These are the shownotes that go with this episode of the Podcast The Infected, Season 3 episode 6
Cabaret Voltaire – Invocation
Cabaret Voltaire is a legendary band that you and most listeners will know, or it will ring a bell. Before we dive in, a quick fun fact about the band name. During the first World War, Switzerland was a neutral country. Among the many refugees coming to Zürich, there were a lot of artists from all over Europe. Cabaret Voltaire was an artistic Nightclub in 1916 in Zürich where these artists came together and performed musical or literary work.
Back to the band: By the early 1970s, a man called Chris Watson from Sheffield, England, began experimenting with electronic devices to make “music without musical instruments.” Inspired by Brian Eno’s tech geekery and his job as a telephone engineer, Watson’s began experimenting with tape loops. He started making his synthesizer with components that he obtained by mail order. Synthesizers were big and expensive, And through a magazine, people could order synthesizer components and solder them into a synth. Quite cool. Andy McClusky from OMD and many other bands also did this.
Before Cabaret Voltaire, there were pop supergroups and prog-rock with some psychedelic synth breaks. Then Kraftwerk came along, and the soundtrack from A Clockwork Orange with an electronic-only soundtrack. Combined with Science Fiction films like Dr. Who, books by GJ Ballard, and riots in England, Chris Watson was inspired and started making music and formed the band.
Cabaret Voltaire was interested in creating new and innovative sounds. A very non-conformist and punk approach to making electronic music.
However, since 1982, they decided to turn in a more commercial direction. Throughout their career, they shared the stage with all the greats. And they have toured Europe, Japan, and the United States, but without any significant record label support.
They are often characterized as among the most innovative and influential electronic groups of their era.
As promised, here is the link to that New Wave documentary that Goof was referencing;
Soft Kill – Wanting War
We’ve played Soft Kill before on the show, so you may remember the story of frontman Tobias Grave who has not had the happiest life. He struggled through several drug addictions, was imprisoned several times, and almost lost his son Dominick in childbirth.
Sadness often goes hand in hand with beauty for artists, as previous Soft Kill albums show. Grave, however, got back on track, managed to make a record while clean for the first time, and now can see his son growing up as a healthy child.
The new record is Dead kids, RIP city’ – a parody of Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Good kid, m.A.A.d. city’. It has crystal-clear production and some good song material. On the album, Grave sings about the stories of people who didn’t fare so well (dead kids) in a city (Portland) from which he is becoming more and more estranged (RIP city). As Graves explains it, the theme is “songs about people we miss so much, buried under suffering that we still see every day on our way through this troubled city.“
Many die-hard fans have spoken out against this 2020 album, preferring the darker earlier work. Me? I’m happy for Tobias, and I love this track; “Wanting War.”
Bdrmm – Happy (Bedroom album 2020)
Bdrmm or “Bedroomm,” I think you pronounce it as bedroom. A band that was put on my radar by a colleague of mine, Léon. He’s a big music fan with an excellent taste and a loyal listener of The Infected.
Bdrmm is a five-piece, guitar-driven band founded by Ryan Smith. They blend the nineties-inspired shoegaze style with rich-sounding and modern production.
In 2016, after a 12-hour shift at the local pub, Ryan was sitting in his bedroom (title😊). After listening to some music, he decided to get out his GarageBand phone-to-jack iRig interface and wrote a demo called ‘Everything'”. Ryan was proud of the result and sent it to the BBC because they had a competition where young bands or acts got a chance to have their music played on the radio. Ryan was selected, and the Demo aired on BBC1. At that moment, he knew he needed to get a band together.
Artemis’ Rise and Fall – Dalis Car
I want to talk about Mick Karn. You know that I am a massive fan of the band Japan, which helped shape New Wave’s sound and look. Karn was the bass player, always playing the fretless sliding bass on all of Japan’s albums. His sound is truly unique and instantly recognizable. A great creative artist, but with a sad personal story. His bassoon was stolen, he didn’t appear on the biggest hit of his band, his girlfriend was stolen, and he died in poverty, of cancer, at the young age of 52.
Karn was born as Andonis Michaelides in Greek Cyprus. The family moved to London when he was three years old. His father was a butcher. Karn had learned to play the violin and played bassoon in the school orchestra and was even selected for the London School Symphony Orchestra. When his bassoon was stolen, his school refused to buy him another, and in anger at their decision, he spent five pounds and bought a bass guitar instead. Karn removed the frets from this bass guitar because he wanted to bend the notes, like on a violin, which is how he developed his unique bass playing style.
At secondary school, he met two brothers, David and Steve Batt, with whom he founded Japan in 1974. He invited his old school friend Richard Barbieri to practice with them in a room above his father’s butcher shop. Japan eventually got a record deal, and in early 1978 Michaelides and the Batt brothers chose stage names; David Batt became David Sylvian, and Antony Michaelides became Mick Karn. Like other band members, eventually, Karn became interested in Japanese art and culture. He got into a relationship with Japanese photographer Yuka Fujii.
