Cult With No Name
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Cult With No Name

London, England, United Kingdom | INDIE

London, England, United Kingdom | INDIE
Band Alternative Pop


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"DSO reviews 'Adrenalin'"

Over the last five years English two-piece Cult With No Name have been steadily honing their talent, refining their sound and improving their writing at every turn. Adrenalin is their third regular studio album and is unquestionably the pinnacle of their achievements so far.

Simplicity lies at the heart of CWNN’s minimalist approach to writing; and in its most rudimentary form comprises Jon Boux’s remarkable piano playing and Erik Stein’s characterful voice. They’ve gotten better at building up a track and then carefully stripping back elements so that what remains stands on its own as a distinctive composition, one free of unnecessary clutter. The resulting suite of moving folksy ambient electronica is something Boux and Stein can be very proud of indeed.

Right from the off this is remarkable. Opener This Time (or any other), heavy with memories and nostalgia, instantly sounds like an ambient classic. The faint choir voices shadowing Jon B’s lilting piano work make for one of their best songs yet, and The Way You’re Looking At Me envelopes you in its sumptuous emotion. Travelling on a quiet train, looking out the windows across a snow covered Norfolk, Adrenalin proved to be the perfect soundtrack. The mist-shrouded winter trees providing a rolling melancholic backdrop merging seamlessly with the fluid (often dream-like) soundtrack. The lovely cadences of both voice and music on Breathing create a particularly lasting impression. There's a couple of welcome instrumentals too and on -7 the duo excel in the incidential film music realm. In fact, depending on what mood you're in, almost all twelve tracks here could be favourites from time to time.

This glorious album is also the most natural blend of their talents yet. Stein’s voice in particular seems to have found an impressive equilibrium. Hitherto, its effect has, on occasion, been undermined by tricksy delivery. Now, without sacrificing any of its qualities, Stein has instead dug deeper into his reserves and emerged with not only a stronger voice as a result but one that through its clever subtleties is even more expressive. In the infrequent moments, where a lighter touch reflects a more playful approach, such as on The All Dead Burlesque Show the outcome is equally engaging. Adrenalin is a profoundly beautiful work and a serious contender for album of the year. -

"Mick Mercer reviews 'Adrenalin'"

There are some bands that aren’t like others, which is why you can summon up their sound at will. The piquant vocal character of Cult With No Name draped over sombre, succulent keys, or saucily suicidal in a pop clifftop dive they have an endless array or gorgeous melodic weapons in their arsenal, with little if any safety catches. What you get is what you often least expect, yet all designed meticulously, all gloriously harmonious, often mesmerisingly mournful. Like the wilfully winsome Flipron or darkly despotic Rohan Kriwaczek they are out their on their own, although as they’re a duo not quite alone. Erik Stein and Jon Boux, ladies and gentlemen, come to cleanse your room with the smartly intoxicating nature of the music.

‘This Time (Or Any Other’ is pretty typical, the doomed vocals not quite gloomy because the keyboards are trimly tremulous and inviting. As soon as you’re into it, they’ve stopped! Then they do a Donna Summer meets Portishead in the opening of the lolloping drag of ‘Adrenalin’, which shows how they’ve slinked through development stages. The debut album ‘Paper Wraps Rock’ was perhaps the most obscenely pretty collection of emotionally turbulent and perplexing ideas you’ll encounter, then the music inflated during ‘Careful What You Wish For’ as their commercial complexities swelled. ‘I’m not addicted to love, I’m addicted to pain,’ they go, making it seem quite logical. ‘Give thanks for adrenalin.’

‘Lies-And-Lies-All-Lies’ moves away from their self-professed ‘post-punk electronic balladeers’ status into a freely flowing, enchantingly gaseous pop malaise, the music well to the fore. ‘The Way You’re Looking At Me’ finds the vocals well to the floor, in a haunting bout of speculation. ‘Youlogy’ has an ambient wash over simple acoustic and questing vocals.

During the lightly shady, bubbly ‘The All Dead Burlesque Show’ he sings, ‘Tease but tell me it’s art,’ and I initially thought that was, ‘don’t tell me to fart’ which confused me, and the imagery now lingers. (He also doesn’t want to know about her eight inch waist.) ‘Gone’ is another strikingly attractive piece, mellow and stark but with a rising, glowing sentimentality.
‘Breathing’ gets a spacey dance tingle, and is their most openly easy piece, rhythmically steady and soft-focus allure, then the terror strikes!

