Anna Logue Records was founded in 2005 thanks to Marc Schaffer. The aim ofthe label is to print mainly vinyl-only releases containing previouslyunreleased material by original early ’80s bands that made special kinds ofelectronic music (electropop, technopop, synthpop, minimal electronics orsynth-wave, take your pick) during the 1979-1984 period. To be sure, Marcmade some exceptions by producing Sleep Museum, a new band coming from NewYork, producing electronic music with vintage equipment, and The SiliconScientist, a project of Stefan Bornhorst from Hamburg, Germany. Marcput out eight releases. This is his whole catalogue:
ANNA 001 CAMERA OBSCURA Horizons of Suburbia LP
ANNA 002 CAMERA OBSCURA Strange Faces 7″
ANNA 003 SLEEP MUSEUM Dream of Waking LP
ANNA 004 SLEEP MUSEUM Mysterium Organum 7″ EP
ANNA 005 THE SILICON SCIENTIST Windows on the World LP / Colourblind 7″
ANNA 006 CAMERA OBSCURA Strange Faces (2006) 7″ / Live in Hannover 8-10-2005 LP
ANNA 007 CULTURAL AMNESIA Enormous Savages LP / Little Savages 3″CD (ltd.)
ANNA 008 DESIGN Fashion and Seduction 7″
Let’s start talking about Anna Logue Records’ band roster beginning withCAMERA OBSCURA (you can find some cut and paste from the duo’s website athttp://clancamera.com). The duo formed in the winter of 1982. Peter andNigel met in a nightclub after a gig and they decided the write some songstogether. Four compositions came out of this initial session of writing; twoof them, “Destitution” and “Race in Athens,” became the duo’s first singleon Small Wonder Records in the spring of 1983.
After the release of the “Destitution” single, the duo became a desirableaddition to several of the major record labels, Arista in particular. Whilethe labels where deciding on whether or not to sign the band, they decidedto put out a track on a compilation album. “Village of Stars” was releasedin late spring on a rare compilation called Directions on 101 records. Therecord was to lead to problems which cost Camera the major deal with Aristathat they really deserved. Meanwhile, with no deal on the horizon, Peter andNigel signed an extension to the contract with 101 just to get a new singleout, as they were completely broke at this point. They re-recorded “Villageof Stars” and a new track called “Insect” for the B-side at Atmospherestudios on Wardour Street in London. These tracks were never released andsadly the masters have not survived, so they never will be.
Camera played live extensively at this time and tried to drum up A&Rinterest, which was still very keen. They recorded demos for EMI and Aristaat the beginning of 1984 and were offered a deal by EMI, which wassubsequently canned due to budget cuts and a change in personnel.
So that’s the story — Camera soldiered on into 1985 with a 4-piece line up(Gary Scargill and Rob Gospel were added) and the quartet formed ParadiseNow in ’86. Nigel left in ’87 and was replaced by Steve Wright from FiatLux. In 1989 Peter and Gary formed the extremely successful Ded Good Music,but sadly the band ended there. However, Camera Obscura never actually splitup — Peter and Nigel have just had a long break until now….
Marc owned their single, and he got in contact with the members of CameraObscura and released an album containing ten tracks coming from their ’80ssessions. The ten songs (which I really enjoyed) are a mix of electropop and’80s wave with a particular atmosphere which could be enjoyed both by fansof Soft Cell and The Twins (for lovers of dancey synthpop and electropopwith a dark vein). Take for example “Destitution” and you’ll recognize acertain atmosphere akin to late Joy Division and early New Order.Alternately, “Escape From the City” is an energetic dark electro pop gemwhich explains really well the feelings of a guy living in the industrialcities — a sort of noir version of “Small Town Boy”. Also other tracks like”Fever Pitch” and “Mystery Box” have a good dark touch (almost post-punk),in which electronics, guitars and real drums are well-mixed. “The MandarinMan” and “Scarlet Vixen” are pure electronic darkpop songs which reminds meof a Soft Cell/Bauhaus mix — an album which most of you should considerpurchasing, in my opinion.
Anna Logue Records kept in touch with the duo and due to this continuedsupport, they decided to go back behind their instruments and play liveagain. They played at a small Minimal Electro festival called “Alles InEinem” (“All In One”) in Hannover, Germany, the 8th of October 2005,together with the German projects Sickdoll and Solitude FX. There theyplayed a full gig, giving Marc the opportunity to hear a track he didn’tknow: “Moving the Mercury”. He really dug that one and asked to release itas a single.
The second Anna Logue Records release was created this way. Peter and Nigelbrought forth from their archives another unreleased song recorded in 1984,”Strange Faces” released as a 7″ b/w “Moving the Mercury”. The two songsdiffer somewhat from the previous ones because they sound a littlemelancholic and if the first is an electronic tune, the second one has realdrums which makes it turn into a dreamy new wave sound. The band was reallyhappy about the releases but wasn’t so happy about the old recordings sothey had the opportunity to re-record them with the original gear. The soundand the spirit of “Moving the Mercury” is the same, while “Strange Faces”turned out sounding like a dark dancey synthpop song. With the single Marcdecide to also print an album with eight tracks coming from that Hannoverlive gig, where you’ll be able to feel the energy and the value of thisband. The tracks sound just like the old record, and the energy is unalteredafter all these years.
