Tuesday 29 October 2013


This is a somewhat belated review as I've only recently heard this album and indeed according to Miaoux Miaoux's Twitter page the next album is already underway but despite that I feel I have to write something about it as the album is so bloody good.

Miaoux Miaoux is Julian Corrie who meets one of this blog's strict entry requirements by being Glasgow based. Light Of The North was released by Chemikal Underground on 11 June 2012 and rightly gained many plaudits. Mainly electronic (meeting a second of the blog requirements) the album brings to mind a number of styles and sounds and pleasingly is as happy to go synthpop as it is to head to the dancefloor or even to take on New Order-esque indie. All in the album is a real treat for anyone with any interest in electronic music at all.

There isn't a bad track on the album but for me there are a couple of real stand outs. Better For Now is a fantastic pop song with an irresistible melody that you won't shift from your head for weeks but it comes second to the real star of he album - closing track Ribbon Falls. This is as good an electronic pop song as I'v heard in years and it reaches the highs of Yazoo, Erasure at their Chorus finest or the Pet Shop Boys during their indestructible Actually to Very phase. Don't let those comparisons make you think this is a disco stomper of a track; it is in fact a melodic track with more guitar than electronics at first but from a minute in it kicks off beautifully and the chorus is as good a chorus as you'll hear. Perfection.

As I said at the start this is a very late review of this nearly 18 month old album but I'm so in love with it that I had to mention it. The next album will be due soon and based on Light Of The North it's going to be a real treat.

Miaoux Miaoux Chemikal Underground artist page http://www.chemikal.co.uk/artists/miaoux-miaoux/
Miaoux Miaoux Soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/miaouxmiaoux

Wednesday 23 October 2013


Breathing in Fumes is THE Depeche Mode podcast. Now onto its' 9th episode the podcast continues to gather momentum getting Depeche Mode fans around the world reappraising old mixes, listening to rare live recordings and thrilling at excerpts from long forgotten or sometimes previously unheard interviews with the band from 1981 to the current date. I am a huge fan of Depeche and the podcast and so I thought I'd ask Glen Hammarstrom, the man behind the podcast, a few questions to try and delve into BIF a little more. Be warned, Glen and I are both very much in the Depeche Mode uberfan camp. This interview therefore contains quite a bit of vinyl discussions.


For well over 20 years, Glen Hammarstrom from Modesto, California has been a Depeche Mode fan and collector and has been an Administrator at the fantastic Home website since 2004 keeping people like me in check on a daily basis. Glen is also a DJ and and has hosted the web radio show Disappear for the last 5 years playing choice deep house cuts for the masses. The newest edition of his Breathing in Fumes podcast is out today (22 October) so I thought it would be an apt time to ask him a few questions

1. The Breathing In Fumes podcast is a fantastic thing bringing Depeche Mode, if you'll pardon the the, to the podcast masses. What inspired you to start the podcast?

I have kind of messed around with music podcasts for the past few years, mostly posting up my DJ Mixes etc. As the internet progressed and sites like Podamatic and Soundcloud came about, well, it made doing them a lot easier. I would upload random ones to the HOME ftp but now I don't have to do that anymore. My buddy Mike and I got a little more serious about doing an organised podcast that focussed on classic alternative vinyl that we called Panic. We loved doing it, but sadly Mike moved back to Los Angeles and Panic is kind of on hold for the moment. Once day I started messing around making a new Depeche Mode DJ Mix and the first episode just came together spontaneously. I didn't set out to do a ode podcast, I just threw one up to see what people thought. I made a little mix, threw together an intro and put it out there. The reaction blew me away, so I have just kept going. Simple as that really

2. How long does it take you to plan the podcast? And how long does it take to mix?

Each one has been different really. Some have taken longer than others, but I tend to put one out once a month and that gives me plenty of time to work on them. I don't want to rush as I put a lot of thought into them so I want the podcast to be something people will enjoy. I make the podcasts in parts normally. I'll mix a few songs that I think work together and stop. That tends to get me thinking of other songs or give me ideas on interview buts etc. It keeps my perspective fresh on the episode if I take breaks and come back to it. Once I have all the parts done I do one last final mix and blend it all together as an episode. So each one has taken its' own time to put together. Love the ideas people send me and those suggestions are always appreciated!

