Archives for posts with tag: electronic pop

The first great new release of 2022 is upon us, in the form of an unexpected album “Silicon Pink”, the first music from Port Chalmers, Dunedin duo Thorn Dells. Here’s “Dark Taste”.

Thorn Dells is Nikolai Sim (Élan Vital, Kolya) and Lucinda King (Death And The Maiden, Bad Sav , Floating Island). “Silicon Pink” is a fantasia of dark hybrid electronic pop, each song a shift in time and space, mixing light and darkness, electronic pop and more exploratory sounds.

There are echoes of 90s dubby trip hop in places, as well as crystalline radio-friendly pop (the sublime “The One I Fear” with vocals from Sean Patrick Donald), and the gloriously sinister “Orlando” somehow channels an imaginary post-grunge Breeders mutation.  

The whole album all feels majestic and epic, the kind of album you would expect to hear on a major independent label (Mute, 4AD, etc.) but this is 2022, and self-releasing through Bandcamp is where you will find the sound of today’s essential exploratory music underground.

Jane Weaver_Modern Kosmology“The Architect” is the title track from a new EP from UK musician Jane Weaver which follows her essential album “Modern Kosmology” (which also includes “The Architect”…)

If you haven’t heard “Modern Kosmology” – released earlier this year – you really ought to give it a listen. Or just, you know, BUY IT! On impulse. As I did a few months ago.

It was one of those “Hi-Fidelity” moments, although Dave from Relics in Dunedin is no John Cusack. Still, he was playing a promo CD of the album and I ordered a copy of the LP on the strength of a couple of tracks that had been playing.

It’s quickly become one of my favourite albums of the year. “The Architect” here is one of two tracks to feature drummer Andrew Cheetham. The other is the opening track “H>A>K”. His drumming is fluid, loose, and inventive and gives the futuristic electronic soul-funk of “The Architect” a nicely human mode of propulsion.

There’s nothing else quite like “The Architect” (or “H>A>K”) on “Modern Kosmology” though and that’s one of the reasons the album is such a satisfying experience from beginning to end. It’s a special kind of psychedelic-electronic-dream-pop-motorik trip. A journey through the time & space of Jane Weaver’s imagination.

There are moments throughout the album that remind me of the diverse sounds of Broadcast, Stereoloab, Bachelorette, Fast, Neu, Can, Popol Vuh… goodness knows what else. But the key is these are just moments, and there’s also much here that is floating in its own musical universe… making it a contemporary classic album.

Here’s a wonderful 10 minute video documentary about Jane Weaver and the recording of “Modern Kosmology”.



Devine.jpgDay 28 of our 31 Days of May New Zealand Music Month marathon comes from Dunedin electronic pop newcomer Devine with the epic Gold Class pop of “Novel” –

This single has been getting a bit of local press recently and you can hear why. It’s classy well-crafted pop channeling a bit of Bond movie-theme grandeur and the electronica coolness of Goldfrapp.

The music has the darkness and texture of a thriller movie soundtrack and that undercurrent works perfectly with the character of the vocals.

The song is written and sung by by Molly Devine, and the music produced by Maddy Parkins-Craig. Some have said it’s the lack of ambition that gives Dunedin music its unique sound and feel. There’s much to be said for having ambition though as this Devine single shows.


Peak Body – photo by Claire Jansen (w/ drawing by Alyssa Bermudez)

Peak Body are a duo from Hobart, Tasmania describing themselves as minimalist electronic post-punk and “Feeling” is one of many fine songs on the “Community 4” compilation of Hobart underground music recently released on Rough Skies Records.

Tasmania doesn’t feature much (or maybe even ever?) on PopLib despite regular posting of Australian underground pop. This compilation ought to rectify that omission – there’s a heap of treasure to be discovered here.

Peak Body is Emma Marson (vocals/guitar) and Jordan Marson (bass/keys/beats) and “Feelings” has all the fuzzy reverb-drenched pop charm you could ask for, equal parts melancholy & mystery and simple understated perfection.

