Add 1 part vodka, 1 part lemonade, 1 part ice tea, 1 part these sweet new sounds. Shake that ass, and pour into the internet to share the party with the world.
Pilgrims of Yearning (Forsaken Lands) I have reviewed a few singles from the Boston witchy harvest dark rock. It’s striking and powerful, hints of Switchblade Symphony with a brighter flowing tang. Juls Garat has an angelic choir of a voice and gets offset by thunder rich basslines from Sean Woodbury. Claudio Marcio does a double duty on bonfire wall guitars and snapping drum sounds. I like the curt furious pace. This album was a long time coming and for an opening salvo it was really worth the wait. I love the Cure Standing on the Beach singles hectic jerk worldview to dark music. They really know how to strip it down and draw you in, then when they have you in the trap they spring the jaws. Favorite tracks: The Besieged , Bachanalia, and The Visitor.
The standard is set for a new force in dark rock music. This is a journey worth taking with a very mystical and stormy feel. They are on my new list of must follows for all future release.
Sappira Vee(My Game/Game Changers) – Rochester NY Siren Sapphira is one of those talents like Hante‘ or Black Nail Cabaret that has such an effortlessly cool sound. It transports me to a hip party I could never get into. Smashing EDM triphop beats interlaced with gentle flamenco guitar sounds. Her voice is breathy and flowing as though she just set a martini down and leaned against a rotulet table in an underground casino in Monaco. Both the album and the brand new remix compilation exude silky sensual elegance. There is a reason why she attracts top talent in the electronica scene to work with her. (Dogtablet, The Joy Thieves, Migraine Robots Sounds, Adrian Halo, and Melodywhore) Iridescent smoke twisting around neon lights. Favorite Tracks from the new remixes: My Game(Dogtablet), Who Will I be Today (The Joy Thieves) , On Your Throne (Adrian Halo).
Both albums are a total hit play and go back to your party self sustained beauty. If you love electronic music you need this.
The Ghost of Bela Lugosi (Square Grouper) Is there anything that Vin can’t do? Just when I think I have his sound fingered out he busts out a new single that is a goth themed 90s hip hop full of scorpion stabbing lyrics. Just pure Vin swagger and perfect backbeats. My jaw is dropped, just fuck. Vin might be the most dangerous man in dark music.
Rosegarden Funeral Party(At the Stake) – Ok so far we did trip hop, rap, dark rock, do we still review goth on this page? Lets give it a try. I have shockingly never reviewed an album from the Dallas TX traditional goth explosion. I’ve heard singles but never dove in head first and I’m not afraid to admit that was dumb. Sinister reverb guitars, blistering transitions, and laser strike vocals. Mikka Vanya Brightheart is a force of raw untamed stormwinds striking out at an unsuspecting world. It’s haunting and full of driving pop hooks. Consider me won, consider me a fan. Favorite tracks : Torture Decline, Fear of Feeling Nothing, Justification.
Joker Jasper (Turn of My Light) – New single from this Russian American dark pop crooner. I really like the soulful spewing vocals with a melodic feel on spoken cadence. The chorus jumps up with a lot of venom and intensity. I look forward to more from this talented song writer.
Dissonance (Precipice) – New single from a Dallas talent this one with several remixes from top Industrial talent like Joe Haze and Adrian Halo again. Cat has a rich lovely voice that fills an opera hall of a room. I love the glitch and shift style here that puts you on the ledge of a great city scape looking down. It’s constant motion and full of feeling. Like two great forces pushing in on each other. Beauty and vibrating uncertainty. A great talent who knows how to surround herself with other great talent for maximum effect,
Thee Elder Gods(I Am Satan) Sometimes I need it loud and nasty. I do not apologize for this. Kalamazoo native punk rock explosion keeps it old school furious. In these times of darkness sometimes you just need to grab a can of lawn mower gasoline and pour your anger on the world with slashing guitars, baseball bat smacking bass and napalm explosion vocals. 2 minutes and 22 seconds of walk away while the world blows up.
I am not a baby bat, nor am I the most eldest goth in the crypt. I started discovering myself musically at the end of the 80’s. It was a glorious time to find dark music. However we didn’t have all the tools we have today. The internet was around (I’m not that old) but the BBS/AOL world was not the endless ocean of bands we have at our finger tips today. You really had three main options for discovering your next favorite band. 1) Have a cool older relative/friend. 2) Go to the club and ask annoying questions to the DJ (Hard when you are a teenager) 3) Buy the latest compilation from your favorite label and hope for the best. For me this meant A LOT of Cleopatra samplers.
I started wondering in this world of Spotify and ITunes hitting you with a fire hose of what you need to listen to next, where does the label sampler fit? Most of you that read this page know I recently put out a compilation myself called “Tiny Gods Who Walk Beside Us“. It really gave me an appreciation for both the power and effort it takes to put one together. So I thought I would share some of my favorite new compilations for a new generation of dark music fans.
Blood and Dust – Released on Venus Aeon 5/1/20 goth rock label of TG Mondalf. They do quite a few compilation as they seem to be one of those glorious outfits that really cares about sharing new music with the world above their bottom line. This compilation has a really special concept and drew in some of the hottest names in next wave gothic. I had a discussion with Brandon Pybus (Sonsombre) on our podcast about the close connection between southern outlaw county and Traditional goth. Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, had a darkness, a mystery, a danger to their sound and aesthetic which carried into early goth lords like Fields of the Nephilim. Here at the crossroads of those genres where devil deals are stuck this huge assortment of talent pays homage.
October Burns Black – Ed Shorrock and company have stayed tried and true to purist gothic rock and bring that sizzle and lariat spinning overlapping guitar riffs. Organic snap and haunted vocal lines. This is the opening track for a reason, it grabs you and holds you in awe.
Sonsombre – (Slow Kill) Probably the hottest new name in Gothic Rock on Cleopatra records absolutely unloads on the scorched earth cover of Fields of the Nephilim. This track is so full of reverence for the source material, you can really hear they are true fans. It still manages to burn it’s own trail and have that unmistakable Sonsombre sound.
Raven Said – (Shadows on the Ceiling Shadows on the Floor) This Russian goth duo has a true wild sound. That ever present sense of a starving wolf just outside the view of your fire. I love the menace and venom.
Cliff and Ivy – (Eightstar) Alaska’s favorite goth couple brings the fury to this lawless land. I love the whip snaps and border war ferocity. The distorted guitar gallop at full tilt like a run away stallion.
Rainbow Goth Volume II – So lately compilations often come in the form of charity releases. This one which Amaranth took part in the last two years is put together by Cliff and Ivy for Identity Inc, an all-volunteer nonprofit organization which provides vital services to LGBTQ+ youth, elders, families and the community in Alaska. A great cause which has always been intricately laced with the goth community. 31 tracks that cover a lot of genre ground and highlights new talent.
The Dirty Horror – (23) LA death punk full of gnashed teeth and inky darkness. Danna Marie is a seething powerhouse of intensity and expression. Chunky machine gun guitar riffs firing out in circles.
Sombre – (Lindsey) – French ShadowWave with this beautiful melodic duet really breaks up the batcave intensity of the rest of the compilation. Flowing and warm the melting watercolor sound is lovely to the eye, heavy to the heart.
Burn The Earth – (Lockdown) – This LA/Melbourne team up has two tracks on the compilation. Really cool slushy delayed guitar sounds set the stage for Jeremy Bornstein clear ringing spoken word style melodies. Beautifully crafted songs which flow together in perfect measure to build towers of sound.
Look I hate to do this, but A Covenant of Thorns did an amazing remix of Amaranth‘s Deliverance and you really need to hear it. Scott David Allen absolutely killed it.
Electronic Saviors VI – So when it comes to compilations that give back to charity, this is the gold standard. Jim Semonik of Distortion Productions started this compilation several years ago while battling cancer to raise money and awareness for research. This 68 song Goliath of the biggest names in Goth/Industrial is the final addition of the project and a must have for anyone with an ounce of rivethead in your heart. The artist list is downright staggering. I wouldn’t begin to know how to choose favorite tracks. Other than Steven Archer who assures me always has the best tracks. Honestly I probably need a separate review just for this compilation and it would take me 6 hours to do it justice. In the meantime just trust me, go to the link, pick a random name, and leap into the chasm.
Cold Transmission(Spotlight) – Ok I might be jumping the gun here. This release is not available until 6/25/20. However the amount of talent, diversity, and creative freedom that CTM has built into their stable has made them one of the most respected voices in darkwave/post punk/cold wave. They have earned a level of trust from me like those old Cleopatra compilations of the 90’s. When they tell me I need to hear a new band, I need to hear that new band. You need to hear that new band.
CD 1: 1. S Y Z Y G Y X – Kill the Pain 2. ELZ and the CULT – HORRIFIED 3. Kiss of the Whip – Put You In The Past (exclusive) 4. HALLOWS – Subtle 5. Bedless Bones – Split 6. La Mécanique – Dernier Voyage 7. DILK – Pluto 8. iamnoone – Stranger (exclusive) 9. ICY MEN – Полупустые автобусы (Uninhabited Buses) 10. White Mansion – Clear Your Head 11. Iamtheshadow – Off My Hands (exclusive) 12. Clone Culture – You Are The One 13. Control Room – Are We All Alone (exclusive)
CD 2: 1. The Gathering – Trying To Call (Colibri Mix) 2. Palais Ideal – Erase (Original Mix) 3. Mark E Moon – Dancing (With The Lights On) (exclusive) 4. MARY – Frantic 5. The Bluebeard’s Castle – Plunge 6. The Secret French Postcards – Out Of You 7. Vestron Vulture – Hair On Fire 8. Silent Runners – Forgotten 9. Push Button Press – Mire And The Sea 10. Carlo Onda – Kopf oder Zahl 11. ROSI – Tanzen 12. Monographic – Addicted 13. Paradise Cove – Lost 14. Reconverb – Hem
Who are the compilations you are currently trusting to bring you that next band you are in love with that you didn’t know about yet? Comment below
Jean-Marc Lederman is an artist who’s pedigree in music is undisputable. Aside from his composition work he has played with bands like The The, Fad Gadget, Gene Loves Jezebel, The Weathermen, and Front 242. Take a moment to absorb that resume to understand the scope of his career. As an artist where do you go to break new ground that can still inspire and challenge? With this album he has found a multimedia experience that raises the bar of expression in sound. It comes in the form of a package including a 36 page image book by Erica Hinyot. and texts by Philippe Genion , Ceratomia and the comic writer and singer Christina Z. 24 original tracks with a diverse cast of musicians spanning wide the breadth of genre . The tracks are varied but tied together by an insistence of craft and quality. Ambitious while relatable to a central concept. In this time of quick hit pop singles, this 2 cd package is relying on a hunger for intellectual art.
The premise is concise, yet deep as the earliest longings of humanity for answers to questions beyond proof. To write a letter to faceless entities of the gnostic realm. Each “letter” is penned by a different artist with a human voice beseeching the beyond of angels and demons. Some with pleading, others with snark, but each is a revealing correspondence with a human voice. I also love the idea of letters. We live in a digital age of texts and snippets. Putting pen to paper holds a power. The energy of will and intent made into matter. I will give thoughts of some of the songs that struck me hardest. This is a concept album, I strongly suggest listening front to back in the order Jean-Marc intended. Everything you are hearing has purpose and is best absorbed through that lens.
