Monologue #23: The Archaeofuturism of Marcel Wave

In July this year, I talked with Bertrand Lamargelle, a talented writer who has always been appreciative of both my current music and my previous project, A Terrible Splendour. We discussed my recent album, Discretion Guaranteed. The interview was conducted in French and appeared on the Culture 31 website here.As I am a French-to-English translator by profession, it only seemed right that I should provide a translation into English for any anglophone readers out there! So here it is. “Marcel Wave is the solo project of MM Lyle, an English artist who came to the fore as half of A Terrible Splendour, purveyors of the kind of ice-cold yet danceable synthwave that emerged and reached its zenith in the 1980s, with Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, Orchestral Manœuvres in the Dark, Fad Gadget, Bronski Beat, Visage, Yazoo, Heaven 17, the Human League… The trend was the same in France with bands like Taxi Girl, Kas Product, Martin Dupont, Guerre Froide… A Terrible Splendour (Left: MM Lyle, Right: Martin Block. Photograph by Viola Cserkuti) ‘While A Terrible Splendour blended their synthetic pop with cabaret elements, Marcel Wave moved away from the strictly new wave/gothic style and towards a more melodic, dancefloor-oriented sound. Over the years however, Marcel Wave’s music has become more thoughtful, atmospheric and cinematographic, sometimes reminiscent of Tangerine Dream or Wendy Carlos. MM Lyle acknowledges this: “Perhaps it’s because I’m listening to more instrumental, ambient and vaporwave music these days, although I still love pop and new wave. I try to create exotic and varied soundscapes and ambiences.” “Down at the mall, rewind your mind / This could be...

Monologue #21: Forbidden formats

As an extraordinary year enters its end phase, I hope this post finds you all well. I wish you better times ahead in 2021. My friend Nao Katafuchi, a pleasant Japanese synth artist, recently found himself in a spot of legal bother through no fault of his own. The issue involves a statue that briefly appeared in the background in one of his videos. So I have joined other electronic musicians to help him pay his legal fees by contributing to a digital fundraising compilation. Click the link to learn more about Nao’s case and buy Forbidden Figures: https://naosuper.bandcamp.com/album/forbidden-figures My track for the Forbidden Figures compilation My track DVD2VHS is not for sale anywhere else. It’s a playful, slightly sinister mid-tempo number with synth tuba. I took inspiration from sci-fi, 80s mall culture, and a discreet local business in Glasgow. I kept seeing a sign at the traffic lights near my local Asda in Govan. On a laminated, monochrome A4 sheet, “Dave” offered his services. He would transform your old VHS tapes into DVDs. But as society now looks back with fondness on all things retro and analogue, what if someone did it the other way round… And would it be quite safe? The compilation features many synth, coldwave and post-punk artists including Soft Riot, Madmoizel, No More (with a cover of Roxy Music’s Love is the Drug!), Martial Canterel and Legowelt. Please have a listen and treat yourself: it’s all killer, no...

#Monologue 20: New themed mix: Amateur Dramatics

It’s been a while since I put up a tune selection on Mixcloud, but the mood took me last weekend. Of course there are few in-person DJing opportunities these days, but mixtapes are one of life’s pleasures. So I present to you Amateur Dramatics with a flamboyant flourish. It features my favourite dramatic, emotive and extravagant performers, in the genres of synth-pop, new wave and electronica, from the 80s to the present day. You will be in the company of suave 80s sensations like Gina X Performance and the Associates, darkling gems such as Jyl and Mylène Farmer, and new electronic acts like Soft Riot and Modernmoon. For the image, I chose a stunning still of Helmut Berger in The Damned, one of my favourite films by Luchino Visconti. His character Martin von Essenbeck is one of the silver screen’s finest drama farmers. In this shot, the pampered industrialist’s son is furious at having his Marlene Dietrich impersonation interrupted by the outbreak of World War Two. How very dare...

Monologue #19: ? Video for The Moon King?

“Paint me a picture/Not something real…” I am proud to present my new video for The Moon King, a lush synth ballad. In this cinematic blitz of romantic electronica, I take a flight of fancy through the cosmos and history, exploring the lunar side of life as an eccentric dandy and various celestial phenomena… Inspiration The Moon King is inspired by the story of King Ludwig II of Bavaria, as told in Luchino Visconti’s film Ludwig. I have long been a fan of the Italian director, and his leading man Helmut Berger. (In fact, the song’s intro is taken from the movie poster.) The stunning poster advertising Visconti’s Ludwig I wanted to find out more about the romantic but beleaguered Bavarian monarch, who reigned at a time before the modern state of Germany existed. His retreat into fantasy, in the face of personal and political hardship, spoke to me. On a trip to Germany, I had the pleasure of visiting Neuschwanstein Castle, one of the many extravagant palaces that he built during his life. Although the tour was very regimented due to the large numbers of visitors, it was still an enchanting experience. I noticed a large number of swans in the décor. These elegant but assertive fowl inspired one of my looks in the video. Creation With the lull in other activities due to the coronavirus lockdown, I recently turned my attention to making a video for The Moon King. It seemed like as good a time as any for a voyage of the imagination into magical realms. Perhaps the recent supermoons gracing our skies this year also...