‘7’ disturbs deeply when you hear yourself mumbling the words ‘Mercedes Benz’ to yourself because it actually starts like a bit like ‘Hotel California’!!! It’s obviously an accidental similarity but a frisson of fear is released into the atmosphere every time I hear it. ‘-7’ banishes those ghosts promptly, in a leisurely instrumental of great beauty with Catherine Morgan’s lonely trumpet passing through swirly synth and plaintive piano doldrums, as we head into a demurely doleful close.

‘Make A List!’ is a crisply dampened pop piece where time seems to stand proudly still, and ‘Generation That’s’ another subtly bleached post-dance tune with sinuous percussive niceties which leaves you feeling slightly crestfallen when it’s done because this definitely feels like it’s their shortest album, but it’s stuffed full of peculiar incident and more than the others a sense of mysterious lyrical splinters you can only hope constant exposure will bring to the surface.

If you haven’t yet encountered them you really are missing out, with the advantage being that when you succumb you have a raft of ravishing encounters ahead of outrageously good quality!
- Mick Mercer

"Lucid Culture reviews 'Adrenalin'"

This one makes a good segue with today’s album by David J. London duo Cult with No Name’s fourth album, Adrenalin, came out on Halloween on Trakwerx. With its deadpan, brooding vocals and goth-tinged keyboard melodies, it’s the best one yet from the self-styled “post punk electronica balladeers.” Once the Williamsburg crowd hears the 80s new wave pop of Breathing – an blippy, ambient track that wouldn’t have been out of place in the Stranglers post-1985 catalog – every “celebrity dj” will want to remix it into unrecognizability. The rest of the album is a lot more substantial (legendary Clash associate and punk/reggae dj Don Letts is a fan). It opens with a long, pensive solo piano intro punctuated by the occasional echoey synth splash, similar to the Walkabouts’ recent work. The sardonic title track sets lo-fi 80s synth-goth to a trip-hop drum loop like early Dead Can Dance: “I’m not addicted to love, I’m addicted to pain…”
Macabre piano rivulets and vocals build to a majestic orchestral sweep on the next track, reminding of Blonde Redhead at their most goth, followed by the icy, accusatory piano ballad The Way You’re Looking at Me. The felicitously titled Youlogy blends watery acoustic guitar and eerily airy synth washes – it could be a more overtly goth Bobby Vacant, a vivid portrayal of the struggle to express grief with any degree of eloquence. It’s quite a contrast with the irresisibly funny, blippy goth spoof The All Dead Burlesque Show: “So teasing, but don’t tell me it’s art…don’t think it’s all about good taste, and I don’t care about your eight-inch waist.”
The rest of the album eclectically mines various 80s dark rock veins: the understated, noir cabaret bounce of Gone; the lush, echoey guitar ballad 7 and its mirror image, -7, a sad, cinematic piano soundscape, and the clip-clop downtempo pop of Make a List. The album ends with a wallop with Generation That’s, a majestic, bitterly poetic slap at the expectation that one should fit into one generation or another, the implication here being that for those of us who will never fit in, it’s a long, lonely road. Like every Trakwerx album, this one is elegantly packaged, in this case in a lustrous, metallic blue-grey cardboard sleeve that blends austere Factory Records minimalism with playful, retro 60-style, Doorsy embellishments.
- Lucid Culture

"DSO reviews 'The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari'"

They're not the first and they even more certainly won't be the last to write and perform a score to this silent classic. Even in the rarefied thin air of genuinely classic, genuinely iconic, genuinely influential films, few can match the unparalleled masterpiece status of Robert Weine's 1920 expressionist landmark The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. It has been one of my most admired films ever since I first saw it. Its impact hardly diminished in the best part of a century that has passed since its first release. No suggestion then that such a work needs a 'little helping hand', a 'bit of a spruce up' if you like to improve it some. But what you do have is a work of art that millions love and wish to pay homage to and what better tribute than attempting to provide a score deemed fit and worthy by a paying audience to listen to.
Because it is working from an out of copyright source print, this Trakwerx's DVD release means we only get the slightly cut 51 minute version of the film. The missing elements (restored in recent years in re-issue prints/DVDs) merely add detail and extend existing scenes, so the viewing pleasure isn't noticably affected by the shorter running time. But, for the purposes of this review, the focus is obviously the new score by Cult With No Name, and their approach brings out a humanity missing from all previous scores I've heard. More earthy and organic than the (personal favourite) In The Nursery soundtrack that garnered wide coverage (and a BFI DVD release) almost fifteen years ago.
Unlike ITN's score this is less literal, appearing to take its inspiration from the general mood of the film rather than what is actually happening at any given moment. A nice example is when Cesare (the murderer in the film) is first revealed. The accompanying music is like a pulsing heartbeat rather than the alarmist, melodramatic cue you might expect. Indeed, despite the subject matter, it's generally quite an 'optimistic' score. What CWNN's approach demonstrates is how open to interpretation silent film in general is.
Whether intential or not, most of the compositions follow a more familiar song structure rather than a purist 'soundtrack' approach, which actually works well with the visual style of the film. However, I'm less convinced by the four vocal tracks as I find a voice (good though it is) intrudes too much on the narrative of the otherwise silent film, and winds up close to turning a soundtrack into a series of pop promos - but on that level it's a success. Nevertheless, the suite of compositions as a whole are certainly strong enough to warrant a standalone album release for those not turned on by the prospect of watching Weine's film (presently its only available as the soundtrack on this DVD release). 7/10
- Rob Dyer