Letter From JP Aston ft. Julianne Regan – This gentle ballad from the Gene Loves Jezebel members is full of defiance. Beautiful harmonies and lush layering. Aston’s voice has always had a calming and sparking effect. These gentle string plucks vibrate the wave of angelic harps. I don’t believe in angels, don’t need angels. A masterful portrayal of indecision in the face of unanswerable questions.
Into My Arms ft. Jenna Fearon – Jenna does vocals and music for several wonderful projects including HAD TO KILL, THE SIREN AND THE VOID, SOPHIE STRYCHNINE. This cover of Nick Cave is a warm and tender hymn stripped down and soulful. Beautiful pads that seem to have a beating heart behind the honey rich voice.
Letter From Tom Shear – The vocalist Of Assemblage23 offers this pleading call to the void in a moment without control. A rolling tide of humming synth work with a David Gahan flavor. I love the steady build and poetic intention. The sensual beauty of feeling lost and wanting more.
Letter From Mark Hockings – Artists of Warner Chappell Music this letter again focusing on the marching feet of a human who asks for no help or quarter. I love the vocal changes in effect to add weight to this prayer which says I help myself. The music crackles and glitches to add a dynamic backdrop to this pronouncement.
Letter From Rodney Orpheus – The Cassandra Complex star strays far from his goth roots to give a tongue and cheek lounge song in purgatory with all the sass of Jarvis Cocker. Dark gallows humor as stinging as it is playful. Organic open room piano with marimba , and tamborims that makes heaven feel like a smokey lounge in Las Vegas. I kept coming back to this track again and again.
Letter From Haydn Park-Patterson – I couldn’t find a lot of information about their other musical projects. I really love this track though. The vocals have a very Magnetic Fields feel and a brit pop ring. A hope and fear at the same time “I’m scared of waking up with open eyes” Lovely and brimming with emotion.
Letter From Emileigh Rohn – This beautiful track comes from a fellow Michigan resident of the band Chiasm. Breathy and hopeful with an enticing whisper. Hard dynamic shifts in the changes here. I love the computerized vocal effects which add a different layer to the concept. I love how abrupt the ending comes upon you when you don’t expect it.
Letter From Claus Larsen – The amazing person behind Leatherstrip stepping so far outside the box of what I am used to in his art. This track is driving and uplifting. Leaving behind the chains of life and reaching skyward. Claus shows the amazing range of his voice and it is clear and ringing. What a glorious and bold exploration of two great artists reaching into uncharted ground for both and create something wonderous.
Overall this double album is such a journey. It brings each artist out of their comfort zone and stretches in so many bold directions. It really runs the breadth of human emotion while struggling with the biggest questions of life, death, and divinity. I review a lot of music and always tend to find things I love in most albums. I steer my reviews to focus on those aspects because making art is hard. I find it difficult to judge beyond what something makes me feel. Every so often though someone of immense talent comes up with a concept which challenges the mind. Has a carefully constructed well done musical vehicle. Is full of soul and emotion and pulls on the heart strings of the listener. Doing all three is a rare gem in this day and age. So please feel the weight of me saying this is what Jean Marc Lederman has accomplished. It’s a feat worth celebrating and definitely worth owning in it’s full form.
CD1: 01. Intro Log By 8 Of Nine Letter From Agi Taralas Letter From Emma Barson 04. Letter From Ghost & Writer ft. Jo Quail Letter From Mari Kattman 06. Letter From JP Aston ft. Julianne Regan Letter From Coline Wauters Letter From Christina Z 09. Letter From The Vintage Letter From Lucia Fairfull Letter From Stefan Netschio Letter From Hunter S. Thompson
CD2: Letter From Elena Alice Fossi Letter From Tom Shear Letter From Mark Hockings 04. Into My Arms ft. Jenna Fearon Letter From Emileigh Rohn 06. Letter From Miriam Christina 07. Letter From Haydn Park-Patterson Letter From Rodney Orpheus Letter From Louise Fraser Letter From Lis Van Den Akker Letter From Claus Larsen Outro From Friedrich Nietzsche
Silverwalks – This Philly based EDM Soothsynthers have a new single out called Lantern. Holy shit does it slap hard with what I call desert power. Has a bit of that swirling sandstorm Gary Numan “My Name is Ruin” Flavor. It’s poignant with both a political and spiritual feel. The standout version to me was #1 the (Kynos) mix. This is straight up money lender table flipping revolution in dance form. Out end of June on Distortion Jim Semonik’s label.
Bedless Bones – My favorite band from Estonia off Cold Transmission Music. New album out 6/5/20 but you can hear a few singles now like Ostara and Sad and Alone (Wytchdoktor remix). I recently talked about this band in the video podcast with IAMTHESHADOW as Kadri Sammel does a track with them. This is thunderous rolling ritual dance music. I love her captivating vocal cadence and the heavy slamming club bass. I hope this album really puts them in the public attention where they belong
Charn – Our very own Hunter Hunter has this project out with a series of bonus tracks. Ever since I met them I have been captivated by this broken toy organ grinder from hell lofi sonic explosion that rocks like a tiny ship on giant waves between pop beauty and terrifying nightmare. Charn is not a series of club hits, it’s an experience. An experience I continue to be surprised and impressed by.
Pilgrims of Yearning– As we draw closer and closer to their June 26th release this Boston MA band continues to impress. It’s a post punk fuzz fest of tip toe cadence vocals and choppy upstroke guitars. This latest music video In God You Trust erupts with energy like napalm out of a fighter jet.
Normoria – Swedish stomp Synthwave sent to me by Dj Sonic Szilvi. This track is a real boot stomper. She has a powerful voice with an almost retro Grace Slick ring. Great job with the lyrics and laser focus intent. This is music to get shit done to.
New Haunts – English darkwave with outstanding vocals by Alice Sheridan. A real dancing around a roaring bonfire with flickering shadows and trees. Due out June 5th. I love these flowing synth lines that keep you guessing where they are going next. Powerful transitions and soulful delivery. Heartbreaking delivery of storyweaving lyrics, a true throwback soul born out of time. I’ll be watching this band closely.
Blak Sunday – Ok I was done for the night but when some badass old school death rock comes down the pipe I’m going to talk about it. It’s a deep grooves and thick ass guitars. Dark sinister crooning vocals and a breakneck pace. Sign me up.
So during the current pandemic when artists are taking a hit from an inability to tour and play out, Bandcamp the music distribution platform that seems to actually care about artists waived their fees for a day. Honestly the fees they charge are pretty fair but anything to get people excited to support bands. So here is some of what caught my fancy on the first day of May.
Panic Priest – (Second Seduction) what a strong second offering from Jack. This album really took the sound in a sleeker, stronger, synth driven new direction. His voice remains one of the strongest baritones in the scene but here it is piled on layer after layer of textural experience and the experience is amazing. Extra Credit for the cool fan sourced music video on the single Lonely City.
Blood and Dust – (Compilation) This is such an awesome comp put out by out by TG Mondalf of Venus Aeon. I was just talking to Brandon of Sonsombre on the podcast about the connection of southern sound and goth…which i call Outlaw Goth. This comp is absolutely jam packed with fire tracks of some of the hottest names in new goth rock doing southern style. October Burns Black/Sonsombre/Black Angel/Raven Said/Cliff and Ivy/Guillotine Dream and many more. A cool concept and great execution.
Delphine Coma – (Secondary Eyes) Long awaited EP from Ashe Ruppe. Two tracks and two remixes with that true deep darkwave sound. Rolling baselines and Ashe’s deeper than then earths core voice ringing icy and clear. Yes please.
Orcus Nullify – (Pandemonic ) A poignant track for the current situation. Much more stripped down and electronic feel for doom rocker Bruce Nullify yet holding true to that buzzing noise sword guitar. This one strikes hard and takes no prisoners.
Vlimmer – (Pulmo) Shadow Sound architect Alexander Donat continues to spew forth such a steady stream of quality material at a rate that defies imagination. Here he stays between tighter lines than some of his more psychedelic offerings. The drum beats are tight and the guitars are cold vibrating lasers cutting through the dark din. I really like how the bass walks in track two Sonnenspeer.
The Black Capes – (Lullabies For The Dead) Old school gothic rock from the land of history Athens Greece. Like a big black wolf snarling and writhing these crushing beats and vicious growling vocal delivery is the sound of night creatures baying. It has tender moments of light strings and contrast. Another band embracing the glory of the past to create a dark future. The sound put me in mind of the wild rural parts of my home in Michigan. The land of Iggy Pop.
Ashes Fallen – (Thy Will Be Done) Sinister guitar lord James Perry put out a new single today full of a lot more menace than the last album. I feel like Michelle and Jason have really had an effect on the tone for this single. The guitar and baselines still include a lot of movement and technique. The keyboards fill the space to give those hard down strokes more accent. The vocals are not a clean alternative romanticism I heard and enjoyed on the last record.. They are dark, full, gritty, and not what you want to meet in a dark alley. Love the direction.
Pilgrims of Yearning – (Forsaken Land) – Pre release of the June 5th album offers a first track and single The Visitor. Juls Garat has a clear and slicing voice which knows how to shine light through every crack in the dark and driving bass wall. This was a taste that gets me excited for the whole meal and the future of an exciting sound.
Plague Garden – (Left in The Grave ) – Ok important question, how the fuck did I not know about Plague Garden? Paul Barker of Redwing Blackbird (who i love) is involved in this project. This is gorgeous, sinister, old school artistic almost Tones on Tail lo fi drone goth. Great use of changes and making every sound count. Goth with clinical efficient effect.
Caustic – (The King of EBM) So if Matt Fanale has a new EP and the title sounds like a play on Run DMC best believe I am here for this. Of course it is just what you would think. Look it is not an overstated boast to say The King. Infectious beats drive your body like a bolt of electricity from the sky awakening dead flesh. It’s Alive! It’s Alive! It’s blue collar, it’s high ideal, it’s everything I love about punk, and EDM and nothing I hate about either.
A Cloud of Ravens – (The Earthen Call) New York darkwave duo with a new single out. I really want to listen to this while doing ritualistic magic in a secret underground lair. Not that doing that doesn’t sound cool all the time, but to this song in particular. Love the walls closing in guitar for an otherwise traditional darkwave song. Gave the whole feel flaming wheels.
Raven Said – (Beyond the Darkest Hour) Ok, I have a confession/moment of self reflection on Raven Said from Russia. I have had 3 reliable people all tell me to listen to this record and just hadn’t gotten to it. I get a little full of myself sometimes from writing this page and start to think if it was really that good I would have found it right? Holy shit this is good. I hate myself for the moments I wasted not knowing about it. It’s driving through haunted woods chased by a ghost luxury automobile full of specters and demons on a foggy night. It bounces on tight coils like post punk but it has the soul of really spooky quirky bat cave. So don’t be dumb like me, buy this immediately.
Sanctum Sanitarium – (Defied and Devoured) Have you ever wondered where modular synths go after they die if they have not lived a good and pure life? Adrian can show you. This is disturbing sonic nightmares given flesh. In fact I might have to write one more review just so this isn’t the last thing I hear before I pass out. Honestly he should have wrote the soundtrack for the Suspiria remake instead of Thom York.
Mindless Faith – (Insectual) Washington DC based electronic robot invasion music that makes me long for humanities inevitable collapse at the hands of our metallic superiors. I suppose it is easy for me to think of Rick Furr as part of Steven Archer’s posse. Here with Jason Sevanick, Paul Green and Chris Sevanick they have unleashed soulful energon cube filled landscape of precise mixing and slapping beats. I got half way through writing this and realized it came out last year, but somehow skipped past my notice. An endless tide of automation integrating your mind.
