You might be thinking, Ken, you run a music review page, why would you want to direct people to other pages with the same function? Because I don’t do this for financial gain. I do it to share music that moves me with the world. To help support bands that you need to be listening to. I have continued to try and get better and grow. There are things I feel really good about but the format I do well isn’t everything and isn’t for everyone. I wanted to share some of the pages I am going to and finding great bands and ideas on how I can be better at what I do. In the end we all have the same goal and that is sharing music we believe in to help bands we love get a wider audience. I hope this can also act as a guide for bands looking to share their music and get press. Bands, if you are not sending a copy of your album to reviewers, you are doing yourself a great disservice. I can’t speak for everyone, but personally bands that reach out and interact with me are the ones I am thinking about first. Take the first step.
Obscura Undead – I love this site. They are always posting and do a lot in terms of news and happenings. They focus mostly on Goth/Industrial/Synth and keep right on the cutting edge. Megan and Sherri put out some of the best review videos around which are always interesting and have a fresh take. High production values and lots of personality and humor.
Post Gothic – Run by Oskar Terramortis who has been a part of the European goth scene for ages. This page focuses on Goth and modern traditional in particular. Very in depth and knowledgeable, Oskar knows his business and is a true pro writer. When he says something is good you can feel confident it has been through the paces and proven.
Industrial Island – This is an awesome podcast run by Michael J. Carrasquillo formerly of Wax Trax. Focus is on Industrial which is an area I am never as up to speed on. Michael knows everyone in the business and is always up to date on hottest new tracks. He spent long enough with the label to know it when he hears it.
Post-Punk.com – This is a widely followed page run by Alex Baker along with contributors Frank Deserto and Andi Harriman . It’s widely followed for a reason….it’s really good. Great writing and huge reach. A lot of bands do premiers with Alex because the level of quality here gets everything he releases in front of a lot of eyeballs. I had the good fortune to meet him when I was in Berlin and he is a wonderful human who cares about music.
Cat vs Bat – This is a wonderful podcast that does the latest in music reviews as well as discussion or a variety of music culture topics and interviews with artists. Always a lively conversation and I’ve found some real gems listening to the show.
Michael Nagy – Runs an awesome youtube channel that does reviews focused on Industrial but has some goth/metal mixed in. I really like his interview style and they always are shot with a professional look and interesting questions that draw great background out of your favorite new bands.
World of Goth – I really like this online zine for the attention to aesthetic and goth culture in addition to in depth reviews. It really comes at the goth scene as a culture rather than just a music style which adds a nice element.
The Infidel Network – A really cool promotion sharing page with a pretty wide range of styles. Videos, interviews, reviews they really cast a wide net but aren’t afraid to get into some of the more experimental music.
ElektroSpank – Online music magazine covering Goth/EDM/Industrial. They do a really cool format and their reviews are longer and pretty deep. In fact i should really figure out how he sets this page up 🙂
White Light/White Heat – In a way I think they really set the standard. It looks about as pro as you can get. when i was first starting out i got feedback from them because I really like their page. They handle an enormous amount of content and do a lot of quick hits along with longer pieces.
Dark Music Net – Out of Germany run by my friend Michael. This page was actually the first to share Sounds and Shadows reviews before i got my own page. I feel like we really share a passion for music and doing less pieces but more in depth. Sometimes I think this page is the other side of my coin in Europe, highly recommend
9/13/19 saw the release of so much great music that brought my blood to a screaming level of excitement that just doing a song of the day was not enough. I’ll fire through some of these wonderful premiers.
S Y Z Y G Y X – just released a new album on Negative Gain/Cold Transmission called “Fading Bodies”. Available for pre-order right now. Holy fuck, this record hits a new stride. It’s everything that worked well on “The Graveyard Compilation” but done bigger, tighter, weirder. Luna’s voice is way to the front and lets her haunting ghostly song wrap you in glowing chains. This is a band you will be hearing a lot from in the future. Look for our interview with them next week.
Antipole – Brand new record out “Radial Glare”. They are now officially the most reviewed artist on Sounds and Shadows with three records. Karl has continued to refine and grow the sound of interwoven intricate post punk guitars but has brought the vocals way forward and used frequent collaborators Paris Alexander and Eirene to make this heartfelt belt of bleak winter energy take life and drive forward into the crystalline beauty .