Being conveniently ignorant about any aspect of the Hobart underground music scene I’ll just steal this brief explanation from the compilation Bandcamp page:

“…every song was written and recorded at the Hobart Underground Community Centre. The facility, true to its name, is located underground at a point in Glenorchy precisely between MONA and Mount Wellington (Hobart’s two great looming shadows) and was built for the sole purpose of allowing Hobart’s most vital musicians to hone their craft and reach their full potential, away from the distractions of their jobs, their families, and the daily violent fallout from Hobart City Council infighting. There is one set of doors leading into or out of the Community Centre tunnel, located behind a decoy trash pile at the Jackson Street Waste Management Centre, and they only open twice a year (at the June Solstice, and on the 29th of December, David Boon’s birthday).”

I get a feeling from the music and the further comments in the compilation info that Hobart may be a bit like Dunedin – out of the way, ignored by the rest of the country and the Australian music industry, a place musicians usually leave, whether to pursue their dreams/ ambitions or simply escape the small-city scene (the population is twice as big as Dunedin and about the same size as Christchurch).

Also the weather is similar because the Tasmania is on the whip-end of the Great Australian Bight’s intensification of the Roaring 40s. But on the plus side, they have strange mammals –  not just Echidna and Platypus, but creatures I’d never heard of such as Quolls and Bettongs.

October_2016May is NZ Music Month here in NZInc, a small South Pacific archipelago perhaps better know these days as a tax haven for overseas people and companies to avoid tax obligations in their home countries. Perhaps “100% Pure Anonymity” could be our new national marketing phrase. Anyway…although we feature NZ Music year round here, May is an excuse to bring 31 consecutive days of NZ music.

So let’s start on day #1, 1 May 2016, with an absence of guitars and head straight into the future-proof epic dark electronic pop of October, and the menacing “Switchblade”:

October is Wellington based musician and producer Emma Logan. PopLib featured the fabulous debut “Voids” from October back in May 2015.

“Switchblade” is further evidence of not only the music creation production skills heard on “Voids” but also that remarkable and commanding voice.

it’s a denser, more frenetic and futuristic production, with dark lyrical undercurrents set in a soundscape of rumbling synths and the martial precision of the percussion. The way that soaring voice weaves through and above the ominous music is something else.

Grab the whole October “Switchblade” 5 song EP from iTunes.

Leaf Library
“Rings of Saturn” is one of two preview songs available to stream ahead of the upcoming release of the debut album from UK band The Leaf Library.

The album from which “Rings of Saturn” is taken from is glorious. Every so often albums come along which just cast a spell of magic so powerful you can’t escape them. “Daylight Versions” is one of these.

The Leaf Library say – with a hint of self-deprecation – they make “droney, two-chord pop that’s stuck halfway between the garage and the bedroom, all topped with lyrical love songs to buildings, stationery and the weather.” In fact this subdued and reflective music unfurls itself just perfectly and without much fuss. At times it is almost impossibly and unbearably perfect.

If you need touchstones for reference then the quieter sonic lullabies on Yo La Tengo albums is a good starting point. But it is also a bit like experiencing The Clientele’s ghostly pastoral elegies warped through the drone melodies of Stereolab. There’s a strong sense of place and season even if it seems filtered through the haze of half-sleep. Kate Gibson’s low-key vocals are all part of the welcome here too, their soft, compelling tones and uncomplicated delivery reminiscent at times of Broadcast’s Trish Keenan.

Beyond the hypnotic repetitive caress of the songs, The Leaf Library introduce textures varying from gently pulsing electronica, washes of ambient noise, piano, horns, strings. It’s more ambient/ experimental electronic folk pop than psychedelic rock and the difficulty categorising it is all part of the mystery and magic here. One of my albums of the year already.

“Daylight Versions” is released on UK label WIAIWYA on 30 October and can be pre-ordered from the label here.

