And so it was that Fairnie and Sage set forth into the unknown as a duo, trading as the Techno Twins (this being a good few years before the term became associated with hi-energy dance music without a chorus). The Techno Twins were aiming for across the board success through easy-on-the-ear bubblegum pop, hence the succession of cover versions they chose to record: old standards ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ and ‘Falling In Love Again’, followed by ‘Swing Together’, a 3-minute medley-styled tribute to Glenn Miller, Marilyn Monroe and the whole big band genre. Nostalgia was so high on the agenda that the word even slipped into the title of the first album, ‘Technostalgia’. Versatile one-man-band Dave Hewson handled production duties, as well as arranging and performing the instrumental backing.
Courtesy of David Rose.
True to form, chart success was about as likely as something really quite unlikely. The Guinness Book of Hit Singles entry for Techno Twins registers a sum total of two weeks of chart presence for 1982’s ‘Falling In Love Again’ (the first week scraping into the top 75 at n°75, the second reaching the dizzy heights of n°70). ‘Swing Together’ did well in some European niche markets, but there was no immediate need for bodyguard presence on tour (alongside artists such as Imagination and Thompson Twins).
Record label PRT stuck by the now Twin-less Technos for 1985’s highly-accomplished ‘Foreign Land’ album. With renowned producers Phil Harding (of PWL fame) and Anne Dudley (Ms Art of Noise) at the helm, an army of top-class session musicians providing the musical backing (including legendary bassist Phil Spalding) and a number of top notch co-writers in the dug-out, the end-product was mature pop at its best. The joys of parenthood had resulted in ‘Crying in the Rain’, and cuts such as ‘Lunatic Republic’ took the duo to new heights. The title track was released as a single in the wake of the album (the track had already been released as a stand-alone single in 1983), but sank without trace.
By 1985 the Technos live experience had become a rare commodity, but when given half the chance Fairnie lapped up the opportunity to put on the kind of show that would force Madonna to spend an extra hour in the gym daily. Whether crowd-surfing à la Peter Gabriel or clambering 50ft up dodgy scaffolding to get a better view, this was the sight of someone at the peak of his powers.
After a three-year hiatus and what seemed like endless recording sessions in the States, the Technos’ final album ‘Songs for a Nervous World’ was released by US independent label Refuge. The work was a frustrating juxtaposition of wacky Techno-craftsmanship and straight-ahead American FM rock, and left Fairnie and Sage disillusioned. Oh well. There were some nice touches though, with gems such as the visionary ‘War: One Voice’ and the weird but wonderful re-working of old favourite ‘Mechanical Ballet’, co-written seven years earlier with former sparring partner Hewson.
At the other end of the artistic spectrum, light years from the pop territory inhabited by the Techno Twins, Steve and Bev came up with Casualtease as a means to quench their thirst for avant garde artistic expression. As well as a Casualtease album, credited to the Techno Orchestra, there were sporadic outbursts of Casualtease productions throughout the 80s, most notably at Greenbelt ’81 in front of a mystified mainstage audience who had just recovered from the more straightforward delights of a performance from then virtual unknowns U2. Stewart Henderson:
“Fairnie and Sage, comperes for the week-end, were back with a visual and aural feast on Saturday night when their Casual Tease production brought Greenbelt Main Stage its first ever Visual Art Becomes Animated event. Without going into inadequate explanations of the caper it will suffice to say that there was an awful lot of white about and some extremely expansive imagery. Avant garde? Who knows? (…) Anyway, amidst the Tease show were some great sounds, melodies and wheezes.”
It is said that US artist Randy Stonehill still hasn’t forgiven them for having to go on afterwards! The Casualtease set is also generally accepted as being the only time a double bed has been used on the mainstage at Greenbelt.
Weird? Yep. Wonderful? Most certainly. Casualtease shows managed to take electronic sounds and noises, drama, lighting effects and haunting imagery, blending them all into one bizarre whole. Subsequent performances were confined to art-houses who welcomed the occasional extravaganzas with open arms and captivated audiences.