Art Diktator is a Turkish art-disco/electronica duo that started in 1997, through which husband and wife team Hakan and Ravenna have since been an intricate part of the Turkish underground music scene. Using self-drawn graphic videos and a high-energy stage show, they have been captivating audiences of many genres under one progressive sound.
Last week, we did a podcast with the amazing Elz and the Cult. One of the bands they chose to share was Art Diktator, and Collin and I fell in love. This high art / quirky electronic dance sound is brimming over with artistic intrigue and dance floor electricity. It’s a tornado of different styles swirling with dark energy to the eye of the storm where beautiful melodies meet electro-punk danger. The voices form a wonderful call-and-answer duality and match dark sensuality with angelic beauty. I don’t understand most of the lyrics, but the power of delivery leaves me captivated.
I found myself wrapped in their constantly bouncing lo-fi synth sounds and driving, dark bass lines. Hakan’s voice is a deep, rich snarl from the lowest register in a sinister chant below the music, while Ravenna is a melodic, lilting gust of wind over a barren city. Strikingly effective use of transition and phasing. All the artistic integrity of Black Tape for a Blue Girl-esque darkwave plus the tearing, dance drone of Sig Sig Sputnik is a lot to pack, but somehow Art Diktator finds that place. I love how each song changes tone and emotion so much and leaves me feeling like I am watching a foreign heist film with no subtitles. In the podcast, Collin called it “Angry ABBA” and I can think of nothing more apt.
Van Gölü Canavarı– This lovely, strange synthwave line comes in lulling you with its downturned tempo. Then, bam! everything speeds up and your body starts moving to the beat. Hakan croons with his deep, gravely voice and is answered with a robotic callback. The name means Van Lake Monster, which is a Turkish myth. I just kept getting lost in the furious motion and contrasting sounds.
Don’t Dream It, Be It– Did I choose this one because I could understand the lyrics? Nope, I picked it because it’s a jam. The crisp waves of slithering sound mix with the xylophone-sounding ascending keyboard banks. It’s a mantra we can all understand. Made me feel like I was part of a Turkish remake of Beverly Hills Cop and the end salvo with Ravenna’s whispering chorus were a beautiful finish.
ZONE FATAL – I believe this was an older track, in which the vocals feel reminiscent of Andrew Eldritch. The lyrics are also very dark and poetic and the music is a driving dark city soundtrack. Lots of tight corners and slithering shadows.
Overall, discovering this band and the others Elz shared with us during the podcast has really opened me up to the rich and wonderful Turkish Underground scene. I’m going to have to dig deeper into this catalog because this album is a sizzling train ride into the dark.
ESA – are an English dark industrial / electroclash project by Jamie Blacker, which started in 2002. This new album is called Burial 10and features vocals from Jo Hysetria (Massenhysteria), Caitlin Stokes (Corlyx), and Lecture.
So right out the door this album is coming at you like a speeding train through a tunnel. It’s driving pistons and screeching metal furiously charging down your throat with reckless abandon. It would be easy to feel like that was chaotic because that is the emotional response it summons. This is a focused and precise weight of speed and power with intent and form. I feel like i am describing a high end automobile not a record, but this is the feeling of Burial 10.
ESA has been around a good while and gone through different styles. I feel like this album ran a bit of that spectrum on it’s own. It twists, writhes, and thrashes like a cornered animal. Unpredictable and fierce. Great use of guest vocalist like Jo Hystaria and Caitlyn to add more surprise twists to this story. The pulsating beats are a relentless onslaught which attack from so many directions. Gentle synth tones carefully placed expose the belly of the beast and add style and craft to this fierce creature.
Favorite Tracks :
You are Safe Here (Feat: Caitlyn Corlyx) – I, of course, had to choose this one because it features the angelic, sensual voice of the amazing Caitlyn. This has the intense EDM drive but is tempered by her striking laser-fire voice. This is a club hit made to shake floors supporting giant speakers.
Burial 10– The title track is a driving march. I really like the bizarre off-kilter chanting sample vocals. Part of the fun of ESA is they never seem to take the foot off the pedal. Even when breaking down with the spoken word vocal sections. Lots of high energy, never-let-up Prodigy feelings.
Blessed With Bruises– A nice change up here, bringing the tempo down and the trip hop feeling up while keeping the same steady crashing waves of sound. Instead of a high-speed chase, this is a slow, smooth roll, sliding around corners, channeling Massive Attack’s effortless cool.
Overall this is a fury of intensity sure to make your club walls shake. Find the biggest speakers you can and crank this until the neighbors cry.
Here we discuss the past and future of the Turkish underground scene, meeting heroes, German airport rescues, family, their new album and upcoming Cold Transmission tour, as well as play some great bands. You don’t want to miss this.
Caroline Blind of Sunshine Blind is back with another sizzling new single that is a cover of Goth greats The Wake. The single is called “First” and actually features members of The Wake. Does that even count as a cover then? It releases for Valentines day and is the perfect blend of old school Sunshine Blind style with intense droning power gorgeous flowing echos for vocals but with her new style of matured layered atmosphere. Get it on your spotify list tomorrow.
IAMNOONE – Italian dark Synth from Cold Transmission releases “A Primitive Trinitas” on 2/29/20. I love the uptempo bass lines blending with a background gentle chant vocal. The single is full of movement and subtle hooks.
White Mansion – Another Cold Transmission release from the States in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Big popping synths and beautiful Duran Duran style vocals. Very retro feel of slippery sensuality and emotional expression. This was a full album that released at the end of January and has been on my mix list ever sense.
STEREOCCULT – From Houston, TX, this came to me from Shayn Blaqk and I am really drawn in by the sound. The drums are a constant murderous pound of tom intensity. The vocals are a nice driving post-punk chant and make good use of harmony to make some electricity. I need to give this album a deeper dive soon.
Electronic Substance Abuse – from the UK have released an album a lot of people have been waiting on. Burial 10 is a machine gun spray of dance madness with a concise and sizzling plan. It is focused chaos full of shake-your-ass beats with enormous variety and pop sensibility. It feels like that first time you heard Underworld and thought “this is dance music?” yet so much more. Special shout-out to the track “You Are Safe Here” which features my dear friend Caitlyn of the band Corlyx. Damn that track is a burner. The whole album demands a full review but I needed to shout out about it now.
Missfit Toys – This album actually came out in December but I am starting to really absorb it now. It’s a twisted goblin scream full of terror-inducing ferocity. Yet somehow the music is such an accessible synth dance. The sheer audacity of the clashing sounds and swirling concepts make this record haunting and hides behind your conscious mind. Richie V. Suriv of Florida is unleashing a nightmare of sonic intensity and the live show features none other but Adrian Kjosnes of Sounds and Shadows.
IAMTHESHADOW – OK I know Cold Transmission is getting a lot of love in this article, but what can I say? I love them. I am so excited for this new album: Pedro and company are taking the already entrancing sound and hitting new heights of expression and dance floor grind. This new single Pitchblack is a passionate intense burner and it makes my body shake with anticipation.
Seven Federations – North Dakota industrial concept artists who are creating world beat textural Industrial with a thinking person’s swagger. I love the violins and future revolution feel. It’s heavy, it’s mean, but it expands your thought waves while making you want to break shit. I hear Front Line Assembly wave destruction with Prick vocal cadence.
Tigercide – LA darkwave band with a lovely, atmospheric trip hop vibe. Sizzling desert David Lynch driving through an ever shifting reality vibe. Lovely vocals with tender lilting emotion. I found myself lost in the brush stroke snare sounds which rise and fall as your vision melts.
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 😉