Jules Verne Theory brings together the talents and experience of Richard Slee and Arron Clague. The electronic music duo signed to Ninthwave Records, are to my mind, together with Depeche Mode, the last highlanders of synth-wave, electronic alt-pop, or whatever you care to call it.
They have a synth sound and melodies so purely authentic that it doesn’t just bring the eighties sound to my mind, it completely transports me straight back into the 80’s – body, mind and soul! With the ultra-catchy “Vienna Calling” blaring out of the speakers and a shiver running down my spine, I actually had to take stock of my senses, by looking around the room to make sure of exactly where I was.
Now, if by chance you’re thinking, “Oh dear, back to the eighties, how old and stale!” You’re wrong. You probably think David Guetta is the epitome of electronic music. Wrong again. Electronic music through the years has suffered the same syndrome Hip-hop music has. It has expanded, broken every sound and sampling barrier possible.There is almost nothing you cannot create with the technology at hand.
So you have a kaleidoscope of styles, genres and sub-genres and crossover hybrids that satisfies almost everyone’s favorite electronic flavor. However, Hip-hop stopped being real hip-hop by the end of the nineties. Analog infected electronic music ceased to be such, by the end of the eighties. Except for those few bands who continued, and continue to keep that vibrant analog synth sound alive. There was never a real evolution – maybe an expansion and a multiplication of what you could do with electronics, but the music itself suffered an involution, for my money.
With all due respects to the current electronic music movement – which has forged some amazing talents, no doubt – but when the latest album by Jules Verne Theory, “Black Swan”, hits my sound system at full volume, I am flabbergasted and overwhelmed. The synths whirl around the room on “Time Traveller” – the bass lines and drums dance naturally behind it all, as the deep, calm and collected lead vocal throws me into nostalgic bliss.
This is it, I was thinking, at least until mid-2017 when the new Depeche Mode album is set to release; I finally have the real thing again. “No Ghosts” thuds, thumps and bustles with electricity, maintaining my euphoric state, which totally explodes with the sing-along melody of “Vienna Calling”. I could have stopped the album right there and give it 5 stars…and maybe I should have. Because by the time “Neurotic” hit full swing, I was dancing around the room, and lost all cognition of what I was supposed to be doing – reviewing the album!
In my state of bliss, I couldn’t clearly remember all that happened afterwards, but I do recall the vocoder opening on “Blue Book”, the mesmerizing simplicity of “Tomorrowland”, the growling bass line and ethereal string pads on “Super Moon Alligator”, the banging percussion on the rhythmic “Dick Whittiington II”, the adrenaline pumping “Anonymous”, and then the beautiful and epic closer, “Requiem For A Dying Star”.
If I could, I would give Jules Verne Theory 10 stars – five for the music, production and performance, and another five for allowing me to relive that synth-wave, post punk, and new pop sound, which takes me back to my youth. “Black Swan” can easily sit alongside anything coming out of electronic music today; in fact it probably sits above most of it anyway.
This album it is not an attempt to purposely invoke nostalgic thoughts or bring back ‘old sounds’. It quite simply is the Jules Verne Theory continuing their musical evolution deep into the 21st century. This is what they do, this is what they’ve always done…and just about better than anyone else who has ever laid their hands on a synthesizer!
MORE ABOUT Jules Verne Theory: Arron previously worked at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop as well as writing and recording in the media production industry. He has produced tracks for Mute Records (Erasure) and has previously released tracks with Ninthwave Records in the US, along with Heaven 17, where he produced the Remix of their single “I’m Going to Make You Fall in Love With Me”. Arron has also worked with Garland Cult, who went on to work with Boy George among others.
Richard, a graduate in drama, has been performing live for over 20 years. He has performed with well-known UK comedian and actor Greg Davies and enjoyed a leading role in short film ‘Harm’ produced by the Moving Picture Company. Richard was a founding member of the Shoestring Theatre Company and has been performing a diverse range of music in both the Isle of Man and UK.