2017 – The Year In Review

2017 has been an eventful year in the world of electronic music, particularly here in the UK which saw some of the classic acts back in action. But it also saw the emergence of some talented contemporary electronic acts as well. Here’s TEC’s review of the year along with our contributor’s lists of songs and albums that they rated in 2017…


2017 started off in a strange place for The Electricity Club as it found itself in a position to discard the accumulated baggage of many years and give the site a ‘soft reboot’. With an agenda that was focussed purely on music, it was a foundation that provided a sturdy structure for the months ahead.

January saw Austra make a triumphant return with their third studio album Future Politics. Along with lead single ‘Utopia’, the album was a reflection of our times as we entered into a turbulent period in global politics. TEC’s review summed up the album as “…a more intimate and personal approach than previous outings”.

TEC favourites Lola Dutronic also made a welcome return, first with a sequel to their classic ‘Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead’ (now updated to reflect some of the losses music suffered in 2016 such as Lemmy, David Bowie and Prince). We interviewed Lola Dutronic to get some gain some insight into how the globally distant pair produce their music. The duo also managed to bookend the year with a further release when they released the wonderful ‘My Name Is Lola’.

Vitalic came back with the stunning Voyager album. Pascal Arbez’s crunchy flavour of muscular beats and hook-laden melodies was present and correct on his new outing. Tracks such as ‘Waiting For The Stars’ suggested an unabashed nod to Arbez’s favourite ’70s and ’80s songs with a Moroder-esque beat driving this squelchy and engaging electropop wonder. Meanwhile, ‘Sweet Cigarette’ offered up a homage to The Normal’s ‘Warm Leatherette’.

TEC’s Lost Album series delivered some eclectic choices from the vaults for consideration. This included U96’s Replugged, Kon Kan’s Syntonic and Gary Numan’s 1994 album Sacrifice, a release which Barry Page suggested held the keys to the future: “Whilst the album often suffers from its use of some rather unimaginative and repetitive drum loops, the album put Numan firmly back on track.”

Sweden’s Sailor And I, meanwhile, offered up brooding, glacial pop on debut album The Invention Of Loneliness. TEC also spoke to musician Alexander Sjödin, the brains behind the outfit, who summed up his methods thus: “I use music as a kind of meditation. I get into this mood where I turn everything else off and just run as far as I can every time”.

In March, Goldfrapp returned to the fold with new album Silver Eye. While it was a serviceable outing of the glam synth workings that the duo had traded on previously, it was also bereft of many surprises or challenges. A return to Felt Mountain glories seems overdue.

Throughout the year, we were won over by a whole host of emerging electronic acts that caught our attention. This included the “ruptured melodies” of Jupiter-C (a duo championed by the likes of Clint Mansell). The “multi-utility music” of Liverpool’s Lo Five drew our focus to the wonders of the Patterned Air label. Elsewhere, the electro-acoustic sounds of Autorotation provided their own charm while the crunchy qualities of Cotton Wolf also suggested an act worth keeping an eye on.

With the 8th March traditionally being International Women’s Day, we thought it was time to add a twist to it by suggesting an International Women In Electronic Music Day. While the commentary of the likes of Lauren Mayberry (Chvrches) and Claire Boucher (Grimes) had blazed the trail for a level playing field for women, it was still depressing to see tone-deaf blog articles that were essentially ‘Birds With Synths’ being offered up as support.

One of our choices for that esteemed list, Hannah Peel, managed to deliver two albums of note in 2017. The personal journey of Awake But Always Dreaming (inspired by her family’s encounter with dementia) and also the magical world of Mary Casio: Journey To Cassiopeia – an album which our review summed up as “a testament to Hannah Peel’s seemingly endless abilities to craft new and intriguing ideas out of the ether. It’s a cosmic journey that delivers.”

Hopes were high that Basildon’s finest could deliver a solid return to form with their 14th studio album Spirit. But the album divided critics and fans alike on a release which TEC’s review summed up succinctly: “…as impressive as it is lyrically, it’s an often challenging and unsettling listen that doesn’t quite meet up to its billing as “the most energized Depeche Mode album in years.””

Despite the controversy, Depeche Mode still managed to put on their biggest ever UK show, with over 80,000 attendees at London Stadium in June this year.

Elsewhere, another of the old guard was also facing a productive year. Marc Almond released new compilation album Hits And Pieces, which spanned his extensive career from Soft Cell through to his more recent solo work. Although not as comprehensive as 2016’s Trials Of Eyeliner, TEC’s review suggested “…the new compilation offers a more concise selection of music that still manages to cover Almond’s extensive musical career in fine style”.

