So I have been buried in everything I have wanted to do so far this year. Between work, the amazing Oscura Festival, End of the Year top albums. I finally have a moment to stop and catch my breath. Just in time to hear Bandcamp Friday is back on for next week. So how about I review some new music which is warming my bones as the world freezes over.
binzatina – Anestesia – This first album is from 2018, but I am just finding it and it NEEDS attention. This was a recommendation of our dear friend Juls (Pilgrims of Yearning). The band hails from Chile and combines a 90’s triphop Portishead slither slide drum beat, with and smoky lounge sensual vocal performance by Lya Godoy. This sound is a warm bath in the dark surrounded by candlelight. It’s flickering pictures on the wall with a healthy dash of explosive dynamic in just the right moment to wake you from your trance. Lulling you just as quick back into dreams. Beauty, passion, depth, this is the sound of your next romantic escapade.
Dogtablet – TJY4 – Brand new January 2022 release from Industrial scene legends Martin King (Test Dept), Roberto Soave (Associates), and Jared Louche (Chemlab). This new remix EP hits the mark just as you would expect from masters of the craft with the unbridled freedom to create expressionist sonic art. Giving over the reins of vision to great up and comers like (The Burying Kind), Sapphira Vee, and Melodywhore to expand the vision into fresh ground. Dogtablet continues to amaze me with their understanding of how to turn raw sound into transmitted human emotion.
ESA (Electronic Substance Abuse) – Designer Carnage – The greatest thing to happen to modern EMB industrial does not disappoint with the latest offering. Out on 2/14/2022 but available for pre order now. This remains the hardest, meanest, smartest, body earthquake, grit your teeth, be invaded by the spirit music. Jamie continues to skate the razor edge of unnerving terror and sonic rapture. He is officially on my “I will buy every release unheard until you fuk up two in a row list”. I see absolutely no chances of that happening any time soon.
Dove Tribe – Collected Prayers – I have been waiting for this project to find it’s perfect stride for so long. Norway’s Hide Tepes has captured the low-fi bat cave early Sisters of Mercy tone and seamlessly blended it with their own emotive high art abstract. When I need an artist to push my boundaries and remind me of a time when music was raw, unruly, and unpredictable. All four tracks are captivating narratives that change direction and speed like a foreboding wind. There is one that stands out to me “When The Music’s Over” a lip curled prayer in the early art house sewer of early Bauhaus and “Still” Joy Division. That haunting overlapping guitar riff, that cursed mantra to keep moving forward lest you disappear. This is one of the great visionaries of the modern scene.
Blood Dance – Burn Slow – Second single from Mexico City SynthGoth Blood Dance. This lovely creeper with some deep goth roots. The beats were a slowly boiling put but these carefully placed guitar leads are all sizzle. This track also features backing by Bari-Bari. This track really gets me excited to keep delving into the rich Mexico City darkscene.
Bradley Coomes – Communion – Louisville KY songsmith Bradley Coomes has brought together an eclectic range of vocal talent to synch with his emotive shimmering 3D sonic images. This is one of those albums that really matches it’s cover art. An impressionist feeling exchange ranging from early 2000 minimalist opium rock like Low and Mogwai. To a sunrise shadow of dreampop. The way each guest vocalist is used to perfect effect really shows the love that went into this songcraft. If I had to choose a favorite track, I was absolutely captured by “Sabrina” featuring California shadowpop crooner James Edwards of (Male Tears). Expansive beauty and symmetry while cracking with golden strands of brimming romance teetering at the brink. I also want to shout out Jennifer Wilde of (Sword Tongue) for stepping so far out of their established style on “Little Bird” to shine with sullen Haight Ashbury mystical swirls that cast a striking contrast on the rest of the journey. Memorizing and hopeful in equal measure.
The Gathering – Parade – New album from Vancouver Cold Transmission band The Gathering. While the previous LP was a nostalgic homage, “Parade” leans into the resurgence of Post Punk / Darkwave building up in real time. The album was recorded by Jackknife Sound by Jason Corbett (Actors) and also has additional vocals by fellow (Actors) Shannon Hemmett on “Ocean Star“. I love the unstoppable forward momentum and crisp accented drum beats. Everything vibrates with a clarity and precision that stops me in my tracks with my mouth open appreciating the ice sculpture prism of every track. Standout track is “Building A Bridge” with it’s zig zag endless pin prick attack. The blending choir of vocals create a haunting melody that was stuck in my head for days. There is something so special when someone uses the patience to have a song concept reach it’s height of development.
Récipe Morado – Re•Habilitación – I discovered this gorgeous flowing up-tempo post punk from Venezuela at the Oscura Festival. Complex high energy tendrils of complex shoegaze supported whisper punk. I love the reckless abandon of the constantly shifting music and controlled reaction of the vocals. A wonderful synthesis of modern clarity and Jesus and Mary Chain effortless abandon.
So I am a bit behind the ball again. I do want to make sure I am continuing to publish these charts chosen of the top singles released in December chosen by the DJ’s, Reviewers, Bands, and Superfans in the Sounds and Shadows group. Make sure to cast your vote in January.
Gravity Corps – Another Day –
Daddybear (Feat Grabyourface) – Boss Bitch
HAEX – Cursebreaker
Deathline International – Parasite
Author and Punisher – Drone Carrying Dead
Eva X – Whipping Girl
Batavia – Epitaph
SYZYGYX – Light You On Fire
Angelspit – Stand In Line
Rosegarden Funeral Party – In The Wake Of Fire
Gravity Corps – Another Day – Spacey driving dance beats from Mark Sousa. This futurepop trance rhythm with the melodic bass whisper vocals and sharp mastering of Eric Oehler (Klack). This is sensational music to fire finger guns on the dancefloor to.
daddybear feat: grabyourface – Boss Bitch – Well the amazing duo of Matt Fanale and Marie Dragontown have done it again and found their way to the top pf our darkscene chart. Stalking apex hunting vocals stanking up the dancefloor with raw sensual pheromones and sinister beats. Sometimes two humans just share a mind perfectly and create a seamless blend that achieves glory. This is one of those times.