Ships in the Night – The Charlottesville VA group has released a series of remixes including one by Thomas Duerig of “The Purge”. Beautiful bright beam vocals racing by sinister dance beats and poetry of doubt and hope.
Bedless Bones – Your new favorite band from Estonia and another incredible Cold Transmission release. A mystical trance of beauty and darkness, “Sublime Malaise” feels like a coven started a dance club in a haunted forest on a stormy night.
Sombre – New video release for “Black Skin Twins”. It’s a new version of the song from “Linsay” stripped down to leave Cedric’s voice exposed and brimming with emotion. The percussion from the acoustic strings add an organic truth that lets you focus on the words.
I will probably write more on all these releases but so much happened today I needed to share my excitement. Delve into all of this. Each was enough to excite me.
When I was in Berlin Golden Apes album “Kasbek” was my continual companion. I was very excited after the review to have a discussion with Peer Lebrecht about music, the future, and where the passion comes from to keep making music through decades while you watch the world change.
Ken: I found your band several albums into your journey, I’m excited to discover you in reverse. Tell me about when and how you came together, and when did that become the current incarnation of the Golden Apes?
Peer: The fact that KASBEK, our current release marked the 20th anniversary of that band. It makes it quite easy to detect the right point in time when 3 guys, sharing the same musical passion for everything in common. We, met in a small and spare flat then tried to turn lots of energy, idealism and a little bit of weltschmerz into choruses and verses…Feels good to remember after all that time. Diaries and demiurges….
Can´t tell where we all came from but we met at the right time in the right place.We all had already gained some experiences in bands and projects before but this. Golden Apes was some kind of reset, a playground, a return to zero because we were free from any pressure and guidelines. There was no template, no route, no urge of artistic sophistication or thoughts about concerts or recording something – just a guitar, a bass, a keyboard, a trashy drum machine and tons of songs we wrote in the first handful of months. Should we have kept it like this? Maybe…Ha Ha Ha… But soon a kind of ambition crept in and everything got more structured and ordered. We sorted and selected, discarded and rebuild and in the end we had about 12 songs, which soon became our debut album “Stigma 3:am”. Though so many seasons have changed since then and whole rivers have passed under the bridge I still like it´s atmosphere, it´s insouciance and hedonistic attitude towards genres and stylistic boundaries. Something we came closest to with MALVS again I think, some 18 years later…and finally KASBEK…circles, circles, circles….
Ken: I was struck by how different this record sounds from others I have heard in modern post punk, tell me about how it is different from your previous records?
Peer: Destiny is a weird thing now and then. Graceful and cynical, torturing and pleasing, snow and ashes…one second honey is running through your veins and the other mercury…and its true shape you only realize in the end. When we started with KASBEK we thought we were going to do an album that would become a gift for ourselves, something to celebrate the 20 years of existence in the most proper way – in the rehearsal room, making and recording music. That was the idea. But somehow it all took a completely different route, something strange crawled in, slowly but toxic…something that let us die on the way. Sadly. The deeper some of us got into the focus on the music, the more we faced a kind of strangeness and alienation between us. The songs felt like a trigger for skimming layers of things unspoken for years. There were so many cracks suddenly, so many distances and discrepancies of expectations, ambitions, engagement and creative involvement. But this is how it goes sometimes. Not every covenant is made for eternity.
In the end it felt a bit like doing a solo album with 11 of 12 songs written by myself and no real input during the mixing and polishing. But there was never a second I had doubts about going on. On the contrary. The more I felt deserted, the more important Kasbek became for me. It was my album all of a sudden in some way and I dealt with it passionately. And I confess – I´m quite proud of it. Was it to become the last Golden Apes album? Or the first letter on a new, blank page? Still I don’t know, but Kasbek is a caesura, one of those relics pointing to a certain moment in time whose palpable significance makes you shiver.
Ken: I read that Kasbek as an album name was a tie in to Greek mythology with the story of Prometheus. Tell me the significance of this title and how it relates to the music you are making ?
