This is our second S & S Darkscene chart chosen completely by the Djs, Bands, Reviewers, Artists, and Super Fans, of the international group Sounds and Shadows. This features singles from any country and any genre within the loose darkscene category (Goth/Industrial/Darkwave/Postpunk/EDM/EBM/Electronica).
The Joy Thieves(feat. I Ya Toyah) – Money Is Not Our God (Killing Joke Cover) by Coitus Interruptus Productions – Chicago superband The Joy Thieves return to this chart with a blistering cover of the Killing Joke classic. This entire compilation is full of banger tributes to one of the great names of the scene. Ania (I Ya Toyah) unleashes a terrifying and powerful rendition full of punk rock snarl and sky splitting technicolor. Milligan puts on a loving masterclass in syncopation on drums.
daddybear(feat grabyourface) – Hypnotic – Madison WI – I love this team up more every time it happens. Matt Fanale (Caustic/Klack) dropped this immediate dance floor classic with frequent contributor Marie (Grabyourface) on vocals. It’s a buzzing electronic zapper you can’t help buzz towards your destruction on. Whispy sensual, destruction core vibes. A must own banger.
Aesthetic Perfection (feat. Isaac Howlett) – Save Myself – Austria – The king of pop industrial teams up with glorious songsmith Isaac Howlett (Empathy Test) to create this perfect style blend duet. It cooks and yanks the hell out of your heart strings as two of the great voices of the modern scene push and pull a furious cyclone of exploding energy.
Stabbing Westward – I Am Nothing – From COP International LA Progdustrial sensation continues to prove they are a force of challenge and artistic expression in 2021. It’s fierce guitars and laser burn vocals from Chris Hall, who remains one of the best in the business.
Helix – Run (Hallowed Hearts Remix) – The husband/wife team up of Tom Shear (Assemblage 23) & vocalist Mari Kattman are one of those things I am embarrassed I waited so long to get on board with. It is sledge hammer dance beats smashing ice castles of precision and fractal light beam beauty. Spinning motion I never want to put down.
S Y Z Y G Y X – Light You On Fire – I have been so excited to hear where Luna and Cold Transmission Music would go next with this project. This scorching sensual growl of death disco minimalist glory. I don’t even know how to categorize it. Only that I can’t get enough eagerly await the full album release this Friday .
grabyourface – Rob the Bank – The French Negative Gain artist makes their second appearance on the chart. This coldwave slow stomp single of revolutionary nihilism and burning intelligence is a smoldering exhibition on a post capitalism world.
PALAIS IDEAL – The Voice Of Reason – Cold Transmission progressive post punk artists have again produced a higher concept thinking dystopian sound for the modern age. Overlapping waves of technical excellence and poetic intent. Everyone in the genre wants to make the next Star Wars while John and Richard are creating Issac Asmov.
Sapphira Vee(Feat Cat Hall) – Breath of You – Distortion Records artists teams up with peer vocal power Cat Hall to belt this powerful single about the strength and perseverance of cancer survivors. The weight and emotion of this personal track is a crackling orb of enormous movement and resilience.
ULTRA SUNN – Young Foxes – Saucy Belgian cold wave trance from Cold Transmission. Sam Huge has a resonating voice that fills a room and stalks with intent. Pete Burns adds an elegant mastering to create cavernous echos.
It has been a tough few months. A Lot of stress, but also a lot of exciting news. Sounds and Shadows keeps finding new ways to grow like last months S & S Darkscene Chart. I did Bandcamp Friday reviews last week, but I wanted to write a few tonight and just spend some time with new music. As always reach out to me or one of our other reviewers if you have something you want to hear us write about.