HAEX – Cursebreaker – A latecomer in 2021 that made our albums of the year. This filthy concrete sledgehammer blend of industrial and nu-metal is a terrifying decent into forbidden alien chaos magic. Adam Jones growls mean and it makes my knees weak.
Deathline International – Parasite – Old school Front Line Assembly sample heavy lashing punk fire boot stomper from the head of COP records, mixed and mastered by living legend John Fryer. Sinister Guitar Lord James Perry of Ashes Fallen adds a powerful lick to ice this delicious cake. A lot of talent was brought together to make this sizzle, and it does.
Author & Punisher – Drone Carrying Dread – So when I saw a 8 minute 16 second single from the San Diego band I thought, how does this work? I was so wrong. This works. It’s an ever expanding Machines of Loving Gracesque emotive and beautiful journey of dread and introspection. It’s simply magnificent. I don’t want to be this in love with it, but it is SO GOOD!
Eva X – Whipping Girl – I love listening to an artist grow with every new release before my ears. Gaby continues to sharpen her sound and produce a glorious darkpop full of strength and soul. This track holds a fiery defiant energy and cutting intelligence. I can’t wait to hear what is next.
Batavia – Epitaph (C-Tec Cover) – So I absolutely love it when a band covers an “underground” band. Although C-Tec is a Front Line Assembly side project, it isn’t terribly well known. Batavia continues to be one of the most underrated bands in the modern electronica scene. This cover is gorgeous and powerful. The team of Ed and Terri just have a magical and expressive connection that seeps through everything they do. They have joined the “Must Buy” club for all future releases because it seems they cannot miss.
Angelspit – Stand in Line – Second single from Diesel Priest. Electronic political punk root explosion with a thinking persons razor resolve. Get inside the system, then become a bomb, then explode in a visceral bloody paste of art glitter.
Rosegarden Funeral Party – IN THE WAKE OF FIRE – The amazing Texas dark rock band I always find myself not diving deep enough into for no apparent reason, but every time I take a moment to listen like I am now, I am struck by how damn amazing they are. Leah Lane is a force on vocals. The music is gospel choir uplifting and soulful. Every instrument is perfect precision. It’s a gorgeous single that deserves your attention.
NOTE: This review includes an interview with Zach of VAZUM. See below.
Detroit’s VAZUM is a band I’ve had my eye on for a while now. Zach Pliska started the band in 2017, with Emily Sturm joining in 2019. Since then, VAZUM has released three albums and an EP. Unrated V marks their third full-length release and their second release this year.
Sonically, Unrated V has a fully realized sound. Everything sounds like it is meant to go with everything else. Clever arrangements and intricate songcraft are certainly the bedrock of the album, which also serve as the perfect fit for Sturm’s vocals. You’ll hear what I mean on the song “Lycanthrope”. Pliska’s no slouch as a vocalist either. The duet on Frankenstein Gurl showcases their voices in tandem and gives evidence of the chemistry these two artists share. The synths interact with the guitar parts and themselves in a very eloquent way; a sign of well-rounded musicianship, IMO.
With such song titles as “Lycanthrope”, “Frankenstein Gurl” and “Vampire”, it’s easy to guess their aesthetic (- a style which they call “Deathgaze”). But there is certainly much more going on here than your garden-variety deathrock dirge or yet-another darkwave push-button band-in-a-box. The instrumental, “Fantoms” is a cinematic tour of a horror movie nightmare-scape and is something you really have to know what your doing to pull off effectively; especially in the darker musical world.
And they’re not afraid to change gears. “Wytch Tech” has a decidedly more danceable approach and is surprisingly minimal compared to the songs leading up to it. “Summon Her”, another instrumental, is rhythmic clangy-ness in the style of old-school industrial. In fact, the entire latter half of this album is instrumental. VAZUM takes full advantage of this to explore sonic possibilities not always called for in 3 1/2 minute radio-friendly crowd pleasers.
All in all, I can’t say enough good things about Unrated V. It had me already looking forward to the next release; which, conveniently, was released on December 31st, 2021; the double single, “Gallows”.
Zach was kind enough to take some time with us and do an interview via text. Here it is…
Who are your influences and what did you take away from those artists?
Smashing Pumpkins had a big impact on me from when I was 10 years old and served as a gateway to other genres like classic rock, shoegaze, new wave, goth, progrock and jazz drumming. Emily is really into Gary Numan, Christian Death and Queens of the Stone Age. She naturally brings elements of new wave, deathrock and desert stoner rock into her songwriting. Lately we’ve been influenced by more atmospheric groups like Cranes and Miranda Sex Garden and listening to their production techniques.
I get a cinematic feel from your music. Do you draw inspiration from sources outside of music, per se?
Emily and I are both visual people and associate images with music. Emily is a horror and sci-fi film expert. She is strongly influenced by Dario Argento (Suspiria) and Panos Cosmatos (Mandy) with The Thing and Alien being in her top five. She is also really into the aesthetics and soundtracks of the video games Silent Hill and Bloodborne. Emily has a background in jewelry and costumes which she incorporates into our videos.
What’s next for VAZUM? How are you forming/adapting your plans in the age of COVID?
The pandemic set the stage for the path we’re currently on which is writing, recording and releasing a steady stream of music and videos. Before the pandemic there were a lot of distractions. I was playing drums in multiple bands and I didn’t take recording or producing seriously. We’re currently recording a new single called Thief which is about energy vampires. Thief will be on our next album along with our previous single, Gallows. We’re doing electronic versions of the songs too as we go along.
