ELYXR – The Last Day of Summer

The collaborative outfit return with a taste of summer…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

http://colortheory.com/


AUTUMN NEW RELEASES

A look at some of autumn’s forthcoming electronic music releases…

2017 has already shaped up to be a good year for record releases with a combination of classic artists and contemporary bands putting out some sterling new albums. As a revised version of our earlier feature, here’s a rundown of some of the autumn releases that might be of interest for the electronic music enthusiast…


BLANCMANGE – Unfurnished Rooms

The reformation of Blancmange, and the subsequent release of 2011 album Blanc Burn, came as a surprise (particularly to those fans of traditional English desserts). The synthpop outfit had recorded one of the most highly regarded electronic music albums of the 1980s with the release of their debut album Happy Families (That album was subsequently reissued this year as part of the retrospective Blanc Tapes).

Neil Arthur has since continued to both tour and release new material under the Blancmange banner, with the last release being the 2016 album Commuter 23. Unfurnished Rooms, which was written and recorded by Neil Arthur and co-produced by Benge (Wrangler/John Foxx & The Maths), sees an album of songs written by Arthur, while Benge added percussion and layers of synths. One of the new tracks, ‘Don’t Get Me Wrong’, also features John Grant (who also contributed to Susanne Sundfør’s latest album) on piano and backing vocals.

Unfurnished Rooms is due for release on 22nd September, 2017.

More info:
http://www.blancmange.co.uk/


HANNAH PEEL – Mary Casio: Journey To Cassiopeia Hannah Peel

‘Mary Casio’ is a side project that composer and musician Hannah Peel has been cultivating for some time. When a brass band commissioned Peel for a new musical project, she felt that her Mary Casio alter ego was the best face to put on it.

Drawing from her influences of electronic pioneers Daphne Oram and Delia Derbyshire, Peel’s back story for Mary Casio is as an elderly stargazing electronic musician. Her lifelong dream is to leave her South Yorkshire home and journey into space. The resulting musical adventures, which combine brass and analogue synths, is surprisingly atmospheric and shows a whole new side of Peel’s talents.

Mary Casio: Journey To Cassiopeia is released 22nd September.

More info:
http://smarturl.it/syjioe
http://www.hannahpeel.com
https://www.facebook.com/pg/HannahPeelMusic


EMPATHY TEST – Losing Touch/Safe From Harm

The atmospheric synthpop produced by combo Empathy Test offers a refreshing and original change from many of their contemporaries. Latest release ‘By My Side’ showed a smooth slice of warm synthpop with a polished production that offered up a cinematic panorama of electronic goodness (as our review explained).

A series of releases, including 2016 double A-side single ‘Demons’/’Seeing Stars’ was followed this year by ‘By My Side’. A third single release, ‘Bare My Soul’, was released in April, followed by a PledgeMusic campaign to fund the release of their long-awaited debut album. But discovering they had a wealth of material, Empathy Test have now opted to release 2 albums, titled Safe From Harm and Losing Touch.

Losing Touch/Safe From Harm are scheduled for release 17th November.

More info:
https://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/empathy-test-album
Soundcloud.com/EmpathyTest
Facebook.com/EmpathyTest
EmpathyTest.com


A-HA – MTV Unplugged – Summer Solstice

Norwegian synthpop outfit a-ha can’t decide whether to retire or not (as 2015’s Cast In Steel album demonstrated). But now they’re releasing an album culled from live acoustic concerts that took place in June.

Earlier this year, Morten Harket commented, “The band is finally coming together for live acoustic recordings of a wide selection of our songs! As we speak, there is palpable growing excitement about this in the group. We had wonderful moments with the fans during our last tour, and as a fourth member of the band you certainly have had an influence on our commitment to this. I really look forward to it all!”

Filmed and recorded in Norway, the album draws from two shows and features not only two new songs in the form of ‘This Is Our Home’ and ‘A Break In The Clouds’, but also an old song taken from the pre-a-ha outfit Bridges. Guests on the album include Alison Moyet, Ian McCulloch and Lissie.

