Who are the great ladies of the Goth/Industrial scene today?

Music in general has always been a bit of a boys club. Sadly I feel like ladies have always faced an uphill battle particularly as producers and song writers. The goth/industrial scene has had it’s share of amazing and talented ladies as well as a progressive view, but it has never been a 100% fair shake. Since I have been getting back into the cutting edge of new music I have been overjoyed and amazed at the influx of talented female led performers currently putting out wonderful art that adds to the discussion and furthers the diversity of this scene. So I thought I would take a moment to highlight some of my favorite new artists creating music that places emphasis on the female perspective and makes this genre richer. I can’t add everyone I am listening to but i feel excited that it took me just a few moments to have several amazing artists currently enriching this scene. These will be quick hits, but I have more extensive reviews of many of the ladies featured.

Hante – Hélène de Thoury has an amazing voice and textural songs of beauty and effortless grace. She has such an unspoken coolness to her songs that paint a picture in your mind. I am transported every time i listen to her.

Sunshine Blind – Caroline Blind was an artist I grew up listening to that helped shape and mold me and changed my worldview of music. She has continued to make amazing music with the power and beauty of her voice. I always describe Sunshine Blind as a Steel gauntlet in a velvet glove. This is a cover she did of the Swans “Godamn The Sun”. It’s simple, striped down, and amazing.

Black Nail Cabaret – Emese Arva is a freaking force of nature. Her presence and power remind me of the first time i heard Annie Lennox. Her voice is pure raw energy, strength, and beauty. Wonderful range and a revolutionary song writing style that makes me want to charge up a hill and believe in a better tomorrow. I challenge you to listen to this song and not feel inspired!



S Y Z Y G Y X –  Luna Blanc has a voice that feels like a slow drink of whiskey in a club owned by David Lynch. It’s smokey, immersive, and full of desire. Can’t get enough.

Tearful Moon – Sky Lesco from Texas has such a haunting and lovely voice. It redefines barriers and has such an authentic concept and sound. She charges headlong into any subject matter while writing. It is deep, rich, and isn’t afraid to delve into the deepest concepts of the human experience.

Cliff and Ivy – Ivy Silence is a dear friend and all around wonderful human. Hailing from Alaska with her husband they do a sharp edge stabbing dark goth rock full of punk sensibility. Her voice is raw and unapologetic and as it crashes through you with sultry fierceness.

Kaelan Mikla – From Iceland is an amazing female group that hits on every level. It’s driving, fierce, gorgeous music filled with simmering intensity and textural beauty. They are truly a cutting edge sound for the modern age. Every time i listen to them i get lost in the picture they paint with every song.

Corlyx – Holy shit i love this band. Caitlin Stokes has a clear and fearless beauty and style. She really captures the raw sexuality and intelligence of the modern scene. This new album has a filthy glittering glory reminiscent of the 90s but with modern flare and strength.

Audrey Burne – I always love when i can give props to a fellow Michigan band. Lilith Gates of Audrey Burne is a immensely talented and haunting vocalist that has a lovely Natalie Merchant lilt and wonderful stage presence. I’ve had the honor or sharing a stage with her and they have a wonderful driving dark rock feel that really captures a room.

https://firesngp.bandcamp.com/track/show-me-life

Fires- Aedra is a freaking force of nature. She sings with such intensity and burning passion about her experience and her song writing ability really pushes the boundaries of industrial electronic music. This album really changed the game for me this year.

Angel Metro – Soft, sultry, understated glory. Virginia’s Angel Metro does a wonderful blend of subtle dance beats and lilting tender beauty. She really exposes her inner most feelings for every song and this courage lends the tracks a real power.

Schedule IV – Stephanie Strange again from Michigan is a friend and amazing energy on stage. This is perfect precision post punk glory that blends her high range intense vocals and intelligent lyrics to create an entrancing and intimate experience. One of our favorite bands to play with and wonderful people.

Lorelei Dreaming – Laura Bienz leaves it all on the floor every night. I’m starting to reflect on how many of these amazing ladies i actually got to share a stage with. The energy, stage presence and political savvy combines with the intelligence of the lyrics to create a wondrous and unique experience. Do yourself a favor and bask in the fiery glow of this album.

I Ya Toyah – Chicago based Ania Tarnowska brings a fierce and rocket fueled electronic dance symphony of raw sensual strength to every performance. I love these explosive pop hooks blended with crashing dance rhythms.

Leathers – Is the sultry synth dream darkness of Shannon Hammett of Actors. It’s so great to see when a performer in a band of the quality of Actors finds her own voice and shows the ability to create such staggeringly beautiful music like this with her as the center piece. I love how far this reaches from the sound of Actors to really allow her voice to shine because it is one that deserves to be front and center.

Ego Likeness – So Donna Lynch has had a long, successful, and storied career and I could have picked a lot of songs newer than this, but it’s my favorite so I’m going with it. Donna is a hurricane of passion and darkness. She has been taking on intense topics in her art for a decade and creating beautiful songs about the horror which resonates with the feminine experience and having an intimacy of truth for decades.

https://nowherenowrecords.bandcamp.com/track/dragonfly?fbclid=IwAR3QR3MKDGuVWBQoA78u_s_okui5EkkmvAMrpmJBP2_xub88iZ8s3k8ODVo

Bess – Aussie dark alternative rocker Bess Linda is making churning sultry dance beats full of world beat toms and off kilter warm toned vocals to shake a dance floor.

Bones Uk – This recommendation came from Collin Schipper, filthy wide room fresh sounds. It’s pop hook sensible but cutting edge in your face intensity. You aren’t wrong “Beautiful is boring”

Death Loves Veronica – Veronica Campbell is a slow, back beat, sultry drive down a long empty road. It’s effortless tension, and subtle whispers of reality laid barren with brutal honesty.

SINE – I must admit I heard about SINE and Rona Rougeheart  through her collaboration with Curse Mackey. However once i dug into the power of her art for itself I found an intense flurry of disco dance beats underneath powerful vocals and world building soundscapes which captured me and brought me to my knees to beg for more.


VV and The Void – Valentina Veil has a wonderful whispering smoke swirl style. Really great at building tension in her songs to feel like a story.


Dissonance – Cat Hall has such a rich soulful voice with I feel gives a unique flare to her dark dance electronic sound.

I know I have missed so many impressive female artist which drive and push the boundaries of this scene. Just looking through what popped into my head without much through fills me with hope for a brighter, stronger future of diversity of the dark music scene. I hope you find something here you give a try to expand your horizons with.

Kat Squared was kind enough to put all these bands together on a Spotify playlist

Continue reading “Who are the great ladies of the Goth/Industrial scene today?”

Editorial: Goth Culture is it time to bury the past?

When i write reviews one of the common traps I try hard not to get lost in is comparing every new band I review to one of the sacred dark gods of the 80’s and 90’s that the group I am listening to sounds like. It’s a pretty common tactic and lets face it an effective one. It’s easy to associate with what is familiar when it often feels like the world of goth/industrial/darkwave/new wave/ect has pretty much been discovered and artists are searching for more subtle ways to test the boundaries of what is possible and find some new ground, I figured I would take a moment to acknowledge this is a reality for a lot of people.

Continue reading “Editorial: Goth Culture is it time to bury the past?”

Review of the Cold Transmissions Festival At Blue Shell 7/13/19

I am very open about our special relationship with Cold Transmission Records from Frankfurt Germany. I feel like their musical family approach to releasing Post Punk/Dark Wave/Electronic/Goth music is a template for how new labels can grow bands through a personal relationship and passion for distributing the art they are creating for new fans. Andreas Herrman, Suzy Herrman, and Yvonne Kiel have been working to build something wonderful through an emphasis on quality of music and artistic freedom for their artists which through word of mouth is growing into one of the fastest up and coming labels in this scene. This concert was special and represented what is possible when someone has a vision that puts personal gain aside and instead fosters an environment for unity, beauty, and friendship that brought together fans of this music style from all over the world. We came from America to meet friends from Germany, France, Belgium, Portugal, Denmark, Canada, Sweden, Israel, Turkey and many more all in one club to celebrate without pretense the music we love and what Cold Transmission has accomplished in bringing all these people together. It’s really hard to express in words in the digital age just how special that was and what it felt like to be a part of it. You see that was the secret, anyone could do this. It was one of the most welcoming inclusive environments I’ve ever witnessed at a show, and I have seen a lot. If you loved music there is a place for you here and it made my head spin thinking about the possibilities for how do I make this happen in America. Because everyone needs this. Everyone deserves it.

Lets talk about the epic lineup that was brought together for this show. One of the things that was a cultural shock for me as an American. The show was in Cologne Germany at this wonderful club called the Blue Shell. Doors opened at 7pm (Still quite light out during the summer) 1st band started at 7:30 pm sharp. This was no exaggeration. In America the idea of getting “goth” people to show up before 10:30 pm is laughable. Even when the event says doors at 8pm. So when we showed up at 7:20 pm thinking we will have a long wait before music we saw a packed sold out house that went from the stage to the back wall. People were engaged and clamoring to get to that stage. I was speechless to see this level of passion for new music and the energy and excitement was crackling through the air from the moment the doors opened.

A shot from outside the Blue Shell! That club was full. This was the overflow. (Spot Rachel for 151 bonus points)

First up was Crying Vessel. I had been extremely excited to see Slade play live for a while and it did not disappoint. Hearing the snapping drive of the live drums Basil was laying down really added an urgency and and fierceness to the melodic beauty of Slade’s singing. The sound system was honed right from the get go and each lyric cut across the distance of a room full of excited fans. Slade reached up with a bit more edge and length on his notes to really lift up the power of his performance. Mixed with those floating effect driving guitars this had even more of the energy and swagger that has been missing in dark wave music.

https://cryingvessel.bandcamp.com/

Setlist: Intro, Empty Glass, Lovers in Paradise, Aftershock, If it all was Real, Killing Time, Kiss the Fire, Dig Deep, Illusions, The Second Sleep

Crying Vessel – photo credit to Jean-Francis Galler
Crying Vessel – Photo credit Jean- Francois Galler

Band number two was IAMTHESHADOW featuring Karl Morten Dahl of Antipole. What an amazing team up. It was at this point I was really struck by how diverse the sounds of the bands on display were. Pedro Code has such a deep rich voice and passionate delivery. The crowded room was drawn in to such a level of intimacy and enveloped in the dark crooning style. Karl’s signature syncopated guitar sound added a unique flavor to Rui and Victors pulsing rhythm section to give this show a one of a kind experience. The rises and falls were so dynamic as Pedro lifted and diminished the power of his voice without much movement. (The stage was tightly packed to give little room for dancing). The beauty of this album which i have reviewed before is powerful and staggering. However I found myself overwhelmed with emotion hearing it raw and exposed this this format and looking out at a captivated audience swaying in time by the dynamic waves of sound washing over us. Then as a surprise the band played two Antipole songs with Pedro providing his resonant artistry to treat the crowd to a performance never heard on stage or album. When they played my favorite Antipole song “Closer” and I heard Pedro’s voice burn forth through the crowd I was overwhelmed. Breathtaking. Hard to image how seamlessly these two bands wove their songs and styles together to make something new.

Set list:

01. into your eyes 02. Fall apart 03. Everything in this Nothingness 04.the skin 05.october novel(Antipole) 06. Closer( Antipole) 07. This violence 08. Embracing theFall

www.iamtheshadow.bandcamp.com/

https://antipole.bandcamp.com/

IAMTHESHADOW – photo credit Jean-Francios Galler
IAMTHESHADOW – photo credit Jean-Francios Galler

Playing third was Joy/Disaster from France a band I had limited exposure to before the festival. Having them play after IAMTHESHADOW ended up being a master stroke. All the eloquent subtle beauty was left behind for a blast of pure energy and intensity. It started as a dark foreboding creep with Nicolas Rohr’s echoing rhythmic chanting solemnly floating on top of Soupa Rundstadlers room swelling bass lines. The air crackled with intensity from the contrast. Following a performance like IAMTHESHADOWS was no small feat and Joy/Disaster delivered with a show stopping set full of lashing venom differing from the their album. It was a breakneck march of driven tempo charging up a hill in battle cadence . Because this was the set I had the least expectation for I think it was the one that left me most moved. I was expecting post punk and was assaulted with burning punk aggression played with precision and sweeping melody. The performance was capped by a touching moment where the band presented Andy with a signed guitar for his 50th Birthday present to the ovation of the crowd. Again showing the emotion and sense of family this label has with it’s artists.

Set List:

CRITICAL PLACE
PARANOIA
FADE AWAY
STRANGERS
KISSES & PAIN
OMEGA
EXTINCTION
DEALER OF LIFE
LOBOTOMY
RESURRECTION
HUMAN ROBOTS

https://joy-disaster.bandcamp.com/

Joy/Disaster – Photo by Jean- Francois Galler
Joy/Disaster – Photo by Jean- Francois Galler
A touching moment with Andy and Nicolas Rohr

Closing the bands for the night was Silent Runners a band I had some knowledge of before the festival. I can tell you the album did not prepare me for the quirky and intense performance they had live on stage. Hailing from the Netherlands singer Dolf Smolenaers oozed with stage presence and connected with the crowd setting up a blistering atmospheric set of laser sharp texture and melodic longing. The off kilter drum beats and and carefully timed guitar and keyboard lines left me in mind of Factory records Happy Mondays. Stanley’s guitar riffs came in varying waves and set the boundaries of the controlled chaos. It surged at you from all over the stage while the crowd swayed and stared in rapture. What a sizzling close to a night of amazing live music

Setlist: Human Capital, Wilderness, Dark Mountain, I Walk Away Again The Knife, Roadkill, Forgotten, Through The Night, Cavemen.

/silentrunners.bandcamp.com/

As the bands finished the fun was just beginning. The dance floor flooded and Rule of Three with Christian and Pete started spinning wax with expert hands and discerning ears. Epic set list below

Rule of Three – Photo by Jean- Francois Galler

Bad Sector – Negative (edit)M!R!M – Liebe Machen [ Kill Shelter Remix ]The Soft Moon – Black (extended)Neon Electronics – Invisible Man [ Kill Shelter Remix ]Kill Shelter – Get Down ft. The Shyness of StrangersTempers – Strange Harvest *Agent Side Grinder – Doppelgänger (extended):Wumpscut: – Fear In Motion [ Remyl Remix ] (edit)FJERNLYS – Lunar Sphere (edit)Kill Shelter – Bodies ft. Buzz Kull (extended)Soft Kill – Whirl *Nitzer-Ebb.com – I’m Undone *

The night was finished by Cologne Disorder blasting everyone’s favorite retro dance hits until we couldn’t dance anymore.

