Because the World is Cruel, and Promises Get Broken

It was a long hard week for me. Time to lose myself in someone else’s head. Who are the songs transporting me to another place?

FIRESChangeling – New single from Aedrea. The title here really tells the story. Such a bold metamorphic shift in sound. In particular the vocals have this wispy Chelsea Wolfe quality full of fairy fire flickering promise. The music is a shifting fantasia, almost an entire film score journey in five minutes. Tender raindrop keys, crushing storm front guitars, and bisecting buzzsaw percussion. A cacophony of sound and beauty. As an added bonus it contains a Bside called “exit/Void” with a spoken word poem surrounded by sinister overtones. Another glorious example of the captivating burning mind.

https://firesae.bandcamp.com/album/changeling

hallowed heartsRuins – NYC’s Hallowed Heart have a new 5 track EP. I love the opening concept of ruins. The things we left behind. The memory of who we were for future strangers to find and wonder at. These are not songs for the dance club. An energetic medium tempo darkwave for walking the dark streets. Pulling the collar of your coat up to stave off a bracing wind. A grey and bleak musical tone offset by the courage of Alex Virlios vocals that cover a wide range and spew forth challenge to cast light on the sullen path.

https://hallowedhearts.bandcamp.com/album/ruins

Stand Out Tracks:

Supernova – A lovely beckoning open with locomotive punching guitar sounds. Virkios vocals start by painting a rich baritone at home in the post punk style, but then crackle with energy for the chorus. I loved the punch and diversity of sound here. Real feelings of introspection and self discovery.

Circle – Beautiful firefly rising ballad to break the pace of the EP. I love the way the guitar lines push forward and guide the voice here. It’s a beautiful and maudlin song of spiritual longing. Two minutes in the ballad takes on real power and teeth.

Overall: This is an album that takes you to very specific moments and paints a picture in the mind. It’s a journey worth taking and a moment worth looking for.

IAMTHESHADOWEverything in this Nothingness [Still] – I have waiting long for this release on Cold Transmission Music. A re-release of the Portuguese darkwave darlings debut 2016 album. Pedro and company have been tantalizing fans with rich passionate heart bursting serenades. Getting to return to the opening stanza of their journey and combining it with the years of experience and musical wisdom is an experience to waken the ears and minds of their fans. The music is a crystal pool of water on an autumn night. Beautiful, bracing, and teeming with life. I’m going to now repeat a sentence I have uttered in every Iamtheshadow review I have written. “Pedro Code has the best baritone voice in modern goth/darkwave.” It is a force of nature that moves the heart like a poem by one of the great masters.

https://iamtheshadow.bandcamp.com/album/everything-in-this-nothingness-still

Stand Out Tracks: Every Freaking Song

Wait, thats not all. In addition to the album, they released a companion remix album and it is such a brilliant homage by some of the top artists in the scene….and me 🙂 It Includes Kill Shelter, Thewalkingicon, Antipole, Crying Vessel, The Frozen Autumn, and yes Amaranth.

https://iamtheshadow.bandcamp.com/album/everything-in-this-nothingness-remixed

I think what was so impressive with this was the extreme level of talent, as well as a deep personal admiration everyone involved had for Iamtheshadow. There is nothing more engaging for a remix album than when you can really hear a reimagining full of love for the source material. I’ll be selfish for a moment and say getting to sing a duet with Pedro was a dream come true and a terrifying challenge. Collin did a masterful job remixing the song as well. Again hard to choose a standout track, because every song was a passionate love letter to an artist we deeply respect.

White CauldronNine Hells – Wicked release from last year that somehow fell through the cracks on me. The nearby Colombus Ohio band is really hard to place in a box. Sharp spinning blades of Industrial, clashing with jittering witchouse, textural keyboards, and a coven choir of misty swirling vocals. Throwing so many elements together could cause you to be lost in the miasma, but the mix is precise and razor blended to let every element find a voice. I’m not sure how many members the band has beyond Bess but the ultimate power of the release is that feeling of 20 clashing minds swirling around and finding focus like a spectral eruption in a cemetery.

https://whitecauldron.bandcamp.com/album/nine-hells

Stand Out tracks:

Empty Tomb: This song is the cacophony at it’s best. The overlapping harmonies ranging from Nu Metal spitting to banshee haunt wails are a powerful and unnerving effect I found myself captivated by.