In early 2018, a-ha will take this special acoustic set on the road. Magne, Morten and Paul will be joined by a handpicked ensemble of musicians to embellish and reinvent the classics, as well as present new material in acoustic arrangements.

MTV Unplugged – Summer Solstice, which will debut as as album, DVD and broadcast, are scheduled for release on 6th October.

More info:
https://lnk.to/aha-unplugged
http://a-ha.com/news/articles/acoustic-evening/


THE SOUND OF ARROWS – Stay Free

The release of their debut album Voyage in 2012 established Swedish electronic duo The Sound Of Arrows as purveyors of smooth dreampop synth.

Their second album Stay Free has been eagerly awaited and was heralded by the unveiling of new song ‘Beautiful Life’ back in March. The song continues the electronic outfit’s talent for cinematic pop, but there’s also a more organic element with big string arrangements prominent in the mix. It suggests that Oskar Gullstrand and Stefan Storm (aka The Sound Of Arrows) haven’t lost their touch for stylish synthpop.

Stay Free is due for release on 27th October.

More info:
http://www.thesoundofarrows.com


NULL + VOID – Cryosleep


Depeche Mode and Dave Gahan collaborator, Kurt Uenala, will be releasing a full length album under his Null + Void alias soon called Cryosleep.

The album is said to be inspired by retro sci-fi, electronic innovators, and classic new wave. Lead single ‘Asphalt World’ is apparently “built on Detroit electro’s mechanical bounce and has a sinister glint in its eyes”.

The album will see guest vocals from Dave Gahan as well as guest vocals from Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Big Pink, and Light Asylum.
More info:
http://kurtuenala.com
https://www.facebook.com/nullandvoidmusik/

Cryosleep release date TBC


FREEZEPOP

US synthpop outfit Freezepop have embarked on the crowdfunding route to launch their 5th studio album. Raising over $88,000 via Kickstarter, the Boston-based group have also added on goodies such as bonus albums, vinyl releases, cover version requests, comic strip and even a sandwich (overseas customers will unfortunately have to make do with a picture of a sandwich…).

The new album follows on from 2007’s Future Future Future Perfect, which featured the crunchy dynamics of ‘Less Talk More Rokk’ and the wistful ‘Thought Balloon’. Details of the new release have yet to be confirmed, although on the topic of the potential songs, the band suggests they’re “deeply awesome”.

More info:
http://www.freezepop.net
http://www.kickstartfreezepop.com/

Album details and release date TBC


U96 – Reboot


German electronic act U96 are best remembered for ‘Das Boot’ (a techno styling of Klaus Doldinger’s 1981 film theme) and Eurodance hits such as ‘Love Sees No Colour’ and ‘Love Religion.’

U96 will shortly release their seventh album, Reboot, the follow-up to 2015’s The Dark Matter EP. Tracks include the excellent ‘Monkeys’, which was previewed last year, and a collaboration with former Kraftwerk percussionist Wolfgang Flür.

Release date TBC.

More info:
https://www.facebook.com/U96reboot/


DAYBEHAVIOUR – Based On A True Story

3-piece synthpop outfit Daybehaviour caught our attention with the 2003 release ‘The Sweetness of My Pain’ and TEC also reviewed their third album release Follow That Car! in 2012. Their talent for melody and classy, sophisticated dreampop was front and centre on the tracks featured on that album.

The Stockholm-based outfit have been working on their fourth album titled Based On A True Story for a while. The first song to be taken from the album was the stylish pop appeal of ‘Change’, which appeared in 2015. The group have provided updates on the album’s development recently and they appear to be getting close to a release date.

Release date TBC.

More info:
https://www.facebook.com/DayBehavior/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCx1KaWdnouVOq2TmLEfbaZw
http://www.daybehavior.com/


Outside of the albove, there’s also new releases mooted by TR/ST, Princess Century (aka Austra’s Maya Postepski) and Electric Youth.


