Michael Mildren’s Ultimate Kraftwerk Covers Spotify Playlist

Every now and again a Clan Analogue artist presents a Spotify playlist highlighting influences, inspirations, obscurities and anything else interesting in the world of electronic music.

Here Melbourne’s synth virtuoso Michael Mildren presents a playlist of his pick of the best covers of Kraftwerk songs. There have been many attempts to cover the work of German electronic pioneers, however Michael Mildren is in a unique position to assess the quality of all the efforts so far. In 2017 he released the first of his Process series of albums – Process 1: Studies in Kraft. This release was the the product of Michael’s intense study of the classic 1970s work of Kraftwerk, resulting in his recreation of 11 of their tracks with exacting sound design and 70s electronic music performance practice. And let’s not forget that he performed the whole set live with vintage gear in show Men/Machine in the Melbourne Fringe.

So, what are the best versions of Kraftwerk’s songs around, according to Michael?

Señor Coconut – Showroom Dummies
I first heard this when I was playing a piano-bar gig at Claypots Bar in St Kilda. I had a Saturday residency for 3½ years and this was my song of choice to play on the iMac playlist when I finished at midnight. I think it captures the spirit of Kraftwerk minimilism very cleverly.

Eric Wøllo – In the Hall of Mirrors
This is a nice hypnotic piece, again, faithful to Kraftwerk. Their music is perfect for acoustic instruments, and gives even classical musicians something to work with. I’d like to see a film that used this as its soundtrack.

Balenescu Quartet – Computer Love
Sounds like Steve Reich at first, as it should, then turns a bit twee, but still worth a listen. A full orchestra version could be nice for this classic love/pop song.

Siouxsie and the Banshees – Hall of Mirrors
A bit of New Wave nostalgia. Maybe skip if you don’t enjoy the aesthetic…

Michael Mildren – Computer World
One of my favourite songs of Kraftwerk, and one that I had fun rendering. The piano line is played on my old monophonic Roland SH1000 and I used the French version of Texas Instruments Language Tutor, which I got from Palm Beach Queensland, via eBay.

Yoshihiro Hayashi – It’s More Fun to Compute
Nice sounds in this, it moves along nicely.

8-bit Arcade – Franz Schubert
In 1983, I walked through a games arcade recording the incredible collage of sounds on a walkman. I’ve always loved the directness of this computer generated music. 20 years later, my son Max was making chip-tunes with his Gameboy.

Snakefinger – The Model
If it’s good enough for Snakefinger, it’s good enough for me. I bought his solo album on cassette in 1982. Demented Hawaiian holiday music.

Michael Mildren – Neon Lights
Another song I used to play sometimes on piano at piano bar, this was the first song I rendered for my Kraftwerk collection. The manually played harpsichord vamp was made on an old Italian Elgam Montreal Electric Piano (now defunct). Other equipment on this track: Roland SVC350 vocoder, EM101, SH1000, Korg MS20, Arturia MicroBrute.

Kraftwerk – Ohm Sweet Ohm
At this point I’m thinking we need to hear some actual Kraftwerk, for reference. The best instrumental they did (almost). Very catchy and meditative. Another should-be soundtrack theme.

Bubblyfish – It’s More Fun to Compute
Nice to hear how other musicians tackle Kraftwerk music. This is kind of cool.

David E. Sugar – Radioactivity
Okay, nice cheap-bit sounds, nothing like the original but good muzak anyway.

Hebert Weixelbaum – Tanzmusik
Here’s a nice short doco on youtube that features this song at the end

Kraftwerk – Franz Schubert/ Europe Endless
Maybe I could have a small solar-powered sound system built into my gravestone with this on endless loop….just quietly.

Michael Mildren will be playing at Clan Analogue’s Analogue Processes on Saturday the 22nd of September at Swamplands in Thornbury as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival.

To find out how Michael created Process 1: Studies in Kraft read his informative background info.

Baby Swindle presents Spotify Playlist

Each month one of Clan Analogue’s artists presents a Spotify playlist highlighting influences, inspirations, obscurities and anything else interesting in the world of electronic music.