April saw TEC looking at the dark wave delights of Dicepeople, whose ‘Synthetic’ offered up “brooding gothic synth melodies against a burbling electronic background”. But their cover of Depeche Mode’s ‘Strangelove’ showed the outfit could also deliver muscular electropop that still retained their own unique style. Speaking to Dicepeople’s Matt Brock in an exclusive interview, TEC discovered the band’s strong cinematic touchstone. “Cronenberg’s Videodrome is another huge influence for us with its exploration of very dark themes involving control, voyeurism and the nature of reality as shown via layers of screens (a recurring theme in Dicepeople).”

Marnie released her follow-up to 2013’s Crystal World in the form of Strange Words And Weird Wars. The album demonstrated the Ladytron member’s knack for tunes, which our review summed up as “…a solid album of contemporary electropop that listeners will find intelligent, engaging and yet also fun. Strange Words And Weird Wars is a continuing demonstration on why Marnie is one of electronic music’s most precious assets”.

The emerging generation of electronic artists kept producing new acts of interest throughout 2017. Pixx (who cropped up on our radar after supporting Austra) released The Age Of Anxiety, which our review described as “an album that offers up a combination of smart pop tunes married with thoughtful lyrics”. Hannah Rodgers, the talent behind Pixx, also addressed the surge of nostalgia and retro acts with a philosophical quote: “There are a lot of people who are just trying to recreate things that have already been done, because they’re almost scared of the way modern music sounds, but we do have technology now that allows us to make quite insane-sounding music. And… we are in 2017”.

Kelly Lee Owens was another emerging artist who released her eponymous debut this year. The TEC review summed it up: “At heart an electronic album, the tracks contained within dart between ambient soundscapes and beat-driven compositions”.

AIVIS, a new act that had come to TEC’s attention via The Pansentient League’s Jer White, delivered their debut album Constellate. As with acts such as Lola Dutronic, AIVIS consists of a duo located in separate countries – in this case Aidan from Scotland and Travis based in Ohio. Their use of harmonies and warm synths led us to conclude that “Constellate is a smooth collection of subtle electropop”.

Irish outfit Tiny Magnetic Pets had a good year in which they released a new album and went on to support OMD. The 3-piece unit had made their UK and European live debut back in 2015 championed by Johnny Normal. Now in 2017 they brought new release Deluxe/Debris to bear. TEC’s review gave the album an honest appraisal: “They’ve got the chops to push the envelope, but there are times on this album where, arguably, the band appear happier playing from a safe position. When they introduce their more experimental side, or opt for a more dynamic approach, Tiny Magnetic Pets shine brightest”.

Voi Vang’s powerful voice and dancepop sensibilities made her one of the star turns of 2017. Meanwhile, Twist Helix woke us up with their “dramatic tunes and big, euphoric vocal melodies”. Our Teclist reviews also had good things to say about Elektrisk Gønner, OSHH and Russian outfit Oddity.

Elsewhere, the classic synthpop acts still had a strong showing this year. Erasure released the downbeat World Be Gone, a more reflective album that was heavily influenced by the troubling political climate (a persistent theme for many other releases this year). OMD returned with the follow-up to 2013’s English Electric with The Punishment Of Luxury. The album wore its Kraftwerk influences on its sleeve for a lot of the tracks, while the title number offered a commentary on commercial culture.

German pioneers Kraftwerk brought their 3D experience back to the UK and TEC’s Rob Rumbell offered his thoughts on their Nottingham concert: “…sensory overload… which left you awe-inspired and breathless”.

Blancmange presented a superb compilation of their first three albums titled The Blanc Tapes which we summed up as “the perfect archive for Blancmange’s often-overlooked musical legacy.” Neil Arthur also delivered new studio album Unfurnished Rooms, which prompted an honest critique from TEC’s Imogen Bebb: “whilst as an album it isn’t always easy to listen to, it makes for a welcome new chapter in Blancmange’s ongoing story”.

Howard Jones also went down the compilation route with the comprehensive Best 1983-2017 which the TEC review suggested: “this 3-CD set will have a special appeal not only to loyal Howard Jones fans, but also perhaps a new audience keen to experience the appeal of this pioneering electronic musician”.

While there were bright moments in the year, the music scene also saw tragedy in 2017 with the loss of Can’s Holger Czukay, trance DJ Robert Miles and Roland founder Ikutaro Kakehashi.

Barry Page provided some long-form features which took the focus to Norway’s a-ha, particularly the side projects that the likes of Morten Harket and Paul Waaktaar-Savoy have embarked on.

Speaking of a-ha, although the idea of an acoustic album by an electronic act seemed absurd, it was a concept that the Norwegian outfit embraced for Summer Solstice. The breath-taking arrangements for classics such as ‘Take On Me’ and ‘The Sun Always Shines On TV’ proved that a-ha still had the chops to surprise people.