"Mojophenia reviews Adrenalin"

"Self-professed “post-punk electronic balladeers” the London duo of Erik Stein (lead vocals/rhythm piano) and Jon Boux (lead piano/rhythm vocals) have created a unique piano/vocal sound that uncannily captures both the subtlety and sophistication of Erik Stein’s personal lyrical stylings".

Adrenalin is Cult With No Name`s fourth studio album and continuing with the Trakwerx glorious attention to detail, the packaging is equally as stunning as the gems within. This UK based duo base their heavy piano influences on pure melodic imagery - This release tackles all our eternal hopes and fears. Adrenalin is a deeply rich affair laden with endearing Trip-Hop percussion (adrenalin / Breathing) to accompany the haunting keyboard adventures. Track ten has the curious title of `-7`, this could almost be a Ridley Scott directors cut carved from a desolate movie score, a magnificent tribute - I`m half expecting the sound of continuous rainfall, it always rains in Blade Runner.

Erik Stein and Jon Boux do not ponder for past glories, they create, they compose post-modern stories - They produce man-made electrolica with traditional feeling. We love the complexity and honesty of this release. Previous long players from Cult With No Name are highly recommended, well worth the investment.

"At times raucous, others mournful - and with just a touch of psychedelia - `Adrenalin` is a varied and highly rewarding journey. Musically interesting for its lyrical wordplay as its musical dexterity. To add insight to ingenuity, the album comes packaged in a series of stunning, foil embossed sleeves, that not so much break the mould as bypass the need for one altogether. - Mojophenia

"Mick Mercer Reviews "Careful What You Wish For""


We are all in need of beauty but me more than most as I have been ravaged by flu since the weekend and feel weary most days, with my breathing ragged, and even my balance affected. When you can’t sleep you can do nothing but work, thereby becoming wearier, in a self-inflicted self-defeating circle of non-events. Imagine how great this record must be then when I tell you it made me glad to be listening to it. A record which takes your mind of other things concentrates on this thing, of a translucent idyll of emotional woes set in relaxed but piquant measure instead is indeed a heady triumph. It also comes in an inventive and disturbing sleeve, lovingly detailed with old photo mounts on the corners.

I expected this of course, because the ‘Paper Wraps Rock’ album had been modestly spectacular in its impact, and I for one found I was no longer allergic to ballads. So to reduce things to idiotically simple levels, we have here a band who could be seen as a modern fusion of Bill Pritchard and Furniture, but with plenty of influences of doubtlessly profoundly popular songsmiths worming through the melodic coffin that I wouldn’t even recognise and we start with ‘Flying Ant Day’, twittering sweetly. The elegant vocals swim lightly inside the cautiously lit keyboard pool and a spikier lyrical crown of thorns of discarded love you couldn’t hope to find being chewed over, which is the weird way they operate. It’s like finding your gran’s been arrested for mass slaughter in the high street.

‘Context Is Everything’ has this bulbous bass working proudly through shimmery disquiet where death is on the agenda and then they do that thing again in ‘Feels So Good’ with the piano. It isn’t the Eltonesque piffle approach, or a relaxing but warm lounge style, but a bare and mentally stroking, hypnotic sense of development, gently lulling you into all manner of false securities. In fact that could be a side career for them. False Security Advisors! What’s the song about, in that it feels ‘so good to let go’? You can select your own ideas.

Then things slip along with a refrain based on a pre-New Wave hit, I’m sure, but I can’t place it. (I’m old. The brain, you know?) ‘And Those Same Mistakes’ has a saucy little sway to its lying, untrustworthy hips. You follow, adoringly. ‘Hands Two Touch’ is more sedate but the stillness is explosive. ‘On The Fingers Of One Thumb’ is almost reassuring but seems weird for all its pleasantries, and then the flow intensifies in the roguish ‘Bluff’ aided by capering backing vocal emphases in a fuzzy filmic story.