Machines With Human Skin – Transience – Brand new album from Chicago Industrial artist Adrian Halo. I’ve been spinning a bootleg CD copy of this Adrian handed me at Coldwaves festival. I’ve really loved watching his growth and progression. As a songwriter and producer I hear continual learning with every release. Such an underrated aspect or organic growth. I love how this album uses the power of a whisper. The power and anger comes forth, but not with exploding bass, ear splitting guitars, and screams. When you deliver lyrics with a breathy and melodic intensity it makes you lean in to listen. Makes you want to be inside the circle and absorb the emotion. The bounce of these basslines really create movement and give the wispy chant a vehicle. This is my favorite work MWHS have put out to date, it is effortless, soulful, and the mix really sits in the pocket without forcing the intent.
Favorite Track: Invisible – This song really struck me in part for the clean and focused tone. In part for the raw and exposed aspect of the lyrics. It’s glitchy with a high energy pace and curled lip defiance. A firehose of pressure and political discourse fired with crystal cool water and builds.
Recorded at Maynott Studios, Chicago, IL Mastered by Jules Seifert at Epic Audio Media, London, UK Artwork: Jim Marcus
Sequential Zero – Second Sequence – Some of the great Australian goth talent teams up with Orcus Nullify axe master Bruce Nullify. Ant Banister of Sounds Like Winter provides a haunted, emotive delivery on vocals. The dark disco style Lenn drums create an abstract Cabaret Voltaire openness. The tracks are gripping hands of tension, holding the mind and forcing introspection. This release really excites me for the future of the project. So many talented voices finding a space together and lifting each other up.
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.
Favorite Track: Run (Hallowed Hearts Remix) – These tracks have all really impressed me. This one though managed to take that same beaming energy and fire it through a violet lens of darkness. The shadowy tones open up even more space for Mari’s vocals to shine. I put this track up for the S & S Darkscene charts. These layered guitar leads add a whole other level.
daddybear – Hypnotic (feat grabyourface) – It seems whenever Matt Fanale (Caustic/Klack) and Marie Dragontown (Grabyourface) team up glory ensues. This beat is grinding dance floor magic. Marie’s vocals are sensual and terrifying. The whole song is a promise of ill intent which remains tantalizing while communicating destruction. After a few collaborations anytime I see this team put out a new song, it is an automatic buy. I have been requesting it in every Twitch Dj stream I jump into.
Goth Professor – Swamp Gothic (Halloween Single) – Unnerving atmospheric horror trance from Florida’s Goth Professor . I really didn’t know what to expect wadding into these swampy waters. If you want to invite 9 guests to a mansion, feed them delicacies, then commit a murder everyone remaining is left to solve. This is the soundtrack you need.
COLD WAVES is a celebration of Chicago’s relationship with industrial music, the memory of a fallen brother, and a fundraiser for suicide prevention charities. In the summer of 2012, Chicago lost one of its most loved and respected sound engineers and musicians, Jamie Duffy. His work ethic and ingenuity in the local music scene was a gift to many musicians. His abrupt passing had a profound effect on the electronic and metal music communities he meant so much to.
Friday night preview ! This is a stacked bill and I will do a quick hit on some of the amazing talent you will see 🙂
Pixel Grip – Chicago natives that look and sound way too cool for their own good. An effortless euro dance vibe with shadow weaver vocals and staccato cadence. When you need to channel the confidence of your look and follow the beat to the dance floor this is your jam. The perfect build to set the tone.
Odonis Odonis – Toronto danger trance bring a circulatory pumping drive and britpop beauty sure to shred the floor. I love the way they push the wave right to the edge without cascading over. Real masters of the electronic hook in the vibe of Information Society . I hear so much familiar here and creeping dark dissonance that adds a forceful infusion of soul.
Gost – Now it says they are from Hell Michigan, but if that is true why don’t I know them? I didn’t know anything going in but I assure you I am diving deep now. This Satanic darksynth is absolute hellfire. It explodes with bright thick streams of magma and clever samples. I love finding a band and immediately falling in love. Songs to exorcise demons, and then befriend them. Bringing a iron bulldozer of metal into the synth genre.
