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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
Unfurnished Rooms is due for release on 22nd September, 2017.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
Publications that have featured his contributions include Electronic Sound, Metro, Japan Update Weekly, J-Pop Go, Wavegirl and OMD Messages.