EXCLUSIVE: ELYXR – Engine

New collaborative project delivers warm, evocative pop…

The arrival of ELYXR offers a new venture via Seattle-based electronic musician/producer Kasson Crooker. Each ELYXR release is designed to be a collaborative project introducing different singers for each subsequent release.

‘Engine’ marks the first of the ELYXR releases and here features Elissa LeCoque from Brooklyn indie-electronic act Kodacrome. We’re happy to announce that The Electricity Club is premiering the track today ahead of its June release.

‘Engine’ delivers subtle, layered electronic pop elements that, combined with LeCoque’s soulful vocals, lends the whole composition a certain sadness.

Crooker is of course better known as founder-member of synthpop outfit Freezepop and also recently released the Gishiki album via his other side project Symbion Project (see TEC review here). ELYXR marks a different direction from his other ventures with the collaborative element opening up new musical horizons.

“From the very beginning of how I wanted to craft ELYXR into a different kind of musical project, there were some key elements that I was really fixated on” Kasson Crooker told The Electricity Club. “Beyond not making albums and EPs and just releasing a string of singles, the other main element was to have each song be a unique collaboration with some of the amazing singer/songwriters I had the pleasure of knowing through my years of playing in Freezepop and Symbion Project. With my last Symbion Project album Arcadian there were some really unique collaborations with each of the singers helping to craft something unique. So I wanted to go even further with this idea and really reach out to some of my favorite singers to see what we could come up with for some juicy synthpop tracks! The other thing I love about collaborating is knowing that I’ll be pushed beyond some of my normal songwriting habits that can often happen without those outside influences pushing you”.

The collaboration between Crooker and LeCoque came about when Symbion Project opened for Kodacrome at a gig in Brooklyn. “Kodacrome has always captured a real purity with their releases that I’ve been entranced by” comments Crooker. “Nothing flashy or overproduced, with just the right balance of honest synthpop mixed with Elissa’s bewitching vocals. Getting to work with Elissa has been an extreme pleasure and she brings a real soulfulness and honesty to the synthesized compositions and her lyrics have a unique depth not found that often in electropop songs”.

Future ELYXR releases are scheduled for this summer, with the next one loosely scheduled for a late June release. Crooker is keeping details of future collaborations under his hat for now, but hints that there’s some male vocalists that he’s keen to work with.

Meanwhile, ‘Engine’ delivers a good sampling of what this new collaborative concept is all about. Its warm, electronic melodies touch the heart and elicit a certain melancholy – which is what good electronic music is all about.


‘Engine’ is released 2nd June on the Speed Of Dark label.

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

http://www.symbionproject.com/
http://kodacrome.com/


SYMBION PROJECT – Gishiki

Engaging electronica with a Japanese twist…

The ambient side of electronic music can throw up some intriguing gems that often present rewards from patient listening. Symbion Project’s Gishiki is a case in point with its combination of traditional Japanese music themes and contemporary synthesiser compositions.

Gishiki offers contemplative moods pulled from a series of captivating soundscapes, each of which has been inspired by the virtues of Bushido. A codified system of values adopted by Japan’s samurai caste, Bushido (the way of the warrior), revolved around themes including loyalty, duty and self-sacrifice. Each of the 8 pieces here are equally named after those virtues and attempt to capture the essence of their meaning in music.

Symbion Project is actually the work of Seattle-based musician and composer Kasson Crooker. Keeping himself busy as part of a series of bands over the years (including the likes of Splashdown and Larkspur), Crooker is probably better known under his guise as ‘The Duke’, founder-member of synthpop superstars Freezepop. But Symbion Project offers Crooker a chance to delve into the more electronica side of the musical spectrum.

In fact Gishiki forms the final album in a loose trilogy of work comprising 2007 release Wound Up by God or the Devil and Contrapasso in 2011. Gishiki’s approach was crafted from an exploration of the pentatonic Hirajōshi scale. Crooker created the plucked koto sound via a physical-modeling synthesiser, combined with treated sounds of windchimes and angklung (a traditional Malaysian percussive instrument). Combined with warm analogue synth washes, Gishiki offers up an immersive experience that works its magic in subtle ways.