3. Are there any Depeche Mode songs you wouldn't consider using?

Not really, no. There are songs in their catalogue that I don't like but not many really. There are songs that I want to use that are challenging to mix with. Most standard album tracks are really hard to mix if they don't have an intro, break or outro like a remix tends to have. That has seen a few songs not make it in yet. DM fans tend to have a pretty wide variety of tastes so I try not to let my taste get too in the way if possible.

4. Would it ever be possible to use The Great Outdoors in the podcast? There's a challenge for you....

Challenge accepted! That's one of the songs I haven't used yet because I was simply saving it for a future podcast. I like saving some songs to have material for later podcasts. If I am going to keep the podcast going I have to space out songs in order that they don't sound the same.

5. BIF8 focussed on the 80's era and you talked about People Are People being the Depeche song that hooked you in. Where and when did you first hear it?

It really did, yeah. I remember hearing it on the top 40 radio station my brother listened to back then. At the time breakdancing was the trendy thing my friends and I were into. While I had fun goofing around thinking we were the New York City Breakers, I found I was more interested in music than anything. I discovered electronic music and Kraftwerk from those early breakdance compilation records and they kind of set the foundation of my music taste on some level. I was also just getting into skateboarding and punk rock then too. Looking back as an adult I realise that I always loved music but around the age of 12 I vividly remember feeling like I was looking for something of my own. One day I heard People Are People and it was an instant love. It was the perfect blend of everything I was looking for in music. It was pop but it also had all this electronics going on. I wish I could describe the feeling, but it was a game changer and I have been a hardcore fan ever since. I had heard Just Can't Get Enough and Everything Counts but I didn't know it was the same band let alone Depeche when I was that age. I have a funny memory of reading the lyric sheet from Some Great Reward and thinking Dave was Martin as I assumed the singer wrote all the songs. It was a little later that I sorted out who everyone was - yes I was a dopey kid! People Are People and Clear from Cybrotron literally changed my life and my love affair with music and skateboarding continues today. I had a very similar reaction to The Smiths too.

Breathing in Fumes 009 - photo by Heather McAlister

6. Like me you tend to collect the odd bit of Depeche vinyl (slight understatement). What's your favourite Depeche Mode vinyl and what's the rarest you won?

I love that you're a fellow vinyl junkie! Depeche vinyl always comes first for me, but I do collect all their physical releases. I started on vinyl, so that might be why I suppose. I realized the other day that the first Depeche Mode CD I ever purchased was Violator since I didn't get a CD player up until around '89 or '90. So I am just from that generation and as a DJ vinyl will always be apart of the culture.... even in the digital age. I don't really have a favorite since I have so many memories tied up with the collection as lame as that sounds. Having rare, hard to find promos are great, but I find I have more love for the ones I have the most memories with. I look at the certain ones and remember who I was with when I bought it, what store it was at, what the song meant at the time etc. For me, there is nothing more satisfying as a music collector then finding a record when you're out digging in a record shop. I don't buy online from Ebay or Discogs, though I have grabbed a few from those sites as record shops are sadly disappearing more and more. Not sure which one is my rarest really, I need to look into that. I have some early promos that I know are pretty hard to come by. 

7. Give me your top 5 DM songs - straight off your head!

You're killing me here! To be fair, my Top 20 are almost all tied for the number one slot, but here are five off the top of my head in no particular order: "Lie To Me", "World In My Eyes", "Here Is The House", "Strangelove", & "Dangerous". 

8. We're approaching the tenth Breathing In Fumes . Any big plans for that?

No plans really, except to maybe go back and try some experiments that I never finished and see if I can get them to work. The Should Be Higher remixes are officially out now so I could see one of those show up in the tenth one for sure. The only one I have thought about as far as a future podcast goes is the the twelfth one as it marks the one year mark for Breathing In Fumes. I have a few people in mind for possible guest mixes (APA - I am always available!)  - who knows? We'll see. I have a lot if ideas but I'm not sure I want it to drift too far off as it's working fine the way it is.

