First Play: Matthias – Hold Me (Matt Pop Radio Edit)

Matthias is Matt Danforth, a Canadian electronic musician known for producing upbeat music full of faithful synth sounds and brilliant, sparkling melodies; music that nods reverently in the direction of classic synth pop but without ever sounding like a pastiche.

His most recent single, ‘Hold Me’ features vocals from his frequent collaborator Mark Bebb (Andy Bell, Shelter, Form). The track includes one of Bebb’s most impassioned vocals in a career of impassioned vocals, here set to a gripping, happy-sad mood that’s the perfect complement to the vocals.

Following December’s single release, ‘Hold Me’ has been given stunning remix treatments by Further. Favourites Circuit3, Reed & Caroline’s Reed Hays with Phil Garrod (featuring a rare Moog and Hays’s distinctive cello), Darwinmcd, People Theatre, Nature Of Wires, MDA/ADM and the inestimable Matt Pop.

Today we’re pleased to bring you an exclusive first play of Matt Pop’s brilliantly-executed, high energy Radio Edit.

Hold Me – The Remixes by Matthias is released February 28 2020.

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2020 Further.

3 Questions: Piney Gir

Kansas City’s Piney Gir delivered one of last year’s most memorable albums with You Are Here, the latest record in a body of work that showcases her deft, brilliantly obscure angle on love, life and everything in between. The album was originally titled It’s Been A Shit Year For Everyone, which was both utterly accurate and pretty miserable, so she changed it.

Her latest single from the album, the album highlight ‘Puppy Love’, was released on Valentine’s Day and features Piney accompanied by the distinctive Wille J. Healey. Following the release of the new single, Further. spoke to Piney about Muppets (I’m always happy to talk about the influence of The Muppets, FYI), Dolly Parton and the merits of writing on the move.

Read our review of You Are Here over at Documentary Evidence.

What’s your earliest memory?

My earliest memory is kinda odd, because I was an actual baby; it was in our old apartment before we moved (we moved when I was two) so I must have been younger than two – and the memory is a bit inconsequential! I remember sitting in a high chair eating something (I’m not sure what) and watching Big Bird on TV.

The Muppets have always been a big part of my life and in the early years they educated me on pop culture. I wasn’t allowed much secular music or pop culture as a kid, but I saw Elton John on The Muppet Show singing ‘Crocodile Rock’ with a bunch of crocodiles and I thought Elton was a muppet dressed in feathers and colours with crazy glasses. I figured if he wasn’t a muppet he might have been from another planet… from Sesame Street to The Muppet Show and all the Muppet Movies: Caper, Manhattan, Christmas Carol – they have all been a huge influence on me over the years and I still love them.

The Dark Crystal was frightening at the time and really triggered some deep fears of the dark side when I watched it. I should re-watch it and see if it still has that effect on me! We didn’t have fancy cable growing up so I didn’t see Fraggle Rock until recently, and it’s great! I guess anything from the Jim Henson Studio makes me happy.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Hmmm… I don’t feel like people give me advice very often; I wonder why that is? I’m very open to receiving advice if anyone has any for me.

I think Dolly Parton put it well when she said, “You’ll never do a lot unless you’re brave enough to try.” I guess she was certainly a brave woman who I really admire and her courage gives me courage… she also said, “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” Which is great advice for anyone.

She’s a bit of a legend, Dolly! I once sang, not with her, but at her, on the One Show on BBC TV… Me and Mike Monaghan (my drummer, but he also drums with lots of people, Gaz Coombes, Willie J. Healey, Young Knives, St. Etienne…), we were invited to be part of a ‘human juke box’ and Dolly Parton was a guest on the show. When she arrived we sang her own songs at her. There was about 20 of us, including a really bossy Dolly Parton look-a-like. It was crazy to be about three feet away from Dolly though, breathing the same air and singing her songs to her – pretty surreal!

I have a signed, autographed photo of her in my studio. She inspires me every day.

Where are you most productive or inspired?

Oddly, I write a lot when I’m on the move.

Something about the rhythm of walking, or the boredom of sitting on the tube or a train or a plane makes my brain go all prolific. It’s mundane tasks where my brain and creativity can function separately from my body that somehow make room for my muse to shine. If I feel a bit creatively blocked I’ll go for a walk or take a train journey by myself and I’ll get inspired.

I guess that’s in regards to songwriting. When it comes to recording that’s best suited for the studio, and I like to change that side of the process up quite a bit, so it’s never the same twice. That keeps recording fresh and playful and fun.

Puppy Love by Piney Gir was released February 14 2020.

