Thursday, 12 December 2013

Loving The ( Electronic ) Alien


A few years back now i put together a night of three under the radar female Electronic acts: ELBI  & PLUM. The third i would like to introduce you to. This is the darker side and more other worldly sounding Electronica from one half Burmese /half Scot FIONA SOE PAING.

I heard through the electronic underworld about this lady and what a visually interesting live act she is. I took a gamble having not seen her live before to sit in between the other two ladies at my Electric Wonderland gig here in Edinburgh. To be honest she split the crowd, but that's the point, it's very left field. You won't catch her on x factor any time soon but definitely one artist i urge you to see live. I recently caught her live again supporting PUMAJAW and was able to relax and enjoy the experience, also bring a  review for you to read:

Electric Dark- Berkeley Suite- Glasgow

 Arriving at tonight's venue The Berkeley Suite in Glasgow, we leave the Scottish sunshine for a night of darkness. A slick hideaway situated in between a few bars and restaurant's, the former 1940's ballroom was re-discovered and restored. It still has many of its vintage features like the original ticket booth counter, decorative windows and grand marble staircase leading down in to the dark and slightly seedy lounge area with it's burgundy walls, gilded frame and low lighting. A perfect setting for tonight’s evening of dark Electronica, the promoter already setting the mood playing cool vinyl. Picture the scene from David Lynch's 'Blue velvet' well this looks like that club but with Tennents on draft.

First up we get 'Fiona Soe Paing' starting her set, which is a visual treat. It starts with her artistic images taking us in to her world titled ' Meet me where the rainbow ends'. It's nothing like oz I’ll tell you, Dorothy would have been disappointed. She moves in to stand to the right of the screen, gently easing in to the mic, her vocals floating with her trademark Burmese lyrics reminding me of Massive Attacks Horace Andy.

 It's a trance like experience with trippy visuals and electronic sound scape’s floating along. The set with no stop and starts, almost seamless the journey continues with Soe Paing building up the pace with stand out tracks 'Behrot' which reminds me of early 90's Depeche Mode instrumental - interludes and Recoil at their finest. 'Daymoon Sun' off her excellent E.P 'Tower of babel' has growling Grace Jones vocal delivery and John Carpenter synth sounds-very atmospheric. The visuals take us in to an apocalyptic aftermath with a strange freaky looking baby among the darkness.

Next the title track 'Tower of Babel' with it's pulsating, hypnotic beats and swirling vocals.
The last tune 'Roller Ghoster' the visuals put us sat in a long boat on a roller coaster like a nightmarish Willy Wonka ride. The visuals take us full throttle up and down while Fiona screams and screeches. The ride never comes to an end, it just finishes with a ghostly apparition, could this be the end of a life meeting it's maker? Who knows! But I like it. Stunning set and animation by the imaginative and talented Zennor Alexander. Something very different and highly recommended.

Tower of babel is definitely a really interesting E.P of  Left Field -Skeletal -Electronica. It takes you to places. A real mix of Synth Ambient and Downtempo . You can still purchase it here: Even VINCE CLARKE from ERASURE likes her, commenting on Twitter "Very, Very Cool!" after checking out her tunes. 

Fiona recently supported the Excellent Public Service Broadcasting in Aberdeen on their recent tour. Also playing lot's of Arts and Electronic gig's in Scotland. This month i catch up with Fiona has she prepares to take her new show and stunning visuals to Edinburgh's cultural art venue Summerhall, for a sprinkling of dates in the Edinburgh festival in August, beginning on the 12th

Booking and Tour Dates Here:

Fiona very kindly provided me with a quick Q & A on the show and all things electronic:

1. Your new show is upcoming at this year's Edinburgh Festival. Can you tell me a bit about, what people will expect to see and why did you call it Alien Lullabies? 