Rhys Fulber – The legendary electronic artist best known for his work with Front Line Assembly and Delirium. I grew up enthralled by the scalding power Rhys brings to electronic atmospheres. The master of conjuring robotic overthrow apocalypse to life. Perhaps his greatest aspect is the craft of collaboration. In a long and storied career working with so many great artists to always find a way to shine forth the best in others. This is not the time for a bathroom break. Absorb the glorious energy of one of the best that ever was.
Dälek – New Jersey trip hop cityscape sonic painters create a landscape of subtilty with brush work percussion and smooth as butter rhymes. A synthesis of beauty and power. East coast intellectual truth spit to mental elevation. An outstanding addition that speaks to the eclectic nature and scope of this festival. Feel the room jump, feel the beats bump.
Consolidated – This is a band that was extremely important to me in my formative years. That they are playing this show in this moment when their progressive ideals and punk rock ethos are needed most. They have been fearlessly screaming for a change which was so far ahead of it’s time. Funky jazz chaos electronic with intelligent and powerful delivery. A thoughtful and focused fire that stirs the mind as much as the body. What a way to close out Friday night.
It’s been a tough few months. Finding the spoons to write with my voice has been a challenge. So I have a lot of albums stacked up in my Bandcamp list. I’m feeling hopeful tonight. Going to try and summon that spark and share some of what is making these dark days bearable. As always if you have something you want to see reviewed put it in the comments below.
Manticore Kiss – Intertwined – I am genuinely upset this EP has not gotten more attention. The Vancouver duo was recorded by Jackknife studios. As we all know everything Jason touches is gold. The band features Kat Bastow – Vocals, Keyboard, Electronics and Ari Mansell – Vocals, Cello, Violin. It has a unique and expansive electronic sound of world beat synthpop somewhere between the soulful depth of Dead Can Dance and shimmering beauty of Erasure. Both vocalists are talented and inspired. A crystal ballroom waltz in perfect syncopation. This album was a magical pool to dive into and transport you to a fantasy world of beauty and lost romanticism. I was staggered by how immersed in a dream every song left me. These are dark and challenging times. To create music so easy to get lost in is a balm I didn’t realize how much I was longing for until I was lost in it. The harmonies were a true dialog that added depth and perspective to the story. A captivating surprise that made an instant fan of me.
Favorite Track: Forever – This dark tone and winding melody was absolutely mesmerizing. The synth pads were full of movement and gorgeous refracted light. The lyrics are imagery rich poetry and painted by perfectly synched harmony. This is like a Tolkien prose in musical form. The chorus is a spiritual hymn that makes your heart thump in your chest.
Jean-Marc Lederman – The Bad Tempered Synthesizer – It can be so difficult to review Belgium composer Jean Marc Lederman, it seems everything new he does pushes hard against the caul of artistic boundaries as to what I think of as “songs” in the traditional sense. Every new release is such a dynamic experience that teaches me something as a songwriter as well as about my own human journey. This 12 song album was is an homage to Wendy Carlos an American composer who helped develop the original Moog. A true pioneer who changed the face of modern electronic music in so many ways. Jean Marc spins a bleep bloop tale of expression and change without ever uttering a word. It feels like a racecar driver putting a prototype car through it’s paces, taking what the engineer had made and conducting a series of tests that showed the absolute limitations of sound and emotions capable by a single instrument. I feel like every new release is a challenge to what is possible to create within the concept of being a musician. An unfettered freedom of firing a rocket towards the sky not caring where it comes down. It makes me hopeful that this kind of courage and ambition can still be celebrated in the modern era. Where it feels everything has been done. The past, the future, the respect to those who came before, and the brazen chaos. All here in a glass bubble, frozen in a moment in time. This record is not pop hits, not hooks, even though the songs are pleasing. This is high art, designed to set you on the road, and allowing you to take your own journey.