Meanwhile, Midge Ure’s own orchestral-inspired approach for Ultravox and his solo numbers resulted in the release of Orchestrated later in the year. TEC’s Jus Forrest summed things up: “As an album, Orchestrated is diverse enough to pique interest. It’s contemporary enough to be relevant, and there’s enough classic tracks to reach out to fans”.

The soulful tones of Fifi Rong returned, this time with a bolder electronic sound on ‘The Same Road’. TEC’s review concluded that the new song “…demonstrates that Fifi Rong is capable of adding plenty more colours to her musical palette”.

Kasson Crooker, formerly of Freezepop, also provided some gems throughout 2017. There was the Gishiki album released under his Symbion Project banner – a release that we summed up as “one of the standout electronica releases of the year.” Meanwhile, he launched new outing ELYXR which was designed to be a collaborative project introducing different singers for each subsequent release. This included the warmth of ‘Engine’ as well as the punchier (and lyrically timely!) ‘Godspeed’.

2017 also delivered a diverse selection of electronic music events that showcased a multi-line-up of diverse acts. May saw Synth Club Presents, which included the ever-excellent Vile Electrodes as well as the sultry delights of The Frixion and the energetic pop of Knight$.

Culled from their 2016 album Ath.Lon, in June Greek duo Marsheaux unveiled a new video for ‘Now You Are Mine’.

Meanwhile, July delivered one of the bigger events of the year with Liverpool’s Silicon Dreams. Combining established artists with newer acts, this year’s event pulled together an all-star schedule featuring Parralox, Avec Sans, Future Perfect, Berlyn Trilogy, Caroline McLavy and Voi Vang. As TEC’s review stated: “The 2017 incarnation of Silicon Dreams serves not only as an evening of entertainment, but also as an example of the importance of grassroots electronic music events. By showcasing both up-and-coming talents alongside more established acts, it’s an event which demonstrates a legacy in action”.

August presented the Electro Punk Party which offered up some of the more alternative acts on the scene. This included Dicepeople, Microchip Junky, Hot Gothic, the dark surf guitar of Pink Diamond Revue and the anarchistic LegPuppy. In fact, LegPuppy demonstrated an impressive schedule of live performances throughout the year as well as releasing songs such as the wry observations of ‘Selfie Stick’ and dance-orientated ‘Running Through A Field Of Wheat’.

The regular Synthetic City event returned, this time at Water Rats in King’s Cross. The evening brought with it some superb performances from the likes of Hot Pink Abuse, Eden, The Lunchbox Surrender, Train To Spain and Parralox (marking their second UK live show this year). The weird and wonderful Mr Vast topped things off and the whole affair was superbly organised by Johnny Normal.

Susanne Sundfør, who released the superb Ten Love Songs album back in 2015, brought a much more challenging release in the form of Music For People In Trouble. The album weaved in acoustic touches, spoken word segments and often unsettling soundscapes. But the epic ‘Mountaineers’, featuring the distinctive voice of John Grant, had an almost physical presence with its hypnotic tones.

The mighty Sparks returned with new album Hippopotamus and delivered a superb live performance in London back in October. The same month, the 22rpm electronic music festival took place. Showcased by record label Bit Phalanx, the event featured the likes of Scanner, Derek Piotr, Digitonal, Coppe and a truly stunning performance from Valgeir Sigurðsson.

The Sound Of Arrows brought out their newest album since 2011’s Voyage. Stay Free offered a much more grounded approach to electropop than the dreamy moods of their previous release, but still managed to deliver some cinematic pop moments. Their pop-up shop to promote the album was also a nice touch!

PledgeMusic has proved to be a vital lifeline for many artists in recent years. It’s a funding option which delivered for everyone from Ultravox to OMD. Gary Numan used the platform to fund his 21st studio album Savage (Songs From A Broken World) which provoked critical praise and which Jus Forrest suggested delivered “a flawless production of intrigue; a soundtrack that brings together the atmospheric, the lonely, the eerie and, in places, the added drama of colourful crescendo”.

Empathy Test, an electronic duo from London, also chose the PledgeMusic route and achieved such success that they decided to release not just one, but two albums together. The stunning Losing Touch and Safe From Harm revealed a band that could combine mood and melancholy in an impressive collection of songs. TEC’s conclusion that compositions such as ‘Bare My Soul’ demonstrated a band capable of delivery that was both “mythical and melodious”, also showed the heights that contemporary electropop can ascend to.

As the year drew to its conclusion, there were still some gems to pop up on the radar. Canadian sleazy synth specialist TR/ST teased us with ‘Destroyer’, a nocturnal affair that (along with the year’s earlier release ‘Bicep’) paved the way for a new album due in 2018.