9. What does the future hold for Breathing In Fumes? I think we all hope there are plenty more to come?

Not sure, just going to keep doing what I do I suppose! I have a lot of fun on Facebook and Twitter with little contests and song battles etc so I can see more of that if people enjoy it (APA - We do!). While I know people are interested in Depeche Mode its nice to have people enjoy the way I am presenting the music. It's not about me it's about the band. I'm just trying to do something that we fans might find interesting. That being said, and if I'm being honest, it's a tad scary to put so much of their music out there like this. While I know some would see it as promotion others might see it as giving away the music too. I'm trying to find a balance so that's why I am only putting them up one episode at a time. In today's climate it might seem weird to worry about putting something like this out but this is their art form and how they make their living so I don't want to be seen as taking advantage of that. I just do this for fun and sometimes the stress, even if I am only putting it on myself, makes me want to quit. (APA - DON'T!)

10. Have the band heard the podcast? Are they fans?

No idea but I doubt it. I couldn't imagine they would be interested to hear a podcast of their own music. They might like the idea of someone putting something out there about how much they love the band's music but I doubt they would listen to it. That said I would love to know their reaction to Peter Hook claiming that Enjoy The Silence was a rip off of New Order's Touched By The Hand Of God from that KRQO air check I put out on episode 5. I should just take the audio and send it in - they might get a kick out of it. Band members have mentioned to me that they check out HOME especially around the time of when they are touring so it might be on someone's radar in the band...but I highly doubt it. (APA - If you're reading this Martin, hello from me and please play But Not Tonight in Glasgow ;) )

11. Finally, anyone you want to thank? 

Thank you to everyone who supports the podcast and have donated prizes, listens or shared it with their friends. Big thanks to my fellow HOME crew members, Heather McAlister for her artwork, all your support here on Almost Predictable and my poor wife Elaine who has to put up with my lame music obsession! For info on the podcast head over to http://breathinginfumes.podomatic.com/ and HOME http://www.depeche-mode.com/

Thanks very much to Glen for sparing me the time to answer my questions. Breathing In Fumes 9 is out today and can be grabbed on ITunes or on it's podomatic page here . The tracklisting for BIF9 is:

1. Intro
2. Dave, Martin & Andy (1997)
3. It's No Good (Andrea Parker Mix)
4. Freelove (Flood Mix)
5. The band discuss But Not Tonight
6. But Not Tonight (Live Austin, Texas 10/11/13)
7. Music Plus Id (1993)
8. I Feel You (Babylon Mix)
9. Precious (Michael Mayer Balearic Mix)
10. Sister of Night (Ida Engberg Remix)
11. In Sympathy (Live 5/10/09)
12. Live 105 Interview with Martin L Gore 9/26/13
13. The Sun And The Rainfall (Black Light Odyssey's Further Excerpts)
14. Peace (Justin Kohncke Extended Disco Club Vocal Remix)
15. Outro

Follow Breathing In Fumes on Twitter and Facebook
The podcast is available from the Podomatic page mentioned above and on ITunes.

Monday 21 October 2013


As part of Document the International Human Rights Film Festival, Atom Tree and Machines In Heaven played a free show at the CCA on Sauchiehall Street last night. It was my first time seeing both bands live and they both played outstanding sets.

Atom Tree opened up and instantly caught the imagination. There's genuinely something special about this band and I'm convinced that they're going to be huge. Sometimes electronic music doesn't translate to the live arena and can sound a bit flat however Atom Tree showed what can be done and they did it bloody well. The set included a full play of recently released Tide of Thorns ep (review here) including a glorious Desired Effects with Fergus from Discopolis on vocals. My personal favourite PS sounded amazing live too.

Atom Tree live at CCA 19 October 2013

As the people I was texting and emailing post gig will attest, I was blown away by this set. It's hard to perhaps pin down comparisons or obvious influences to give you an idea of the Atom Tree sound as I hear so many different elements at play. My notes from Saturday night mention Radiohead's Kid A at several points and that's not a bad comparison. The atmospheric electronics certainly do bring that album to mind but that's really only part of the story. My best advice would be to check them out yourself as you will not be disappointed. Next up for them is a support with Ghostpoet at the CCA on 22 October, a gig at Cookies in Berlin on 30 November and a showcase show at Catch in London on 4 October .

