Sombre: Linsay

Band: Sombre

Album: Lindsey

Lable: Self Release

Members: Axel Wursthorn and Cédric Manine

This is a review for Sombre and it was a tough one to write. A lot of styles and voices were reaching to be heard on “Lindsey”, many sounds from song to song that it didn’t fit easily into a particular box. This is an band that wears their influences on their sleeves but those influences run the spectrum of all varieties of dark music. I find this lack of focus to be refreshing. There is a real sense of searching on this record. Some of the songs hit immediately right out of the gate, some of them fill me with longing for the possibilities. All of it stirs something in me and leaves me longing.

So lets talk about what I hear. This album sounds so clean and beautiful. I think as a scene that the trend in modern dark music is to pile layers of slush and effect just because we can. Sombre has the execution and production of a surgeon. It’s quickly apparent that a producer is also a member of this band. The hooks are very welcoming but the concept is simple and exposed. Cedric’s vocals are a deep and rich cadence that keeps within the melody and holds the structure together in almost the way a lot of bands use the bass line. He also has an effortless dare I say aloofness in the timber and cadence, it feels refined and existential in it’s delivery. I really enjoy the blend of Dead Can Dance, Depeche Mode, and most of all Killing joke for the sheer variety of sound. However what I like the most is the addition on modern Alt J trip hop texture slither mixed with panning orchestral synth pads.

Musically the feel is very retro and full of builds and tension. I feel like this album has another gear it is waiting to hit and I look forward to what that sounds like. The bass lines and percussion are crisp and driving. They flow forward and aft with Cedric’s vocals to create a frenzied and harried dance. I think the sound more than anything is hard to pin down which is intriguing and keeps me wanting to dive deeper. This album always feels like it is running somewhere new and that motion is what builds the excitement.

The lyrics lean more towards an expression rather than a metaphor. I found it easier to relate to for this. I am really finding a lot of appreciation for the freedom of a totally independent release. Again the subject matters really stretched from the romantic to the societal power dynamics. One thing that tied them together was the genuine nature. Where someone tells you their story directly from their hearts without anyone to answer to. That’s what captures me here.

Stand out Tracks:

Find the Light – This has that Duran Duran pop chorus and layered harmony with a Happy Mondays dancing bass line. The song has a lot of builds and falls. With Cedric’s rich warm vocal tone crooning in a sensual and charismatic verse just to be offset by that large build chorus. Silence burns holy night removes the veil from your face.

Black Twin Skins – This has an 80s almost prog feel that reminds me of everything the Church did well. It’s very dynamic but the layers pull and push to create movement. The vocals come way to the front and are very exposed. Cedric’s singing finds a way to carry the rhythm and the breakdown is a masters course in how to fill within a pop hook. I love the guitar solo for this song. Very slush 90s shoegaze. “We are to young to remain alone, the fear chills us to the bone”

The Master – What a non sealant effortless groove. This song slithers for lack of a better word. You can feel it moving back and forth through you. These drums are shadowed and echoing reminding me again of Happy Monday’s. I love the whispered echo vocals.

Lindsey – The title track stands above all others. This beautiful harmony with a second higher voice for the perfect capture of everything Sombre is bringing to the table. The lifting and lovely voice is dancing on top of Cedric’s rich baritone. The pop hook chorus is one that locks your mind up and repeats. The strange reversed vocals mixed with the heart beat drums. Just a complete anthem of artistic expression and accessible pop sensibility. A +

Kill Shelter review of : Damage

Band: Kill Shelter

Album: Damage

Lable: Unknown Pleasures records

Members: Peter Burns

All tracks mastered by Eric Van Wonterghem (Prodam studio/Berlin)

