This was an a great experience interviewing our friends from Twin Tribes where they discuss their new album Ceremony, three new bands they are exited about, life on tour, food on tour, which coney dog is superior, and the Absolution festival. Below I will post the links of all the bands we discussed. Please check them all out and support great music. Please like and follow the Soundcloud page, we have more great stuff on the way.
This is episode 1 of the Sounds and Shadows podcast. Here we feature artists in our scene choosing three bands they find meaningful and important in modern music. We then discuss three of their songs. In this episode Collin and I talk with Jason Corbett of the band Actors and Jacknife Studios from Vancouver Canada. We discuss three bands he has recorded Frankiie, Gang Signs, and Mesa Luna. We also drink sugar free Red Bull and spout off about life on tour, the modern post punk revolution, and whatever came to mind.
Industrial music is having a resurgence for me. Sometimes I have to put something on the shelf for a while and let a form of art grow on it’s own until I am ready to jump back in. This year in particular I have fallen so deep in the hole of new releases I couldn’t keep up. So I am going to fire through several reviews at once to try and touch on the wondrous new movement happening in this genre. This piece is a bit of the throwing several things in the blender and doesn’t have my usual formatting. It’s also two authors because Adrian Kjøsnes did the review for Moris Black.
Industrial music has generally been something nostalgic for me. The music of my jaded youth. My aggression, my frustration, a remembrance of a young man lashing out with fire at the world. Then like many things from my youth I put aside that fire and found myself drawn in new directions. Maybe I felt I had outgrown Industrial. this year that changed for me with Stoneburner’s “Technology Implies Belligerence”. This was an album that kindled that fire and chaos once again. This time with an intelligence and focus that made Industrial feel mature. When Steven told me he had a new EP already I will admit I was skeptical. How do you follow an album I thought of as groundbreaking so soon? “Massdriver” to my amazement and excitement has done just that.
Currently out on a US tour Stoneburner is bringing to life this throwback to old school rhythms and noise with modern production and lyrics that matter. With “Technology Implies Belligerence” we were assaulted with abstract concepts of progressive thinking persons blends of sound and image. Drawing on world beat drums and samples. “Massdriver” takes this idea, but clarifies it. Pushes the poetry and emotion of the vocals to the front where Industrial has been afraid to go. To create a psychic assault so powerful that a piece of the artist is left resonating in your mind after the show.
I had a chance to discuss this tour and record with Steven a bit and here are some insights.
(Ken) Why is this album and tour special for You?
(Steven) The album and tour are special because they are the culmination of 35+ years of listening to electronic music. When I sat down to write this record, well these records, wanted to address the lack or originality and grit that seeing to have pervaded their genre.
(Ken) How has your stage setup changed for this tour?
(Steven) The stage setup has grown. My drummer Hemlock is playing my old hand drum rig and I’ve built a new one out of sheet metal and triggers. Which frees up, or at least changes the performance dynamic.
(Ken) What material (books) (music) were you drawing from when you composed this album?
(Steven) The recent full length from this summer, “technology implies belligerence,” is based in large part on the book “Blindsight” by Peter Watts. Essentially I wanted to write a record with footnotes.
I was lucky enough to see the kick off show of this tour. The emotional and visual offering put on display in an intimate setting. Here is something I haven’t witnessed in a long time. Every aspect of what you see and hear is painstakingly constructed by hand and with extreme meaning. Also the live show features percussionist Hemlock MacNamara, who throws so much intensity into smashing mic’d up pieces of sheet metal I am tired just thinking about it. She is a force of nature. Steven is truly bringing fresh artisanal farm to table locally sourced sonic explosion right to your doorstep. Don’t miss this tour.
Nov 10 KC MO @ The Riot Room Mon
Nov 11 St. Louis MO @ The Crack Fox Wed
Nov 13 Houston TX@ Super happy Funland Thurs
Nov 14 Austin TX @ Texas Mist Fri
Nov 15 San Antonio TX @ The Amp Room Sun
Nov 17 New Orleans LA @ The Goat Mon
Nov 18 Tallahassee FL @ 926 Bar & Grill Wed
Nov 20 Knoxville TN @ The Concourse Fri
Nov 22 Nashville TN @ The East Room Sat
Nov 23 Chattanooga TN @ ziggys music box Thurs
Nov 28 West Palm Beach FL @ Respectable street Fri
Nov 29 Jacksonville FL Bay Street bash Mon
Dec 2 Raleigh NC @ Legends Fri
Dec 6 Richmond VA @ Fallout Sat
Dec 7 Charlottesville VA @ Holly’s Diner Sun
8 DC @ The Pie Shop
All The Wells Are Poison Now – Fierce and dangerous in it’s pacing with a lovely echo chant. “You will always curse the ones you love”. It is an infectious hook with building intensity. Goddamn this made me dance hard live.
First World Murderer – Breakneck attack right out the gate. This track really shows Stevens love of east coast intellectual rap like Public Enemy. They lyrics strike forth in a rhythmic cadence assault. It really reminds me of the common ground between well done rap and well done industrial.
The name Jim Marcus is such an integral part of Industrial music. For me personally seeing Die Warsaw in my formative years opened my mind to how wide the range of Industrial music could be. Go Fight also put out an amazing album last year Tokyo Sexwale. The follow up Anthem was fairly uncharted ground for Jim in that it is an album of covers. One of the powers of great industrial music has always been to take something old and wonderful. Run it through machines, effects, and sludge and make it new and glorious again. This is what Jim achieved by taking his most influential songs of the 80’s. Showing you the music that fueled him in his art and feeding that energy through a giant battlemech. You recognize these “Anthems” but they are dancing towards you with cybernetic tank tread power.
I was lucky enough to be at the CD release party and hearing this album blasting over club speakers was experience that fueled me with hope. There is still more ground to explore in Industrial, and GoFight is paving the way.
My Spine is the Bass Line (Shreikback) – Ok, Shreikback is one of my favorite things in this life. To hear GoFight add its filthy, sexy, dance groove to it left me speechless. Honestly I am not sure how to even process how excited this makes me.
Right Wing Pigeons (Dead Milkmen) – The Dead Milkmen are one of the most underrated bands of all time. They are a huge influence of mine and their versatility to flow between political punk and humor was so unique in a time desperate for satire. This cover is an almost unrecognizable re-imagining which GoFight truly made its own. It’s still so poignant, maybe even more so all these years later.
Here I get a two for one. I Ya Toyah remixed by Joy Thieves. These are two of the hottest new bands coming out of the Chicago Industrial scene. I had the amazing pleasure of sharing a stage with Ania last Saturday. I can’t remember the last time I faced that much terror having to follow someone on a stage. The amount of sound, emotion, and precision she achieves all by herself is nothing short of staggering. Having Dan of Joy Thieves who are amazing in their own right do this remix creates an absolute burner single. She is about to go on tour with Pigface and if you miss her live performance you have done a disservice to yourself.