Sparkle Kitty
Christchurch synthesists (?) Sparkle Kitty are back with a slice of fat/ phat synth-bass gyrating pop called “Tender”.

The intro to “Tender” may bring big memories for the old & frail of Rick Astley’s 80’s synth-pop hit “Never Gonna Give You Up”. But, like everything today infected with the seed of 80’s synth pop, Sparkle Kitty add the kind of effortless cool the likes of Rick Astley could never manage.

This is partly because “Tender” is a deeper, darker, more substantial pop tune with a Euro-Disco edge, and partly because Lucy Macilquham’s vocals run melodic gymnastic circles all around and over those hairspray 80’s boys.

Sparkle Kitty play at Chick’s Hotel on Saturday 8 August with Shunkan.

Chick’s Hotel has a bass-monster PA system, smoke machine, a great light-show and a glitter ball. That’s all you need to know.

Islands & Islands on Stars & Letters (2013)

Islands & Islands on Stars & Letters (2013)

For Day 4 of 31 Days of May (PopLib’s NZ Music Month marathon) here is “Pool House” – a beautifully minimal slice of resigned melancholy built on a rumbling distorted synth line – from Misfit Mod’s 2013 album “Islands & Islands” –

PopLib has previously featured the brilliant Misfit Mod 7″ single “Sugar C/ Cars”, which also appears on “Island & Islands”.

It’s a wonderful collection of songs, and the usually sparse industrial backbone of rumbling, discontented synth carries an echo of the early Sheffield Sound of the early 1980s. Also in common with the electronic music of that time and place is the understanding that electronic music combines best with very human emotion. Something Misfit Mod does with innate skill.

Instant Fantasy
Instant Fantasy is on tour in NZ with two PopLib favourites Lttle Phnx and Misfit Mod and playing at Taste Merchants in Dunedin on Sunday night (26th April 2015). Their Softsynth Siren Tour presents a perfect line-up of three distinctive solo electronic musicians. Assuming you are familiar with Lttle Phnx and Misfit Mod then here’s a burst of Instant Fantasy to complete your knowledge:

The 5-track The Wet EP is a wonderfully dark, spacey and adventurous landscape of potent songs. Each track is constructed with minimally arranged atmospheric sounds and both straight and processed vocals. Instant Fantasy is Gemma Symes, and yes, you’ve heard that voice before on this blog – guest vocals on The Shocking Pinks’ “St Louis”.

Instant Fantasy is closer in style to Misfit Mod than Lttle Phnx, particularly the way the vocals provide a powerful human heart to the songs. But there’s also a hint at times of the psychological intensity of Portishead and the sample-based sound collage music of Faultline. This is a great collection of songs, and a rewarding close-listen on headphones too.

Find out more about Instant Fantasy and the things inspiring this music in a recent interview on The Audience.

Misfit Mod (video still from 'Cars' video by Ed Lust)

Misfit Mod (video still from ‘Cars’ video by Ed Lust)

Day 27 of the song-a-day-May NZ Music Month madness is a quiet & reflective slice of almost-emptiness called ‘Tribes’ from Misfit Mod.

Misfit Mod provided one of my favourite singles of 2013 with ‘Sugar C’ and I don’t think anyone does languid desolation quite as well as sometimes Christchurch musician Sarah Kelleher under the name Misfit Mod.

Yesterday was a heavy day and a realisation that sometimes just shutting up and listening is the best & most helpful thing you can do when friends are angry, fearful & hurting.

So, when I looked at what to feature for the next post, I found myself back here last night with Misfit Mod’s 2013 album ‘Islands & Islands’ and this song ‘Tribes’. Just sitting quietly listening intently to the distance and space and simplicity in this was just what was needed at that time.

If ‘Tribes’ is just a bit too minimal and beautifully exhausted for you, skip onto the next song ‘Valleys’ for something more traditional in minimalist electronic pop. Better still just download the whole album here and put it on repeat for the rest of the day/ week/ month/ eternity…