Rachel being a dance commander

This was the first Cold Transmission Festival but with it’s resounding success it certainly won’t be the last. I felt something special in the Blue Shell that night. I know everyone around me felt the same. People traveling a great distance to feel a part of the magic they created. We came from many places, spoke many languages, but we were all united in what Suzy, Andy, and Yvonne have built. Bands, Dj’s , Music Writers, and fans. Basking in the connection and glow of the music we love. This was a experience I will hold in my heart and my mind until my dying day. When you get the chance to be a part of something magical like this I can only say grab it and hold on as tight as you can. Moments like this are what make existence worth while and it is never too late for you to be a part of something monumental.

Sounds and Shadows with Cold Transmission
Gallit ( Highway 7 Radio ) Karl (Antipole) Pedro (IAMTHESHADOW) Me 😉

Review of Sonsombre: The Veils Of Ending

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Band: Sonsombre

Album: The Veils Of Ending

All music written and recorded by Brandon Pybus at Sound Sorcery 


https://sonsombre.bandcamp.com/album/the-veils-of-ending

It seems like the original goth music concept is becoming a bit of a forgotten relic from times of yore. It’s easy to forget sometimes as goth music is experiencing a resurgence that brought a shattering and synthesis of various styles to create new sub genres that the original fans of Sisters of Mercy (totally not goth just ask Andrew Eldrich), Fields of the Nephilim, Rosetta Stone , in the 80s are all elders at home on a Friday night. Even the generation after (which i am a part of ) are in our 40’s now. That is why when I heard this record from North Virginia doom rockers Sonsombre my heart soared with the idea that the new generation of “goth” is ready to come back to square one. To the place it all begin with some true dark unapologetic goth rock. Risen from the crypt and given shadowy wings to soar once again into our hearts. I am 100% ready for this and I think the world is as well.

Sonsombre means dark and somber and this record surely is. It is cold and menacing. Guitar lines twisting like serpents of smoke flowing with the sound of a fender jazz tube amp with poison fangs aimed for your head. Brandon Pybus voice echos and canters through poetic verses about a sinister world closing in. Up tempo rock beats with crisp sword dance snare beats snap you like a frothing horse running towards a cliff. This album feels more and more like an unearthed and forgotten magic which was always there sleeping but we had forgotten. I want to remember. I want this new generation to hear what goth meant to me, and Brandon has captured that sound in a bottle and spread it back into the world. How can a concept so old feel so fresh?

Ok top tracks, a lot of scorchers here but lets make hard choices 🙂

Night Child – Just listen to that opening guitar line dripping with sensual energy and dark foreboding. The driving baseline straight out of the Floodland playbook. Brandon’s voice is a pleading chant of deep and tortured challenge. “Night Child am I reaching you?” It comes in waves and erodes you as it washes over.

The Future is Black– The opening of the sinister music box tinkling. Building a tension until those slashing guitar sounds come racing towards you in a fury of cuts. The drums for this have a tight fierce pacing making a dance driving attacking feel. Try not to move your body while this washes over you. The future is black and I am hearing this kingdom collapse with fists raised and boots stomping. This song is so familiar , like a club anthem I had forgotten.

Matte Black – Taking the tempo down to a cursed dirge drive. The vocals charge to the front. This song is haunted and full of pageantry. Facing our own demons and acknowledging the romanticism found in a doomed and nihilistic world. Prybus is a true bard and this song is his heart song.

Overall this album was a remembrance I needed. If you were not old enough to feel the first two waves of goth than this record is a masterclass in how those songs inspired a movement. It isn’t a simple retread though, it is a sum of all the best parts of the music that inspired it. Using modern technique and technology to bring and energy and crackling life that I think was sometimes lacking in our ancient sacred fore bearers. The lyrics are poetic and poignant and I am filled with the possibilities that traditional goth rock has in the modern era. Fire this into your veins and sway your arms in burning ruins of future sounds.

Review of Stoneburner: Technology Implies Belligerence

Band: Stoneburner

Album: Technology Implies Belligerence

Label: Negative Gain

Members: Steven Archer (Ego Likeness)

https://stoneburnerngp.bandcamp.com/

Brand new video Minor Monsters released 7/1/19

So here is another album I have had for a while and have played many times fearing the daunting task of trying to describe the intense emotional and musical impact of this record in an effort to do it justice. Steven Archer is a mainstay in the goth/industrial scene from his band Ego Likeness which I have reviewed before. Their credentials in this scene are indisputable with several albums to their credit that have all hit the mark. I have thoroughly enjoyed the previous Stoneburner albums however with “Technology Implies Belligerence” Steven has achieved another plane in his musical expression and I will do my best to capture some of that concept in this review. I’m put in mind of Phillip K Dick when he wrote the Valis trilogy. An artist who had critical and commercial success that had earned the freedom through his labors to produce a piece of magnificent art that tested his own boundaries and redefined the genre. This record was completely un-tethered and unapologetic in it’s scope and daring combining sounds and concepts which pushed the edges of synthesis through technology . It is brave, it is meticulous, and it addresses poignant themes which speak to the struggle of current human existence.

To appreciate the full scope it has to be said that Archer is a modern artistic renaissance man. Playing in several projects on a variety of instruments. In addition he is a noted visual artist (I was lucky enough to have him do the cover art of my own album). As a visual engineer he made a series of accompanying videos with practical effects he created himself. This album also broke ground in the access he offered to fans with an interactive discussion group where he shared technique and answered questions on every stage of the creative process. A truly novel and cutting edge idea for the modern digital age. Industrial music often pays homage to the cyberpunk ideology of science fiction and Archer has dug deeply into some of his literary keynotes making the songs a thesis on one of his favorite works from Peter Watt’s “Blindsight” dealing in first contact higher conciseness and personal freedom. This blending of literary theme, visual expression, and musical emotion formed a groundbreaking multimedia art piece in a point and click surface world.

Ok we have gotten this far and I haven’t discussed the music yet. Stoneburner features many of the staples of industrial music. Syncopated distorted guitar sounds. Pounding drumbeats in body blow intensity. With effect laden vocals lashing out in varying cadence. Where Archer pulls back the throttle and rises towards uncharted ground is in the use of world beat percussion sounds layered with pinprick sitar guitar riffs. Listening while watching the sound wave file really gives an appreciation for how much thought went into the purposeful dynamic shifts and emotional crafting. Not known as a vocalist Archer dives in with passion and intensity filtered through a barrage of electronic effect using his voice and samples as an additional driving percussion instrument to unleash a sincerity and terrible beauty with the raw power of his words. Can you take the diverse expressive sounds of Dead Can Dance and force them through the meat grinder of Coil’s chaotic destructive power. I wasn’t sure until i heard it happen.

This is a concept album, you need to hear it all song to song. However I will speak to some standout tracks:

Dry Gun – This song astounded me. The percussion is intensity held at bay with greasy chains. This dancing pinprick guitar lines lending an eastern feel with a guitar effect from Roger Waters. The swooping cello synth pad and jagged leading dynamics create such primal movement that when the unorthodox vocals samples come in you are already dancing with reckless abandon. This song owns your body.

The Angel of Abscess – Brooding and dark intro spreads out with subtlety and danger. I really enjoy the grinding metal effects. Stevens vocals come in with a distant chant while new sounds are added and built. A desolation and fear scrolling through the emptiness of darkness. The repeating melody line has an almost Celtic feel which seems to get faster and faster until you are hurtling towards oblivion in a rapidly decaying vehicle.

Identity by Diagnosis – You can’t travel to the edge without questioning the reality you are seeing. This song brought me back to the questions of my own minds perceptions. Again achieving that frantic sense of speed and motion while maintaining a medium pace without relying on volume to create intensity. I think what amazed me most in this record was the deliberate effort that seemed to go into every decision and every note. If you have ever had to find reason in the modern world of chemical science you find yourself empathizing with this storytellers journey.

Overall this was a staggering emotional journey of a record that found a way to do something so difficult in the modern times. Touch on new and undiscovered ground in music. I honestly feel like this record will be something we look back on as a new beginning of a branch of future sounds to come. Try and really breath in the power of that statement. I hear so many new albums these days and this isn’t something I say lightly. If you are a person that appreciates art for what it is capable of stirring in human emotion. If yours is a mind that quests for a deeper challenge and greater understanding. You owe it to yourself to get this album and play it loud enough for the neighbors to hear.

Review of Palais Ideal: Pressure Points

Band: Palais Ideal

Album: Pressure Points

Label: Cold Transmission

Members:

John Edwards: 
Vocals, Guitars, Synths, Rhythm Programming 

Richard van Kruysdijk: 
Bass Guitar, Baritone Guitar, Guitar, Synths, 
Backing Vocals, Rhythm Programming

https://palaisideal.bandcamp.com/album/pressure-points

I’ve been searching for the right words for this May 25th 2019 release from Palais Ideal. This album had such an profound impact on me. It’s an early runner for my album of the year and we are just getting started. For me when I think of this record I think of the first time I heard The Church and thought, they are doing the same thing as most of the new wave bands. They are just doing it on a level of depth and complexity which touch on a higher step, while somehow maintaining everything in terms of pop sensibility that their contemporaries are achieving. I think the lack of sugar coating could make Palais Ideal easy to look past when in reality they are the ones creating something most profound.

John Edwards

John has such a wonderful and unique voice which i will expand on later but for a moment I want to focus on the message rather than the voice it is given in. You just don’t hear intelligent, challenging lyrical content like this in modern post punk music. A lot of it is expressive and clever but what Pressure Points has done is weave a cohesive tale of vibrant expression about the plight and achievement of modern culture. It’s Issac Asimov set to a tapestry of music. Enormous in scope and precise in vision. I have listened to these songs so many times already but I ordered the LP and put off writing the review partially out of intimidation partially because i needed to absorb the record played front to back as it was made to be heard. I’m not saying they don’t have great singles here. To me, this is a record of the best 12 deep cuts spaced over a bands 10 albums in one place.

Richard van Kruysdijk

Lets talk about what is unique here. Post Punk tends to lend itself to a technically adept style and Palais Ideal features two masters of craft at the height of their instruments. What they have done is take a step beyond the technical proficiency and into the progressive rock style almost more King Crimson than Joy Division. Dramatic shifts in key and tempo. Time syncopation that has the same heavy driving bass but such fluid movement of tone that it transcends the genre. The music is layered like mesh steel on a robots thigh. John has a voice that flickers and strikes with clarity and hovers on a range between Bernard Sumner, Joe Strummer and Mark Burgess yet always finds a way to cut through the complexity of the tempest. The use of guitars and Synths are economical and create a cleanness in spite of how much is going on.

How on earth to pick favorite tracks?

The Programme – What a complete cybernetic device digging into the depths of your skull and rattling around the pleasure zones in your brain. This bass line is everywhere at once. John’s delivery and that winding guitar rift which glances like light through a prism. “The Colony breaks down, we built it up again, we run the program now” A true statement on the loss of reality through technological euphoria. Facing the self shackled slavery of the modern world with glorious synth candy.

Context Collapse – This high energy snare snap building into a smooth cornered transition and that signature delicate guitar light show. “Forever avoiding a moment of disconnection. Improving, engineering a more transparent you.” So much to unpack here, layers upon layers.

Everything Will Be Ok – So much focus is on this dytopian world of the modern struggle this dance beat New Order soother with the strange echo robot effect vocals breaks up the weight and lets everything go green. “There is no such thing as destiny, life gives you everything you need. Everything will be ok?” So tongue and cheek I can almost beleive.

Overall this album is a force of everything that this new renaissance in post punk music is making possible. First you tear it down, then you rebuild it, then you synthesize it to a higher complexity and evolution. Pressure Points is a soundtrack for the modern spy novel of the post digital age. It’s full of adventure, depth, and a calculated empathy that makes me dream of electric sheep. This will be an album I am still peeling apart when I am putting together a list of the most important musical contributions of the year.

Interview: With Pete Burns of Kill Shelter

I’m very excited about this interview. Kill Shelter “Damage” was one of my top albums of 2018, a truly groundbreaking piece of artistic expression which harnessed the vocal talents of some of the darkest stars in the Post Punk/Darkwave genre. I tried to ask questions which would give a firmer grasp of his process and motivations in creating this monumental and personal offering. The album just became available on vinyl and is a must have for any serious collector who values this style. Link just below


https://hivmusic1.bandcamp.com/album/damage-upr094-gothic-rock-darkwave

https://soundsandshadows.com/2019/05/18/kill-shelter-review-of-damage/

Our review of the album 🙂

(Ken) Pete this latest album “Damage” touched on so many emotions for so many people. What did this title mean and what were you trying to capture in these songs that related to it?

(Pete) Firstly thanks so much for the kind words and for the opportunity to talk about it. “Damage” was written during an exceptionally difficult time for me and there were a lot of dark thoughts and emotions that influenced both my music and my song writing in the nine months that it took to produce the album. “Damage” not only reflected my state of mind but it became a thread that ran through all the tracks – whatever happened I wanted to try and create something with a sense of purpose. Music has become so disposable and ubiquitous that I just wanted to try and make something that had some form of substance, meaning and hopefully resonance.

(Ken) You did such a unique concept of writing these songs but bringing in a who’s who of incredible musicians and singers to bring your words and songs to life. That couldn’t have been easy. How did you come up with this concept and what was your biggest challenge to overcome? 

(Pete) I’ve always seen myself as a producer first so working with other artists, especially vocalists, is something that I love to do. I’d been doing a set of remixes and had just started writing material when Pedro from Unknown Pleasures Records approached me asking if I intended to do an album and if so he would be interested in considering it for his label. So that gave me something positive to work towards, of course there was no guarantee that a) it would be good and b) that anyone would like it. At that time UPR were going to only do 100 releases in their catalog so I knew if Damage was to be considered it needed to be special and I wanted to help mark the history of the label in some way. I had a “hit list” of artists that I wanted to work with so I began writing with those people in mind. The mistake I made was writing the song first then approaching the artist rather than gauging interest levels first then going down the writing process. It also takes a lot of time to slot into other people’s schedules too so it can easily become a logistical nightmare. I’m taking a different approach with the follow up…

(Ken)  I feel like post punk/darkwave music is going through an incredible Renaissance right now, as someone who has made music in this scene a long time what has changed for you the last few years? What excites you about the future?

(Pete) Yes, there is a lot of chat about renaissance and revival and I think that is a good thing – “a rising tide lifts all boats” as they say. The scene is definitely broader now and influences and genres tend to blur at the edges and that is really exciting. I read recently that we were in the 4th or even 5th wave of post-punk now but that doesn’t mean it’s all good. I tend to gravitate towards the timeless and the innovative and that’s what I look and hope for in music. I’m always excited to hear outstanding new music so I’m forever optimistic that something very special is just around the corner

(Ken)  I watched Damage shoot to the top of so many top albums on 2018 lists, including Sound and Shadows. Did that surprise you? What is the ideal future for Kill Shelter?

(Pete) To say I was surprised would definitely be an understatement – yeah, I’ve really been blown away by the response. For an album that was released so late in the year (November 26th) I never thought anyone would care let alone put it on their “best of” lists. I’m very grateful to everyone who has supported the album including Sounds and Shadows of course.

