Mölleplatsen, Malmö, Sweden
19th August 2006
The SubSpace Encounter: Disco Digitale, 101, Stromkern, Tiger Lou, Proceed, Alice in Videoland, S.P.O.C.K, Front Line Assembly
A tradition has formed over the past few years, that The SubSpace Encounter – the festival of Swedish label SubSpace Communications – became part of Malmöfestivalen. This immense city festival takes place in the heart of Malmö, extends over eight days in August and attracts about 1.6 million people. There are more than 250 musical performances offered as well as a wide range of international delicacies, cultural events, an amusement park, handicrafts for sale and lots more - and best of all: The Malmöfestivalen is free of charge and you don't need any kind of ticket. http://www.malmofestivalen.se/
Saturday, 19th August, was the day for The SubSpace Encounter (TSE) which was held for the second time now at Mölleplatsen – a place in front of a big wind mill situated right in the huge park surrounding the castle of Malmö. This year, the label celebrated its tenth birthday there and so it was somehow predictable that their first ever signing ‘S.P.O.C.K’ appeared on stage too. All in all, on that day there were 13 bands playing on three stages. Due to overlapping shows it was not possible to see all, but we made it to see eight of them – with them the highly demanded show of Swedish Space synth-poppers ‘S.P.O.C.K’ and Canadian electro heroes ‘Front Line Assembly’. http://www.subspace.se/
Disco Digitale - Mölle 3 [DV]
Gothenburg based threesome ‘Disco Digitale’ were the first band for us on TSE. The band released their debut album ‘Computer Dreams’ in April 2006 on the Killing Music label. ‘Disco Digitale’ are Lars and Christer Björndahl and Annelie Schmidt. The band is playing 80s inspired synth pop with a great octave bass and really groovy synth tracks influenced by bands like ‘Trans-X’, ‘Digital Emotion’, ‘Fancy’ or ‘Laserdance’. http://www.discodigitale.com/ / http://www.myspace.com/discodigitale
Wanna be thrown back into the eighties? Back to the good old times of italo-disco? Then have a glimpse at ‘Disco Digitale’. The classical version of the italo-disco influenced synth pop just gives you (or maybe only the older ones ;) ) a nice nostalgic vibe. The stage setting is quite reduced – just two keyboards and microphones. While one of the Björndahls changes between his keyboard and his vocal and dancing performance, the other one is bound behind his instrument. Pretty Annelie is contributing the female vocal counterpart. The drum arrangements are dry and the synthesizers are ringing of the classical preset sounds while the songs are so much of a genre standard. ‘Disco Digitale’ are doing something unique in today’s musical climate and they are doing it with a warmth and knowledge that few are blessed with. Whether it appeals to anyone else than discarded old italo-freaks is open for discussion though. The uniqueness and naivety of the italo movement is back with ‘Disco Digitale’ and occupies a certain piece of the hearts of the synth pop crowd. The songs of the debut album have this that unmistakable retro feel, energetic sounds as well as the trademark octave bass. The lyrics are arranged around a certain range of themes: space, computers and aliens. So, go back in time and have that nostalgic feeling of the eighties again!
Sharp on 17:00 the band entered the smallest of the three stages at Mölleplatsen. The whole show itself was quite reduced: one guy behind his keyboard and the girl on her microphone, not moving that much. But she for that matter impressed with her really good voice. The second guy brought some movement onto stage when switching between keyboard and microphone for his vocal parts. During and in-between singing, he was dancing a lot – what surely fitted quite well to that italo-disco feeling. Due to the early hour and a half open tend, it was a bit too bright to experience the full light show. But you could at least enjoy the nice blue tones shading the stage.