Abbey Death – Death is For the Living – July 2021 single from Darktonica independent couple Abbey Death. I really love the lofi minimalist tone for how much is going on. Valarie is a tempting whispery invitation luring you towards deaths sweet embrace. Nex descends on the chorus with a harsh jagged glass terrifying tone. The blend is a culmination of the romanticism and fear or the unknown in one. The late 90s flavor guitar lead builds the tension for the layered vocal choir at the end. It’s nostalgic in a way seldom seen, a throwback to the late 90s’s early 2000s. A Steel teeth and silk cloth style that flows and leaves me excited for what is next.
Armalyte Industries – This is an amazing celebration at an outstanding price. Armalyte is setting a standard for boutique labels and celebrating 20 years of putting out music that carves the line between rock/metal/industrial. 24 tracks with some of the biggest names in the genre, and some of the hungriest new sounds for the future. The online live stream highlighted the best aspects of the current industrial scene, lifting each other up. This compilation is sawblade sharp and electrically charged. An old school exhibition that puts on display all the label has to offer. A chance to hear collaborations by the likes of <PIG> and The Joy Thieves, Industrial mainstays like Spankthenun, and exciting new trend setters like Der Prosector. This is a must have to find 5 new bands you didn’t know were your future favorites. I love the quality, the execution, and what a compilation like this represents. Mastered by Jules Seifert at Epic Audio Media.
Monsieur Pompier’s Travelling Freakshow – Teatime Terrors – Wow what a fresh fun take. The fever dream carnival cacophony of sound. Elements of of Zappa, Man Man, synthwave, and Syd Barrett. The lyrics are a clever, humorous, psychedelia space opera. It’s so exciting to see a band throw caution to the wind and create something truly strange and beautiful. I think the greatest power of this record is the creativity of the characters. Each song is a page from a vibrant comic book concept transported into pixilated retro mono synth songs. I really hope to see this album played live someday, because it sounds like a magical party brought to life. On Cleopatra records.
nino sable – The AHHH – New lofi minimalist terror trance single from Nino. This track is straight up nightmare fuel with a haunting growl and skin crawling poetic lyrics. You need to listen to this track, not right before you go to bed, but you need to listen to it.
Rohn – Lederman – Watch Out – I know, I have already talked about Jean Marc in this review. Michigan native Emileigh Rohn has an uplifting electricity in her voice that fills me with hope and energy. Her recent tracks with John Fryer’s my new favorite get stuff done music. Now she teams with another living legend in Lederman to focus that fire into a swirling slow motion golden whip. Add in top tier remixes from Assemblage 23, Mark Hokings, and Leatherstrip and COP has put out another home run single. After working with electrosynphonic masters to create emotive sonic paintings like this, the only question that remains is. What will she do next?
Cult Of Alia – Offerings – New grinding mist rolling future sounds from David Wright on Cold Transmission. I love the fusion of darkscene genres here. The vocals drip from the microphone with sensuality. The songs all hold this enveloping mist quality filling the city streets and holding it’s listeners hostage in the darkness. The creative use of digital sounds add a deliciously unplaceable flavor and build the tension. Split Seconds in particular is such a cerebral thriller of fear and longing. This makes me want to slow goth wave my arms on a dancefloor.
C Z A R I N A – Wonderland – I love a good dark pop as much as anyone. This new single from Czarzina is a napalm fire burst. Perfectly crafted, full of soul, and a hook that releases technovirus tendrils and plants itself in your head. We talked recently with her in a podcast that will come out Friday 8/7/21 about how this song was based on her experience of moving to Spain where she learned the spiritual history of the region. Easy on the ears, piercing to the mind. <chefs kiss>
Red Meat – 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.
daddybear (Feat: Grabyourface) – Science Fiction – Wow Matt Fanale really brought it with this new single. Teaming up with Marie of Grabyourface was a perfect icing on the cake. This is a jam of hypnotic proportions and the message is you must move. Marie’s voice is a smoky sensual alien being both exotic and alluring. The single also has a really cool trance like bside and a holographic wavy Sawtooth remix. Turn the club speakers to 11 and feel it flow through you.