‘You Know Me Better Than I Know Myself’ is weird as you think they’re going to do ‘Send In The Clowns’ but the bleak mosquito of a violin (courtesy of Reininger from Tuxedomoon) soon squeals, then hovers mournfully but keenly over the doleful keys. ‘She B.C.’ is quite the feathery pillow of a pop song, ‘Down The Line’ a ticking excursion and then an actual cover, quite unexpected, in ‘Golden Brown’, gentrified but sensitively crooned.
‘Hurting The Ones You Love The Most’ strides out like some lightweight Bee Gees track, with a soupcon of ‘Love Hurts’, but soon turns and starts eating its own skin, and ‘You And Who’s Army’ is pure ice, delicately spread. (“You’ll always fit in that special place in my heart, can’t thank you enough for the time we’re apart….you can fight, but you’ll be on your own, you can reach…but I’m gone.”) The forensic ‘Soft Skills’ with its minimal optimism then makes for an odd ending, as I’d have switched the two tracks myself, but that’s bands for you. Weirdos.
Thank God for weirdness too. Here they are, with their cutting vignettes in demure, seductive shapes and if you buy no other record this month go for this one. It’s essential.
Nov. 7th, 2008
12:07 a.m.
mick mercer -

"Mojophenia reviews 'Careful What You Wish For'"

The second album release to date from`Cult With No Name`is a true master of disguise, a shaman of multiple influences laid down with care and precision, something quite beautiful is formed between keyboards and vocals, something very special. `Careful What You Wish For` seems almost haunting during parts of this fourteen track journey, cautiously jubilant in others, Erik Stein and Jon Boux have managed to very successfully create an album so original, it unquestionably seems years ahead of its time.

Careful What You Wish For` probably contains one of the most unpretentious cover versions I have heard in a long time, a stripped down and seemingly bare interpretation of `Golden Brown` by `The Stranglers'. This track will not surprisingly shine and has all those fabulous key points for an epic soundtrack. Sit back, have a listen over at their Website, London based `Cult With No Name` have some wonderful stories to tell. -

"The Big Takeover reviews 'Careful What You Wish For'"

That leaves CWNN, who have no Pygmies, let alone 17 of them but are instead a London duo of Erik Stein and Jon Boux. They make piano and drum machine and vocal pop with synths that could sound like something Ivo Watts-Russell might have signed to 4AD years ago, or somewhere between Howard Devoto's Luxuria, Patrick Fitzgerald from Kitchens of Distinction's new LP as Stephen Hero. Suddenly, Tammy!, Hunky Dory David Bowie, and especially the solo works of Ken Stringfellow, the piano playing is marvelous, wrapping you in the melancholy moods like the hammers were striking your head instead of strings. Nicely done. - The Big Takeover

"Terrascope reviews 'Careful What You Wish For'"

Balladry is the space of life, and with Cult With No Name's second offering "Careful What You Wish For" the listener certainly gets balladry. The band is the London duo of Erik Stein and Jon Boux, who write and play everything except a little violin. Opener "Flying Ant Day" is a piano ballad with impassioned vocals, "Context Is Everything" adds subtle percussion, bass and synths, and then we are off into a mix of styles - the faux-electronica of "And Those Same Mistakes," one of the highlights of the album, the  restrained torch song "On The Fingers Of One Thumb," and the surprisingly bouncy "Hurting The Ones You Love The Most," which brings Bruce Hornsby to mind. The cover of The Stranglers' "Golden Brown" is interesting, but ends up illustrating the brilliance of the original. Stein is an excellent vocalist, with quite a range, his voice soaring, then subsiding through these melancholic songs, while the ever-present piano hints at Elton John, Ben Folds Five, and other balladeers. Proper songwriting, well produced, and terrific packaging too. -

"Comfort Comes reviews 'Careful What You Wish For'"

Cult With No Name are a duo hailing from London, England, producing wonderfully unique piano pop music that is undoubtedly reminiscent of 1980’s synth and piano ballads. Self-described “post-punk electronic balladeers”, band members Erik Stein and Jon Boux have released their second album, “Careful What You Wish For” following their 2007 debut album “Paper Wraps Rock” and it is sure to please fans with its haunting and memorable vocals and lyrics.
“Careful What You Wish For” includes a beautiful cover of “Golden Brown” by 80’s rock band The Stranglers, which undoubtedly adds to the nostalgic feel of the album. Perhaps that is the greatest thing about this album – the idea of escaping the music and sounds of the present and travelling into the past, while still remaining unique and exciting. This is no easy feat, but Cult With No Name have done it. “Careful What You Wish For” is haunting, lovely, and simply unforgettable. - Souzan Michael

"Mick Mercer reviews 'Paper Wraps Rock'"

More strangeness? Oh, okay then, as long as you don’t mind something strange seemingly all but entirely normal; chaste and rarefied in a subtly disconcerting manner. They admit to being post-punk electronics, but also with a thing about ballads, which may scare you, because who wants an alternative Coldplay? Erik Stein and Jon Boux (‘rhythm vocals?!!) don’t entirely go that route, as there’s no pompous masquerading as heartening quests or explosive emotion. What they do verges on light orchestral musing, with peculiar lyrical disenchantment.

