Cult with No Name
Cult With No Name (often abbreviated to CWNN) is a musical duo from London, UK, comprising Erik Stein and Jon Boux. Influenced largely by electronic music, post-punk and modern classical music, they refer to themselves 'post-punk electronic balladeers'. Formed in 2004, the band were initially signed by Los Angeles label Trakwerx in 2007, founded by Jackson Del Rey of Californian post-punk band Savage Republic and 17 Pygmies. Now on their own 'CWNN Music' label, they are distributed worldwide through Darla Records, home of Harold Budd and My Morning Jacket. They are published through Blow Up Songs, founded by Paul Tunkin of the well known britpop Blow Up (club night).
Having contributed three instrumental tracks to 17 Pygmies' comeback album 13 Blackbirds, Cult With No Name made their full debut with the album Paper Wraps Rock in 2007. The album was met with broadly positive reviews, although the band regard it as their weakest, with the renowned music journalist Mick Mercer in particular championing the band, and making them his 'discovery of 2007'. The band's second album, Careful What You Wish For, was released a year later and included the instrumental track "You Know Me Better Than I Know Myself", which featured Tuxedomoon's Blaine L. Reininger on violin, and a piano-based cover of The Stranglers' classic "Golden Brown". The album was met with positive reviews, with supporters that include the filmmaker Don Letts. Former Suede frontman, Brett Anderson, also invited Cult With No Name to open for him at the launch of his solo album Slow Attack.
The band's next project was to record a new score for the classic German expressionist silent film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, which was released simultaneously as a DVD and digital download in 2009 and coincided with the 90th anniversary of the making of the film. The score was notable for the inclusion of songs alongside instrumental soundscapes. In late 2010, Cult With No Name released their fourth studio album, entitled Adrenalin, which expanded the band's sound to include elements of trip-hop and psychedelia. The album includes the disco-pastiche, "The All Dead Burlesque Show" and underground electronic hit "Breathing". The website dsoaudio.com hailed the album as a "serious contender for album of the year".
Above as Below, Cult With No Name's fifth album, was released in January 2012. For the first time, it saw the band collaborate with a number of outside artists. Kelli Ali (ex-Sneaker Pimps) contributed extensively, including co-writing the song "Shake Hands with the Devil". Other contributors included Bruce Geduldig and Luc van Lieshout of Tuxedomoon, ex-Stranglers and Peter Gabriel guitarist John Ellis and Meg Maryatt of 17 Pygmies. The cover art and packaging for the album was designed by David Bowie and Damien Hirst collaborator Jonathan Barnbrook and manufactured using a letterpress. Mark Moore of S'Express described the album as possessing "such warmth, such style, such bliss".
2012 also saw CWNN contribute the opening track to a remix album from the German band S.Y.P.H., which features ex-Captain Beefheart guitarist Gary Lucas and Rambo Amadeus, amongst others. In early 2013, Kelli Ali released her fifth solo album Band of Angels, which saw the band co-write and perform on two songs including the track "Eternity". The band's sixth album, Another Landing, was released in April 2014 on the band's own CWNN Music label. The album again saw the band collaborate with Tuxedomoon members Blaine L. Reininger, Bruce Geduldig and Luc van Lieshout, Kelli Ali and John Ellis, as well as Japanese electronica artist Coppe', and features the track "Swept Away", which was subsequently remixed by Rusty Egan. 2014 also saw the band contribute a cover 'Typist of Candy' by Nits (band), a significant influence on CWNN, for the album 'ISNT NITS'.
2016 saw the band contribute to a cover of Tuxedomoon's 'Loneliness' to a Crammed Discs reissue of the band's classic 'Half-Mute' album, that also featured Foetus, Aksak Maboul, and Simon Fisher Turner. Working once more with Blaine L. Reininger, Luc Van Lieshout and Kelli Ali, they also covered S'Express's 'COMA' for their 'Enjoy This Trip' remix album, which also included tracks from Chris & Cosey, Tom Furse from The Horrors, Primal Scream, Billie Ray Martin and Reuben Wu from Ladytron.
'Heir of the Dog', the band's 8th album, was released in September 2017, featuring the usual guest appearances from Tuxedomoon and Kelli Ali. The album includes the song 'No News', which closes the film 'Blue Velvet Revisited' but was not included on the soundtrack. Roger Spy directed a memorable 'cut up' video for the song 'When I Was a Girl'. The album picked up very favourable reviews. A cover of The Residents's 'Boo Who?' appeared on the 2018 collaborative fan project 'I Am A Resident' through Cherry Red Records, and the band also contributed a cover of 'I Hate Heaven' to a tribute to the late Hardy Fox, which also featured The Residents, Renaldo and the Loaf, and Fred Frith.
The band's 9th album 'Mediaburn' was released in October 2019 and was met with very positive reviews. More political than earlier albums, it includes a number of sardonic put-downs of contemporary society. The album is also notable for the track '(No Such Thing As) Silence' which was commissioned by the Olympus Corporation and composed using ambient sounds solely captured via an Olympus LS-P4 mobile audio recorder.
Blue Velvet Revisited
In early 2015, CWNN were commissioned by German filmmaker Peter Braatz to produce the soundtrack for Blue Velvet Revisited, a feature-length documentary film based around previously unreleased footage that Braatz had shot on the set of the David Lynch's classic film Blue Velvet, at the invitation of Lynch. The band invited Tuxedomoon to collaborate on the project, with John Foxx also contributing music. The resulting soundtrack was released in October 2015 and received significant international press and extremely positive reviews. The film premiered in October 2016 at the London Film Festival, with David Lynch selecting the film to be screened at his own Festival of Disruption in Los Angeles on the same weekend as the premiere. Since then, the film has been screened at a large number of festivals and cinemas worldwide. In May 2019, The Criterion Collection re-released Blue Velvet on DVD and Blu-Ray with Blue Velvet Revisited included as a main extra at Lynch's request.
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 provide all the music for the popular true crime 'Murder Mile' podcast from the same writer, Michael Buchanan-Dunne. The band have frequently collaborated with minimal techno artist Doudou Malicious for his Multi-Vitamins label. 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 and Gustav (2012), which is on permanent display at Bletchley Park.
In 2016, Erik Stein contributed lead vocals on two tracks for Blitz Club founder and DJ Rusty Egan's solo album 'Welcome to the Dancefloor', which additionally features Peter Hook (New Order), Midge Ure (Ultravox!) and Tony Hadley (Spandau Ballet). He also sings lead vocals on a subsequent Rusty Egan single 'I Thought I Could Never Love Again' with guests Chris Payne (musician) (ex-Gary Numan) and saxophonist Gary Barnacle.
CWNN's music has been described as difficult to categorise. However, they been compared to Roxy Music, Tuxedomoon, the Pet Shop Boys, Colin Newman, Nits, David Sylvian, and Scott Walker, amongst others. As well as performing in the UK, the band has performed in the US and Europe. The band were nominated for the UK's Exposure Music Awards in 2011.
- Paper Wraps Rock (2007)
- Careful What You Wish For (2008)
- Lightwerx: The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (2009)
- Adrenalin (2010)
- Above as Below (2012)
- Another Landing (2014)
- Blue Velvet Revisited (2015) (collaboration with Tuxedomoon and John Foxx)
- Heir of the Dog (2017)
- Mediaburn (2019)
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- [dead link]
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