Peer: Prometheus, who stole the fire (as an metaphor for knowledge and wisdom) from the gods and handed it over to the man and was therefore chained on a mountain in the Caucasus (this ominous Kasbek), where an eagle was eating out his liver, day by day cause – and here my congrats for the authors savvy, it was regrowing every night! A brilliant story, isn’t it?
Where is the link to the album? Somehow the whole story is about the wish for knowledge and the failure of dealing with it. It is about morals and their counterweight, about sacrifice and the tempting odor of things forbidden. It´s about guilt and atonement, about betrayal and iniquity…The rest is hidden in the words, in the lines between…in the flames.
Ken: Post punk/dark music is going through a real Renaissance at the moment. What are you doing to distinguish yourself artistically?
Peer: Honestly? I have no idea. I still would call myself a musical amateur with no idea about thirds, syncopation, the Pythagorean tuning or the Neo-Riemannian theories. I always made music the way it finds me and I don’t care about sophistication, compatibility or definition of genres as long as it is moving me, makes something inside oscillating. (I even don’t know what post-punk is nowadays for the inflationary usage of that label makes it quite different to stay on top of things.) And although I use to hear a lot of music, keep always watching for new and exciting bands, I strangely always escape into instrumental ambient, neo-classic tunes when it comes to writing. From Harold Budd to Moon ate the Dark, from Eno to Dvdub. The atmosphere is the setting, the condition of the mind the main source of inspiration. So maybe it is this different set of influences or the missing intuition for contemporary trends that puts Kasbek in a stylistic alcove…I never really thought about that…
Ken: Speaking of the growing scene I know you just did a show with Actors in Berlin. Tell me about some bands you would really love to share a stage with?
Peer: Fortunately, I´m part of a team, which organizes an annual little festival here in Berlin (Dark Spring Festival) and we are lucky enough that we survived for 10 years now with a concept that is far beyond any commercial prudence. We only invite bands and artists whose music we personally like and cherish. No thought about popularity or the number of sold albums. We are just naïve idealists and it works well! Therefore, I´m blessed with the fact that I could already share the stage with so many interesting bands. For example The Trees, Motorama, Whispering Sons, She Past Away, The Foreign Resort….not to forget all those amazing people we met on the way so far: the above mentioned Actors, Pink Turns Blue, Clan Of Xymox, Cinema Strange, Love Amongst Ruin….to be continued. So have a look at the billing of the next Dark Spring Festival and I´m sure there you´ll find a few answers…
Ken: I recently took a trip to Germany and saw your home city of Berlin. I was absolutely floored by the way people embrace music and art there. Tell me about what it is like to be a part of that, how has it shaped the music you create?
Peer: I don’t know if there is a specific Berlin patina on the music we make, (maybe this is something I even can´t judge for living here for every single day of my life already!), but I agree that there´s some kind of urbanity sticking on it, like sand on wet skin. All the places it is passing seem to bear traces of man somehow….abandoned, damaged, broken, lost but reservoirs of memories. There is a lot of nature in my lyrics – seas and rivers, mountains and valleys, deserts and skies but these are metaphoric landscapes somehow, conditions, backsides of mirrors, resulting either from that romantic rejection of modern technological deadening or just a subconscious vocabulary of a mind…? Analysts may know. I´m not sure if this is linked to a special place.
Of course, culture rates high in Berlin, either on the surface or below of it and in one way it was amazing to dive into this Bohemian maelstrom, there were so many possibilities…especially beneath the water! All the clubs, all the venues, concerts 7 days a week, so many interesting people and so many people looking for the same. It was great being in it, being twenty, being curious…but a lot has changed since then. Don’t get me wrong, there´s still a great variety of abreuvoirs of cultural and subcultural life, but somehow it´s on display now. It feels sold out and tired. Maybe it´s a question of generation or just the usual way of cities eating their inhabitants. Take a look at other former cultural hotspots like London or NY. It all becomes polished, whitewashed and an insiders tip in a travel book….
Ken: So one of the songs on the record I kept coming back to was “Clouds Silver Lining” It was such an effective use of dynamics. Tell me about what was happening during the time you were writing it?