Scanner, who had delivered a stunning performance at the 22rpm event, also unleashed The Great Crater, an album of mood and often brooding unease. Our review’s final conclusion was that “The end result is less listening to a body of work and more being immersed into a physical experience”.

Curxes brought us the hypnotic delights of ‘In Your Neighbourhood’, which paved the way for new album Gilded Cage.

As the winter months drew to a close, we took a look at Parralox’s latest release ‘Electric Nights’, which proved to be a euphoric floor-stomper. Meanwhile, Norway served up Take All The Land, the debut solo album by Simen Lyngroth which TEC’s review summed up as a “beautifully well-crafted and intimate album”.

Perhaps one theme that 2017 demonstrated time and time again is that electronic music continues to evolve and thrive, particularly at the grassroots level where emerging acts are less focused on being a pastiche of the bands of 40 years ago. Instead, there’s a fresh and dynamic scene which has seen a genre looking to the future rather than the past.

This doesn’t scribble over the achievements of decades of previous electronic acts. That history and legacy continues to exist, but perhaps the idea that acts don’t need to be beholden to the classic acts is a concept that younger artists are more willing to entertain.


CONTRIBUTOR’S LISTS

IMOGEN BEBB

Top 5 Songs Of 2017

OMD – The Punishment of Luxury
Gary Numan – My Name Is Ruin
Sparks – What The Hell Is It This Time?
Alphaville – Heartbreak City
Tiny Magnetic Pets – Never Alone

Top 5 Albums Of 2017

OMD – The Punishment of Luxury
Tiny Magnetic Pets – Deluxe/Debris
Blancmange – Unfurnished Rooms
Superdivorce – Action Figures
Brian Eno – Reflection

Favourite Event of 2017

OMD at Liverpool Empire in October.

Most Promising New Act

Superdivorce


JUS FORREST

Top 5 Songs Of 2017

Among the Echoes – Breathe
Tiny Magnetic Pets – Control Me
John Foxx and the Maths – Orphan Waltz
Gary Numan – My Name is Ruin
Gary Numan – Bed of Thorns

Top 5 Albums Of 2017

Jori Hulkkonen – Don’t Believe in Happiness
Gary Numan – Savage (Songs from a Broken World)
Tiny Magnetic Pets – Deluxe/Debris
Hannah Peel – Mary Casio: Journey to Cassiopeia
Richard Barbieri – Planets + Persona

Most Promising New Act

Spaceprodigi


BARRY PAGE

Top 5 Songs Of 2017

OMD – Ghost Star
Waaktaar and Zoe – Mammoth
Depeche Mode – Cover Me
Simen Lyngroth – The Waves
Alexis Georgopoulos and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma – The Marble Sky

Top 5 Albums Of 2017

Waaktaar and Zoe – World Of Trouble
Simen Lyngroth – Take All The Land
a-ha – MTV Unplugged Summer Solstice
Empathy Test – Losing Touch
Sparks – Hippopotamus

Favourite Event of 2017

Depeche Mode at London Stadium, June 2017

Most Promising New Act

Simen Lyngroth

Best reissue

China Crisis – Working With Fire and Steel


JER WHITE

Top 5 Songs Of 2017

Tiny Magnetic Pets – Semaphore
2raumwohnung – Lucky Lobster (Night Version)
Sylvan Esso – Die Young
Pixx – I Bow Down
Vitalic (ft. David Shaw and The Beat) – Waiting for the Stars

Top 5 Albums Of 2017

2raumwohnung – Nacht und Tag
The Moonlandingz – Interplanetary Class Classics
AIVIS – Constellate
Jupe Jupe – Lonely Creatures
Vitalic – Voyager

Favourite Event of 2017

Kraftwerk in 3D at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh.

Most Promising New Act

AIVIS


PAUL BROWNE

Top 5 Songs Of 2017

Susanne Sundfør – Mountaineers
Empathy Test – Bare My Soul
Austra – Utopia
TR/ST – Bicep
Curxes – In Your Neighbourhood

Top 5 Albums Of 2017

Empathy Test – Safe From Harm/Losing Touch
Hannah Peel – Mary Casio: Journey To Cassiopeia
Austra – Future Politics
Susanne Sundfør – Music For People In Trouble
Sailor & I – The Invention Of Loneliness

Favourite Event of 2017

Synthetic City 2017

Most Promising New Act

Empathy Test


SYNTH CLUB PRESENTS Feat. BLACK NAIL CABARET & VILE ELECTRODES

A showcase of diverse synthpop acts delivers an evening of captivating tunes…

Earlier this month, Islington’s Electrowerkz venue played host for a showcase of electronic acts curated by Synth Club, a promotion outfit (formerly known as Analogue Nights) who are keen to keep synthpop live performances front and centre.