This is an album I can’t stop playing. Edinburgh based Pete Burns has found such a fresh take in a saturated post punk world. He has created an eclectic mixture of styles both old and new. His beats and production are crisp and haunted. It has a drive and motion that changes drastically from one track to the next which gives the listener such a feeling of taking a journey. It twists and winds through the emotional turmoil of our modern psyche. Part of the effect is achieved by the all star list of guest musicians and singers that he has convinced to come together for this epic undertaking. Some of my favorites are here so hold onto your hat while I do a bit of fan boying at this lineup: Edwin Van der Velde of (Zwart Pozie) , Nathan Jespersen of (Ultra Violence) Karl Morton Dahl of (Antipole) Ashe Ruppe of (Delphine Coma), Helene de Thoury (Hante) , Vadim Kristopher of (The Shyness of Strangers) , Mariusz /\VOID/\ Łuniewski of (UnderTheSkin) , Marc Dwyer (Buzz Kull) , Pedro Code (IAMTHESHADOW) Alice Sheridan (New Haunts) , Dillion Dominguez (KillJoi). The amount of talent and diversity here is a bit staggering. I think it really speaks to Burns abilities not just as an amazing song writer but as a manager to know exactly where to use all this talent to it’s best effect

Lets talk music a bit. These songs have a driving ferocity that is led on by Peter Hook-esque baselines relentlessly driving forward in every song pushing blood through every concept. The guitar work is so varied and precise. In Decay in particular has that signature Karl Antipole sound which is blended seamlessly into a song uniquely it’s own. However the other tracks feature buzzing walls of sonic rapture, prickling fingers on your spine, and lush landscape ballads. The range of sounds and emotion feels like such a dramatic undertaking. The drum beats are unique and give a spice and flavor to all these moving parts that makes each jump off the page in it’s time.

Discussing the lyrics and vocals are so difficult because each artist deserves their own review page just to discuss. However I will say that Burns has chosen masterfully accomplished artists with peak performances which bring everything from Pedro Code’s rich passionate crooning in Hollow, to Helene De Thoury’s dark smokey seduction in Kiss Me Goodbye. Buying this album is like getting 10 records for the price of one.

I need to take a break from writing this just to collect my thoughts enough to pick some favorite tracks, because any of them could be my favorite. This is a complete work without a weak track. I’ll try though. Ok, I think I figured it out, although both are incredible tracks and some of my favorites I will skip over Decay and Hollow because I have written reviews of both Karl and Pedro and my love for them is well known. I know cheating, but I do what I can.

Black String – This song features the amazingly talented Nate Jespersen on this beautiful and subtle track which allows him to show vocal range. The music is creep dance magic. This feeling that gets you nowhere. Its so different from the standard post punk goth vibe but with such pop sensibility in the way that melody latches onto your mind and plays itself over and over. Puts me a bit in the mind of The Cult. Pure gold.

Get Down – This song features one of those bass lines that has a crisp clarity that it makes itself the focus of the track. Vadim Kristopher does this gentle spoken chanting vocals. The guitar riff if a fingertip dance that feels like flickering fire through the whole track. It feels so effortless but hits so hard.

Sever – This song is such a creeping dread. The keyboards have this splashing edge and Alice Sherridan has this Jonette Napolitano grinding edge in an off kilter tempo which adds such emotion to the track. I pictured the part in a terrifying ghost story when the monsteress is crawling towards her unsuspecting victim.

Overall this album absolutely blew me away. I’m truly in awe of how all these parts came together with such form and precision. It’s gritty, it’s tender, it’s dark, and it’s dancible all rolled up into one beautiful package that leaves me yearning for the next release. I have found so many albums I loved this year but this is right near the top of the list. Breathtaking.

Delphine Coma: Leaving the Scene

Band: Delphine Coma

Album: Leaving the Scene

Label: Swiss Dark Nights Records

Edited and Mixed: Ashe Ruppe

Recorded: Aetemum Studios

Members: Ashe Ruppe – Music and Vocals , Guest Musicians: Amendoa Lizzbeth Tamburri – ambient guitar on “Touch” Domokos Benczedi – Bass guitar on “Comatose”

Review of Austin TX minimalist dark wave Delphine Coma’s album “Leaving the Scene”. I love the fitting tittle of this album because if I had only one word I was allowed to write about this release it would be unapologetic. This is a release that tune smith Ashe Ruppe has called forth from the sonic ether with a fresh minimalist vibe that is a dangerous break from the modern Darkwave norm. I first caught wind of them from Ashe’s vocals on previously reviewed Kill Shelter’s track “In Decay” one of my favorites from a great album. I found this CD and have immersed myself in it ‘s tortured textures and soul striking soundscapes. This album is full of desolation and loneliness. It has distant dirge drums and twisting guitars that put me in mind of the Chameleons UK. A true throwback sound which hearkens the muddy bleakness of early goth music. The feel is not dynamic, instead the emotions portrayed are weighty and intense. This is not an album aiming for beauty but instead one that opens a maw to show the listener the bottomless pit of an abyss. Rhythmic bass lines, and vibrating keyboards that aim for tension not for comfort.

