ARGUABLY the most underrated band from the genesis of British synthpop will never be the same again.

One half of the duo Blancmange will not be returning to the band in the wake of serious health issues.

Stephen Luscombe, was the blonde synth whizz with an early penchant for Indian rhythms who was often seen behind front man Neil Arthur.

He and Arthur formed the group 38 years ago and released three albums, Happy Families, Mange Tout and Believe You Me and had seven Top 40 singles including Living on the Ceiling, Waves, Blind Vision and the Abba cover The Day Before You Came, before splitting up in 1987.

Both went on to concentrate on film and TV soundtrack work and played with various other experimental projects, before reforming Blancmange in 2010 and releasing a fourth album, Blanc Burn the following year.

Luscombe, who will be 63 on Sunday has since had fleeting involvement due to ill health and almost exclusively involving interviews. He appeared on a BBC 6 Music show with Arthur in August.

Evening Times:

Luscombe (circa 1982)

Six years ago he said he was unable to come on the various tour/dates due to an abdominal aortic aneurysm adding:"It wouldn’t have been too clever to ignore that, and not fair on the boys to have that at the back of their minds."

In 2012 he said: "Turns out it’s hereditary – and the latest scan recently showed no change – SOOO I won’t be coming on the next adventure unfortunately."

Now it has emerged Luscombe who suffers from heart difficulties has been forced to retire.

But Arthur, who will be running solo when he takes to Edinburgh's La Belle Angele on tonight (Friday) and Glasgow's Audio on tomorrow (Saturday) night, says his partner has given his blessing to the tour and indeed the new album Unfurnished Rooms.

Evening Times:

Asked about the chances of Luscombe returning, he said: "Because of Stephen's serious health issues, there is not a possibility of him returning to work live or record. I've released five albums now since Stephen left Blancmange.

"We speak on a regular basis and he sent me a lovely message after hearing the new album and after reading some reviews."

Is there any chance of him contributing in the future?

"We have discussed a collaboration towards some kind of publication on our version and take on events in the early days and through the period in the 80's with Blancmange. Spinal Synth," said Arthur.

"I worked with Benge Edwards on the new album - we recorded and released an album First Light under the name Fader in June, and David Rhodes on guitar, so I'm not alone."

Evening Times:

Is this something you are comfortable with now?

"I'm perfectly happy writing and performing, yes, I'm lucky to get to do this," he said.

So what inspired the new album?

"I look for the bits inbetween the stuff we all go through most days. The mundane the things in some ways that strangely turn out to be, as you may say, stranger than fiction. I guess I'm trying to tell parts of a story, mixing fact and fiction, leaving enough space I hope for the listener to get their own perspective on the album."

I am aware that the Glasgow setlist is likely to be a mix of old and new. How do you feel about playing the classics and are you able to stay true to them?

"We play a mixture of old and new and we approach each track in much the same way. If we believe and our commitment is total, then there's a good chance the audience will believe it too."

I would say that Blancmange were one of the most underrated combos to come out of the early synth-pop period. Do you agree?

"It is a very kind comment. Other than that I can't say."

And why do you think you weren't as big as say, Soft Cell were then.

"We plough a lonely furrow and in some ways still do."

How on earth was Running Thin - a radio session recording relased as B side - not properly recorded and released as a single?

"We never got round to it after recording a version for the John Peel session. Second part answer, the record company probably thought it a tad 'dark door', so not in their eyes/ears single material. Ha ha, they should hear the new stuff eh?"

Top Ten: The A-Z of Blancmange

10. Waves (1983)


 

9. We Are The Chemicals (2017)  


 

8. God's Kitchen (1982)

7. The Day Before You Came (1984)

6. I've Seen The Word (1982)


 

5. Don't Tell Me (1984)

4. Feel Me (1982)

3. Living On The Ceiling (1982)

2. Running Thin (1982)

1. What's Your Problem (1985)