I Ya Toyah leads well into the amazing new release from superband Joy Thieves from Chicago which features here. I just did a review of this release but it is putting the hard rock edge back into Industrial and music be checked out.
Moris Blak is an industrial artist based in Boston,MA who after the release of their “Dead Summer” EP began gaining a cult following within the scene of dark electronic based music.
November 8th saw the release of the debut album “The Irregularity Of Being” and that is what we will be dissecting here…
So, let the ceremony begin.
We begin with the intro track, just a few seconds over a minute long “Every Limb Into The Bottomless Pit” . I myself honestly tend to skip intro tracks as they`re often just not all that interesting but this one escapes the trap most intro/outros fall into. Big, chiming bell like sounds combined with the spoken word and sizzling electronics draws you in and anyone who chooses to not discover what follows would be just plain wrong to put it very lightly.
The intro leads us directly into “Druglicker” where we begin with a catchy sequence, a Silent Hill-esque siren sounds comes crawling in before the first punch of the beloved industrial beat. I do have to say that I myself do not always the most positive view or words regarding the current state of the industrial scene but Moris Blak quickly dispels any expectations I may have had by breaking the traditional and quite simplistic 4/4 kick drum over a series of arpeggios and/or sequences by giving us something more akin to glitched out industrial madness.
So far so good. After a glitchfest of an ever evolving buffet of sounds, bleeps, bloops and squeals regularly breaking into a sequenced bass synth the track slows down and enters noise tinged ambient realms for a moment before we enter back into industrial territory.
track number three is entitled “Pain” and features Angel Metro.
Here we begin by entering the church of synth, in fact, we`re crashing in right in the middle of choir practice. Ominous, choirs layered over samples, with a sequenced bass creeping in all slowly evolving into a slower paced beat.
And then come the sirens…
Female, and quite interestingly produced vocals is a pleasure to hear rather than your usual balding dude in camo pants screaming into a mic processed by the Boss SE 50 as with so many other bands within the genre….Moris Blak offers a great variety of vocals styles ranging from whispers to broken up, glitched out and pitch shifted . There`s even a small piano sample at one point for extra creep factor 😉 This track looks like it`ll be on my top three list when we reach the end but with how well this is going who knows? Maybe I`ll find something even better..
Next we got “Erase Displace” featuring Pete Crane of Australian electro act Shiv-R. There`s an element of horror score to the intro, which of course, is no complaint. Clean vocals draw you further in before the drums, which stay consistently big , punchy and bass heavy appears. Atmospheric melodies comes and goes before the drums speed up and drops us down into ambiance. A soft yet dark and beautiful pad accompanied by the vocals slithers around us…And then comes the drum attack, broken by what sounds like reversed and crushed samples before the vocals reappear and brings us to the end of the track.
It`s hard not to want to put this on the that top three list as well but I must resist in order to keep the space open for anything that may come next…
When I looked at the title of the next track I couldn`t help but smirk a little as I saw it features Amelia Arsenic of Angelspit. A band I was introduced to in my early teenage years by one of what must have been the only four (including myself) alternative people in the middle of nowhere town I grew up in… I`m a bit surprised to find out this track seems to, at least to start of, be more of a ballad.
I also want to point out the production quality overall, the sound design of this release is interesting and fun in all the right ways, Moris Blak definitely has his “sound” I think it`ll be interesting to see what the future brings.
The ballad esque aspect leaves and introduce vocals reminiscent of Skinny Puppy nicely sprinkled around Amelia`s voice while the drums seemingly builds up towards something big only to drop us back down with high pitched piano sounds tricking us into that this is all nice and soft then hitting us with driving, pulsing synths beneath floating almost dreamy vocals. This track in particular seamlessly incorporates elements from a wide array of genre. Something not everyone can pull off and even less can make you want to listen to.Beat changes, style switches, every color of the proverbial crayon kit is used.
“Strange Eternal” features the trademarks of the 90s and early 2000s industrial scene, four to the floor and cut up vocal sample galore. Not my preferred form of the genre but MB hasn`t let me down thus far and so my hopes remain..
What I will point out however is that while Moris Blak does have his own style and ways of things it`s never predictable, each track serves you something new which keeps things interesting yet recognizable which can`t be said for that many.
“Strange Eternal” trudges along as what seems to be the more club oriented track this far, I may not be a clubgoer myself but I can easily envision the hordes of darkly inclined youth (and elders) enjoyment of this track on the dance floor of any given industrial night.
“The Violence” follows and features Slighter.
An instant improvement from the previous.
Clean, soft vocals always interest me in a genre riddled with screaming.
Musically it quickly changes from slow paced and atmosphere filled to drum driven and interestingly broken by glitchy sound design. The drum work in itself is interesting, yet another element that so often lacks in this genre. To hear something where you can`t always so easily predict the next hit of the drum, or the sound even, is definitely refreshing.
About three minutes and twelve seconds in is where for me at least this really shines. I`m loving the layering of the near seductive vocals as well. The track ends in a glory of ambiance and piano and leads us to the second to last track “Velvet Coil” which features Noire Antidote and Johnny E. Veil, the latter being a member of fellow industrial band MAN1K1N who I absolutely would recommend.
What sounds like lost souls screaming in despair greet us at the gate here with a melodic bass line almost hollow but the good kind. Trust and believe , I`m not happy about making this comparison but my immediate thought regarding certain aspects of the first seconds of vocals brings Marilyn Manson to my head.
I`ll see myself to the door…
Anyway, this track is a serpent slithering through each and every crack leaving a trail of reverberated melody before entering into a more danceable territory featuring cut up samples of the aforementioned choir of lost souls in despair.
We`re lead towards the end by drums and melody galore and enter the last track, being the albums title track clocking in at ten minutes and 49 minutes.
A drone greets us.
It presents us with malicious piano melodies, air raid siren esque synth sounds and heavy, slow ,draggin drums that quickly picks up it`s pace.
Full stop and only remains of ambiance and a fractured piano remains until we go back where we came from but this time there`s the sound of reversed samples to accompany us along the way.
Glitchy sound design, a steady beat that stops up here and there but not for more than a second at a time to keep dragging us into itself as a softer style synth sound floats over, witnessing our arrival at the end of days, or at least this album.
An array of sound comes in after a nicely timed build up, not too long, not too short, just right there at the sweet spot. At least for those of us with SASD (Short Attention Span Disorder)
Five minutes in and halfway to the end it`s clear that this track could only be described with one word: Grandiose. In fact, we could sum up the album as a whole using that very word.
Six minutes and six seconds in comes one of my favourite moments of this album.
The beat slow its pace, a haunting melody crawls ever near…Can you tell I`m a sucker for ballads yet?
