Wednesday, December 22, 2010

electronica cinematique in retrospectum

On Feburary 7, Claudia Brücken, the femme fatale of the synthiverse, returns to the pop landscape with her luxe brand of electronic cinematique when she releases "Combined", her first career retrospective.

Since 1984, when she burst onto the scene as a member of Propaganda with the dark and dangerous "Dr. Mabuse", Claudia has dotted the charts with a few musical offerings.

Her solo album, "Love And A Million Other Things", was just reissued to critical acclaim. And before Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark reunited, Claudia teamed up with Paul Humphries as Onetwo and released their debut longplayer, "Instead".

Now, "Combine" neatly captures nearly all of Claudia's finest moments on one collection including four brand new tracks. "Thank You" is the first single plucked from it for public consumption.

The track was written with and produced by the legendary Stephen Hague who has twiddle the knobs for a diverse array of acts from Pet Shop Boys to Blur, Erasure, New Order, Jimmy Somerville and Siouxsie And The Banshees.

"Combined" presents eight of Claudia's classic recordings. Propaganda are represented by the singles "Dr. Mabuse", "p:Machinery" and "Duel". "Absolutely Immune" and "Snobbery And Decay", her two singles as one half of Act with Thomas Leer, are included alongside her two solo singles from the 90s, the hypnotic swirl of "Kiss Like Ether" and the euphoric acid trip of "Absolut(e)".

All of these singles are combined - natch! - with four brand new works including the previously mentioned "Thank You" and "Night School", a second collab with Stephen Hague. Also featured is "This Is Not America", the David Bowie/Pat Metheny classic, recorded as a duet with Paul Rutherford of FGTH. The final new track is "In Dreams", a cover of Roy Orbison's "Blue Velvet" soundtrack gem in collaboration with Andrew Poppy.

Also included are two tracks from Claudia's current ensemble, Onetwo. The first is "Sequentia", which has remained previously unreleased until now, and "Cloud 9ine", a co-write with Depeche Mode's Martin Gore.

Unfortunately, for all the great material on "Combined", there is one glaring omission - "When Your Heart Beats Out Of Time", her duet with Glenn Gregory, he of Heaven 17.

The song, which has never made an appearance on CD, originally appeared on the soundtrack to the film, "The Shape Of The Universe (A Souvenir Of Insignificance)". Considering the track is controlled by ZTT, I'm surprised it isn't included on Claudia's forthcoming collection.

However, it looks like the extended version of it will make its debut in the digital domain very shortly when Salvo, one of the world's premiere reissue labels, releases the compilation, "The Art Of The 12". Oh, those cunning linguists!

Salvo's licensing deal with ZTT, the original house of excess, continues to turn up long out of print and much sought after gems. In the meantime, the single version of the Brücken/Gregory duet remains unavailable in the realm of zeros and ones.

Here is the full tracklisting for "Combine". Some tracks make their appearance on CD for the very first time.

1. Dr. Mabuse (A Paranoid Fantasy)
2. Duel
3. (The Beta Wrap Around Of) p:Machinery
4. Absolutely Immune
5. Snobbery And Decay
6. Kiss Like Ether
7. Absolut(e)
8. Delicious
9. Cloud 9ine
10. Thank You
11. Sequentia
12. Light The Way
13. This Is Not America
14. Night School
15. In Dreams


  1. I think you'll not be surprised that I ordered both of these lovely releases last night! My music collection is going all loop-y again as some of my first 'good' record purchases were those ZTT classics.

  2. Classy and sumptuous! What a delight to hear [and see]! And may I say what a pleasure it is to see a 47 year old woman starring in her own video!!!! Of course, my love for Claudia Brücken knows no bounds. [Just check out the background tile at my blog] For me, she is the female equivalent of John Foxx; an artist who has never disappointed me. That's a very exclusive club of two. Actually, John came close with Nation 12's "Electrofear," when I think about it.

    I already asked this question of the Brücken blog, A Little Sign, but they didn't know the answer, so I'll ask it here. This so-called Beta Wrap-Around of "p:Machinery;" is it the Beta Wrap as released on 12 ZTAS 21 or the alternate mix as on ZTT IQ6, "ZTT Sampled?" I hope its the latter as it has not yet managed to find its way onto a CD made by proper technicians in a clean room instead of just me.

    And kudos for dropping that news about the Salvo "Art of the 12"" comp! Please tell me that it will be a physical format.

  3. @DanProject76 - Srsly! My record collection is smiling all over again like it was 1985.

  4. @postpunkmonk - I was so excited to write about this. I thought of you immediately!

    You'll be happy to know that the ZTT 12" collection will be released physically. Huzzah!

  5. Amazing! God, I love her. She sounds better then ever. And with Stephen Hague no less! This year has absolutely been an 80's renaissance and this release from Claudia is the icing on the cake. Bravo! Thanks for sharing this!

  6. This sounds great. I love but have never owned Absolutely Immune.

  7. Very nice song and classy video.
    One question: am I wrong thinking the backing singer with short white hair is Caroline Buckley, Banderas' lead singer?
    After all, Banderas' "This is your life" (one of my favorite songs, ever)was also produced by Stephen Hague...

  8. @Eric - You are quite the trainspotter! I'll have to check out the identity of that backing singer.

    I love "This Is Your Life" by Banderas. Great single. Classic!

  9. Great spot, Vinny! I am also one of those obsessives who shelled out the better part of $100 a few years ago to get CD copies of Act, Claudia solo, and a few 12 inch records of hers that someone was parting with (including an autographed Kiss Like Ether box). Then I had to get the Act box when it was released a couple years later (of course).

    This new track is FANTASTIC--it has many of the musical elements that make her special: a hauntingly rich vocal, edgy bits of percussion, and sumptuous keyboards that seem to move in queasy chromatics suggesting discontent below the glassy surface. Way to go, Stephen Hague (I thought I had heard he was working with OMD at one point recently, but maybe Paul got him to work with the wife instead!) We need Hague back full time. Is he working on the Dubstar reunion as well? And could that really be Caroline Buckley? It does resemble her. Banderas were great--sad they didn't last longer.

    It's a shame really that Claudia has only put out something like four full length albums over the course of 25 years (Onetwo was pretty good). I cannot wait for this comp...She is our generation's Marlene Dietrich, after all. Pure class.

  10. You might be interested in this due for release soon, it contains the duet you were looking for albeit in the 12" mix:

    Great blog by the way, I enjoy catching up with it every few days.

  11. Got "Combined" it in my mailbox today. Great artwork (cardboard sleeve) and the newer tracks are great!

    Looking forward to receiving "The Art Of The 12" tomorrow.

    Both were ordered upon your awareness raising here ;-) Thanks Vinny!

  12. @Celebrator - Excellent! Service with a smile. :) Hope to have mine this week.