It’s been a tough few months. Finding the spoons to write with my voice has been a challenge. So I have a lot of albums stacked up in my Bandcamp list. I’m feeling hopeful tonight. Going to try and summon that spark and share some of what is making these dark days bearable. As always if you have something you want to see reviewed put it in the comments below.
Manticore Kiss – Intertwined – I am genuinely upset this EP has not gotten more attention. The Vancouver duo was recorded by Jackknife studios. As we all know everything Jason touches is gold. The band features Kat Bastow – Vocals, Keyboard, Electronics and Ari Mansell – Vocals, Cello, Violin. It has a unique and expansive electronic sound of world beat synthpop somewhere between the soulful depth of Dead Can Dance and shimmering beauty of Erasure. Both vocalists are talented and inspired. A crystal ballroom waltz in perfect syncopation. This album was a magical pool to dive into and transport you to a fantasy world of beauty and lost romanticism. I was staggered by how immersed in a dream every song left me. These are dark and challenging times. To create music so easy to get lost in is a balm I didn’t realize how much I was longing for until I was lost in it. The harmonies were a true dialog that added depth and perspective to the story. A captivating surprise that made an instant fan of me.
Favorite Track: Forever – This dark tone and winding melody was absolutely mesmerizing. The synth pads were full of movement and gorgeous refracted light. The lyrics are imagery rich poetry and painted by perfectly synched harmony. This is like a Tolkien prose in musical form. The chorus is a spiritual hymn that makes your heart thump in your chest.
Jean-Marc Lederman – The Bad Tempered Synthesizer – It can be so difficult to review Belgium composer Jean Marc Lederman, it seems everything new he does pushes hard against the caul of artistic boundaries as to what I think of as “songs” in the traditional sense. Every new release is such a dynamic experience that teaches me something as a songwriter as well as about my own human journey. This 12 song album was is an homage to Wendy Carlos an American composer who helped develop the original Moog. A true pioneer who changed the face of modern electronic music in so many ways. Jean Marc spins a bleep bloop tale of expression and change without ever uttering a word. It feels like a racecar driver putting a prototype car through it’s paces, taking what the engineer had made and conducting a series of tests that showed the absolute limitations of sound and emotions capable by a single instrument. I feel like every new release is a challenge to what is possible to create within the concept of being a musician. An unfettered freedom of firing a rocket towards the sky not caring where it comes down. It makes me hopeful that this kind of courage and ambition can still be celebrated in the modern era. Where it feels everything has been done. The past, the future, the respect to those who came before, and the brazen chaos. All here in a glass bubble, frozen in a moment in time. This record is not pop hits, not hooks, even though the songs are pleasing. This is high art, designed to set you on the road, and allowing you to take your own journey.
Abbey Death – Death is For the Living – July 2021 single from Darktonica independent couple Abbey Death. I really love the lofi minimalist tone for how much is going on. Valarie is a tempting whispery invitation luring you towards deaths sweet embrace. Nex descends on the chorus with a harsh jagged glass terrifying tone. The blend is a culmination of the romanticism and fear or the unknown in one. The late 90s flavor guitar lead builds the tension for the layered vocal choir at the end. It’s nostalgic in a way seldom seen, a throwback to the late 90s’s early 2000s. A Steel teeth and silk cloth style that flows and leaves me excited for what is next.
Armalyte Industries – This is an amazing celebration at an outstanding price. Armalyte is setting a standard for boutique labels and celebrating 20 years of putting out music that carves the line between rock/metal/industrial. 24 tracks with some of the biggest names in the genre, and some of the hungriest new sounds for the future. The online live stream highlighted the best aspects of the current industrial scene, lifting each other up. This compilation is sawblade sharp and electrically charged. An old school exhibition that puts on display all the label has to offer. A chance to hear collaborations by the likes of <PIG> and The Joy Thieves, Industrial mainstays like Spankthenun, and exciting new trend setters like Der Prosector. This is a must have to find 5 new bands you didn’t know were your future favorites. I love the quality, the execution, and what a compilation like this represents. Mastered by Jules Seifert at Epic Audio Media.
Monsieur Pompier’s Travelling Freakshow – Teatime Terrors – Wow what a fresh fun take. The fever dream carnival cacophony of sound. Elements of of Zappa, Man Man, synthwave, and Syd Barrett. The lyrics are a clever, humorous, psychedelia space opera. It’s so exciting to see a band throw caution to the wind and create something truly strange and beautiful. I think the greatest power of this record is the creativity of the characters. Each song is a page from a vibrant comic book concept transported into pixilated retro mono synth songs. I really hope to see this album played live someday, because it sounds like a magical party brought to life. On Cleopatra records.
nino sable – The AHHH – New lofi minimalist terror trance single from Nino. This track is straight up nightmare fuel with a haunting growl and skin crawling poetic lyrics. You need to listen to this track, not right before you go to bed, but you need to listen to it.
Rohn – Lederman – Watch Out – I know, I have already talked about Jean Marc in this review. Michigan native Emileigh Rohn has an uplifting electricity in her voice that fills me with hope and energy. Her recent tracks with John Fryer’s my new favorite get stuff done music. Now she teams with another living legend in Lederman to focus that fire into a swirling slow motion golden whip. Add in top tier remixes from Assemblage 23, Mark Hokings, and Leatherstrip and COP has put out another home run single. After working with electrosynphonic masters to create emotive sonic paintings like this, the only question that remains is. What will she do next?
Cult Of Alia – Offerings – New grinding mist rolling future sounds from David Wright on Cold Transmission. I love the fusion of darkscene genres here. The vocals drip from the microphone with sensuality. The songs all hold this enveloping mist quality filling the city streets and holding it’s listeners hostage in the darkness. The creative use of digital sounds add a deliciously unplaceable flavor and build the tension. Split Seconds in particular is such a cerebral thriller of fear and longing. This makes me want to slow goth wave my arms on a dancefloor.
C Z A R I N A – Wonderland – I love a good dark pop as much as anyone. This new single from Czarzina is a napalm fire burst. Perfectly crafted, full of soul, and a hook that releases technovirus tendrils and plants itself in your head. We talked recently with her in a podcast that will come out Friday 8/7/21 about how this song was based on her experience of moving to Spain where she learned the spiritual history of the region. Easy on the ears, piercing to the mind. <chefs kiss>
Red Meat – Manchester UK’s dancetastic hard edge industrial is a album every DJ needs to download and use to blow the walls apart of every dance club in the world. Rhys Hughes has that filthy Uncle Al sex voice which makes you want to shake your body harder and meaner than you ever have before. It’s that perfect mix of glam and grime skirting a razors edge of the danger you want to stick around for. I love hearing music that isn’t my style, but is delivered with such quality I can’t help myself being drawn in by it. This whole album is pure club magic that makes me long for sweaty bodies spasmodically jerking in time while the crumbling walls of a filthy warehouse thrum in the darkness.
daddybear (Feat: Grabyourface) – Science Fiction – Wow Matt Fanale really brought it with this new single. Teaming up with Marie of Grabyourface was a perfect icing on the cake. This is a jam of hypnotic proportions and the message is you must move. Marie’s voice is a smoky sensual alien being both exotic and alluring. The single also has a really cool trance like bside and a holographic wavy Sawtooth remix. Turn the club speakers to 11 and feel it flow through you.