The ideal future for Kill Shelter would be continued interest and support and the chance to release another album (or two) that were equally as surprising as the first. That would be a good start. 

(Ken)  You worked with so many incredible artists I love on this album. Pedro Code, Ashe Ruppe, Nate Jespersen, Karl Morton Dahl, Hante, many more. If you could bring in any vocalist living or dead to do a song with who would it be?

Pedro Code of IAMTHESHADOW

(Pete) I’m hopeful that the next set of Kill Shelter releases partially answers that question for you. There are so many extremely talented vocalists in and out of the genre it would be difficult to name just one. David Sylvian is still one of may favorite vocalists of all time.

David Sylvian of Japan

(Ken) These songs have such a person feel, are they about your life? Or more of a narrative about what you are seeing in the human condition? If the first what did you draw on to create them?

(Pete) There are people who write from experience and there are people who write imagined experiences. On Damage the material I wrote draws directly from very personal experiences and emotions. I’ve always found writing music cathartic in that way – even when I was growing up I buried myself in writing as a way to deal with my feelings.

(Ken) It’s so hard for me to choose a favorite track on this record, but In Decay hit a special chord for me. Ashe has told me these are your words he sang. Tell me about the background of this song, what were you feeling in Decay?

(Pete) I’m really glad you called that particular track out although it’s an incredibly personal track to me. Without being too maudlin about it, “In Decay” was written about the death of my mother. I didn’t tell Ashe originally what the real meaning was as I thought it was unfair to put him under that amount of pressure. He sang it just the way I’d imagined it though so I’ll be forever grateful to him for that. The line “at the end of forever – I come undone” just about sums it up.

(Ken) This was a complete album and concept, but music is changing. Is there still a place in the modern scene for 10+ song concepts or is the future, singles and internet hits? 

(Pete) Listening behavior has changed dramatically. Anonymous single tracks appearing on semi-curated playlists and individual tracks being recommended by algorithms based on listener preference has definitely changed the way we consume music. “Damage” was written as an album and you can hear that when you listen to it – it’s supposed to be a journey. But the individual nature of the contributing artists makes each track unique and therefore able to stand on its own too. Is there a place for a 10+ song concept album? Probably not, but who wants to be the same as everyone else. I really hope that people will discover the album and put the time aside to listen to it as a whole.


Hélène de Thoury of Hante who sings “Kiss me Goodbye”

(Ken) If you could go on tour opening for any band currently in the scene who would it be and why? 

(Pete) There’s a question. How close to the scene are Depeche Mode these days? I’m sure that would have a positive impact on how many people had heard of Kill Shelter. Gary Numan, She Past Away, The Sisters, The Soft Moon… you get the idea… 

(Ken) If you could get in a Delorean and travel back in time to talk to 21 year old you, what would you tell that young man? Would he listen?

(Pete) He’d definitely listen to the advice it’s whether he’d have the self belief to act on it. I’d probably say “you are right to be uncompromising in your music. Enjoy listening to other people’s music and continue to be open minded but the best stuff isn’t about trying too hard, it’s about being natural whether it’s in-vogue or not. This journey is yours so stop thinking about what other people think. Above all else – don’t fuck up the only chance you have. And try to stop hating yourself if you can.”

Review of Sweat Boys: Nervous Prayers

Band: Sweat Boys

Album: Nervous Prayers

Label: Give/Take

All songs written & performed by Benny Sweat except “Never Be You”, performed by Benny Sweat & Jerry Miller (guitar) & “Endlessly”, written by Dylan Thomas Lambert & Benny Sweat, performed by Benny Sweat & Nicklas Stenemo (guest vocals). Vocal Engineering, Mixing, Additional Production: DEATHDANCE. Mastering: Rob Robinson. Logo Design: Jim Marcus.

https://givetakelife.bandcamp.com/album/nervous-prayers?fbclid=IwAR0ol4mdUEwP046lkf4bSIoBTQ-YaMeu_UBpvpQi6Vuy1-2fIghfuNzSIVk

https://www.facebook.com/SweatBoysBand/

Sometimes I fall in love with an album because it is something really on the edge and sometimes because it feels familiar like an old friend you haven’t seen in several decades that showed up and filled you with feelings you had forgotten. The second was how it was for Sweat Boys. This is a beautiful synth driven welcoming EP full of tender hooks and very personal lyrics containing familiar themes. Relationships, longing, loss, acceptance. I kept coming back to one of the most important albums of my youth Yaz “Upstairs at Eric’s”. These songs are beautifully crafted and delivered with piercing emotion while the music is warm and comforting. Much of it is full of blood pumping dance beats and snapping snares.

Benny Sweat has a gorgeous voice that is clear and to the front. He doesn’t hide it behind a lot of effect and slush and the clarity of it really adds to the personal nature of the songs. For a 5 song EP it has a tremendous amount of range movement. You just don’t hear enough music in this genre in the modern era that takes the courageous stance of beautiful pop hooks without hiding behind layer after layer of production. It takes me back to sitting in a room with close friends and really sharing the feeling invoked by an album together. That stumbling youthful searching and awkward energy of finding a truth in each other. I found myself lost in nostalgia but at the same time enamored by the freshness of it because this just isn’t done anymore. I forgot how much I missed that feeling and that is what this album gives you.

Favorite tracks:

I Don’t Love you – Here is that beautiful ringing energy and clarity of Erasure and Yaz. It cooks at a breakneck medium pace but still makes Benny’s vocals the star of the track. We have all felt this moment of realization and it is an intense feeling but the simple beauty of the music keeps the heady concept so light and bright.

You’re Gone – This is a darker tone and beautifully transitioned. Giving it more of a early INXS or Pet Shop Boys feel. The isolated keyboard line here rings out so beautifully and really carries the melody. This is a dance around my living room in my underwear throwing my hands in the air and just feeling a moment.

Endlessly (featuring: Nicklas Stenemo of Kite) – What a gorgeous ballad breakdown that has a soulful Madonna/Cindi Lauper feel. The back and forth discussion like vocal lines are extremely powerful. “lying awake I can’t sleep but still I’m dreaming” It’s mesmerizing and so real. A glimpse into a personal discussion and a stirred emotion.

Overall this was a beautiful and touching album that leaves you feeling someone shared a piece of life with you. It has true blood and soul in it. Maybe dance music has forgotten how to infuse this kind of heart felt power but Sweat Boys are bring that back and I am here for this moment. Get this in your collection right away.

Review of Fires: All Of My Dreams Are Of This Place

Band: FIRES

Label: Negative Gain

Vocals/Music: Aedra Oh

https://www.facebook.com/pg/firesofficial/about/?ref=page_internal

https://firesngp.bandcamp.com/album/all-of-my-dreams-are-of-this-place

So as I listen to so much new music in the “Goth/Industrial/Post Punk” genre I hear a re-occurring trend to reach back to the sacred 80’s and revamp our holy dark forbears with a new twist. I think what immediately struck me in this album was rather than reaching back, FIRES has reached across the isle and pulled inspiration from other genre’s not typically heard in this scene and fired them like a laser through the leans of dark electronic music. Some electronic dance beats, emo, pop punk, and indie prog simmered down into a searing beam of light and fired through the ultraviolet fury of Aedra’s sorrow. The result is positively electric.

This record is such a contrast to the driving and precise darkness currently in vogue. Instead of cold and introspective it is a burning rage of passion and integrity engulfing you without pretense. Aedra was experiencing a physical and emotional awakening during these songs and that message strides forward courageously while being abstract and textural. This is a beautiful woman on a hill holding a fire hose attached to to a gasoline truck spewing forth blazing brilliance to incinerate every ignorant shadow around her. I find it almost more impressive that this chaotic sound weapon is maintained within such clear production and tight hooks of pop glory.

Favorite Tracks:

Show Me Life – Crackling energy is crackling off these guitar sounds. Overlapping and building. Her Vocals are a pleading shout to her inner self. It’s big drums and savage attack but it also breaks down in a focused introspection. These songs feel so much like a conversation but not one held polite in company. One shouted with emotion to a true friend in a moment of emergence.

Revive- Give me these glorious drum beats. The wave after wave bleeding synths. Then give me Aedra chanting out boot stomping cadence with her voice. ” Say my name, remember” This song makes me want to destroy a 50s diner with a sledge hammer on fire and scream.

Ever- If this album was all piss and vinegar it couldn’t have taken me so far. However “Ever” is a beautiful Cocateau Twins shoegaze dream slush ballad that wraps you like a blanket after the assault of the first few songs. It’s a memorizing comfort and an acknowledgement of Aedra’s range and the delicate beauty of her voice. The driving Martin Hannett Joshua Tree style bass line is the perfect counterpoint to the elegant beauty of this song.

This album is an experience. It’s personal, and is very unique in it’s delivery. I must have listened to it 20 times in different places and times before writing this (It actually released back on May 10th) but Negative Gain has done it again and stepped out of the comfort zone to support an artist who laid bare her soul in a fiery red aura. You need this.

Review of Black Nail Cabaret: Pseudopop

Band: Black Nail Cabaret
Album: Psuedopop
Label : Dichronaut Records 
Members: Emese Arvai-Illes // vocals
Krisztian Arvai // keys, production 
Mixed and mastered by Krisztian Arvai 
Album art: Emese Arvai-Illes 
Album art design and editing: Stapel Design

https://dichronaut.bandcamp.com/album/pseudopop

https://www.facebook.com/bncband/

This video makes me want to stop what I am doing and start a revolution !

Prepare yourselves for one of Ken’s absolutely gushing reviews. Black Nail Cabaret is so far up my alley as it is a cooler than jagged steel icicles. Featuring a singer with a strong message and pithy lyrics. Unique blending of styles executed with perfect precision, and sensually delicious dance beats that make your heart go thump. I got lost in this album over the weekend and the video for Bete Noire is so glowing razor hot it made me want to run away and join the revolution. Emese Arvai-Illes has the kind of effortless power in her voice that put me in mind of the passion and snark of Siouxsie meeting the class and elegance of Annie Lennox. Listening to her sing in a wide range of styles without any noticeable effect on her voice is like seeing a master fencer in the Olympics snap through forms and striking your eardrums with effect in a way you cannot parry.

Lets talk music because BNC are not a pop star vocalist carrying the work. These songs are beautiful and diverse. Styles ranging from sullen ballads that have hints of a timeless smokey jazz underground , dance club anthems, and advent-garde textural builders. The scope is what sets this timeless work apart . Krisztian Arvai is a synth wizard crafting worlds of dance magic pulling beats and hooks like a puppeteer with strings. Emese would not need much to prop her diamond sharp voice but the music is a beautiful throne for her to ring out from. I think one of the other beautiful aspects is they really know where their strength lies, the focus does not go beyond the sounds they need to create the image. No extra parts for the sake of complexity. Which helps lend a focus to the words and music in a punk rock revolutionary edge. Ok, I’ll try to pick a few tracks but this is a whole album to hear in one go record.

Smolder to 1,000,000

Bete Noire – Ok this is how I first found them and this song is just a total anthem. The vocals are defiant and precise. The Line “I think I want to kill you but I believe in peace bitch” seems a tad tongue and cheek when written out but the delivery is done with passion and reverence. The beats and keys are thundering and make your feet stomp in rhythm. I want to march to the hills and eat the rich with this jam on.

Verge on the Creepy – For starters what an awesome song title. This song really reminded me of the beautiful elegance of an 80s Eurythmics classic pop song. It has such dark blending tone though. It’s full of longing and emotion. It’s one of those pop songs that transcends too deeply to be pop.

90S – Ok this might not be one of the darkest deepest tracks on this album, but it’s just fun. It’s such a different sound for Emese. Krisztian brightens the tone in these water fall keyboards. I can’t help but get lost in the nostalgia of a decade when I was the same age. It captures a moment in time.

Overall this album is exactly what I needed in this moment. It was gorgeous, and nuanced. It ran me through a range of emotions and was just one of those records so accessible and easy to fall in love with. This is both a dance party in your living room at 3am, and a rainy day laying on the couch with a cat and a cup of tea at the same time. So rare and glorious. Get this in your collection right away.

An interview with: Cold Transmission Records

So since we have started doing interviews with bands to add another layer of content to Sound and Shadows it got me thinking about all the other pieces that go into creating a vibrant and exciting music scene. Djs, promoters, and record labels. At the moment the world of music is changing to a focus on global reach and grass roots distribution. No one is doing more to build a base and put out great music for Post Punk/Dark wave/ Cold wave/ Shoegaze genre than Frankfurt Germany based label Cold Transmission Music. Run by Andreas and Suzy Herrmann with Yvonne Kiel as graphic designer, this label is on the forefront of the multimedia movement happening in dark music. They aren’t just a record company, they are music lovers that are looking to lift all ships and find exciting new ways to share the music they love with the world. They have made the idea of musical distribution into a family with a caring touch to foster the people on their label as much as putting out albums and compilations. The Cold Transmission playlists have come to set a standard for support of what is cutting edge. I had the opportunity of getting to know the people behind Cold Transmission a little better and want to share that experience with our readers. 
Bands currently on Cold Transmission Music: Elz and the Cult, White Mansion, Push Button Press, Carlo Onda, Rosi, Monographic, La Mécanique, Reconverb, S Y Z Y G Y X, Silent Runners, The Blue Beard’s Castle, Icy Men , Palais Ideal, Bedless Bones, Closed Mouth.
We have reviewed some of these bands and the more I hear from them the more I like, I can’t wait to continue working my way through their catalog.

https://www.facebook.com/coldtransmissionmusic/

https://coldtransmissionmusic.bandcamp.com

This was a Cold Transmission/Sound and Shadows joint effort which includes some of our favorite new music for your listening pleasure. I think we had a wonderful mixture of bands from all over the globe. This show was 1st in the global post-punk chart, 1st in the global punk chart, 1st in the global indie dance chart, 4th in the global alternative chart and 5th in the global new wave chart.

(Ken) When did you start the label and what was your goal starting out with Cold Transmission?

(CT) In 2017 Cold Transmission began as a Mixcloud show because we had the burning desire to make more people aware of the new music and bands that were coming up in our scene. The shows were very well received on Mixcloud and the number of followers grew steadily so we created the name „Cold Transmission“ and launched the Facebook page. The next idea was to create a digital compilation, so our ZEITGEIST series was born. Although Andreas always thought about starting a label from the beginning, it was a spontaneous idea that evolved over time, a next logical step. We are still growing into it, learning new things every day about what it takes to be a label and it makes us very happy to support up-and-coming bands and help them grow. So our greatest respect goes out to all other independent labels that are doing this for many years now with enthusiasm and passion. It’s a lot of work especially when doing this next to your normal jobs. The music is our true satisfaction.

(Ken) I feel like goth music has always been a genre focused on the past, in the last couple years this style of music is seeing a huge resurgence with fresh new talent in unprecedented levels since the 80s/90s. What do you think is leading this? What do you see as Cold Transmissions role?