There’s a loose arc to the composition of the album that fixes the initial focus on a more traditional Japanese sound, before weaving in more electronic elements into later pieces. As a result, opening track ‘Jin (Benevolence)’ has a gentle, reflective tone. ‘Makoto (Integrity)’, meanwhile, has a warmer, hypnotic quality to it.

For those that have a preference for Brian Eno’s ambient catalogue, they’ll find some familiar ground here. There’s a similar use of mood and tone that creates a certain atmosphere without necessarily commanding your complete attention. At the same time, the 8 pieces offer up a variety of approaches that make each of them distinct in their own way without losing the focus as a collective work.

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Take the panoramic soundscape of ‘Chugi (Loyality)’, which at times suggests some lost cinematic soundtrack. It’s gradual build-up of synth beds gives a grander vision, while still retaining the ability to project a contemplative mood.

There’s a much more traditional electronic arrangement at work on ‘Jisei (Self-Control)’ with its buzzy synths and tonal shifts. Elsewhere, ‘Gi (Righteousness)’ clocks in with the album’s longest composition at nearly 10 minutes. It’s a track that makes effective use of space, while also weaving in some of the panoramic style that ‘Chugi’ introduced.

Closing proceedings, the gossamer tones of ‘Yu (Courage)’ makes use of synth arpeggios to give the piece a robust foundation. Meanwhile, warmer tones are gradually introduced into the arrangement to present a textured whole.

At this point, it’s probably also worth mentioning that as well as digital download, Gishiki is also available as a special limited edition CD release. Each edition is numbered and autographed and features 3 CDs hand-wrapped in a package using the traditional Japanese Furoshiki method. The cloth is created by artist Fiona Stoltze, dyed using the ancient Japanese Shibori method. Included with the Gishiki CD are the previous albums in the trilogy, Wound Up by God or the Devil and Contrapasso. Also included are prints of 8 original Haiku composed by Natalia L. Rudychev inspired by the songs of Gishiki and the virtues of Bushido.

Gishiki is an album that’s likely to resonate with anyone who’s a fan of the works of Eno, Isao Tomita and Ryuichi Sakamoto. At times, there’s even hints of early Jean-Michel Jarre in the mix. As a contemplative piece of work, Symbion Project have crafted an effective album with Gishiki that’s one of the standout electronica releases of the year.


Gishiki is out now on Speed of Dark Music.

http://www.symbionproject.com/
https://symbionproject.bandcamp.com/album/gishiki
https://www.facebook.com/symbionproject
https://twitter.com/symbionproject


2017 NEW RELEASES

A look at some of the year’s forthcoming electronic music releases…

2017 is already shaping up to be a good year for record releases with a combination of classic artists and contemporary bands putting out new albums, reissues and compilations. Although not a comprehensive list (and we’ll add on titles as release schedules are updated), here’s a rundown of some of the releases that might be of interest for the electronic music enthusiast…


VANGELIS – Delectus

Collecting together the combined output of all of Vangelis’ Polydor and Vertigo albums, this colossal 12 CD box set will keep your ears busy for a whole week.

The material here has all been newly remastered and covers many of the master’s classics, including Earth, L’Apocalypse Des Animaux, China, See You Later, Antarctica, Mask, Opera Sauvage, Chariots of Fire, Soil Festivities and Invisible Connections. It also features his collaborative outings with Jon Anderson: Short Stories, The Friends of Mister Cairo and Private Collection.

The box set includes bonus tracks (including one previously unreleased composition) as well as a 64-page career retrospective with rare photos and essays.

Delectus is released on 3rd February.