Please describe a typical day in the studio with VAZUM. What is the chemistry like?
We’re fortunate to have a good home studio set-up so it’s pretty relaxed. It’s nice being able to wake up on a Saturday morning, brew some coffee and get to work on a mix or overdubs. Recording and producing can be a long and tedious process but we are committed to seeing it through to completion. When we’re working on a new song we’ll usually play through it a bunch of times until we’re comfortable then begin tracking each instrument individually. Emily and I understand each other pretty well. We can learn and play a song without saying a word. We just feed off each other. I can sense when she’s going to a change and vice versa. I’m in the studio everyday working on something. I like experimenting with my gear. I mostly use hardware for compression, reverb and effects instead of plug-ins. On Unrated V we ended up using a Dark Glass distortion pedal on a lot of tracks and it worked out really well.
What is your take on the current state of the dark music “scene”? (Impressions, opinions, funny thoughts, etc.)
I think the music industry as a whole would benefit from toning down the nostalgia and giving new artists a chance. When a tour announcement from an artist that’s been around for 40 years is the biggest news story of the week, or the popular bands of the day all sound alike, I shake my head. The music industry is relying on nostalgia acts to keep itself afloat which is short sighted and counterproductive. And I think people are sick of it. Fortunately there are underground outlets supporting independent artists. We are very appreciative of the DJ’s that play our music and the websites that share our videos or write reviews. There is a healthy network of artists, DJ’s, bloggers, youtubers and playlisters all keeping the dark scene alive. I wish there were more mainstream outlets, but we will infiltrate those in time. Most independent artists seem to share a common belief structure and are supportive of one another. I’m optimistic about the future. As messed up as the music industry is, there are a lot of advantages at our fingertips. Being able to record, produce, market and promote from home is a huge advantage. The technology really does place the power back into the hands of the people.
This year has had the release of so many amazing albums. I’m a bit at a loss of how to do a Best Of List. I have so many records I loved after I made a list, then a list of another 100 I loved. It caused me anxiety thinking about how to categorize or order them. So instead I am going to treat this like a montage in no particular order. Just thinking about all the things that brought me joy in this dark year fills my heart with hope for the future. These are not singles, EPs or Full lengths released in 2021 with all genres mixed together in a blender like the Darkscene gods intended.
Actors – “Acts Of Worship” – This album is going to change the standard. Rather than think of it as an album out of time. Hear it as the type of puncturing emotional thought pieces we talk about as nostalgia from a previous era. I choose to see the hope it promises. To be a place where those that remember the past, and those that are blazing new ground in the future meet. Where they say this was the moment where the music we talk about twenty years from now with a new generation is remembered. It’s a powerful feeling that you can be apart of now. This is my album of the year. The second time I have given them this award.
Creux Lies – Goodbye Divine – October was the month of spooks, a shaky return of Halloween since the long-endured pandemic and a myriad of releases by many artists within the undead world of dark-alternative music. Among the wave of new, brooding and shadow-y music unleashed upon the world shines one LP that stands apart from the cobwebs and screeching bats in the night; ‘Goodbye Divine’, the second album by moody, Sacramento post-punkers, Creux Lies. More than three years after the band’s debut record, ‘The Hearth’, Creux Lies brings us a new collection of eight tracks packaged with an avante-garde painting by Alex Kanevsky on the LP’s cover. Preceding the release, the “New Romantic” quartet appeared in promotional images portraying them as disaffected souls in serene, open fields; a fitting aesthetic theme for the music’s despondent sonic-template. “Jungle” kicks off the record with a wave of sinister keyboards before the rest of the band commences their wall of gray, foreboding rhythms, setting the tone for the LP’s thematic statement. By track four, we are treated to the bitter-sweet, emotional “PS Goodbye”. Singer, Ean Clevenger croons against the soft-rock instrumentation with lyrics, “Mercy you, you helped me shine. Although the last, it was the very first time.” One of the most distinguishing elements of Creux Lies’ sound is Clevenger’s vocal contributions. – James Edwards
Rohn – Lederman – Venus Chariot – My love for Belgian composer extraordinaire Jean-Marc Lederman is deeply known on this page. His previous work includes ( Fad Gadget, The The, Gene Loves Jezebel, The Weathermen) as well as some of the most thought provoking higher tier concepts in electronica music of the past 5 years. Teaming here with COP International and exceptional producer/Vocalist Emiliegh Rohn of Michigan they blend into a poetic electrified katana of grace and fury. I have spoken of this record in the Sounds and Shadows group but was shocked I had yet to write a formal review. When I hear someone of Jean-Marc’s pedigree say “This might be one of the most important albums I have ever released” it tends to make your ears perk up. This album is full of endless fusion energy both in the intricate hair splitting craft of the music, and Emileigh’s power whisper beauty. it’s the record I reach for whenever I need to force my body into action. A well of strength at your fingertips for these draining times. Greg Rolfes provides cover art to set the tone of this runaway stampede of electronic elegance.
Black Rose Burning – The Wheel – George Grant of New York has taken an already amazing sound to a completely different level. This new album is progressive, complex, expertly executed emotional darkscene that permeates the skin and resonates in the chest. These vocals harken to a previous time of dripping Peter Gabriel emotion that spiral in crystal facets on top of shifting translucent hooks. It ebbs and flows through a stylistic spectrum and delivers with every memorizing tale. I continue to be blown away by one of the most criminally overlooked master songsmiths of our scene. This is a record that needs mainstream attention.
