Future is a collaboration between Blancmange’s Neil Arthur and Brighton-based musician Jez Bernholz (also co-founder of Anti Ghost Moon Ray art collective that spawned Gazelle Twin). Their contribution, ‘Dark 6’, offers a fractured slice of electronica with indistinct vocals.

Among the other curiosities featured on this release is the haunting tones of ‘The Archer’, an early Grimes-like tune from Versic. Elsewhere, ‘The Neverending Restaurant’ from Doomed Nudes lays down stark beats beneath an obscure vocal element.

On the more experimental side, the contribution from Me, Claudius ‘Benson and Hedges’ is purely George Benson’s ‘Give Me The Night’ overlaid with jarring drill noises. If you can get to the end of this without developing a migraine, then you’re a star.

Closing things out, Quatroconnection’s ‘Baria II’ is a melancholic reverie that also incorporates elements of birdsong.

The cassette also features worthy efforts from the likes of Alt Twin (cosmic spacey vibes), Yaki_Pony (sepulchral electronica) and Stephanie Merchak’s ‘Temporary Malfunction’ (glitchy electronics).

Wrapping things up, the design aesthetic is modelled on the classic BBC logo (often making them hard to discern from the real thing at first).

While the listening process is not always a comfortable one, there’s more than enough winners on the cassette to invite further exploration and other offerings are available from the TDO website. Meanwhile the debate on music formats, from vinyl to cassette and downloads, will no doubt continue for some time yet.

IAN BURDEN – Hey Hey Ho Hum

Ian Burden offers themes of unity, optimism and honesty…

The release of Ian Burden’s debut album Hey Hey Ho Hum was prompted by unusual circumstances.

An accumulation of vintage synthesisers in his attic led to a decision to test them out and see if they could be passed on to other people to make use of. In the process of testing the equipment out, Burden began experimenting with riffs and chords and felt inspired enough to start recording these musical sketches. The end result formed the tracks that appear on Hey Hey Ho Hum.

Ian Burden’s early years seemed predisposed to an electronic music career. Growing up, he had an interest in the German school of music, listening to bands such as Can, Neu!, Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream. Burden was fortunate to indulge this new interest in electronic music in a practical manner when his school acquired a VCS3, which he later learned to program.

After moving to Sheffield to study at university, his musical interests resulted in the formation of his first band Graph. When Graph split, Burden was recruited into the next incarnation of iconic synthpop outfit The Human League. This proved to be fertile ground for Burden for both his skills in performing and also composing. Among the tracks that he helped co-write were classics such as ‘The Sound Of The Crowd’, ‘Love Action (I Believe In Love)’ and ‘Mirror Man’.

After several years of service in The Human League, Burden decided to call it a day. In the post-League period he worked on a select number of collaborative projects, including the 1990 album Loot! which experimented with digital sampling. In more recent times, Burden has lent his bass talents to Australian synthpop outfit Parralox.

Many of the synths that feature on Hey Hey Ho Hum saw service in The Human League, which lends a sense of continuity to the album. Despite this, the album veers more in a prog rock direction than a synthpop one. With lyrical themes of life in the English countryside (where Burden now lives) there’s very much an organic feel to the music, summed up in the lead single for the album ‘Let The Devil Drown’.

While Burden could have employed a singer for the material he composed, it seemed simpler to keep the project in-house. At a press conference for the album, he was quizzed on whether the decision to sing on the album was a natural response. “No because I don’t think of myself as a singer. I had to get the ideas down and then when I listened back, I thought “It’ll do”. No one has come along and said it’s terrible – yet!”

Burden certainly acknowledges the German school of electronic music, yet Hey Hey Ho Hum pulls its style and influences from other sources. Citing Aladdin Sane-era Bowie and pre-Dark Side Of The Moon Pink Floyd as an early window for the young Ian Burden on experimental approaches, it’s clear that the musician and composer holds these influences in high regard.

“The first music that really got a hook into me was David Bowie and particularly Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane” suggests Burden, “And around that time, someone lent me a Pink Floyd album called Meddle. I’d never heard of them, but I listened to it and I was fascinated, because it was a standard rock band line-up of drums, bass, guitar, piano, organ and vocals. But somehow, they were pulling all these extraordinary sounds out of that standard line-up. I think because it’s their music, because it’s such a slow pace, with a lot of space in it, I kind of noticed what was going on, how they were experimenting with it. Then I’d go back and listen to David Bowie, particularly the Aladdin Sane album, I realised there was a huge amount of experimentation in that as well. I’m not sure how things fall into categories, but if Pink Floyd was prog rock, then I would have said that David Bowie was as well”.

The material on Hey Hey Ho Hum certainly throws more than a nod at Pink Floyd in places. There’s a warmth and a confident ear for composition on the tracks on display here, at times recalling the more bucolic outings by the likes of Dave Greenslade.

Burden’s vocals often have a breathy intensity to them which works to good form on lead single ‘Let The Devil Drown’. There’s also some surprising dynamism to tracks such as ‘Hanging Around’, ironic considering its a tune whose themes revolve around indolence.

‘Another Day’ opts for a more reggae-inspired rhythmic outing while ‘Big Big World’ has some Oldfield-esque guitar work in among its busy layers. There’s also a sense of optimism and hope weaved into the tracks on the album, particularly on the percussive rhythms of ‘Stay In Tune’.

The foundations for financing Hey Hey Ho Hum was crafted, like many albums these days, through PledgeMusic (an outlet that’s served the likes of OMD, Gary Numan, Erasure and Empathy Test well in the past). It’s perhaps a confident sign that both veteran musicians and contemporary artists can find common ground for financing and producing music.

Hey Hey Ho Hum occupies a very distinct field that might present an acquired taste for those coming in from an appreciation for the more synthpop end of the spectrum. But Burden has a flourish for composition and producing interesting sounds from a diverse set of instruments. Inquisitive listeners will find their explorations yielding some satisfying results.


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.

Dicepeople will be performing alongside Inertia, Android Lust and Global Citizen on 9th June 2018 at Electrowerkz

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.