(CT) Yes, we have the same feeling about the scene. You can hardly find a band that is not referencing one of the 80s bands like Joy Division etc. Even our name is inspired by a Joy Division song! Those are all icons we really love but time doesn’t stand still and music is developing further with fresh impulses, techniques and sounds combined with the classic Post-Punk influences. Jason Corbett of ACTORS once called it Post-Punk 2.0 which is an apt description. When you go to parties or festivals a lot such as we have since the 80s we had the feeling of hearing the same music all the time in the last 10 years. We talked to many people from all over the world who had the same experience. Maybe people had gotten a bit fed up with this. We created Cold Transmission to show people from the scene what great new music is out there and what great new bands are surfacing from all parts of the world – through our Mixcloud shows, social media accounts and our label. We’re going to concerts and festivals, sometimes hosting them ourselves. We did a Cold Transmission party, re-invested the money we earned with it to buy new music to support the bands. We also see Cold Transmission not just as a label but as a platform to connect bands and supporters from all over the world. There is a great community of artists, labels, blogs, radio stations, growing up around us and we’re proud to be part of it and support it with all our energy. There also have been great collaborations between the bands already doing remixes of each others songs which is great to see. We created our t-shirts and sent them to supporters, bands and friends around the globe – for us it’s a statement of being part of a wonderful and growing community in our scene.

(Ken)You had a lot of success in 2018, I have watched your support base grow. What are you excited for on the horizon in 2019? What new albums are you looking to release this year?

(CT) In 2019 we’re looking forward to growing our label further – we will release the new albums by La Mécanique, White Mansion, The Blue Beard’s Castle and many more in the future. (Since this interview they had a very exciting release from Palais Ideal currently available) Also we will release four new ZEITGEIST compilations this year. And of course there will be our first little Cold Transmission Festival in Cologne, Germany in July. Still there is no 5-years-plan or anything for Cold Transmission. We love to see things develop organically – we have amazing friends around who are supporting us in so many ways, bands that became friends, interesting people that we are discussing partnerships with to allow us all new opportunities. We have hundreds of ideas in our minds and the day only has 24 hours so let’s see what happens!

(Ken) Recently I interviewed Jim Walker of Push Button Press (amazing new album) and Ashe Ruppe of Delphine Coma. Both are American bands that spoke of how happy they are signing with European labels. What do you think is drawing American bands to think of European labels for the dark music scene?

(CT) Since we are very new to that business we don’t really know about the major differences between European and American labels yet to be honest. We as Cold Transmission try to be as professional and committed as we can when signing bands to our label – a typical German attitude maybe. We are still a small label and the personal contact is very important to us and also to our bands. We want them to feel like they are part of a little family that believes in them and motivates them. A way of working that is maybe difficult when you are a bigger label with many bands. The scene in Europe is very old, still vibrant and much more concentrated simply because of the size of the continent compared to America. Maybe that is also a reason why so many bands are looking to Europe and has nothing to do with the differences between European and American labels in particular.

(Ken) What inspired you to become a part of this music scene? Was there a band in particular that let you know this was your chosen path in life?

(CT) We have to distinguish here between us due to our age difference of nearly ten years. Andreas was more into electronic music since 1980 starting with bands like Kraftwerk, Ultravox, Gary Numan, Cabaret Voltaire etc. In 1986 he was really convinced to be part of the scene through bands like Click Click, The Klinik, Skinny Puppy and Front 242. Suzy was more into guitar music, and a real 90s Dark Wave girl – so was Yvonne. Starting with Depeche Mode, The Smiths and Sisters of Mercy in the late 80’s her first „dark love“ was Deine Lakaien in the early 90’s

(Ken) Talk to me about the Post Punk/Darkwave scene in Germany, what is it like today and how has it changed in the last 20 years?

Cold Transmission with Antipole

(CT) The scene was always great in Germany from our point of view. You have so many huge festivals, concerts and parties in nearly every part of Germany. In particular the Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig that has become the largest Gothic festivals in the world. As said before, from a music standpoint you had the feeling that nothing really changed in the last 20 years. Sure there were new bands surfacing all the time but not many people seemed to be really interested. Especially in the last few years there are new artists emerging and we get the feeling that more people are now open to finding new music. There are more small festivals coming up in Germany next to the big ones that give you a more traditional feeling. The Wave Gotik Treffen took notice of a lot of those bands and presented many of the newer acts in 2018. This is a trend we really hope to see continue.

Cold Transmission with Crying Vessel

(Ken) Along with putting out music you got your start in creating playlists and sharing music for bands in the genre. You even had Amaranth on a few, so thank you for that. What lead you to this idea and what role do you think it will play in the future of music?

(CT) The Mixcloud shows were the starting point of Cold Transmission. Andreas is a passionate music collector and spends a lot of time searching for interesting new music on the internet. The desire behind the playlists was to make people aware of that new music – Hey guys, listen, there is more to our scene than our beloved classics! A sort of modern mixtapes we did in the 80’s. Many people don’t have the time anymore to spend hours searching for music on the internet or in record stores – they have their music players and mobile phones, listening to playlists on Spotify or other platforms. This form of listening to music will continue to play an important role in the future.

Cold Transmission with Silent Runners

(Ken) You have a festival in Cologne this July featuring some amazing acts. I’m beyond excited that Rachel and I will be going to witness it. Tell me about it, who will be there, and what are you celebrating?

(CT) The festival will be our first Cold Transmission festival. We are celebrating Andreas’s 50th birthday bash. We chose the Blue Shell in Cologne since we have very strong connections to that club and also close friends in Cologne since Suzy lived there for 20 years. The club has a storied history going back to the 80’s so they are quite experienced and passionate. Some really great bands which we also call our friends are playing live that night: Crying Vessel, IAMTHESHADOW, featuring members of Antipole, Joy/Disaster and Silent Runners. The after show party is hosted by our close friends of Disorder Cologne (Holger and Chantal) who have been successfully running that party for nearly 10 years now. We are also very proud and overjoyed to have a special DJ set by Pete Burns and Christian Schaefer of Rule of Three. A music blog that inspired us from the beginning. Pete recently garnered critical acclaim with his project Kill Shelter! Pete has also became very important to us personally at Cold Transmission through his friendship and guidance from our beginning. We have the feeling that this is not only a festival but also a way of connecting people with a common love of darkwave/postpunk music. People from all over the world are planning to come to Cologne to meet with bands and friends. For example Jim Walker from Push Button Press traveling all the way from Florida. It will be a great event and we are really looking forward to that! Glad that Rachel and you will also be part of it. Let’s make this a night to remember!

Andy with IAMTHESHADOW

(Ken) What do you look for in a potential band to sign to Cold Transmission?

(CT) Since we like to call our label our “Cold Transmission family” We are currently signing bands whose music we really like and believe in. People that are as passionate with their music as we are. We have close contacts to all bands signed to our label and support them in any way we can in a variety of ways. Every success the bands have makes us very happy and proud. We want to grow up together with our bands so it’s symbiotic in a sense. We also aim for long-term partnerships to achieve that. Of course we also want to have a good mixture of different music styles from different countries on our label especially in the Post-Punk and Coldwave genre. In nearly every country of the world you can find bands and artists from our scene and we are happy to have some of them on our label to show the variety that is out there.

Cold Transmission with Jot Disaster

(Ken) If you could travel back in time and see any show ever in recorded history, what would it be and why?

(CT) That would be shows of today’s Post-Punks icons like Joy Division in the late 70’s and early 80’s. To see such a show in a small club with around 20 people, listening to the music and having the feeling that something great is happening. That would have been awesome.

Since this was our first interview with someone who wasn’t a band I thought it was important to share some perspective of some of the people who surround Cold Transmission. Musicians, artists, producers about what this label means to them. Here are some of those thoughts.

Andy and Monographic

Jim Walker (Push Button Press) “I will let a big secret about the label out of the bag, Suzy is the secret special sauce that makes everything fall into place.

(SYZYGYX) “Suzy’s and Andy’s passion for music shows in the way they treat their artists, we’ve been lucky to work with such amazing people and label, and look forward to continue working with them. They know the scene, they’re knowledgeable on how to target the audience and promote! Love Cold Transmission”

Pedro Code (IAMTHESHADOW) “They are great enthusiasts of the dark Scene, wonderfull people and my friends. I knew them long before they started Cold Transmission, in WGT, Leipzig, 2017 but now its another level. They are growing and its a great thing for the dark scene in Europe hey are very passionate about the music being made. Its great for all the bands what they are doing, They once told me they had the idea of Cold Transmission, after we meet in WGT, 2017. :)”

Silent Runners “Like many people in the scene we met Andy and Suzy online, enthusiastically spreading our music on forums and groups within the scene. From the start they were the greatest supporters a band can hope for! They really have a personal love for music and the scene and want to spread it so other people can enjoy it as well. Since we met personally on WGT2018 we’ve been in touch weekly. Seems only logical that we recently took the next step and joined their great label family as band. We hope to do great stuff together in the future.”

Monographic “Cold Transmission is not a “normal ” record label! For us, its more a collaboration between friends for the most important thing… music!!! They’re doing a lot for new bands and for the underground scene. You can feel, its not about the money compared to other labels, its more about spreading the love … Suzy and Andreas are doing everything, for the bands to keep moving forward and you can see they are doing it right. We hope to be part of it in the many years to come and we look forward to the bright future of their label”

Pete Burns (Kill Shelter) “Andy and Suzy have been great supporters of both Rule of Three (which I run with my partner in crime Christian Schaefer) and also my personal Kill Shelter project so I can’t thank them enough for that really. They are extremely passionate, kind and energetic people and are always incredibly positive – you need unbridled enthusiasm and optimism to work in this industry and they have that in spades. I’ve been lucky enough to help them with engineering and mastering of some of their releases and that’s just been an absolute joy. I’m hoping we’ll do more of that in 2019. I’ll be heading to Germany in July for the Cold Transmission Festival & Disorder Party where Christian and I will be doing a special audio/visual DJ set and we have some surprises lined up for that. It will be an honor to be part of that event and I really hope they have a magical time – they deserve it.”

Review of Hante: Fierce

Band: Hante

Album: Fierce

Label: Metropolis Records | www.metropolis-records.com

All tracks written, recorded and produced by Hélène de Thoury

https://metropolisrecords.bandcamp.com/album/fierce

https://www.facebook.com/hanteband/

The new album Fierce by by Paris France based Helene de Thoury is a bold sensory attack on modern darkwave sensibility. It attacks the concept of pop music in its effortless ability to face concepts and sounds that feel comfortable and easy to accept. It attacks a dark and artistic scene with ear haunting melodies and hook heavy rhythms that appeal to the senses. This album walks a razors edge between counter culture revolution and dance hall destruction. A true dichotomy in every brilliant track that forces the listener to question what is the edge of artistic expression and do I give a shit because this song is straight toe tapping fire. These songs are haughty, they are Paris in an unnamed nightclub at 3am. They are unfiltered cigarettes and dark lit rooms. The songs are full of sex appeal and understated intention. When trying to describe these flowing keyboard lines and subtle drum beats I keep coming back to the word effortless. The details of drum fills, swells, texture are all there in perfect precision. But it has that feeling that is so illusive and hard to capture of trying to sound cutting edge cool without all this fore thought. Like you just showed up and it happened. That is the essence of Hante.

The vocals and Lyrics embody this concept most of all. Helene never reaches, never uses anger or intensity to portray her emotions in these songs. She floats like a phantom in a flowing black dress smoke rolling behind her and she tell the story of strength and heartbreak in these soundscapes and city tales. These are songs I found myself lost in. Shadow puppets that surrounded me and captured me. I have seldom heard an album where the vocals and music found such perfect balance and never overpowered each other. This is a record to become lost in. A labyrinth of sound and mirage.

Are there familiar elements here, sure, it has a giant audio wave tidal wave of Cocteau Twins, a grinding sultry darkness of Anne Lennox. Yet the beats and music have a edge, a sharp razor bite that speaks to the modern sensibility that subtlety is not enough to define her. This is beauty that must be heard and viewed from a distance from fear of steeping to close to the fire.

Standout tracks:

Waiting for a Hurricane – Driving gentle waves of keyboard and dance hall beat. Builds you in an ebb and flow. Helene’s voice is a whisper and a promise. The chorus is a angelic choir of pop majesty. These drum beats are driving and haunting. Like a lost ghost with a eternal message. I hear you.

No Tenderness – This song features Aetervader’s majestic and heartfelt vocal lines. I found myself in love with the contrast and unyielding echos. It gave such an important change of pace of urgency and effort from Helene’s delicate and gentle emotions. When you hear an artist of this caliber you have to ask how would one add to this? Aetervader found a way without detracting from her glory.

Never Over– A dissonant creeping melody. I loved this song for pulling back everything else and giving the purity of Helene’s vocals a chance to shine in an echo chamber. The clarity and dynamics of the keyboard line made this track stand out. When the drums dropped around 1:47 the song took on a fullness and depth that really made it resonate to me. To feel like rain bouncing off streets on a twilight night.

Overall this album is an album that feels like a painting. An image captured in time and full of stirring emotion. I had never heard Hante’s previous albums and didn’t expect to become so enamored but here I found myself. It’s gorgeous, tragic, striking, it makes you feel something. Something fast, and deep. It is efficient, modern, and grabs you in its arms and rocks you to a place you can both feel gently or dive into. Take this journey. Feel this power.

Review of Mr.Kitty: Ephemeral

Band: Mr.Kitty

Album: Ephemeral

Label: Negative Gain Productions

Members: Forrest LeMaire

https://mrkittydm.bandcamp.com/album/ephemeral

https://www.facebook.com/pg/mrkittydm/about/?ref=page_internal

I think I have been putting this review off for a while out of intimidation. I have listened to this album A Ton. It has been my album to put on the headphones when walking into work to psyche myself up to face the day and find my swagger for the last several months. Austin Texas underground electronic star Forrest LeMarie has outdone themselves with such a bold and challenging offering of fiercely laced dance beats and emotionally dangerous themes. I first heard Mr.Kitty in a tragic way, I saw a post by another musician about how his tour van was robbed on the road. I gave a small donation because what a horrible thing to do to a touring artists. I remember being blown away and touched by the level of support and outpouring from other bands in the scene. I think that always says a lot about an artist by who will stand up for them. What is the name they have built and Forrest is truly beloved. Artists don’t give away that level of respect lightly. Then this record dropped in March 2019 and had 30 tracks? 30 tracks, who does that in the modern era…no one. What is more, it isn’t filler, it isn’t fluff. Every song is a story full of crystal clear production, heart wrenching vocals, and powerful themes.

In my formative years I was very flamboyant and it made me a target. Bands like The Pet Shop Boys, Erasure, who took beautiful pop hooks, harmony, and style and mixed it with an undertone of very powerful dark themes that contrasted the prism of color and joy in the music meant so much to me. That’s what this album stirred for me, that fierce defiance and truth of making something fun and beautiful of the fear and pain of feeling outside.