04.I Sream The Body Electric
07.Taken To The Stars
101 - Mölle 3 [DV]
The second band for us on that day promised a lot of fun for us and all the other ‘Depeche Mode’ fans around. The ‘Depeche Mode’ cover band ‘101’ consists of member from four well-known Swedish synth bands: ‘Top Gun’, ‘S.P.O.C.K’, ‘Cat Rapes Dog’ and ‘Diskodiktator’. These guys know their history, have the experience to present it and will never ever leave a crowd untouched. Besides anything, never forget to see this project with a wink. Members: John Gahan (vocals), Alexander Gore (vocals and synthesizer), Magnus Wilder (vocals and synthesizer) and Johan Fletcher (synthesizer). http://www.electricfantasticsound.info/14hundraen.html
British ‘Depeche Mode’ formed modern synth pop and electronic music in general in a certain way. There are several tributes and tribute bands. Swedish All Star Tribute ‘101’ is something special – it’s not only a cover band but all members are musicians in different more or less famous bands. ‘101’ is playing their special tribute concentrating more on the older output of ‘Depeche Mode’ and presenting it in the old-fashioned pure electronic way. Three keyboards / synthesizers were placed in the back of the stage handled by the Martin Gore, Alan Wilder and Andrew Fletcher doubles. John from ‘Cat Rapes Dog’ giving Dave Gahan was presenting most of the vocals in his certain way – it was not just a copy – the characteristics of all bands combined in this project could be heard too. For ‘Somebody’ Alexander from S.P.O.C.K – who was Martin Gore’s double – took over the microphone to sing his solo song – like Martin usually does on concerts. The whole set consisted mainly of early ‘Depeche Mode’ songs – like the famous ‘Photographic’ – but towards the end the mega hit ‘Enjoy the Silence’ could not be missed either. Somehow it was quite cool to hear all that early ‘Depeche Mode’ stuff live on stage – something you’ll never hear from the original again I guess.
A quarter past six “our” second band entered the third stage at TSE. It was quite funny to see how different periods in the band history were presented in the band’s clothing. John presented a modern Dave in a dark-green jacked like we know it from the just finished world tour. Alexander presented the band style of the ‘Violator’ period – wearing white shirt and white jeans combined with a black leather jacket and a cowboy hat. The others just wore dark jeans a t-shirt – a bit off the real band clothing. Maybe a point to improve? Performance wise, John tried to copy Dave’s dance moves. Partly he succeeded, but overall he was still a bit stiff. I guess that will be better with more stage experience for those four guys. Partly, Alexander overacted a bit behind his microphone when doing the second voice – we had a slight impression of Kermit from the Muppet show. ;) But well, it was meant as fun project and you could feel the fun those guys had on stage. And even if the band should take the project lightly - there will never be any doubt that it in fact is a tribute!
01. Something to Do
02. A Question of Time
04. Everything Counts
07. Master and Servant
09. Enjoy the Silence
10. Just Can’t Get Enough
Total 7 (7.1)
Stromkern - Mölle 2 [DV]
‘Stromkern’ was the band I was looking forward the most on that evening because I never had seen them before. Influenced by bands like ‘The Bush Family’, ‘Skinny Puppy’, ‘Ministry’ or ‘Timbaland’, the band founded by J. Ned Kirby in the early 1990s, presents a quite new and unique sound – not very common in the dark electro scene. They combine hip-hop vocals with classical compositions, post-industrial rock elements as well as electronic basic lines. ‘Stromkern’s’ most recent album is ‘Light it up’ and was promoted during extensive touring the US. At the moment, the band is on the road together with Canadian ‘Front Line Assembly’. Band Members are J. Ned Kirby, Kelly Shaffer, Matt Berger and sometimes Rob Wentz, Tyler Newman, Chuck Spencer, Dan Clark and Vince Grech. The stage line-up at Malmöfestivalen consisted of J. Ned Kirby (lead vocals, keyboards, guitar), Rob Wentz (keyboards) and Dan Clark (guitar, backing vocals, keyboard). http://www.stromkern.com/ / http://www.myspace.com/stromkern
As mentioned, ‘Stromkern’ is some kind of exception in the dark electro music scene. They have been carving out their unique sound for over a decade now. While the initial releases were heavily influenced by danceable sounds of the European electro scene, later on Ned’s classical training and the hip-hop influences gained bigger effect. Also minimal techno elements and orchestral arrangements are used in ‘Stromkern’s’ music. The more recent songs from ‘Light it up’ are marked by the band’s extensive touring in the years before. Pummelling acoustic drums as well as guitars were used besides the well-known elements. While the album presented the band’s first ever vocal collaboration with Frank Spinath of ‘Seabound’ guesting on the technoid song ‘Sentinel’, this song was played live without the second vocal part. But anyway it lost nothing of its unique charm. Lyrically, the new songs concentrate more on topics out of Ned’s life in the USA during the last few years: war, terrorism, globalization, corruption and greed. The sound at Mölle 2 – the medium sized stage – was very good and supported the extraordinary music of ‘Stromkern’.