Well I didn’t come close to writing about everything I listened to this Bandcamp day (My new favorite holiday) I wrote a lot though. It’s a strange and scary world full of uncertainty. Listen to new music. Support the artists who make it. I suppose it is time for a little shameless self promotion.
Tiny Gods Who Walk Beside Us – I made a compilation, to save my cat. Beyond that it is really good. I honestly astounded how good. If you like Goth/Industrial/Post Punk/Darkwave/Coldwave A lot of the hottest new talent is here. $10 for 25 songs.
Newest release from British electronic indie soul Empathy Test has once again hit the mark and rocketed beyond it. Isaac Howlett, Adam Relf, Christina ‘Chrisy’ Lopez, and Oliver Marson have tapped into a world brimming with tension and isolation to strike a chord with beauty. This follow up to the 2019 EP Empty Handed is a creative stride forward as well as a more complete offering. Also this record was crowd funded and done totally DIY. For this highly anticipated album I thought it might be fun to pull in a few or our writers and get some different perspectives on howMonsters effected us.
Ken – This album has crisp body moving drums. Smoke slithering synth lines that build castles which sparkle. What really strikes me is how easily I forget all the layers and textures. Just to zero in on the singer/songwriter core of these tracks. The power and familiarity of the lyrics. The way the songs would be great songs on an acoustic guitar, or with a full band . It’s hard enough to achieve one or the other, when both happen at the same time in isolation it’s a powerful magic.
Damien – I was hooked on this record within seconds. The vocals are absolutely beautiful and I don’t know if I have ever loved the way drums sound on a record more than I have on this one. It felt like the ether reached out to me with this record, shook me around and said you need to have this record in your life.
Katy – This album is a synthwave banger from the first smash on the drums. The amount of energy behind each note is enough to power a city. This album is cinematic without being a score. I love it when an album creates vivid imagery with sound. When I listened through this album, I kept imagining myself in a world lit up like “Tron” but inhabited by the beings of “Labyrinth”.
Ken – Dare I say masterful mastering? The vocals on every song just ring in such perfect clarity. They sit on the front of the mix perfectly without seeing where they end and the music begins. The percussion really changes the tone on each song. Those snares are crisp. Really effective use of marching cadence and rarely used beat patterns. They synths are vibrant like watercolors behind a character. 1st rate execution.
Damien– The drums on this whole record sound huge. From start to finish the percussion drives this whole record. The vocals sound perfect. Layers are added and subtracted with precision. I particularly love the way instrumentation swells in this record to slowly build transitions so the feel as huge as they sound.
Katy– The mixing and mastering of this album is incredible. The amount of dryness and saturation creates such an emotionally evocative feeling for each song. The amount of reverb on the vocals and instruments creates a constant hugeness that they’ve perfected. The beats used are addictive. You won’t be able to sit still. The synths used throughout have such a classic synth-pop sound that is much appreciated. It’s utilized so perfectly to create the feel and carry the song with seamless flare added throughout. I love it when a band uses electronic drums and live drums. This is top-tier and perfectly synced up.
What did it make you feel:
Ken – This one really took me on an adventure. I had highs, lows, moments of doubt, moments of elation. It had hooks, and had that shake that ass factor. I think more than anything this record made me feel in on a secret. It’s very personal yet easy to access emotionally. That true inspiration of an indie album. Something to share that you know everyone would be into, but they aren’t in on it yet, and you are.
Damien– I felt motivated when I heard this record. I’ve been wrapped in my own material for the last week nonstop and as soon as I heard this I felt like someone set the bar. The lyrical content is exceptionally potent and the way the drums, bass and synth all come together sent me back to the drawing board eager to step my game up. This is a masterwork, if you’re an aspiring artist or a casual listener this record is absolutely compelling.
Katy– This album is relatable in content and driving instrumentally. It made me feel like I wanted to dance and move while contemplating my relationship, my friendships, society, and more. There were things that are so hard to say that this album dictated so perfectly. It’s got tracks you can blare from your boombox on someone’s lawn if you want to make a statement about love. It’s got tracks that make you want to get all sweaty at a rave during. There are some songs you may want to listen to alone in your room with the lights off. There are even some songs great for road-trip playlists when you want to get hit with waves of beautiful sounds.
Ken – Opening the album with the title track and those powerful snapping snare hits. I’ve felt the daylight creeping in, and thought maybe it’s time to go. The vocals are elegant and cutting. When the chorus drops it’s a smashing wall of sound done with driving weight instead of distortion. What a strong way to open a record.
Damien – THIS IS HOW YOU START AN ALBUM! This track absolutely slaps. It reached through the cosmos and grabbed me. I knew I was in for the full ride this record had to offer within seconds of hearing those drums. This track absolutely slaps. It is quite possibly one of the best side one track one’s you’ll ever hear and I’m willing to be the test of time will side with me on this one. This track absolutely slaps! I honestly felt floored it hit me so hard.
Katy– First track and I was sold. I needed to hear more. I needed to know what this band was all about. The tempo of the track is a fast-paced stroll and the initial feel is like it’s the perfect track to walk around on a sunny day and feel awesome while listening to. When the vocals start, my heart absolutely melted. The story is about having the “monsters” creeping back in and sensing that it’s having an effect on whatever is happening in the story pushing the storyteller to feel compelled to leave. It’s something that is so relatable and so real. I agree with Ken. This was a strong start to the album that kept me thinking well after the track ended.
Ken- This song transports me to a place. The image where this conversation takes place Then those drums take a marching cadence and build “There is no substitute for love, no feeling tell me when you’ve had enough” This is a great song for showing the synthesis Empathy Test achieves. Pulling from familiar sounds that are far from each other and blending them in ration to create a fresh idea.
Damien– The beginning of this song is downright ominous. The ebb and flow of the synths and drums take me to a dark place emotionally when it comes to love. This track reminds me of times when I’ve been upset with a lover and felt confrontational about it. Somehow still lusting for them despite the agony they were putting me through. Desperate to resolve conflict find a passionate embrace but not being satiated or satisfied.
Katy – I love this track. Ken said it best. When you listen to it, you’ll be transplanted to a place and tells a story with its instrumentation alone. The drums start as a march guiding you to a lonely sounding chorus. When the drums come back in during the second verse, they have a tribal feel that made me feel like I wanted to dance with my entire body at a rave. I kept having this mental music video playing those drums would kick of sweat and fire and strobes. I love it.
Ken– I love when a song tells me a story. This track feels so full of narrative. The vocal lines stack on top of each other expertly. The continuous synths ringing like bells to create movement. This track is a gentler one pulling back the tension.
Damien – I love the slow build of this song. I can honestly feel the animosity build slowly through vocal delivery and the urgency of the drums. As The Duchess already commented on, this song very clearly tells a story. It’s a story of scorn, lament, and anguish. Lyrically it feels like narrator was used and through the course of this song is slowly beginning to realize it but they’re not the type to just let it go.
Katy – This song is incredibly visual with the lyrics and the story is haunting. Instrumentally, the song is perfectly orchestrated to carry the story along. It’s mostly minor with arpeggiators adding to the rhythm that conveys loss and obsession. The drums and rhythmic synths gave me nervous energy. I felt tense, but not uncomfortable.
Ken – Sweeping gentle builder that resonates waves until the vocals fill the space breathing and warm. Asking to be obliterated and made new like a phoenix. I like how it never stops growing, just expanding and becoming larger.
Damien – This song has a more sunny disposition. It is very aptly titled as the song begins slowly and blossoms. The way the vocals are delivered, particularly when she sings “consume me” leave me longing to be devoured with affection. The hook is downright intoxicating. I love how the last chorus builds into an absolutely mega instrumental section and then slowly lets you go at the end. It’s done in a way that makes you want to listen to the track all over again.
Katy – This song makes me swoon. This track is uplifting from beginning to end. It keeps building into this huge, beautiful, orchestral piece until it ends. I loved this track because it’s chorus is such a great hook with such a positive feeling behind it. The way it’s sung is enough to keep it stuck in your head for days, but the words won’t be escaping my mind anytime soon.
Ken – I try not to do too much comparison to past bands. However this track in particular has such a vibe of Radiohead “The Bends” which I consider one of the most important of the 90’s. Not so much the sound, although there is a bit of that. It’s the soul, the isolation, and the introspection. Capturing that very human aspect of being more than one thing at a time. It lends an honestly to the song. The insecurity, blended with a courage. This was the track for me I just couldn’t let go of. Maybe it speaks to my current isolation.
Damien – The open progression to this song is absolutely gorgeous. The drums are a constant thumping rhythm that cascade beautifully with the lyrics until that subtle rest when the song transitions. The way the instrumentation drops out in this song in sections really make it feel absolutely epic. It builds slowly until a climax at the end and fades out beautifully.
Katy – This song makes me think of a dreamy place with 60’s go-go dancers. The synths are light and airy, but the drums make you want to dance. It made me feel like I was at a party in a cloud. The vocals have a kind of romance behind them, but convey a relatable story about having a hard time in your own skin. I love it when songs have a feeling that leans one way, but vocals that tell a story that makes you feel the opposite when you really hear them.
Ken – Not sure if everyone feels this way, to me, writing a genuine love song is the hardest thing to do. To not sound cheesy, or forced. The beauty of this track is striking. It really seems to dance on the edge of the razor to pull it off. Plus it’s such a pretty song.
Damien – The first word I can think of with the starting feel to this track is sultry. It elicits low-light imagery of two slightly sweaty bodies eager to get lost in each other. Lyrically, this one seriously hit me in the feels. I’m always a zero to ninety when it comes to matters of the heart. Without question this song absolutely nails the feeling you get when your soul cosmically binds with another. There’s a twinge of melancholy in the track that leads me to feel that this is just as much about losing that love as it is experiencing it. Sheer perfection.
Katy – This song starts and has a sexy vibe to it. This dream-pop song is a banger with a slower tempo and an overall blissful atmosphere. The synths and drums provide an optimistic feeling behind a heavier underlying theme. Though the song isn’t meant to be sad, it feels very much like a direct message to someone saying that love moves. It chooses a pace and moves forward, it changes locations, and sometimes… it changes its intent.
Ken – I’m pretty staggered by this record. I listen to so much dark music now a days and this whole record felt fresh. It’s expertly done from a production stand point. That’s not what really sold it for me. It’s the song writing. I really feel like you could play these songs in any style imaginable and they would stand up. In a world broken down into tiny boxes and genres, these are just good songs. So i feel pretty confident saying no matter what your preferred sound, you need this record.
Damien – I’m absolutely shook. Every so often I get hit with a record that just feels important. The last time I felt this with a record was with the Japandroids “Celebration Rock” in 2012. That is of course, not counting every Noel Gallagher release that makes me feel that way. This is going to be my top contender for album of the year. You can feel every track. Everything sounds amazing throughout the whole record and you can tell that this is an artist’s labor of love.
Katy – It’s hard not to get hypnotized by this album. I can’t tell you which track is my favorite because I can’t choose. There were so many aspects of this album that I really enjoyed. I’m a sucker for a good synth-based dream-pop album, but this album is like the gold standard for the genre.