More info:
https://www.facebook.com/VangelisOfficial
http://www.superdeluxeedition.com/news/vangelis-delectus-new-13-disc-box-set/


ANDY BELL – Electric Blue

Better known as being part of jazz/funk combo The Erasure, Andy Bell has taken to the crowdfunding route to promote a remastered reissue of his 2005 album Electric Blue.

Originally released in October 2005, Electric Blue includes the hit single ‘Crazy’ and follow up ‘I’ll Never Fall In Love’, as well as duets with Jake Shears (Scissor Sisters) and Claudia Brücken (Propaganda/Act).

The reissue, which is being run via PledgeMusic, will be an expanded 3 CD edition in a hardback book package featuring extended versions, remixes and rarities. The release also features lyrics, previously unseen images and brand new sleeve notes.

Electric Blue is out on 24th February.

More info:
http://andybell.com/andy-bell-electric-blue-deluxe-3-cd-album-reissue/
http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/andy-bell-electricblue


NEW ORDER – Be Music

After recording ‘Blue Monday’ (the only song they ever did), one hit wonders New Order had plenty of spare time on their hands during the 1980s. As a result, they took on production duties for a variety of artists. Using the tag of ‘Be Music’, this covered production work by all 4 members of the band and took in the likes of Quando Quango, 52nd Street, Marcel King, Paul Haig and Surprize.

This 3 CD set also includes tracks by Marnie, Section 25, A Certain Ratio, Factory Floor and the underrated Royal Family & the Poor.

Among the bonus tracks is ‘Knew Noise’ by Section 25 – produced by Ian Curtis and Rob Gretton back in 1979, as well as the complete 22 minute version of ‘Video 586’ recorded by New Order in 1982.

Be Music is out on 17th February via Factory.

More info:
http://www.neworder.com/
http://factorybenelux.com/new_order_presents_be_music_fbn60.html


SAILOR & I – The Invention Of Loneliness

The glacial broodiness of Swedish electronic musician Alexander Sjödin , under the moniker Sailor & I, was a pleasant surprise which was heralded by the subtle power of new release ‘Chameleon’.

Forthcoming album The Invention Of Loneliness will feature ‘Chameleon’ as well as earlier release ‘Black Swan’. Sailor & I’s sound has developed into a lush production style with Sjödin’s vocals taking on a whispery, hypnotic presence.

The Invention Of Loneliness
is released 24th February on Skint.

More info:
http://sailorandi.se


MARC ALMOND – Hits and Pieces: The Best of Marc Almond and Soft Cell

This compilation brings together some of the best Soft Cell tunes alongside choice cuts from Marc Almond’s solo outings and collaborations.

As a result, this release (which comes in both single and double CD versions) features such classics as ‘Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go’, ‘Bedsitter’ and ‘Say Hello, Wave Goodbye’ from the Soft Cell years. Meanwhile, ‘Tears Run Rings’, ‘Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart’ (with Gene Pitney), ‘Jacky’ and ‘The Days Of Pearly Spencer’ cover the later years. Also included is new song ‘A Kind Of Love’.

While not a truly comprehensive compilation (and rumours continue over a possibly extensive Soft Cell collection), it’s a serviceable collection of Almond’s best work.

Hits and Pieces: The Best of Marc Almond and Soft Cell will be released on 10th March.

More info:
http://www.marcalmond.co.uk/


DEPECHE MODE – Spirit


Depeche Mode release their 14th studio album Spirit on the 17th March. With cover art by long-time collaborator Anton Corbijn, it is preceded by the single, ‘Where’s the Revolution.’

The follow-up to 2013’s Delta Machine, the 12-track album was produced by James Ford (whose former clients include Klaxons and Little Boots). According to Dave Gahan, “He’s not just a great producer, he’s a great musician. So he was able to guide us. Martin had written some great songs and demoed them and I had too, so he was able to take those songs and take them to another level.”

The first song from the album ‘Where’s The Revolution?’ has also been unveiled.

More info:
http://www.depechemode.com/


A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS – Remixes & Rarities


Not just a witty line from Pulp Fiction, as part of a continuing series from Cherry Red, this new release will collate a variety of rare remixes and edits from Liverpool synthpop outfit A Flock Of Seagulls.