Ashe’s vocals are a sinister baritone that never break stride as he lulls and beckons the listener into dangerous and forgotten aspects. Every time I thought this will be the change of pace song. The one that will release this immense pressure of dark seething weight, I was piled on with another share of the crushing power. If you came looking for a pop album or a toe tapping dance groove you arrived at the wrong place. These are thinking songs for a spiritual journey towards the self reflective aspects of the human soul.

Standout tracks:

Touch – This twisting winding guitar riff and vocal cadence is what really put me in mind of the Chameleons. It’s sinister, its challenging. “I feel your touch, I feel the coldness of your skin” This song lets Ashe’s vocal’s shine in there effortless cold clarity.

We Never Sleep – Crawling synths like grinding gears. With countering delayed guitar lines. Echoed vocals that seem to crawl towards you from a hundred miles away. This song creates an enormous gravity in it’s effect. “And when the substance breaks, we walk into the sea and never look back. Terrifying, beautiful, desolate.

Moth Meets Flame – A strange out of place change for the album but one I found myself drawn to. I am reminded a bit of the dance hall drone of Good Bye Horses. The vocals are a spooky spoken word chant. The synths continue to build from the bottom up creating an offsetting feeling. “Desire is calling, desire Is falling, desire is bleeding”

Overall this album is not an easy journey, yet one I found I couldn’t turn away from. A complete concept, a forbidden tale. Abandon all hope ye who enter. These songs are nightmares given flesh. Walk in darkness with it. Feel the danger of despair and live to tell the tale. Buckle in for this thinking persons album.

Creux Lies: The Hearth

Band: Creux Lies

Album: The Hearth

Label: Cleopatra Records

Members: Kyle Vorst, David Wright, Topher Snyder, Barry Crider, Ean Clevenger

There is so much beautiful and nostalgic to hear. What if you made The Cure Disintegration but gave it razor sharp teeth? The drums had more snap. The guitar lines had that same entrancing delay but with more motion. Ean Clevenger has an obvious Robert Smith quality to his voice, yet where Smith focused more on a tongue and cheek sass. Clevenger is bringing a piercing intensity and higher range of New Order Movement feelings of being lost. The driving bass , the rising synth phrases, those crisp bark beat snaps. It’s like hearing every album that got me through my formative years but done with the precision production of the modern age. Every song makes me want to fall in love but never find the courage to express it.

Lets talk a bit about what isn’t nostalgic, because there is plenty of fresh takes in this offering. Beautiful guitar leads full of textural slush in a shoegaze slither. This record bleeds of layered sounds so thick you want to run your fingers through them. Intricate drum beats with a symphony conductors precision control the movement of each track. Just like most albums that touch me deeply it usually comes back to a vocalist that can make me feel something. Who can take me on a journey with words and feelings and this album left me shook. Every phrase drips with tortured honey and sorrow. Sometimes as an older listener who has lived a bit you hear something that makes you feel young again. In the case of Creux Lies it is not with energy and power. It is by reminding you of how deep you used to feel things before the world tempered you. Hearkening back to The Cure again this album is full of pop hooks. Strong ones that grab the lapels and shake you. It’s hard to define when you hear something that is similar to plenty of music I am hearing, but has something extra, has IT. I’m at a loss on how to express it but I do know it when I hear it. I heard it.

There really isn’t a weak track on this album, but I’ll pick some favorites.

Portals – This is the obvious single, but it is that way for a reason. The beautiful New Order keyboard melodies are absolutely captivating. The lyrics “Did you fall in love with a killer at your door, while waiting for a lifetime to begin” pure poetry. The vocals in this track are a masterclass in sliding between the cracks in the wall of sound around you. The build on the end is a perfect tension and release. Staggering.