The second band on the roster is Sleep Museum, a musical project of NewYorker Robert Anthony (also active as After The Snow, with whom he releaseda mini-LP for Enfant Terrible — you can read my review herehttp://www.chaindlk.com/reviews/?id=3354). Sleep Museum asked Marc if he wasinterested in his music. This was the first time Marc decided to break hisrule of releasing only early ’80s bands. He made this decision because ifyou listen to the album “Dream of Waking” you realize that only vintageinstruments have been used and it has a minimal wave approach to songspeculiar to bands like The Passage or The Normal. His vocals, instead,remind me of Valor in his early Christian Death period, with that sort ofpassionate but also detached way of declaiming the lyrics. For his titles hetakes a minimal approach, choosing in most cases unique words. We havetitles like “Foregone”, “Sown”, “Stress”, “Lied”, “Con”, “Crave”, “Clash”,”Drive”, etc. His musical vision is really near to the electronic industrialbands of the early ’80s; his subsequent 7″, containing three new tracks(“Underground Maneuvers”, “No Hope” and “Mysterium Organum”) follows asimilar approach but this time, on the opening tracks “Undergroundmaneuvers” and “No Hope” he chose to use fewer pad sounds and to energizethe rhythm section with an upbeat tempo, composing a sort of minimalindustrial pop. Less synthpop/wave-sounding, with respect to Camera Obscura,but you know how many kinds of alternative sounds we had during those years!That’s nothing new because we already know that the late ’70s and early ’80shave moulded the sounds of modern electronic music.
Another modern band who signed with Anna Logue Records is The SiliconScientist. Solo project of Stefan Bornhorst, already keyboard player ofSonnenbrandt, The Silicon Scientist (http://www.myspace.com/thesiliconscientist) released for Anna Logue Records a multi-pack consisting of the LP Windows on the World, a 7″ containing the two songs “Lost city” and “Oceans of Green”, and a bonus CD-R entitled”Bookmarks” included in the first 200 copies. Stefan is capable of producingreally enjoyable retro electro pop. Just check out the two songs from thesingle and you’ll be surrounded by ’80s sounds and melodies where analogsynths and drum machines (he uses analog sounds uniquely, sampled or not)help him create dreamy, catchy pop tunes. The album Windows on the Worldcontains ten tracks where Stefan with the greatest of ease switches fromsynthpop songs with cool melodies to instrumental electronic tracks of acertain cinematic atmosphere. On this bit of vinyl you can find melancholy,happiness and other kind of emotions, everything packed with great sounds.From the 12 tracks of his bonus CD-R, on the other hand, we can get an ideaof his broadened realm of inspiration that includes the ’70s, because of theinstrumental approach a la Vangelis.
Another ’80s band covered by the label who is also back into action sincelate ’90s are Cultural Amnesia (www.culturalamnesia.com). They were activefrom 1979 to 1983 and their music was a sort of post-industrial electropop.Enormous Savages is the album released by Anna Logue Records and it containsnine tracks (of which three were unreleased) coming from their ’80s periodbut note that the first press run of 130 contains an additional 3″ CD titledLittle Savage, with four tracks composed during the 1998-2006 period. Thetracks of the album are experimental electronic tunes with simple melodylines and a post-punk attitude, where analog synths play bass lines and maintheme while punk distorted guitars (on some tracks), a drum machine and thevocal despair of Gerard Greenway is doing the rest. The band had originallyreleased three records, and a double compilation of the old tracks will bereleased by Vinyl On Demand later this year. The band had as an admirer oftheir work Geoff Rushton (a.k.a. John Balance) who wrote the lyrics to threeof their tracks. If you enjoyed compilations such as The Elephant TableAlbum, I think that Cultural Amnesia could be a band you’d love.
The last band/release of our Anna Logue Records special is Design’s “Fashionand Seduction/Premonition” 7″. Design were a duo formed by Edouard Janssensand Eric Brusselmans. Coming from Belgium in the early ’80s, they releasedtwo compilation tracks: “Premonition” on the Topless Game LP (1983) and”Sunset Boulevard” on the Nuit Blanche LP (1984). Premonition was recordedin September 1982 on 24-track and mixed in Dan Lacksman’s (TELEX) SynSoundstudio in Brussels. On this 7″ Anna Logue is presenting one of those tracksand an unreleased song coming from that 1982 session titled “Fashion andSeduction”. Both tracks are good electro tunes with cool sounds andmelodies. If you are into French ’80s music and you know Kas Product youhave an idea of the Design kind of sound. The B-side is a little bit morepop sounding but this single is a must-have for all electro lovers.
This concludes my article — I hope you have the chance to get to know alabel that deserves to get known!
Check out their website at www.annaloguerecords.com and under the Releases linkyou’ll find music excerpts (click on the covers) and visit their bands’websites to get further information.
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[article by Maurizio Pustianaz] [proofreading by Benjamin Pike]