Interview: Mat Smith

(c) 2020 Further.

3 Questions: Charlotte Spiral

Charlotte Spiral is a duo of Amy Spencer and Avi Barath, two former Goldsmiths students now writing complicated songs laced with lyrics loaded with emotional uncertainty; those words are only matched in their complexity by the many-layered musical architecture that supports Spencer’s distinctive voice.

“I kind of like it that people think my name’s Charlotte,” laughs Amy. “The name Charlotte Spiral came from a pose in figure skating. We started putting the music on top of old figure skating videos and then Avi and I decided that our band name should have something to with it because it’s so elegant. We wanted that to be reflected in the music.”

Upon the release of their debut EP, the gorgeous, mesmerising and haunting Ideal Life, Charlotte Spiral spoke to Further. about fake medicine and ‘A Lovely Bunch Of Coconuts’ – very probably the one and only time that song’s going to get a mention here, and highly unlikely to feature on their debut album, I imagine.

What’s your earliest memory?

Amy: When my brother and I were kids my grandparents would look after my brother and I, mostly after school and also in the summer when our parents were at work.

I have a strong memory of them sitting together on a bench under the apple tree in the garden. My granddad loved music and he could sing beautifully – he could play the harmonica and even the spoons! My grandma would sing that song ‘I’ve Got A Lovely Bunch Of Coconuts’. I’m sure she sang many other songs too but for some reason that one sticks!

Avi: There is a place in Rhodes that is meant to be very beautiful called Butterfly Valley. Sadly, my earliest memory is of being very sick there. My dad tricked me and gave me a Mentos sweet, which he told me was medicine. I think it actually worked…

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Amy: Stop worrying!

Avi: Trust your instincts.

Where are you most productive or inspired?

Amy: I often get ideas for lyrics when I’m travelling or walking somewhere. It’s usually just a line or two that I will finish once I have a chord progression and melody.

Avi: It changes all the time to be honest, but recently it’s been wherever there is a piano.

Ideal Life by Charlotte Spiral is released February 7 2020.

Interview: Mat Smith

(c) 2020 Further.

First Play: Novelty Island – Saturn Alarms

Novelty Island is the brainchild of Tom McConnell, who hails from an indeterminate location somewhere in the north of England, and whose group may or may not be named after a Vic and Bob skit.

Featuring deft choruses, woozy retro synths and a wonky, space-age sensibility, Novelty Island released their debut single, ‘Magdapio Falls’ last year and follow that understated, singalong gem with ‘Saturn Alarms’ which will be released this Friday.

Both tracks feature on the debut Novelty Island EP, Welcome To Novelty Island, which is due to land in March. ‘Saturn Alarms’ is the counterpoint to ‘Magdapio Falls’s languid, laidback structure, being an urgent rush through the turbulent reaches of our solar system and the omnipresent sauce junk floating around out there, replete with catchy vocals and star-scraping electronics. The track was named after some inexplicable graffiti that McConnell spotted tagged onto his mother’s house in Liverpool, and thenceforth transformed into a retro-futurist pop monster.

Listen to the exclusive first play of ‘Saturn Alarms’ below.

Novelty Island play The Social, London on March 19 and Shipping Forecast, Liverpool on 26 March. Saturn Alarms is released January 24 2020 through Ditto Music.

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2020 Further.

3 Questions: YOVA

YOVA are a duo of Jova Radevska and Mark Vernon. Their first single, ‘Moondog’, was released last year and found the pair accompanied by a diverse group of players including Grumbling Fur’s Daniel O’Sullivan and PJ Harvey collaborator Rob Ellis.

On new single ‘Rain’, Jova ratchets up the mesmerising, enthralling innocence of her naturally soulful voice on a song detailing a painful, terminal break-up. The track has been given a a special mix from Erasure’s Vince Clarke that will be available from February 28. Both tracks will then be released as part of a four track digital bundle on March 6 2020.

To celebrate the release of ‘Rain’, Further. asked Jova and Mark our customary 3 Questions, with typically revealing results.

What is your earliest memory?

Jova Radevska: Wrapping my stuffed monkey in a blanket and also screaming my lungs out near a scarecrow in a cornfield with my grandmother.

Mark Vernon: The psychedelic colour of leaves, buildings, blues skies, clouds, stars and moon from the pram

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

JR: Trust yourself and don’t put all your Easter eggs in one basket.

MV: Never take no for an answer. Less is more. Don’t put the cart before the horse. The latter is from The Velvet Underground’s John Cale.

Where are you most productive or inspired?

