SCENIUS – Chinese Room

Emnbarking on darker schemes…

Consisting of Leeds-based producer Steve Whitfield and French singer Fabrice Nau, Scenius produce electronic music that expresses an analogue warmth combined with a crunchy, almost tangible quality. The duo’s music also serves up a melancholic feel, courtesy of Fabrice Nau’s hypnotic and at times fragile vocal style.

Previously, Whitfield has worked with the likes of The Cure, The Mission, Jah Wobble, Yann Tiersen, Nature Of Wires and Promenade Cinema (he also plays guitar in post-punk band Klammer). Meanwhile, Nau cut his teeth exploring guitar bands in his younger years. In terms of influences, Scenius list classic acts such as Kraftwerk, John Foxx, Brian Eno and Gary Numan, as well as later outfits such as Underworld and Chemical Brothers. This lines up with the duo’s ethos that “vintage synth sounds can be given a modern twist.”

Scenius appeared on the TEC radar via the strengths of the mesmerising song ‘High Low’ (which also featured in TEC’s Songs of 2022 feature). They also appeared on the 2021 Generation Blitz compilation Dusk to Dawn with the engaging ‘Escalation’ (see review previously).

The sensual ‘Chinese Room’ is their latest single, taken from forthcoming album Life Is A Thing. The new album boasts angular, electronic pop that can be dark and brooding at times and at others offers up twilight synth moments that are emotive and captivating. Meanwhile, there’s a distinct Kraftwerkian element lurking at the heart of this composition, albeit with more of an electro-groove quality present. Big, dramatic synth tones feature prominently, but it’s Nau’s languid vocal delivery that weaves a particular magic on lines such as “A darker scheme/A black hole fiend”

As a duo, Scenius do a superb job at drawing connections between the classic synth-pop era and a more contemporary sound. The dreamlike moods of ‘Chinese Room’ serves as a perfect showcase for the whole Scenius package.

‘Chinese Room’ is out 21st April.
Life Is A Thing is out 19 May.

Photo by Kieron Brennan