These tiny beings that we let into our lives change us in ways we cannot imagine. The relationships we build are the supporting blocks of our existence. That which gives it perspective and texture. When my three year old cat Freyja was diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer in her leg the full power of how much we invest in our tiny companions really struck me. My fear of a future without her and the big questions of how to proceed. What that would mean weighed heavy on my soul. Cats were once worshiped by the Egyptians and many cultures as deities. There is no other creature save humans that truly embodies the idea of pride and love. When I created the review page Sounds and Shadows I found in my love for new music the power in hearing and understanding the lives of the artists who make it and shared that with people around the world. In these dark moments with Freja’s life hanging on a knife edge these artists who I had woven a connection with reached out to me and ask “How can I help?” This was an affirmation which touched me to my core at a time I needed most to believe in the importance of those around me. From around the world they came together in collaboration and kindness to offer their time, their art, and their charity. Freyja required an amputation of her leg which was successful and I am happy to announce saved her and left her the same glorious, loving ball of warm energy as she was before, albeit on three legs. The cost of her operation was quite substantial but it was a sacrifice worth making for my tiny goddess. Buying this compilation of songs contributed by dear friends is directly funding Freja’s care and operation. Any additional funds beyond direct medical costs will be donated to a non kill shelter charity to help other animals in need. A special thank you to Pete Burns for the immense task of mastering the compilation. Cate McFarland for the wonderful cover art which I feel really captures the concept. Slade Templeton for releasing it. Collin Schipper for being my rock and helping me put it together. As well as William Zimmerman for helping me promote. To anyone who has ever written a song, recorded it, and released it, you know how much effort goes into each one. How much love I have for all the artists below is hard to put into words. I never could have imagined something so beautiful and powerful could arise from this dark event. I hope it’s power touches you and reminds you to pay a special homage to your tiny God today.
Also Here is the podcast Part 1 where we discuss the first 8 tracks
I wanted to do a quick breakdown of all the artists who contributed a song to save my baby. When I look at the list of the amount of talent here it is a bit staggering. We had submissions from all over the world and quite a few collaborations of people who never knew each other before this project.
Lorelei Dreaming – (Edge of the World Dj Senseless mix) Chicago based dystopian electro dance. Comprised of Laura and AJ remixed by Madison WI’s Dj Senseless. This song is such a different sound for Lorelei Dreaming, it was the perfect opener with it’s emotional swell.
2. Amaranth – (For Freyja) Goth/Industrial/Synth Rock from Kalamazoo MI. That’s us 🙂 I had some really deep emotions that needed uncorking with this song. Collin wrote a great song way out of our normal wheelhouse including Derick on a mandolin and Kam with some very delicate brushwork. It’s the loudest I ever screamed in anguish on a song. Hope you enjoy it.
3. A Covenant of Thorns the lovely sweeping romantic goth synth from near Chicago. What an amazing voice with this song remixed by Chicago Rock/Industrial super group The Joy Thieves. This is my favorite ACOT song and I don’t know how I could have liked it more. Enter Dan Milligan, this remix found another level of what I already loved in beauty and clarity.
4. Corlyx – England by way of LA and Berlin glitter grunge electronic duo remixed by EDM Industrial noise mechanics Electronic Substance Abuse (ESA). This song Deform is such a wonderful combination of both styles. Caitlin’s voice is ethereal and airy, floating through the void when the creeping digital build starts burrowing into your mind.
5. Antipole – Norwegian post punk revivalist of Karl Morten Dahl. Ft Paris Alexander and Eirene are experts of taking what is glorious of the past and making it rise again into the present. They are the most reviewed band in Sounds and Shadows history and true masters of the music craft. This song is such a different flavor for them and one I immediately fell in love with. That same signature Karl guitar but with this crisp sizzling dance beat. Together with Eirene’s smokey sultry voice it’s a real burner.
6. Ego Likeness – Maryland dark rock industrial duo of Steven and Donna have been such an important part of this scene for decades. This Dräcos Deep remix by Sombre‘ of the song Darkness really places a cool highlight on Donna’s voice and a crisp dance beat.
7. Machinery of Desire – Traditional goth rock of Adrian Auchrome. I trade music back and forth with Adrian often. I say as no light sentence I think this is the best song I ever heard from them. I was touched beyond belief that they shared it with me for the compilation. The vocals really cut loose and highlighted their unique and romantic darkness. Gentle crawling guitar lines of piercing intensity.
8. Adoration Destroyed – The glamour gloom stars of Austin TX remixed by Philly’s Authentic Impulse. I really liked the way Erik’s voice sits on the bouncing glitchy effects and pounding drum beats. AD does such a great job on remixes themselves it was really cool to see what William was able to do with their song.
9. Crying Vessel – Swiss dark glam star Slade Templeton gets a double credit here. Both for this amazing song remixed by Dead Agent, but also for helping me release the compilation. Ed Finkler (Dead Agent) did a sizzling breakneck dance song and let Slade’s voice ride on top like the crest of a wave. Such wonderful movement and balance. This was a beautiful team up that happened for the first time on this compilation.
10. I Ya Toyah – Chicago’s one woman sonic explosion Ania has been remixed here by Arcontas Blank for her single Code Blue. This sizzles with her intense soul and some intricate and beautiful synth pad work. I really love how varied and dynamic the different sounds used here are.
11. Twin Tribes – (Dark Crystal) The lovely princes of Texas darkwave. Twin Tribes was the first band we reviewed for Sounds and Shadows and they remain one of the bands that inspires me in the modern scene. This track is a beautiful, swirling ritual of emotion and pageant. The future is so bright for this band.
12. Radiograph – (Catnipped) This is the solo project of John Edwards Palais Ideal in the Netherlands. I love this sizzling disco prog synth with a early New Order guitar line. Palais Ideal is always finding ways to step outside the box of what post punk could be.
13. Caustic – (Fuck that Fascist Beat) Silverwalks Remix – Madison WI old school Industrial/EDM brings an intense shoulder tackle political hailstorm. Remixed in a smoother synth slither dance style by Pennsylvania based Silver Walks. This track slams so hard both in your mind, and in dat ass.
14. Seven Federations – (Syzygy) – North Dakota based goth Industrial full of rolling bluesy soul and electronic glitch. I love how hard it is to classify what I am hearing. This song has a really cool sample/spoken word effect that reminds me of 90’s VAST.
15. Vlimmer – (Schnittstelle) – Alexander’s Berlin based ambiant darkwave project is a masterclass in structure and sound creation. The rate and quality of the music he puts out never ceases to amaze me. This song is a intense and terrifying well of emotion and abstract prism to twist the mind.
16. Dogtablet – (Showtime Melodywhore Slave Remix) – The project of industrial titans Jared Louche (Chemlab) and Martin King (Test Dept) created this wondrous album based on the concept of totemism. Every track feels like a different creature embodied. This track is a sultry triphop prancing creature of grace and agility. It has a very feline quick quality.
17. Kiss of the Whip – ( The Pain is Ours) – I have been a fan of the Baltimore based retro synth weavers on Cold Transmission for a while now. Beautiful familiar feels with modern edge and a layered beauty. This track is a roller coaster of peaks and valleys gliding though a rainbow landscape of color.
18. Steven Archer – (The Showroom) – The amazing artist of (Ego Likeness and Stoneburner) appear once again showing his range in this synth prog builder. I really love how different his vocals come across in this song. Theatrical and with a Nick Cave flare. What is it he can’t do?
19. Cliff and Ivy – (Will to the Power) – Alaska’s darkest couple have been creating batcave punk fueled witchcraft for over a decade. It is raw, fierce, and intelligent. I love the drive and bloody claws of this track. Ivy and Cliff really show the power of two people in perfect lockstep making eachothers art stronger.
20. Orcus Nullify – (March of the Lost) – South Carolina’s Bruce Nullify creates a brand of unapologetic terrifying rumble of old school death rock. I love the over the top imagery and slashing guitars. I feel like this track perfectly captured that style but with a focused clarity which added extra weight and power.
21. Ritchual – (You Lied) – Austin TX based Ritch Napierkowski of Adoration Destroyed and Nimbus has done this synthwave solo project and it is absolutely lights out. This song could have been a missing track on Depeche Mode “Sounds of Faith and Devotion” Just a delicious dark ear candy jam.
22. Sister Sarin – (Split) – Baltimore Percussion specialist Hemlock has done this solo project where she weaves intricate texture and pulsing drum beats to create lovely isolated sonic paintings. This song has a driving dance beat and saber slash keyboard melodies to create an instrumental full of movement and dynamics.
23. Swansect – (Clovermouth) – Norwegian noise artists Adrian Kjosnes of Missfit Toys and writer for Sounds and Shadows unleashes this terrifying and avant garde solo project. It has this brimming intense Goblins feel of sinister noise and stealthy builds. This track is a haunting horror movie soundtrack to grab your nightmares with it’s claws and leave you screaming for more.
11 Grams – (DNA) Half Washington DC half Australia the industrial electronica dance floor lords have been a part of this scene for a long time and always bring the highest level of precision and technique. This track is a slow dark builder that crackles with life and a whisper that draws you in.
Sombre’ – French post punk with a very cool organic world beat feel. They always remind me a bit of the Happy Mondays. Cedric has a resonant and soothing voice and the baselines always really drive. Here he does a wonderful remix of Ego Likeness. I really love how Donna’s vocals are highlighted here.
This weekend I was suppose to be in Boston for the Dark Spring Festival. Enjoying the warm embrace of meeting new friends and swaying in rhythm to music. Instead here I sit in Michigan at the computer eating curried mash potatoes alone. I do have a tether to this distant world. New music to conjure dreams of adventure from the ether.
Icy Men – Low Light – I’ve been taking in snippets of this album leading up to the release today. Another strong offering from Cold Transmission. This Ukrainian band gives me a tie to a world far away. It’s the perfect sound to capture the isolation I am fighting. Everything sounds so open and full of negative space. The songs resonate with grey concrete and oppressive darkness. I am in love with the striking drums and the powerful delivery of the voice. It’s the weight and power of each track that strikes your mind and demands reflection. Dedicated to the victims of medieval inquisition this is not background music. It’s a forceful reflection of the human condition. I couldn’t turn away from how I could not understand the lyrics, but I felt the meaning.
Favorite Tracks : The Captain , Uninhabited Buses, We Shall Be Together
Sawtooth –Hostile Design – Massachusetts sinister EDM Sawtooth unleashed this ferocious team up of several guest vocalists each swinging sword cut glitch sounds and boot stomping snare beats. The most challenging aspect of EDM music can be finding range of sound and emotion when releasing an album of 13 tracks. I really enjoyed the different cadence to the poetry spoken lyrics. A real roller coaster of rises and falls.
Favorite Tracks: Devoured, Venomous Whispers, Miss America (Echo Haus remix)
Iza Grau – Vastness Hurts – Italian Post punk full of sharp edges and driving precision from Cleopatra Records. The growl and burning anger just beneath the surface of these vocals really give a fresh feeling among the mellow and blending style of most Darkwave Postpunk. Not that they didn’t find a shade of beauty with tracks like Burn Everything. This was an album I stumbled on but I am really glad I did. It’s ability to twist, turn, and surprise me has left me hungry for more.
Favorite Tracks : Burn Everything , The Grace within Nocturnal Animals, Inviolate.
FIRES – BitchCorona – Aedra has done it again. It’s a huge swing from her previous album. Complete chaos incineration that really taps into my feelings of frustration of being home bound. It’s just one track, but it’s fun, it’s fierce, and it makes me want to run outside and scream while I spin in circles in my backyard.
UIU – Acid Joe Davola – So I am a long time fan of Perth Austrailia’s synth wave wizard Greg Weir. However nothing could prepare me for this bizzaro Kraftwerk style dance jam. An express train to the underground. It’s good to have new music from UIU.