I think what is even more impressive about this record beyond the sheer scope of it is the precision and calculation of every song. Nothing is wasted here. Every tempo change, every keyboard sound, every line of poetry seems to have a place and purpose. As a listener it’s so captivating. As a song writer it is hard not to player hate and think, good gods how did you do this for 30 tracks. It’s truly a staggering feat when you think about it.

Ok, here comes the hard part. How does one choose stand out tracks when you have 30 worth while songs? Sitting here at 12:30 am on a Wed I don’t have a good answer to that question. However if Forrest had the focus of mind to create this amazing piece of work I suppose I can suck it up and narrow down 3 tracks I love the most.

Disconnected Lover – What a beautiful anthem chant dance room burner of a song. “It’s not up to you, it’s up to me, I’ll tell you how to set me free” The distant echo vocal sound creates this awesome displacement. The dance beat burns, it lives inside your head and you can’t shake it free.

Trauma – Oh the creeping build of this song. It’s so accessible but delivered in such an upbeat friendly tone it truly makes me not feel alone whenever I hear it. “With all my rage I’m going to take you down. To which you beg and plead before i put you in the ground. Few songs make me feel so connected in isolation, to capture that feeling in a genuine way is a truly monumental achievement.

Immurement– This album is so dynamic and full of range. It would be impossible to only focus on the upbeat dance gems. This is a full and crushing song hitting you with creeping walls of sound closer to Bach than to dance music. A slow exposed attack of sound and emotion. Striking and retreating. It’s a different story, a different journey and that is the beauty of this album.


Look if you haven’t gotten the picture yet, this is an album you need. It’s vast, courageous, but also full of fun and hope. It’s one of those records I keep coming back to when i don’t know where else to go. Which is one of the highest compliments I can think to give for a person who listens to as much new music as me.

Review of Curse Mackey: Instant Exorcism


Artist: Curse Mackey

Label: Negative Gain

Other Affiliations: Pigface, Evil Mothers, Amorous, My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, Grim Faeries, SPASM

https://cursemackeyngp.bandcamp.com/?fbclid=IwAR3pLI_Sfju7v_VlnffOHq26o_EY3zOmxXymbDs4fovEw3Zhj-9EYIn-kmY

https://www.facebook.com/pg/cursemackey1/about/?ref=page_internal


So someone much smarter and a better writer than me once told me “If you want to be a better writer, read books written by great writers” I feel like this is advice Curse Mackey has taken to heart. Because here we have an album of a very literary quality with an engineers craft. As I listened to it again and again I kept finding myself drawn to the question, what was he reading when he wrote this?

Curse Mackey photo by Christopher De La Rosa

Going to try a slightly different format for this review because of the artists pedigree. I mean here is a guy David J calls to fill in for Peter Murphy when he is tired. An artist who is appreciated and respected at the highest levels of industrial music. It’s for good reason. He is a wizard of craft bending the ultraviolet light of electronic sounds into a laser focus. This is his first solo offering and is a chance to tell his story strictly from his own perspective.

Right out of the gate the first song “Submerged is a subtle and gripping offering. Where the chains slip around behind you and lock in place before you know you are captured. Satirical blasphemous religious allegory in the style of William Blake hints at the greater heresy to come later without going over the top. I was extremely impressed with the rising and falling dynamics to create this sense of slowly sinking beneath the water.

“O’Blasphemy” This is a dance floor burner for the ages. The imagery is sexually charged and delivered in a boot stomp cadence. I love the background keyboard lifts, so much motion feels like dancing in an earthquake. The vocals are razor slices tearing you to shreds while they lull you into acceptance. This sounds like post coital breathing mixed with rebellion. 

Somewhat Processed” This is a Dante’s Inferno quest of the River Styx touring and longing for something lost. “Just part of the show for our bloodstained soul” A need to feel. The triplet snare snap to create that off kilter hurky jerky motion while the dangerous silky vocal is your Charon poling you down the river.


Concubinary” Sometimes a song strikes me by what i picture myself doing while listening to it. This is a great city-scape street walking burner that jumps on the back of Mackey’s vocals and lets the lyrics carry it across the finish line. That wild and untamed part of the city where the rules don’t apply.

Secrets of the Resurrection” Such a delicious pop hook served up in classic ritual form. The song carefully and strategically assembles all the parts until you see the face of the monster. The chorus from Nat King Cole re-imagined in this wicked anthem of hope and clashing counter culture. Beautiful live wire tension shakes your core.


Dangerous Sleeper” I love this breakdown creep with throwback samples reminiscent of Wax Trax or Evil Mothers days. Not sure where they came from Mackey is known for finding or creating samples from his everyday experience, but i am moved by the slow creeping doom and flowing rhymes. “He’s my arch angel made flesh, he takes the mark, upon his flesh”

This entire album has a cohesion and message that stands out in a current world of blips, clicks, and snippets as a classical work with the quality of literature and study. It really spoke to me for the experience and craft that was the culmination of a career in art and learning leading to this moment. This is a must own album for anyone who values the genre of Industrial Dance Music.

Interview of Palais Ideal

Band: Palais Ideal
Album: No Signal


Label: Dark Vinyl Records – Now on Cold Transmission Records
JOHN EDWARDS:  VOCALS, GUITARS, SYNTHESIZERS, PROGRAMMING 
RICHARD VAN KRUYSDIJK: BASS, SYNTHESIZERS, BACKING VOCALS, BARITONE GUITAR, PROGRAMMING 
Produced, Mixed and Mastered by: Uwe Teichert At Electropolis

https://palaisideal.bandcamp.com/album/no-signal

https://www.facebook.com/palaisideal/

https://palaisideal.bandcamp.com/album/pressure-points

Palais Ideal means the Ideal Palace. A concept of building a home or place from the things you find in everyday life. This is an album that achieves something I think is so lost in the modern music scene. Each song is so unique in it’s sound and style. All the ideas tie together but the songs themselves have such an individual sound and aesthetic. This is a intellectual thinking album that has a calculated scientific arc. The songs are poppy and engaging but the words behind each song are a challenge and inspiration. This band from Netherlands attacks themes of politics and technology in the modern world. Lofty ideas that go beyond the standard party themes you could expect from club beats and hook melodies. I found myself lost and found following this story laid out about the hardship and pitfalls which face the modern person. I think the true genius on display was how easy it was to set aside these thoughts and get lost in how fun and energetic the songs sounded.

John Edwards vocals are a master class in range and engagement. From driving chants, beautiful croons, spirited edge, along with playful tongue and cheek. The theme and sound changes within each song and from one to the next. The synths are masterfully sculpted to create a rising falling tide of emotion. Van Kruysdijk’s guitars and bass lines are a driving cacophony of sound and style that build an express train for Edward’s vocals to ride upon. I hear New Order, Joy Division, Information Society, Pet Shop Boys, Japan. All are blending together but the fusion creates something unique that finds it’s own path. From a technical standpoint the music is as precise as the lyrics. No sound is wasted or lost. This is purposeful production that has a journey and a destination. I love when a true professional enhances their vision with craft and that is what Palais Ideal has achieved. I listened to this album 4 times before attempting to review it and I feel like I am just scratching the surface.

Having trouble choosing standout tracks because the flavor is so different with each but here goes
Standout tracks:

Crossfade/Dissolve – Here is that beautiful New Order chanting anthem sound right off the bat. It’s catchy, it’s evolved, the lyrics are delivered with just enough sharp edges to enhance the emotion while having this beautiful calculation of an architect building a better world. I played this track 7 times and regretted none of them.

Deity – Beautiful sped up cut time drums. Textural open voice lyrics delivered with a driving cadence. Again this song has such a science fiction story delivered with a build that opens up with a wonderful guitar line. This is the soundtrack of a future I fear that strikes a logical chord.

A Black Noise – This one gets dark, really dark. A droning Bauhaus drum beat with sinister guitar riffs. Edwards drops his voice to the low register to paint a frightening picture of fear and loss. “Every secret sight and sound, where are they now. A million voices underground, where did they go.” This bassline has a Sisters of Mercy Floodland drive. It’s a fierce and frightening emotion that captures and grasps.

Overall this album is just well done. The highs are high the lows are low. It’s an album you can dance in the club to but take home and really listen for the deeper meaning. I found myself falling into it like a pit that had no bottom. What an experience, what a record. You need this, if you are up for the challenge.

After spending a lot of time with the album I got the chance to talk with John and Richard a bit about what went into the construction and vision of the record. As well as get to know the artists who created it.

(Ken) – I did a bit of research about your name Palais Ideal and found there was a lot more to it then I originally suspected. Why did you choose it and what did it mean to you?

(Palais Ideal) – The Palais Ideal – “Ideal Palace” in French – is a strange and eccentric 19thcentury building that was created by Ferdinand Fernando Cheval, a postman from Southeastern France. He had no formal training as an architect, but collected stones while he delivered letters and built his very odd palace. A perfect metaphor for the desire to create something purely because it ought to be created – which is the foundation of all great art! We love austerity and starkness, but are also heavily into romanticism and bizarre ideas – like building your own private palace!

(Ken) – You have plenty of experience which I feel brought richness and depth to the album. Tell me what you have coming out down the road and what led into it?

(John) – Palais Ideal has only been around for two years, but Richard and I formed our very first band together ages ago, playing a mix of prog rock and goth. Over the years, I’ve been in bands performing everything from latin music to technical death metal. The fact that we both play different instruments and have experience arranging, recording and producing has also helped us to get where we wanted to be. The next big thing for us is the upcoming release of our second album, on which we’ve brought together a wider range of influences than before – from Low-era Bowie and classical music to funk pop and krautrock. We kept pushing each other in interesting new directions and wanted to see how much we could expand, while still staying more or less within the post-punk and new wave genres.

(Richard) – I have been exploring many different musical styles, albeit all of the darker, melancholic variety. Early new wave and post-punk are my roots, and to create something that references this musical era feels very natural to me. We are trying to keep our musical direction and style very clear, and at the same time looking for ways to find our personal ‘signature’ within the genre. A very interesting journey!

(Ken) – Music is usually not all glitz and glamour. You need to pick moments to fuel you into the next. What is the moment you are most proud of in your career?

(John) – For me, touring in Germany with Clan of Xymox was a big occasion – if I’d have known that would happen when I was a teenager listening to their albums, my head would presumably have exploded. We toured the UK last year, which was another wonderful experience. Of course, working with the legendary John Fryer, who produced many of our favorite albums, has been incredible – he’s brought a whole new perspective and has been delightful to work with. We’ve had a lot of great reviews and met some wonderful people through our music, which is highly inspiring. In May, we’re releasing our new album at an event featuring some of our favorite bands – She Past Away, Selofan and Auger – and we’re looking forward to that!

(Richard) – I am fortunate to be able to say that there are so many moments that come to mind! For instance: watching Gitane Demone delivering spine-tingling vocals in the studio on a track by another band that I am involved in: Phallus Dei. To have co-written songs with heroes such as Graham Lewis (Wire), David J (Bauhaus), Winston Tong and Blaine L. Reininger (Tuxedomoon), Peter Christopherson (Coil), Edward Ka-Spel (Legendary Pink Dots) and Larboe (Swans). Also memorable is the tour I did with Daniel Johnston, for whom I arranged three songs for big band. A very special programme! As for Palais Ideal: There have already been so many highlights in our short existence! I’m proud of our videos, our releases, and especially our upcoming album.

(Ken) – So one of the things that enamored me with this record was its eclectic nature. Every song has it’s own flavor. Who was your inspiration and how did you make the styles fit together?

(John) – I’m a big prog rock fan, especially the early 1970s stuff, such as Pink Floyd, Genesis, Van Der Graaf Generator and King Crimson. On many of the albums from that period, each song would be clearly built around a specific concept, which could be a musical theme or lyric, yet all tracks would be tied together. It made sense to try this approach within a post-punk concept: creating a self-contained little world around the musical and lyrical concept of each song.

(Richard)Before we started, we defined a very clear sound for our music: what kind of drum sounds, synths, bass and guitars we were going to use. The fact that there is a logical connection between these sound elements, allows us to go to the heart of each song without the album becoming incoherent. We are always looking for clarity in our musical ideas and arrangement. Every track should be a strong statement in itself.

(Ken) – So “Seen Missing” was a song that has been playing over and over on my phone all week. The lyrics has such a mystery of a secret message. Maybe it is the double entendre in the name 🙂 What was going on when you wrote this, tell me the secret?

(John) – Basically, it’s about the fact that, thanks to the internet, we currently have access to a huge amount of art, music, writing and more. We can access all of this at any time, from anywhere. Countless great ideas and creations that might have been forgotten forever are available to us. It’s important that we look back and remember all of the people that came before us, re-evaluate what they’ve created, and share our discoveries. A lot of our lyrics are a bit bleak, kind of techno-paranoia “Black Mirror” stuff, but technology can also have a huge positive influence on our lives.

(Ken) – To me seeing a great band live needs to be a different experience than hearing the record. Tell me what you do live that makes it different?

(John) – Personally, I’d rather see a band like Motorhead playing than watch some dude behind a laptop. We like to get carried away and focus on getting across as much energy as we can and involve the audience. It’s fun to goad each other on a bit on stage. One of the greatest gigs I’ve ever seen was The Fall, who were completely serious and totally entertaining at the same time. Why shouldn’t post-punk be fun?

(Richard) – Whereas in the studio one can zoom in on the details, on stage it’s about the right energy. A live performance is, first and foremost, about communication. To feel connected with the audience is a great sensation that can take you to great heights on stage. Most important thing is to be fully authentic and really go into the feeling of a song. We dive in head first into our shows and people feel that. A live show is about celebrating the moment. We have played quite a lot, hitting the stage just a few months after we started, and we have taken that experience back into the studio and into song writing.

(Ken) – We have talked about something happening lately in dark music. A Renaissance, what do you hear and what does it mean for you?

(John) – There are quite a few contemporary bands that are making music that is strongly inspired by the “golden age” of post-punk, new wave and goth, but with a contemporary spin and new energy. At the same time, a lot of the 80’s generation of musicians are reappearing, or still going strong. I think people are pretty sick of the generally pathetic, bland and whimsical nonsense that the music industry is forcing on them, and looking for something that dares to ask relevant questions and tackle difficult themes. There’s a kind of grassroots movement happening across different countries, with new labels, blogs and bands that are just ignoring the status quo. Something similar has been happening in the Synthwave scene, and it’s great to see how so many people have picked up on that.

(Ken) – If you could play with one band current or gone who would it be and why?

(John) – I think being on the same bill as Killing Joke would be pretty awesome. We have a lot of respect for them, musically, and also because they’ve been doing their own thing for decades. I’d also love to perform with Joy Division, The Sound or one of the Rozz Williams incarnations of Christian Death, although that’ll never happen for obvious reasons. If I could join someone else’s band for a day, it would be early Genesis or Van Der Graaf Generator 😉

(Ken) – This one is for the gear heads. What is one piece of equipment you couldn’t make your sound without?