The Joy Thieves – American Parasite – This album is an opus from Chicago Industrial Superband The Joy Thieves. Dan Milligan and crew mix the best of hard thrashing rock and Industrial electronic explosion. The amount of talent and fury unleashed on this record is staggering and at no point disappoints.
Dead Astronauts : Silhouettes– A new release from our friends at Cold Transmission from Seattle WA. This record was a articulate and purposeful release that had a craftsmanship that placed it in the upper echelons. That made a lot of sense once I heard Slade Templeton (Crying Vessel) had a guiding hand involved. Florence, and Jared seem to have an instinct for where a song needs to go. Melody to melody, song to song, everything seems to flow in it’s perfect natural direction. It makes it so easy to fade away and become lost in the futuristic textures. They each have such a distinct and soothing voice. Made stronger by their combination and ability to hold the depth of a conversation instead of a monologue. The music has a lot of subtle dissonance and complex themes. What really makes it effective though is how these details are woven around straight forward pop hooks that remind me of Peter Hook’s Revenge , or Pet Shop Boys. This is a record that doesn’t need to scream to get your attention or convey emotion. It tells you everything without ever having to raise it’s voice.
I Ya Toyah – Out Of Order – I am constantly memorized by the way Ania’s star keeps growing in size and brilliance. With Out of Order she travels away from the standard rock aspects to the other spectrum of her electronic abstract. It truely feels like a fusion between robotic precision and human heart glow.
Kill Shelter & Antipole – A Haunted Place – Here it is, Pete Burns is operating on a level in modern postpunk/darkwave that is rewriting the script. Here instead of recruiting a variety of singers like his groundbreaking album Damage he takes the vocals upon himself. His voice is rich and rings with the power of a well aged bell. To build on that previous level of variety in the soulful lyrics, he has added possibly the top Post Punk guitarist in Antipole’s Karl Morton Dahl. It’s an effortless compliment which locks perfectly as a puzzle falling into place. Every track is done with such expert precision and runs the spectrum of emotion. This is an early contender for album of the year. Like an expertly honed novel I could hear this record 1000 times and find a new detail to zero in on each play through.
Stoneburner – Apex Predator – This is Steven taken off the chain and turned to 11. Unapologetic making industrial music of wild machines and wires. Spewed forth with venom to a world without a concern to how it will land. This is the true punk rock ethos driving giant steam punk construction vehicles. This is the industrial that Joe Strummer prepared us for.
Dove Tribe – All In The Waiting – No one is a bigger fan of the artistic exploration of sound by Hide Tepes of Carrion than me. He is on a constant journey to create some of the most cutting edge sound crafting in the modern scene. So when I heard he was doing a new project with a more rock focused old school bat cave sound I knew to expect something exceptional. The song “New Cold War” is a powerful political statement with an emotional delivery that harkens me back to 1959 by the Sisters of Mercy. A track that transports you and paints a picture of strife and rebellion. It shows Hide’s voice in a completely new light that left me spellbound. I feel like this EP has the raw power to be a game changer in a genre hungry for new sound.
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. 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
The Ending Nights – A Landscape To Die – The newest offering of Pedro Code (IAMTHESHADOW) of Portugal on Cold Transmission Music. A definingly dark apocalyptic disco drive produced and mastered by Pedro for a soul wrenching personal explosion. Jagged glass drenched in rainbow oil and water. How do you take one of the most distinctive voices in modern goth/darkwave when you find a way to make the steaming disco beats the star of the show you have really broken ground. This is a record that creates a world. Grime and desolation, the remaining survivors of a broken world follow the electric pulse of a melody from within. A perfect anthem for these fractured times.
PALAIS IDEAL – Negative Space – Palais Ideal is my favorite advanced evolution of progressive post punk. A calculated artificial intelligence writing out the history of humanity in reverse. This is thinking persons post punk for a modern era.
SHIV-R – Kill God Ascend – Brand new album from the Australian electronic apocalypse know as SHIV-R. I love the expansive fantasy metal destruction fed into a machine brain and turned loose on an unsuspecting populous. Pete Crane is a force of nature in the industrial scene and has a glorious gift for poetic imagery in his lyrics. If you are a fan of the violent industrial power of Front 242 and shaking your body in dangerous convulsions, this is your jam.
LEATHERS – Reckless – Second time on this list for Shannon of Actors. A unique departure from her other projects and really highlights her essence which is more collaborative in Actors. It’s sleek, it’s beautiful, it’s as light as an angel dancing on a pin. I love the silky billowing synths and how they flow off the shoulders of her voice. The sound is such an immersive dream which slides along the borders of reality. I spend moments dwelling on how something so beautiful manages to remain so relatable.
The Gothsicles – Animal Songs– Brian breaks ever barrier of what we think this scene means. A pure shot of rainbow bright laser explosions telling the tale of animals while making you shake that ass. A unique voice and vision in a carbon copy world.
Bow Ever Down – Lost In The Woods– Kimberly Kornmeier sizzling darkpop from 2020 which left me swaying and captivated. The synthy star sparkle spins are a wonderful atmospheric journey. Their voice is an icy and bracing powerful clarity. They have a honesty and power that rings forth with every delivered line. It’s vulnerable and indomitable at the same fine. The music has a soulful and serious tone. A shattering crystal castle of faced disillusionment growth and regret. I also love the use of samples to set stories that allow the vocals to show the emotional range of the story portrayed.
A Cloud of Ravens – Another Kind of Midnight – New album from Brookland band ACOR, which has left me immediately captured and ready to dive into this deep pool. This record is a perfect blend of the homage to the past and the modern construction of the future. Well deep power and resonant vocals carry these stalking shadow woven songs. It’s concrete wilderness and Peter Murphy poetry. Ringing guitars and driving basslines carry a heroic journey through a desolate land. The power of this story is to make the situation always seem so bleak but leaves a glimmer of hope in every song. We have an interview coming out soon that provides a glimpse behind the curtain to this emotional hand quivering delivery.