Peer: I can´t point to a certain song on Kasbek and tell you when and where I wrote it. Somehow the whole album became one piece of work, a solid shell with a lot of inclusions. There were periods of doing the music and periods dealing with the lyrics, not that one-after-the-other linear progression. I just remember that the first, atmospheric part “Clouds Silver Lining” was the first I did and for a while there was no idea to change the atmosphere at all. Just those leaden major and minor chords, this lofty Cocteau Twins guitar and the decent drums. It changed when I accidentally put a bass line from another idea over the main pattern and realized that it changed the whole mood without affecting the harmony. So we found that rattling middle section, whose conclusion asked for the heavy guitars and these over polished late eighties drums. And about the words – it´s a classical love song with all this light and pain, this hope and disappointment, this faith and echoing loss….
Ken: You did the Song “Dust and Dew” as a duet with Shannon Hemmett from Actors/Leathers, I felt like you had such great call and answer chemistry with your voices. What is it like to share a song like that, what do you think another voice added?
Peer: This song is really, really special for me. And not only for we never did it this way before. There was “Missing” on the MALVS album on which Froxeanne from The Frozen Autumn added a few lines with her magnificent voice, but it was more a final seasoning with her coming to the studio, taping her vocal lines in a few takes and leaving again. “Dust And Dew” became so different case. I wanted to do a song WITH someone this time. Someone special of course. Shannon and me knew each other from a few shows we played together and stayed in close contact since then. She´s a brilliant being and it turned out we share so many similarities if it comes to passion for arts. In this way the idea of doing something together has been in the air for a long time.
After the riverbed for “Dust & Dew” was dug, I sent her the rough musical template and the first verse. She replied with the second and so on and so we worked through the whole song, denying that there were a few continents and oceans between us. And when she added her additional keyboard textures in the end I was so delighted about the result, so enamored of its density and intensity. But the real consummation of it all happened a few months later only, when we sang the song together live on stage here in Berlin…then we really finished the great white work.
Ken: What is the future for you now? What is your ideal outcome for the rest of 2019? Hint: come tour in America 🙂
Peer: As revealed above there is a moment of re-design happening here, some adjusting of the compass, because even if I left a doubt a few sentences before, I erase it here and now again – I will go on with the band. It is a too big and important part of my life for letting it go completely. There was this idea to work on some new music on my own at first, to see things from a different angle, to redefine states and conditions, but there will definitely be a post-Kasbek era for the Golden Apes. Don’t know its shape and don´t know its color, but I´m certain about its existence. Promised.
Ken: What is something about your music you put a lot of heart and soul into but you think often gets overlooked?
Peer: I don’t feel legit enough to judge this, to measure popularity and the reach of the music we do. I just can say that we feel quite happy about the feedback and response we got over the years. We have never been that front page band, never stood prominently in the spotlight and always failed to meet commercial and economic expectations but….it was never about that. From the very beginning we dealt with everything on our own, there was no real company at our back, no educated management, no booking agency…what was not easy and asked for a lot of idealism and resilience but making music the way we wanted to do it, music that felt right and important (to us) always kept us going on. And finally I´m quite happy that we can do all this without any pressure, without any need to meet other demands than our own. There is so many music left to do, so many places we have been to, so many lovely and wonderful people we met – we couldn’t be more proud of the things we faced so far.
Ken: If you were given unlimited resources to make any of your songs into a video, what song would you choose and what would it look like?
Peer: That´s a question that hits the nail on the head in an almost eerie way, cause we´re really in the state of working on a draft for a new video right now. Christian and me are dealing with some ideas in the moment and we hope to get something on the way later this year. And of course I won’t reveal what song it will be. Let´s keep it murky…but it will look great I hope….Ha Ha Ha….
So I had the extreme pleasure of meeting and interviewing this band while I was in Berlin. I am really excited for the footage we got and can’t wait to include it in this review. I feel like it gave a great background to these songs. As I am still working on editing, I didn’t want to put off this review any longer. So be prepared for it to expand.
This album is a narrative. A journey both emotionally and physically. To travel from LA to Berlin, two cities of such different flavor. It’s not a record to throw on in the background and do something else. It pulls you in, and demands your attention. Right away I am struck by the effective use of so many guitar tones. Some have a percussive almost bell like quality. The attention to detail in how they blend together give the texture integrity. A strength from the core of the sound.