Among the tracks featured on this 2 CD release are the US 7″ cut of ‘I Ran (So Far Away)’, an instrumental version of ‘Who’s That Girl (She’s Got It)’, live versions of ‘Space Age Love Song’ and ‘The Traveller’ as well as 12″ versions of ‘Never Again (The Dancer)’, ‘Nightmares’ and no less than 4 versions of their signature tune ‘Wishing (If I Had A Photograph Of You).

Remixes & Rarities is released on 24th March via Cherry Red.

More info:
https://www.cherryred.co.uk/product/remixes-rarities-deluxe-2cd-edition/


GOLDFRAPP – Silver Eye

The collaborative duo of Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory have charted an intriguing career arc following on from debut release Felt Mountain in 2000. It included dips into ‘folktronica’ evidenced on 2008’s Seventh Tree and the synth optimism of Head First in 2010. Meanwhile, 2013’s Tales of Us was considered by some outlets as a return to form (as the phrase goes).

Silver Eye has been in development for some time with an initial announcement in 2015 that the pair had been working on new songs. But it wasn’t until January this year that the title of the album was confirmed.

“We’ve never liked repeating ourselves” Alison Goldfrapp has said of Silver Eye, “Often we react to things we’ve just done. We like the spontaneity of not knowing. It’s only through the process that we start to figure out what it is”.

Silver Eye is released on 31st March via Mute.

More info:
https://www.goldfrapp.com/
http://mute.com/


ERASURE – World Be Gone

Erasure’s 17th studio album will be entitled World Be Gone and features ten new tracks written, performed and produced by Erasure and was mixed by Matty Green. The album will be available on CD, Vinyl (with download code), Limited Edition Orange Vinyl (with download code), Cassette (with download code) and via Digital Download.

World Be Gone will be released via Mute on 19th May.

More info:
http://www.erasureinfo.com/erasure-announce-world-be-gone-album-and-concerts/


MARNIE – Strange Words And Weird Wars


With the reveal of new song ‘Alphabet Block’, Helen Marnie announced details of a follow-up to debut release Crystal World.

Marnie had, of course, crafted her music as part of the mighty Ladytron in her formative years. But her subsequent solo career have demonstrated that she’s more than capable of producing good tunes outside of the iconic 4-some.

The album is a collaborative effort with producer Jonny Scott (whom Marnie worked with on 2014’s standalone release ‘Wolves’). The album itself is apparently more of a step into pop territory with a bit of shoegaze thrown in for good measure. The official stance on the album is “soul crushing synths are wonderfully accented by hook-laden choruses as Marnie boldly explores up-tempo electro dream-pop”.

Strange Words And Weird Wars is out on 2nd June.

More info:
http://www.helenmarnie.com/


FADER – First Light

Fader is a new collaborative project hatched between Neil Arthur (Blancmange) and Benge (John Foxx And The Maths/Wrangler). The title track of debut album First Light was unveiled online in March 2017.

Benge co-wrote and produced the critically acclaimed Interplay album with John Foxx, released in 2011 under the name John Foxx & The Maths. Benge also performed with the outfit for live performances and on further album releases. More recently, Benge has started new project Wrangler featuring Stephen Mallinder and Phil Winter.

First Light was recorded and mixed at Benge’s MemeTune Studios while Neil Arthur recorded his own vocals in his home studio. The resulting album is full of twisted electronic pop songs and haunting atmospherics with lyrics from Arthur that explore internalised, dead-of-night fears to stream-of-conscious visions of city life and evocative descriptions of lost and lonely figures who find themselves out of time and out of place.

First Light is released 23rd June.
More info:
https://fader.tmstor.es/


EMPATHY TEST – Safe From Harm

The atmospheric synthpop produced by combo Empathy Test offers a refreshing and original change from many of their contemporaries. Latest release ‘By My Side’ showed a smooth slice of warm synthpop with a polished production that offered up a cinematic panorama of electronic goodness (as our review explained).