Having been struck by their track on the 17 Pygmies album a while back I think this album will go down well with true 80’s indie aficionados, and people today who want a little more meat on their ambient bones, as that’s what it comes closest to in my eyes, the feel of modern ambient music, but with that trapped inside the melodic muscle of more conventional songwriting, creating interesting and cement-hard, credible compositions. The album also comes in a cunning card cover, with a cute illustration of the band I shall have to include here, with sleeve like a depressed digipack, the CD
placed in a slot in the inside back cover, the lyrics simply printed all over the card, like a latterday version of the early Savage Republic card covers.

In ‘The Morning After The Night Before Last’ I’m tempted to say his troubles seem so far away but it’s a delightful piano at work, like something crossed between the accompaniment to a romantic silent film, and a flow which makes you become lost in thought, oddly reassuring. Liquid vocals accompany piano through the tricky, winsome ‘Blame It On Oil’ and you’re with a duo who can play immaculately and sing likewise. They’re like the Anti-Coldplay; musicians woken at a time of musical tedium, come amongst us to perplex.

‘More Of The Same’ is as compelling as any of the rubbish major label nonentities spew out, and should be something major indies look for, even though they might not know what to do with it. Plinky percussion behind the keyboards and vocal guile, it’s a deftly desirable piece.
‘Business Is Good’ even has a souped-up Eltonesque cadence but overall it’s more of the same, almost casually catchy, and the press release mentions bands which probably give you a better illustrative set of comparisons than I manage – Associates, Tuxedomoon, Erik Satie, Keith Jarrett and Shriekback. Throw in Furniture, at their most fragrant, and

Stephen Poliakoff too please, because I like the effect, and then play these two back to back again, they’re so beautiful.

‘Waiting For The Punch Line’ is, seemingly, a love affair with technology, and could herald a sectioning order and the demure ‘Operation Failed’ is a form of club noir, with a very soft underbelly, a bit like Bill Pritchard on manoeuvres, everything fluid but somehow just ambling, and this is richly enveloping music of simple tones, which could be minimalist but for the huge, rich reach of the pieces. It’s also a bit weird, as the lyrics are fairy oblique, you just hope you know what’s going on. ‘In Every Way But One’ could be Baby Bird all grown up and flying, but it’s so short. Some people would develop something this enticing through various verses to spiral upwards, but often CWNN don’t hang around long enough for such ideas. They tie up another pretty parcel and shift onwards on to the next track.

It really is very close to tradition at times. ‘Start It Again’ is phlegmatic and ironic pop, as if by waspish daydreaming cousins of The Beautiful South, but ending with an airport departure lounge ambience. ‘Girl’ has an elaborately traipsing sound but couldn’t be simpler with observations of implied regret in the girl and her life, only this is mawkishly close to Ally McBeal soundtrack material.

Then the boundaries blur again, and back again. ‘Maslow’s Dog’ is filled out, almost crooning its odd lyrics over idling piano, ticking rhythm and florid, introspective sound. ‘Wormwood’ is very unusual and with some serious disquiet trapped in the words there around the graceful piano; still a fresh bloom to something intrinsically rotting. ‘Product Of’ seems too close to orthodox indie so the weary words may be clever with their accusatory terms, but it’s an elegant plod. ‘That’s The Power Of Television’ is strange in its pleasant manner because the singer doesn’t exactly sound let down by the loss of his love, whereupon he kicks the woe around a bit more through ‘Jenny’s Tongue’ and if not morose at least it feels rueful, its solemn air quietly seductive. ‘Yes People’ is a thoughtful suicide after more resigned defeatism, and then it’s gone.

An unusually captivating record, it is an indie treasure, one of those albums where after a few listens you believe you’ve had it years.

- Mick Mercer

"Plastelin online magazine reviews 'Paper Wraps Rock'"

The ocean that is 80s nostalgia means many different things to different people. Some recall a time of leisure, some hedonism, some mistake the turquoise of water for the green of royalties. People are prepared to enter in in many different ways. And those that seem to always succeed are the ones for which appearance conquers everything. Short term and shallow, they are prepared to equip themselves with prejudice, blitz people with as much fluorescent gear as possible, and fleetingly entertain the fans who soon abandon them. Action is equal to reaction, remember. It's simply the laws of karma.

