Moby once called Blancmange “Probably the most underrated electronic act of all time”, and I’m inclined to agree. On 29th September, Blancmange release Unfurnished Rooms on Blanc Cheque Records. To toast their return, I asked frontman Neil Arthur to create a mix of electronic music and SFX that inspired him as he was rising to prominence in the 80s.
TRACKLIST W/ NOTES BY NEIL ARTHUR
Sparky's Magic Piano
Listened to this on radio programme "Junior Choice". Always over looked the story as I was transfixed by the sound of the piano’s voice, made by using a Sonovox. I used to try getting that sound by talking into a mouth organ.
Dr Who theme - Delia Derbyshire + Ron Grainer ’63
I was the one who'd hide behind the sofa when this came on. The sounds of the music and the feedback visuals were exciting and at the same time terrifying. Perfect.
They're Coming To Take Me Away Ha Haaa! - Napoleon XIV ’66
Eccentric friends of the family used to put this on when we went to visit them. The B side was the same as the A side but backwards.
Arabesque No 1. Isao Tomita ’72-74
My Dad really liked Tomita. We’d got our first stereo and he’d sit listening to this. As a young lad, it took me a while to lock in - I’d automatically locked out, as it sounded like “grown up music”. Then I noticed the weird sounds and asked my dad and he explained about the instruments Tomita used. Weird.
Ladytron - Roxy Music '72
The first Roxy Music album was for me the first life changing moment in a musical sense. My mum had voiced her opinion of Roxy Music and in particular Bryan Ferry and Eno, on watching Top Of The Pops - “ugh, ooh, he makes me feel all funny, ooh, he’s creepy. I don’t like them.” Perfect, that’s who I’ll like, a group my mum hates. There were other reasons, but it was a good marker, it having parental disapproval.
On Some Faraway Beach - Brian Eno '74
My mate Noel was way ahead of me in what you needed to listen to, so I was all ears if he suggested an album to check out. Mind you, only having a paper round meant purchasing albums was a scarce ritual. The album “Here Come The Warm Jets” was an unbelievable experience when I first heard it. It still is. Remarkable.
Seeland - Neu! '75
The best instrumental I have yet heard. There are so many aspects of Neu!’s music I admire. That simplicity is so difficult to achieve, they make something so beautiful, effortlessly.
Ohm Sweet Ohm - Kraftwerk '75
If I chose Autobahn, we’d be 22 plus mins in before the next track so, I randomly picked this.
I Want More '76
I’m not sure what to say, other than listen. The groove is so good. One of the few songs I can dance to, more of which later.
Every 1’s A Winner - Hot Chocolate '78
A proto Prince song. Maybe light on synths, but….. a Roland GR-500 - ouff!
Warm Leatherette - The Normal '78
A shock to the system. J.G. Ballard set to music. The dead pan delivery perfected post punk.
Being Boiled - The Human League '78
The band I was in (L360) did a gig in a squat near King’s x, then went off to the Music Machine in Camden Town to see The Human League. I think after seeing the future, that was the end of L360. We thought we were Wire, we weren’t even string. This was the new thing.
Day Breaks, Night Heals - Robert Rental and Thomas Leer. '79
Something is happening, and I feel the same way too.
Ricky’s Hand - Fad Gadget '80
Lucky to see Fad play live. Amazing performer and composer.
Der Mussolini - DAF '81
I dance to this. Wonderful live. DAF, not me dancing, that is.
No Escape - Cabaret Voltaire Live at the YMCA 27/10/79
Me and my partner Helen, were at this series of gigs. I took photos and did some drawings of the bands. Back at art college, I transferred them into photo screens and etchings. We clap at the end, it’s a way to show appreciation for art. I suggest we make more noise in galleries too.