‘By My Side’ follows on from the 2016 double A-side single ‘Demons’/’Seeing Stars’. A third single release, ‘Bare My Soul’, was released on 21st April, followed by a PledgeMusic campaign to fund the release of their long-awaited debut album. Titled Safe From Harm, the album will also be accompanied by a new single taking the title of the album.

Safe From Harm is released 23rd June.

More info:
Soundcloud.com/EmpathyTest
Facebook.com/EmpathyTest
EmpathyTest.com


GARY NUMAN – Savage

Electropop pioneer Gary Numan returns with new studio album Savage. The new album draws from Gary’s ideas that he’s been developing for some time for a potential novel. “My long neglected Science Fantasy epic that will probably never see the light of day but, much as the short stories I was writing around Replicas time did for that album, so this permanently unfinished book is giving me a huge amount of material to write new songs about”.

Savage, which will be released via the BMG label, sees Gary working once again with Ade Fenton as producer. The album has been supported by a PledgeMusic campaign which gives pledgers unique, inside access to progress at every level, via text updates, audio updates and video updates and the chance to hear new music from early demos, through early production and guide vocals to the fully produced but pre-mixed versions prior to the mastered versions that will be on the finished album.

Savage is due for release in August via BMG.

More info:
https://garynuman.com/


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

While The Strange Little Lines That Humans Draw In The Dust effectively gathered together Girl One’s previous output, the band had announced plans for a standalone album in the works.

Night Of The Living Electrical Appliances will be an 11 track album released on Next Phase : Normal Records (which is Girl One And The Grease Guns’ own label). It will be a vinyl release (and download too). All tracks were recorded at The Glass Factory in 2016. Among the tracks featured on the new album, we have intriguing titles such as ‘The Voices In The Walls’, ‘Deaden The Glare’, ‘He’s A Replicant’ and ‘She Sits In The Freezer’.

While further details on Night Of The Living Electrical Appliances are still to be unveiled, it’s likely that the outfit will continue to deliver on their manifesto of “causing confusion with a mixture of pure synth pop and more experimental electronic sounds”. So nothing like Mumford & Sons then.

Night Of The Living Electrical Appliances – release date scheduled for summer.

More info:
https://www.facebook.com/Girl-One-And-The-Grease-Guns-440754999339179/


SPARKS – Hippopotamus

Having formed long before synthesizers had actually been invented, classic duo ‘The Sparks’ still managed to craft some unusual, innovative tunes during their formative years.

Now still active in the 21st Century, brothers Ron and Russell Mael will released their 22nd studio album Hippopotamus in September.

Sparks’ music has always been innovative and instantly identifiable. Recorded in Los Angeles, Hippopotamus sees them take the pop form, shake it up, and create an album that is adventurous, fresh and idiosyncratically ‘Sparks’.

More info:
Hippopotamus will be released on 8th September.
Pre-order the album via https://sparks.tmstor.es/cart/product.php?id=31873


BLANCMANGE – Unfurnished Rooms

The reformation of Blancmange, and the subsequent release of 2011 album Blanc Burn, came as a surprise (particularly to those fans of traditional English desserts).

The synthpop outfit had recorded one of the most highly regarded electronic music albums of the 1980s with the release of their debut album Happy Families in 1982.

Neil Arthur has since continued to both tour and release new material under the Blancmange banner, with the last release being the 2016 album Commuter 23.

Details on the latest Blancmange album Unfurnished Rooms is scarce at present, although dates for a UK tour have been announced for the autumn.

More info:
Unfurnished Rooms is due for release on 22nd September, 2017.
http://www.blancmange.co.uk/


ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVRES IN THE DARK – The Punishment Of Luxury

OMD’s 2013 album English Electric was critically acclaimed and demonstrated that the classic synthpop outfit were still very capable of producing intelligent electronic music in the 21st Century.

