Archive for And One

And One to call it a day

Posted in News with tags on September 26, 2012 by softsynth

We’ve written about the train wreck that And One has become in recent years but it’s not without considerable sadness to hear through the wind (and the good folks at side-line.com) that the band are ready to hang up the leather and keyboards and turn off the lights. Continue reading

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And One take a most interesting zig

Posted in News, Observations with tags on September 19, 2012 by softsynth

And One are a funny bird; they have been remarkably consistent act over their many years in the biz, with an almost-uniform output album after album with some peaks (like their remarkable Bodypop album) and some serious valleys (pretty much everything since that release). But now they bring us something that may mark the first genuinely different effort we’ve seen…maybe ever since the advent of the band.

Their newest song is the lovely ballad “Aigua” and it literally sounds nothing like And One, not just for the absence of Steve Naghavi on vocals (which are carried out by guest Vivi), but for the soft, drowsy and thoughtful melody. It’s the first genuinely “sweet” And One song one can recall. We had fallen deeply out of love with the band in recent years. A few too many misogynistic lyrics, a few too many songs that sounded exactly like every other And One song (and we don’t toss that off cavalierly, this is the band that is our 23rd most listened to artist on LastFM out of nearly 1000 artists), a few too many tantrums aimed in the direction of former band members. But this delightful track makes us take another look. Does this signal a new experimental direction or simply a refreshing palate-cleanser of a one-off? Either way, what a nice little aperitif. It’s an appreciated moment.

Watch: Aigua

What makes for a good live electronic act?

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 16, 2009 by softsynth

After watching clips of the new Anne Clark live DVD and finding ourselves most impressed with the lineup and the sound she and her band achieve, Softsynth is flashing back to the concert of a lifetime – Depeche Mode, Toronto, 1988, just days before their legendary “101” concert at the Pasadena Rose Bowl. It was a lineup that embodied the best of electronic music, three keyboards, Martin Gore making his first fawn-like tentative journeys to the front of the stage to play guitar before retreating to the comfort of his synth downstage, and a charismatic lead vocalist who carried the energy of the show on his shoulders. Since that time we have seen every variance of live set from myriad electronic bands, some of which work nicely, others bring a degree of shame to the genre. in 2009 what kind of set should we come to expect from the leading electronic bands of the day?

For the more conventional rock band setup, this is a trite and obvious question. You strap on the guitar, the drummer sits down at the kit and you rock it out dude! The standard guitar/bass/drums/vocalist lineup, while inherently dull to this blogger, is the mainstay of a live rock set and there is little question of what the lineup will look like (maybe some question of a keyboard player or horn player being invited to sit in, or for the more prog-rock or enjoyably pretentious, perhaps a small string or brass section, or extra precussion unit, but these are extras to the main deal). But for an electronic band there are many questions that must be queried. Laptops or keyboards? Live percussion or programmed? Guitar or no? Full-on trad-rock lineup or something a little closer to the purity of the electronic set? This is one of those rare posts where we solicit your thoughts. What works for you. What drains the essence of what made the band special in the first place?

Our thoughts: it depends on the band in question. Full disclosure – Softsynth is most fond of performance. We have little interest in watching folks stand behind laptops all by their lonesome, occasionally pushing a button (see And One, Erasure, Venus Hum, Chemical Brothers); while a charismatic lead singer (see Erasure, Venus Hum) can carry a show on their shoulders, it’s nice to see the rest of the band occasionally working up a sweat, or at a minimum, playing a fews keys here and there. Continue reading

Review: And One – Bodypop 1 ½

Posted in Review with tags , on February 3, 2009 by softsynth

So after many months of delays we have And One’s newest album and quite an adventure it is too. And by adventure I mean the kind where you are lost in a foreign jungle where nothing makes sense and everything seems just slightly wrong vis-a-vis everything you otherwise knew. 

And One have often been pretty hit and miss (more miss than hit, truth be told, but when they hit the nail on the head it has really, peculiarly worked) over the years but their last album, Bodypop, was a delightful surprise. The bass a little punchier, the percussion a little heavier, the songcraft a little hookier, the album packed a nice punch. The lyrics were as ever, odd to say the least (blame the awkward German-English translation as much as anything but it still made for some entertaining moments), but songs like “Love You Until the End”, the stilted George Bush bashing “Master Master”, or the self-explanatory “Military Fashion Show”, stood up to the passage of time nicely and still bear listening with some regularity. The album was a real winner. Continue reading

And One – covers album suddenly appears from a puff of smoke

Posted in News with tags , on January 30, 2009 by softsynth

So And One, seemingly without notice, have released their long delayed covers album, Bodypop 1 ½ today. The album (formally an EP but expanded over the months) features cover versions of electropop classics by bands like Depeche Mode, Camouflage, Erasure, Yazoo, Alphaville, the Pet Shop Boys and New Order. It seems to be a collection of remixed and newer tracks as well as the collection of live covers, a far cry from what was originally proposed over a year ago. Haven’t heard it yet except for lead single “Timekiller” which is pretty awesome. Very curious to see what they do with this selection of tracks. Will report back as soon as I have a listen…

New singles – Apop and And One

Posted in Review with tags , , on January 2, 2009 by softsynth

In a previous post I mentioned (and linked to the video for) Apoptygma Berzerk’s new single, “Apollo (Live on Your TV)”. The EBM and darkwave scenes seem to run in cycles and many of the more popular bands in these genres seem to release new material on a similar schedule. I note that And One has also released a new single recently, “Paddy is My DJ” (worst title ever in the history of everything? Maybe…). While the Apop single is from the forthcoming album, Rocket Science, the And One song hasn’t been attached to any other upcoming product. Both are considered among the biggest names in electronic music so each is worth a listen. Continue reading

On “best ofs” and yet-to-comes

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 29, 2008 by softsynth

I have had a few questions regarding my “best of ’08” list, and yes it’s ridiculously subjective. As are all such lists. I like lists, they play to my anal retentive side. But while fun to contemplate, they are still based on the varying tastes of its particular authors. Among the “big five or six” of the music papers I saw Duffy’s album on two “best of the year” lists” and on one “worst of the year”. I saw the Jonas Brothers on one of each. Same with Chinese Democracy What does any of it mean? Not a whole lot. Unless you are T.V. on the Radio, in which case you are universally beloved by mainstream music press and those who fashion themselves as more of the alternative variety. (Now I like TVotR too, but the collective hysteria over this album is disproportionate to how good the album actually is. It’s good. It is. It’s a fine, clever, well written, well produced album but except for a few stand out tracks it still strikes me as quite ordinary. Good-ordinary to be sure, but still ordinary. Nothing wrong with that but the “It’s as good as Pet Sounds/The While Album/Let it Bleed all rolled into one” wankfest has gone to a silly place. But there again, you have it. It’s so stupidly subjective that what means one thing to one listener means something altogether different to the next.) 

Continue reading