First New Haven performance in over two decades! China Crisis are an English new wave pop band. They formed in 1979 in Kirkby, near Liverpool, Merseyside with a core of vocalist/keyboardist Gary Daly and guitarist, produced by the late Walter Becker of Steely Dan who also played on their albums. Their output was pop music similar in style to that of New Wave but with strong similarities to the post-punk movement of the early 1980s, namely inclusion of a broader range of musical influences and occasional flirtation with political commentary. Throughout their career, China Crisis has seen moderate success in the United Kingdom with ten hit singles between August 1982 and January 1987 and six albums, as well as commercial success in Western Europe, Australia and the Americas. Sharing an affection for Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, David Bowie, and Brian Eno, Daly and Lundon played with various Knowsley post-punk groups. Daly then spent time tinkering with synthesizers and a drum machine. Along with Lundon, Daly began writing songs. The pair eventually asked drummer and percussionist Dave Reilly to join them, and in 1982 they released their debut single “African and White” as China Crisis on the independent record label, Inevitable. In June 1982, they supported the former Television guitarist, Tom Verlaine, at London’s Venue.
The band was signed to Virgin Records and recorded their debut album, Difficult Shapes & Passive Rhythms, Some People Think It’s Fun To Entertain, which was released in December 1982. A re-release of “African & White” became China Crisis’ first hit in the United Kingdom, reaching #45 in the UK Singles Chart. The follow-up single, “Christian”, made UK #12 in early 1983 and brought them to national prominence. By this time, Reilly had left the band, but was still credited on the record sleeve as a guest on the single, along with new member Steve Levy playing oboe and saxophone. The album peaked at #21 in the UK Albums Chart.
During this period the band toured supporting Simple Minds (as discussed in interviews on the DVD Live in Concert at the Paul McCartney Auditorium Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts). Adding Gary “Gazza” Johnson (bass) and Kevin Wilkinson (drums) to the line-up, a second album, Working with Fire and Steel – Possible Pop Songs Volume Two, was released in November 1983. Tracks included the singles “Tragedy and Mystery” (released six months earlier) and “Hanna Hanna” as well as the title track, “Working With Fire & Steel”, which became a hit single in Australia. The album was a Top 20 success in the UK, and China Crisis spent 1984 and 1985 making their biggest chart run, beginning with their only UK Top 10 hit single, “Wishful Thinking”, which peaked at #9.
Their third album, Flaunt the Imperfection, was produced by Walter Becker of Steely Dan fame and reached #9 in the UK Albums Chart in May 1985. According to the album credits, China Crisis was now officially a quintet consisting of Daly, Lundon, Johnson, Wilkinson, and Becker. However, Becker never appeared with the band, and the subsequent tour featured new keyboard player Brian McNeill. Johnson was now credited as co-writer with Daly and Lundon.
The album was previewed by the #14 UK hit single “Black Man Ray”, which also enjoyed critical acclaim and international success. The follow-up, “King In A Catholic Style (Wake Up)”, was a Top 20 UK single at #19. A third release from the album, “You Did Cut Me”, reached #54 in the UK. They simultaneously released a video compilation, Showbiz Absurd. In 1986, the band returned with What Price Paradise, which included “Arizona Sky”, the album’s first single release, and another Australian hit, “June Bride”. All the band were now credited as songwriters. A second single from the album, “Best Kept Secret”, made UK #36 in early 1987. The five-piece band worked with Becker once more on 1989’s Diary of a Hollow Horse, which earned critical acclaim though little commercial success. It spawned the singles “St Saviour Square” and “Red Letter Day”, both achieving the lower reaches of the UK Singles Chart. Becker produced of most of the album’s tracks, but this time was not credited as an official band member.
The band’s last studio album, Warped By Success, was released in 1994, following the band’s parting of ways with the Virgin label. The album produced their final UK hit, “Everyday The Same”. Although Johnson and Wilkinson both made small contributions, the band was now listed as comprising Daly and Lundon. In 1995 they released a live unplugged album and video entitled Acoustically Yours, which proved to be their recording swansong. This featured one last single, a live version of “Black Man Ray”, and also saw a return for Johnson, Wilkinson and McNeill. Since 1992, there have been four compilation albums of their work for the UK and US markets and three live DVDs.
Reduction Plan's music comes from within solitude's frigid embrace. "I will
never get what I want," broods frontman Daniel Manning on self-released debut,
Paradise. The heavily reverberated breaths and ominous atmosphere that open
Reduction Plan's latest full-length album, Somewhere, evoke that same sense of
solitude, one that is almost palpable.
Pulling from 80s goth, 90s shoegaze and industrial, and the anti-folk tendencies
of acts like Grouper and Mount Eerie, Reduction Plan uses both noise and
space to illustrate the power of silence. A swell of synths, pulsing drum
machines, and haunting murmurs is the foundation upon which the project
draws its sound.
With Somewhere, Manning takes a leap forward in both songwriting and
production. Recorded and mixed entirely independently, the record’s 10 tracks
are more fleshed out than anything the project has released to date. A testament
to this is “On Your Own”, a re-recorded and re-worked version of a track that
initially appeared on Reduction Plan’s debut, Paradise. Side-A closer “Julia” is
driven by waves of synths that would feel right at home on a Disintegration cut,
pushing the song to a powerful climax. Meanwhile, opener “Without An End” is a
cacophonous goth-rock anthem built upon an intoxicating drum-machine
Somewhere is Manning’s third full-length under the Reduction Plan moniker,
following the Child of Light EP, which saw him branching out stylistically to
collaborate with fellow musicians. On the project’s first two full-lengths, 2015’s
Paradise and 2016’s Shade, Manning’s compositions were frigid, harsh, and
unrelenting. Here, the songs let the light in; blossoming into lush, melancholic
pieces that maintain the bite of the project’s roots.
The majority of the record was written shortly after Manning graduated from
college, and deals with all the feelings of displacement, discontent, and
dissatisfaction that followed. Somewhere represents a seemingly intangible
sense of comfort and belonging that Manning searches for throughout the
album’s brooding tracks.
Although a solo endeavor in concept, Manning is accompanied live by Luis
Durango, who breathes new energy into the songs on second-guitar and synth.
Together, the two have shared the stage with acts such as Xiu Xiu, Boyharsher,
Planning For Burial, Torres.
Falconeer is a new
instrumental audio/visual project bringing the spectacle back to live music in New Haven, Connecticut. Blending over the top synth pop and retro game influences, Falconeer builds on vintage synthesizers, modified videogame consoles, and a bit of tongue-in-cheek nostalgia for hyperbolic electronic hits of the 80s to make a sound somewhere between Kraftwerk and LCD Soundsystem. As a performance Falconeer uses mechanized sounds, but the human element never leaves the equation. All of the songs have a goal, and the whole production is carried out by one man, live on stage, without the aid of a modern computer. The culmination of years of experimentation with electronics and chasing classic sounds, Falconeer began in earnest in 2017 with a collection of animated and constantly moving tracks that conjure dreams of electric sheep.