Archives for posts with tag: synthpop

Laura Lee Lovely

Our song for day 29 of New Zealand Music Month is a haunting synthpop re-imagining of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” by Chrsitchurch musician Laura Lee Lovely, called “Beyond The Rain”.

It’s technically a cover of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” sung by Judy Garland in the 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz” but re-engineered and reconstructed to such an extent it becomes its own song.

The synthpop is spacey 1980s retro-minimalism, like an early Human League single, and Laura Lee Lovely’s vocals have the kind of haunted and wistful dream-pop eeriness of Julee Cruise giving the song a kind of unsettling Twin Peaks vibe as well.

All in all, a magical kind of song for the last Friday in May 2020.

NZMM 2020



Too Tone NZ Music Month

NZ Music Every Godzone Month! sign from Too Tone Records in Dunedin.

Our New Zealand Music Month day #29 song is the closing track from Princess Chelsea’s “The Loneliest Girl” album – an examination of the musician’s life called “All I Need To Do”:

“All I Need To Do”  is a reflection on a musician’s life: “I’ve been making music for about 11 years/ I stay inside on summer days/ I’ve drifted from my friends/ my parents, they are so polite/ They want me to have kids/ I’m working in a record store/ to try and pay my bills/ All I need to do/ is make the music and try to be true…”

“The Loneliest Girl” is the fourth album by globe-trotting Chelsea Nikkel, following “Lil’ Golden Book” and “The Great Cybernetic Depression” and a recent album of cover versions. It’s the best of the lot. It’s a more expansive, varied and exploratory collection of great pop songs. Those songs are beautifully crafted and often wry reflections on life, mixed with somewhat dark and melancholy fantasy, wrapped up in a set of glorious Serge Gainsbourg-esque arrangements.


Too Tone NZ Music Month

Shop display of re-purposed NZ Music Month poster at Too Tone Records (2010-2017) in Dunedin.

New Zealand Music Month day #10 song is some dark, cold, noisy but dancefloor friendly analogue electronica from Dunedin trio Élan Vital. From their “Shadow Self” album here’s “Possession”:

Élan Vital formed in 2015 in Dunedin’s None Gallery, an artist-run creative community in a former pharmaceutical factory near the city centre. After years of operation the owners of the building are selling it so None’s community and physical existence is sadly coming to an end. It will be the end of an era for the noisiest, most experimental parts of Dunedin’s music underground, and the the place where experimental art co-existed with music. As well as home, practice and recording space for Élan Vital it was also once home to related band Death And The Maiden.

Élan Vital is Renee Barrance (keyboards, effects, vocals), Danny Brady (synths, drum machines, electronics, live mixing) and Nikolai Sim (bass) and the album – unusually for electronic music – was recorded by the band playing live together in their None Gallery space.

Purple PilgrimsPurple Pilgrims  have just released an LP ‘Eternal Delight’ – on 26 February on the US label Not Not Fun. Here’s what may be an atypical song from them and from the album.

“Thru Evry Cell” is the most conventionally song-structured recording I’ve heard so far from Purple Pilgrims. But even here they manage to sound utterly dislocated from everyday reality, particularly the way the voices are almost lost in a narcotic haze of lush reverb.

This is great – it’s breezy, full of pop hooks and a welcoming production. But at the same time it manages to still carry some not-quite-right menace in a similar way to Julee Cruise’s “Twin Peaks” soundtrack songs. In fact if David Lynch is looking for some music for the proposed new series of “Twin Peaks” he would find a perfect fit with Purple Pilgrims.

Maybe it’s just a sense from listening to  their previous recordings, but it seems like there’s a shadow behind every apparently bright and colourful sounding moment here and a sense of foreboding that there is something lurking in those shadows which seeks each listeners’ soul.

Here’s a Radio NZ video of the song performed in their Coromandel base.

There’s a video for another song from the album – “Forever” – on Vimeo here. Can’t wait to hear the whole album now.


Lttle Phnx

PopLib featured Lttle Phnx, the vowel-deprived operating system name for Wellington synth-pop producer Lucy Beeler, back in 2013. There’s a new, and different sounding EP release not long out – “Pyrexia” is its name.

This is all kinds of perfection to my ears. The lead synth part zinging around from ear to ear in the middle of your head here reminds me of Alan Rankine’s soaring crystalline guitar parts from the classic Associates’ debut album “A Matter of Gender”. This is a very good thing.

Another thing these 4 songs share in common with the music of those Scottish post-punk adventurers is a clean minimal production and sparse but perfectly assembled arrangement which leaves space and creates atmosphere and room for those soaring melancholy vocals. Or, as the CMR label write-up explains it, with cyber-erotic perfection: “reverb-wet crystal-encrusted caves of longing”.

Weirdly, there’s another Scottish 80s alternative reminder – The Blue Nile – in the lush 80’s synth sounds employed here and in the feeling of dancing-by-yourself late night sadness it all evokes. I mean sadness in a positive way; as being more comforting for an introvert than the anxiety of dancing with others.

I realise these (possibly annoying/ unhelpful) references say more about my music collection (and state of mind) than anything in the subconscious of Lttle Phnx/ Lucy Beeler, so don’t take them to heart. It’s just a random observation.

Once you’ve listened to enough music it often starts triggering weird un-connected memories associated with times, places and life – and other music (which is associated with times, places and life too). Which is one of the pleasures of listening to new music.

You know the sensations a familiar record will evoke. But with new music your responses are unpredictable and sometimes unexpected & take you where you may never have been before. I like that. I like this too. Thanks Lttle Phnx for these “four intimate moments where time refracts off of the precious walls.”