The ‘Stromkern’ show was set for 19:15 on the second largest stage. I imagined much more people showing up, but it seemed the band was still quite unknown within the audience and not that many people showed up. But the three guys on stage acted like the venue was totally crowded, giving the best they could. After the band started playing live, they quickly developed a reputation as a powerful live act. It’s not just simple playback – the status quo for many electronic acts – but i.e. live played guitars. And what a guitar play. Dan acted like a rock star, playing the guitar over the head and behind his back. A bit sad was, that there were no live drums played – but I guess getting the whole drum set over the ocean could have been too expensive for the small band and so they are travelling light weighted. Ned for his matter was a really powerful front man singing from the deepest depths of his soul. The whole show was underlined by a well arranged light show and some smoke which reflected all the colours of the spots.
03. Im Traum
04. Night Riders
05. Stand Up
10. Perfect Sunrise
11. Heretic II
Total 8 (8.3)
Tiger Lou - Mölle 1 [MN]
Being a band that performs independent rock, ‘Tiger Lou’ were our temporary break from all the electronic stuff that we had planned on covering at TSE. Rasmus Kellerman, who is the man behind ‘Tiger Lou’, has however been influenced by artists like ‘Depeche Mode’, ‘The Cure’, ‘Kraftwerk’ and ‘Skinny Puppy’. His more recent influences with harsher punk and hardcore sounds of Swedish bands ‘Refused’, ‘Randy’ and ‘Shreadhead’ are probably bringing more to the sound of ‘Tiger Lou’ though. Kellerman took the name of the band from a Jet Li film called “Fong Sai Yuk”. In one way, ‘Tiger Lou’ is a one man project since he writes the songs, plays and produces them – along with all the design work. But it’s also a live band comprised of: Rasmus Kellerman (vocals, guitar), Erik Welén (bass, vocals), Mathias Johansson (guitar) and Pontus Levahn (drums, vocals). http://www.tigerlou.se / http://www.myspace.com/tigerlou
The references to influences of Kellerman does not really say much when it comes to the sound of ‘Tiger Lou’. The overall sound is pretty atmospheric, with quite distinct riffs, drums and vocals. Lending perhaps a bit of the punk snappiness to many of the songs. A somewhat subdued and slightly melancholic singing with often bright and high-pitched choruses; binds and blends the soundscape into what is ‘Tiger Lou’. While the first album ‘Is My Head Still On’ has both an appealing variety and simplicity with some nice gems, their latest album ‘The Loyal’ adds some spice and still feels much more solid and well put together. The live set was well chosen though and the mix felt very solid. It is music that moves – which of course is exactly how Kellerman intends it to be.
At 20:00 the live act ‘Tiger Lou’ entered the main stage at Mölleplatsen. Rasmus Kellerman first and soon after that the other guys joined him. The big tent was quite full of enthusiastic people anticipating a great live performance. Not surprising, since the band has over 250 gigs behind them – touring mainly in Sweden and Germany during the past three years. Since this is music that appeals to a wider variety of people, the audience was a bit more mixed – which was easily discerned by the lack of predominantly black outfits that reigned during the other concerts. There was nothing really fancy about their live performance and I can easily make a long list of bands that just seem to give everything when on stage. But it was still a very solid performance and I think it was very fitting to the music. Everything was performed with just the right amount of warmth, emotion and empathy. For my taste, the light show was a bit too dark for the fresh sounding music – lots of smoke and mainly red and lilac light which was broken with brighter spots.
Total 8 (7.55)
Proceed - Mölle 3 [DV]
From the main stage back to the smallest one and German EBM project ‘Proceed’. Founded in 1999, the band released the debut ‘Fehlgesteuert’ some years later in 2004. Influenced by the whole spectrum of electronic music, but especially EBM, the band gained huge support from friends and fans resulting in celebrated gigs i.e. at WGT 2005. Today, the band is signed by the Out Of Line label and released the second album ‘Neusprache’ in January 2006. ‘Proceed’ are André S. (vocals, music, lyrics) and Daniel P. (music, lyrics). During the live gigs the band is additionally supported by live drummer René S. Daniel did not take part in the gig at Malmöfestivalen. http://www.proceedweb.de/ / http://www.myspace.com/proceedweb
While Swedish ‘Spetsnaz’ is the younger copy of ‘Nitzer Ebb’, you could say that ‘Proceed’ are the German pendant to ‘Spetsnaz’. Even though ‘Proceed’ pretend to have their very own note, the songs – mainly with German lyrics – sounded very much like ‘Spetsnaz’ for my taste. So nothing too innovative. But anyway the band presents a synthesis from old and new EBM sounds with driving beats. The music concentrates on the strengths of old-school electronic music adding several new influences. The most recognisable point was the beats of the drums that made anyone in the audience dance. Especially the Swedish audience liked the German touch of the songs and many of them freaked out.
