Hi. I’m Rodney Cromwell and I make a big-hearted lo-fi analogue synthpop noise. I had an album out in 2015 called ‘Age of Anxiety’ (on Happy Robots) www.happyrobots.co.uk) which quite a few people liked, which was great (and surprising).
The theme of this playlist is ‘music to escape to’. I’ve been rattling these tunes around on my headphones for last few weeks, and they have been a nice escape from the craziness of the world at the moment, whether it’s the ascendancy of Donald Trump or the right-wing plots for the UK to leave Europe and for half the country to lose their jobs.
So this is a list either of songs that came out in 2016 or tracks that I’ve been a bit slow to catch onto. Despite being an electronic artist I like a lot of stuff that isn’t purely synth based; reverb drenched guitar music, cheesy pop, bizarre Nigerian funk, whatever really. Although I do hate country and mainstream pop and metal and new age – actually there is a lot I don’t like too. Anyway this is my list. I hope you will enjoy it.
Innerspace Orchestra – One Way Glass
This is the new project of Tom Furse from The Horrors. I really like The Horrors, but they are putting out such high quality stuff with their other projects that I hope it doesn’t mean they will split. Anyway this record is three minutes of transcendental kraut rock bliss, with sitars.
Pet Shop Boys – The Pop Kids
The new Pet Shop Boys album is just terrific. Probably the most complete album they have done since ‘Behaviour.’ Very hard to choose a highlight so I went with the single which is really a paean to a youth spent chasing the pop music dream.
Train to Spain – Believe in Love
I think this band are from Sweden. It’s a track which the UK DJ Rob Harvey has played a lot on this show, so I’ve heard it a lot in the gym when I catch up with his show (yes people, I do go to the gym). Anyway this song has become a firm fixture etched at the back of my mind. It’s just a lovely piece of innocent synthpop, with tonnes of ace synth drum pads. What’s not to like.
Let’s Eat Grandma – Eat Shiitake Mushrooms
This act seem to be everywhere at the moment, and it probably helps a bit that they look like an A&R / marketing man’s wet dream. To me it sounds very Icelandic, beginning a little like Muum with a wonky kids xylophone which then turns into something more like Sugarcubes complete with bad rapping. Despite what I just said, I really like this record.
The Leaf Library – tilting
I try to keep these lists nepotism free, but I have been listening to The Leaf Library album ‘Daylight Versions’ so much that they had to be listed. The Leaf Library main-man is Matt Ashton who was in the band Saloon with me and who also does all the Rodney Cromwell design work. The Leaf Library album is just a thing of pastoral indie beauty, just right when you need some escape from day to day drudgery. If they ever made an indie spa-retreat somewhere this album would be on rotation.
Cavern of Anti-Matter – Sound Magic’s Death Ray Destroys the Vortex and has union with infinity (version)
Without a doubt the gig of the year was Cavern of Anti-Matter at Moth Club in London. I’ve not sweated so profusely in months. The album is terrific but this is the song I keep coming back to and not just because I love tracks with ‘version’ at the end of the title. It reminds me of a short-lived krautrock project called Moskva which I had with Matt Ashton (see no.5). This is what we could have sounded like had we practiced, or rehearsed, or bought some decent equipment, or written better songs.
High Frequency – Summertime
I love a bit of disco. I would say my own album is more inspired by disco than it is by pure cold hard electronica. This I found on a collection on Soul Jazz (always a reliable label). The album is rather originally called ‘Disco 2’. The reason I like this is mainly for the terrific break-down and wibbly analogue synths.
La Femme – Sphynx
One of my old label bosses told me that I had to check out La Femme because I would love them and he was so right! It’s dark synthpop, like a cross between Ladytron and Broadcast in places. But with the sweetest French vocals nestled in the centre of the sound. I am such a sucker for music sung in French. I love this. Don’t watch the video in the office though.
Lusts – Temptation
Well there is nothing more tempting than a song called Temptation. I love this track, it sounds like it should have been on seminal 90’s indie show Snub TV; it’s a bit House of Love meets Ultra Vivid Scene.
Wray – Hypatia
If I wasn’t in a synthpop band I’d definitely be in a moody indie band with a string of reverb pedals. I know nothing about this band, it’s just a very cool album that I found on Spotify between the ads. Probably while at work doing some tedious data entry.
Ros Sereysothea – The Night We Met
Cambodian pop and soul is a genre that I latched onto about a week ago so I can’t profess to being an expert. There seems to be a tonne of great compilations by the likes of ‘Cambodian Cassette Archives’ out there though. I picked this song, because I like the wobbly lo-fi ness of it. Reminds me a bit of my days recording to 4-track cassette, although this sounds nothing like the bad Britpop I used to make.
Vieon – Fly By Night
I played a gig in Liverpool a few weeks ago and the first band on were two kids who looked like they had stepped out of a vintage computer convention. They had a tonne of synths – synth drums, piano guitars, the whole kit and caboodle. And seriously they just blew our mind. All the other acts that followed – me included – well it was like watching ‘Short Circuit 2’ after you’ve just had your mind blown open by ‘Blade Runner’. My favourite track by them is ‘Fly By Night’ which isn’t on YouTube so here is a link to the whole EP. I have it at the start of the mix if you would prefer to listen on Spotify though.
Hear the playlist on Spotify instead: