Review of Art Diktator: Isola

Art Diktator is a Turkish art-disco/electronica duo that started in 1997, through which husband and wife team Hakan and Ravenna have since been an intricate part of the Turkish underground music scene. Using self-drawn graphic videos and a high-energy stage show, they have been captivating audiences of many genres under one progressive sound.

https://artdiktator.bandcamp.com/album/isola

https://www.facebook.com/artdiktatorfanpage/

Last week, we did a podcast with the amazing Elz and the Cult. One of the bands they chose to share was Art Diktator, and Collin and I fell in love. This high art / quirky electronic dance sound is brimming over with artistic intrigue and dance floor electricity. It’s a tornado of different styles swirling with dark energy to the eye of the storm where beautiful melodies meet electro-punk danger. The voices form a wonderful call-and-answer duality and match dark sensuality with angelic beauty. I don’t understand most of the lyrics, but the power of delivery leaves me captivated.

Ravenna and Hakan

I found myself wrapped in their constantly bouncing lo-fi synth sounds and driving, dark bass lines. Hakan’s voice is a deep, rich snarl from the lowest register in a sinister chant below the music, while Ravenna is a melodic, lilting gust of wind over a barren city. Strikingly effective use of transition and phasing. All the artistic integrity of Black Tape for a Blue Girl-esque darkwave plus the tearing, dance drone of Sig Sig Sputnik is a lot to pack, but somehow Art Diktator finds that place. I love how each song changes tone and emotion so much and leaves me feeling like I am watching a foreign heist film with no subtitles. In the podcast, Collin called it “Angry ABBA” and I can think of nothing more apt.

Hakan’s artwork

Favorite Tracks:

Van Gölü Canavarı – This lovely, strange synthwave line comes in lulling you with its downturned tempo. Then, bam! everything speeds up and your body starts moving to the beat. Hakan croons with his deep, gravely voice and is answered with a robotic callback. The name means Van Lake Monster, which is a Turkish myth. I just kept getting lost in the furious motion and contrasting sounds.

Don’t Dream It, Be It Did I choose this one because I could understand the lyrics? Nope, I picked it because it’s a jam. The crisp waves of slithering sound mix with the xylophone-sounding ascending keyboard banks. It’s a mantra we can all understand. Made me feel like I was part of a Turkish remake of Beverly Hills Cop and the end salvo with Ravenna’s whispering chorus were a beautiful finish.

ZONE FATAL – I believe this was an older track, in which the vocals feel reminiscent of Andrew Eldritch. The lyrics are also very dark and poetic and the music is a driving dark city soundtrack. Lots of tight corners and slithering shadows.

Overall, discovering this band and the others Elz shared with us during the podcast has really opened me up to the rich and wonderful Turkish Underground scene. I’m going to have to dig deeper into this catalog because this album is a sizzling train ride into the dark.

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Release of The Purge “It Was Worse Than I Thought”

Exclusive Album link HERE ^^^^^^^^

We are very excited to premier the release of The Purge’s new EP single “It was Worse Than I Thought” I have been a fan of the Thomas Duerig’s music for some time now. I feel like this track was a wonderful evolution from some of his earlier power screaming into the void and instead brings an emotive pleading cast forth at the world. One of the great strengths of this project is Thomas doesn’t sound like the typical voices I associate with Dark Wave music. He flings forth lilting and exposed melodies that hold so much feeling.

Musically this release is driving with the synth pads far to the front. I was taken in by how organic it sounds. The ringing of chimes and bells. The grinding mechanical attacks were a nice tribute to Pretty Hate Machine that turned 30 years old this week. I hear a lot of that influence in The Purge but with this single in particular it stands out. That letting the world into a head swimming with emotion that you don’t really have a grip on. The guitar lines are fierce and aggressive but used sparingly to add real weight and power. It is a song that takes you somewhere leading by it’s heart.

Thomas has also used this song as a vehicle for change. I recently did a piece about artists supporting the things they believe in and Thomas is putting his money where his mouth is.

ALL PROCEEDS FROM THE SALE OF THESE SONGS ON BANDCAMP, UNTIL DECEMBER 31, 2020, will be donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention through their Virginia Beach Chapter.*

These two tracks are a continuation from the album The Purge produced in the Summer of 2017. The story so far has been “Carried Away,” “Is He Alive,” “Hurt You,” and “Damaged If I Don’t Broken If I Do.”

There are nine songs on this “lost album” in total. When all of the songs have been released, there will be a remastering of the old tracks before an album release.

The Purge has recently associated with their local chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and will be donating all proceeds earned from this release until the end of the year to the AFSP. Remember that sometimes there’s a lot to say, we are social animals, and, if you are feeling overwhelmed with life or feel like there is no one who will listen, there are people who want to hear from you and you are not alone. Very special thank you to Katherine Martinez for compiling the following resources:

Crisis lines (available 24/7)

National Suicide Prevention hotline: 1800-273-8255 (veterans press option 1)

Crisis textline: text TALK to 741741 – law enforcement can text BLUE to 741741

Veterans textline: 838255

The Trevor Project (Crisis line for LGTBQ+): 1866-488-7386 or text START to 678678

Additional Numbers

Translife line support for transgender people from people who are also transgender: 1877-565-8860

SAGE LGBT Elder hotline support for older adults: 1888-234-7249 (SAGE)

RAINN sexual assault/rape (available 24/7): 1800-656-4673

Domestic Violence Hotline (available 24/7): 1800-799-7233

Human Trafficking Hotline (available 24/7): 1888-373-7888

Child Abuse Hotline (Available 24/7): 1800-552-7096

Military One Source (Available 24/7): 1800-342-9647

Safe Call Now for First Responders (available 24/7): 1206-459-3020

Cop 2 Cop for First Responders (available 24/7): 1866-267-2267

Code9 for First Responders: 1929-244-9911

https://rainn.org/ offers support to someone who is a survivor of sexual assault or abuse (RAINN)

https://www.halfofus.com/ gives information on mental health conditions

http://www.ulifeline.org/ connects college students to mental health services

https://connect2affect.org/ connects the elderly who may be struggling

http://www.eatingdisordersanonymous.org/ connects persons seeking help for eating disorders

http://www.aftersilence.org/ online support group for survivors of rape, sexual assault, or sexual abuse

http://breakthecycle.org/ gives information on supporting people ages 12-24 on how to build healthy relationships without abuse

https://deafdove.org/ helps those in the Deaf and deaf community who may be in an abusive relationship

https://humantraffickinghotline.org/ resource to report human trafficking or seek help if you are someone being trafficked.

https://youarerad.org/ helps find free mental healthcare

https://adaa.org/ helps give information on mental disorders like anxiety as well as support for those who need it.

https://dbasilence.org/ depression and bipolar support alliance that helps people find support groups and information

https://thepurgeva.bandcamp.com/album/it-was-worse-than-i-thought


A rookies guide to Cold Waves VIII Chicago day 1. 9/19/19

In 2012 a musician and sound engineer much beloved by the scene named Jamie Duffy was taken too soon. In an effort to pay tribute and help his family, a group of bands collaborated to create a music festival. Eight years later it has continued to grow and thrive as a celebration of music, counter culture, and dancing. Somehow in those previous seven years I have never attended this festival. This year I am changing that. I figured I would create a preview of each of the four days line up. Then try to share them before I head to Gotham City this weekend. Friday is sold out but tickets are still available for the other days and I would love to share my Cold Waves deflowering with as many of you wonderful people as possible.

Thursday Sept 19th lineup is a monster one. Lets break down who you will see.

http://coldwaves.net/?fbclid=IwAR14BGkA1nBmGq0oS1uPTuQgYd8MRX8U2-4MjDVqu6GiHMih-r8zsMjeaMg

Chicago’s own Panic Priest from Negative Gain records is playing Smart Bar and Jack Armondo will be bringing his honey rich baritone voice over delicious electronic beats and sizzling guitar licks. If you have never had the pleasure of witnessing it live, it is a must see.

This couldn’t happen in Chicago without some old school boot stomping in your face industrial. Sean Payne/Chris Harris and friends doing Conformco will give you that in excess. Get on this dance floor now!

Bootblacks – of New York is a driving post punk electroclash sizzlefest that has to be seen live to truly be appreciated. I saw them play with frequent life partners Actors in Detroit this past year and was floored by the energy and passion of their set. They have a new record coming soon “Thin Skies” produced by Jason Corbett so you might get to see some preview material. Just seeing Panther’s dance moves alone is worth the price of admission.

Far from done here it’s we are still talking about day 1! Curse Mackey with his debut solo album “Instant Exorcism” I have already reviewed this year and it shook me to the core. Curse has a storied history in Industrial music playing with (Pigface/My Life with the Thrill Kill Cult/Evil Mothers) and this personal and powerful record is a ritual charged electronic inferno. I am yet to see him live so I couldn’t be more excited.


Acumen vs 16 VoltAcumen lead by the Novak brothers has been an intense hard hitting metaldustrial band since the late 80s. Their guitarist Jamie Duffy and his tragic passing was the focus that brought this festival together. No doubt making this a very personal show each year. 16 Volt with Eric Powell from LA also lean towards the metal side while adding electronic and synth elements. I’ve always really liked their vocals and cadence. I’m not sure exactly what the combination will sound like on Stage but with that level of talent in one place it is sure to be memorable.