This month Baby Swindle, otherwise known as Lindsay Webb and one half of Actual Russian Brides, presents a selection of tracks inspired by the new Clan Analogue release Intone: Voice Abstractions. Lindsay curated the Intone compilation with Actual Russian Brides partner Elle Knox. Baby Swindle‘s track Actual Russian Khor is featured on the album.

Let’s let Baby Swindle tell us all about it…

“This playlist is inspired by Intone and my time living in, or looking towards Germany from the mid-nineties to to mid-noughties. It was there, while at art school, I discovered synthesisers and drum machines. There was also a ready access to all sorts of electronic music and pop songs rendered in that more synthetic manner seemed more accessible to me, even when it got a bit weird. It probably had something to do with learning another language and trying to decipher the songs but the sensibility has stayed and definitely informs any music I might happen to make.

Alog – Islands of Memory
When the Intone idea came up, the first thing I thought of was Alog and their mix of sampling, synthesis and electroacoustic genius. I’ve been following them since first discovering them in 1999. Each record they make is different, sometimes difficult but always inspiring.

Atom™ – Wellen and Felder 11 & Funksignal
Uwe Schmidt is a prolific genius and the album Liedgut a real highlight. Really, the whole album should be listened to in one sitting with a good hi-fi or headphones, but these two tracks give a taste and highlight his immaculate use of speech synthesis and vocoding.

LB – Jealous Guy
Schmidt again under his LB moniker. I was flawed when I first heard this record. Full of gold beyond this track.

Quarks – Alles + Mehr (Gonzales Au Pianet mix)
I’ve been a huge Quarks fan since my time living in Germany however the remix album Rehmix is full of its own particular kind of magic. It’s what they call Wohnzimmer (living room) pop, but remixed by some of the best electronic artists of the late 90’s early 00’s. Somehow this record was the inspiration for Actual Russian Brides although we don’t really sound anything like any of the tracks.

Alog – Write your Thoughts in Water
Again Alog because Intone… in my mind

Felix Kubin – Excuse Me, Too Many Segments & Wenn Dein Hund Stirbt:
The wonderful world of Felix Kubin is a surreal playground of his Korg MS20, Casio and TR606 all mixed together with his dada lyrics and wit. Two tracks here because I just wanted to convey a fragment of the oeuvre which one track can’t.

AGF – Uralow:
AGF goes under the umbrella of artist name Poem Producer. Her work is tightly knit around text through tech. She is prolific and great. I never see her represented in Australia though. Maybe that could change

Die Weltraumforscher – Gravity, Hier spricht Ihr Kapitän & Die Liebe liebt dich selbst
A band out of the Neue Deutsche Welle (New German Wave NDW) movement that were from the more obscure corner, such as The Plan or Andreas Dorau. I discovered them later in life through the best of CD, 21 Weltraum Standards of which these three tracks come. Representing an active period of over 20 years, the entire record is for me what I wish pop sounded like; spare, intelligent and delightful.

Chris & Cosey – Oktober
Spotify is pretty light on C & C but this track represents here because when we – Actual Russian Brides – played our first gig, someone compared us favourably to them and that was a surprise and a compliment.

Gudrun Gut – Rock Bottom Riser
Gut is an inspirational figure on the Berlin indy music scene. I like this track because it uses voice(s) that are detuned, out of key and surprisingly musical. Whether achieved through voice or other instrumentation, this is method always gives me goose bumps when done so well.

Malaria – Geh Duschen
I missed Gudrun Gut’s NDW band, Malaria, first time around but they were remixed in the 00’s including a semi hit with Kaltes Klares Wasser performed by Chicks on Speed. There was also some minimal club tracks around that you couldn’t avoid if you lived in Germany in the 00’s. This Matador remix of Geh Duschen is the perfect combo of MS20, metal snare and processed voice. Best heard loud. (or maybe not with crappy Spotify compression)

Ego Express – Aranda
I just loved this track for its teutonic minimal vibes; questioning with clear sense of purpose with poetic text and perfect production. Just search Mr Google and watch the video

Lali Puna – Antenna Trash
I learn’t about Lali Puna at art school and this track was the epitome of cool there. The combination of sprechgesang and fragile female vocal was unstoppable. I was also lucky enough to see them at Robert Johnson ( a hip club in Offenbach) and unlike many of their ilk, they rocked it live.