I make this speech a fair amount but bandcamp is the only distributor of music that seems to give two shits for new bands. On Friday once again they are waiving their own fees to give all proceeds to the artist. To be clear the rates they charge are extremely fair. However if you have a band you love that you want to show support for now is the time. I ask our Sounds and Shadows family to shout out what we will be looking to buy on Friday.
Blak Sunday – Spooky fierce old school bat cave death rock from Indianapolis. Crunchy Riffs and Misfit punk edge by goth members of our community that are POC. What is not to love about all of this. It’s hard and dirty full of fangs and leather. What’s not to love? This is on my must have list.
Cold Transmission Music (Zeitgeist 13) – Lucky number 13 of the glorious compilations from Frankfurt Germany’s Cold Transmission. 33 songs for 4 euros that spins the whole wheel of the dark music scene. it has lots of their label bands which are always top notch. As well as several other offerings from around the world. This is by far my top value pick.
Eva X – From the northern lands of Alberta comes shadow queen Eva X. This album has been on my list to pick up for a while now and Friday is the day. Loving these crashing hand drum sounds and her swirling Miranda’s Sex Garden wispy vocals. That spot on blend of beauty and sinister intention.
Daddybear– These are troubling times, sometimes I need a wall shaking, butt thumping, dance party. Matt Fanale of Caustic/Klack has brought that once again. It’s driving, sexy , and guarantied to make your apocalypses shake with the sweaty masses until oblivion. Also featuring the heavingly vocal stylings of grabyourface.
Dead Agent – Ed Finkler once again unleashes an assault of mechanical disaster on the unsuspecting world. 24 tracks of remasters and remixes and remixes including a straight inferno from Joy Thieves. It makes me want to build a mech and fight stuff.
Stoneburner – (Soundsystem) Glorious new album of covers of Industrial greats like Chemlab/Covenant/Gary Numan/Ministry/Massive Attack. Also some new versions of the last few albums. If you read this page you know of my deep admiration for the art of Steven Archer. This album gives a chance to hear some of what Steven pays homage too. It’s beautifully crafted and a bit of a love letter to what inspired him. Plus it thumps.
Backxwash – This occult hip-hop album got me really excited. I hadn’t heard of this artist before, but I loved how the genres met. The latest album, “God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out Of It,” is a huge, symphonic level hip-hop album that scratched the pop sound and emphasized a witchy feel.
Fearing –“Shadow” was released in early April and should get some recognition. This album is dreamy and poppy with a huge wash of reverb over top. There’s passion in each track with a familiar ’80s tone.
The Wraith – (Gloom Ballet) – LA Deathrockers The Wraith released this album late 2019, November to be exact and I have not stopped listening to it ever since. I found this band through having been a fan of Lost Tribe, singer Davey Bale`s previous band. Gloom Ballet serves excellence on each track which during these goth revival times is few and far between as the revival brings a certain amount of mediocrity with it.
Jessica93 – (Guilty Species) Jessica93 is a one man band from France, this album in particular is one I listen to on a nearly daily basis, it`s filled with rhythmic, catchy songs that just gets stuck in your head and forces you to listen to it. This album in particular leans more towards post punk although Jessica93 seems to hold no regard for genre and just do what they feel which is a trait I greatly value in artists.
The Cult Sounds – (S/T) The self titled debut album from The Cult Sounds is yet another of those gems such as Guilty Species and Gloom Ballet where you`ll find great variety in each track, ranging from classical post punk but without feeling like tired repetition to more mellow ambiance.
Hide – (Hell Is Here) Hide is to me one of the most important bands within industrial right now. Utilizing found sound, field recording and old school sampling in modern ways all wrapped with a political message they stand out amongst the crowd and yet can not be compared to anyone.