But then there are others, ones who actually find the taste of water interesting. They very cautiously test it over again, sometimes choking, but gradually building up the courage to leap in and swim. Sadly, save for more the careful observers, these people don't usually make a spectacle of getting in and out of the water, and these days it's hard to find a good place to watch, given that the very people you want to see are rarely on the most approachable beaches, but rather in small hiding places. All the more important, then, that such enjoyment can be seen, regardless of whether the water's clear or muddy, the weather stormy or calm.

For me, London duo Cult With No Name (Erik Stein and Jon Boux) is one such phenomenon. Their music is not some passing mantra, but rather a carefully kept secret (straight from clear waters) that should be shared. Poetic, and stacked in multiple layers of keyboards, Cult With No Name see themselves as post-punk, half-drunk, electronic, philharmonic, atmospheric, esoteric, balladeers. Their minimal approach (lead vocals, rhythm piano, lead piano, rhythm vocals) recalls singers who colour their voice with narratives, as if they were actors; Steven Brown (Tuxedomoon, Ninerain), Colin Newman (Wire, Githead), or maybe even Elton John stuck in an elevator with Howard Devoto (Magazine, Luxuria). Such distorted comparisons are rarely seen these days, even within 80s nostalgia. However, CWNN aren't nostalgists, but rather protagonists, satisfied to promote their own intricate sound with honesty in place of sloganeering.

The term 'a grower' is sometimes used by music consumers, and 'Paper Wraps Rock' is just that, a staircase where thrill an enjoyment is heightened with each successive step. With each passing minute, its clarity of concept is more exposed. If you've never been in a bar where a piano paints a background to an atmosphere of smoke, then it's probably time to try this. Their music is a touch too close to extroverted to simply come across as mindless virtuosity, although others will simply choose to daydream. The choice is yours.

A linked recommendation is Erik Stein's (lead vocals, rhythm piano) Cult Of the Week blog, where you might uncover some of the best kept musical secrets of the late 70s and early 80s. I'm guessing that Cult With No Name themselves will one day be the heroes of something similar. Isn't it interesting how some present day cults can paint a more beautiful picture of the world?
- Mileta Okiljevic

"Cult With No Name live @ Feeling Gloomy, Nov 10th, 2007"

Since its conception in 2003, the Islington Bar Academy has played host to a variety of club nights, from established alt electro Festival Electrofest, through to post-ironic newbie, Club de Fromage. The concept of Feeling Gloomy is a simple one. As the name would suggest, music for miserablists of all persuasions.
This 250 capacity venue, tucked in an upstairs alcove of the Angel Centre, Islington, serves a non-pretentious crowd ranging in age from late teens to thirty plus, providing a refreshing change from the fashionista led Shoreditch/Soho salons. At 2.40 for a pint of Carling, it also represents good value for money, which might explain the strong student presence.
First support act Heartbreak’s singer, Sebastian Murarchiuck, comes across rather unnervingly like the bastard lovechild of HarMar Superstar and Borat. I still cannot make up my mind whether he was being ironic or not, he certainly seemed to take himself, and his Saturday Night Fever moves, very seriously indeed. The crowd seemed to approve of this duo’s uplifting blend of warm, italo-pop. Musically, there is more than a smattering of synth legends Sparks here, though less Kimono My House and more latter-day Mael, circa Balls and Lil Beethoven. That said, the last track, We’re Back, was very reminiscent of Moroder-era Sparks, a hybrid of Beat the Clock and Try Out for the Human Race, with a touch of Hot Chip thrown in. Heartbreak are in possess of some great beats and analogue grooves and I feel their party- party approach to live performances belies a more deep-ranging musical ability. With undeniable energy and gusto, you cannot help but like them, breakdancing Borat impersonations or otherwise.
Next up were four piece new-wave band Runner and I found them thoroughly refreshing. The line-up of drums, bass, rhythm and lead guitar/vox certainly delivered. Imagine if members of Gang of Four, Joy Division, The Smiths and The Swellmaps were kidnapped and transported through time, suddenly finding themselves on stage at the N1 Centre, and this will give some idea as to where our friends Runner’s music is at. I would most definitely like to check them out again. It will be interesting to see how things pan out for Runner.
And so on to headline act Cult with No Name. A 30 minute delay can prove the kiss of death for many a headline band playing outside the reaches of night bus heavy West End venues, with pockets of audiences sinking their pints and hurriedly bidding their farewells without so much as a backwards glance, as they race to catch the last tube home. Not so the case with Cult with No Name.
Showcasing tracks from their second album, PaperWrapsRock (Trakwerx) Erik Stein and keyboardist Jon Boux are seemingly lifted onto the stage by giant silver balloons, sporting the letters CWNN – this act certainly know how to make an entrance. The theatrics deployed contrast with the delicate fragility of their work, the stage presence of Stein, besuited and slight yet with tremendous power of voice and the facial features of James Dean, again add to the constant juxtapositions of this highly-rated two piece. Boasting luminaries such as Dave Ball of Soft Cell amongst their fan base, one can easily see and hear why Cult with No Name continue to go from strength to strength on the alternative music scene. Musically, it is quite difficult to draw comparisons, though opening track Girl has elements of 10cc’s Not in Love, and the electro-weimaresque atmospherics of Operation Failed draw to mind Anthony and the Johnsons perhaps, or early Soft Cell. However, there are some bands who one doesn’t simply hear but feel, and in my view, Cult with No Name are one such act. This is music to make up to, break up to, listen to together, or alone.
The Plastic Bertrand electronics on the closing track whip the audience into frenzy. The band perform a lush version of Strangler’s Golden Brown as encore, and it works surprisingly well, highlighting virtuoso pianist Boux’s talents on the keyboards whilst Stein deadpans the lyrics to dramatic effect.
It takes a brave promoter to place three acts of completely different genres on the same bill. Yet this is proof indeed that it can work, the quality of all acts here was high, and the audience reaction testimony to the success of the night. Add to this a diverse dj set, featuring tracks from The Smiths through to Gloria Gaynor, a friendly door policy and cheap bar, Feeling Gloomy is definitely one for folk jaded by the current club scene or intimidated by the so-hip-it-hurts crowd. Recommended.
- Lizzie Woods