Mark E Moon – Old Blood – Old and sinister music and vocals from Cold Transmission and the Isle of Man. I have been a fan or Mark E Moon for a while but this new record is a huge step forward in shadowy transmission and feeling that rips open your skull and pours raw unhinged emotion directly to your mind. It’s stomping, unforgiving and full of truth. I picked this record up and couldn’t find a way to put it down. Released on April 2nd you can get two tracks now with preorder. It has a sense of poetry and theater that has been lacking in the modern goth scene. It rides the line between beauty and grit. I can’t remember the last time I heard a band take such a monumental step forward from a previous album I enjoyed.
Twin Tribes – Altars – The beautiful lads of TX have released a remix album. Now I will always buy anything Twin Tribes put out sight unseen. I have to say this collection of remixes by some of the hottest names in darkwave was a special treat. The songs were big departures from the standard Twin Tribes style, but Luis voice still kept each song familiar. It included tracks from both previous albums placed lovingly up for sacrifice on the Altar to be transmuted and given back to the world.
Hueco – Canciones de Oscuridad y Desaliento – One of the most important Mexican darkscene bands of the past few decades. Hueco brings forth a unique flavor and tells sinister ghost stories in a universal emotional impression. I love the Iggy Pop “Raw Power” driving wilderness rhythm section. A must own record.
Helevete Inc – The Inevitability Ov Nothing – This is a new rerelease from Helevete Inc. We recently had the opportunity to interview them, so keep an eye out. I feel in love with the hard old school style of this band. This album was such a drastic departure and really shows the range they have. A rich and meaning drenched darkwave goth sound. TION shows a gripping and introspective melodic aspect of their voice. These songs have such a powerful authenticity of someone stepping outside of their wheelhouse, uncertain where the music would take them. Confronting the fear and darkness of that reality. I feel so deeply in entranced by this record. It showed me something, it had glorious imperfections which revealed the artists and left you gripped by the connection. The album also has fierce and snarling beauty in the form of guest vocals from Jenny Rae Mettee. This is one of the most underrated finds of the year.
unitcode:machine – Themes for a Collapsing Empire – Dallas TX Industrial artist has been on my radar for a while. This new album hits a whole new gear. I remember being at Cold Waves this year and hearing person after person in the know say “Holy shit have you heard this album”. This is a masterclass in marble statue precision craftsmanship in electronic music. The vocals are melodic and driven in a way that haunts your head. I love how clearly the poetry of the lyrics rings out beyond music that fills every wall of a dance club. It follows the template of classical industrial while finding a tone distinctly it’s own. People need to know about this, it needs to be appreciated.
Bootblacks – Thin Skies Remixed – Remix follow to the break out record Thin Skies. A who’s who of the modern darkscene reimaging an album that shook the foundations of the scene. Hear something you loved though a different lens.
Angelspit – Diesel Priest – Well this new Angelspit album is not pulling any punches sonically or politically. Zoog Von Rock has returned with an army of cyborg technicians of revolutionary destruction. Stomping machines of punk rock anti establishment zealots rolling on tank tread speed. It always leaves me stunned how something so fueled by chaos can fit in such a tight refined space. With every building track you never know where the creature will go next or who will be brought down in the explosion. I think the greatest power here is how the lyrics effect 16 year old me as long as 44 year old me with both the passion and intelligence. This album is an experience that hits on so many levels
WINGTIPS – Cutting Room Floor – I saw Wingtips this year and they had the best performance at Cold Waves. That is really saying something for this show. This record was the perfect storm of edge and refinement. It’s so explosive, beautiful, and tragic. So much is conveyed with two amazing humans in perfect harmony.
Dread Risks – Trauma Ties – Texas extreme crushdustrial band has taken several years of evolution and compressed them into a truly unique fury of sound. Music to smash your enemies with a sledge hammer with.
Helix – Bad Dream – It surprises me I don’t think I have reviewed the powerhouse team up that is Mari Kattman and Tom Shear (Helix). I will rectify that now. Bright, bold, and teaming with energy. Mari has an elegance to her voice that feels like a bird of prey gliding on an air current. This is music that makes my legs pump with a desire to concur the world. I’m genuinely mad at myself I haven’t listened to them more before now. Track 2 Slip has a gorgeous triphop backbeat that captures the idea of movement on ice. I love the subtle changes in the vocals cadence, everything happening in the same volume and range, yet creating movement with tiny variations. Masterful songwriting and execution.
HAEX – Aethyr Abyss Void – This is one of the meanest chaos cannon grimy warehouse fireballs I have heard in a long time. A forceful ritual of madness and terror pop sensuality. This is the soundtrack to your next Hellrazer Barker themed dance party. Inspired wall smashing guitar work and apocalypse chant vocals. I want more and want it now.
Lorelei Dreaming – Future Fables – Long have I awaited this 6 track EP complete with wonderful remixes by Chicago dystopian pop princess Laura. It’s so clear and textured from their previous release. Laura’s voice breaks through the wall and takes it’s rightful place on center stage. The album opens with an absolute banger in Of Stars. I’m loving the rippling synth sounds to add a fantasy feel. Each song is a striding step forward for an armor clad paladin facing down the demons surrounding her. This album was so worth the wait and every song is an adventure. The remixes are a brilliant contribution with the likes of Kanga, Sawtooth, Eva X, Angel Metro, and more. I love seeing so many top tier ladies involved.