Black Nail Cabaret – No Gold – New EP and Video from my favorite Hungarian electronic band. Emese’s voice is one of those things that brings me joy anytime i hear it. Another track with beautiful pop dance sensibility but such a rich soulful vocal delivery and powerful lyrics. Their videos are such high art as well. They can really do no wrong in my eyes.
Antipole – Perspectives II – Karl Morton has returned with the second in the series of his remix albums Perspectives II. For this offering the songs have a vastly different tone. Away from post punk and into a more avant garde texture. Outstanding re imaginings by bands like SYZYGX, Crying Vessel, The Coventry, and European Ghost. I love the feeling of cold remembrance here, the songs have become a spectral haunt of intention that adds such contrast to Antipoles driven and concise style.
Working from home has left me stir crazy with too much time alone. What a perfect time to fire through some quick reviews of what I am listening to at the moment. Tonight I went digging through Bandcamp recommendations for some new sounds. I have been a bit disenfranchised lately with the idea of nostalgia and retro. I’ve been wanting to hear fresh new ideas and not have the same conversation about the same records I’ve had before. Partway through as the things I was hearing had a very retro vibe I remembered. Avoiding the past can be just as bad as staying trapped in it. These record all had something very old and familiar in them. At the same time, the reason some ideas come around again, is because they were great ideas.
Spectres – (Nostalgia ) – The Vancouver band recorded by Jason Corbett of Actors at Jacknife Studio. Brian Gustavson was not trying to be subtle with his intent on this album. It’s like catching a whisper of a bunch of songs you know well, that stick on your head. They aren’t those songs though. Bernard Sumner rips his mask away to reveal it was something else all along. Beautiful and precise in the recording. It’s contagious and familiar in a way you can’t quite hold in your grasping hands. For those of you that want New Order and The Smiths thrown in a blender and spun on REM but don’t want to hear the same album for the 10 thousandth time, this is the jam for you.
Panic Priest – (Nighthunter) – Ok I love Panic Priest debut album. Jack’s deep rich baritone is the thing of dreams. This new single is a whole new level though. He has found such a cannon of range with his voice and the perfect blend of synthwave and his magnificent rock style. Hearing this song is like being the hero in your own coming of age story in 1984. It’s raindrops on my face and a twitch in my hips. I can’t wait for more.
Caustic – (Quarantine Tracks) – Matt is back at it again blasting out furious beats to keep us shaking in our bunkers. Some cool low key grooves here as well like Cardiac Unrest. As always from Caustic a great mixture of percussion not found in the standard sound bank that build and rise with a grinding energy. This EP definitely feels subterranean with a unique unlit blend. Have you ever wanted to drink four pots of coffee, and play VR Dig Dug in a warehouse at 2am? I never really thought about that until I heard this album.
The Birthday Massacre – (Diamonds) – So there is a reason that The Birthday Massacre is one of the biggest names in new goth. It’s because it’s bloody brilliant. I admittedly have never written much about them but it isn’t from lack of listening. Maybe I just felt like I was needed more elsewhere, this album is a burner though. Chibi has a vocal style full of such captivating energy and is a master of making goth fun. I think that can be a real challenge because dark sounds don’t make people naturally get up and jump around. These basslines are freight train speed, and the guitar riffs have retro hotrod power. I hear this album and just get lost in it like a labyrinth of subtle turns and walls of sound.
PHAZER AXE – (Synths & Tapes) – What would you hear from a record called Synths & Tapes? About what you would guess. I think this had some really masterful drum fills and keep the feel spicy. This all musical pixel smashing space journey is a fun and glitchy time slide.
Boy Harsher – (R.O.V. New Beat Edit:Part Time Punks Session )– Two things I love are Boy Harsher and everything PTP puts out. This song is a sleek and sexy ooze across the floor of the club, under the door, and into the night. It’s stripped down and full of crackling menace. I love the powerful Grace Jones feel of their voice here. An inspired oily concept and I am here for it.
Loveblind –(Sleeping Visions) – Holy fuck this album is a vision plucked out of time and raising the bar of music in 2020. I might be a little bias as this band features Josh Garman (Ex Amaranth Guitarist) as part of it’s super band lineup. However my journalistic integrity need not be swayed because this album is a game changing synthesis of 90’s shoegaze, flowing ethereal modern dream pop, and dark electronic club extravaganza. It’s Ice, it’s fire, it’s sonic texture you can chew on. This album is a filling meal of beauty and heart wrenching human emotion. It’s an early contender for top 10 albums of the year. Must have.
I can’t sugar coat this. The world is frightening and hard right now. People are scared for their financial future, their health and safety. Usually in times like these I turn to music more than ever. Even that has not been enough to inspire me. Tonight is the first time I am taking a stab at writing in a few weeks. Looking at the enormous wealth of material piled up in my inbox seems a daunting task. Tonight though, I felt that glimmer again. That need to share with you what is making me shine and feel connected in these dark times. Artists need to feel our love more than ever. Reach out and tell them you are listening. Show them you support them by buying their merchandise. Let them know culture still matters and the beauty of the world is still alive. Here is what touched me lately.
Attrition – The Great Derailer , This EP single from Martin Bowes Feat: Emese Árvai-Illés of Black Nail Cabernet is nothing short of breathtaking. I’m an enormous fan of her voice and style. This razor wire blend of Martin’s sandpaper and her silk to Industrial post modern jazz sounds is so fresh and so nostalgic. I have played this so many times in the last two weeks. Also the video is a must see piece of art on it’s own.
I Ya Toyah – Released Code Blue Reloaded: The one woman sonic army has uncorked this series of remixes from industry leaders like Skold, Joy Thieves, Adoration Destroyed, and Xentrifuge to bring re imaginings of 2018 emotional explosion Code Blue. Ania is currently shooting like a rocket to the top of the EDM /Electroclash world with her fearless emotional style. If you don’t know about I Ya Toyah know that your world could be brighter.
Joy Thieves – A Blue Girl : New release from the Chicago Industrial superband The Joy Thieves. Led by Dan Milligan and featuring industrial titans like Chris Connelly, John Fryer, Ania Tarnowska, Gordon Young, and many more. This album is that seamless place where 90’s electronic industrial meets hard rock and organic excitement to find a blistering percussion express train to shake that assville.
ELZ and the Cult – Horrified: The Turkish electronic heartthrob is back with this creeping storm of broken glass and velvet vocals. This song oozes sex appeal and sinister intention. Dance hard and scrawl ancient runes upon thine wall.
Caroline Blind – The Spell Between : The first new album from Caroline Blind of Sunshine Blind is about to drop and although too long a wait is well worth it. She has assembled a who’s who of the goth scene from The Wake, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Switchblade Symphony, Pretentious Moi, Bellwether Syndicate, Muse. Do I have your attention yet. The record has covers and several new songs so full of passion and emotion I got misty several times listening. This is one of the all time powerhouse voices in goth spewing forth decades of ideas in one offering. It runs the range of dance hall burner, to soul baring acoustic Stevie Nicks tear jerker. If you never spent your formative years listening to Liquid, drinking black coffee and smoking cloves you need to embrace this release of all that made goth great. This record stands on the shoulders of it’s own giants.
Sopor Aeternus – Island of the Dead : Honestly this is one of those bands I am embarrassed I didn’t already know about. I heard this on the Pat 626 show and I fell instantly in love. It’s dark, quirky, and utterly unique. It has a mystical and theatrical quality full of poetry and intensity. Brooding and whip crack sharp with hammer dulcimers and vocal deliver as sharp as a dagger. Music like this is my dark secret passion.
Antipole – Perspectives II : Another album of steller remixes from Karl and Antipole. This one featuring Actors, Crying Vessel, SYZYGYX, ect. You may think, how does Karl manage to continue getting such incredible artists to remix his songs? Because they are so fracking good. I am hard pressed to think of anyone who has more of a scholars approach to taking the concepts of the past like Joy Division/New Order/Cure then holding that concept and breathing it forth as a new idea. So when you have that dedication to sonic texture, the line of people willing to take those building blocks and mix them into something that inspires them is endless. Prepare for another amazing offering. Starting with the first single by Actors.
Black Angel – The Widow: LA is doing a very bringing rock back to dark music thing at the moment. I hear a very psychedelic lizard king vibe happening here in this giant 16 song offering. Lots of steady movement and venom dripping from reverb laced retro amplifiers. I like the concept of a modern goth rock, but going back before Sisters of Mercy or Mission to a 60’s/70’s vide in dark music.
Panic Priest – Nighthunter: A very different feel for Chicago darkwave Panic Priest on Negative Gain. Jack has a deep resonant voice dripping with sex appeal and introspective energy. This new single evokes a very 80’s Depeche Mode stack and build feel. I can’t wait to see what turns this new direction takes.
Ash Code – 1981 – Ash Code has released a new video and it is aesthetic and sonic glory. I always feel when i listen to them this ultra sleek coolness full of retro advent guard beauty and slithering excess that transports me and gives you a glimpse into an ultra hip life just beyond my pedestrian fingers. Just listening to this song makes me feel like a part of something more awesome than i am.
Goth Covered – Oskar Terramortis the goth father of Europe has put together this stunning compilation of modern goth rock bands doing old school goth covers. My favorite is Sonsombre doing Nosferatu Dark Angel . The whole thing is magnificent as always. I’m just bummed it didn’t include our Peter Murphy cover
I have no shame, I’ll include it now. This is Amaranth‘s cover of Peter Murphy‘s I’ll Fall With Your Knife Feat: Lorelei Dreaming. DON’T YOU FUKING JUDGE ME
Listen Darklings, the world is cruel and promises get broken. That doesn’t mean all hope is lost. Band together, look out for each other, and keep sharing music that inspires you. We will get through this together.
I love every podcast we have done. This one was really special though. Ania is such a force of nature. Her music, her passion, and laser focus on her goals. I really feel this is the most personal and revealing conversation we have had of an artist. It felt so good how much she opened up about her life and journey. This is a future star and being able to feel the glow of her rise is a gift. As always I will link the bands we discussed as well as pictures of her dog.
Exciting new podcast with Curse Mackey of (Evil Mothers) (Pigface) (Pig) (Sine) where we discuss his solo sonic sculpture “Instant Exorcism”. Getting an in depth look into his creative process, his amazing tour with Clan of Xymox, Twin Tribes, Bellwether Syndicate, and Specters. As well as parenting wins like raising him on the mothers milk of William Burroughs. As always I will link all the bands we discussed below.
As the scene of Goth/Industrial/Darkwave/Post Punk/Shoegaze music continues to experience an amazing renaissance, live shows are becoming a haven for the masses of fans to connect. This year boasts a boatload of amazing festivals where bands and fans can meet and share their love of this scene, so I will try and put together a guide of some of the great ones so you can plot a trip full of memories to last a lifetime.
Dark Spring Festival– (Boston) I am super excited for and will be at this one. This a brand new festival is anticipating its first year and they are already starting out strong with an amazing lineup including some of my favorite up-and-coming bands, mixed with long-term favorites. Great town with a cool scene. *Best New Festival
Dark Spring Festival Berlin – This brilliant festival inspired the aforementioned Boston one. It was started by Christian of Golden Apes and features Swiss darkwave act Hapax, Finnish Goth Rock elders Two Witches, Russian New Wave quintet Brandenburg, and French No Wave duo Dear Deer. Lots of Representation from Switzerland’s ‘Dark Nights’ label.
