SYNTHETIC CITY LONDON 2018

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.


http://www.johnnynormal.net/SYNTHETIC-CITY.html

http://dicepeople.com
https://berlyntrilogy.bandcamp.com/
http://legpuppy.net/
https://www.cultwithnoname.com/
http://www.perpacity.com/
http://www.palaisideal.net/
http://www.la-lune-noire.com/
https://soundcloud.com/mr-strange-official
https://www.facebook.com/thecircuitsymphony/
www.johnnynormal.net


SYNTHETIC CITY 2018 LINEUP

March promises a stellar billing for the annual Synth City Festival…

The Synthetic City Electronic Music Festival remains one of the most vital events of the year. Its combination of global acts lends the all-day event an intriguing and broad perspective on the many colours of the synth pop palette.

Hosted by Johnny Normal, an electronic music artist in his own right and also a well-known radio host, Synthetic City is an outing that manages to combine established artists alongside emerging acts. Once again, Synthetic City will be taking place at Water Rats in London on Saturday 24th March.

The 2018 line-up offers a strong list of contenders suggesting a packed day of electropop goodness. DJ duties for the event will be handled by Rob Harvey. Currently presenting a show for Phoenix 98FM, Rob presents the weekly Synth City show Tuesdays from 8pm.


Dicepeople

Dicepeople have been putting out their own brand of dark electronic pop since 2013. Consisting of Matt Brock (musician, songwriter and producer) and Rafael Filomeno (visual artist), the outfit have recently taken on board new vocalist Zmora and continue to dazzle audiences with their compelling live performances.

Their 2017 EP Synthetic was a stand-out moment, while the outfit also delivered a stunning cover version of Depeche Mode classic ‘Strangelove’. More recently, their team-up with Moi Saint produced the stunning ‘Shallow Under Skin’.

http://dicepeople.com
https://dicepeople.bandcamp.com/track/synthetic
http://www.facebook.com/dicepeople
http://twitter.com/dicepeople


Berlyn Trilogy


Staying themselves as “retro-futurist romantics”, Berlyn Trilogy offer up a darker approach to synthpop with some gothic elements weaved throughout their material.

Consisting of James Beswick, Simon Rowe and Faye Williams, Berlyn Trilogy showed their electropop chops on 2014 album A Perfect Stranger which delivered the percussive pop of ‘Synthetic Love’, the rolling moodiness of ‘Departed’ and the epic tones of ‘The Drone’.

Berlyn Trilogy proved one of the highlights at the 2017 Silicon Dreams event in Liverpool and their appearance at Synthetic City is a perfect opportunity to catch the darkpop trio in action.

https://berlyntrilogy.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/BerlynTrilogy
https://twitter.com/berlyntrilogy


LegPuppy

There’s such a diverse number of ideas and influences in the music of LegPuppy that they’re difficult to pin down to any one niche. Combining dark electronic beats with a raw energy and a punk attitude, the outfit also add in a cheeky element to their lyrics referencing pop culture and social commentary.

The 4-piece outfit, which consists of Darren Laurence, Claire Jones, Pups and Hugo Bamboo, originally came together by accident when someone at a house party asked Darren and Claire if they were in a band.

Since then, the electro punk quartet have kept busy via songs such as the brooding cynical commentary piece ‘Selfie Stick’ and the diversity of the material on new album You Should Be Paranoid (including the hypnotic dancepop of ‘Running Through A Field Of Wheat’).

ttps://www.soundcloud.com/legpuppy
https://www.facebook.com/LegPuppy
https://www.twitter.com/Legpuppymusic
http://legpuppy.net/


Cult With No Name

‘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. Blaine L. Reininger of genre-transcending legends Tuxedomoon collaborated on their second album (on the stunning ‘You Know Me Better Than I Know Myself’).

In 2014, inspired by their track ‘As Below’, German filmmaker Peter Braatz commissioned the band to produce a soundtrack for his documentary Blue Velvet Revisited (Filmed entirely in 1985 on set during the making of David Lynch’s masterpiece). 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, and Gustav (2012) which is on permanent display at Bletchley Park. The band collaborated with Kelli Ali, co-writing and performing on two songs for her 2013 solo album, Band Of Angels.

https://www.facebook.com/cwnnofficial/
https://twitter.com/cultwithnoname
https://www.cultwithnoname.com/


Perpacity

Straddling between the UK and Denmark, Ian Harling and Martin Nyrup form the nucleus of electronic outfit Perpacity. Each has over 20+ years of musical experience, ranging from writing music and live performance to studio work and music production. Their debut album The Sinner Inclination arrived in 2015 and the band have since issued some well-received singles. Their 2016 album Arise also received critical acclaim.