It doesn`t last as long as I`d want it to but what follows isn`t bad so I won`t bitch too much about that..
Back to what I can`t help but describe as a more club oriented pace I`m a little surprised to see we`ve only got a couple minutes left `till it`s over. Longer tracks tend to bore me quite rapidly (see the aforementioned SASD) I`ll take this as a positive sign of that Moris Blak has managed to keep me interested, my attention has been firmly pointed towards the music rather than drifting off into thoughts of well, anything else really.
The album closes with large, atmospheric pads floating through a piano as the album title suggest this album is indeed an “Irregularity Of Being” in that it doesn`t lean and rely on old, trite genre tropes , it keeps itself exciting with its ever changing soundscape yet retains it`s identity for the full 45 minutes of running time.
Overall I would say this is definitely one of the better releases to come out of the current industrial scene yet it operates within the confines of the genre, the modern take on it that is…
We are just scratching the surface here of the exciting things happening in Industrial. If you are ready to take a dive back in with us these bands will give you the right starting point. What bands did I miss you are excited about? Leave a comment below. KM
FORMED IN ORLANDO,FL BACK IN 2007, MISSFIT TOYS IS A BAND WHO`S SLOWLY MAKING THEIR WAY UP. PLAYING WHAT MOST WOULD CALL AGGROTECH OR ALTERNATIVELY “TERROR EBM” THEY`VE TOURED AROUND THE U.S OPENING FOR WELL KNOWN NAMES WITHIN THE INDUSTRIAL/ALTERNATIVE SCENE SUCH AS TIM SKOLD`S (PRECIOUSLY OF MARILYN MANSON, KMFDM, SHOTGUN MESSIAH) EPONYMOUS SOLO ACT, GRENDEL, PIG, DOPE , DAVEY SUICIDE AND PSYCLON NINE.
MISSFIT TOYS RELEASED THEIR LATEST ALBUM “THROUGH THE GLASS” OCTOBER 20TH WHICH WAS ALSO THEIR FIRST DATE OPENING THE SHOW FOR PSYCLON NINE ON THEIR RUINATWOUR.
AS THE SAYING GOES THERE IS NO SLEEP FOR THE WICKED AND WITH THAT IN MIND SOUNDS & SHADOWS GOT A HOLD OF VOCALIST/BANDLEADER RICHIE V. SURIV FOR A QUICK INTERROGATION REGARDING THE BAND, RELIGION AND OF COURSE, THE ALBUM.
(Adrian) Could you give a short backstory to MissFit Toys? How long have you been around and who makes up the current incarnation?
(MT) MissFit Toys has been around since 2007 but was only active on line until 2011 when we played our first show. Currently the members are as followed my self Richie V. Suriv as the vocalist/ song writer, followed by Travis Lee our drummer, Damien Carrion our guitarist and Adrian KJØSNES as a contributing studio artist at the moment.
(Adrian) What is the meaning behind your name?
(MT) The meaning behind the name came after a suicide attempt when I was 20. Only after an argument with my family telling me I wouldn’t amount to anything and that the people I associate with are nothing more than misfit toys. Broken people that can’t do anything on their own. I took that and used it as fuel to do something more, I added “Miss” as a play on words to show my obvious androgynous nature. Thus the name was born.
(Adrian) MissFit Toys seem to fall under the industrial/aggrotech umbrella, what made you want to create music within that particular genre?
(MT) Honestly I have always loved electronic music but also metal and always wanted something that mixed the 2 but never knew how or what that would sound like until I discovered industrial. And I fell in love.
(Adrian) Do you currently have any other musical project or have you been involved in others in the past? If so which ones and how were they different from MissFit Toys?
(MT) I have been involved in several different projects including ludovico technique and Forever Dawn ” project of the vegan black metal chef”. Some of the projects were definitely in line with what Missfit Toys does currently and some were completely different I love all types of music. There are talks right now of collaborating with a few different artists but I can’t disclose any of that at the moment.
(Adrian) Tell us about your new album “Through The Glass”. What does the title mean and how long has it been in the making?
(MT) Through the glass is a combination of feelings, struggles and beliefs.It was inspired by a fan that felt like they weren’t good enough for me to ever acknowledge that they existed. So I went on the hunt trying to figure out who had sent me this message when I did find them I asked them if they would be alright with me turning their message into a song and album concept.Through the glass is not only important to me but also the band as we continue to evolve.It shows the hurt, the doubt and the struggles that not only I go through in my faith but others like me go through everyday.
(Adrian) A lot of your lyrics are inspired by faith, would you say the band as a whole has an agenda tied to this or is it more an expression of yourself as a person?
(MT) – There’s no hidden agenda behind the band whatsoever and I am very open with it’s message and my beliefs. I am a Christian and the band is full of references to that, but more importantly it shows me and who I am through it. That not everything is sunshine and rainbows. that I am not better than any one else. it shows that I am broken and that I live in a broken world and this is what every one goes through. We do everything with intent and purpose, nothing is on accident. I use music as a way to not only cope with my emotions and the struggles that I have daily but as a way to communicate with people. Listening to the music you’ll understand the struggles that I go through and what their impact on me is.This album in particular shows a sense of longing, overwhelming feelings of drowning , guilt and desperation. So It’s more a reflection of myself and what I go through, along with the struggles of others.
(Adrian) How do you think you’ve evolved musically since the beginning of the band? Has there been any major changes as far as the creation process or is it all more or less the same?
(MT) I feel that the music took a more developed appeal than what it was in the early days.As far as writing I do put a lot more care and effort into the message than I used to mostly so the message is not twisted and manipulated into something else. But other than that not much has changed.
(Adrian) The last word is yours, feel free to promote anything you`ve got going on or just leave a message, shout out etc for your listeners.
(MT) We love our fans. the connections that we have with them at the shows and online are amazing and without them we couldn’t do what we do.Currently we are working on our next release and at the beginning of the year we will put through the glass online and will be available on all major streaming sights. Thank you so much for your love and support.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Setlist: Intro, Empty Glass, Lovers in Paradise, Aftershock, If it all was Real, Killing Time, Kiss the Fire, Dig Deep, Illusions, The Second Sleep
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.
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
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.
CRITICAL PLACE PARANOIA FADE AWAY STRANGERS KISSES & PAIN OMEGA EXTINCTION DEALER OF LIFE LOBOTOMY RESURRECTION HUMAN ROBOTS
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.
The night was finished by Cologne Disorder blasting everyone’s favorite retro dance hits until we couldn’t dance anymore.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
(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?
(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.
(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.
(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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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?
(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.
(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.
(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!
(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.
