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Synth-pop survivors Blancmange still going strong

Neil Arthur, of Blancmange.
Neil Arthur, of Blancmange.

Survivors of the eighties electronic scene Blancmange are hitting the road for a short tour when they will be playing tracks from their well received recent album alongside familiar favourites.

‘Unfurnished Rooms’ was released last year, featuring 10 new songs written and recorded by Neil Arthur and co-produced by Benge (Wrangler/John Foxx & The Maths and Gazelle Twin co-producer).

It’s been a fantastically creative period for both of them, releasing their debut album as a new electronic duo – Fader’s ‘First Light’ - in June 2017 and then the final sessions for ‘Unfurnished Rooms’ followed immediately in the summer.

For the new Blancmange album, all the songs were written by Arthur while Benge added percussion and layers of analogue synth, with the pair then mixing the record together in the latter’s Memetune studios in Cornwall.

David Rhodes, best known for his work with Scott Walker, Talk Talk, Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush, guests on the album while John Grant features on piano and backing vocals on epic song ‘Don’t Get Me Wrong’ – a strong closing track on a record which explores some solitary, introspective thoughts but always with humour, compassion and sonic power.

‘Unfurnished Rooms’ has followed the release of the first three Blancmange records – ‘Happy Families’ (1982), ‘Mange Tout’ (1984) and ‘Believe You Me’ (1985) – as deluxe 3CD editions. Despite breaking up in 1986, those records weren’t quite the end for Neil and original Blancmange partner Stephen Luscombe as they came back to great acclaim in 2011 with their fourth studio album, ‘Blanc Burn’.

‘Semi Detached’ – darker but still pop-savvy – followed in 2015, the first of several new albums written and recorded by Neil Arthur without the input of Luscombe due to illness.

Blancmange’s first ever instrumental album, ‘Nil By Mouth’ (ambient, new sense of freedom) came out in 2015 and ‘Commuter 23’ (minimalist, brutalist, raw with moments of hazy Krautrock) arrived in 2016.

See Blancmange on tour this month when they appear at Sheffield’s O2 Academy on Thursday, March 22.