Luxurious string-drenched electronica? Boy-girl harmonies? Songs of emotional pain? Yes, please, says Jerry Thackray.

It's very clichéd, but a lot the stuff I create is motivated by my relationship with my girlfriend," reveals Marc Bianchi with typical understatement about his dreamtime electronic project Her Space Holiday. Over the course of two studio albums and one remix collection, San Francisco record label owner and artist Bianchi and his co-musician Keely have become the most renowned cult couple since Spiritualized's Jason Pierce and his lover/bandmate Kate Radley (now wife and muse of Richard Ashcroft).

"Also," Bianchi continues, "I'm terrified of having a stagnant life of where I go into work and do nothing. Artistic projects, as random as they are, keep me going."

The man is too modest. Since leaving his hardcore outfit Mohinder and starting the label AudioInformationPhenomena and Her Space Holiday in 1996, Bianchi has been responsible for some truly gorgeous, heartbreaking, melancholy music. It's been a hard learning curve, though, as the trail of 7-inches, 12-inches and Eps released in his hometown of San Francisco can attest.

The first album, Home Is Where You Hang Yourself, focused on a difficult period in his relationship with Keely, being a singularly saddened outing a little too in thrall to Spiritualized (appropriately enough). Ambidextrous was a sensitive collection of reworked tracks from the likes of Elastica and the precocious and tormented Bright Eyes. It's the just-released Manic Expressive, though, which shows a startling maturity to Bianchi's work: sumptuous electronic string-led vistas and wistful male/female vocals that simultaneously recall '80s cutie band The Field Mice, New Order side-project Electronic and the more soulful of the dance iconoclasts (Aphex Twin, Goldfrapp). This is narcoleptic pop, pure and beautiful. Not that you'd believe it, listening to Bianchi talk.

"Probably the most offensive review we ever heard was in Melody Maker," he shrugs, "where the writer started going on about how strange it was that someone as beautiful as Keely could be attracted to someone as plain as me. There's so much you can talk about: the monotone vocals, the out-of-tune guitars, the poor mixing."

This is a refrain with which Bianchi seems a little obsessed. On I've Always Been Stupid on the new album, the tattooed singer plays back an interview mostly concerned with his relationship over warm dance beats and a Chris Isaak-style Twin Peaks guitar. Still, it's not as if Bianchi isn't aware of his frailties.

The first album was pretty morose and self-indulgent in a depressing way," he says, without a trace of irony. "Seeing a lot of reviews brought that to light. But when I came to tour the record, I wasn't so much like that, hence the title of the new record. The moods change artistically more than emotionally now."

So can we expect to see Marc over here, promoting his music? Perhaps, but nothing's ever too straightforward for this sensitive boy.

"I started the [Her Space Holiday] project to get away from being in a band atmosphere, to take away the distress of taking this personal thing on to a public stage. I still feel the same way, and it's something I'm getting used to. Without wanting to sound too narcissistic, I find it damaging emotionally, being-on-stage.

"Sometimes," he adds cryptically, "it's better to throw your money on the fire."


Mush Records