As line-ups go, this was quite a diverse selection of acts in terms of style and approach, with 5 acts in total on the bill. It was probably pushing the limits of how many bands you can comfortably put on stage in an evening however. None of the featured acts felt like baggage, but there’s certainly a logistics problem in arranging a schedule with such short gaps between each set.

One of the attendees on the night commented that this was “an event for enthusiasts”, as opposed to a your common-or-garden band night at the Dog & Duck. That commentary made a lot of sense and perhaps helped to frame where the synthpop end of the electronic music spectrum was in 2017. Electronic music enthusiasts are a very diverse bunch, but this evening seemed to indicate that it was an open doors policy to all, rather than a club for the elite.

DJ duties were ably handled by DJ She-Ra (Grayskull Massive) and Mark Jones (Electronically Yours) which presented an overture of sorts for the live acts to follow. First up was The Department, a synthpop outfit that features Rob Green (also responsible for organising Synth Club events) on vocals.

Taking on an old school approach to synthpop, The Department ran through a serviceable setlist of tunes that included the coldwave pop of ‘Slow Down’ and the frenetic pop of ‘This Be The Verse’, a nod to Philip Larkin’s classic poem. They closed out with a new song titled ‘About A Boy’, whose staccato rhythms provided a staunch foundation for what appeared to be very personal lyrics.

The brief intermission allowed attendees to catch up in the stylishly decorated covered gallery area of Electrowerkz, complete with tube carriage bar. Ordering a cocktail and adding “…and hold the doors”, you’re safe in the knowledge that the bar staff have only heard this joke 3,456 times.

Meanwhile, taking the stage for the second act of the night, The Frixion comprises Lloyd Price and Gene Serene who have their own particular take on electronic music. There’s a lush, immersive quality to their material giving the duo a slow-burning appeal. ‘If U Ever Wonder’ offered up great use of vocal melody and there was also a touching tribute to Prince via a fetching cover of ‘Under The Cherry Moon’.

Gene Serene’s sultry singing style might seem an unusual fit for an electronic outfit, but the results are a subtle, mesmerising form of electropop with more than a hint of gothic sensibility. Bringing things up to date, the duo also performed new release ‘Heartbroke Disco’, a much more robust number crafted from a more traditional synthpop palette.

If there was any act who could carry away the Pop Star Award for the evening however, it was certainly Knight$. James Knights (who also fronts Scarlet Soho) strikes an impressive figure on stage with his shades and single black glove. With a confidence and swagger (something arguably lacking in synthpop circles), there’s a solid delivery of pure pop in the setlist from Knight$.

A punchy live rendition of ‘What’s Your Poison?’ and an energetic ‘What We Leave Behind’ lends a definite pop power to the evening. But Knight$ can also dial it down a bit, such as the deconstructed charms of ‘Uncivilised’. Such was the response from the crowd following Knight$ set, that the band were duty-bound to return for an encore. In this case a cover of Pet Shop Boys ‘Heart’, a flawless rendition that also managed to give the classic tune a distinctly contemporary vibe.

The focus of the evening was a launch party for Black Nail Cabaret’s new album Dichromat. The elegant Emese Arvai-Illes took to the stage in a figure-hugging black outfit and a face mask, lending a subtle mystique to proceedings.

For their opening numbers, Black Nail Cabaret present a polished set of tunes, although there seemed to be a certain spark missing in the delivery. It’s only around the halfway point that the energy in the set picks up, particularly through the brooding ‘Satisfaction’. Meanwhile, the machine rhythms of ‘Veronica’ lead Black Nail Cabaret into more familiar synthpop territory.

The final band of the evening saw Vile Electrodes take to the stage. Now effectively veterans of the UK electronic music scene, although some pre-gig nerves from the duo of Jane Caley and Martin Swan might suggest otherwise.

The ominous tones of ”Like Satellites’ opens proceedings, its mesmeric drones appeared to seep into the very walls of Electrowerkz itself. A barrage of lights and frenetic percussion announces ‘The Red Bead’. “The deep cut is painless/when the blade is sharpest”, intones Jane Caley while the dancepop rhythms throb in the background.

Meanwhile, ‘Empire Of Wolves’ is a tune that particularly benefits from a live outing. It also gives Martin Swan an opportunity to step back from the keyboards and give the electronic percussion a good workout.

A Moroder-esque disco beat accompanies the intro to ‘As We Turn To Rust’, another number culled from the Viles’ last album In The Shadow Of Monuments (see review here). The shimmering rhythm beds of ‘Last Of The Lovers’, meanwhile, offers up an evocative electropop moment.