(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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Look I might not be in the best head space to try and write a review right now. It’s been a tough week. This album has been my constant companion holding me up when it felt like things were a bit too much. So I feel like it is important to share the power of what these songs have meant. My trauma has been animal related (worry for a pet). This record is so full of the intimate and animal nature. It’s energy conjures totem aspects of primal creatures which I have needed to focus on. The credentials of the artists collaborating here are too many to count. It’s real power lies in how different it sounds from it’s individual parts. Every piece is a perfect blend of the talents without ego or pretense lifting each other on dark flapping wings of intimate raw energy.
The drums are perfectly crafted and have an organic feel for such electronic elements. They remain subtle to allow the poetry and power of the vocals shine through. The motion of the synths and triplet world beat toms feel like stalking, slithering, gliding beasts. It gives a unique texture to every song. Jared Louche in particular has a distinctive vocal style and really steps outside their comfort zone with the intimacy of this delivery. These tracks are so full of blood, claw, scale, fur, and tooth.
Lets talk favorite tracks:
Shadowlands – The album opens strong. Beautiful distant piano coming to you from across the distance. I will probably lose goth street cred for this but one of my all time guilty pleasure albums is Rolling Stones “Emotional Rescue” This song holds that same stripped down lay bare spiritual power. The winding blues riff guitar leads are smoky and flowing. Jared’s vocals are so exposed and powerful.
Collapsing Lives – I love the contrast here. Almost like two songs overlapping. A sinister smoke rising from the sand. While mono synth effects and trip hop drums slash back and forth to create a swaying beauty. Sapphira Vee lends a delicate breathy beauty like the wind holding a bird gliding.
Things Said and Done (Snake Lies) – This track really encapsulates that feeling of an animal in music form. I feel it slither with those drum beats falling just behind where your mind wants to hear the tempo. This song is never where you expect it to be. It slithers and strikes. Jared Louche chants like a vision driven prophet whispering secrets of a forgotten time.
Overall I found this to be a remarkable and powerful offering from several industry legends combining their abilities to create something primal and resonant in a world barely scratching the surface. Get it now, listen to it often, dream of wolves and ravens.
Really excited for the podcast with DC band SYZGYX where they discuss Sierra, ELZ and the Cult, Moris Blak. As well as Pasta sauce, John Carpenter, and keyboards. As always linking the bands we discussed
I thought I might write a little something close to home. About the glorious music scene in my very own Michigan. I know, I said Detroit. However as anyone from the D will tell you, all white boys from the suburbs claim Detroit even if they currently live in Kalamazoo MI. While doing the podcast with SYZGYX last night I got excited talking about our local scene. Then figured why not share it with all of you 🙂 Lets start with some bands.
Josie Pace – Nightmare pop that takes top 40 sensibility wraps a rusty chain around it’s neck and chokes the shit out of it. Josie takes singer songwriter hooks then feeds them through a spicy electroclash beat. With an LA aesthetic and a motor city grit.
Schedule IV – Post Punk synth wave with giant sound and piercing powerful vocals from Steph Strange. They do a wonderful live show that is wound tight and full of soul. One of our favorite bands to play with SIV are a must see.
Vazum – Dark Retro dream rock with a flowing minimalist style. I really like their crunchy 90’s grunge style with dark edges. Large thumping drums and Zach’s slippery shifting melodies carry you on a roller coaster of driving fuzz.
Heavy Water Factory – Textural industrial old school that has been a part of the Detroit scene since I was a high school kid in black boots and a trench coat. When it comes to perfect production and beats that take over the floor Jesse McClure is one of the most respected in the business. It’s electric, it makes you dance, it’s the soundtrack of my angry youth. Just out with a new album after a long hiatus, HWF has not lost a beat.
Ritual Howls – The sinister dark rock poets have brought their European style Nick Cave shadow twang to the motor city and continue to spew forth quality content from the void.
The Ruiners – Detroit Gothabilly royalty have been a little quiet as of late. They hold a special place in my heart. I had the honor of playing with their must see stage extravaganza complete with ex Amaranth singer Nina. Her husband Rick Ruiner is Iggy Pop 1977 brought forth and made flesh. There is no party not made better by throwing Ruiners on the stereo.
Siamese – Thicccc bass lines and lovely crooning vocals are the trademark of shadowy retro rockers Siamese. They really blend the synths and rock seamlessly to create that metal gauntlet in a velvet glove.
Detroit also sports one of the United States oldest and best Goth Clubs “City Club”
Audrey Burne – Our dear friends dark fantasy rockers Audrey Burne bring that witchy energy from Bay City. Powerful vocals and intricate construction. They have a wonderful intimate live show.
Damien Done – He toured through Europe doing dark folk. Then returned back to Michigan and reinvented with incredible midnight alternative post punk with a dark humor. Deep, rich voice that just draws you in. Why have I never played with them? 🙂
Ann Arbor also has a great Monday night goth event I have tragically never made it too. I hear great things though. Djd by Jay Itchon and Leo Oakley
My home town of Kalamazoo MI sports on of the secretly greatest goth scenes in the midwest. Smack dab between Chicago and Detroit this has been a stopover spot and music mecca for many years.
Katy Needs A Life – Synth Princess and S & S contributor these ethereal 80s prom dream waves are always a great show. It’s lovely, pure, and authentic.
Sexy Toxins – Eurotrash disco sex party duo A Toxin and B Toxin take performance art and ass slapping beats that are a guaranteed good time every time you see them. I can think of few live shows in this life I had more fun at.
Nekomata – These doom metal droning sound explosion are so fucking good they make me listen to metal. It’s beautiful sludgy filth. Have you ever had your ass kicked by sound alone, because this is how you do that. Plus Myah is in this video.
Drink Their Blood – Some like their metal with a little more speed and sizzle and Drink Their Blood are furious wizards of the keyboard. Ben Boggs is a vocal experience not to be missed. Plus Saxophone + Metal !!!
Thee Elder Gods – Kalamazoo’s punk rock icons. The play loud, mean, and take no shit off anyone
Deadlight Holiday – High energy goth slush from Grand Rapids Michigan play a wonderful shoegaze darkness and have an electric stage show full of leather, sweat, and fury.
Kid Saint Nothing – This brilliant new release from my dear friend Reggie left me floored. It’s tender, genuine and full of pop hooks that stick in my mind. It has transported me with a scope that goes from fury to elegance. You must hear this. I can’t wait to see it played live.
Amaranth – we make bullshit goth about Ninjas, Swordfights and Lambos.
Kalamazoo also sports one of the best goth dance nights around Chaos. Anastasia and Asher (Dj Wyrmwood) have created a beautiful and inclusive environment for music and dancing to thrive. Every time I bring someone from a big city to our local goth party they are blown away wondering how is this happening in the tiny hamlet of Kalamazoo.
Lennon Midnight came onto the scene in the very early half of 2015. Being one of very few industrial acts currently active in the Vegas scene they`ve shared the stage with well known artists such as Tim Skold, Psyclon Nine, God Module etc..