2raumwohnung – 2 von Millionen von Sternen
2raumwohnung are household names in Germany. A pop starlet from the 80’s teams up with a 90’s DJ/Producer to ride the popular wave of Wohnzimmerpop in the late nineties. As with the Quarks, their popularity tempted the big labels and consequently records started to come out in english but it never worked so well as in the rectangular German language. I chose this track, partly because of the vocal treatment and partly because of a memory of the track that was licensed for an ad campaign that said (sentimentally) goodbye to the Deutschmark. The art direction and music were like nothing i’d ever seen before.

AGF – Kalt
Another AGF track using absolute minimal vocal effect to maximal impact. Stunning.

Stereo Total – Cosmonaute
Finishing off with a quiet track from those normally raucous and prolific popsters who continue to amaze. They are inventive and smart songwriters who should be more famous.

Andy Rantzen presents Spotify playlist

Each month one of Clan Analogue’s artists presents a Spotify playlist highlighting influences, inspirations, obscurities and anything else interesting in the world of electronic music.

This month legendary Australian electronic music figure Andy Rantzen presents a selection of tracks that have inspired him over the years.

Andy Rantzen is an ARIA Award-winning Sydney-based electronic music producer and writer with a long history in Australian electronic dance music. Since 1990, he has recorded and performed under his own name and in collaborations with Itch-E & Scratch-E, Pelican Daughters, Wrong Kind of Stone Age, Cherry2000, Sheriff Lindo, fc europa, Event Horizon and many others. He has remixed artists as diverse as The Wiggles and INXS and, along with his long-time music collaborator Paul Mac, has the best-selling Australian remix of all time.

Andy Rantzen’s latest track ‘Sonic Manipulator’, a collaboration with Ryan Spinoglio, is included on the forthcoming Clan Analogue release Intone: Voice Abstractions

Legendary Pink Dots – Princess Coldheart
This group have made many, many records since I first heard them on a cassette compilation in about 1983. They stood out, and still stand out, for the expressive voice and lyrics of Ed Ka-Spel. He has a way of marrying absurdist fantasy and genuine human tragedy in his lyrics, mainly through his characters, who live in various strange and often doomed fantasy worlds. Over-the-top, histrionic even, but also very warm and emotional.

Grace Jones – Walking in the Rain
A Vanda and Young composition, originally released under their studio band project name, Flash and the Pan. They were AC/DC’s producers, and former Easybeats core members. Jones’s disdainful voice is perfect for the detached viewpoint of the nightwalking, sexually ambiguous voyeur/protagonist in this song. Producers Sly and Robbie weave a beautifully snakey, raindrop-infused groove behind her. This is one of those rare instances of the cover being as good as the original.

Andy Rantzen – Rain in the Morning, Sun in the Afternoon
I made a dub album over ten years ago for a Sydney label but sadly the release never happened. Since then, the tracks on that album have slowly been coming out on various compilations. This one recently came out on Melbourne label, Tempest Recordings. They’re lovely guys.

Cambodian Space Project – Longing for the Light Rain
Let’s continue the rain theme for one more track. An Australian / Cambodian hybrid project which features 60’s Cambodian pop vocals and melodies backed by a straight up Tasmanian/Melbourne rock band. It’s a combination that works beautifully. This band is worth seeing live if you get the chance.

The Feminine Complex – Hide and Seek
This is a cultish recording from the 60’s. Apparently not much is known about the band – they are one of those 60’s psychedelic mysteries. There are some tantalising details about them on Wikipedia.This song compares the process of self-discovery to a game of hide and seek. Musically, vocally and lyrically, it conveys dread and sexual curiosity.

John Foxx – He’s a Liquid
This one could be Foxx’s coldest recording. It’s ostensibly about a man, observed by his wife. She observes that there is something very strange about him: for example, his watch hand glows and his clothes are sticky. She concludes he’s a liquid. As the narrative continues, you start to realise that she’s the strange one. I especially like the middle eight, which appears to mimic a deductive, defective reasoning process via a slowly ascending, fearful, transpositional figure.

Gary Numan – Metal
John Foxx leads naturally to Gary Numan and back again. This has everything that makes the latter’s best music so special: it’s minimal, convincingly alien, and it rocks. The drumming is bang on – no showing off. The film clip is excellent too, if you can find it on Youtube.