The announcement that the gothic electropop of ‘Proximity’ is up next gets a huge cheer for one of the duo’s most popular numbers. There’s certainly a dynamic quality to the live rendition whose bassy rhythms cause the glasses of drink and assorted cans on the stage to move across the stage in time to the beats.

The last song of the evening, Incision’ gives us an insistent beat that changes gear for some deep bassy chords, delivered by Swan on the aptly named DeepMind synth. It’s a classy end to a classy set and Vile Electrodes continue to demonstrate why they’re one of the best domestic electronic acts on the scene today (as well as being thoroughly nice people off stage as well).

Synth Club managed to deliver an entertaining evening, showcasing some of the diverse talents at large in the synthpop scene. It’s going to be intriguing to see what they come up with next.


https://www.facebook.com/synthwave1/

https://soundcloud.com/the-department

http://thefrixion.bandcamp.com/

http://knights101.com/

http://www.blacknailcabaret.com/

http://www.vileelectrodes.com


VILE ELECTRODES In The Shadows Of Monuments

Hastings finest return with a second album of electronic goodness…

The contemporary world of electronic music can be a difficult place to navigate at times. While many artists attempt to craft tunes befitting a genre that’s always been best moving forward, from some quarters there’s been a concerted attempt to keep it firmly aiming at the past.

Enter Vile Electrodes, the Hastings-based electronic outfit who have just released their second long player titled In The Shadows Of Monuments. As a UK-based electronic outfit, Martin Swan and Anais Neon have always acknowledged the country’s rich legacy of electronic music; yet have always been very clear on their position, stating “…our music neither sits wholly in the past nor the present. Showing deference to ‘classic’ electronic music but not limited or defined by it”.

As ever, it’s the quality of the music that gives the final statement and the new album presents the opportunity to see where the Viles fit in the complicated jigsaw of the modern electropop era.

As a band, the Viles have always drawn from the darker end of the electronic palette, but have also deftly eluded being your run-of-the-mill electropop outfit. At times, In The Shadows Of Monuments seems oddly reminiscent of the broody intensity of Joy Division with a nod towards the gothic-pop of Organisation-era OMD. Yet there’s never a moment when the Viles stumble down the hole of pastiche and their sound remains distinctly their own (a feat that escapes many of their contemporaries).

Their 2013 album The future through a lens was a fine collection of songs that defined the Vile Electrodes sound. From the melancholic tones of ‘Proximity’ through to the dance-pop of ‘Empire Of Wolves’, here was an album that was warmly received by a scene in desperate need of facing forward. It was also an album that helped the duo win ‘Best International Album’ and ‘Best International Artist’ awards at the 2014 Schallwelle music awards in Germany.

Now with the follow-up album, Swan and Neon are seen to continue that tradition, while also embracing some fresh directions.

Title track ‘In The Shadows Of Monuments (Part 1)’ breathes an ominous tone with sparse percussion as Neon’s voice takes on a mesmerizing tone. ‘The Red Bead’ treads more familiar ground with its frenetic rhythms and Neon’s sinister lyrical turn: “The deep cut is painless/when the blade is sharpest”.

Meanwhile, the bassy ‘As Gravity Ends’ presents a rumbling in the depths, while ‘Evidence’ is a melancholic reverie offset by a stark and shifting electronic barrage. The layered effect of Neon’s vocals gives the latter an oddly compelling quality.

“The fate of all things is decay,” declares the lyrics on the dark dance-pop of ‘As We Turn To Rust’. Insistent rhythms sound off like a war siren in the darkness, picked out by some evocative composition work.

The sepulchral tones of ‘Into Great Silence’ offers a moment of reflection. It’s a song whose hymnal quality points to more of an atmosphere of tone and mood compared to some of the more traditional electropop in evidence elsewhere on the album.

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The mesmeric droning of ‘Like Satellites’, meanwhile, gives us an epic, sweeping element to Vile Electrodes. It’s a magnificent immersive moment picked out by subtle electronic effects and, at times, an almost choral quality to Neon’s vocals. If there was ever a music composition that could paint the awe and scope of space, this is a fine contender.

‘Last Of The Lovers’, meanwhile, gives up some fine wistful moments in an evocative composition that plays around with vocal construction as much as it does with its shimmering rhythm beds.

Closing the album, the slow intensity of ‘The Vanished Past’ paints a picture of lost history. Having a subtle guest backing vocal from OMD’s own Andy McCluskey only sweetens the deal on a song that oozes a warm, engaging tone. “Not everything is as it seems,” suggests the lyrics, which we can’t really argue with.

