Wolfgang Flür – Magazine 1 album review

26 01 2022

Magazine 1 is a new electronic album from former Kraftwerk member Wolfgang Flür, in partnership with Peter Duggal and featuring guest appearances from Midge Ure (Ultravox), Peter Hook (New Order) and Claudia Brücken (Propaganda), plus contributions from contemporary artists MAPS, Juan Atkins, Carl Cox, U96, Anushka and Ramón Amezcu (AKA Bostich).

The 9 song album is a celebration of techno-pop, and will appeal to fans of electronic music, as well as Kraftwerk fans.

Deep bass synths and classic 80s drum machines propel opener Magazine.

Read all about it!”

The album has a consistent lyrical theme running throughout, with a commentary on the dis-jointed times we live in, the information we are force-fed, all delivered from a humanist stance, although not always from the viewpoint of humans!

Zukunftsmusi, the first of three U96 collaborations, is a power-house of electronic “Music of the Future”, with a compelling mixture of ice-cold synth lines, topped with rich percussion patterns. A synth motif that reminds me of Jeff Wayne’s War Of The Worlds as well as Close Encounters of the Third Kind breaks out of the mix around the half-way mark of Zukunftsmusik.

The second track featuring U96 is the anti-consumerism Best Buy, with a charmingly bonkers vocal performance and an up-tempo, naggingly addictive melody.

“Take-away, night and Day”

Das Beat features Midge Ure, with a warm tale of how music is universal (“beats in Moscow, beats in France”) and a few sounds that appear to lovingly reference Wolfgang’s former band. The chorus stays with you long after the song has finished, which is always enjoyable.

Birmingham features former New Order bassist Peter Hook and vocals from Ex-Propaganda singer Claudia Brücken, and is my favourite song on the album. I’ve loved Claudia’s work since A Secret Wish in 1985, and this is a perfect mix of the darkness of German electronic music, with a sprinkling of early New Order magic (that bass!). The contributions from Peter and Claudia are a potent and powerful blend, and it is worth buying the album for this track alone.

Night Drive draws from a more contemporary electronic palette, and the final U96 appearance (along with Carl Cox) is the charming tale of the life of a robot, Electric Sheep. There may be more to this robot than we initially think. Be afraid!

Detroit’s Juan Atkins joins Wolfgang on Billionaire (Symphony Of Might), a song of greed feeding environmental disaster (“The world needs more wealth, not more people”). Another strong chorus lets us know who has the power and control in this story. Isn’t that always the way?

Magazine 1 ends with the simple but powerful messaging of the anti-war Say No! The music perfectly underpins the lyrics, with slow build ups to the multiple anthemic choruses. This life-affirming song, with its nod to the music of the past along with a promise of a peaceful future, is an emotional climax from this powerful album.

“There’s only one thing to do, say no”

Wolfgang Flür – Magazine 1 is released via Cherry Red on 4 March 2022

Buy Magazine 1 on CD from Amazon

Buy Magazine 1 on vinyl from Amazon

  1. Magazine [ft. Ramón Amezcua]
  2. Zukunftsmusik [ft. U96]
  3. Best Buy [ft. U96]
  4. Das Beat [ft. Midge Ure]
  5. Birmingham [ft. Claudia Brücken & Peter Hook]
  6. Night Drive [ft. Anushka]
  7. Electric Sheep [ft. Carl Cox & U96]
  8. Billionaire (Symphony Of Might) [ft. Juan Atkins]
  9. Say No! (ft. MAPS)

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News: Kraftwerk coloured vinyl limited edition album reissues

9 09 2020

Parlophone have reissued eight Kraftwerk albums on limited edition 180g coloured vinyl. The audio included on these re-issued albums will be the 2009 remasters.

Autobahn, Radio-Activity, Trans-Europe Express, The Man-Machine, Computer World, Techno Pop (aka Electric Café), The Mix and Tour De France were released on 9 October 2020.

