Featuring TRUST, PRINCESS CENTURY and PRINCESS CHELSEA
The Electricity Club was spoilt in 2013 with an embarrassment of riches from the electronic world with quality releases from Synth Britannia veterans and their offspring.
By the law of averages and modern day recording/touring cycles, 2014 could be anticipated to be a less fruitful year. But as TEC hinted at in its 2013 End Of Year Review, territories not traditionally known as bastions of electro have been coming to the fore. So here are previews of three such albums due for release this coming year…
If there was one act that slipped under the TEC radar in 2012, it was TRUST. This brooding Canadian electronic outfit combined the talents of Robert Alfons and Maya Postepski. TRUST’s 2012 release ‘TRST’ was a collection of dense and at times disturbing collection of sleazy synthpop tunes. The dark tones of Alfons’ vocals brought forth visions of Leonard Cohen fronting an electropop outfit.
TRUST have perhaps been unfairly overshadowed by the success of Postepski’s other career choice (she’s part of press favourites AUSTRA) although TRUSTs often cryptic PR strategies can appear to backfire on them. A planned ticket lottery for a low-key December date in London turned into a fiasco.
The venture, designed to raise awareness of the more high profile XOYO gig in May 2014, was confusingly mishandled resulting in TRUST fans scrabbling to get to the venue under the impression that they had ‘won’ tickets, due in part to a confirmation email that wasn’t issued until the afternoon of the gig. A Tweet issued by Alfons previously stated that he desperately needed a manager, highlighting perhaps one of the weaknesses of the outfit. It also appears that Maya Postepski may have parted ways with TRUST leaving the outfit the sole concern of Alfons.
Despite this, a new album is scheduled for release in 2014. The follow-up to ‘TRST’is titled ‘Joyland’, which suggests perhaps that a sense of humour does lurk beneath the mysterious public persona of Trust. At present, only a very brief teaser of the outfit’s new sound has officially been aired, although attendees at the brief live gigs have been fortunate to hear some of the new material get a test run. Trust’s new direction certainly offers a more upbeat approach in places and a dreamlike sensibility in others, but with Alfons’ distinctive dark vocals in place.
You’d think that between TRUST and AUSTRA, the talented Maya Postepski would have all her free time accounted for. So it was somewhat surprising to learn that she’s also embarked on a solo project titled Princess Century.
Releasing a vinyl-only album titled ‘Lossless’ in April 2013, Postepski demonstrated a flair for the experimental. Those expecting ‘Lossless’ to be retreads of AUSTRA or TRUST material are probably going to be disappointed. Instead, this is Postepksi exploring sound and composition.
‘Lossless’ (inspired in part by the Charles Manson murders) shows Maya experimenting with a variety of approaches to electronic music and mixing, often with dark overtones. ‘Le Rayon Vert’ pulls in video game tunes and acts in some ways as an overture for the album, while ‘Palace’ gives us a brooding drum machine-driven track augmented with vague vocals. It’s clear that Maya is less interested in conventional song composition and more interested in exploring sound forms and styles. As a result, many of the vocal elements tend to be obscured in washes of echo (as with ‘Twin House’) or used for rhythmic effect (such as on the ominous tones of ‘PiG’)
A clearer take on Maya’s pipes is evident on ‘Giving It Away’ while ‘Love and Money’ (a collaboration with Danish electronic musician Heidi Mortenson) presents a track featuring the metallic-sounding percussion that Maya uses to great effect on Austra material. Meanwhile, ‘Crummy Bones’ is more of a lo-fi percussion-driven track with brief synth interludes. ‘Das Schlimmste’ paints a soundscape in battleship grey for an electronic composition that hints at menace. The synthetic soundscape and beats of ‘Heaven Rock’ presents one of Lossless’ finest moment with its electronic melodies and dreamlike moods. At times it sounds like Kraftwerk playing with triphop!
While no precise details about where PRINCESS CENTURY will be going with the new album, a contribution to a recent Stellar Kinematics compilation suggests a much tighter approach to future material. The track, titled ‘Rendezvous’, offers up a percussive number that could almost be AUSTRA meets JEAN-MICHEL JARRE. A follow-up album (as yet untitled) is scheduled for release in the spring
While we’re on the topic of electronic music royalty, let’s not forget New Zealand talent Chelsea Nikkel who transforms into PRINCESS CHELSEA for her musical outings.
2012’s ‘Lil’ Golden Book’ presented a wonderful collection of songs that ranged from the whimsical to the purely electronic. It was also the album that gave us the wit and wisdom of ‘The Cigarette Duet’.
Since then, Princess Chelsea has been busy both touring and penning the songs for ‘Lil’ Golden Book’’s follow-up album titled ‘The Great Cybernetic Depression’. Chelsea’s original plans were to record material in the summer of 2012 with a view to releasing the album in March 2013. Those plans were later reworked to look at a 2014 release.
Although ‘Lil’ Golden Book’ combined a number of music styles, Chelsea’s love for electronic music was reasserted on tracks such as ‘Frack’ and the small snippets of her new material suggest that this is the path she wants to pursue for the near future. When interviewed by TEC in 2012, Chelsea remarked that she had been recording a lot of cover versions for possible inclusion. The first taste of this new direction was the release of single ‘We’re So Lost’ (originally a release by New Zealand guitar outfit Voom) in the early part of 2013. This tale of loss and redemption had a definite glacial feel to it with an evocative vocal from La Chelsea. B-Side ‘When The World Turns Grey’ had a similar reflective element to it suggesting that the album title was turning to a darker theme for the music.
Quizzed more recently about the direction of ‘The Great Cybernetic Depression’, Chelsea commented: “The new album is shaping up to be more electronic than the first one with production similar to songs like ‘Machines of Loving Grace’ and ‘Goodnight Little Robot Child’ but with a definite 80s focus – expect a lot of Yamaha DX7, Roland D50 sounds presented with a modern twist”.
The new album will feature ‘We’re So Lost’ as well as other tracks with intriguing titles such as ‘No Church On Sunday’, ‘We Were Meant 2 B In Luv’, ‘Digitial Dream Girl’ and ‘Winston Crying On The Bathroom Floor’ (Winston being Chelsea’s cat and, to some extent, co-star). ‘The Great Cybernetic Depression’ is due for release via Lil’ Chief Records later this year.
Text by Paul Browne
2nd January 2014