Last month saw me play two shows in Berlin and Vienna, on a mini-tour with the Canadian electronic artist Soft Riot. Both shows went well. The Berlin gig at the Loophole was kindly organised by local synth punk Ben Bloodygrave and also included a rousing performance by the German minimal synth act Endlose Emotion. The Bloodbeat Club night in Vienna, organised by Stephanie (of Vienna-based duo Mitra Mitra) and her friend Jan, was especially atmospheric as it featured my favourite peripheral concert device, the smoke machine. (I love to lurk mysteriously behind a thick cloud of vapour.) Both venues had good sound and enthusiastic, friendly audiences.
The travelling was exhausting but I enjoyed the stunning scenery on the train ride from Berlin to Vienna via the Czech Republic. I was pleased to see that some of the trains still retain the individual compartment layout that is no longer found in Britain. They even had curtains. I had been to Berlin a few times before, but this was my first trip to Vienna. I loved the city and would like to explore it further. It is clear why Ultravox chose it as the subject of their synth Meisterwerk of the same name. With its grandiose architecture, heroic statuary, and boutique windows boasting gold leather gloves and pink quartz cockatoos, it must surely be the most New Romantic city in existence.
In Vienna we met up with the Croatian electronic artist Iv/An, who has now created a great remix of one of my dancier tracks, Echtes Leder. It is available as a free download here for a limited time period. I would describe the style as minimal electro, with a crisp, streamlined and dynamic sound.
After returning from my little trip, I found some time to compile another thematic mixtape, Les Fonctionnaires Nocturnes, this time on the theme of French-language pop and electronica from the 80s to the present day. There are chart favourites like Indochine and Mylène Farmer, as well as new synth bands I like such as Vendôme and Garçons Coiffeurs. Literally meaning “The nocturnal civil servants,” the title of the mix is inspired by the very imaginative lyrics of the first track, Wax Dance by Wax. It is a shame that the English-speaking world barely touched on a lot of the Francophone artists of the 80s, as it was a very rich creative period for France. Many of the mainstream chart acts in the land that calls itself “the Hexagon” were as avant-garde as the underground in many other countries. So hopefully this mix will provide an introduction to some overlooked bands.