Blog favourites Machines In Heaven were next up. I've contrived to miss most of their recent shows so it was great to finally get a chance to seem them live. The band gave us a 6 song set containing the three tracks from the Glasgow Jihad ep (links and review here ) and three others including a fantastic (and fantastically named) Parliament Is Made of Rice Paper

Machines In Heaven live CCA 19 October 2013

I've go on and on about Machines In Heaven before and having seen the live show I'm going to keep going on until everyone listens. As with Atom Tree the songs really work live and have an extra punch to them. the set closing bordersbreakdown was a perfect example of that. It's an ambitious track which sounds great on the ep and happily the band perform an excellent version live which seems to have a bit more kick to it. Highly recommended. The band are currently busy remixing for a few people and have just finished their debut album. There are also more gigs in the pipeline which I'll keep you informed about.

Overall then it was a great gig. It's so refreshing to see such vibrant live electronic scene and especially pleasing personally when two bands I keep banging on about sound so good. Thanks to Shaun, Graham, Greg, Connor and Clair for chatting on Saturday - look forward to doing it all again soon.

Atom Tree Facebook
Machines In Heaven Facebook

Thursday 17 October 2013


An occasional series where I review non Depeche Mode albums that have influenced me...

Chorus is Erasure's finest album. It contains ten near perfect tracks, all of which are stunning examples of synthpop, electronic pop or whatever you want to label it. Like most people who grew up when I grew up, I was a fan of Erasure thanks to their seemingly unstoppable run of fantastic singles in the mid to late 1980's. For me they went off the boil with Wild! which was just too mixed. There are some great songs there (Drama! , Piano Song) but overall it wasn't up to the standard of The Innocents and I lost a bit of interest in them. Chorus reignited that interest to the extent that I still believe it is one of the most important electronic music albums of all time.

Chorus was released on 14 October on LP, cassette, cd and limited cd boxset, having been preceded by two of the band's finest singles, the title track Chorus and Love To Hate You. Chorus opens the album and you're immediately struck by the purely analogue sound that Vince had spent the post Wild years creating. He actually avoided the use of MIDI throughout which gives the album its unique sound for me. Vince is the master of all things analogue. The song starts and synths whoosh and roar, bleeps bleep, there's the odd noise like radar on a submarine and Andy sings about fishes, birds, bones and much more. As with all the great Erasure singles it's over the top and fantastic for it. Even writing about track one now I'm taken back to my last year at school where my friend John Harrower and I would try out best to dominate the common room tape player with this album, Kraftwerk's The Mix and Doolittle by the Pixies. Odd mix but it worked.

Chorus single cover

(Part of the point of these blogs is pure reminiscence on my part so you'll have to forgive the occasional sentimental diversion)

What follows Chorus are two of the great Erasure album tracks. As well as firing out perfect pop singles the band's albums were always full of great material - Love Is A Loser, Spiraling, My Heart So Blue, Heart of Stone, Piano Song and so on. Here, Waiting For The Day and Joan equal if not better those tracks. Killer choruses and music so perfect it's actually ridiculous. Every track on this album was a potential number one single with perhaps the exception, rather oddly, being one of the singles Breath of Life which follows at track 4. A decent song yes but the weakest on the album for me. If it's a great single you're after then the next track Am I Right? provides that. It's a heartbreakingly perfect analogue synthy ballad of Godlike proportions basically and that is no exaggeration. What a song. Am I Right? was released as a four track ep with three very good b-sides. I remember (here I go again....) seeing an advert in Melody Maker on a Saturday morning for the limited edition 12" of the single featuring mixes of the ep tracks by folk like Moby, getting up and getting the bus to Dumfries just to get it. Simpler times. Am I Right? is one of the great Erasure singles and if you like electronic pop music you should like this.

Am I Right? single cover

Chorus may have been a fairly over the top single but it was Leonard Cohen-esque compared to track 6 and the album's second single Love To Hate You. An entire factory of kitchen sinks was thrown in to give us a bewildering yet magical track. Despite Andy's clear influence here Vince is still quite rightly bleeping away throughout. Turns The Love To Anger and the spooky yet reassuringly bleepy Siren Song follow. The latter was the opening track on the band's spectacular Phantasmagorical Tour during which Andy would ride on in a mechanical swan whilst Vince sat in a sort of mini tank filled with synths. Seriously. The gigs at that time were great. Each was almost three hours long with all ten Chorus tracks played among many others punctuated by a break in which there was a bingo session. Reading that back even I think I made that up but I didn't.