Mayhem – Dark Night of the Soul
Mayhem fans will argue about their best album til the light takes them. It’s also not clear which band is the true Mayhem, as they’ve had many traumatic lineup changes since the 80’s. Though not many Mayhem fans will agree, I personally like the formation with Maniac on lyrics vocals (he is an erudite misanthropist with a fine sense of theatre), Hellhammer on drums, Necrobutcher on bass, and Blasphemer, the principle musical composer and arranger, on guitar. The band are exceptional musicians. Together they generate an icy, haughty, derisive sound. This song swaggers in cocksure and terrifying like William Blake’s Beast. To me, they’re a cut above standard black metal because they’re always trying to push the form forward.

Itch-e & Scratch-E – King of the Moon
As some of you know, I’m one half of Itch-E & Scratch-E along with Paul Mac. Unusually for us, this track features an electro groove. My workstation, the Kurzweil K2500, is all over it with its crystalline, spacey sounds. I still use the Kurzweil K2000 series – it’s my instrument of choice. The scale is an interesting one – I think it might use the Scriabin’s Mystic scale, but Paul’s the one to ask about that.

Julian Cope – Sunspots
The second album I ever bought was by The Teardrop Explodes, and I’ve been following Julian Cope’s adventures ever since. He’s one of Britain’s many eccentric polymaths – a songwriter, a music fan, an amateur archaeologist and an fiction writer. I love his revolutionary spirit, his love of wild music, and his total, immersive commitment to creativity. This is Julian Cope in love, which equates, in musical form, to taking mile-high bouncy steps on another planet. Look up some pictures of him online – he’s a stylish cat. For further great listening, check out his track ‘S.P.A.C.E.R.O.C.K. With Me’, which unfortunately isn’t on Spotify.

Kate Bush – Sat in Your Lap
Speaking of operatic space beings… this is my favourite Kate Bush song. She really delivers occult vibes here, and that’s before you see the accompanying videoclip. Like all her best work, this one is both dramatically over-reaching and also tightly controlled – a hugely difficult feat to pull off. The protagonist is filled with the ambitions of her own youth, and senses she has extraordinary powers, but also feels like a fool who knows nothing. Kate Bush is a walking tarot pack.

Frank Ocean – Novacane
My 15 year old daughter have different musical tastes in many ways, but we agree on Frank Ocean. It’s a characteristic of lyricists passionately kissed by the muse that they’ll introduce two seemingly unrelated topics – in this case, the numbing sensation of dentist’s anaesthetic and the existential emptiness that realiably follows getting what you wanted – and then allow the listener to gradually infer the connections between the two as the song progresses. Typically for Frank Ocean, the meanings are all metaphorical but bound up in actual real-life details and scenarios. His delivery is almost conversational, as if he’s confiding in a close friend: “Met her at Coachella, I went to see Jigga, she went to see Z Trip – perfect”). He has a credible, natural but sweet voice which suits for his confessional style. Check out all his material, especially his mixtape ‘Nostalgia/Ultra’ and his last album ‘Channel Orange’.

The Lighthouse Keepers – Gargoyle
I don’t know much about this 80’s indie band from Sydney, although I did see them once. The singer was as cringingly shy on stage as you might expect from her delivery. I’m not totally sure what the lyric is about, but I sense that it’s a very private matter, charged with personal symbolism, and there’s a story of falling in love, or possibly falling into someone else’s dreamworld, or perhaps even the equivalence of the two. The guitar work, like the vocal, is haunting and passionate. It has a gently propulsive groove, which implies to me that there’s real adventure, colour and meaning in the inner world of each of the protagonists as they fall into each others’ worlds – or perhaps they fall under the spell of a third party? And anyway, who or what is the gargoyle of the title? There’s no sense of writing to an audience – it’s very inward. Listening to this is like reading a diary over someone’s shoulder. For a similar vibe from the same era, check out the superb ‘Fun Loving’ by The Dropbears, another Sydney indie band from the 80’s. That one’s on Spotify too, and is yang to Gargoyle’s yin.