Virginity – This is such a gentle caress of an opening, that effectively smashes you in the face with a giant crashing wave of sound when you least expect it. The slow crawling tempo makes you sway like a leaf on the wind. It feels like the terrifying lack of control at a first love so powerful you don’t yet have a frame of reference for it. Clevenger reaches into some sky splitting notes in this one and laser burns them into your heart. Slow dance with yourself in this moment.

Aine’s Song – Tom fills, give me all these tom fills. Tiny dancing pin prick guitar lines doing a duelist routine with the bass and rhythm, “I saw your face again, I want to take you home” That feeling of being struck. We have all felt it but to blend the music and lyrics so seamlessly to express it. I love the whispered secret in between chorus. I love the world drops out breakdown. You built me up and then pulled it all away. Just so those toms could drive right back into me.

Overall this album is an emotional and powerful offering. It’s also full of energy and fun though. It shows me how the past can pave the way for something new in dark music. I was an instant fan for life and you will be too.

The Dream Collision

Album: The Certainty of Forever


Members: Pedro Code (IAMTHESHADOW) All songs composed and recorded by. Matt Howden – Violin on “Made to Break. Herr G – Bass on “To Give” Victor Moria – Piano “Through empty Spaces” Goncolo Mota – Piano “To the Moon”
Mastered: Andre Castro

Cover Photo by Zinblume

I have been so lucky to find a waterfall of bands I love and get to write about. Sometimes I come across something truly transcendent,. Something that takes the depth and darkness of human nature in a way that wrenches your heart, but strikes such beauty that it fills you with rapture. It’s like standing in the rain staring at the place you first met them and remembering they are gone forever. That is what it is like to hear “The Certainty of Forever” 20 glorious tracks laying out a story of heart felt passion.

Sometimes when I have a particularly difficult review to describe I focus on a single word to anchor me back to the concept I am hearing and build on it. For The Dream Collision that word is resonance. It resounds with you emotionally, in depth of the lyrics, with the balance of the instruments, with Pedro’s room filling voice. The enormity of the experience inside the vastness of emptiness in the space between.

Pedro Code (IAMTHESHADOW) has laid himself raw and exposed in a Nick Cave meets Dead Can Dance masterpiece touching such classical notes of emotive power. The gentle weight of the piano lines pressing on you while you are caressed by violin and lifted from below by rich bass lines. The sound is tender and full of anguish, I felt myself moved to the point it became difficult to take in all at once.

Pedro has brought in friends and family to create a true glimpse into the core of a human contemplating his darkest musings. His voice remains one of the most intense and lovely in the genre. The connection he feels with the people creating this record with him is so apparent in every track. Each song is a story of his love and fears free of pretense. I challenge you to not be stirred by this personal offering.

I had some standout tracks I felt really spoke to me:

Cutting Deep – This tender and flowing ballad with string movement and sensitive melodies set a stage for Pedro to shake the silence with his romantic baritone. “Maybe some colors, I can achieve. Life is so wrong, in me. That it cuts me deep in.” The exposed anguish on display here is memorizing. The question “Am I so wrong, am I so sick?”

Blackbirds – These Peter Murphy flowing synth pads weave a web behind a gentle spoke word verse. The piano lifts the tension. “But the lines won’t break, blackbirds stay here” The silky flow of the strings brushing a finger until the drums grow and open up the sky. It’s impossible to not feel the passion of delivery and become lost in the beauty of the moment. His voice goes to the higher range and finds a hopeful tone.

It Seems Like (Mother) – The back draw drums paving a place for the piano line. The haunting delivery of his lyrics, the feeling behind them is transferable. He flows in and out of the meter and calls out with gentle longing. “It seems like the snow fell, it’s true. The sky dropped that night, on you” beautiful heartbreak and exposed courage.

I am a huge fan of what Pedro does with IAMTHESHADOW. It’s music to feel and listen to. This album though strikes such an inspirational and personal place. It feels like you were let inside someones more dangerous feelings and memories. I’m Awestruck, share in the experience with me.

(Ken) This album left me shaken my friend. The depth of emotion here is beautiful and terrifying. Tell me about the themes present in your creation? what moved you to make it?