Absolution Fest– (Tampa Bay, FL) Located in Tampa’s legendary club The Castle, this festival started last year and works closely with our friends at Obscura Undead. Tampa Bay has an outstanding scene, and this lineup is off the chain. I mean, fucking Drab Majesty! This one was spectacular last year and every band who played it told me how inspiring it was. Plus, you’re in Florida heat at one of the most renown goth clubs in the US. *Best Value
Cold Waves– (Chicago) – So we went to this show last year and it was a life changing experience. The scene, the venue, the cause, the history, this is everything you hope for from a top-notch music fest. This one has been doing it right for a long time, and the lineup is absolutely stacked. Phenomenal mix of goth and industrial, old and new, plus the fact that Chicago, as a city, is so deeply entrenched in music history. Finally, Jim Marcus is doing a DJ set and I am here for that content! *Best Lineup
Convergence – (Louisville KY) Interesting new venue for this long running festival. Amaranth applied for this one but sadly didn’t make it this time. Maybe next year. However when I look at this boss lineup I can’t feel mad. They packed this show with top talent in lots of genres. *Great lineup Fresh New Scene
Cold Transmission Fest – (Cologne Germany) – Our dear friends at Cold Transmission records started their first festival last year and we had the opportunity to cover it. It was amazing. The way people traveled from all over the world to come together and share a passion for great music. After the success of last year Suzy, Andy and team have expanded and have another wonderful lineup and more to be announced. My heart will be with them again. *Great Lineup, Intimate show
ASH CODE BEDLESS BONES IAMTHESHADOW MARK E MOON DILK
Dark Side of the Con – (Parsippany NJ) – Another long running festival I hear everyone rave about year after year but I’ve never attended. I need to get this on my list. This year it is a who’s who of 3rd wave goth and industrial. Big line up with lots of established acts. If this time period in goth was your jam you can’t beat this. Plus it has a convention feel with a lot of things beyond the music (panels, art, DIY, access to bands)
Out From the Shadows Fest – (Portland) – Another festival I have heard wonderful things about from a great music city. This lineup is stellar and really runs the entire frequency of music styles. Great focus on fresh bands doing 3 stacked nights of music. Huge lineup with a lot of bigger named acts blending well with fresh faces. Plus Portland is just a great place to have a vacation if you are goth.
SYZYGYX (Wash. DC) FEARING (LA) KOMRADS (Rochester NY) LOVE HATE AFFAIR (Austin) THE ELECTRIC WEST (LA) PHYSICAL WASH (PDX) RITUAL VEIL (PDX) – TBD –
BODY OF LIGHT (Arizona) AUTOMELODI (Montreal) SSLEEPING DESIRESS (SF) MAYFLOWER MADAME (Oslo) PUSH BUTTON PRESS (Tampa) V.E.X. (members of MOIRA SCAR) (Oakland) VERSARI (Paris) WE ARE PARASOLS (PDX)
RITUAL HOWLS (Detroit) TEARFUL MOON (Austin) KORINE (Philadelphia) ASTARI NITE (Miami) SICK WISH (Boise) SEVENTEEN AT THIS TIME (Paris) MR WRONG (PDX) LIES WE WERE TOLD (PDX)
San La Muerta Festival – (Austin Tx) Austin is probably one of the best cities for goth industrial in the US. The list of bands currently out of this town is staggering. Great DJ support. I imagine this party is off the chain. They boast a monster lineup from all over the globe. The Vanishing doing a reunion and Shes Past Away.
San La Muerte Fest 2020 Sept. 17th – 19th Austin Texas
-This year SLM proudly presents: from Spain ANA CURRA (formerly of Paralisis Permanente, Alaska y Los Pegamoides, Los Seres Vacios) Ana Curra will perform Friday Sept. 18th, 2020 in Austin Texas Venue: TBA Tickets available now on SLM website
-SHE PAST AWAY One of the best current Darkwave Post Punk bands. Only Texas Show! All the way from Turkey! Sept. 19th with The Vanishing Elysium Austin Texas
-THE VANISHING (San Francisco) 20 YEAR REUNION! Only Texas Date! The Vanishing will be playing Saturday Sept. 19th alongside She Past Away! Venue:Elysium Tickets available now on SLM website
Dark Malta Festival – (Malta) Great mixture of Euro darkness. Some big names in goth/Industrial/ and metal here. Plus it is in Malta in April which i imagine is gorgeous. If you have the means, I highly recommend checking it out, so choice 😉
Since starting Sounds and Shadows, I have been re-immersing myself into the goth subculture, old and new. Part of that was listening to other podcasts on a variety of dark related topics: I’ve always felt if you want to be a better writer, you must read good writers. I have found the same logic holds true for making a podcast. Part of that research led me to “Cemetery Confessions” the #1 goth podcast in the world, so I was thrilled when they reached out and told me they had really enjoyed our podcast and would like us to be in their club of immense darkness. As I got to know some of the other podcasts in the group, I figured I should take some time to share them with you.
Cemetery Confessions: Daniel Ford has built an amazing following and earned the respect of artists, musicians, and fans the world over. He has widely varied guests from the scene. Discusses topics like “Gatekeeping” “The Evolution of Goth” “Native Goth” which are well thought out and researched. A wonderful blend of humorous and informative with lots of the best in new and old Goth. There is a good reason Cemetery Confession’s really sets the standard for this genre.
Rose Sinister: So a lot of goth culture tends to focus on the music or fashion. Yet literature has always been an important part of the scene and of building the aesthetic. This podcast focuses on vampires and macabre culture in books.
The Morbid Curiosity – This really cool podcast focuses on the history and stories of the dark and dangerous parts of the human mind. Great research and fascinating subjects.
Horror Addicts.net – This is a really cool discussion and review page for horror novels and movies. They also have some excellent musical interludes like Valentine Wolfe. Run by Emerian Rich from San Fran. She is passionate about the spook and really gets great discussion going.
Gothcast – Dr. Sanders runs this awesome goth podcast I had been listening to for a while. It has several pieces on goth music history, books, the scene, new music. They really do their homework. If you are finding goth and weren’t born in 1973 this is a great place to learn and speak like an old soul.
Necromancy Radio – Australian podcast and blog by The Green Widow. Really cool discussion on the goth music scene. I also like all the goth AF jewelry she makes and sells on the site. She does fabulous interviews with bands that really give an in depth look. I want to hear her interview The Ghost of Bela Lugosi
I Confess – Dj Gomez from Cemetery Confessions Mark does some quick hits about a variety of topics in the goth culture. Interested and open minded takes. I like that a DJ you would expect to hear primarily on music from gives some opinion pieces.
Gothropology – Ok I loved this podcast. It was something that crossed over Rachel and my interest. Talking about history and culture. Goth parenting, social constructs, feminism and in general studying the true cultural aspects.
The Dark Light – This is an awesome music show with some of the best in new and old dark music. In fact I really need to send them an Amaranth album. It opened with a goth cover of Backstreet Boys so obviously I am here for this. No discussion just music but great music.
Sounds and Shadows – Now we are here. I assume if you are reading this then you know us. However we do Reviews, Interviews, news, and podcasts of everything happening in the world of Goth/Industrial/Edm/Synthwave/Postpunk/Darkwave/Shoegaze and more.
The podcast scene is a new one for us and I am proud to be with such fine creatures of darkness and delight.
Mortiis from Notodden, Norway has been breaking new ground in a variety of dark music genres for a few decades now. Perhaps not with the same name recognition as Ministry, NIN, or Marlyn Manson, but with an amazing staying power and ability to evolve and re-invent their sound towards the cutting edge of new ideas in music. Through all of these incarnations Håvard Ellefsen produced an elaborate and immersive stage experience to tantalize his fans the world over with theatrical concepts ranging from Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Rings to Dante’s Inferno. Collin and I recently had the opportunity to bare witness to his most recent tour in a small “Detroit” (Yes, I’m from there and understand I am using the wider meaning of Detroit) Club and sit down to talk to the man himself. Before we get to the interview I thought we might take you on a journey through the career of this ground breaking artist who helped build the genre of Dungeon Synth. After wading Metal, Indistrial, EDM, and Synthwave, this album/tour takes us back to those roots. Lets follow that journey together.
1993-1999 Era I :
This era was my first delve into dungeon synth. The music was the epic soundtrack through forgotten mountains and lost mines in many a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. The music is sweeping and vast in scope. This first album is just one expansive 54 minute song that twists and turns through shadowy corners and forgotten recesses of the human imagination. Although done on synths, it finds tones and sounds which emulate instruments of history and transport the listener.
How does one create this much emotional depth, a feeling of pressure and weight, without vocals or words?Ånden som Gjorde Opprør rolls through ancient carved stone echoing off unseen caverns below. Done with stripped down, minimalist tones and percussion strikes of electronic pads, this record thunders the ground below the ground.
2001 – 2004 – Era II
This incarnation brought forth the untapped glory of Håvard’s vocal talents, blended together with thumping dance beats. They touched on dark themes of fantasy and witchcraft through the lens of Gary Numan synthcore, embracing the visual components of Catholicism and taking on the idea of religious hypocrisy. The choir like chants blend perfectly with the driving melody.
I love this track which took the sound out of the dungeon and into the club. It has a beautiful driving dance beat and quick fire, stabbing synth sounds for a big shake that ass factor. I have smelt that smell before and been lured in by it. Explosive use of the chanting choir balanced with a perfectly synced breakdown. I feel more Carmina Burana than modern dance music in the power and emotional intensity.
2004-2010 – Era III
Era II brought out the grit and fire. This is where Industrial music started to feel it’s flavor fully. The vocals took on a rigid cadence and intensity, adding in more guitar, dark metal, and organic drum sounds. A full band was used to open up the sounds and express the rage from beneath the surface. For as drastic as the change in sound feels, you still hear those elements of epic dungeons ringing. Instead of D & D we are now playing World of Darkness.
Some Kind of Heroin was a wonderful remix album featuring Zombie Girl, PIG, Gothminster, Velvet Acid Christ, Funker Vogt, and The Kovenant. Such a wide range of talents and styles really showed the impact that Mortiis was having across the board on modern music. It’s full of glorious glitch and throbbing intensity.
2016-Present : Era 0
This builds us towards a violent unleashing of The Great Deceiver. Taken off the leash, the great black dogs of dark metal and machine gun Industrial drum beats unload on unsuspecting listeners. The mask is removed in place of corpse paint, and with that ritual removal comes a terrifying war scream. This album is 100,000 mad orcs charging at a castle wall with no concern of death. Witness me, shiny and chrome.
This brings us full circle back to Spirit of Rebellion just released this month. It is a spiritual and sonic return back to the original dungeon from which Mortiis rose. Back are those larger than life synth pads and orchestral swells, moving in a structured force of clockwork stones. The vocals are stripped away, replaced by ancient chanting from a nightmare fantasy. Many bands have tried to reinvent themselves, but this journey really shows the courage of an artist who is driven by the direction the muse took them. Mortiis remains always able to find a depth and completion to every tale he dreams.
Now that you have a scope of who this artist is, recently Sounds and Shadows had a chance to talk with the man himself. I found him to be humble, funny, honest and passionate about his work. It was a real treat to get to talk with the man behind the mask.