Having released a string of EP`s, retired from live shows and a new release in the making I got in touch with one half of the duo for what turned out to be quite a lengthy chat about industrial, occultism, graphic design and much more!
Start off by giving our readers a quick introduction. Who’s currently in the band, what are their roles and how long have you been around?
Hi all! Current band members are myself, Lennon Midnight, and Klebert Graves. We’ve always been a 2 piece since starting out. We’ve attempted to bring extra members onboard for live shows (mainly drummers), but that never panned out… so we opted to stay a permanent duo. I (Lennon) handle vocals, programming and production work. Klebert (Bert for short) handles guitars, bass and programming as well.
How long have we been around?
I believe we officially started in January of 2015. I walked into work one day (we both work together) and said “Bert, were doing the band thing! Come over this weekend and lets start messing with stuff!” and he did just that. Bert had been wanting to get back into playing guitar for another group and I’d never done the actual band thing, always just solo stuff. I had spent the previous few years really getting back into discovering music that made me happy again and that inspired me. I had met and hung out with tons of bands who passed thru Vegas (also took most of them out drinking) in those years prior and something went off in my head that I wanted to live out the dream of being in a band and performing that I’d had since high school! So, Bert and I started writing music together on a regular basis. I thought I had a good bead on writing and recording early on… how little did I know!!! There was a lot I struggled with initially, but that changed down the line when Nero Bellum and I became friends. He saw potential in what I was trying to put together and he started helping teach me about the production side of things. Not so much as in “Do this and do that to get this and that”, but more like “You might want to try doing this. Experiment with it and see where it takes you!”. Took about a year and a half to write and record the first album and it felt like such a huge accomplishment when it was all said and done! During that year and a half, we started playing live shows and really got comfortable with the live setting as well as with one another in the studio. Skip forward a number of years, another album and 2 EPs later aaaaaand here we are… almost done with the third album and tons of live shows under our belts. We’ve had nothing but a blast thus far!
Is there any particular meaning to the name “Lennon Midnight”?
Lennon Midnight was a persona name I picked for myself in 2014. It was a side of me that came out when I was going thru an odd time in life. I didn’t want a lot of people knowing who I was personally. I wanted to separate my personal life from my public persona, though in time… the Lennon Midnight side of myself has disappeared. I’m not the same person now that I was 5 years ago, and I think that’s a good thing!
Your music is a good mixture of industrial and metal, who are your main influences for your sound?
Industrial and electronic music have always been my top favorites ever since I was a teenager (some 20+ odd years back). I grew up listening to Marilyn Manson, The Prodigy, Nine Inch Nails, KMFDM, Crystal Method, Skinny Puppy, Sister Machine Gun, The Chemical Brothers, Underworld, Thrill Kill Kult, Rammstein, Ministry, Stabbing Westward etc… But this was all back when these bands were in their prime in the 1990s, when Industrial and Electronica were the hot shit on the radio, in movies and on MTV. I also grew up listening to a lot of Black Metal and Goth Rock/Metal. I loved Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Old Mans Child, Sisters of Mercy, The Cure, Type O Negative, Placebo etc. Black Metal blew my mind since very few people in the US at the time (meaning during the day of Enthrone Darkness Triumphant and Dusk and Her Embrace days). Id never heard anything quite like Black Metal at the time. Goth Rock/Metal always stuck with me as well. In 2004, after coming out of the rave scene, I rediscovered Industrial, Goth and Black Metal again. Dimmu and Cradle were still putting out records, I happened upon HIM and Lacrimas Profundere (both of which I was nuts about) and Industrial was entering its 3rd wave with bands like Hanzel und Gretyl and Wumpscut, so to my surprise, things had evolved and progressed in the time that I wasn’t paying attention to those styles of music… It was a huge delight to find them again, new and refreshed in so many ways. But Industrial, Goth and Black Metal still remain huge influences of mine to this day. I spent a good part of my youth (and even still now) listening to tons of techno music too. Im still very much a huge House music fan, I was also a very well known local DJ in the rave/electronic scene in the early 2000s, so my love of House music will never go away. I also love a lot of old school and underground Hip Hop. I think what really gets me about Underground Hip Hop is just how raw and direct it is. Lyrical rappers just rhyming over a beat, sometimes telling a story, sometimes just playing with words really hits home. Bert grew up listening to more traditional styles of metal and stayed in the boundaries of the US in terms of bands. His attraction to the metal genre stems more from the technical end as his knowledge of music theory blows me away. He has this amazing ability of breaking down songs to their core and taking influence from some of the most minute details that I have no clue about. Its a lot of fun to watch him write actually because he will put something together and pull elements from like 9 different metal songs he adores from a variety of different bands! I still don’t know how he does it to this day! But when it comes down to writing our music, both Bert and I take influence from ALL types of music out there. We look to so many different genres for inspiration! Hell, on one of the tracks for the new album called ‘Resigned to Fail’, Bert’s guitars were inspired by an old Cranberries song from the 1990s! I added some effects to the guitars to make them sound like old Type O Negative and it turned into such a neat mash up of styles!
You’ve played alongside bands like Psyclon Nine, Dismantled, Thrill Kill Kult, Tim Skold and God Module just to name a few. Do you have a preference between playing live and working in the studio ?
The bands we’ve shared the stage with thru our being together as a group is just mind blowing! We started Lennon Midnight as nothing more than an art project. We never thought we’d get to do what we’ve done in these (almost) 5 years! Sharing the stage with the bands you just mentioned was nothing more than a dream when we started out, and to me its still nuts that we garnered the attention from bands in our scene who are regarded as legends! Playing live initially started off as a lot of fun, but as time went on… it became a bit of a chore. Most of the local shows involving bigger names I wound up becoming personally involved in with either putting the show together and paying for it myself, or helping to plan the event with the promoter. So most of the time, I was running around making sure everything was going smoothly, that the bands were happy and that everything went off without a hitch. The few shows I wasn’t helping run were so much easier. At those particular shows, Bert and I would just enjoy our time there and chat with random people. Unfortunately, as its now 5 years later and both of our personal lives have changed in a lot of ways, were having to retire as a live act. We still plan on making music together as a studio effort… but the live show thing has to stop. Bert has 3 kiddos now and loves being a father. My small business I run on the side has been taking off like crazy and requires most of my attention when I’m not at the day job. Though, retiring as a live band kind of sucks in certain ways as we both enjoy the actual performance aspect of it very much. In the 5 years we’ve been making music and performing as Lennon Midnight, we’ve both had an absolute blast and we’ve done things we never thought we would! Neither of us would trade the world for it either!!!
Those bands I mentioned are all well known within the scene, how did it happen that you got to play with them and do you have any memorable moments from those shows?