(Pedro) If it makes you feel and shake, my job is done…:D  to tell you about my songs is to tell you about my life…my dreams, my despair, my love, my pain… to compose The Dream Collision is to face my demons with my angels, letting them fight knowing no one will win. i just pick up the pieces of what is left. all this songs are what i am, putting all simple…

(Ken) Your son and friends played on a track. Tell me about that experience and your pride in his ability? 

(Pedro) My son  made one song… “To the Moon” in piano… he was playing at my house and as soon i listened i was overwhelmed by what i was listening and i told him” you will record this to my album!”. I did the second pianos and the atmosphere involved in the track… I know and feel he could be a great musician, but he doesn’t know that yet. I’m especially proud for whom he is, and that he has one of the best parts of me… my passion for the piano. For this album I also decided to invite some friends to play… Vitor Moreira and Rui Geada from IAMTHESHADOW, I wanted to have their emotion on this album. it was achieved I believe. I had Matt Howden too, without need of presentation. he is a great violinist.  I’m extremely proud to have all these names in my Dream, sharing my emotions. I can not forget the person that made all this possible…Sandra (Zinn Blume)., my best friend and a true light in all this dark.

(Ken) This album was so organic in a digital age of modern dark music. Was the contrast on purpose and how did that lend itself to the final sound?

(Pedro) Nothing is on purpose in what i do in music, I only speak my truth from the heart. The base is always the piano and the image i had inside while composing these songs, they led me to the final result. I cannot tell you. If i could have, I would had a true orchestra recording besides true analog synths..for me the music is not old or modern… is just true or not.

(Ken) How was making this record different emotionally from IAMTHESHADOW?

(Pedro) For me they have for me the same depth and emotion…but the result..the final impact is very different. and what I’m trying to say is that as a listener, i feel these two projects in a different way, but the way i write is the same. I don’t write for Iamtheshadow or The Dream Collision. i write for me, because i need to. The Dream is more raw… with no compromises. Iamtheshadow is for obvious reasons compromises my band mates.

(Ken) Tell me about where you recorded the album and how did that place influence the sound you made?

Places don’t really influence my writing. Only the places within myself and the doors I open for it…i recorded the record at home as i always do.. It’s necessary for my emotional state and nothing besides me or what i feel affects the way i compose.

(Ken) What is next for The Dream Collision ? 

I sincerely don’t know… sometimes i feel that this album is a great way of ending my Dream…but on the other hand… i don’t want to end me. Is like life. I take it one day at a time. Sometimes i think of playing live…lets see .

(Ken) This album has such personal lyrics and expression, how did you overcome the weight of that and what did it mean for you in terms of your growth as an artist? 

I can never seem to overcome the weight of my feelings and emotions.. its a everyday struggle…my music helps me to deal with that, to know myself better and i just hope it helps me to grow as a human being. If i achieve that i will be a better artist. Sometimes when i listen one of my finished songs, I understand more of who i am, why i feel what i feel, and what i want from life. In someway I know its my purpose. to feel this and to compose this.

(Ken) If you could add this album as the soundtrack to any film, what would you choose and why? 

(Pedro) That is a difficult one….i can imagine The Dream Collision in many movies, because of the pace, motion, intensity…There are some good films that are passionate, intense and somewhat sad, but no film in particular. I will ask you the same question. what film would you choose for this songs?  My songs are feelings, experiences and images inside me. Its difficult to connect it with a vision from someone else…

Its one of my dreams i didn’t achieve yet… to do a soundtrack for a movie and i expect that i can do it soon enough.

(Ken) If I get to pick I would choose “Wings of Desire” the film by Wim Wenders. The imagery of the traipse artist with the angel watching in the background, I feel like it the perfect counterpart.

(Ken) You are playing the Cold Transmission festival in July. I am beyond excited I will get to see you preform live. What does this festival mean to you? 

(Pedro) Yes it will be a great pleasure to meet you finally! I am excited to be with many friends I haven’t seen for some time, like Andreas and Susan! I know it will be a great night of music with great bands. Iamtheshadow have been playing some festivals in Europe in the last few years and its always a great experience. Its something that is unforgettable. To share all this emotions in a festival.