"Next Big Thing blogspot reviews 'Paper Wraps Rock'"

This is a strange concept that initially sounds like a lounge pianists outing with a piece entitled “the morning after the night before last”. This is as far away from “rock” as I’ve been in some time. Drifting way out to sea and I think that the calming effect is something I could use more of.

There’s something quite Roxy Music about it without them sounding anything alike. Kinda abstract Ben Folds territory even. Or Todd Rundgren? It kind of reminds me of The Pearlfishers with a darker streak too.

PWR is a grower. I was sceptical at first but their songs have somehow wheedled themselves under my skin with repeated plays. Look at the influences listed on their myspace as you listen. Go easy on the head scratching though.
- Lindsay Hutton

"An Unruly Conductor reviews 'Paper Wraps Rock'"

CULT WITH NO NAME hail out of London,....the self professed 'post-punk half drunk electronic philharmonic atmospheric balladeers' exactly what they say on the tin!

The first cd sent to me for scrutiny...I sat back and took in the album with no prior expectations (I had heard them on their page, but only casually).

At the start of 'PAPER WRAPS ROCK' a trickle of piano leads us gently into a smokey room full of half drunk pints and a silent game of dominos. Aparent are the classical influences in this opener, as it winds up unfazed and presents you the unravelling flower of this album. 'Blame it on the Oil' is the second track on this 15 track cd, and the first to introduce the vocals of Erik Stein. Chopped with a more emotional piano line, this track gives you more of a picture about what the London duo are about...intellegent but vunerable, masters of their art although insecure. There are a few influences spinning in my head...the vocals sound hauntingly familiar, or is that the tone and subject merely arriving home. The rest of the album takes you on a hopeful taunt, tight-roping over the impending melancholy with spikes of high piano directing your attention upwards into the glow of empathy.

To say this album is a lounge album, is true, but I like the bravery of it's layout....instead of hitting you in the face with the big 'singles' from the takes it's time...delivering a mature theme to the proceedings, building up with electric piano and drums n' effects in time...then to glug back under the drink from wenst it came. The stand out tracks from 'Paper wraps Rock'...are 'Operation failed' with it's striptease of mood and cafe ease.....and my favourite track on this title 'Girl' a steam engine sat at the station, releasing the pressure and readying for the remains of this journey!

I wish Erik Stein (lead vocals/rhythm piano) & Jon Boux (lead piano/rhythm vocals) the best of luck on their passage through this musical adventure...and no doubt I will be reviewing further releases and dates for this rising band! So if you like your indie to down their guitars and ease on the pedals of a piano or two, this band are for you...destined for some greater exposure.