MORIS BLAK – Irregular Revisions Vol. II – Brand new remix album from Boston EDM wizard Brian Blacknoise. Powerful reimagining from 2019 The Irregularity of Being. This album is a epic dance journey where sounds are sculpted from chaos into form. A masterful job of enlisting vocal performances from the likes of Alicia May, Luna, and Pete Crane to add layers that elevate the intent and narrative. Finding a fresh image in songs you have previously done is no easy task, but this remix album cracks the standard code. It’s a collaboration that takes something wonderful and fires it through a prism.
Dead Animal Assembly Plant – Bring Out The Dead – Another bone jarring hit from our friends at Armalyte Industries. This album is venturing a little closer to the metal aspects of industrial/metal than I tend to go. Sometimes in life you just need music to smash shit to, and that’s what the Portland band is bringing with rapid fire whole sale destruction. What leaves me impressed isn’t the moments it hits hard, it’s in the subtitle intelligence where pulls back and lulls you into a false sense of security just to swing the bat at you again with reckless abandon. Another great highlight is the cover of the folk song “Gods Gonna Cut you Down”. They say when Johnny Cash covers a song he makes it his own. Sometimes though you need to rip it out of his hands and shake the shit out of it with blistering guitars and fiercely whispered vocals by Time Bitch.
Push Button Press – Black Swan – This is a long awaited album from our friend Jim Walker and Cold Transmission record. The title really sets the tone for an amazing artist which has been a bit misunderstood and on the fringe. Writing music that was visionary and a bit progressive for some audiences. Right from track one The End of Time we are pressing our foot steady on the gas and gaining speed with clarity and purpose. I am feeling a lot of smooth spreading bassline and Jim has a stabbing staccato. That blend calls to mind early Psychedelic Furs. I think the thing that strikes me most in track 2 Trace are the crisp and driving drum beats. It really adds a powerful element of rock to the post punk concept. Title track 6 Black Swan lays open the the heart of the band. For every truth there is a black swan. The transitions here are so abrupt but maintain a silky smoothness that create constant motion. The guitar work here has a lot of early punk elements with heavy rhythm guitars. It feels like jumping across fast moving water from stone to stone. Always a sense of danger and concentration.
Stabbing Westward – I Am Nothing – Ok this was only an EP, but the amount of nostalgia and lightspeed rockdustrial perfection was impossible not to mention. Chris Hall is a voice that keeps getting more impressive by the year. Listening to this record can take 10 years age off your swagger.
Long After Midnight – Painkiller – Really liking how much rock is mixed into this Industrial Rock. The mastering was done by Jules Seifert so everything is smooth as an Aston Martin’s fender. Ross Martin’s vocals are crisp and powerful to cut through the progressive hard edge of the music. Mike Nolan is juggling a lot of moving parts here to give the music a sense of complexity and movement. Really exciting taste of more great things to come. I need to play with these cats once shows start again.
The Cult Sounds – Death of a Star – A haunted carnival of opaque modern rock sounds and blistering originality. This album felt so fresh I had no idea how to categorize it beyond being firmly in the camp of yes please. It’s dirty, mean, and dangerous with a cult energy I want to join up with.
Red Meat – Homo Vulgaris – 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.
The Burying Kind – The Burying Kind – Ok, do I have a personal stake in this album ? Sure. It was still something I always reached for all year long. One of my favorite modern goth singers Scott-David Allen and Industrial musicians Dan Milligan coming together to make the best Shoegaze album of 2021. What is not to love about this entire concept. It’s passionate, it’s expressive, it’s perfect. You need to give this album a try, it will change you.
LINGUA IGNOTA – AGNUS DEI – Every time I think we as a species have hit the wall of new kinds of music we can make, someone surprises me. This year that surprise came from Lingua Ignota. It you took the hair wrenching sound of a morning party on an Italian cliffside at midnight and blended it with Peter Murphy doing electronic performance art. You might be in the ballpark. This record isn’t easy listening. It’s hard, glorious, mind expansive listening.
Death Loves Veronica – Chemical – The first album from the glorious union of the Texas siren and Cold Transmission Music. I love the crashing tide synth drive and the contrast of warm whiskey sliding down the back of your throat. A ritual incantation and self realization. Every time Veronica announces a new release I am left wondering what new territory her voice will take me. Pre Order is currently available with the first two singles “Burn” and “Spindein”. The power of this album is how instead of you studying the painting while listening. The stalking control and awareness in the eyes of the music is staring back at you. You are the one on display and the tendrils of the music creep towards you and wrap you up.
LA electronic songsmith producer with another powerful release. Colin Cameron is an absolute maestro of riding the razors edge between drifting spaceship on the edge of the known galaxy and that hook that gets stuck in your mind for days. The true modern day composer commanding a symphony of expression at the tips of his keyboard. The aptly named Void is a lost soundtrack of space horror like Event Horizon. Cameron has a sexy whisper voice that leads you like a siren into the unexplored darkness. Brilliant use of guest talent like Vocals on “Spill Blood” by R.A. Desilets. Proving again to be at the top of the game while drawing far outside the lines. I continue to be impressed by LA song crafter Colin Cameron. He takes an approach to music akin to graphic design. Every weighted aspect seems to bring contrast and focus to both the positive and negative space within a sound wave. This track is the perfect journey track to travel the stars on an extended tour of the universe. A hit of peace, a hint of madness, drifting into the beyond behind the hum of subspace engines.
Dogtablet – Pearldrop Blue – So many amazing elements in one place that connect all the tiny synapses in my mind and unleash a flood of dopamine right in the brainstem. Scene legends Martin King, Roberto Soave, and Jared Louche, have teamed up once again to bring out all the best in each other and we are reaping the sonic benefits. I’ve had a hole in my heart as Jared has been quiet lately. Hearing his mad prophet poet spinning spiderweb dreams again takes me on a fantastical journey
MALE TEARS – Trauma Club – LA synth stars who captured my heart with this slithery filthy synthwave sin. It’s the old effect, but in the modern light. James voice rings bright and tortured with beautiful poetry and anguish you can feel in your bones.
