A year on from her unsympathetic reworking of Bowie’s ‘Loving The Alien’, Stella Wembley’s ‘Wasting My Time’ brings the listener more detached post-goth/electronica that listeners will either love or hate. Stella has rarely approached her music in the most user-friendly way – which can be a good thing – and here, her love of rigid rhythms and reverbed vocals goes into overdrive. The track’s blend of robotic beats and strange synth tones sets up something that could loosely be described as goth-disco, like an old Mute Records track remixed by Georgio Moroder, but once you make it past the confronting coldness, there’s something weirdly appealing. The way Wembley shifts between strange croons and stylised yelps just accentuates any surface oddness, whilst the cold music and wantonly mechanical rhythm harks back to an alternative (early) 80s in the best possible way. Yes, this number is likely to be divisive, but at least it makes a definite impression.

The song actually gets the benefit from a selection of remixes on this digital EP, and as you might expect from something that has an obviously programmed heart, each one brings something different to the table without drawing anything away from the original track. In a couple of instances, these remixes actually make the track better.

The ‘Cold Minimal Wave Remix’ comes closest to the original arrangement, in that it adds a wall of extra synth sounds – of the incessant bleeping variety – and also employs an extra rhythm track which makes everything seem a little more urgent. Stella’s vocals occasionally get lost somewhere behind the layers of sound, but for anyone who fancies hearing something that sounds like a fusion of Lene Lovich and Elizabeth Fraser crooning behind a demo of Sparks’ ‘Beat The Clock’, with gothic overtones coming through a later keyboard riff will have their fever dream made a strange reality.

For those who like things darker, the ‘Bionic Visions Electro Remix’ presents a beat heavy take on the original number, rebuilding things into a very retro track worthy of an 80s goth club. In terms of style this is great, and with faint traces of old Visage fare colliding with Tubeway Army tones and help from a swirling synth, it really sounds like a lost gem that’s been rediscovered in a record company archive. The music is so strong it deserves a better vocal, unfortunately, but settling for what listeners are actually given, there’s enough charm in the wall of deep droning tones, mid-tempo beats and wavering synths to carry the track.

If anything makes this digital release worth the price of a download, however, it’s the ‘Bionic Visions Dark Ambient Remix’. Employing a downtempo electronica mood, this works much more effectively, since the slow tempo allows Stella’s sometimes limited voice more room to stretch out, which given that the vocal melody is reliant on a lot of longer notes, seems like a really good idea. The chosen keyboard sounds used throughout are much warmer than before, and a riff that evokes the sound of a theramin adds a brilliantly other-worldly tone between the verses. Best of all, though, are the reworked track’s lower registers. It’s easy to hear a musical influence here from the legendary Simon Gallup, and those early 80s inspired bass lines really benefit the melody throughout.

It would be remiss to call ‘Wasting My Time’ a genre classic in any way, but there’s still something that can seem alluring about Wembley’s cold and aloof style. The original track gives the feeling of something better trying to escape its medium budget prison and cold final mix, and thankfully, the Bionic Visions Dark Ambient Mix’ seems to realise that instinctively, and give the listener something much better as a reward. This won’t be for everyone, but for the more open-minded and forgiving electronica/light goth fan, this track and its associated remixes are worth exploring.

October 2023