The show is a hypnotic hybrid of a live gig and a surreal cinema showing, with my electonica soundtrack and live vocals combined with jaw-dropping 3D animation from my collaborator, Zennor Alexander.  It really takes you off somewhere else, and as well as being quite dark and mesmerising, is just a little creepy in parts!   It's called Alien Lullabies, partly because some of the tracks are sung in an settling mixture of Burmese, Scottish and non language improvisations... and also because someone once told me that my songs felt like the sounds of a distant planet trying to make contact with Earth!

2. Speaking of Aliens, if you could send one piece of music or track in to space to be heard by extra terrestrials, what would you pick? 

Ah... Ok then... music to send into space - Boards of Canada, "Music has the right to Children"  It's abstract and genre-less in a way, so maybe an Alien could relate to that... and also is pretty much wordless, so there's no language barrier!  And it is timeless - still sounding really fresh now, though it was released almost 20 years ago!  And very beautiful....

( Boards Of Canada )

3. So, finally after releasing critically acclaimed e.p Tower Of Babel, we can expect a album. First up we have had the stunning Heartbeat, which to me has a touch of Grace Jones about it, a fan?

( Heartbeat Video )

Ha!  Now there's a thing!  I'd not thought of it Heartbeat as influenced by Grace Jones, but now you mention it, I can definitely see that!  And yes, definitely a fan - total icon and groundbreaking artist... Nightclubbing, yay!

( Grace Jones - Nightclubbing )

4. Will the album have you singing in Burmese again or will it be purely your natural scottish? 

As in the previous releases, there will be a mixture of tracks in Burmese ( random lines from a phrasebook!) some improvised non-language vocals, and this time there will be a few more tracks with "proper" lyrics, sung in English!  The "Ballad of The Two Sisters" is based on the story of a traditional murder ballad, and sounds a bit like a folk-song from the future... ish...

Hmmm you have got me thinking here, for sure... my music is probably really hard to write about, categorise or pin down as regards genre, as there are just sooooo many varied influences in there ahhahaaa,

5.  After getting a nice comment from one of my electronic heroes Vince Clarke, you followed this up by a huge nod from another hero, Godfather of Ambient Brian Eno, tell me what happened? 

Aha....this -

I entered some tracks into the online Noise Festival Showcase for digital arts  - there were several different categories, from photography and graphics to music and animation... each category had an overall curator, and the curator of my category, Music and Arts was Eno himself, who personally listened to all the shortlisted entries.  I was very gobsmacked  to have been given the rating of "Outstanding" in my category.

6. Production wise and collaborations, who would be god like to work with, living or dead?

Wow!  you really make it tough, don't you!  Daphne Oram, (one of the founders of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop... I use her samples in Daymoon Sun...) Kraftwerk. Nina Simone. Boards of Canada.  Bjork.  Quincy Jones.  David Lynch.   Nicolas Jaar. Eno and Vince, of course!

7. You get a call to open for someone at any gig or show in musical history, where and who? 

Gig to open for - Kate Bush's comeback show at The Roundhouse - that must have been a truly electric show!  I can imagine how hyped the audience must have been to see Kate perform after so many years...

( Kate Bush Live Pictures From Comeback Gig )

8.  Can you tell me any new electronica artists or producers who you are loving at the moment? 

Glasgow's Ela Orleans is captivating, lo-fi experimental and cinematic with a DIY lounge aesthetic...  and Nicolas Jaar though he's not new now!   Love the glitchy soulful feel to his arrangements.

9. And for anyone who will be coming to this year's Edinburgh Festival, any recommendations? 

Anything that is in the Made In Scotland Programme will be a good bet! .  There's also some great hard-hitting spoken word from the Shift/word collective at Summerhall.

An artist i will be looking forward to seeing again live in Edinburgh, during the festival, i hope after reading this, you will too. If your not fortunate to be in Edinburgh during the festival and like what Fiona is doing, then please follow her on Facebook.  Hopefully she'll grab the attention of 6 music , maybe Freakzone and get more support slot's with Electronic acts. Personally i'm looking forward to the alien lullabies invasion, the upcoming album will be added to my collection.

I'll Be Loving The Alien Lullabies

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