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 what you are looking for…”

‘What was the intention at the time of writing this new album, Discretion Guaranteed? “I had quite a wide range of emotions and ideas in my mind when I was making this album. Some of the songs had an imaginary, sci-fi aspect mixed in with my lived experiences. This was the case with Kyoto Jo, a song with Oriental influences about a kind of Samurai warrior princess in a slightly dystopian but aesthetic future world. My influences there included John Foxx’s Metamatic period and the novels of Philip K. Dick.”

“A multi-storey vision / Planets in collision…”

‘The other tracks explore parallel worlds worthy of K. Dick that nonetheless have their roots in reality. The Pebbledashed Pyramids of Cumbernauld is inspired by the Brutalist Scottish “New Town”. It reflects on the idea of ancient alien intervention in the creation of structures such as the Pyramids. DVD2VHS is a fantasy inspired by retro trends in music such as the revival of tapes and vinyl: an old man offers a service converting DVDs back to VHS tapes. Wolves deals with social anxiety and alienation, inspired by the hero’s words in the film The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser: “The people are like wolves to me”. The archaeofuturist world of Marcel Wave is well worth the trip… “