Perpacity released new single ’Rule The Day’ this March ahead of their forthcoming new album release The Order Of Now, due out later in 2018.

http://www.perpacity.com/
https://www.facebook.com/perpacity
https://twitter.com/PerpacityREAL


Palais Ideal


Consisting of John Edwards and Richard van Kruysdijk, Palais Ideal draw inspiration from the likes of The Cure, New Order, Joy Division and Sisters Of Mercy. The result is a mix that the outfit suggest offers “fragments of post-punk, new wave and goth”.

Their new album No Signal offers a showcase of their blend of romanticism and stark modernism, including the driving tones of ‘Crossfade/Dissolve’ and a raw cover of classic Iggy Pop number ‘Funtime’.

http://www.palaisideal.net/
https://www.facebook.com/Palais-Ideal-1587769398199336/
https://open.spotify.com/artist/0HCpJRSn14kT2CgvwKMjr6?si=enfCedxWSXOAvLBhBlFiDQ


La Lune Noire

Taking inspiration from the likes of Gary Numan, Front 242, Killing Joke, Depeche Mode and early Simple Minds, La Lune Noire offer up their own unique music style.

Weaving in catchy synth lines, Gregorian choirs and punky guitars, the duo deliver thumping darkwave moments such as ‘Nothing To Fear’.

http://www.la-lune-noire.com/
https://twitter.com/LaLuneNoire_NL


Mr Strange

Mr. Strange is the titular singer/songwriter of a four-piece electro-rock outfit from the Isle Of Wight. From the goth/drum n bass stylings of first album Sounds From The Asylum through to 2015’s uncompromising The Bible Of Electric Pornography, Mr Strange has carved out an intriguing musical path.

Inspired by such eclectic influences as Gary Numan, IAMX, David Bowie, Lady Gaga, Tom Waits and Insane Clown Posse, Mr Strange offers up a truly unique live show.

https://soundcloud.com/mr-strange-official
http://www.mrstrangemedia.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Official.Mr.Strange/


The Circuit Symphony

Oliver Davis and Samantha Adams form The Circuit Symphony, an outfit that draws from a wealth of influences from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. They teamed up with blues guitarist legend Bernie Marsden for the single ‘Christmas 1974’.

The Circuit Symphony have produced/remixed and programmed for artists such as OMD, Howard Jones and Take That and have received credits for work with The Human League, Steve Wilson, Ultravox, Howard Jones and more.

https://www.facebook.com/thecircuitsymphony/
https://twitter.com/CIRCUITSYMPHONY


Tenedle


Dimitri Niccolai is a songwriter, producer, performer and writer who operates under the name Tenedle.

Formerly a member of new wave outfit Laughing Silence, Tenedle has since pursued a solo career, clocking up 6 album releases. Although he originally hails from Italy, Tenedle now bases himself in Holland.

More recently, Tenedle has focused on new studio album Traumsender.

Tenedle’s performance at Synthetic City 2018 will also feature the vocal talents of Bridget Gray who will be appearing as a special guest.

http://www.tenedle.com/


Johnny Normal

Host and performer for Synthetic City 2018, Johnny Normal gravitates between presenting his weekly radio show for Radio Warwickshire (where he’s interviewed the likes of Gary Numan, Martyn Ware and Adam Ant) as well as writing and performing as an electronic musician in his own right.

In the past, Johnny has performed alongside the likes of Adam Ant, Edward Tudor-Pole, Blancmange, Altered Images, Deviant UK, Sigue Sigue Sputnik, Nash The Slash and Wolfgang Flür among others.

His 2017 effort ‘Let Nothing Take Your Pride’ (penned under the banner of The Rude Awakening and featuring Brooke Calder) offered a rallying call for those that have been beaten down.

www.johnnynormal.net
www.facebook.com/johnnynormalmusic
www.facebook.com/johnnynormalofficial


Synthetic City 2018 takes place on Saturday 24th March 20018 at Water Rats, Kings Cross, London. 2pm-1am.

Tickets from: https://www.abnormalproductions.rocks/synthetic-city-london-2018

http://www.johnnynormal.net/SYNTHETIC-CITY.html
www.facebook.com/pg/SyntheticCityLondon/events/
www.abnormalproductions.rocks/synthetic-city-london-2018