Initially I think a lot of it boiled down to becoming close friends with Psyclon Nine. Nero knows a lot of people in the music world and being associated with Psyclon Nine definitely did help. Also I think some of it also came down to being the only active Industrial band in Vegas. It seems we built a fan base here and people really like us. We would get a lot of bookings from local promoters when any Industrial act would roll thru Vegas. I think another aspect to the attention we received had to do with how we function as an actual live band. We always get down in the audience and perform a good chunk of the show interacting with fans in the audience! If people know my lyrics, I usually let them sing parts of the songs. Bert always walks around and plays guitars in areas where people can watch. Hell, in LA when we played with Psyclon Nine in 2018, I had a good friend of mine get on stage and sing our cover of Marilyn Manson ‘Dogma’ with us just because he was at the show! A LOT of people really enjoy this aspect about the shows we play as crowd interaction is a must to us! One very memorable story for me was when we were up in Seattle with Psyclon Nine in 2017 playing at The Highline. Both Nero and I are huge fans of Street Fighter 2. We grew up playing the hell out of that game. We had been talking about Street Fighter on and off for a few months prior and when we walked into the venue during load in, off to the right near the end of the bar was a Street Fighter 2: Champion Edition machine! Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to play before the show… But roughly after everything was said and done around 2:30am, we finally got a chance to beat the hell out of one another! I think we got like 2-3 dollars in quarters and just had at it for about 15-20 minutes. It was an absolute blast. I remember someone on the other side of the room yelling at us, saying something about we needed to leave and we both just yelled “SHUT UP! WERE BUSY!”. It was damn good times! Were still due for a rematch as we were both pretty even skill wise in the game and a few buttons on both controllers weren’t working properly. Street Fighter is serious business!
I understand there’s a storyline that runs through your music, could you give a quick rundown of what the plot is so to speak and where it came from?
So the story line revolves around my ex’s through the past 20 years and what had been going on in my life at the time of each (or after). Though I try to fictionalize the storyline as much as possible to make it more interesting and work as actual songs, some of the factual storyline is still in there. When starting the band thing, ‘Fallacies’ was only meant to be a one shot thing. To me, it had a good story to it. But as the album finished up, I felt the story wasn’t done and we immediately started on the second album ‘Post Trauma’. There were events and story elements I wanted to talk about which happened after ‘Fallacies’ (hence the title ‘Post Trauma’). I felt there was one more part of the story worth telling after we wrapped up ‘Post Trauma’ and that was the beginning and how all the events leading up to what I wrote about in ‘Fallacies’ started, so we began working on ‘Beginnings End’ roughly 4-6 months after ‘Post Trauma’. Some folks have asked about ‘One Weeks Time’ and if it ties in story wise. It doesn’t, it was a one off song I wrote about an old friend of mine who committed suicide and how social media has ruined our attention spans. ‘One Weeks Time’ as a song started out as an experiment when I was just playing with custom synth building in Reason. Initially it was never meant to be a song, but as I played with it more, it turned into something I wanted to finish… and so became ‘One Weeks Time’. Including a re-recorded version of ‘Russia’ on ‘One Weeks Time’ was a bonus of sorts. We started changing how ‘Russia’ was played live. Basically the song grew and evolved to the point of what became ‘Rossiya’. I always wanted the song be harder than what was done on ‘Fallcies’. To me ‘Rossiya’ was the way I always wanted the song to sound, so we opted to redo it as an extra for the ‘One Weeks Time’ EP. Though, a neat bit of trivia which ties ‘Beginnings End’ directly into ‘Fallacies’ is ‘The Woman in White’. Her character actually sings in the last song on our new album called ‘Bury the Ghost’. She finds ‘The Martyr’ after he has destroyed everything in his world and doesn’t want to rebuild. The ‘Woman in White’ appears as if out of no where and shows ‘The Martyr’ that its time leave his wasteland behind. I wanted her character to make an appearance on ‘Beginnings End’ because she was a very important aspect of my life in the time frame the album is being written about. She is also still one of my closest friends in the world to this day. I think the only song I’ve written that hasn’t been out of frustration, anger or being broken hearted is ‘Savior’. That song is about a good friend of mine who spent the vast majority of her 20’s doing horrible things to herself and those around her and she finally found faith in something at the end of it all. She wound up changing a lot about her life and became a much better person because of it. But the song is a take on her life before finding faith in herself again. Hell, I could spend the next hour or so explaining what all the songs are about, but I think it would ruin certain aspects for people. Its always a lot of fun hearing from fans about how they interpret not only the lyrics, but the storyline as well. Some folks have been spot on and some have been very far from the actual idea, though I really love when someone interprets things differently than what I wrote! To me its fascinating on how people can adapt songs and lyrics to their own lives simply due to relating from their own experiences! With all of that said, the new album ‘Beginnings End’ is the prequel to the storyline. It’s about my ex ‘The Queen of Heartworms’ and how all the events of my 20’s prior to meeting the ‘Woman in White’ happened in certain ways. Though, again, its all very fictionalized with truth sprinkled in there. If you’ve known me personally for the last 20 years, you would understand the storyline elements fairly well. The main theme of the new album is about the mandatory destruction of your world after tragedy and trying to rebuild it… or as Tyler Durden from Fight Club said ‘It’s only after you’ve lost everything that you’re free to do anything.’
You’ve got two releases out and one demo. What are you currently working on and when do you think we’ll see it released?
As I’ve mentioned in previous questions, I’ve still got that pesky new album ‘Beginnings End’ floating around that is due to be released. I was hoping to have it done by Oct 31st of this year, but unfortunately that didn’t come to fruition. I have one last song to write lyrics and record vocals on, but I’ve kind of hit writers block over the last 6 months! I’ve been spending a lot of time working with the production side of the album lately. I happened on a new mastering suite that works really well, though I have to level things differently for it versus my old mastering suite. I’ve been spending a lot of time working on how the songs “sound” in their final form over the past 2-3 months and I’ve learned a lot more about mixing that I didn’t know before. There are so many technical aspects to making music AND mixing music that with every song AND every album we put together, I always learn new methods and techniques I didn’t know about before. Its one huge aspect of making music I love, constantly learning new ways of doing things! But, ‘Beginnings End’ WILL be the FINAL album in the storyline. I have ONE more song planned that will wrap up the entire storyline that happens after ‘Post Trauma’ already in demo form. That will be the last song I release about an ‘ex’ simply as I’m tired of writing about that subject. Currently with ‘Beginnings End’, everything is written and pretty much in its final form. The entire album can be listened to from start to finish and I am very proud of what Bert and I put together for everyone this time around. Its an evolution of our sound, it really shows we have grown in our song writing and composition and its a really heavy album! Very metal sounding for sure! I feel as this being our last full album, it will really go out with a bang! Lots of different influences in this one for sure and lots of things we haven’t tried before (hell, there’s even a Metalcore inspired song on the album I think you guys will love). I am hoping to have the new album done and out by the years end. Again, just hit writers block and life has been super busy so music has taken a back seat unfortunately.