Bessie Smith – Mean Old Bed Bug Blues
An early blues classic from one of the greatest. The muted, ghostly recording has a hallucinatory appeal, reinforced by the knowledge that everyone involved in this recording is now dead. Sonically, I’d almost want to put in the same veiled spirit world as the Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works II.

Andy Rantzen – No-one Plays Upon Your Mind
This one came out on the compilation 70 Years Of Sunshine (Monotype Records), and is also on my album ‘The Master Drummer’ (4-4-2 Music). It represents the beginning of a new musical adventure for me. That adventure continues.

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Aeriae compiles Clan Analogue Spotify playlist

Each month one of Clan Analogue’s artists presents a Spotify playlist highlighting influences, inspirations, obscurities and anything else interesting in the world of electronic music.

This month’s playlist is presented by Wade Clarke, AKA Aeriae. Aeriae’s latest album Victris was a stand-out 2014 Australian IDM-influenced release from Clan Analogue.

Aeriae is Sydney-based electronic composer and producer Wade Clarke. His grandfather was an engineer and almost-concert pianist, and Wade grew up playing the piano by ear. Aeriae’s novel aesthetic is informed as much by Warp figureheads like Autechre as by classical music and 80s electronic film scores like Tron and Escape From New York. Wade’s other involvements include writing, reviewing, Interactive Fiction, illustration and the Apple II.

Wade takes us through his playlist in his own words, track by track:

This playlist mixes its way through things I’ve dug recently, perennial favourites of mine and goodies from Clan Analogue. I wanted it to be eclectic enough to show what I think about music – that all genres are connected in different ways and you shouldn’t limit yourself.

Autechre – LCC
Autechre are my favourite electronic musicians. I think they’re the most novel, the best at manipulating sound, the most consistent in producing challenging and high quality material in different iterations over the years. I kick off my playlist with LCC because it’s the kind of thing that’s provocative to a lot of people in terms of ideas about what music is or can be. It starts with beats only, drum machines doing exploding fireworks. Then something like a wonky C64 bicycle trundles in. Then you become aware of a low key prettiness.

Valley Forge – Twenty Deadly Diseases
This is my favourite Severed Heads cover from Clan Analogue’s Headspace album. It’s smooth and cold with weird, arch lyrics and vocals. I love the tense shape of the two chords preceding the move into the chorus.

Grimes – Weregild
Perilous, reverb-heavy goth pop from Grimes’s second record. For someone with what might be considered an idiosyncratic vocal range, she does a lot of novel things with her voice.

Goblin – Suspiria
The theme from 1977 Italian horror film Suspiria. Nursery rhyme nightmare atmospherics and witchcraftery. One of Goblin’s finest.

Aeriae – Nurse 1 Cindy Type
The deliberately paced B-side from my 2013 Nurse 2 Alyssa Type EP was, for some folks, their favourite track on the EP.

Clan Analogue – CALG101 – Null Object Remix
I don’t know a lot about Null Object, the Clan Analogue artist, or perhaps earlier Clan Analogue material in general, except that I always like Null Object tracks. Their sharp production makes them stand above a lot of lower-fi old Clan tracks, and I like the artist’s particular way with repetition.

Ubin – Willow
From the Clan Recordable collection, which has 2 CDs worth of Clan tracks from over the years. The noise drums on Willow sound excellent, as does that high, searing synth, and I like the circling riffs. Then there’s that ghostly human voice synth. (I think it’s a synth.) Having said all this, my understanding is that the guys in Ubin changed what they were doing, and the band name, and added vocals, and got way more ‘fun’. I haven’t listened to the result but, with extreme prejudice, my reaction just to the idea is ‘BLERGH!’

Curve – Horror Head – Remix
From the spectre of mucking up electronic music by adding vocals to it, I segue to a band who sort of came the other way, adding drum machines and weird noises to guitars and shoe gazing. Brits Curve are probably underknown, considering the number of later acts that sound like them. I remember seeing the video for this track, Horror Head, on the Michael Tunn-hosted Afternoon Show as a kid, and watching Toni Haliday’s own uniquely shaped head emerge repeatedly from underwater. I didn’t understand the track at the time. I was still pre-Nirvana, who opened my neural connections up to weirder rock music.