Die This Death: This opening bassline has such a filthy stank on it. It rises and grooves like a buzzing swamp consuming a corpse. The rapped out vocals almost put me in mind of Cypress Hill. Just such a unique and conjured ritual of darkness and decay.

Overall: This is a complex listen for all it’s parts. It often rides the line between background chill and chaos dance mix. With everything going on I found myself constantly surprised how easy it was to get lost in the flow of it. I want to take this ride again.

Astari NitePocket Full of Posies – Look if Astari Nite has a new single, I am here for it. That said, holy crap this is a jam. An enchanting garden of mythic colors and romantic poetry. It bounces between complex layers and stripped down emotional delivery. The vocals are that beautiful teardrop smooth Robert Smith croon which makes my heart well. This band continues to impress with every release.

https://astarinitengp.bandcamp.com/album/pocket-full-of-posies

It’s time to start reviewing Twitch livestream DJ shows. First up Hate Mior Isolation – A Soundtrack to the Life and Death of Ian Curtis

This pandemic has changed things. The world we left is not the one we will return to. Even as vaccination rolls out and tours and festivals start booking. A giant void was left in the fabric of our reality and club Dj’s headed to places like Twitch to fill that void. It wasn’t enough to spin Spotify or Mixcloud playlists. People hunger for an interaction. To have a story told. A “Radio show with a strong visual componentHate Mior. The people who have embraced this new medium have broken a never before done artform which is creating a modern day electronic salon for music fans from around the world to congregate and discuss culture and music in real time. I will start by reviewing a very special 5 hour show by Toronto Street artists/Clothing creator/and DJ Hate Mior and their show to commemorate the life and death of icon Ian Curtis (Joy Division).

https://www.twitch.tv/hatemior

https://www.twitch.tv/hatemior/clip/KindTrustworthySalmonPipeHype-1hbfCfSy4qdUdKo3

https://www.twitch.tv/videos/1042696401

This piece is a journey, a story of one of the most known and tragic figures of our genre. Ian’s words and unique musical style were taken too soon but left a rippling effect which burned hard in the imagination and inspiration of generations to come. It opens with the fitting David Bowie classic “Rock and Roll Suicide“. Hate then appears on the screen with the flat lined supernova readout that is homage to the Joy DivisionUnknown Pleasures” album. One of the most recognizable images in T Shirt history. Their face is emotive and playful. Stark in Black and White. Projecting the range of an experienced theater performer. Then The Sex Pistols No Fun rings out. It’s hard to separate The Pistols from Joy Division. Legend has it the band was formed at one of their early shows.

At the 25 minute mark Hate lays out what the concept of the show is and why it is important. Also the role the visuals play in the story. Because this isn’t a radio program. It’s a multi media experience. They site reference material like “Touching from a Distance” by Ian’s widow Debra Curtis and the film Control. I love how the story starts at the true beginning. The number one hit in England during Ian’s birth “Why Do Fools Fall in Love“. The narritive progresses to Ian’s early family influence and what it was like growing up in a factory town like Manchester. Matching up the video to the film “Jason and the Argonaughts” which was sited as playing a dramatic role in his development. I love this attention to history. It is clear early on this isn’t just a setlist. It’s a biography set to music.

Ian Curtis is best known for the power of his lyrics. It was truly transformative poetry of the depths of the human condition. Here Hate calls out specific lyrics and the impact his early loves played on those later verses. A story then goes into Ian’s love of mime and performance. How this connected to David Bowie. Then the most important part, how it connected back to Hate’s own life and experience in performance. Because the new roll of the streaming Dj is also as a performer who makes a personal connection with the audience. The Dj is no longer the the one who chooses the music, but a part of the story themselves. This brings Kate into their idea of Ian and Debora’s personal mixtape. I think the other aspect worth noting is Kate does not hit play and put their headphones on. They take this journey with you. In movement and facial expression.

“Kate has an unhealthy knowledge of this band. The setlists were weird until I realized where the show was going.” It felt like going through a museum with the best tour guide on their roster. The stories, background, and history allowed you to see the paintings for yourself. Just gave all the best behind the scenes insight to make everyone who watched feel like an expert.