As well being a musician you also do some graphic work. You did the art for Psyclon Nine’s “Icon Of The Adversary” What else have you done and how long have you done this type of work?
I’ve been an artist all my life. I’ve been drawing since I could pick up a crayon, though I don’t draw much anymore. I’ll doodle from time to time, but nothing like I did when I was younger. When I was in the waste of time that was College, I majored in Multimedia Design and I had a full minor in Traditional Art. I miss those old college art courses as they were a lot of fun and I got to draw constantly! When I was 15 and going into my Sophomore year of High School, I took ‘Commercial Design’ which was a digital design class. I was introduced to Photoshop and Illustrator (mind you this was back in 1996 when both programs were in their infancy) and I was immediately hooked! There was a guy in my class who had been working in Photoshop since he was much younger and the stuff he was able to design was amazing. It really showed me what could be done in those programs! Since then, there’s literally not a day that goes by where I don’t use either Photoshop or Illustrator in some way or another! My entire professional life has been based in design. I’ve worked in design or graphics departments since my first job when I was 16. In 2007, I was hired to run a design department for a vehicle wrap shop here in Las Vegas and I’ve been doing that as a job ever since. I’ve changed employers a few times, but I’ve always been hired on as department manager or director. Outside of the day job thing, I’ve run my own business since 2007 called DorkiDori AutoCouture. I started it as an apparel line and since then it has grown into body kits, suspension and apparel. Im not going to go too far into the details, but if you’re into the Nissan 240sx and drifting, you might want to check out what I make. Speaking of album covers, I was the person who designed the artwork and cover for the re-release of Psyclon Nine ‘Divine Infekt’ and the Psyclon Nines current pentahazard icon that went with ‘Icon of the Adversary’. I designed all of the tour materials for the Divine Infekt and Icon of the Adversary tours as we. I made up a few spectrum analyzer videos for Nero as well. Mainly his modular synthesis videos and the 2 videos for Icon of the Adversary. Almost all of Psyclon Nine’s apparel for the past 5-6 years has been designed by myself as well. Designing for Psyclon Nine has always been fun because I get to go nuts with the darker side of what I make. Nero really enjoys the stuff I put together for him and I really love seeing Psyclon fans wearing the shirts I’ve designed at shows! A secret nerdy artsy fact about me, I’ve been painting Warhammer 40,000 miniatures since I was 10… though I haven’t painted in almost 8 years, one of my miniatures was featured on Games Workshops blog in 2009 and I’ve taken home numerous first place positions for the competitions I’ve entered. Art is my life in any way, shape or form. I live AND love to create! It’s why I was put on this planet and I fully embrace that fact
All of your releases have great artwork, how important are the visuals to you?
Thank you for the compliment! Sometimes I feel the artwork I design for our albums, EPs and silly little videos is kind of boring compared to what others do, but one thing I’ve found in life is sometimes, its very difficult to design for ones self. I’m just glad you and others approve! Visuals for the album art are a very important aspect in my mind. Unfortunately young people now very rarely know what its like to physically hold a CD or 12″ Vinyl release in their hands! There’s something very special about touching your music. While I was a rave DJ (mentioned earlier), touching my vinyl was a very magical and special feeling. Removing the vinyl from its sleeve, placing it on the spinning platter, dropping the needle on the vinyl, moving it back and forth for cuing, scratching with it and dragging your finger along the platter to help slow the record down (or twisting the platter pintle to speed it up) for beat matching is just a very special feeling… This must be why I still have 300 odd pieces of wax sitting around my house. I bought an all in one Pioneer setup a few years back that uses MP3s and CDs so I could mess around with DJing when I feel like it, but honestly its just not the same feeling as 2 Technic 1200s that use wax! But back to the original subject… with physical media always came album art! Album art to me defined the mood of the music you were listening to. One of my favorite album covers and CD booklets to this day is Stabbing Westward ‘Darkest Days’. The imagery that was designed for that album always gave me an amazing mental picture for what the album was talking about, what the music painted in my head and how everything felt in my imagination. It was a very dark, cold and pain filled album… and I think without the albums booklet, the imagery in my head would’ve been a lot different. Also, the booklet art for that album was created using a very very early version of Photoshop and the art is nothing short of spectacular with how limited the software was back then! I believe Chris Hall actually contracted the artist who did work for the Sandman comics back in the early 90s to do the art for ‘Darkest Days’.
The art for “Post Trauma” looks like something you could find in some old alchemical or astrological book. Do you have any interest in occultism? If so, how does that influence you and how deep does that interest run?
Ah yes, the cover for ‘Post Trauma’… There is a story behind that, but only a few people know it. The cover sigil was kicked off by something someone said to me at our record release show for ‘Fallacies’ and I’m going to leave it at that. I prefer leaving that particular piece of art open to interpretation, keeps it fun and interesting! However, the cover to ‘Beginnings End’ does have actual symbolism to it. The cover features a stylized Ouroboros which I felt played directly into the albums title and lyrical themes. It took me a little while to come up with the title ‘Beginnings End’, but once I thought of it, I felt it was perfect as its our final album as well as the prequel to the first 2 albums story wise. Neat little snippet while its on my mind, all 3 of our albums actually go in chronological order story wise based on alphabetical arrangement. I didn’t plan this, it just happened! As far as occultism, I find it interesting but its not something I really incorporate into my life or believe in. I do find some of the imagery, history and symbolism fascinating, but that’s about as far as it goes. So people have listened to our music and found it be anti-religious in some ways… which kind of baffles me as none of our music is anti-religious, nor our imagery. The inverted double slash cross on our first cover was actually a deconstruction for the leviathan sigil which was originally the symbol for sulfur, but means equality eternal. The top part of the sigil is where equality comes from and it represents equality of the sexes. That was the portion I wanted to use. While I don’t agree with Judeo Christian beliefs in a lot of ways, I don’t hate them or shun them. Faith is faith. If your faith brings you happiness and helps you be a better person, then I’m personally all for it. One of my best friends is a hardcore Christian and we banter back and forth quite often about our view points (I’m a Buddhist), but we do so to learn things from one another.
You’ve used the Russian language in some of your songs, why did you choose that of all languages and who’s the girl singing it?
So the song ‘Russia’ and ‘Rossiya’ are a fictionalized version of the first date I went on with the ‘Lady in Black’ back in 2009. She and her entire family are Russian. They immigrated over here in the 80s during the mass exodus of the Jews from Russia. We were together for almost 2 years and I LOVED the Russian language. I thought it sounded amazing and its so different from Latin based languages. I started ‘Russia’ back in 2012 when I wanted to get back into music again, the song was MUCH different back then (it was very dark wave/post punk sounding). When Bert and I got together and started making music, I wanted to finish that song. So as it went along, I wanted a female singing in the intro and I found a song called ‘Love is War’ sung by a vocaloid. The lyrics for the ‘Love is War’ intro worked perfectly for the theme of the album so I sampled them and here we are now! The original song is very VERY different once it kicks in versus what I used the sample for. The vocaloid version is more of a rock ballad of sorts… definitely not an industrial metal song.