Outside of the music, the Viles are also a keen creative duo when it comes to packaging their material. It’s perhaps a lost art these days, with the exception of countries such as Japan and Korea, but giving an album a distinctive physical design is certainly a welcome direction in bringing art back to the music.

As a result, the deluxe version of In The Shadows Of Monuments comes encased between 2 handcrafted concrete tiles, the title stenciled in a subtle fashion across the front. Inside, the album is crafted in abstract geometric shapes (almost a Viles trademark by this stage) augmented by moody black and white photography. You also get a second CD featuring additional tracks and alternative mixes.

The end result is as much an art artifact as it is a collection of music. If you’ve been pondering dipping your toes into the shallow pools of the contemporary electronic music scene, then you could do worse than give In The Shadows Of Monuments a spin.


http://www.vileelectrodes.com

This article originally appeared on the Wavegirl site.


VILE ELECTRODES Announced as Support Act for OMD in Germany

Vile Electrodes have been confirmed as OMD’s support for the German leg of the English Electric tour.

The striking duo of Anais Neon and Martin Swan could be described as sounding like The Smiths reincarnated as Client, a template best heard on ‘Play With Fire’, the lead track of their self titled EP. Just recently, they released the electro-waltz drama of ‘The Last Time’. But one of their finest moments is the still to be formally issued ‘Deep Red’, a gorgeous seven and a half minute synth ballad that recalls the sweeping emotive overtones of OMD standards such as ‘Statues’, ‘Stanlow’ and ‘The Romance Of The Telescope’.

The band are currently in the process of finishing their debut album but announced via their Facebook: “We’ve just been confirmed as the support band for OMD’s tour of Germany in May. I don’t really have the right words to describe how overwhelmed we are”. Synthesist Martin Swan added: “It’s so beyond exciting. There was once a teenage boy whose first ever gig was watching OMD playing at the Hammersmith Odeon on The Pacific Age tour. His life changed that day, and it changed for this moment.”

Vocalist Anais Neon herself was still in shock at the news and said: “I’m flabbergasted. We basically had an email last Thursday from their tour management team asking us to do it. I almost fainted…! Without the lovely folk that champion us, I doubt we’d be in this position, so thank you for all you do spreading the Vile word”.

Vile Eelctrodes headlined The Electricity Club’s first live event TEC001 back in Autumn 2011 and continue a tradition of TEC championed acts such as Marsheaux, Villa Nah and Mirrors who have all now opened for OMD. Anais had one more thing to say to TEC though before getting dressed up to see Kraftwerk at Tate Modern: “Just off to have a little cry now… I might be drunk later x”. It was quite a day!

The Electricity Club gives its congratulations and best wishes to Vile Electrodes


OMD’s 2013 German tour with special guests Vile Electrodes includes:

Hamburg Docks (21 May), Bielefeld Ringlokschuppen (22 May), Berlin Tempodrom (24 May), Leipzig Haus Auensee (25 May), Kӧln E-Werk (27 May) Please visit www.omd.uk.com for further details

Vile Electrodes ‘The Last Time’ is available as a free download via Soundcloud

http://www.facebook.com/vileelectrodes/

http://vileelectrodes.blogspot.co.uk/

https://soundcloud.com/vile-electrodes


Text by Amy Bernheit
6th February 2013

CURXES and VILE ELECTRODES at TEC001

An Evening of Electropop

Synthpop and electronic music website The Electricity Club (TEC) hosted their first ever live event at the weekend. Situated on New Oxford Street, The Bowery was the ideal venue for an extended night of English electropop. Featuring a team of TEC DJs and live performances from Curxes and Vile Electrodes, this was an essential event for anyone interested in new synth music.

TEC writer Steve Gray kicked off the night the with first DJ set, starting with some Human League and serendipitously playing a John Foxx mix just as the remixer himself (Paul Boddy aka EMP) walked in: it was that kind of night!

Curxes Roberta and Macaulay settled their pre-gig nerves with a nice cup of English tea ­ the rider of choice for electro acts! As they took to the stage for their first ever London appearance, a hush descended amongst the crowd and expectations were high.

Curxes did not disappoint: with an air of Delia Derbyshire to her, Roberta Fidora looked liked she could not only play her synthesizers but rewire them too. Multi-instrumentalist Macaulay Hopwood seemed equally at home on guitar or keyboard, but it’s Roberta’s voice that most people commented on afterwards. Powerful, emotional, mesmerizing; the diminutive Ms. Fidora weaves around the music so majestically you sometimes miss just how good the songs are too. New track Lightness was the perfect Halloween warm-up, with its eerie build-up and electro-goth sound. Debut single ‘The Constructor’ was very well received, and the frantic electro post-punk of ‘Jaws’ ended their set perfectly. With a few more songs in their repertoire I could easily see Curxes headlining at much bigger venues.