When André entered the stage dressed EBM-like sin some army style with a peaked cap, my first impression was that Pontus from ‘Spetsnaz’ entered the stage. It needed to further look to recognize the differences. The whole performance reminded very much of the Swedish duo – just René on the electronic drum kit and André running from one side of the stage to the other shouting his lyrics. For my taste this all was not self-contained enough. But you could not deny the fact that the two Germans on stage made the audience move and jump - a good wake-up call. The whole set was underlined very EBM-atypical with quite bright lights partly in a fluffy pink - something unusual but good-looking.
Total 6 (6.45)
Alice In Videoland - Mölle 2 [MN]
‘Alice In Videoland’ received the prestigious award “Artist of the year” at SAMA (Scandinavian Alternative Music Awards), earlier this year. So it was not surprising to see that the second largest tent was filled to the brim with people. In fact people were packed outside the tent as well. Since their live debut in 2003, the band has gained a solid and well deserved reputation of giving really good live shows. Their very own progressive mix of EBM, electro, rock and punk sets the band apart from many other acts and since it is not only a studio product – the attraction is so much greater. AIV are: Toril Lindqvist (vocals), Anders Alexander (drums), Johan Dahlbom (bass) and Dominique (synthesizer). http://www.aliceinvideoland.net/ / http://www.myspace.com/aliceinvideolandnet
One of Toril’s best decisions in life so far, must have been when she decided that she wanted to give the guitar a bit of rest and instead sing in a band that was more into the electro genre than rock. The product of the lack of musical correlation between Toril and Carl Lundgren, is definitely something that is worth discovering – if you haven’t already. The rattling drums, harsh electronic bass lines and playful melodies alone are a strong concept. But when that comes together with the sometimes distend but always in-your-face vocals it blends into something which proves the theory of synergy where the product really is greater than the sum of the parts. Of course the Setlist contained songs from both albums – ‘Maiden Voyage’ and ‘Outrageous’ – but hits from the first of them like ‘Going down’ or ‘Naked’ were celebrated most.
I was curious to see how their performance and the audience response were in comparison to the gig in Arvika, Sweden; that I had seen only a few weeks ago. As usual AIV delivers one of their signature energetic shows, and as far as I could tell they got an equally good audience response. In fact nothing much has changed in their live shows during the past years. I say this in both a good sense as well as with a somewhat disappointed tone though. The live shows are really good, but where is the progress? Maybe even a slightly less enthusiastic Toril? Is there perhaps a chance for something even better or did they start out at the peak of their abilities? At least their energy was really getting the crowds going, and since it was pretty dark by now the lightshow was adding more to the experience as well.
Total 8 (7.85)
S.P.O.C.K - Mölle 1 [MN]
The number one space orchestra and headliner of the day were finally entering the stage. Anticipations were of course high since the band had a rather long absence from live appearances – only materializing at a few random places around the globe during the past few years. Communications seems to have been forced to a minimum, since those few sightings had been kept secluded until short before the touchdown. ‘Star Pilot On Channel K’ are: Android (vocalist and only remaining founding member, aka Alexander Hofman), Crull-E (keyboardist, aka Christer Hermodsson), and Yo-Haan (keyboardist, aka Johan Malmgren). http://www.subspace.se/spock / http://www.myspace.com/starpilots
Being both the cause and the effect of this 10-year anniversary of legendary Swedish label, SubSpace Communications, it was of course very fitting for them to be the headliner. Even though old school heroes ‘Front Line Assembly’ with Bill Leeb in the lead were going to play on the stage next to the main stage right after.