Jean-Marc Lederman Experience – The Raven – The living legend keeps finding ways to show me there are whole other levels of composition and concept us mere mortals have only begun to scratch. Another concept album where he uses guest singers to express a central theme he has written. This one the Poe infused macbre holding court in the modern electronic era. The list of contributors is a fitting testament to the brilliance of the composer.
Sapphira Vee – Duets – NY siren Sapphiria uses another great talent beyond her production and vocals. She draws people to her with her light. In this case a plethora of industry greats to place their voice next to hers in a duet. Mike Reidy, Jim Semonik, Chris Connelly. Turning the monolog into a glorious dialog.
Batavia – Mythos – Ed and Terri Cripps have found something between medieval bard and smashing industrial noise. I don’t know how to put a finger on it but I don’t ever want it to stop. It’s so gorgeous and original. It’s full of hope and inspiration. This is what I listen to when i need to be inspired to write music.
Black Angel – Prince of Darkness – It’s so good to have the ROCK back in gothic rock. La sleezy thrashing darkness that reminds us where we came from in this genre. It’s pumping hearts in barb wire and leather. Feel undead in the anarch LA streets of darkness.
Vision Video – Inked in Red – Glorious throwback 80’s glory full of The Cure/Smiths/ sad beauty you want to follow the violet winding star beam into the night to. Creeping comfort of a dream I needed to remember.
Bedless Bones – Bending The Iron Bough – My favorite band from Estonia. The wind rustles gentle through purple grains. The chant grows in electric power and swirls with spiritual majesty. Another one of those fresh sounds that sparks the heart with exploration.
Wether he`s composing ambient pieces, industrial onslaughts or engaging in sound design and production work, Colin Cameron is truly a man of many talents with various aspects of it seemingly being constantly conjured up from within the walls of The Cell Studio.
My first exposure to Colin was through the release of the Slighter album ” V O I D ” , from there I began digging into more of his work and eventually as my own musical journey lead me to sound design we naturally came into conversation about everything and nothing.
An S&S interview with Colin is long overdue given his experience and the different facets to his work, we`ve featured him in other articles before such as the recent promotonal guide written by our grand overlord, The Duchess.
You have several one man projects operating in different areas of the electronic music scene, Heatsync and Slighter to mention a few.Why did you feel the need to establish separate projects and is there any deeper reasoning or meaning behind each projects name and perhaps how it relates to the music?
Well I think it’s sort of part of being in electronic music. A lot of artists in it know that genre’s are very much something you can get ‘stuck’ in. So to have a alias to go off and do something different is a nice thing to have. However I originally approached Slighter as a project for my post-dance floor work, and to which I will explore a lot of different styles with, this can some days feel like the reason I don’t resonate with a core scene… So with Heatsync, I wanted to give myself a more laser focus on what Slighter is doing lately and move the experimental beats and Drum and Bass ideas over there to Heatsync
As far as a deeper meaning, not really. Heatsync is just a play on the heatsink on your computer’s mother board. I liked the sound of it, and flipped it a bit to make it unique. Slighter is sort of the same, I just liked the way it looked in typography, and that I was flipping an adjective into a proper noun, again unique.
You have many years of experience in the field of production, how did you get started with this and what is it about it that keeps you going for as long as you have?
I’ve just always been interested in technology and music, so I sort of naturally gravitated to the combination of the two. I remember reading liner notes on CDs and wanting to know what a ‘mix eningeer’and a ‘producer’ are… So when I started making songs myself as a kid, I was very aware of the production side of it being important. I learned a lot by trial and error early on, and then while working for Appleas a Logic Pro trainer I got a lot of on the job knowledge from there, and being in Los Angeles the pros there who via Apple I was in contact with. I soaked a lot of knowledge up whenever possible. Well it’s not been 20 years yet! So I think I’m still getting the hang of it! Haha. I just genuinely love being involved in audio and sound projects. Writing songs is one thing, but doing productionand sound design is a real fun challenge now too. So it’s just keeping myself challenged that keeps me going.
Some of your music can be found in popular mainstream TV shows such as CBS Elementary & HBO TrueBlood, how did that happen and was there any major difference or difficulties with composing for TV as opposed to your own albums?
Well firstly the music that gets used on shows is from my albums. TV shows, like films, have composers for the series. They handle all the cues you hear that resemble a modern soundtrack you’re used to.I’m not involved in that, the actual score of it. But the other side of TV soundtracks is the music that music supervisors pick from artists like me, that they want to use to emphasize a scene, or make a scene or montage relatable to an audience on the musical level. So they will license music, as a placement. For example with Elementary, they had a scene in the final season where the main character has to find a clue inside a video game. The music in the game, is Cyanotic and I’s “Turmoil”. The ‘Blank Mix’ I made. How it happens really, is like anything else in the music business, luck and being at the right place and time. So for me, being in LA I was working with people who knew the music supervisors at True Blood.They heard a song we had just reworked and asked to put it in a Fangtasia scene. Once I had that placement, I got to hook up with a music placement manager who took over pitching my albums to music supervisors there in LA.
All your music is released through your own label Confusion Inc. What do you feel are the benefits and possibly downsides to releasing in this manner?
Well, I started Confusion Inc. after a string of bad luck with labels I had been working with. I felt like, atthis late stage of the remaining music business world why do I even need a label?I’m publishing my own work now, it’s going off to LA for placement pitching. I have those connections, I have a few fans… And I like having a place I can throw all my side projects and not have to worry. The benefits obviously are full creative control, and the downsides is there’s no one ‘pumping you up’ to DJs and magazines and doing all that PR stuff. Or the clout of being signed to say, Metropolis would get you in more physical unit, merch sales and such.