Japan were ahead of their time and never really very successful until 1981 when they finally had a hit album with Tin Drum and a hit single with Ghosts, which we played earlier on the show.
However, Karn was not on that track and did not share in the success. To add insult to injury, Karn’s girlfriend, Yuka Fujii, moved in with David Sylvian. Japan fell apart, the individual members forging ahead with separate projects.
In 1982 Karn played bass in the first Prince’s Trust concert for Charles and Diana. Pete Townshend picked Karn and explained to the press that Mick was by far the best bassist in the U.K. and so the obvious choice. After doing some work with artists like Gary Numan, Midge Ure, and Kate Bush, among others, in 1984, the Dali’s Car project came to life.
Dalis Car was a cooperation with Bauhaus singer Peter Murphy. The band Bauhaus, like Japan, had blown up. Murphy and Karn never actually went to the studio together, preferring to send tapes back and forth. Eventually, they released their album The Waking Hour.
“Daybreak,” by Maxfield Parrish
The Waking Hour by Dalis Car.
On this record, all instrumentation is written and played by Mick Karn. It is an experiment in stripping music down to its bare minimum while retaining a strong mood and Middle Eastern flavour. It would remain the only Dalis Car album for a long time. Mick would keep making music but never again enjoyed great commercial success.
In 2010 Mick was diagnosed with the advanced stages of cancer. He moved back to London from Cyprus, where it was hoped he would begin treatment. Just before the move, Mick was contacted by Peter Murphy, hoping that they could create a new Dalis Car recording together. Mick enthusiastically agreed, and work begun right away. The duo was reunited in a studio in Oxford, and in late 2010 five tracks were completed over the ensuing months – a slow process due to Mick’s declining health. Mick could not afford the hospital bills, and a crowdsourcing campaign was set up to cover his medical costs.
Sadly Mick lost his fight against cancer and passed away peacefully, surrounded by family and close friends, in January 2011, aged only 52.
The Dalis Car E.P. ‘InGladAloneness’ was released in April 2012 on Mick’s son’s birthday. There is one song, Artemis, that appears on both Dalis Car albums. The 2012 version is called Artemis Rise. This version has more orchestration and vocals. I have made a mix for you to hear both the 1984 and the 2011 eleven versions entangled.
This is the Jer00n remix of Dalis Car; Artemis Rise and Fall
The Royal Family and the Poor – Heartbeat (1986)
The recent interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made me think about The Royal Family and the Poor.
Perhaps the most misunderstood and unknown band to record for Factory Records. The Royal Family and the Poor remain a bit of a mystery for many. Releasing only four albums in two decades and rarely performing live after 1984. The band name lets you believe that more bandmembers are working here, but it was mainly just one guy: Mike Keane.
The first album, The Temple of the 13th Tribe, was received poorly and with a lot of criticism. Journalists thought they were a joke and their music inaccessible and pretentious. In all honesty, I can confirm, and that album has not aged well.
However, the second album, We Love The Moon, is excellent. Mike Keane invited some other musicians to join him and fired some of them during the making of the album. Mike sounds like an Enfant Terrible by now. The album did not get much attention at the time of its release, and the relations between Mike and the boss of Factory, Tony Wilson, turned sour.
Because of poor album sales, Tony was unwilling to finance new equipment or invest in the band further. I found out that Mike Keane borrowed money privately to finance his home studio, but not much came from it regarding newly recorded material. This lead to his bankruptcy and most of his equipment being seized by bailiffs. Unsurprisingly Mike gave up on music, and The Royal Family and the Poor again fell silent.
Let’s revive them for the next 5 minutes with a wonderfully doomy track: Heartbeat. A fitting track name, as you will hear.
Terror Forms – Opaque
I came across Terror Forms on Instagram, and I’m not sure what to label this act as… Dark Wave? Synth Wave? Cold gaze? Minimal Wave? I don’t care, really. It may be hard to box in, but man, do I love their ethereal, brooding sound.
Terror Forms is a duo from Maine, USA. It consists of the haunting, delicate voice of Pari and the disorienting, grand synth work of Ryan. Together they are both an elegant and violent force, working to create sinister melodies that stick in your memory. Soaring, atmospheric and malevolent, they capture a sound that I really, really enjoy.
By the way, I loved Brendan Carpenters’ video clip for this track as well. In black and white with an estranged aesthetic, it is modern and edgy, their synth setup subtly referencing the crucifix, pulsing in tandem with the driving soundtrack. You just have to see it, it’s great.
I was briefly in touch with them, and they are awesome, really nice folks. Ryan is so modest that he declined the offer to introduce their latest single, Opaque, but luckily singer Pari found it in her heart to introduce this excellent track.