Pre-order limited coloured vinyl from Amazon

  • Autobahn (1974) – Translucent blue vinyl, 12-page booklet
    Buy now
  • Radio-Activity (1975) – Translucent yellow vinyl, 16-page booklet
    Buy now
  • Trans-Europe Express (1977) – Clear vinyl, 16-page booklet
    Buy now
  • The Man-Machine (1978) – Translucent red vinyl, 16-page booklet
    Buy now
  • Computer World (1981) – Translucent neon yellow vinyl, 16-page booklet Buy now
  • Techno Pop (1986) – Clear vinyl, 16-page booklet
    Buy now
  • The Mix (1991) – White vinyl, 20-page booklet
    Buy now
  • Tour De France (2003) – Disc 1: Translucent blue vinyl; Disc 2: Translucent red vinyl, 20-page booklet
    Buy now




Blancmange – Wanderlust

19 09 2018

Blancmange release their tenth studio album, Wanderlust, on October 19, 2018. Wanderlust features ten songs composed by Neil Arthur, and arranged, co-produced and mixed with Benge (Wrangler/Creep Show). This is the pair’s third album together following their Fader First Light album in June 2017 and last year’s Blancmange album Unfurnished Rooms.

wanderlust

As with last years Unfurnished Rooms, Wanderlust is a more stark electronic offering than the early Blancmange albums. The major difference with this album is the inclusion of three songs (Distant Storm,In Your Room and Not a Priority) that could easily fit onto a “best of” album, and if released in the mid-80s, would have probably been top 20 singles.

Opening with lead single Distant Storm, the duo lay out their intentions straight away. Pulsing bass synths and expanding percussion layers drive a wistful, vocoder treated vocal from Neil Arthur. A Giorgio Moroder meets Madonna’s Lucky Star keyboard arrangement lifts this song to another level and adds real colour and warmth to the song.

In Your Room dials down the warmth a couple of notches, and is a much darker track. Musically this has a feel of the edgier early Soft Cell tracks, and features a simple yet naggingly addictive chorus. You will not be able to stop yourself singing along.

“In your room, In Your Room, IN YOUR ROOM”

I Smashed Your Phone opens with what sounds like the drum machine intro pattern to Wham’s Everything She Wants and has some interesting percussion programming highlighting key points in the song. The lyric references our often fractious relationship with modern technology, and this theme continues throughout the album.

Gravel Drive Syndrome is another album highlight. The tightly, unnaturally sequenced bleeps underpin a growing feeling of unease mirrored by this tale of social climbing at any cost. Talking to Machines is a John Foxx influenced synthesised slow-burner, warning us that our interactions are often with machines that are “Always on, on always”. Switch off and step away people!

Not a Priority is my favourite track on the album. Easily the most commercial song since the early Blancmange albums, Not a Priority features a sugar-coated joint chorus with one of my favourite current electronic artists, Hannah Peel. The synths bubble away, and along with the ever-present Moroder, I get hints of Kraftwerk and Propaganda on this album highlight.

“Please be yourself, you can’t be anybody else.”

TV Debate is the first track to add guitars to the mix. A Berlin era Bowie / glam-rock backing drives a tale of channel-surfing and wall-to-wall talking heads displayed on the screen. David Rhodes (Peter Gabriel / Kate Bush) adds an engaging guitar wall of sound to another of the albums key tracks, Leaves.  The arrangement rises and falls, mimicking the seasons, as nature meets mankind.

White Circle, Black Hole is a rare chink of light in the lyrical darkness, and has one of Arthur’s best vocal performances on the album, along with a twin guitar propelled chorus.

“Start again, such a good place.”

The album ends on the title track. Disembodied sampled voices, and a heart-beat kick drum introduces a song about living in this moment, in the here and now. Analogue synth lines take the lead instead of a traditional vocal chorus, as Wanderlust draws to a close on an optimistic note.

Blancmange 2018

I loved last years Unfurnished Rooms but Wanderlust sees Blancmange at their very best, bringing their pop sensibility back to the surface, whilst exploring the dark side of electronica. One of the strengths of this album is that the music channels the adventurous spirit of the 1980s, yet the lyrics explore a dystopian, close enough to touch, near future. This mix of darkness and light makes Wanderlust a unique album in the Blancmange catalogue, and one of the most interesting albums I have heard this year.

Distant Storm
In Your Room
I Smashed Your Phone
Gravel Drive Syndrome
Talking to Machines
Not a Priority
TV Debate
Leaves
White Circle, Black Hole
Wanderlust

wanderlust
Buy Blancmange Wanderlust on CD from Amazon

wanderlust

Buy Blancmange Wanderlust on vinyl from Amazon

near_future_-_ideal_home

Buy Near Future – Ideal Home on Amazon








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