Setlist: PROLOGUE: David Bowie – Rock n’ Roll Suicide John Peel Announcement

: The Death of Ian Curtis Sex Pistols – No Fun Sex Pistols – Pretty Vacant PART 1: Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers – Why Do Fools Fall in Love David Bowie – Sound and Vision The Doors – Light My Fire Neu! – Wave Mother The Velvet Underground – Candy Says Nektar- It’s All in the Mind Mott the Hoople – All the Young Dudes Roxy Music – More than This WARSAW YEARS Warsaw- No Love Lost (early recording) Warsaw – Warsaw Warsaw – The Drawback Warsaw – They Walked in Line Warsaw – Tension Warsaw – Lost Iggy Pop – The Passenger Buzzcocks – Lipstick The Fall – Firey Jack The Drones – Persecution Complex X-Ray Spex – Oh Bondage! Up Yours Delta 5 – Mind Your Own Business Gang of Four – To Hell with Poverty Martin Hannet & Joy Division – Noise Drums Sine Warmup N.F Porter – Keep On Keeping On Joy Division – Interzone Frank Sinatra – My Way

In between the sets you hear the famous Henry Rollins rant, along with a Bill Burr quote. I love the full picture here of adding other voices to how Joy Division effected them. Shout out for the Bootblacks spin who I think has a direct line the flavor and magic Joy Division captured. From here the set veers sharply into a tribute to Joy Division the way it was meant to be heard. 1st pressing vinyl, obscure cuts, and a Martin Hannett homage. Kate calls out the people who support them, which is such an important part of the modern stream. People have a longing to be connected to what they are seeing. The best streaming shows understand this and make the experience interactive.

PART 2 – THE RISE AND FALL OF JOY DIVISION Joy Division – Shadowplay (First television appearance) Kraftwerk -The Man Machine Joy Divison – Day of the Lords Joy Division – Twenty Four Hours Joy Division – Insight Martin Hannett & Joy Division – More N4 Drum Programming Joy Division – Transmission (Arrow Studio 1978) Jou Divison – Transmission (12″ original vinyl) Joy Division – Incubation Joy Division – Dead Souls (live at Les Bains Douche) Joy Divisio – Isolation Joy Division – She’s Lost Control (original first UK press vinyl) The Captain and Tenille – Love Will Keep Us Together Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart Section 25 – Girls Don’t Count Section 25 – Colour Movement Sex & Violence Parts of Ian Curtis’s recorded past life regression therapy (originally recorded by Bernard Sumner) FINAL CURTAIN A Certain Ratio – All Night Party Joy Division – Ceremony (Live at Birmingham University) Joy Division – Disorder Joy Division – Decades Joy Division – Digital Joy Division – The Eternal Iggy Pop – Nightclubbing Iggy Pop – Mass Production Martin Hannett & Joy Division – Atmosphere Buildup MUSIC VIDEO: Atmosphere David Bowie – Warsazawa

The game has changed and Djs haven’t just had to adapt. They have had to create a new medium of art and experience. This was a history lesson, a street performance, and a psychology paper rolled into musical format. If this is the future of streaming shows that the pandemic has made for us. If this is the way the world connects online to become a little closer, a little smaller. I say the future looks bright and is starting to heal the pieces of what this isolation has made. Where will it end?

I’ll work on more stream reviews soon, who are some of the ones you love? Comment below

Hanging Freud “Persona Normal”

Glasgow minimalist artwave with their sixth album release. I have done a previous review but hitting play 30 seconds in and I already feel this is something different. The tempo is that same patient, anticipation building, tuning fork vibration of keyboard sound. The mix is no longer a dark and swirling murk of life. Instead the water is a clear blue which allows every word to permeate to the surface. Paula has a flickering flame tongue whisper voice which has charged to the front for this record to take a captivating hold. This is an end of the night reflection sound. A secret to treasure, not a proclamation to share. It is a sound just for you in your most personal moments.

https://hangingfreud.bandcamp.com/album/persona-normal

Favorite Tracks:

Antidote – Ok starting with a bit of a deep cut here. It just has that lovely opiate blur sway to it. Mazzy Star soul with a bright lights big city feel. It perfectly captures what this record does so well. Pulls you out of your head with the smallest amount of chaos necessary to grab your attention.

We Don’t Want To Sleep – Lovely transporting intro of life teeming summer days with the buzzing sound of insects growing in a tension of life. I love the bright energy and sleepy tempo in equal measure. It skirts that line line between excitement and dream. This is a musical experience built on delicate balance. I love the effortless nature with which it sits on the head of a pin.