Chi Ming Lai then took to the decks, treating us to an exclusive preview of the new Marsheaux remix of The Human League’s latest single along with other specially selected tracks such as Nikonn’s excellent remix of Lana Del Rey’s ‘Blue Jeans’. The Bowery was pretty packed by now, late arrivals making it down from the upstairs bar in time for the main act of the night.

With the stage dressed in glowing red-eyed Halloween skulls, Vile Electrodes (minus one, since Loz Tronic was unfortunately not feeling too well) made their entrance to rapturous applause.

Opening with the downbeat ‘My Sanctuary’, the Viles duo slowly warmed us up before things really kicked off with The Leopard. Anais Neon looked and sounded stunning, she dominated the stage while Martin Swan worked his Vince Clarkean magic beside her. New song ‘Drowned Cities’ instantly hooked me, its Front 242 ‘Happiness’ vibe reminding me that Vile Electrodes aren’t just any other synthpop band. A second new song called ‘Nothing’ followed before the highlight of the set for me: ‘Empire of Wolves’. This sounded even better than the version on Soundcloud, its deep and dirty throb expertly balanced by The Bowery’s sound man and leaving not just Anais Neon panting for breath by the end of it. The sublime ‘Deep Red’ bathed us all in a warm glow before encore song ‘Proximity’ (another one of my favourites) ended the show on a high.

The merchandise stall had a good selection of CDs on offer, including the beautifully designed 4-track EP from Curxes (each CD looking like a 5″ vinyl record and wrapped in unique music sheet paper) and the brand-new EP from Vile Electrodes, available in three different versions. Since this was the night before Halloween, Anais Neon had made 13 latex covered special editions and these were all snapped up within minutes (note for next year: make 666!) but those who missed out could buy a special version of the EP and have a Polaroid taken with the band.

Special mention should go to talented compere Lady Becca and The Blitz Club’s Rusty Egan who’d come along especially to see Curxes. It’s fantastic that this type of music and this type of event can bring together fans of all ages and from all over the UK (I wasn’t the only one who’d travelled down from Scotland for this!).

In a little over a year The Electricity Club has built quite a reputation for itself, and this was evident by the excellent turn out (for a Sunday night) and general goodwill all round. It’s like a great big party with lots of friends, one guy told me, and I think he summed up the night perfectly.


TEC001 DJ Sets

Steve Gray

Rock & Roll – The Human League

Blinded By You – Tenek

Shatterproof [EMP remix] – John Foxx

Ways To An End – Mirrors

Sleepwalk – Ultravox

Breakthrough – Marsheaux

Photographic (Rex The Dog Dubb Mix) – Depeche Mode

Better Than Love – Hurts

Ride A White Horse – Goldfrapp


Paul Browne

Virtual Love – Hyakkoku Hajime

The Sweetness Of My Pain – Daybehavior

Hot N Cold (Marsheaux Mix) – Katy Perry

Ace Of Hz – Ladytron

3AM – Kleerup with Marit Bergman

Messages – OMD

Derezzed – Daft Punk

The Girl & The Robot – Royksopp



Chi Ming Lai

Sky (Marsheaux Remix) – The Human League

Blue Jeans (Nikonn Remix) – Lana Del Ray

Worship – Rubicks

Looking From A Hilltop – Section 25

Our Love – Donna Summer

Shoot The Bullet – Queen Of Hearts

That’s Not Gay – OMD vs The Ting Tings

Tout Petite La Planète – Plastic Bertrand


Nix Lowrey

For Whom The Bell Tolls – Fad Gadget

Summerland – John Foxx and the Maths

A New Sky – The Presets

Seconds – The Human League

Discipline – Beta Evers

Leave In Silence – Depeche Mode

Cosmeticos Para Christos – Mueran Humanos

Scars Shine – Velvet Condom

M.E. – Gary Numan

In Trance As Mission – Simple Minds


Here’s a complete Spotify playlist with (almost) all the songs played by the TEC DJ team, featuring classic and new synthpop both well-loved and little-known:

Spotify Playlist: TEC001 ­ The DJ Sets

You can also purchase both Curxes songs and the Vile Electrodes EP


This text of this article was originally published at www.pansentient.com and re-published with grateful thanks to Jer White

The Electricity Club would like to give its grateful thanks to Vile Electrodes, Curxes, TEC001’s team of helpers, Rusty Egan, The Bowery and all those who supported the event to make it a success.

http://vileelectrodes.blogspot.com/

www.facebook.com/vileelectrodes

www.curxes.com

www.facebook.com/Curxes

Photos by Mike Cooper and Richard Price