Cherry Red Records is delighted to announce it will be releasing the new solo album from Claudia Brücken on Monday 6th October: Where Else. The new record is available to pre-order now on CD and limited edition 12” Vinyl.
Claudia Brücken’s third solo album Where Else (follow up to 2012’s acclaimed collection of cover versions, The Lost Are Found) is, with the exception of Nick Drake’s ‘Day Is Done,’ a self-penned collection of songs that explores different genres and styles – it moves through and around folk, blues, rock, film score, country and electronic music. Every album of her career, solo or in groups, has been a way of demonstrating her passion for evocative musical atmosphere, but this is the first one that does so without relying on computers and synthesisers. As Claudia says: ‘I always collaborate with different producers and programmers who are obviously bringing a lot of themselves into the project, and a lot of studio gadgetry. Normally my musical settings have been electronic music, whereas with this album, although there are elements of electronica in there, it soon became clear that the sound was going to be as much rooted in folk, blues and even country rock, and for me this was novel and exciting. It was actually exotic. The guitar could create special effects instead of the usual machines, which have become much more ordinary than they were when I first started.’
The album is a collaboration with co-writer and producer John Williams (Housemartins, Proclaimers, Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott, Blancmange, Petula Clark) and was written and recorded in the winter and spring of 2014 at John’s studio in North Kensington. Used to constructing songs in a more abstract electronic setting, Claudia felt it important that in this new environment, each new song they wrote could be sung accompanied only by piano or guitar. It was only then that the songs were ready to be recorded.
Influences on Where Else were varied. For Claudia, the Velvet Underground and Lou Reed, Depeche Mode and Roy Orbison. For John, Jimmy Webb, JJ Cale and The Zombies set the standard. On Where Else, these reference points deftly interact. Claudia elaborates: ‘Some of the albums I’ve recorded were albums of other people’s songs, and that has definitely made me think harder as a song writer about how to get across complicated feelings as economically as possible. The story aspect of a song has always been a very important part for me – for example the first song of the album (‘I Want You’) was inspired by Lou Reed’s method of storytelling. John’s background is a lot different to mine; he’s really into artists like Nick Drake and singer song writers. That brought a lot of elements into the writing that were fresh to me. The songs basic architecture was developed in a very different way than when you mostly use machines. The guitar being at the centre of the writing and recording took me towards more of a blues and folk sound – I think people will be surprised how different this album sounds because of that but in the end it’s still about songs, and storytelling, and singing.’
As she recorded the album, Claudia learned to play guitar – an instrument she had toyed with as a teenager before the electronically ethereal sounds of Kraftwerk and synths took over and took her somewhere else. As she learned to play the guitar, she learnt to play her favourite songs by artists as diverse as Marlene Dietrich, Patti Smith and The Temptations – and out of this, these new songs with new textures, spaces and intentions began to emerge.
Where Else follows the lyrical thread of Claudia’s debut solo album Love: and a Million Other Things. The album is not only a collection of moods and styles but a further examination of the vagaries of love; exploring emotion, beginnings, endings, past life and future hopes. ‘That’s my nature,’ says Claudia. ‘I want to explore different styles, a big reason why the title Where Else suits me – where else will I go? What will I do next?’
1. ‘I Want You’
2. ‘Nothing Good is Ever Easy’
3. ‘I Lay All Night’
4. ‘Day is Done’
5. ‘Walk Right In’
7. ‘How Do I Know’
8. ‘Moon Song’
9. ‘Letting Go’
10. ‘Time to Make Changes’
11. ‘Sweet Sound Vision’
Hello, you’re here, welcome, or welcome back, and ‘This Now’ is packed with useful advice and information about Claudia Brücken, where you can find news, reference, photography, biography, speculation, general details and sundry virtual souvenirs about her life in song since back when she was only beginning. From pre-Propaganda to everything up to date, photos, stories, autobiography, it’s all here.
Claudia herself would like to say; ‘Thank you for being there, have a look around, read stuff, get in touch, keep in touch, try things, hear things, suggest things, see you soon x x x x.’
Claudia Brücken was one of the two girls in the two girl, two boy Düsseldorf avant pop group Propaganda, memorably – and positively – described by one critic as ‘Abba from Hell’. The first signing in 1982 to Trevor Horn’s innovative Zang Tum Tumb label, later joined by Art of Noise and Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Propaganda’s debut single ‘Dr. Mabuse’ was one of the strangest, darkest singles ever to make the British charts, and the follow up ‘Duel’ one of the greatest and smartest. The one and only Propaganda album released on ZTT, A Secret Wish, is generally considered to be one of the decades finest and a definitive electronic music masterpiece, extravagant, surreal songs of intimacy and intrigue sung by Claudia with icy passion and impassive splendour.
After leaving Propaganda in 1985, Claudia formed the conceptual pop Act with respected electronic music pioneer Thomas Leer, producing a series of delirious hype-focused lost electro-classics that emerged out of and commented on the excess, eccentricity and effervescence of the 1980s, pointing the way ahead of their time to the dramatic electro-glitter world of Florence, Gaga and La Roux. Claudia further developed her own uncompromising personal electronic aesthetic with an album produced in 1991 for Island Records, Love: and a Million Other Things, and stuck to her synth guns throughout the 90s.
Her collaborations with Glenn Gregory of Heaven 17, Andy Bell of Erasure and Martin Gore of Depeche Mode emphasized her special identity as discreet, discerning electro icon, and her album of surprising, non-electro cover versions, Another Language, produced with composer Andrew Poppy for There(there), demonstrated her ability to interpret an unusual, or sometimes familiar, pop song with complete originality. The 21st century group she formed with Paul Humphreys of OMD, Onetwo, was the logical latest stage in her music, as much a direct follow up to Propaganda, Act and her solo work as it was a unique entity in its own right and a close, inventive relation to electro pop lords OMD. A recent comprehensive compilation of her work from Propaganda to Onetwo, Combined, also containing Act songs, solo songs, collaborations and new work, celebrated 30 years of Claudia Brücken – none of it sounded old, all of it sounded new, revealing an adventurous narrative consistency to all of her work, whoever she collaborates with, and also a commitment to her own sense of style.
In the future: Claudia Brücken with Stephen Coates of and from glitter literate avant cabaret act The Real Tuesday Weld extending their twisted para-40s collaboration for the Rockstar ‘L.A. Noire’ video game. This project will be a set of songs in vivid, shadowy black and white forming an album (Suspense) and/or an musical hallucination (‘Intrigue’) dislocated in a mysterious imaginary world somewhere between post-war Europe and post-romantic nowhere in a time between a known 1940s and an unknown 1960s between the sinister fiction of The Third Man and the building of the Berlin Wall. If Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy had been directed by David Lynch from a script by Franz Kafka and Don Delillo, these songs would form the sound track – imagine a world where Dietrich sang a Bond song written by Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Lee.