Overall: This is not the album for every moment. It’s specialized, a perfect construct for that lazy eyed moment of introspection in the foggy haze between excitement and dreams. Jonathan Skinner is a master artisan in crafting rich tapestry using efficient material. Paula is a siren holding your imagination as your consciousness flickers between this world and the next. Instead of looking for a sound which is fine in many moments. Seek out a sound which is perfect in it’s own time.

Ashes Fallen “A Fleeting Melody out of a Fading Dream”

The Sinister Guitar Lord of Sacramento CA James Perry returns with a long anticipated album which releases June 4th 2021. I’ve been a fan of the hard rock edge and dark overtones of Ashes Fallen for a while now. This new record finally fully embraces the goth aspects of the gothic rock. I feel like the scene has been so hungry for a voice of processive morals and guitar driven dark music. The other major step forward for this release is the collaboration heard on keyboard and additional guitars by Michelle and Jason. The seamless blend of these other voices in the song writing process really elevate and highlight the best aspects of James talent. The mastering by Gordan Young crackles with deep lines and definition. James voice has really found it’s internal confidence and writhes and strikes like a sea serpent bursting through phrases and throwing weight on those show stopping fretboard fireworks.

https://ashesfallenmusic.bandcamp.com/album/a-fleeting-melody-out-of-a-fading-dream

Top Tracks: Honestly this who album is a front to back jam with 10 strong tracks.

Vampira (The ballad of Maila) – A lovely tribute to the horror film icon. Both in the lyrical content but also the absolute face melting riff and gothabilly guitar tone. The vocals are attitude, snarl, and croon. Michelle adds in a lovely offset tone on the chorus which swells and solidifies. The back and forth guitar solos on the bridge are an absolute masterclass in movement and melody. This song is a 10 on the AFB scale. (Absolute Fuking Banger)

We Belong Nowhere – Filthy hard edge guitar intro. James has more of a chanting subtlety and blend with Michelle’s harmonies. The chorus is a beautiful hook that pays the first 6 months rent in advance on an apartment in your head. The soul and anguish of old school goth with the complexity and precision of King Crimson.

Shout out for the Delphine Coma shirt

Overall: I was absolutely floored by the step forward this album took from a sound I already loved. I feel this record solidifies Ashes Fallen’s place as one of the premier voices in the modern gothic rock scene. This is not only a must have album of 2021, but one I strongly suggest getting on physical media. The album holds such layered and intricate texture, you will want to deconstruct it on your best sound system. I’m stoked to have the band on an upcoming episode of the Sounds and Shadows webcast.

Bow Ever Down “Let It Burn”

Exciting new shadow disco album from Kimberly Kornmeier set to release June 15th. This is a project that has been going since the late 90s but I am just getting on board. I regret waiting as long as I did because this album cruises that perfect wave of shake your ass dance beats and heady introspective lyrics. 17 tracks with 8 wicked remixes full of powerful names like Assemblage 23 and Adian Cane. Kimberly has a gorgeous vocal delivery that sits perfectly in the mix to be the star of the show while allowing the crackling energy of the dance beats to fire like a rocket breaking the atmosphere. The shadowy smoke is always present in the tone, but what really wins me over is the confident defiance in the delivery. Her voice has an indomitable spirit that fills you with hope.

https://boweverdown.bandcamp.com/album/let-it-burn

Highlight tracks:

Let It Burn – Opening title track and it’s an absolute burner. When the bell rings you start swinging and that is exactly what this track brought. Beautiful Blondie style delay vocals and sparkling crystal keyboard accents. The song feels so personal, like a story told while watching yourself from outside your body. I’m always impressed when a song can carry off a devil may care attitude without venturing into pretension. It’s one of those tracks you want to be playing in the club when you make your entrance.

Shed My Skin Feat Silence In Machine: A rattling builder with those same laser focus vocals and reckless abandon. Great mechanical demon contrast on the echo vocals by SIM. Again this concept of staring down the barrel of insecurity and trauma and striding boldly forward. This album continues to deliver a powerful voice for women in the scene.

Cold Machine (Assemblage 23 remix) – This is a a song I found so relatable. We keep getting colder and more desensitized to protect ourselves from the damage in the world. Yet in moments we miss that humanity, that vulnerability. It’s a boot stomping baseline and a message that smacks me right in the feels.

Overall: I am beating myself up I am just discovering Bow Ever Down but on the strength of this album I am going to dig through the back catalog. It’s fierce, it’s sensual, and it delivers a message of strength and power. When you preorder the digital album is available now. Final note, the cover art is a burning hellcat with fire eyes. I am obviously here for this.