When choosing spoken samples to put in your music, do you try to make them fit in with the context of the song or do you pick them a bit more freely?
Spoken samples I always try to keep within the theme of the songs, you know things that fit the mood or subject matter I’m referring to lyrically. As silly as it sounds, on one of the new songs on ‘Beginnings End’ called ‘Resigned to Fail’, I used two samples from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Its Q and Picard reciting Shakespeare I believe… The samples just fit so well with what I was writing about, and I finally get to say I made Star Trek Industrial! But joking aside, picking samples to use is sometimes daunting and very time consuming. The spoken samples I used in ‘One Weeks Time’ took about an hour of searching to find. The guy talking about suicide was some Christian help hotline guy. The video was roughly 2 hours long and FORTUNATELY, the samples I wanted were within the first 20 minutes of the video. The spoken sample in one of the new tracks ‘Unto The End’ took a little bit of editing to make work the way I wanted, but so perfectly fits the theme of the song! Musically, I love to use ‘Found Samples’, meaning things that are recorded from real life. Like rocks hitting bricks, creaking doors being opened, broken machinery etc. ‘Found Samples’ really do neat things when you stretch them or filter them out. They can set an amazing mood and feel to a track, even if just background ambient noises. I used a lot of ‘Found Samples’ for the song on ‘Beginnings End’ that bring very strange and uncomfortable atmospheres. Though, one of my favorite things I created for the album was the broken piano in ‘Bury the Ghost’. Its like 15 different racks in one instrument which created the piano. Took me a while to figure out how build the rack and how to get the damn thing to work with so many different things going on… but once it started working correctly, I was instantly in love! And its the first time I’ve used a piano in any of our tracks
I’ll leave the last word to you. Go ahead and promote any shows, releases or anything else you may have coming up .
Last words… Thank you to everyone who’s supported us through the years. While we are no longer playing live shows anymore due to both of us moving on in life, we still plan to make music together as writing and creating music was always the primary goal in our little art project as a band. We hope you all enjoy the new album when its finally released and I’m glad that so many of stuck by us! It was awesome to meet those of you we did in person at our shows out of state and it meant worlds to see you all of you in the audience doing your thing to our music. Thank you to Nero Bellum, Psyclon Nine and the P9 family for the amazing times we all spent together… Also thank you to every single band that brought us on to your shows. It was always such an honor to share the stage with such amazing talent. The last 5 years have been such an awesome ride and all of you, bands and fans alike, helped us live out a dream we never thought would come from this! I also want to leave a small bit of advice to everyone reading this… NEVER give up on your dreams. Always go for the big picture! Those that tell you something can’t be done and your ideas are silly or stupid, fuck em! Do what makes you happy! Don’t give up your drive for doing amazing things with you life. If we would’ve listened to some of the folks that discouraged us or said what we were doing was a waste of time, neither one of us would’ve lived out this insanely mind blowing time of our lives! So to anyone and everyone reading this, go forward and create! Go forward and kick ass! Go forward and live your dreams, its worth all of the pain, sacrifice and time spent doing something that makes you happy!!!
Decent News is an industrial metal band from Connecticut , New England County specifically.
Earlier this year they released their album “Monolith” through Machine Man Records and have since played a string of live shows as well as being featured on various compilations which is where I myself first stumbled upon them.
The first track of the 10 track album is the title track itself which brings us straight into cacophonous sounds of what I think might be classical instruments being abused along with a screaming vocal sample before we guitar and pounding drums hit.
Building up to a sequenced synth and screamed vocals with a steady pounding of the snare before breaking into indsutrial metal mania and screechiing sounds in the background with distorted voices going into an arpeggio quckly stopping up and picking back up in metallic soundscapes.
Definetly not a bad start.
Next up is “Black Box” where we`re greeted by a man talking about stealing millitary equipment before electronic and danceable synths come side by side with heavy guitars and suddenly its not as danceable but rather maybe moshpit inducing?
If nothing else I suppose you can start a pit at the dance floor of your local club to this track.
“Substance” welcomes us with ominous synthetic melodies which are then translated to guitar and quickly turning into a soundtrack to violence. I`d probably get in a fist fight to this song.
The guitars are reminiscent of old school thrash metal at times which is absoloutely a good thing.
We move on to the next track “Torture Me“
It starts up with this almost sinister beat and polka like piano melody over 80s sounding synths.
Distoted yet clean , slow paced vocals crooning in what I imagine to be a dark room in a haunted house before the most diabolical guitar melodies appear almost inviting you to a dance with the Devil.
This track is so far my favourite as I just love it`s sinister mood.
The sweet torture leads us to our “Eyewitness“
Beginnng with a vocal sample counting to two repeatadly, some light guitar strumming, a man in woe over loss and then crushing guitars and drums of some sort of thrash metal industrial mixture. The guitar work on this album really sets it apart from other industrial acts utlizing guitar which often only comes as some minimalistic palm muted chugging or a quickly played repetetive riff a la Ministry.
After exterminating all witnesses we tower over them as they bleed and whimper and “I`ll Be Awakened” comes seeping in with seductive synth lines and a four to the floor beat with clean yet aggressive vocals layered neatly on top.
It`s the shortest track thus far clocking in at 2:35 but in that times it gets done what it came to do.
“Krokodil” is up next which I believe may have been my introduction to this band actually.
Some beautiful drum work leads us to melodic synthesis and rythmic guitars before the vocals come in recalling a first meeting with an unknown person or possibly subtstance.
There is a hopeful message within the lyrics so don`t be fooled by the calm yet aggressive delivery.
And then we dive into “The Mud“
A little more on the sludgy side it drags us down and lets us drown in the soil.
“Pyrophile” begins with what I imagine itd sound like if you set electricity on fire and then the kick drum comes along with the synths before breaking out the guitars and dark howling vocals that sound almost desperate in its delivery.
It changes its pace into a near dreamier synthesized soundscape but the edge remains firm and picks us back up in the metal vibes for a moment and drops us back down consistently before pummelling guitars bring us to bell like synth sounds which leads us to the end of the journey where we are offered some “Opiate”
With pianos, an intresting beat and some swirling sounds the singer speaks of running makeup and disease before the first hit of the snare drum comes along and creates an atmospher thats beautiful in its tragedy and yet remains some agressive qualitines through its gutiarwork that comes in and out throughout the song. While its title might make you think of drug addiction lyrically it seems more as if they want to be your drug addiciton. Decent News wants to be your Opiate.
And I aint checking into rehab anytime soon thats for sure.