OMD’s 13th studio album The Punishment Of Luxury was inspired by a painting by 19th Century artist Giovanni Segantini. Describing the themes of the album, Andy McCluskey remarked: “First world problems. All of the shit we have to deal with is only a problem that’s created for you by some suggestion that came from a marketing man or a PR job that’s been done on you. Everything you think you know was placed there by a marketing man… Everything you think you want, you don’t”. That said, we’ll got out on a limb and suggest that it’s probably highly likely that OMD fans will want this album.

The Punishment Of Luxury is scheduled for release in September.

More info:
http://www.omd.uk.com/
Read more about the album on our sister site Messages: The Punishment Of Luxury.


A-HA

Norwegian EDM and dubstep specialists a-ha can’t decide whether to retire or not (as 2015’s Cast In Steel album demonstrated). But now plans are underway for a special live acoustic album and concert film from a series of intimate performances to take place between 26th June – 30th June this year.

According to Morten Harket, “The band is finally coming together for live acoustic recordings of a wide selection of our songs! As we speak, there is palpable growing excitement about this in the group. We had wonderful moments with the fans during our last tour, and as a fourth member of the band you certainly have had an influence on our commitment to this. I really look forward to it all!”

In early 2018, a-ha will take this special acoustic set on the road. Magne, Morten and Paul will be joined by a handpicked ensemble of musicians to embellish and reinvent the classics, as well as present new material in acoustic arrangements.

The album, DVD and broadcast are scheduled for release in November 2017.

More info:
http://a-ha.com/news/articles/acoustic-evening/


FREEZEPOP

US synthpop outfit Freezepop have embarked on the crowdfunding route to launch their 5th studio album. Raising over $88,000 via Kickstarter, the Boston-based group have also added on goodies such as bonus albums, vinyl releases, cover version requests, comic strip and even a sandwich (overseas customers will unfortunately have to make do with a picture of a sandwich…).

The new album follows on from 2007’s Future Future Future Perfect, which featured the crunchy dynamics of ‘Less Talk More Rokk’ and the wistful ‘Thought Balloon’. Details of the new release have yet to be confirmed, although on the topic of the potential songs, the band suggests they’re “deeply awesome”.

More info:
http://www.freezepop.net
http://www.kickstartfreezepop.com/

Album details and release date TBC


U96 – Reboot


German electronic act U96 are best remembered for ‘Das Boot’ (a techno styling of Klaus Doldinger’s 1981 film theme) and Eurodance hits such as ‘Love Sees No Colour’ and ‘Love Religion.’

U96 will shortly release their seventh album, Reboot, the follow-up to 2015’s The Dark Matter EP. Tracks include the excellent ‘Monkeys’, which was previewed last year, and a collaboration with former Kraftwerk percussionist Wolfgang Flür.

Release date TBC.

More info:
https://www.facebook.com/U96reboot/


DAYBEHAVIOUR – Based On A True Story

3-piece synthpop outfit Daybehaviour caught our attention with the 2003 release ‘The Sweetness of My Pain’ and TEC also reviewed their third album release Follow That Car! in 2012. Their talent for melody and classy, sophisticated dreampop was front and centre on the tracks featured on that album.

The Stockholm-based outfit have been working on their fourth album titled Based On A True Story for a while. The first song to be taken from the album was the stylish pop appeal of ‘Change’, which appeared in 2015. The group have provided updates on the album’s development recently and they appear to be getting close to a release date.

Release date TBC.

More info:
https://www.facebook.com/DayBehavior/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCx1KaWdnouVOq2TmLEfbaZw
http://www.daybehavior.com/


Outside of the albove, there’s also new releases mooted by TR/ST, The Sound Of Arrows and Princess Century (aka Austra’s Maya Postepski) and possibly a new studio album from Electric Youth (following on from their work with Nicolas Winding Refn for a curated album connected with the film The Neon Demon).

Thanks to Stuart Kirkham at Hall or Nothing and Darren at Next Phase : Normal Records.
Also Barry Page and Soopy for additional input.