Brandon has a deep rich voice that adds resonance to every song. It’s warm and dripping with anguish. The clarity of it really lets every word drift to you across the misty streets of the music. The way it sits so well on top brings the full range of feelings from the poetic lyrics. Sometimes with a gentle whisper, sometimes from the bottom of a well each word finds it’s way to you.
Now we speak of the saxophone. I miss the use of a muted, sexy sax in rock music so much. Night Nail uses the perfect amount to add texture and movement and complete that feeling of wet cold streets in an empty city. The bass guitar is thick and swelling. Not driving as is popular in post punk but a constant wide buzz that holds each song up. The lovely synth pads add the final piece of the puzzle. Varied, emotional, and never detracting. I keep getting drawn back to the idea of perfect construction. The time, thought, and stability of this lovely obelisk standing against a bleak landscape.
Some favorite tracks
Never Dream – Starting off strong with one of the more upbeat pacing songs. That gentle sawing guitar lead is the perfect smooth progression to set up Brandon’s deep echoing croon. The weight of the verse, given a beautiful uplift shift in the chorus. Wonderful effect.
LA Demons- The title track is an absolute simmering scorcher. This slow slinking bass riff with 90s flare right out of The Crow soundtrack. The sax in this song has this cool Pulp “This is Hardcore” sex appeal. This song has so much to unpack. Each time I listen it’s something new.
Shadow Song – This track has such a foreboding build with snapping snares that feel like they are in another room but snap like whips. The vocals are a gentle ghostly whisper with a harmony that makes everything sound ethereal and dangerous. Then that saxophone comes back to build. The drums start crashing like a funeral march and everything charges at you at once. This is song writing done right.
Overall Night Nail has me so excited. I feel like they have a beautiful and unique sound, but also the attention to detail and commitment that really takes a band to the next level. I’m extremely excited to complete the interview I had with them which gives even more background and insight into an already stand out album. Make your night better with this record.
Music in general has always been a bit of a boys club. Sadly I feel like ladies have always faced an uphill battle particularly as producers and song writers. The goth/industrial scene has had it’s share of amazing and talented ladies as well as a progressive view, but it has never been a 100% fair shake. Since I have been getting back into the cutting edge of new music I have been overjoyed and amazed at the influx of talented female led performers currently putting out wonderful art that adds to the discussion and furthers the diversity of this scene. So I thought I would take a moment to highlight some of my favorite new artists creating music that places emphasis on the female perspective and makes this genre richer. I can’t add everyone I am listening to but i feel excited that it took me just a few moments to have several amazing artists currently enriching this scene. These will be quick hits, but I have more extensive reviews of many of the ladies featured.
Hante – Hélène de Thoury has an amazing voice and textural songs of beauty and effortless grace. She has such an unspoken coolness to her songs that paint a picture in your mind. I am transported every time i listen to her.
Sunshine Blind – Caroline Blind was an artist I grew up listening to that helped shape and mold me and changed my worldview of music. She has continued to make amazing music with the power and beauty of her voice. I always describe Sunshine Blind as a Steel gauntlet in a velvet glove. This is a cover she did of the Swans “Godamn The Sun”. It’s simple, striped down, and amazing.
Black Nail Cabaret – Emese Arva is a freaking force of nature. Her presence and power remind me of the first time i heard Annie Lennox. Her voice is pure raw energy, strength, and beauty. Wonderful range and a revolutionary song writing style that makes me want to charge up a hill and believe in a better tomorrow. I challenge you to listen to this song and not feel inspired!
S Y Z Y G Y X – Luna Blanc has a voice that feels like a slow drink of whiskey in a club owned by David Lynch. It’s smokey, immersive, and full of desire. Can’t get enough.
Tearful Moon – Sky Lesco from Texas has such a haunting and lovely voice. It redefines barriers and has such an authentic concept and sound. She charges headlong into any subject matter while writing. It is deep, rich, and isn’t afraid to delve into the deepest concepts of the human experience.