MORTIIS live European dates 19 Oct (DK) Hotel Cecil, Copenhagen 26 Oct (PL) Klub Scenografia, Lodz 27 Oct (PL) Klub Zascianek, Krakow 02 Nov (NO) Telerock AS, Notodden 16 Nov (IS) Gaukurinn, Reykjavik 14 Dec (NO) Tribute, Sadnes US tour 2020 24 Jan The Whiskey Junction, Minneapolis (MN) 25 Jan Reggies, Chicago (IL) 26 Jan Civic Music Hall, Toledo (OH) 27 Jan The Masquerade (Purgatory), Atlanta (GA) 28 Jan The Orpheum, Tampa (FL) 30 Jan White Oak Music Hall, Houston (TX) 31 Jan Come and Take it Live!, Austin (TX) 01 Feb Gas Monkey Bar & Grill, Dallas (TX) 02 Feb The Riot Room, Kansas City (MO) 03 Feb Oriental Theatre, Denver (CO) 05 Feb Club Red, Meza (AZ) 06 Feb Brick by brick, San Diego (CA) 07 Feb Catch One (Underground), Los Angeles (CA) 08 Feb DNA Lounge, San Francisco (CA)
Yo, people who are just starting down this “electronic music path.”
You’re gonna play your shit for people and they will nitpick bullshit production stuff. Like…”oh, well your snare sucks or if you cut X frequency on this fuckin thing than I will like it more until I figure out another thing to take personally and bitch about.”
Don’t fuckin worry about that shit. Like. AT ALL.
Learn to write songs that matter to you. That’s the only important thing.
Because if they matter to you, you will be satisfied and keep going.
I’m not saying they have to make you happy. There are always going to be things you want to make better. But if they don’t resonate with you, they sure as shit won’t resonate with an audience.
And your audience is there.
It may not be huge. Who the fuck knows? But it is there. I mean, shit, 311 still has a fan base, right?
Don’t worry if your gear isn’t the best. Hell, we wrote our demos on a four track, our first full length was run through a 16 channel boss mixer to a stereo pair and recorded over. It wasn’t until our second record that we were able to sync our gear with our computer.
Our computer was one of the original pentium one laptops. I used a sound blaster usb Soundcard with $60 hacked drivers that I got from some dude in Germany, that allowed me to get my latency down to a reasonable size.
We recorded vocals in our kitchen and most of the strings were from a Casio keyboard with speakers in it.
By contrast now, I have a shit ton of gear and still write almost everything on my laptop.
Point being that these days you are far more likely to have someone come at you about some sort of bullshit production thing than you are about song writing.
But here’s the kicker. That demo? And that first record? They are still in print (along with the rest of our catalog) from our record label Metropolis records. And I don’t mean still as in they have always been. I mean still as they were rereleased as special sets.
Meaning they think they can make money on them. Because they will sell, because we have an audience, because we wrote good songs.
Am I a better songwriter now? Probably. But I learned to be one because of all of the material I wrote back then. And even now when I go back to, it still functions. It sounds the way it was supposed to sound.
So, just remember the following three words when that comes up ,”fuck that guy.”
Say it with me ,”fuck that guy.”
No, I’m not saying ignore a legit critique and advice. But seriously, fuck that guy on the industrial darkwave bullshit wave forum that’s bitching about your frequencies.
Steven Archer is a Stoneburner, one half of Ego Likeness, a visual artist, and has several published works. For more information try:
So we had a bit of a hiatus from the podcast and will be starting out 2020 with lots of great guests in our standard format. However we missed it so much Collin and I got rum drunk and decided to do a podcast talking about some recently releases we couldn’t wait to talk about. As always I will put links to all the bands we talk about below. Enjoy the tracks and we look forward to getting more great interviews for you soon.
2019 has been quite a year for my dream. It has found it’s tar dark wings and started flapping them to places I never imagined it would go. I have new writers like Collin, Katy, and Adrian. I have 4 times as many followers. Made new friends which I have come to love and value. Traveled to distant lands. Started a podcast. In general it gets me excited for the future that so many people all over the world have shared with me this love of what is happening in modern music.
Unlike last year when I did a top albums review all alone I know had a wine drenched democracy of shouting voices sitting in a room and debating what had moved them in this years music. It was an amazing feeling I had forgotten. I wanted to make this list hold weight. So we made hard cuts and decisions to get our list down to 4 genres and 10 albums per genre. Everyone had input and voice and no one 100% agreed. I love that. This was never suppose to be about me but about the celebration of art. I hope you find something new here. I know I did and it fills me with hope for places a song or album can still move me. We split it into 4 parts 1) Post Punk/Goth 2) Industrial/EDM 3) Synthwave/Darkwave/Coldwave 4) Wildcards
First up is Post Punk/Goth. This one is my primary wheelhouse so I took point here. There has been a true resurgence in this genre and this was a hard list to choose. The albums listed here are all amazing but we fought long and hard to try and pick some form of order. Here is what we found.
10) October Burns Black (Reflections) – London superband and Traditional goth act from London put out this amazing record this year. James Tramel (The Wake) has composed this album with Rod Hanna (Vox), Lars Kappeler (Guitars) and Tommy Olsson (Guitars) Simon Rippin. It is so full of flowing sinister goth sounds. It really holds true to the sounds of yesterday while forging new ground. Every song is an emotive blast.
9.5) Ritual Howls (Rendered Armor) – I know, i cheated. I just can’t leave this record off. We debated and argued so hard to get this list to 10. This album is just such a world beater. It’s Nick Cave putting on the armor of Echo and the Bunnyman. They are even Detroit fam. They are keeping a flame burning for a sound that cannot be forgotten.
9) Frozen Charlottes (Wax Venues) – Santa Ana post punk doom weavers Frozen Charlotte released this beautiful album in November of this year. I have been in love with Chandler Grace, Janell, and Sky’s savagely dark spit and vinegar punk goth style since their previous incarnation. With Wax Venus they really found a way to refine that edge to a razor point of intensity, Waxing and waning like the moon in a flowing dance around the fire witchcraft ritual.
8) La Me’canique (Dernier Voyage) – This is such a lovely record from Cold Transmission that really embraces the post punk ideals. It’s wide, flowing, and full of landscapes. It feels large and comes through the lens of a distant camera. I think of 80’s Duran Duran and the way they transported you to another place while listening to the songs. A vacation in musical form.
7) Mark E Moon (Refer) – Another exceptional album with a lot of traditional goth elements. Another Cold Transmission band on this list who has a wonderful vibe of old Peter Murphy but with a modern edge full of poetic lyrics and Mark’s deep resonant vocals. Lots of balance and pop hook in this record. I want to peel the layers of this onion and find the core of it’s art.
6) Crying Vessel (Illusions) Slade Templeton is bringing the glam razzle dazzle back into dark music. His dark rich voice climbs and slide around an impressive range. I found it in my heart, and building a place in my head. I had the wonderful opportunity to see them live in Germany this year and it really gave this record another plateau of range. A perfect mixture of previous styles and modern technology this record is a must have.
5) Golden Apes (Kasbek) – Berlin based post punk Golden Apes have been making music for a long time. To find an album of this power and depth of idea deep in a storied career is a noteworthy achievement. Peer Lebrecht has a voice so full of soul and power that it wraps you in it’s world. The music is a masterclass in what post punk can achieve in movement and embrace. I will finally get to see this played live in Boston this year for their first US tour. If you don’t know about this record plunge head first into one of the genres most exciting artists.
4) Antipole (Radial Glare) – Karl Morton Dahl of Norway holds the distinction of being the most reviewed artist on Sounds and Shadows. I feel moved by every album he has made. This one found a way to hit a special new level for me. Antipole is everything you love about post punk music like Joy Division and New Order. Karl is a true historian of the genre, but finds exciting new ideas about how to use modern technology to make the concept sharper and more intense. This record was such a wonderful tribute to his homeland. A record that transports you to that reflected, glittering place of dark ice. Paris Alexander and Eirene of Young and Cold records have added perfect vocal compliments to create one of this years stand out records.
3) The Dream Collision (The Certainty of Forever) – This album from Pedro Code of IAMTHESHADOW was a piece of art that left me changed and moved. Pedro has possibly the most beautiful and sensual voice in modern dark music. This record was so stripped down and exposed I found myself unforgettably moved. It is powerful and tender like Nick Cave but with the beauty and elegance of Ian McCullah. A truly moving offering.
2) Twin Tribes (Ceremony) – With their recent transition to Negative Gain Joel and Luis of Twin Tribes hold a special place here at Sounds and Shadows. Their Debut album “Shadows” was the inspiration for this webpage. They are bringing the concepts of spiritual post punk into the modern era. This sophomore offering was not a lull but a leap forward in concept, depth, and power. Rich and full of energy each song is a ritual to summon forth an intimate experience in the listener. You probably need this one on vinyl. Also they do a must see live show, find them in your town and bare witness.
Sonsombre (Veil of the Ending) – So goth music has always been so obsessed with the past. If it wasn’t Sisters of Mercy it seems people just couldn’t find a way to embrace another wave. Sonsombre newly signed to Cleopatra has found a way to capture that original Traditional concept and rebuild it with fresh sounds and modern ideals. This record was a game changer that opened a new door to a darker dimension. Poetic lyrics, powerful delivery, slithering snakes of oil and shadow woven into guitar riffs of power and delicate dexterity. If this isn’t in your collection you are living in history. The Future is Black.
Part II is the best Industrial/EDM – I grew up on industrial. It was my punk rock. My scream at the world release. Somewhere along the way i just drifted to other avenues. This year was a huge one for me to rediscover Industrial. Adding in Adrian and Collin to the family who are both stronger on Industrial than me have really helped me find this world again. The albums that have come out this year and bringing it back front and center for a lot of people. These were our top picks.
10) Klack (Introducing the 1984 Renault Le Car) – Matt and Eric are workhorses. They had a Daddybear album, Null Device, and another Klack album all this year which could have easily made this list. This album rose to the top for me. It’s perfect blend of retro and fresh feel with dance beats and unique concepts has become a go to for my listening parties. New ideas for the new industrial.
9) Lingua Ignota (Caligula) – I just found this through Adrian. Wow. It was like nothing I have heard. This is a sound so frightening and intense it gives The Goblins nightmares. It is the sound of a priestess ripping out her own eyes and bleeding from the sockets. Do not listen right before bed unless you want to be haunted by disturbing dreams. I speak from experience.
8) Kid Saint Nothing (Above_Below) – What a treat that I get to add a dear friend from Kalamazoo MI to this list. They belong here. This album is a raw heartfelt therapy session scream set to catchy dance beats. It’s wide and intense and needs to be played constantly on your listening device.
7) Dogtablet (Feathers and Skin) – Industrial music lords Jared Louche (Chemlab) and Martin King have worked with others to create this massively powerful record of animalistic spirit totem sounds. It feels like a creature speeding free under a moonlit sky. This album came late in the year but has been my constant companion ever sense.
6) FIRES (All My Dreams Are of This Place) – Aedra is a force of nature. Her intensity and vocals have really pushed the edges of the Industrial genre. This album has a tight mixture of early 2000 emo and electroclash force. Whenever I need to find my inner tiger to face the day this album is where I reach first.
5) Moris Blak (The Irregularity of Being ) – This album is a force of creative expression and cyber blending technology. Lots of amazing guest vocalists like Pete Crane, Amelia Arsenic, and Angel Metro. A true tapestry of electronic sound woven and blended with dance hall beats and shattering brash power. This needs to be in heavy rotation of every club you shake your ass at.
4) Curse Mackey (Instant Exorcism) – Curse has been a huge part of the industrial scene for a long time as Evil Mothers, Pig, Pigface, ect. This album represents his first solo offering and it is nothing short of breathtaking. This album has such a focus on lyrics with a true William Burroughs literary quality. Full of slashing beats and laser focused vocals. I own it on LP. You need it on LP.