An Unruly Conductor - An Unruly Conductor


* Above As Below - Cult With No Name, 2012, Trakwerx

* CIII: Even Celestina Gets The Blues - 17 Pygmies (feat. Cult With No Name - Celestina XXX), 2012, Trakwerx

* Adrenalin - Cult With No Name, 2010, Trakwerx

* Bored Stiff - Cult With No Name (stage production score), 2010, Workshed

* The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari - Cult With No Name, 2009, Trakwerx

* Lightwerx: Georges Melies - Various Artists (feat. Cult With No Name - "Le Melomane"), 2009, Trakwerx

* Dedicated - Various Artists (feat. Cult With No Name vs Doudou Malicious - "Down the Line" remix), 2009, Multi-Vitamins

* Moz and the Meal - Cult With No Name (stage production score) 2009, Workshed

* Careful What You Wish For - Cult With No Name, 2008, Trakwerx

* Wound Sound One - Various Artists (feat. Cult With No Name - "Hands, Two, Touch"), 2008, Wound Creative

* Patience and Perseverance - Various Artists (feat. Cult With No Name vs Doudou Malicious - 'Operation Failed' remix), 2008, Multi-vitamins

* Paper Wraps Rock - Cult With No Name, 2007, Trakwerx

* 'Adaptations from the Moon - Tuxedomooning the world' - Various Artists (feat. Cult With No Name - 'Some Guise'), 2007, Promo

* 13 Blackbirds/13 Lotus - 17 Pygmies (feat. Cult With No Name - 'Arcanica', 'Bley', and 'Heavenly Creatures' (The Sequel)), 2007, Trakwerx

* Sarah Dear Sarah! Spacemen Don't Live On Mars" - Various Artists (feat. Cult With No Name - 'Operation Failed'), 2006, Cream of the Crop



‘Post-punk electronic balladeers’ Cult With No Name, comprise the East London duo of Erik Stein and Jon Boux. Having been the first international signing to LA label Trakwerx in 2007 (founded by Jackson Del Rey of Californian punk legends Savage Republic), CWNN’s first two studio albums - ‘Paper Wraps Rock’ and ‘Careful What You Wish For’ - have been met with considerable critical acclaim.

Leading UK music journalist Mick Mercer proclaimed the band his discovery of 2007 (with both albums sitting in his subsequent annual top ten lists), Blaine L. Reininger of genre-transcending legends Tuxedomoon collaborated on their second album, Don Letts spun tracks on BBC6, and more recently Brett Anderson (Suede) asked CWNN to open for him for the launch of his new album.

Having provided the music for two blacker than black comedies at the Edinburgh Festival (‘Moz and the Meal’ and ‘Bored Stiff’), it’s fitting that Cult With No Name then turned their attention to cinema for their first DVD release, ‘Lightwerx: The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari’. Cult With No Name’s compulsive and compelling soundtrack extends their ability to instantly create evocative moods over 51 breathtaking minutes, on a journey that takes in mystical ambience, nerve-shredding distortion, popular and unpopular song, electronica, and vast, futurist soundscapes.

In the fall of 2010, CWNN returned with their 4th studio album, ‘Adrenalin’. From the haunting piano-led croon of ‘This time (or any other)’, to the grandiose choral washes of ‘Make a list!’, to the thundering faux-discaux of ‘The All Dead Burlesque Show’, ‘Adrenalin’ is simply a breathtakingly original song cycle. Building on their considerable achievements to date, and deftly hinting at everyone from Scott Walker to Sparks to Tuxedomoon (sometimes across a single song), CWNN have presented an album that’s as much of interest for its lyrical wordplay as its musical dexterity.

In 2012, Cult With No Name returned with their fifth and undoubtedly strongest album to date. ‘Above as Below’ showcases the duo at their lightest, darkest, most melodic, sardonic, nonchalant, bon vivant, serious and humorous. 14 tracks that span everything from pure synth-pop (‘What’s Certain’), to sweeping piano-led chanson (‘Maitre D-Day’), swirling trip-hop (‘Hope is Existence’), Black-American spiritual (‘Shake Hands with the Devil’), and stark spoken word (‘Losing my Elan’).

‘Above as Below’ has an illustrious supporting cast, including extensive contributions from Kelli Ali (Sneaker Pimps), Luc van Lieshout and Bruce Geduldig (Tuxedomoon), John Ellis (Stranglers, Peter Gabriel, Peter Hammill), and Meg Maryatt (17 Pygmies). Packaged in a deluxe fold-out letter-pressed sleeve, designed by world-renowned graphic designer Jonathan Barnbrook (David Bowie and Damien Hirst), Above as Below not only represents the pinnacle of CWNN’s achievements, but stands alone as an innovative, addictive and enduring song-cycle.

In addition to their studio albums, the band have contributed music to two comedic stage productions at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, ‘Moz and the Meal’ and ‘Bored Stiff’, and appear on several compilations. Erik Stein has also acted in several short films made by electronic music pioneer John Foxx as well as the 2011 short film ‘Sonus’, produced by Ridley Scott Associates. The band were nominated for the Exposure Music Awards in 2011.