Cliff and Ivy – Ivy Silence is a dear friend and all around wonderful human. Hailing from Alaska with her husband they do a sharp edge stabbing dark goth rock full of punk sensibility. Her voice is raw and unapologetic and as it crashes through you with sultry fierceness.
Kaelan Mikla – From Iceland is an amazing female group that hits on every level. It’s driving, fierce, gorgeous music filled with simmering intensity and textural beauty. They are truly a cutting edge sound for the modern age. Every time i listen to them i get lost in the picture they paint with every song.
Corlyx – Holy shit i love this band. Caitlin Stokes has a clear and fearless beauty and style. She really captures the raw sexuality and intelligence of the modern scene. This new album has a filthy glittering glory reminiscent of the 90s but with modern flare and strength.
Audrey Burne – I always love when i can give props to a fellow Michigan band. Lilith Gates of Audrey Burne is a immensely talented and haunting vocalist that has a lovely Natalie Merchant lilt and wonderful stage presence. I’ve had the honor or sharing a stage with her and they have a wonderful driving dark rock feel that really captures a room.
Fires- Aedra is a freaking force of nature. She sings with such intensity and burning passion about her experience and her song writing ability really pushes the boundaries of industrial electronic music. This album really changed the game for me this year.
Angel Metro – Soft, sultry, understated glory. Virginia’s Angel Metro does a wonderful blend of subtle dance beats and lilting tender beauty. She really exposes her inner most feelings for every song and this courage lends the tracks a real power.
Schedule IV – Stephanie Strange again from Michigan is a friend and amazing energy on stage. This is perfect precision post punk glory that blends her high range intense vocals and intelligent lyrics to create an entrancing and intimate experience. One of our favorite bands to play with and wonderful people.
Lorelei Dreaming – Laura Bienz leaves it all on the floor every night. I’m starting to reflect on how many of these amazing ladies i actually got to share a stage with. The energy, stage presence and political savvy combines with the intelligence of the lyrics to create a wondrous and unique experience. Do yourself a favor and bask in the fiery glow of this album.
I Ya Toyah – Chicago based Ania Tarnowska brings a fierce and rocket fueled electronic dance symphony of raw sensual strength to every performance. I love these explosive pop hooks blended with crashing dance rhythms.
Leathers – Is the sultry synth dream darkness of Shannon Hammett of Actors. It’s so great to see when a performer in a band of the quality of Actors finds her own voice and shows the ability to create such staggeringly beautiful music like this with her as the center piece. I love how far this reaches from the sound of Actors to really allow her voice to shine because it is one that deserves to be front and center.
Ego Likeness – So Donna Lynch has had a long, successful, and storied career and I could have picked a lot of songs newer than this, but it’s my favorite so I’m going with it. Donna is a hurricane of passion and darkness. She has been taking on intense topics in her art for a decade and creating beautiful songs about the horror which resonates with the feminine experience and having an intimacy of truth for decades.
Bess – Aussie dark alternative rocker Bess Linda is making churning sultry dance beats full of world beat toms and off kilter warm toned vocals to shake a dance floor.
Bones Uk – This recommendation came from Collin Schipper, filthy wide room fresh sounds. It’s pop hook sensible but cutting edge in your face intensity. You aren’t wrong “Beautiful is boring”
Death Loves Veronica – Veronica Campbell is a slow, back beat, sultry drive down a long empty road. It’s effortless tension, and subtle whispers of reality laid barren with brutal honesty.
SINE – I must admit I heard about SINE and Rona Rougeheart through her collaboration with Curse Mackey. However once i dug into the power of her art for itself I found an intense flurry of disco dance beats underneath powerful vocals and world building soundscapes which captured me and brought me to my knees to beg for more.
VV and The Void – Valentina Veil has a wonderful whispering smoke swirl style. Really great at building tension in her songs to feel like a story.
Dissonance – Cat Hall has such a rich soulful voice with I feel gives a unique flare to her dark dance electronic sound.
I know I have missed so many impressive female artist which drive and push the boundaries of this scene. Just looking through what popped into my head without much through fills me with hope for a brighter, stronger future of diversity of the dark music scene. I hope you find something here you give a try to expand your horizons with.
Kat Squared was kind enough to put all these bands together on a Spotify playlist