Starting up with the three star pilots covered in darkness, and then coming to life with the song ‘The Awakening’. That was really the perfect beginning of the show and I think there has never before been a more fitting first song. But the second song must also get some special mention, never before has there been a more fitting second song than ‘Reactivated’. Needless to say this whole appearance had been carefully planned for maximum impact! Even though it was far from the first appearance we had enjoyed – even at Malmöfestivalen, the joy of hearing the old hits was really bliss. Songs like ‘Astrogirl’, ‘Never trust a Klingon’ and ‘Take me to the stars’ will never die, the familiar recognition didn’t obscure the fact that these songs are really brilliant. And if I’m not mistaken, several of the songs had been reworked? The only thing we were asking ourselves after enjoying this hit parade was: when are ‘S.P.O.C.K’ going to mark the 90’s music revival wave by releasing their next album?
With over 300 gigs noted in the log, it’s not surprising that they are such a good live band. In fact I heard someone in the audience say with pure warmth in his voice “this must be Sweden’s best live act” (in Swedish though), and there definitely is some truth in that. All three were dressed in outfits from different eras in ‘S.P.O.C.K history’ - Android in the old -95 outfit, while the other two were suited in the more silvery 1999 (Yo-Haan) and 2001 (Crull-E) suits. The pure joy in their electronic space-pop music is such a powerful electronic agent that it instantly affects the crowd in front of the stage, spreading smiles and happy faces like a forest fire lighting tinder. Yes, I know… some of you may have said that the sci-fi lyrics feels a bit outdated – but we saw you smiling, and I bet you still watch those ST:TNG reruns on TV? The enthusiasm and power on stage was just as good as ever before, so just skip those remarks that you’re getting old – on stage you’re all still young! Now we demand at least 10 more years of adventures!
01. The Awakening
03. Take Me To The Stars
04. E.T. Phone Home
05. Dr. McCoy
06. I am an Android
07. Trouble with Tribbles
08. Queen of Space
10. Not Human
11. All E.T:s aren't Nice
13. Mr Spock's Brain
14. Astrogirl's Secret
15. Out There
- - -
17. In Space No One Can Hear You Scream
18. Never Trust A Klingon
Total 9 (8.7)
Front Line Assembly (CA) - Mölle 2 [MN]
Just before midnight it was time for us to leave the very last part of the ‘S.P.O.C.K’ show, to make it through the gathering crowds by the stage were the Canadian heroes ‘Front Line Assembly’ were due on stage at midnight. Bill Leeb is the founder of FLA; he learned and nurtured some ideas from his time with Industrial pioneers ‘Skinny Puppy’. He then joined forces with Michael Balch and Rhys Fulber and released their first album in 1987. With Bill’s increasingly successful side project ‘Delerium’ and Rhys’ ‘Conjure One’, many thought the end of FLA had arrived. But in 2003 Bill and Rhys worked together on the ‘Delerium’ album ‘Chimera’, and in 2004 the FLA album ‘Civilization’ was released. Now they have added the album ‘Artificial Soldier’ to their list and we can enjoy them touring to promote this album. On stage at The SubSpace Encounter were: Bill Leeb (vocals), Chris Peterson (keyboards), Jeremy Inkel (keyboards), Adrian White (drums) and Jared Slingerland (guitar). Absent current band member: Rhys Fulber (keyboards). http://www.mindphaser.com/ / http://www.myspace.com/frontlineassembly1
There surely are a lot of fans out there that rejoiced when the ‘Artificial Soldier’ tour was announced, and that we all could enjoy more of the newly written harsh and dark industrial music that has become the trademark of ‘Front Line Assembly’. They have done a good job in killing the rumours about how much would actually be performed live on this tour – and by whom. This time they really proved that they can perform and do a brilliant job as a live band, the music just hit you exactly as it should. Old time favourites like ‘Vigilante’ from the 1994 album ‘Millennium’ were mixed with new favourites like ‘Buried Alive’ and it felt like a good mix.
The show at M’era Luna Festival (Hildesheim, Germany) a week earlier was not totally satisfactory. Something was missing, so it was with perhaps slightly lower expectations that we watched the show in Malmö. But it was a positive surprise! Even though we had initially hoped for a live set with Eskil from Covenant as a special guest, singing ‘The Storm’ live with FLA, we weren’t disappointed. It may have been the smaller stage or the more intimate setting of the venue, but it sure was a good improvement. The energy and unity with their music was really evident on the stage and it was simply a wonderful experience to see and hear them at the top of their game and be sure – we danced like maniacs like so many other fans in the crowd.
Total 8 (8.25)
More pics on Black-Cat-Net and gallery.nordgren.org
Daniela Vorndran [DV]
Mattias Nordgren [MN]