(John) – I bought some late 90s USA-built PRS guitars last year and couldn’t do without them! My Roland Jazz Chorus 120 amp and my Juno and Oberheim synths are pretty inspirational, too. Although we use a lot of hardware and tube gear, we’re both big fans of the UAD hardware and software platforms. However, I like to think that we’d still sound like us if we were limited to a pair of banjos

(Richard)My ’62 Fender Jazz bass is totally the sound that I love! As for synths: My Prophet 5 features in every song we make. The most beautiful synth for me.

(Ken) If you could use dark magic to span time and steal one dead musician from history to join your band, who would you summon forth?

(John) Bowie! We’d let him do anything he wanted to, obviously… Johann Sebastian Bach on keys would be quite good, too.

Kill Shelter review of : Damage

Band: Kill Shelter

Album: Damage

Lable: Unknown Pleasures records

Members: Peter Burns

All tracks mastered by Eric Van Wonterghem (Prodam studio/Berlin)

https://hivmusic1.bandcamp.com/album/damage-upr094-gothic-rock-darkwave

https://www.facebook.com/killshelterofficial/

This is an album I can’t stop playing. Edinburgh based Pete Burns has found such a fresh take in a saturated post punk world. He has created an eclectic mixture of styles both old and new. His beats and production are crisp and haunted. It has a drive and motion that changes drastically from one track to the next which gives the listener such a feeling of taking a journey. It twists and winds through the emotional turmoil of our modern psyche. Part of the effect is achieved by the all star list of guest musicians and singers that he has convinced to come together for this epic undertaking. Some of my favorites are here so hold onto your hat while I do a bit of fan boying at this lineup: Edwin Van der Velde of (Zwart Pozie) , Nathan Jespersen of (Ultra Violence) Karl Morton Dahl of (Antipole) Ashe Ruppe of (Delphine Coma), Helene de Thoury (Hante) , Vadim Kristopher of (The Shyness of Strangers) , Mariusz /\VOID/\ Łuniewski of (UnderTheSkin) , Marc Dwyer (Buzz Kull) , Pedro Code (IAMTHESHADOW) Alice Sheridan (New Haunts) , Dillion Dominguez (KillJoi). The amount of talent and diversity here is a bit staggering. I think it really speaks to Burns abilities not just as an amazing song writer but as a manager to know exactly where to use all this talent to it’s best effect

Lets talk music a bit. These songs have a driving ferocity that is led on by Peter Hook-esque baselines relentlessly driving forward in every song pushing blood through every concept. The guitar work is so varied and precise. In Decay in particular has that signature Karl Antipole sound which is blended seamlessly into a song uniquely it’s own. However the other tracks feature buzzing walls of sonic rapture, prickling fingers on your spine, and lush landscape ballads. The range of sounds and emotion feels like such a dramatic undertaking. The drum beats are unique and give a spice and flavor to all these moving parts that makes each jump off the page in it’s time.

Discussing the lyrics and vocals are so difficult because each artist deserves their own review page just to discuss. However I will say that Burns has chosen masterfully accomplished artists with peak performances which bring everything from Pedro Code’s rich passionate crooning in Hollow, to Helene De Thoury’s dark smokey seduction in Kiss Me Goodbye. Buying this album is like getting 10 records for the price of one.

I need to take a break from writing this just to collect my thoughts enough to pick some favorite tracks, because any of them could be my favorite. This is a complete work without a weak track. I’ll try though. Ok, I think I figured it out, although both are incredible tracks and some of my favorites I will skip over Decay and Hollow because I have written reviews of both Karl and Pedro and my love for them is well known. I know cheating, but I do what I can.

Black String – This song features the amazingly talented Nate Jespersen on this beautiful and subtle track which allows him to show vocal range. The music is creep dance magic. This feeling that gets you nowhere. Its so different from the standard post punk goth vibe but with such pop sensibility in the way that melody latches onto your mind and plays itself over and over. Puts me a bit in the mind of The Cult. Pure gold.

Get Down – This song features one of those bass lines that has a crisp clarity that it makes itself the focus of the track. Vadim Kristopher does this gentle spoken chanting vocals. The guitar riff if a fingertip dance that feels like flickering fire through the whole track. It feels so effortless but hits so hard.

Sever – This song is such a creeping dread. The keyboards have this splashing edge and Alice Sherridan has this Jonette Napolitano grinding edge in an off kilter tempo which adds such emotion to the track. I pictured the part in a terrifying ghost story when the monsteress is crawling towards her unsuspecting victim.


Overall this album absolutely blew me away. I’m truly in awe of how all these parts came together with such form and precision. It’s gritty, it’s tender, it’s dark, and it’s dancible all rolled up into one beautiful package that leaves me yearning for the next release. I have found so many albums I loved this year but this is right near the top of the list. Breathtaking.

Creux Lies: The Hearth

Band: Creux Lies

Album: The Hearth

Label: Cleopatra Records

Members: Kyle Vorst, David Wright, Topher Snyder, Barry Crider, Ean Clevenger

http://creuxlies.bandcamp.com/album/the-hearth

https://www.facebook.com/creuxlies

There is so much beautiful and nostalgic to hear. What if you made The Cure Disintegration but gave it razor sharp teeth? The drums had more snap. The guitar lines had that same entrancing delay but with more motion. Ean Clevenger has an obvious Robert Smith quality to his voice, yet where Smith focused more on a tongue and cheek sass. Clevenger is bringing a piercing intensity and higher range of New Order Movement feelings of being lost. The driving bass , the rising synth phrases, those crisp bark beat snaps. It’s like hearing every album that got me through my formative years but done with the precision production of the modern age. Every song makes me want to fall in love but never find the courage to express it.

Lets talk a bit about what isn’t nostalgic, because there is plenty of fresh takes in this offering. Beautiful guitar leads full of textural slush in a shoegaze slither. This record bleeds of layered sounds so thick you want to run your fingers through them. Intricate drum beats with a symphony conductors precision control the movement of each track. Just like most albums that touch me deeply it usually comes back to a vocalist that can make me feel something. Who can take me on a journey with words and feelings and this album left me shook. Every phrase drips with tortured honey and sorrow. Sometimes as an older listener who has lived a bit you hear something that makes you feel young again. In the case of Creux Lies it is not with energy and power. It is by reminding you of how deep you used to feel things before the world tempered you. Hearkening back to The Cure again this album is full of pop hooks. Strong ones that grab the lapels and shake you. It’s hard to define when you hear something that is similar to plenty of music I am hearing, but has something extra, has IT. I’m at a loss on how to express it but I do know it when I hear it. I heard it.

There really isn’t a weak track on this album, but I’ll pick some favorites.

Portals – This is the obvious single, but it is that way for a reason. The beautiful New Order keyboard melodies are absolutely captivating. The lyrics “Did you fall in love with a killer at your door, while waiting for a lifetime to begin” pure poetry. The vocals in this track are a masterclass in sliding between the cracks in the wall of sound around you. The build on the end is a perfect tension and release. Staggering.

Virginity – This is such a gentle caress of an opening, that effectively smashes you in the face with a giant crashing wave of sound when you least expect it. The slow crawling tempo makes you sway like a leaf on the wind. It feels like the terrifying lack of control at a first love so powerful you don’t yet have a frame of reference for it. Clevenger reaches into some sky splitting notes in this one and laser burns them into your heart. Slow dance with yourself in this moment.

Aine’s Song – Tom fills, give me all these tom fills. Tiny dancing pin prick guitar lines doing a duelist routine with the bass and rhythm, “I saw your face again, I want to take you home” That feeling of being struck. We have all felt it but to blend the music and lyrics so seamlessly to express it. I love the whispered secret in between chorus. I love the world drops out breakdown. You built me up and then pulled it all away. Just so those toms could drive right back into me.

Overall this album is an emotional and powerful offering. It’s also full of energy and fun though. It shows me how the past can pave the way for something new in dark music. I was an instant fan for life and you will be too.

Review and Interview of Actors

Band: Actors

Album: It Will Come to You

Label: Northern Light Records

Members: Jason Corbett – vocals/guitar
Shannon Hemmett – synth/vocals
Jahmeel Russell – bass/vocals
Adam Fink – drums

https://www.facebook.com/actors1984/

https://actors.bandcamp.com/album/it-will-come-to-you-lp

www.youtube.com/ACTORStheband

Ok I have taken a bit of a hiatus from writing reviews prepping for a show but when Jason Corbett calls me out to review what is one of the most important new albums of 2018 I better crack my knuckles and get in front of my keyboard. When I first heard this Vancouver based band I was spell bound. Transported in time and enthralled by the sheer cold razor coolness of this record. It started really blowing up and I suppose I just felt like Actors were so good they didn’t need me to write about them as much as other new bands. However to not express what this album meant would be a disservice. This record cooks from front to back with throwback sounds, perfect precision and continuity, while lyrically bringing a fresh and modern take that resonates with everyone I play it for. Do you know how Ian McCulloch is a once and a life time sound that no one can really capture ever again? When I hear Jason Corbett I hear a young Ian crooning out effortless expressive lines that wrap you up and transport you. I’ve mentioned many times in reviews being a singer myself I always hone in on vocals first and Corbett delivers a sonic artistry of wide scope and emotion that makes every song feel like an intimate performance just for you. Not to understate his guitar work, when I saw the Actors live in Detroit I was blown away by how he shredded. The guitar lines while fitting in the post punk sound have a jagged edge. He was also wearing a Slayer shirt when he played them.

Musically this album is diverse in a way so missing from “Post Punk” today. It changes in tone and scope from song to song. Everything blends together in one story but just like a complex character in a novel it is full of intricate parts. Hemmett is a maestro of subtle brush stokes in the synth sounds contradicting the sharp moving guitar parts. They build, fall, and create movement. Russell has studied hard at the Martin Hannett school of using the bass as a percussion instrument to drive these songs and feed life. I remember being surprised how large a bass he plays live, but sometimes to get the big sound you need a big instrument. They are dark and bracing and surround you in the motion of a chase scene after a heist in a bright lit city on a cool night. Fink uses a crisp snapping drum sound that builds a foundation for the constant movement and swirling parts. I can’t remember the last time a record felt so much like a beautiful sound track of a film that was never made. You can’t help but conjure images of these songs in your head. It’s a magnificent effect which continues to grow every time I listen to it. Actors are not creating a brand new sound here, but they are playing at a level of quality in their synthesis of glam, post punk, electronic, and new wave that you feel like new ground is being broken. I’m truly awed by what is accomplished here and I am not alone.

So now we have reached the hard part, how do I pick standout tracks on an album that was meant to be absorbed as a single flowing piece. It’s not singles here. Every cut is a deep perfect cut. Ok , self, be professional, I’ll try.

Face Meets Glass – I suppose if there is a “single” this is it. Such a lush and vibrant song in a dark tone. Here you can definitely hear the Echo and the Bunnymen comparison. It’s just slick city streets, black leather jackets, the coolest girl in the room dancing alone. If Ian McCulloch, Peter Hook, Iggy Pop, and Gary Numan were hanging out at a club in Berlin at 1:47am this would be the song they would listen to.

Let it Grow – Here the Post Punk edge is let off the chain. This bassline is as thick as a slow river. An elegant builder full of background guitar and stabbing single note keyboards that just keep getting layered as the song progresses. Flavors of New Order smashing Technique into Movement. Why did no one think of this before?

Slaves – All these days that you fear, there’s no god, only what you had to offer. Holy shit this is a burner. The simple slashing guitar riff, that bassline that just rolls over you like a Mack truck. I could hear this song 200 times on repeat and it would never lose flavor. It drives on the edge but in a medium tempo. This is the song I want to play while doing a jewel heist in a black turtleneck in New York while the revolution begins. (Note:Since writing this review I have definitely listened to this song more than 200 times)

Overall this album is a true modern day classic. It’s ambitious, perfectly executed, and full of homage. Actors are leading the charge in a Neo-Renaissance of dark wave music. If you don’t know about this album yet you need to get it immediately and be in on what is becoming a movement in modern music. Find this, love it, hold the vinyl in your hands and spin it many times.

Wait, there is more? Yes our own Rachel Pool got a chance to do this insightful interview with a Jason who we love dearly.

(Rachel) Explain, in ten words or less, the music scene in Vancouver.

(Jason) It’s a thriving hotbed of talent.

(Rachel) What made you choose the name, ACTORS?

(Jason) It felt just interesting enough. All the good names were taken and Duran Duran Duran was too long.

(Rachel) Does that name allow you some security in your songwriting? Was it by intent to create a lyrical fiction? How much of your songs are written from life experience? 

(Jason) A name means less and less as time passes. It’s not something I think about. All the songs are written from life experience although it’s not 100% autobiographical. Sometimes you just need a visual and a good rhyme.

(Rachel) Describe the original formation of Actors. How did musicians of your talent level come to together into one singular vision?

(Jason) We are all friends first. It just made sense for us to fall together with ACTORS. We respect each other and everyone has something special to contribute. I couldn’t do this with just anyone.

(Rachel) Bands of brothers and sisters: what do you argue about most, as a band? 

(Jason) We don’t really argue. I snore so I’m pretty sure the others members have wrestled with the idea of holding a pillow over my face in the middle of the night.



(Rachel) How do you feel about remixes? Are they necessary to band networking? Is it comfortable to have other bands interpret your music, and how do you deal with what you may feel is an inaccurate rendition of your song, or indeed one which may have captured the spirit/leitmotif better?

(Jason) I’ve recently started doing remixes for other artists again. It’s fun. I haven’t had anyone remix an ACTORS song since the first single Post Traumatic Love. I don’t think they are “necessary” but I do love to hear different interpretations of songs. Sometimes a remix will be better than the original.

(Rachel) If you could have any band/musician remix one of your songs, who would you choose?

(Jason) I would love to see what David Lynch would come up with. Maybe he would just light one of our records on fire and record it burning.

(Rachel) How did you find music? Did you grow up with musicians, or did a certain album or artist inspire you to create music yourself?

(Jason) It was always around. The radio and music videos on tv. Bowie was the first big inspiration for me. Ziggy Stardust > Let’s Dance > Scary Monsters, in that order.

(Rachel) Your album has been considered by many to be one of the most important releases of 2018, does this shock you? What is a best case scenario of what you want to accomplish in 2019?

(Jason) I wanted to believe that if enough people heard these songs that the album would find an audience. I had learned to temper my expectations over the years so the reception this time around was initially hard to believe. Best case scenario is we keep touring and continue to create opportunities to connect with more and more people. We plan on releasing our next full-length album in 2020.

(Rachel) There has to be at least one of you who is a Cat Person™ . Freyja Six Beans(our cat) sat on our computer desk and had to be forcibly removed several times while we were playing your album. How can you explain your animal magnetism?

(Jason) You’re very intuitive. We love cats. I’m sorry you had to forcibly remove Freyja Six Beans on our account. Can animal magnetism be explained?