Mel & Kim – Showing Out (Get Fresh At the Weekend)
Staying in Britain: I recently revisited Mel & Kim’s first single, the Stock, Aitken & Waterman-produced ‘Showing Out’. This version, the album original, has some pretty aggressive drum machine and vinyl edits for a pop track (however, a lot of this stuff was cut out – quite gracelessly, at Phil Harding’s own admission – for the radio edit) and the harmonies on the chorus sound terrific. Sometimes I feel I can’t exactly work out which pairs of notes the sisters are singing. That’s usually something that attracts me to a piece of music, when it has some element you can almost grasp, but not quite.

Steeleye Span – The Blacksmith
Staying in Britain part 2: The Blacksmith, by Steeleye Span. The moment where some who’ve persisted with this playlist will go: ‘Did the playlist end? Wtf is this?’ Steeleye Span are British folk rockers who sing about hangings, beheadings, kings and queens, and witches with names like Alison Gross. The mood of the band is pretty inimitable. They’ve been around since 1970 and are still going, and this is only the second track from their first record. I like the medieval-sounding minor mode, the non 4/4 time scheme, the harmonising and the ritualistic lyrics.

Aeriae – Revered Daughter
Lead track from my 2014 album Victris.

Autechre – 1 1 is
Back to Autechre again: 1 1 is is from their double album extravaganza of 2013, Exai. The first part of the track a brooding melodic stroll. The second part is a granular machine delivering one slow blow after another.

Autechre – tac Lacora
Higher paced (and some might say ‘prototypical’) Autechre from the L-event EP of the same year.

Wagon Christ – Sci-Fi Staircase
Wagon Christ is one of Luke Vibert’s many pseudonyms. Does Sci-Fi Staircase have the best sub bass line ever? Maybe. Either way, this track made me want to write sub bass lines like this.

Dedderz – CrashLand
I saw Dedderz live last year then bought their Crashland EP. This is the short opening track. I like the high drama of it, and the lyric, ‘Crash into the gates of heaven with you,’ though the production is slammed.

Dedderz – I Like to F**K
My apologies for taking this playlist well into the blue, but I saw Dedderz do ‘I Like to F**k’ live. Nancy X appears to be a very fit woman and I imagine she goes to the gym a lot.

Bleepin’ J Squawkins – Voodoo Doll
Catchy bleepiness from the analogue-leaning duo on Clan. It sounds like they’re playing a Commodore 64 here, or at least something with a SID chip in it.

Gescom – A2
Gescom is a large, anonymous electronic music collective. It also includes both halves of Autechre. A2 is a high pace acid track which is constantly breaking and crunching. It’s both a mover-maker and something that is stimulating to try to follow.

Deee-Lite – Somebody
I feel like Kurt Cobain talking fruitlessly about The Knack whenever I talk about Deee-Lite. Every time Groove Is in the Heart is played, I tell folks in the vicinity that Deee-Lite had several records and that they were all good. Deee-Lite brought dance production strenuousness to pop structured songs, plus Lady Kier is one of my favourite vocalists. ‘Somebody’ is from their third and final record where they were taking on rave influences.

Dark Network – 3am
Dark Network is from (or perhaps just are, or were) the Canberra arm of Clan Analogue. This track was introduced to me by DJ Ding (Chris Bell) at my own show. It goes for 14 1/2 minutes, which means it’s great at covering for you when things are going wrong onstage. If you ever hear this at an Aeriae show, it might mean that my computer has broken and I’m trying to fix it.

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‘Australian Ambient Sounds’ Spotify Playlist

Each month one of Clan Analogue’s artists presents a Spotify playlist highlighting influences, inspirations, obscurities and anything else interesting in the world of electronic music.

To launch this monthly series, Clan Analogue’s long-time in-house publicist Nicholas Bates has put together a selection of his favourite ambient electronic and downtempo tracks to emerge from the Australian electronic music scene over the years.

Nicholas Bates runs the management and publicity company Master Management, assisted by his brother Nigel Bates. He learned his management craft assisting Julian Curtis in the early-90s to manage Canberra’s legendary electro-pop outfit Space Is Ace.

Clan Analogue Radio

The first of an exciting new venture for Clan Analogue – Clan Podcasts! Stay tuned to this channel for more information regarding future episodes from clan members around Australia. Here’s a demo episode to get you going.