Love To Hate You single cover

The album ends with two more classic Erasure album tracks. Firstly we have the could-easily-have been-number-1 Perfect Stranger before the album closes with the beautiful Home. 10 songs, no fillers, Vince going analogue daft and the whole thing working as an album from start to finish. Perfection.

It's not and probably never has been cool to like Erasure but sod that frankly. To dismiss them because they're too poppy or whatever is short sighted. They may have lost their way a bit recently but for a period they and the Pet Shop Boys WERE the charts with Erasure's own golden period peaking with with Chorus. The following Abba-Esque e.p. and albums I Say, I Say, I Say and Erasure must all be sought out too. There are many bands that you could like more than Erasure and there are many different types of electronic music to explore, but every so often you have to give in and just accept that perfect electronic pop music should have a place in your life. Erasure give you that and if you're picking one album to fill the place in your life they occupy, it has to be Chorus.

Monday 14 October 2013

CHVRCHES - Live Review, Glasgow O2ABC 10 October

The first of CHVRCHES two sold out shows at the O2 ABC last Thursday night (10 October) was a show that, as a consequence of my excitement about the album, I had been looking forward to for some time and I am pleased to say it didn't disappoint. There was a real sense of anticipation in the venue and when the band kicked off with We Sink the whole place started jumping around as one. You could tell that the band could feel it too: Iain and Martin were immediately bouncing around behind the synths and frankly fantastic album art-like stands they were in and Lauren was immediately prowling between the two owning the stage. She was definitely nervous for the first couple of songs ( no wonder given the size of the show) but that soon passed.

The first five songs blasted by in a synthpop haze. We Sink was followed by Lungs, Gun, the sensational Now Is Not The Time whose absence from the album remains a mystery and Lies which sounded huge. Night Sky was up next sounding far stronger than it does on The Bones Of What You Believe. That strength was a common theme of the evening really. Some people have wrongly dismissed the band as too poppy or lightweight, a claim which looks daft when you see them live. They were as loud as any band I've seen recently and all the better for it.

Album bonus track Strong Hand followed leading us to a fantastic three song segment - a massive Science/Visions, Recover sung by everyone in the room and a stunning version of Tether. When the song reaches that part when the synths explode into life you can't help but jump around. Incredible. The main set closed with Under The Tide and The Mother We Share and we caught our breath. After a quick break the band were back on for the Glasgow meets R 'n' B take on Whitney's It's Not Right But It's Ok (which I seemed to know every word of - everyone seemed to come to think of it) and the closing By The Throat.

And that was that. It seemed that they were finished almost as soon as they began. The gig flew by at such a pace and that was because it was so good. I know I'm guilty of hyperbole when it comes to CHVRCHES but this really was a special show. Bring on the Barras gig next March.

Monday 7 October 2013


To say that the debut album from Glasgow's CHVRCHES has been keenly anticipated would be something of an understatement. A large of amount of hype has been generated about the band via a number of already classic electronic pop singles, lengthy tours and high profile support slots with the likes of Depeche Mode and that hype is entirely justified. Look at it this way - we Depeche Mode fans are a notoriously hard to please bunch and a number of support bands have had some pretty rough treatment over the years. When CHVRCHES played on some European stadium shows this summer they went down a storm and gained a large number of new fans. Their fanbase was already ticking along nicely and had been steadily growing since the majestic Lies first popped up last year but the band really have taken off recently with the album hitting the top 10 in the UK and number 12 in America. I can't stop listening to it and am rather excited about seeing them live at the O2 ABC in Glasgow this Thursday. In advance of that gig then here's my track by track take on it:

1. The Mother We Share
This is simply a great electronic pop song and starts the album as it means to go on. We have a killer chorus at the centre of it all backed with superb music and the band's trademark vocal sample sounds. This was first issued in 2012 on very rare coloured vinyl which I don't have a copy of - all donations accepted

2. We Sink
Man alive, this song is breathtaking. I'm trying my best not to draw obvious comparisons but for some reason this puts me in mind of Violator which is as high a musical compliment as I can pay. In an album of great songs this is a standout. Honestly, it is a stone cold classic.