A rookies guide to Cold Waves VIII Chicago day 1. 9/19/19

In 2012 a musician and sound engineer much beloved by the scene named Jamie Duffy was taken too soon. In an effort to pay tribute and help his family, a group of bands collaborated to create a music festival. Eight years later it has continued to grow and thrive as a celebration of music, counter culture, and dancing. Somehow in those previous seven years I have never attended this festival. This year I am changing that. I figured I would create a preview of each of the four days line up. Then try to share them before I head to Gotham City this weekend. Friday is sold out but tickets are still available for the other days and I would love to share my Cold Waves deflowering with as many of you wonderful people as possible.

Thursday Sept 19th lineup is a monster one. Lets break down who you will see.

http://coldwaves.net/?fbclid=IwAR14BGkA1nBmGq0oS1uPTuQgYd8MRX8U2-4MjDVqu6GiHMih-r8zsMjeaMg

Chicago’s own Panic Priest from Negative Gain records is playing Smart Bar and Jack Armondo will be bringing his honey rich baritone voice over delicious electronic beats and sizzling guitar licks. If you have never had the pleasure of witnessing it live, it is a must see.

This couldn’t happen in Chicago without some old school boot stomping in your face industrial. Sean Payne/Chris Harris and friends doing Conformco will give you that in excess. Get on this dance floor now!

Bootblacks – of New York is a driving post punk electroclash sizzlefest that has to be seen live to truly be appreciated. I saw them play with frequent life partners Actors in Detroit this past year and was floored by the energy and passion of their set. They have a new record coming soon “Thin Skies” produced by Jason Corbett so you might get to see some preview material. Just seeing Panther’s dance moves alone is worth the price of admission.

Far from done here it’s we are still talking about day 1! Curse Mackey with his debut solo album “Instant Exorcism” I have already reviewed this year and it shook me to the core. Curse has a storied history in Industrial music playing with (Pigface/My Life with the Thrill Kill Cult/Evil Mothers) and this personal and powerful record is a ritual charged electronic inferno. I am yet to see him live so I couldn’t be more excited.


Acumen vs 16 VoltAcumen lead by the Novak brothers has been an intense hard hitting metaldustrial band since the late 80s. Their guitarist Jamie Duffy and his tragic passing was the focus that brought this festival together. No doubt making this a very personal show each year. 16 Volt with Eric Powell from LA also lean towards the metal side while adding electronic and synth elements. I’ve always really liked their vocals and cadence. I’m not sure exactly what the combination will sound like on Stage but with that level of talent in one place it is sure to be memorable.

Jared Loche and the Chemlab crew from Washington DC are part of any serious discussion about what Industrial music is. Chemlab has always held that early Throbbing Gristle art piece style of industrial music for me. They push the edge in the best possible way. It’s been a long hiatus since 2012 when they last played. It is a swirling, electronic Pandora’s Box, Like a pressure cooker filled with chaos brimming over into your eardrums. I can imagine what that many years of ideas is going to look and sound like.

Pop Will Eat Itself the UK based dance explosion that has been shaking the cement off clubs since 1986 with napalm bright guitars and electric stage shows and effective rapping. I think it has always been the extreme cleverness of this band that makes it stand out. My dear friend Josh Garman said it best “PWEI is so good they did a diss track of the Jesus and Mary Chain and I still love them” PWEI really deserves it’s own lengthy article about their contribution to the bigger musical picture.

Other important news, WAX TRAX will have a collectors corner set up with both the WAX TRAX documentary film and several rare test press, first press collectors items from the label.

My friends we are only at day one of a four day musical celebration and the names keep this exciting as the weekend goes on. So hydrate, pace yourself, and leave everything on the floor.

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Review of Klack: Introducing The 1984 Renault LeCar

Artist: Klack

Members: Matt Fanale, Eric Oehler

Hometown: Madison WI

Mixed and Mastered: Submersible Studios

https://klack.bandcamp.com/album/introducing-the-1984-renault-lecar

https://www.facebook.com/klackmusik/

This is an exciting review to do. It was actually released in Jan 2019 and somehow it slipped through the cracks of my reviews so I will rectify that today. Matt Fanale is fairly well known in the scene through his Industrial project Caustic. Eric Oehler of Null Device. I’m always really impressed when artists have the ability to work at a high level in multiple genres. This dancier , sample infused, Front 242 style aspect really captures something I love about all of Matt’s productions. 1) It is extremely well done 2) It doesn’t take itself overly seriously 3) It makes me want to shake my large hairy form all over a dance floor.

EDM isn’t always my cup of cocoa, so what does Klack do so well? Blending, keeping a driving vamp dance beat and flowing the proper elements in and out to hold your attention. Doing that is a tightrope walk on a razor wire. This record consistently finds that sweet spot. they use samples taken from Star wars to an advertisement from a 1984 Renault automobile. Then they are seamlessly integrated with thought provoking growled out vocals and intricate beat changes. I think a lot of dance music is about causing the listener to become lost in the texture of the beat. Klack achieves this but takes it one step further to keep your mind revolving while you shake that ass. I also really enjoy the variety of tone and speed they use on this EP. Each song has the feel of being made by a different artist so it never feels like repetition.

This album is also an homage. It isn’t just the cover art or concept. The feel of these songs have a wonderful Kraftwork ,retro computer, grainy screens flickering in a ground control station feel. I think that creates this wonderful underground revolutionary feel which i found entrancing.

Lets talk favorite tracks. The EP has 6 and they are all good. However here were my stand outs.

Flowers for Ravers – Incredible opening intro of a young lady talking about the culture of drugs and dance culture. A dark and slithering keyboard line. The layers build and the vocals have this dusky chant building to the chorus “Flowers for Ravers put them in their hair” I grew up in the 90’s rave scene in Detroit and this track is such a nostalgic memory trigger.

Le Car – First track is a burner out the gate. I love the use of the sample and concept of the relationship between humanity and machines. Rapier flick synth swipes and this wonderful trance style beat. Klack the Planet.

Lost Without You – This song really grabbed me for it’s contrast. It’s beautiful with an almost Information Society quality. Really highlighted the singers and shows the talent risen from the mud of electronics and striding to the front naked and unafraid. The melody is a hook that sinks in you deep. This was stuck in my head for days.

Overall this is a wonderfully done EP with a diverse feel, powerful concepts, and seamless transitions. I felt like it really hits on all the things I love most about dance music and inspired memories in my mind like a smell. Treat yourself to this record.

As an added bonus I got to do an interview with Matt about Klack and Eric and his process.

Ken: So you do several projects I love Caustic/Klack/daddybear. I’ve always thought it was cool that you have so many voices you want to express in different musical styles. So tell me how you started the project of Klack in particular and why it was a voice and style you needed to express?

Matt: Klack was really more of a fluke than anything.  My better half in Klack is Eric Oehler of (Null Device). We’d collaborated on things before, but he did a ND remix for the Gothsicles in an old school 242 style and asked me if I wanted to try out a track in that style.  I was totally down and he tossed me 3 or 4 short track ideas, I chose one, came up with some samples and some other sounds to add to it, and Synthesizer came out.  Eric mainly handles the music and production side and I handle samples, lyrics, and “other sounds” for it. It’s the quickest workflow for us, as we get to be “lazy” and only do stuff that’s easier (for lack of a better word) for us.

We honestly did it for our own amusement and knew some of our friends would get a kick out of it, but people really took to it so we started building on some of the other demos and the Do You Klack? EP was the result of that.

Our influences and “voice” were apparent from the get go, as we had the same references– Microchip League, early 242 and Depeche Mode, A Split Second, etc. Eric is ridiculously good at identifying sounds and how to build them, so we went from there and it’s been surprisingly successful.

Ken: : I find when a scene (especially in a smaller city) starts to really take on life it often has someone in a band who is working to drive that. I really see Madison as a place where you are helping something special happen. Tell me about why that city is special for this scene and what advice would you give to people who want to grow the scene in their cities?

Matt: Thanks. I appreciate that.  We had a lot more vibrant scene in the early to mid 2000s when I was booking shows and bands like Stromkern were big, but we’ve definitely been building up again. The club we used to hang out at closed a few years back but a new one, Crucible, opened on New Years Eve, and that’s been a really exciting place for us to all come together again. I like thinking I’m a helpful part of it, but I’m just one person trying to convince people to come out and support this stuff.  If it wasn’t for Stromkern and some of the other bands I wouldn’t have even thought my music could get heard elsewhere, so I hope I can inspire new artists the way Stromkern influenced me to make music

Ken:
What is the next step for Klack? What are you working on and will any French automobiles be advertised by you in the future?

Matt: We’re working on new music presently and will be debuting a new track at Cold Waves in September.  Then we’re opening for Boy Harsher in Madison on October 10th and playing Los Angeles at the Substance Festival (coincidentally with them as a co-headliner) in early November.

As for new stuff we hold our cards close on that, so you’ll know it when we announce it.  No more french car promotion though.  We’re loyal to the Renault LeCar through and through.  Screw Peugeot.

Ken: Q: The alarm rings, missiles are locked on your studio. You have 5 minutes to escape, enough time to get out with one armload of gear. What are you saving?

Matt: I’ll just grab my laptop and Novation Kontrol and Launchpad.  I keep it simple, as I’ve always been more DAW-centric and not a hardware guy.  I don’t have that kind of money to blow.

Ken: You have such quirky and outside the stream song concepts. Tell me about your song writing process, where do you find the ideas you write about and how do you turn that into music?

Matt: I work a few ways when it comes to Klack, since Eric is responsible for the music. Sometimes lyrics just jump into my head, a la DMF off our first EP.  I had the title (which was the name of a goth/industrial night on campus when Eric and I were at UW Madison) but the lyrics popped when I actually locked down on the demo.  Other times, like for With Precision off Le Car, I had a bunch of lyrics but was waiting for the right music.  It all depends.  I’m working off a few other demo ideas right now and lyrics for both came to me when listening to the tracks.

My pools of inspiration for lyrics are different for Klack than Caustic or any of my other projects.  I have very specific lyrical references for Klack, but for Caustic it’s what can fit for the song– I don’t have restraints for Caustic.  I can’t think of a track where I debated “is this a Caustic lyric or a Klack lyric?”  They’re very purposefully different, as the projects have different voices.  I like writing for as many voices as possible, whether that be for Erica in Beauty Queen Autopsy or Eric for Klack.  It’s fun pushing my creativity that way.

Ken: If you could do a music video for any of your Klack songs. You had an unlimited budget. What song would you pick and what would that video look like?

Matt: Oh hell, I’d just hire Anton Corbijn to do a video for Discipline, one of our new tracks. He’s done videos for 242 and Depeche Mode, so he’s hitting our major touchstones.  We might as well stop pretending to be those bands and just use their guy straight off.

Ken: Give me one piece of Klack “Industrial Gossip” which my reader don’t know about?

Matt: Eric has a pouch like a kangaroo and he hides beef jerky in it.  

Who is going to sift through all the new music in the world to help us find diamonds ?

You might be thinking, Ken, you run a music review page, why would you want to direct people to other pages with the same function? Because I don’t do this for financial gain. I do it to share music that moves me with the world. To help support bands that you need to be listening to. I have continued to try and get better and grow. There are things I feel really good about but the format I do well isn’t everything and isn’t for everyone. I wanted to share some of the pages I am going to and finding great bands and ideas on how I can be better at what I do. In the end we all have the same goal and that is sharing music we believe in to help bands we love get a wider audience. I hope this can also act as a guide for bands looking to share their music and get press. Bands, if you are not sending a copy of your album to reviewers, you are doing yourself a great disservice. I can’t speak for everyone, but personally bands that reach out and interact with me are the ones I am thinking about first. Take the first step.

http://www.obscuraundead.com/?fbclid=IwAR0ngAAcj75grPhZ0FgHHPMm5n0RBslN5UM0g426Q-OkMNS5YsBqm41wuzw

Obscura Undead – I love this site. They are always posting and do a lot in terms of news and happenings. They focus mostly on Goth/Industrial/Synth and keep right on the cutting edge. Megan and Sherri put out some of the best review videos around which are always interesting and have a fresh take. High production values and lots of personality and humor.

https://postgothic.com/?fbclid=IwAR0wD86xZRLpGEtH2aiFCM82aWBGYxNx2tadGC7J58R0NQfu5-0G8Wfb50c

Post Gothic – Run by Oskar Terramortis who has been a part of the European goth scene for ages. This page focuses on Goth and modern traditional in particular. Very in depth and knowledgeable, Oskar knows his business and is a true pro writer. When he says something is good you can feel confident it has been through the paces and proven.

Industrial Island – This is an awesome podcast run by Michael J. Carrasquillo formerly of Wax Trax. Focus is on Industrial which is an area I am never as up to speed on. Michael knows everyone in the business and is always up to date on hottest new tracks. He spent long enough with the label to know it when he hears it.

http://dreadmusicreview.com/?fbclid=IwAR1xKdILuH3VRBf1dFrDKqDolqHzd3ATZyGUDoB5dM3dLRwURbNNAZMZHYk

Dread Music Review – This is a more eclectic page with a pretty wide range from Metal/Goth/EDM/Hip Hop. Really professional look that covers a ton of ground.

https://www.post-punk.com/?fbclid=IwAR0jwHdeGDDTjDNZzz6okDcn1sfzzi1C5VexCGZMGpysx63WQKGws82eYvs

Post-Punk.com – This is a widely followed page run by Alex Baker along with contributors Frank Deserto and Andi Harriman . It’s widely followed for a reason….it’s really good. Great writing and huge reach. A lot of bands do premiers with Alex because the level of quality here gets everything he releases in front of a lot of eyeballs. I had the good fortune to meet him when I was in Berlin and he is a wonderful human who cares about music.

http://catvsbat.podbean.com/?fbclid=IwAR1mlhGfb1kkY1XcKzy6NMCOvyx1Ko-HZI2hLqsuGiBRPU42RP1v8WurOB0

Cat vs Bat – This is a wonderful podcast that does the latest in music reviews as well as discussion or a variety of music culture topics and interviews with artists. Always a lively conversation and I’ve found some real gems listening to the show.