Your most recent endevour is the Abstrakted “Ambient Confessions” series that ended with the song “Dripping”, what exactly are you confessing through these pieces?
Ah, my love for hardware synths! Haha! As sort of a coping mechanism for getting through the pandemic,I just started doing these live hardware synth jams at the studio when I had some free time.They turned out to be sort of meditative for me, and I thought they were cool so I started recording them into Logic. Just using Logic like a tape machine really. Everything in the Ambient Confessions is just long takes of me Having a go with the TB-03, Moog Phatty, Blofeld, Prophet 12, MicroFreak. I relied on the Earthquaker Afterneath pedal for a lot of the big washes too, very expressive pedal to ‘play’ as an instrument.
Two weeks into 2022 you’ve already managed to put out two releases, the aforementioned “Dripping” and a collaboration with Moris Blak on “The Hunt”. Are there any plans for the year that you’re able to share?
I really want to make this year about collaboration with Slighter, so starting off with the remake of Brian and I’s The Hunt, I’m also working with James at Static Logic on a split 2-track EP.Tara at Morgue Witch and I plan on doing a 4 track split EP as well, and if we can get it together I, Craig and Chris up in Ohmelectronic should be doing something as well.
Beyond several musical projects and your role as a producer you engage in quite a bit of sound design related work, creating sample packs and the like, what would you say to someone thinking about getting started in this field? Any advice or recommended methods, gear and so on?
I would say, have a good healthy love of technology. And a ear and eye for the methodical. It’s a lot of fun to create sounds from scratch, but your time at work isn’t just doing that aspect. So if you’re looking at sample pack work, that’s upwards of a 100 or more files you’re responsible for making sure they are engineered correctly so the end user experience is 100%. And that’s tedious, and not glamorous at all!
Gear wise, you can do a lot with less these days, and really a portfolio shines more than a CV. Do a lot of projects yourself and use that as your resume. Networking is paramount, connect with people and be a niceperson to be around, no one wants to hire an ego centric show off. Be nice and position yourself well, things will happen!
As Slighter you employ a more industrial sound palette, are you a big fan of the genre and might you have some favourites be them older or newer artists?
You know, as we’ve talked about this, I’m not the biggest fan of the ‘industrial’ label, as I’m not even sure what it means in whole big picture of what’s going on now. But for sure there are correlations to elements of my style that are there in my music because when I was young and impressionable I listened to KMFDM albums as well as Underworld albums – Thanks to WaxTrax! – so I embrace the subversion of mainstream that sort of comes with what ‘Industrial’ is or was...
So when I think about Industrial that I dig these days, it’s the Author and Punisher shit, or Ho99o9 shit, it’sraw and pushes things creatively, and that to me is the ethos I felt made the genre originally what it is. Youth Code is great too, oh and loved those Cocksure records.
Given that you’re the sole member of Heatsync, Sligher, Abtrakted, and princepal song writer at GR^VE do you ever have issues deciding which songs goes where? How do you differentiate it to yourself? Do you approach the creative stage with the idea of writing a Slighter song perhaps
If you would have asked me this question say, a few years or so ago I would have answered it very differently! Because then, Slighter was just a place where everything went. If I was feeling upset and wanted to write something hard, I would. Or if I was introspective and wanted to do some Ambient I would. Now I’m very much placing things into compartments in my creativity. As alluded to briefly before, I feel that possibly my ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ approach to Slighter alienated people looking for a bit of continuity with Slighter. And also as a growth perspective, I think Slighter has really grown into a style of its own now. I do have sort of a ‘work ethic’ now with it, I know what I want to get out of it when I sit down to do a Slighter session. So yes, methodical here with creative sessions now. I don’t find myself much needing to just ‘noodle’ and go wherever in a session when I’m working on Slighter material. I think the dedication over the years of doing my own music pushed out all that sort of desire. I like knowing what I want, and how I will get there. It also gets more work done! If you know where you need to end up, it’s easier to know when you’ve arrived at the end. So partly with Heatsync it was – if I feel like making weird shit, Drum and Bass, etc. where can I go and do that when I’m not focused on Slighter? And it’s not that Slighter is stagnating in exploration, it’s just exploring things in a less-is-more challenging aspect for me personally. Give me less to work with, and I’m finding more interesting things happening creatively. GR^VE is a different mindset as well, it’s not rooted in anything that Slighter is influenced by. I grew up playing guitar as a kid, doing bands with friends, so my first real musical experiences were that. When I did the track as Slighter called “Over”I explored returning to a guitar based track, playing all the guitar and bass parts, and doing all the drums acoustically. Was really rewarding, a different experience than the years of programming synths you know? So I love that tune. But, releasing it, was sort of a ‘flop’. Not a lot of people were keen on a Post Punk song just stuck between some heavy electronic beats on that EP! Haha. So when I started talking with Christy about vocals and she’s doing “Walls” on my Automata record, I just said fuck it and asked if She wanted to start a band with me! Haha. Thus now I have yet another project to divide my attention under my umbrella of Confusion Incorporated.
Lastly, as you know Sounds & Shadows is all about supporting smaller and newer artists, with that in mind do you have any reccomandations you`d like for people to check out?
There’s so much good stuff happening, it’s truly hard to keep up – esp when you are off making your own music. I’ve heard a lot of great stuff in passing through the S&S group, I met you for example and really enjoyed the Carrion stuff, Mike Nolen makes cool music, Adrian Halo has come into his own with his new band too. Ian Staer’s Ambient is a treat. Ghost Youth is also something unique I dig. I’m sure I’m missing some, truly no shortage of good stuff out there.
Keep up with all of Colin`s endevours via the links below