Jared Loche and the Chemlab crew from Washington DC are part of any serious discussion about what Industrial music is. Chemlab has always held that early Throbbing Gristle art piece style of industrial music for me. They push the edge in the best possible way. It’s been a long hiatus since 2012 when they last played. It is a swirling, electronic Pandora’s Box, Like a pressure cooker filled with chaos brimming over into your eardrums. I can imagine what that many years of ideas is going to look and sound like.

Pop Will Eat Itself the UK based dance explosion that has been shaking the cement off clubs since 1986 with napalm bright guitars and electric stage shows and effective rapping. I think it has always been the extreme cleverness of this band that makes it stand out. My dear friend Josh Garman said it best “PWEI is so good they did a diss track of the Jesus and Mary Chain and I still love them” PWEI really deserves it’s own lengthy article about their contribution to the bigger musical picture.

Other important news, WAX TRAX will have a collectors corner set up with both the WAX TRAX documentary film and several rare test press, first press collectors items from the label.

My friends we are only at day one of a four day musical celebration and the names keep this exciting as the weekend goes on. So hydrate, pace yourself, and leave everything on the floor.

Review of Night Nail: LA Demons

Band: Night Nail

Label: Cleopatra Records

Members: Brandon Robert – Vox/Guitar
Michael Carpenter – Guitar
Justin Regele – Synths/Keys/Programming
Bryan Panzeri – Drums​ Members: Brandon Robert, Justin Regele,

Home Base: Berlin Germany

https://music.nightnail.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pg/nightnailmusic/about/?ref=page_internal

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.

Review of Panic Priest

Band: Panic Priest

Label: Negative Gain

Members:

Jack Armondo – Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Synth, Programming

on record: Toph McNeil (programming) + special guests

https://panicpriestngp.bandcamp.com/album/panic-priest

https://www.facebook.com/pg/PanicPriest/about/?ref=page_internal

A captivating self titled release from Chicago shadow minstrel Jack Armondo hits like a velvet coated brick with it’s power and beauty. As a musician when you ask another musician for feedback of course they are always drawn first and foremost to the thing they play. Therefore when I find a record with a truly gifted and unique sounding vocalist who writes great lyrics I am hooked. That’s how it was with Panic Priest. Jack has a voice that leaps in front of the music and leaves you entranced. You hear familiar elements in the style. A bit of Andrew Eldrich in that dark flowing wail, coupled the grit and soul of Peter Steele, you even hear the sorrowful beauty of Andy Deane. When it all blends together and crawls out of your speakers like a seductive demon creeping towards you, it becomes something of it’s own. This is no pure front man either. Jack is an accomplished musician who takes all of the writing and music on himself. The guitar work is a precise needle bouncing in time with the velvet curtain and rising synth sounds, they shimmer over a dark pool of bass building a story of sound and human frailty. The themes are aesthetic and heartbroken and they drip from a landscape which changes from song to song as quickly as the range in Jack’s voice. I have had the good fortune to share a stage with Jack and it is an incredible experience to witness live. I found myself even more impressed with his guitar playing than his unique and memorizing voice. It’s hard to pick out stand out tracks because the production is exquisite and every song is powerful and elegant. For the sake of whatever professionalism I front at I will try.

I find as time has gone on and I hear this record again and again I am struck by the fact that the sound matches the human making it. That isn’t always true but this album flows with an organic and genuine energy. It is deeply personal and gives you an experience of sharing in someone closest held self when you listen to his music. It’s one of those records you need to sit down alone with to truly appreciate. It is layered, it is lovely, and it unlocks self reflection.

Sideways – The opening track, this song is so catchy it haunts me rather in my ears at that moment or in my head later that day. Jack’s wails a chorus that speaks of familiar heartbreak. “Strange to say, think of me sideways” The drum beat jumps about light and enthralling for a true slow goth club jam. Swing your arms and fling your head about. I could hear this track 1 million times and it would never be enough.

Die Divine – This leans into the keyboards more and lets Armondo croon with a tenderness of a forgotten age while the chiming church bells of the keys fill the room. This is the soundtrack of city street walking in the rain. It bleeds isolation and echos a subtlety that makes you reach for it instead of coming for you.

Velvet Cage – Here you really hear that First Last and Always percussion guitar. The drums have an urgent speed. The vocals wrap it all in that voice which stares into your eyes unblinking. I love the concept of that beautiful cage we place ourselves in.

If you haven’t gotten from my over the top gushing yet, this album needs your attention. This is a band that has the something extra which is both definable and undefined. I originally wrote this review before this page existed and it remains one of the best things I have discovered in the modern dark music scene. I can’t recommend enough.