Michael Nagy – Runs an awesome youtube channel that does reviews focused on Industrial but has some goth/metal mixed in. I really like his interview style and they always are shot with a professional look and interesting questions that draw great background out of your favorite new bands.

http://worldofgothmagazin.wixsite.com/goth?fbclid=IwAR2FDOI0mjHql4wgoY5Qz5mRqzo2ofc6GyBXp_Hcen_6TPY5y2Czj1Onuyg

World of Goth – I really like this online zine for the attention to aesthetic and goth culture in addition to in depth reviews. It really comes at the goth scene as a culture rather than just a music style which adds a nice element.

https://www.theinfidelnetwerk.com/?fbclid=IwAR2yX74FPv9HUuS_WJoXIQoZ6T_B1tTDqBoR2cPMDf3etn4GDR0Qm0HyAX0

The Infidel Network – A really cool promotion sharing page with a pretty wide range of styles. Videos, interviews, reviews they really cast a wide net but aren’t afraid to get into some of the more experimental music.

https://luminousdash.be/?fbclid=IwAR0zoHYu3XfbUbvsgLA6hzD8RDRIJTxs9yxN4pcAQvAkiq8AUPMuwATs3sA

Luminous Dash – Cool online zine from Belgium with a focus on Indie and minimalist. They do news coverage, interviews, reviews with a lot of great European stuff I don’t otherwise see.

http://www.elektrospank.com/?fbclid=IwAR004-vjJuFSWG_dzh5CnXtX0706og1z7wqYXsMOi7YBSi0OWnDBzNvlU5o

ElektroSpank – Online music magazine covering Goth/EDM/Industrial. They do a really cool format and their reviews are longer and pretty deep. In fact i should really figure out how he sets this page up 🙂

https://whitelight-whiteheat.com/?fbclid=IwAR0-WgkohSVc5ETdaUp86tQdMoLmpJZAWeSDEwXcBL-BOfYhZ82zgUFAzOc

White Light/White Heat – In a way I think they really set the standard. It looks about as pro as you can get. when i was first starting out i got feedback from them because I really like their page. They handle an enormous amount of content and do a lot of quick hits along with longer pieces.

Dark Music Net – Out of Germany run by my friend Michael. This page was actually the first to share Sounds and Shadows reviews before i got my own page. I feel like we really share a passion for music and doing less pieces but more in depth. Sometimes I think this page is the other side of my coin in Europe, highly recommend


Rule of Three – Incredible mix cloud Show and magazine featuring Pete Burns of Kill Shelter and Christian Schaefer. They focus on Shoegaze, Coldwave, Darkwave, Goth. Both are certified musical experts and they comb through the vast wasteland to bring you the goods. This is a must listen

Sounds and Shadows – Wait, you are already here 😉

Friday the 13th was a wicked day for new music.

9/13/19 saw the release of so much great music that brought my blood to a screaming level of excitement that just doing a song of the day was not enough. I’ll fire through some of these wonderful premiers.

S Y Z Y G Y X – just released a new album on Negative Gain/Cold Transmission called “Fading Bodies”. Available for pre-order right now. Holy fuck, this record hits a new stride. It’s everything that worked well on “The Graveyard Compilation” but done bigger, tighter, weirder. Luna’s voice is way to the front and lets her haunting ghostly song wrap you in glowing chains. This is a band you will be hearing a lot from in the future. Look for our interview with them next week.

https://syzygy-x.bandcamp.com/album/fading-bodies

Antipole – Brand new record out “Radial Glare”. They are now officially the most reviewed artist on Sounds and Shadows with three records. Karl has continued to refine and grow the sound of interwoven intricate post punk guitars but has brought the vocals way forward and used frequent collaborators Paris Alexander and Eirene to make this heartfelt belt of bleak winter energy take life and drive forward into the crystalline beauty .

https://antipole.bandcamp.com/album/radial-glare

Ships in the Night – The Charlottesville VA group has released a series of remixes including one by Thomas Duerig of “The Purge”. Beautiful bright beam vocals racing by sinister dance beats and poetry of doubt and hope.

https://shipsinthenight.bandcamp.com/album/the-remixes?fbclid=IwAR1YcOqjjHClrjp4HzKktFzfDoWJhikd-oOJK3NKj-pM5iyqp57OF1Pxy3k

Bedless Bones – Your new favorite band from Estonia and another incredible Cold Transmission release. A mystical trance of beauty and darkness, “Sublime Malaise” feels like a coven started a dance club in a haunted forest on a stormy night.

https://bedlessbones.bandcamp.com/album/sublime-malaise

Sombre – New video release for “Black Skin Twins”. It’s a new version of the song from “Linsay” stripped down to leave Cedric’s voice exposed and brimming with emotion. The percussion from the acoustic strings add an organic truth that lets you focus on the words.

I will probably write more on all these releases but so much happened today I needed to share my excitement. Delve into all of this. Each was enough to excite me.

Interview with Peer Lebrecht of Golden Apes

When I was in Berlin Golden Apes album “Kasbek” was my continual companion. I was very excited after the review to have a discussion with Peer Lebrecht about music, the future, and where the passion comes from to keep making music through decades while you watch the world change.

Ken: I found your band several albums into your journey, I’m excited to discover you in reverse. Tell me about when and how you came together, and when did that become the current incarnation of the Golden Apes?

Peer: The fact that KASBEK, our current release marked the 20th anniversary of that band. It makes it quite easy to detect the right point in time when 3 guys, sharing the same musical passion for everything in common. We, met in a small and spare flat then tried to turn lots of energy, idealism and a little bit of weltschmerz into choruses and verses…Feels good to remember after all that time. Diaries and demiurges….

Can´t tell where we all came from but we met at the right time in the right place.We all had already gained some experiences in bands and projects before but this. Golden Apes was some kind of reset, a playground, a return to zero because we were free from any pressure and guidelines. There was no template, no route, no urge of artistic sophistication or thoughts about concerts or recording something – just a guitar, a bass, a keyboard, a trashy drum machine and tons of songs we wrote in the first handful of months. Should we have kept it like this? Maybe…Ha Ha Ha…
But soon a kind of ambition crept in and everything got more structured and ordered. We sorted and selected, discarded and rebuild and in the end we had about 12 songs, which soon became our debut album “Stigma 3:am”. Though so many seasons have changed since then and whole rivers have passed under the bridge I still like it´s atmosphere, it´s insouciance and hedonistic attitude towards genres and stylistic boundaries. Something we came closest to with MALVS again I think, some 18 years later…and finally KASBEK…circles, circles, circles….

Ken: I was struck by how different this record sounds from others I have heard in modern post punk, tell me about how it is different from your previous records?

Peer: Destiny is a weird thing now and then. Graceful and cynical, torturing and pleasing, snow and ashes…one second honey is running through your veins and the other mercury…and its true shape you only realize in the end. When we started with KASBEK we thought we were going to do an album that would become a gift for ourselves, something to celebrate the 20 years of existence in the most proper way – in the rehearsal room, making and recording music. That was the idea. But somehow it all took a completely different route, something strange crawled in, slowly but toxic…something that let us die on the way. Sadly. The deeper some of us got into the focus on the music, the more we faced a kind of strangeness and alienation between us. The songs felt like a trigger for skimming layers of things unspoken for years. There were so many cracks suddenly, so many distances and discrepancies of expectations, ambitions, engagement and creative involvement. But this is how it goes sometimes. Not every covenant is made for eternity.

In the end it felt a bit like doing a solo album with 11 of 12 songs written by myself and no real input during the mixing and polishing. But there was never a second I had doubts about going on. On the contrary. The more I felt deserted, the more important Kasbek became for me. It was my album all of a sudden in some way and I dealt with it passionately. And I confess – I´m quite proud of it. Was it to become the last Golden Apes album? Or the first letter on a new, blank page? Still I don’t know, but Kasbek is a caesura, one of those relics pointing to a certain moment in time whose palpable significance makes you shiver.

Ken: I read that Kasbek as an album name was a tie in to Greek mythology with the story of Prometheus. Tell me the significance of this title and how it relates to the music you are making ?

Peer: Prometheus, who stole the fire (as an metaphor for knowledge and wisdom) from the gods and handed it over to the man and was therefore chained on a mountain in the Caucasus (this ominous Kasbek), where an eagle was eating out his liver, day by day cause – and here my congrats for the authors savvy, it was regrowing every night! A brilliant story, isn’t it?

Where is the link to the album? Somehow the whole story is about the wish for knowledge and the failure of dealing with it. It is about morals and their counterweight, about sacrifice and the tempting odor of things forbidden. It´s about guilt and atonement, about betrayal and iniquity…The rest is hidden in the words, in the lines between…in the flames.

https://goldenapes.bandcamp.com/album/kasbek

Ken: Post punk/dark music is going through a real Renaissance at the moment. What are you doing to distinguish yourself artistically?

Peer: Honestly? I have no idea. I still would call myself a musical amateur with no idea about thirds, syncopation, the Pythagorean tuning or the Neo-Riemannian theories. I always made music the way it finds me and I don’t care about sophistication, compatibility or definition of genres as long as it is moving me, makes something inside oscillating. (I even don’t know what post-punk is nowadays for the inflationary usage of that label makes it quite different to stay on top of things.) And although I use to hear a lot of music, keep always watching for new and exciting bands, I strangely always escape into instrumental ambient, neo-classic tunes when it comes to writing. From Harold Budd to Moon ate the Dark, from Eno to Dvdub. The atmosphere is the setting, the condition of the mind the main source of inspiration. So maybe it is this different set of influences or the missing intuition for contemporary trends that puts Kasbek in a stylistic alcove…I never really thought about that…

Ken: Speaking of the growing scene I know you just did a show with Actors in Berlin. Tell me about some bands you would really love to share a stage with?

Peer: Fortunately, I´m part of a team, which organizes an annual little festival here in Berlin (Dark Spring Festival) and we are lucky enough that we survived for 10 years now with a concept that is far beyond any commercial prudence. We only invite bands and artists whose music we personally like and cherish. No thought about popularity or the number of sold albums. We are just naïve idealists and it works well! Therefore, I´m blessed with the fact that I could already share the stage with so many interesting bands. For example The Trees, Motorama, Whispering Sons, She Past Away, The Foreign Resort….not to forget all those amazing people we met on the way so far: the above mentioned Actors, Pink Turns Blue, Clan Of Xymox, Cinema Strange, Love Amongst Ruin….to be continued. So have a look at the billing of the next Dark Spring Festival and I´m sure there you´ll find a few answers…

Ken: I recently took a trip to Germany and saw your home city of Berlin. I was absolutely floored by the way people embrace music and art there. Tell me about what it is like to be a part of that, how has it shaped the music you create?

Peer: I don’t know if there is a specific Berlin patina on the music we make, (maybe this is something I even can´t judge for living here for every single day of my life already!), but I agree that there´s some kind of urbanity sticking on it, like sand on wet skin. All the places it is passing seem to bear traces of man somehow….abandoned, damaged, broken, lost but reservoirs of memories. There is a lot of nature in my lyrics – seas and rivers, mountains and valleys, deserts and skies but these are metaphoric landscapes somehow, conditions, backsides of mirrors, resulting either from that romantic rejection of modern technological deadening or just a subconscious vocabulary of a mind…? Analysts may know. I´m not sure if this is linked to a special place.

Of course, culture rates high in Berlin, either on the surface or below of it and in one way it was amazing to dive into this Bohemian maelstrom, there were so many possibilities…especially beneath the water! All the clubs, all the venues, concerts 7 days a week, so many interesting people and so many people looking for the same. It was great being in it, being twenty, being curious…but a lot has changed since then. Don’t get me wrong, there´s still a great variety of abreuvoirs of cultural and subcultural life, but somehow it´s on display now. It feels sold out and tired. Maybe it´s a question of generation or just the usual way of cities eating their inhabitants. Take a look at other former cultural hotspots like London or NY. It all becomes polished, whitewashed and an insiders tip in a travel book….

Ken: So one of the songs on the record I kept coming back to was “Clouds Silver Lining” It was such an effective use of dynamics. Tell me about what was happening during the time you were writing it?

Peer: I can´t point to a certain song on Kasbek and tell you when and where I wrote it. Somehow the whole album became one piece of work, a solid shell with a lot of inclusions. There were periods of doing the music and periods dealing with the lyrics, not that one-after-the-other linear progression. I just remember that the first, atmospheric part “Clouds Silver Lining” was the first I did and for a while there was no idea to change the atmosphere at all. Just those leaden major and minor chords, this lofty Cocteau Twins guitar and the decent drums. It changed when I accidentally put a bass line from another idea over the main pattern and realized that it changed the whole mood without affecting the harmony. So we found that rattling middle section, whose conclusion asked for the heavy guitars and these over polished late eighties drums. And about the words – it´s a classical love song with all this light and pain, this hope and disappointment, this faith and echoing loss….

Ken: You did the Song “Dust and Dew” as a duet with Shannon Hemmett from Actors/Leathers, I felt like you had such great call and answer chemistry with your voices. What is it like to share a song like that, what do you think another voice added?

Peer: This song is really, really special for me. And not only for we never did it this way before. There was “Missing” on the MALVS album on which Froxeanne from The Frozen Autumn added a few lines with her magnificent voice, but it was more a final seasoning with her coming to the studio, taping her vocal lines in a few takes and leaving again. “Dust And Dew” became so different case. I wanted to do a song WITH someone this time. Someone special of course. Shannon and me knew each other from a few shows we played together and stayed in close contact since then. She´s a brilliant being and it turned out we share so many similarities if it comes to passion for arts. In this way the idea of doing something together has been in the air for a long time.

After the riverbed for “Dust & Dew” was dug, I sent her the rough musical template and the first verse. She replied with the second and so on and so we worked through the whole song, denying that there were a few continents and oceans between us. And when she added her additional keyboard textures in the end I was so delighted about the result, so enamored of its density and intensity. But the real consummation of it all happened a few months later only, when we sang the song together live on stage here in Berlin…then we really finished the great white work.

Ken: What is the future for you now? What is your ideal outcome for the rest of 2019? Hint: come tour in America 🙂

Peer: As revealed above there is a moment of re-design happening here, some adjusting of the compass, because even if I left a doubt a few sentences before, I erase it here and now again – I will go on with the band. It is a too big and important part of my life for letting it go completely. There was this idea to work on some new music on my own at first, to see things from a different angle, to redefine states and conditions, but there will definitely be a post-Kasbek era for the Golden Apes. Don’t know its shape and don´t know its color, but I´m certain about its existence. Promised.

Ken: What is something about your music you put a lot of heart and soul into but you think often gets overlooked?

Peer: I don’t feel legit enough to judge this, to measure popularity and the reach of the music we do. I just can say that we feel quite happy about the feedback and response we got over the years. We have never been that front page band, never stood prominently in the spotlight and always failed to meet commercial and economic expectations but….it was never about that. From the very beginning we dealt with everything on our own, there was no real company at our back, no educated management, no booking agency…what was not easy and asked for a lot of idealism and resilience but making music the way we wanted to do it, music that felt right and important (to us) always kept us going on. And finally I´m quite happy that we can do all this without any pressure, without any need to meet other demands than our own. There is so many music left to do, so many places we have been to, so many lovely and wonderful people we met – we couldn’t be more proud of the things we faced so far.

Picture by Grendel

Ken: If you were given unlimited resources to make any of your songs into a video, what song would you choose and what would it look like?

Peer: That´s a question that hits the nail on the head in an almost eerie way, cause we´re really in the state of working on a draft for a new video right now. Christian and me are dealing with some ideas in the moment and we hope to get something on the way later this year. And of course I won’t reveal what song it will be. Let´s keep it murky…but it will look great I hope….Ha Ha Ha….