3. Gun
Another one of the pre album singles, Gun starts off nicely but turns nasty in the chorus with all sorts of threats bandied around. The song has a real early electronics feel to it which is ace and once again the chorus is just perfect.

4. Tether
A change of pace here and God help us all a guitar. The song again brings Depeche to mind but I can also hear the Cocteau Twins and the Cure here. When the synth line at 2 mins 41 seconds kicks in you'll be blown away. The songs shows that the band have a far bigger repertoire than catchy 3 and half minute songs and it's a real treat. I know of one Depeche veteran who is obsessed by this tune at the moment and you can see why. Again, the music is fantastic but here Lauren's voice really shines. The production on the album as a whole is fantastic and it's fairly brave of the band not to push Lauren's vocals to the fore throughout. They do here though and it's the right thing to do.

5. Lies
The version here is a slightly tidied up version of the 2012 song but it loses none of its' impact. It's as good an electronic song as you'll hear this year and once again - that chorus! 

6. Under The Tide
Another brooding electronic cracker in which Martin and Lauren share the vocals. 

7. Recover
I first wrote about Recover here when I heard the song for the first time. I still love it. Like I said at the time, any song that could distract me from Delta Machine was going to have to be something special and this is. 

8. Night Sky
This is the poppiest track on the album and does lack the strength of Recover or The Mother We Share but still works. 

9. Science/Visions
A really excellent track that brings to mind the sort of electronics Mute Records were putting out in the early years. The band have this magical knack of mixing older sounds with modern elements of electronic production without them sounding in any way dated. This is an outstanding track which Daniel Miller himself would have been proud to release (at least I think so anyway)

10. Lungs
I'm getting repetitive here but this is a brilliant take on modern electronic pop

11. By The Throat
Again, just pure electronic perfection. It takes all the elements I've mentioned above and uses them brilliantly again

12. You Caught The Light
The album ends on a moody almost gothic edge within which there are elements of Yazoo at their darkest. It's a perfect closing track for a nigh on perfect album

My review may seem a little over excited but I am genuinely blown away by this album. As I said in my Scottish Fiction review for me it's the most important debut electronic album since Speak & Spell. If CHVRHCES go on to have the sort of success whatever band released that album have had it will be entirely justified

See you at the ABC on Thursday!

Thursday 3 October 2013


When I wrote about Glasgow's electronic scene recently I mentioned that another act to look out for was Atom Tree. At the time of writing that I'd heard a couple of tracks which had caught my attention and they certainly promised much for the future. The band are now set to release their first e.p. through new label to watch Hotgem and it really is something all electronic music fans should pick up.

Atom Tree are a two piece band from Glasgow fronted by Shaun Canning. If you're a fan of the likes of Jon Hopkins then this is certainly for you though for me there's more to the band than that - I hear echoes of Sigur Ros, Music For Airports era Eno and there are even poppy melodies at play which (I guess as usual) take me to Vince Clarke's early works. So what of the e.p. then? Opener Die For Your Love ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6JW7C329HA ) is a fantastic of woozy electronics and treated piano sounds that really grabs you from he off. It'll stay in your head for days once you hear it. Desired Effects is track 2 and features vocals from Fergus Cook of Discopolis. Starting off like an electronic version of Frightened Rabbit at their most laid back,  the song blossoms into a marvellously laid back almost poppy sound with the beautiful vocal from Fergus interplaying perfectly with the music. This track is the standout for me and it deserves a lot of attention. Title track Tide of Thorns is up next and this is the one that brought to mind Music For Airports with it's vocal samples and general feel. It's a track you can lost in. Finally we have the perfectly positioned PS which in the same way it closes the e.p. should be the song Atom Tree finish each live set on, as it is perfect for that role - a great end to the e.p.

Overall then it's hard not to get excited by Atom Tree and once you hear this e.p. you'll see what I mean. The band have a few live shows lined up at the moment (19 October CCA, Glasgow being the next one) with more to come in the near future.Excitingly, the band have today announced a show in Berlin at Cookies on 30 November. Given that city's love of electronic music they are bound to go down well. Check out the Facebook etc links below and make sure you investigate this band further