JR: Mostly in solitude and when I’m sad and angry.

MV: When I’m either within reach of a keyboard or fretboard.

Rain by YOVA is out now. Listen here.

Interview: Mat Smith

The Bassturd feat. The Fantastic Plastics – What Even Is A Christmas Anyway?

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When is it appropriate to stop listening to Christmas songs in the twilight period between December 25 and New Year? In our house, it’s only about now that we start going back to our old playlists, still slipping in the odd cheeky spin of a few festive Christmas classics if it feels like the seasonal spirit might be in danger of slipping away from us.

This is a long way of justifying why I’m only just getting around to writing about ‘What Even Is A Christmas Anyway?’, a collaboration between The Fantastic Plastics and The Bassturd which forms part of the latter’s dizzyingly ambitious project 2019: The Year Of The Turd, which saw the secretive and industrious musician releasing a new track every single day in 2019. This track was number 337. Details on the full project can be reached through the Bandcamp stream below.

I didn’t do a rundown of my favourite albums of 2019, but if I had, The Fantastic Plastic’s sublime Malfunction from October would have been right up there near the top. I’ve followed this band since they first got in touch with me hawking their debut album Devolver in 2015 and their mix of high-energy pop, jagged guitars, retro synths and punky vocals has been a staple part of my listening diet ever since. As for The Bassturd, according to the bio, “The Bassturd was born, and now occasionally plays music. He does not care for deep house or cucumbers. Influences include alcohol, cigarettes, psilocybin and cats.” So there you go: not one for cucumber fans.

‘What Even Is A Christmas Anyway?’ consists of brilliant, effortlessly evocative one-note synth melodies, obligatory jingle bells, an unexpected banjo conclusion and a chunky beat, all infused with a certain lo-fi charm. Topping that is the kind of infectious, wry and adept observational lyrics that Tyson and Miranda from The Fantastic Plastics have made their own, the lyrics covering everything from the disappointment at never getting kissed under the mistletoe to the perpetually-overheard statement that people seem to start putting their decorations up ever earlier with each passing year. At its heart, the song is a deft commentary on the over-commercialism of the modern Christmas, dressed, as The Fantastic Plastics know best, as a smart electronic pop song.

Listen to ‘What Even Is A Christmas Anyway?’ at Bandcamp below.

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2019 Further.

Circuit3 – The Price Of Nothing & The Value Of Everything

“My debut album sold out, so I spent all the money on more synths,” says Dublin’s Peter Fitzpatrick, who trades under the name Circuit3.

His third album, the sagely-titled The Price Of Nothing & The Value Of Everything follows a 2017 collection of Yazoo covers and vocal contributions to Jonteknik’s intensely-personal Alternative Arrangements LP from last year. Both projects were reverential, in similar ways: they both looked back wistfully on songs that were important to their creators, songs that inspired their own individual musical journeys and fervent experiments with electronic music technology.

A prevailing sense of nostalgia for the best-preserved vintages of 1980s synthpop can be felt throughout Fitzpatrick’s latest record. This isn’t remotely intended as an insult. In Fitzpatrick’s hands, the signature sounds, drum machine rhythms and lyrical stylings of that era are handled with exceptional care, with the fragile mystique of a track like ‘Face In The Crowd’ sounding like a newly-discovered tape of a Reset Records session left in a dusty corner of Vince Clarke’s Splendid studio space.

Throughout the record there is a deep connection to the vibrancy and forward-looking – yet alien-sounding – optimism that came with that period of electronic pop music: that sense of punk rock (and its post-punk reconfiguration) sounding as dated and irrelevant as the hairy prog music that punk spat at so vehemently. Partly this is down to the palette of period synths that Fitzpatrick uses, and partly it’s a consequence of his vocal style. On tracks like the standout ‘Electric’ or ‘The Rain’, you hear a questing, unresolved quality in that voice, a sort of searching and uncertainty that offsets the shimmering melodies and arpeggios that characterise the ten tracks here. The effect is gently disorientating, being neither fully happy on the most upbeat of tracks or fully maudlin on the most saddening of ballads.

Perhaps the most surprising moment here comes with the cynicism and anguish of closing track ‘For Your Own Good’, a sparse, infectious, chunky little gem of a pop song which jerks back and forth along a pleasantly unpredictable, carefully randomised pathway. As I always suspected, The Price Of Nothing & The Value Of Everything tells me that the future I wanted is hiding squarely in the past.

The Price Of Nothing & The Value Of Everything by Circuit3 was released October 1 2019 by Diode Records.

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2019 Further.