3) Bones UK (Bones UK) – More of a big label offering but a straight burner. This album is on the top of Collin’s list this year. I love the ladies getting representation in this genre and this album cooks from front to back. Lovely pop hooks to really add some mainstream club vibe, and we unapologetically love that.
2) Stoneburner (Technology Implies Belligerence) – This record changed the game for me. It made me fall back in love with Industrial music. It has that same old school flavor, but takes such incredible chances. A thinking persons industrial with a concept and follow through. Steven Archer of Ego Likeness has unleashed something transcendent and powerful and managed to save enough in the tank to follow the record with another this year “Massdriver”. Both are incredible pieces of art you need to explore but you never forget your first love. This record was that for me.
Go Fight (Anthem) – Jim Marcus and Die Warsaw were a part of my first obsession with Industrial music. A titan in the genre and one of the great humans who holds this scene together. This record is all covers of the 80’s songs that helped build his musical life. It’s perfectly crafted. It’s full of soul. It finds a way to make something of the past connect with my present. I mean any time i can hear two of my favorite things in this life Go Fight and Shriekback happen simultaneously consider me hooked. Nothing on this record doesn’t immediately send my body into motion. This is the work of a master crafting a love letter to the things that built him.
Next up is Synthwave/Darkwave/Coldwave: Another brutal list to try and widdle down to 10 albums with everything wonderful released this year. As genres have expanded and new ground was broken the resulting art which is dreamy and beautiful has grown with it. This is a list of our favorites.
10) Lilith My Mother (Her Fall) – Beautiful dance magic with clear pop beauty infused with midnight dark lyrics and fallen angel vocals. Every song fills me up and has me asking questions. Do not sleep on this amazing artist.
9) Corlyx (In 2 the Skin) – Sexy LA sludge grunge is my weakness and this album is the cure. It’s sensual, powerful, and forces your body into motion. Caitlin has a voice that wraps around you and stirs that hairs on the back of your neck. Doesn’t your party deserve to be this hot?
8) Standalone (Standalone) – Steven Seibold of Hate Dept has unleashed this solo project so delicious and stripped down with beautiful synth sounds crafted with a wizards touch. It’s so personal and easy to relate to at once. The vocals are smooth and elegant and hold your heart with tender timing. So underrated.
7) Boy Harsher (Country Girl Uncut) – The feels of this record. It’s a smokey dimly let exclusive club that would turn me away at the door in music form. It’s efficient in the use of layers and sounds and has gorgeous imagery in the lyrics. I love everything about the crafting done on this record.
6) Agent Side Grinder (A/X) – Oh the delicious post punk infused stabbing drum beats. The dynamic vocals have a dark tone and emotional delivery. It’s full of songs that always feel like they are moving faster than they are. It’s that energy and crackling synth pad sound that makes ASG have such a unique sound. This album builds on everything that makes them one of the biggest names in the genre.
5) Sweat Boys (Nervous Prayers) – This record off of Give/Take strikes a special chord with me. Sitting in my room listening to Yaz “Upstairs at Erics” was such an impact on me. Waiting to hear a synth driven album that captured that same purity and exposed feeling has been something i have searched for a long time. With this record my search finally ended. It’s beautiful, electric, and makes me jump up and down like only a 260lbs man on a pogo stick can. If yuo care at all about synth pop you need this in your ears.
4) Drab Majesty (Modern Mirror) – Drab Majesty off Dais records isn’t just an album, it’s an experience. Knowing the exact amount of every sound to use to get a perfect blend is such a difficult art form. The harmonies, and flowing lush beauty. They are like aliens operating at another level from us common music plebs. This album is staggering and unique in it’s beauty and darkness.
3) Mr.Kitty (Ephemeral) – 31 tracks, all of them good. Take that in for a moment. This album was such a memorizing accomplishment. It’s an artist exposing themselves and making it sound lovely and pure. I played this record so many times this year I feel like I have a personal relationship with the artist and I have never spoken to them. If you don’t have this you need to make that a priority.
2) Hante (Fierce) – The soundtrack to a film of a better life lived than mine. Just listening to the gorgeous vocals and visual sounds on this record fill me with hope. The creative force unleashed here is an epic achievement. It makes you think, it makes you believe.
Wingtips (Exposure Therapy) – Look I can tell you what I love about this music. To me the real power of this album is that so many great musicians I know all talk about how much this record meant to them. It has been mentioned and picked on our podcast by almost everyone we have interviewed. It’s perfect, nostalgic, fresh, and full of texture and intensity. Every track is a banger. Every line is a poem. This was our combined number one pick out of one of the hardest categories to judge.
Final Catagory Wildcards: This was all the things too far out of the box to fit anywhere else. In a way I feel like it made it really exciting and definitely some of my top overall picks.
10) Scary Black (Shadow Dwellers) – Kentucky sinister darkness Scary black released this shadow storm full of familiar elements and fantasy sparkles. It’s full of dangerous dreams and lovely rich vocal melodies. I really look forward to their future.
9.5) Vlimmer (XIIIII) – German sound wizard Alexander continues to spew forth the most gloriously textured collections of sounds with pull heart strings like a horses reins. It baffles me how good every single release is.
9) The Purge (Rain) – Strange winding electronic storms. This album feels like weather shifting and changing. It has a flavor of trauma and young love lost. Thomas does a beautiful job using his vocal range to tell stories and build tension. It’s my sad rainy day music.
8) Girl Band (The Talkies) – Strange twisting and powerful. I really liked the chant of this band and the abrupt changes. This one came courtesy of Katy. Really intense sound.
8.5) The Joy Thieves (This Will Kill That) – Again a little bit of cheating here but this EP needs to be on the list. Such a perfect blend of hard rock and industrial with some of the biggest vocal talent in modern industrial. It’s smash everything in this room music because you are happy. I first described it as Clutch beating the shit out of Stabbing Westward with a baseball bat and I stand by that.
7) SYZYGYX (Fading Bodies) – One of the fastest up and coming bands in the scene. On both Negative Gain and Cold Transmission Luna and Josh are a sonic experience full of sexy dark disco grooves you would find in David Lynch’s private club at 3am. It breaks every mold and is always in my rotation.
6) The Ghost of Bela Lugosi – Ok technically not an album, but my house my rules. Australian based Vin Price has released about 12 singles this year and everyone of them is straight fire. It’s so punk rock, so raw, but so melodic and beautiful. It touches every part of every genre and I am here for all of it. It won’t play by the rules and that is part of it’s power.
4) Hide (Hell is Here) – Sheer unbridled power with a meaningful message. This is like nothing you have heard. Raw, intense, full of power tools. The vocals have more spit and acid than most metal. This album changed my world view
3) ELZ and The Cult (Psychodrama) – Visually, sonically, sassily, there is nothing about this album that does not completely enthrall me. It’s filthy, beautiful, it’s a horrible dream of a broken world that i can’t escape or look away from. I find a new layer to it every time i listen. You must have this.
2) Palais Ideal (Pressure Points) – I have been waiting to make this one of my top albums of the year all year long. This record broke all the boundaries of post punk. It’s thoughtful, precise, unique, and tells a story of some of the best science fiction I read in any novel. A thought provoking example of the power of music. Have this on LP and feel it’s warmth and glory as it was meant to be spun
Mesa Luna (Feel Nothing) – This one came to our attention courtesy of Jason Corbett (Actors). We didn’t have enough shoegaze representation here and this album was a stunner. #1 pick from Katy. It’s haunting, diverse and full of life. Take a journey with this record.
I had about 40 more albums this year that could have made this list. Maybe I will do an honorable mentions. I’m shredded though. There is currently a glorious revolution happening in music. Be a part of it. This list is a great place to start. Happy Holidays from us at Sounds and Shadows.
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.
Lingua Ignota – Kristin Hayter voice is one of the most intense things I have ever heard. It makes me realize i am not trying hard enough as a singer. Ferocious intensity shot forth like a flame thrower.
Hide – Raw, intelligent, and political. Gabel is a force of nature attacking change through the unnerving unapologetic fury of her art. This band makes me think, it makes me think about why i need to be better.
Wingtips – The duo Wingtips from Chicago features the amazing keyboard stylings of Hannah Avalon. Her stage presence and beautifully blended synths help make up one of the great new bands of the last few years.
Bootblacks – So many of these bands listed are for the vocal stylings. Lets not forget some of the amazing female musicians in this scene like Alli Gorman of BootBlacks. A straight up shredding axe master of the highest degree. Her riffs are creative and nuanced and such a big part of what gives this band it’s signature sound. This band has a very bright future and she is a backbone of that sound. New album out this year from Jacknife studios.
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. It’s a pretty common tactic and lets face it an effective one. It’s easy to associate with what is familiar. Often feels like the world of goth/industrial/darkwave/new wave/ect has pretty much been discovered and artists are searching for 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?
It’s been a really tough week for me. It’s been hard to find the motivation to write or do much of anything. Today was a little better. I haven’t found myself listening to less music, just finding it harder to hear the words to describe it in my mind. Today was the first time I had felt like I could talk again. So I have an enormous backlog of music to write about. Lets get some of that out now.
ESA (Electronic Substance Abuse) – “Eat Their Young” If ESA’s latest album Burial 10 was a barb wire wrapped bat beating the shit out of you with electronic destruction. The new EP Eat Their Young is the same effect with a razor sharp sword. It has a purpose and intent with it’s execution. Back again is Corlyx Caitlin Stokes adding a sensuality and velvet glove to the relentless destruction. Power and Beauty in equal measure in this must have EP from London England. Also the video for the single is a masterclass in modern music/image synthesis
Corlyx – “Together Apart” – Speaking of Caitlin, her and band mate Brandon Ashley are back for a follow up to their album “In2 The Skin” 1st single is out now for a Sept 15th release. It’s another burner. Porcelain Skin brings that same darkpop flavor of broken glass candy and ghostly light. Caitlin has a beauty and truth with crawls under your skin and infects you with a cracked mirror of perception. Can’t wait to hear how the rest shakes out.
MelodyWhore – “This Is How We Were Taught To Pray” New single release from electronic sin wizard MelodyWhore out of Texas. This single was written as a charity donation for BLM. Jimmy called in some of the top names in the scene to contribute with remixes and vocals. The song is a powerful hymn of equality in a call to take down an unfair establishment. This one gives me chills with it’s intensity and soul shaking faith. I was lucky enough to contribute myself on the Gothic Tabernacle Choir remix. A Great cause and outpouring of talent forged together into one of the most spine tingling singles of the year.
Carrion – “The Tempest” Swirling ash and oblivion from Norway’s Carrion. A new single of slow fuse creeping doom that shows you the horror to come and leaves you chained waiting for the inevitable destruction.
Hallowed Hearts “Into The Fire” I really like the way this album bends the line between goth and post punk with a slight lean towards goth. It’s emotional and flows like a rippling black ribbon. The melody lines are captivating and seamless. Some beautiful guitar rock elements with gentle curves to match the tight post punk base lines. Impressive.
Stoneburner – “Dark Ambient Album” Steven Archer is always twisting the joint to find a new position. Never comfortable in one concept he is an ever moving force. This new 6 song EP steers away from the vocal driven industrial of the last few albums into texture sonic painting. Full of strong effects and video game soundtrack pastels. From one mountain many rivers may flow.
EchoBeryl – “The Awakening Of The Mutant” From Cold Transmission this French synthtrance retro dance dream keeps the imagination flowing. The album is an homage to 50’s and 60’s sci-fi drama. It’s a modern concept through a retro lens. Set to release Aug 21st currently 2 tracks are available for pre order and both are a teleport beam to both the past and the future.