The Swiss electronic pop trio Velma fancies itself made up of multimedia artists rather than merely musicians. They just might be the first band since the Human League to credit a non-musical visual contributor, film loop specialist Olivier Mariette, as a fully fledged member of the band, but their bewitching blend of minimalist electronica and soundtrack-like melodies is largely intriguing enough to forgive the occasional whiff of pretension.

Singer Christophe Jaquet, guitarist and keyboardist Christian Garcia, and drummer Stephane Vecchione met at an art exhibition in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1996. Their first album, Rythmique, was released in Europe on the small indie ITT Records. (This album, which went out of print almost immediately, was reissued on the Namskeio label in 2001.) The American indie Emperor Norton signed the trio in 1998 and released their second album, Cyclique, in early 1999. Although the label originally signed the group to a three-album deal, Velma were released from their contract in 2000; the trio signed to Namskeio Records and released a stopgap EP, Parole, later that year. The four tracks from that release appeared intact on the group's third full-length, Panoramique, released in February 2002.

Besides their regular albums, Velma have released several limited-edition EPs of ambient and incidental music related to art installations and dance recitals on their own Mnarstik label, including 2000's Cyclique2 and two 2001 releases, Natal and Finale. ~ Stewart Mason

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