Exciting new shadow disco album from Kimberly Kornmeier set to release June 15th. This is a project that has been going since the late 90s but I am just getting on board. I regret waiting as long as I did because this album cruises that perfect wave of shake your ass dance beats and heady introspective lyrics. 17 tracks with 8 wicked remixes full of powerful names like Assemblage 23 and Adian Cane. Kimberly has a gorgeous vocal delivery that sits perfectly in the mix to be the star of the show while allowing the crackling energy of the dance beats to fire like a rocket breaking the atmosphere. The shadowy smoke is always present in the tone, but what really wins me over is the confident defiance in the delivery. Her voice has an indomitable spirit that fills you with hope.
Let It Burn – Opening title track and it’s an absolute burner. When the bell rings you start swinging and that is exactly what this track brought. Beautiful Blondie style delay vocals and sparkling crystal keyboard accents. The song feels so personal, like a story told while watching yourself from outside your body. I’m always impressed when a song can carry off a devil may care attitude without venturing into pretension. It’s one of those tracks you want to be playing in the club when you make your entrance.
Shed My Skin Feat Silence In Machine: A rattling builder with those same laser focus vocals and reckless abandon. Great mechanical demon contrast on the echo vocals by SIM. Again this concept of staring down the barrel of insecurity and trauma and striding boldly forward. This album continues to deliver a powerful voice for women in the scene.
Cold Machine (Assemblage 23 remix) – This is a a song I found so relatable. We keep getting colder and more desensitized to protect ourselves from the damage in the world. Yet in moments we miss that humanity, that vulnerability. It’s a boot stomping baseline and a message that smacks me right in the feels.
Overall: I am beating myself up I am just discovering Bow Ever Down but on the strength of this album I am going to dig through the back catalog. It’s fierce, it’s sensual, and it delivers a message of strength and power. When you preorder the digital album is available now. Final note, the cover art is a burning hellcat with fire eyes. I am obviously here for this.
I have not been great about writing reviews this month. However that has not stopped my compulsive purchase of badass new music. So I am going to delve into my cups as well as the latest in hot new tunes. I invite you to follow my meandering thoughts and broken sentence structure. It is my genuine hope you find something here that will inspire hope for you as the tension of the last year and a half seems to have a light in the distance. As always leave a comment below if you have an artist you would like to see me review in the future.
kenzifires – “Slumber Party” by Ashnikko – The amazing shooting star Æðra Justice Burke of FIRES has started a new WitchHouse project and blew my doors off out of the gate. These slinky flowing hip hop beats crisscross with waves of color and heat. I think the most amazing impact is the ability to stop everything, hang in silence a moment, then pirouette and walk away. I don’t know the original song well, but you can bet your sweet bippy I am looking it up now. Everything she touches is a laser beam right to my heart.
DoppelgängeR – Mercy and Eternity – Currently the hot topic in Post Punk/Darkwave is the amazing icy wind blowing out of Russia. Doppelganger has been leading that charge for a while now. Building an impressive catalog for 25 years and honing an impressive smooth icicle sound with a razor point. Rolling live drums with crisp transitions. Light shard guitar cadence. A bass line the drives the tempo with intuition and an unseen presence. The vocals are subtitle and hold a wisdom. When someone says you have an old soul, that is the effect these vocals create with me. I am kicking myself for waiting so long to find this band and if you haven’t heard them please don’t waste another day.
Dancing With Shadows – A flowing wisp of smoke with quick moving guitars and deceptive transitions. Another power of this band is that it sounds like itself. The vocals in particular could easily get lost in the “Baritone Post Punk” singer trope. It has instead a fresh confident take that is not another Ian Curtis/Andrew Eldrich.
HALLOWS – All That Is True Dies – New single from recently relocated Seattle band Hallows on Cold Transmission Music. In addition to the single you get two remixes by Dead Astronauts and Profit Prison. As well as exquisite mastering by Pete Burn and Slade Templeton. That is an all star team and gets me excited. The first time I heard this band I was struck by the glorious blend of vocal styles. It really creates a story between these voices. Like an other world echo of memory that haunts a home. I love the simple idea layered with tragedy and humanity. This is a song of reflection and immersion. After the banger club hit, that quiet moment when our characters lock eyes and get lost.
Into Grey – Waiting Here – So this is a band from Columbus Indiana that found it’s way to the Sounds and Shadows group and holy shit it is good. I’m working my way through the previous catalog. It is rainy days and water colors. Deep resonant vocals that put me in mind of Golden Apes. Cutting poetic lyrics of longing and doubt. A lot of overlapping busy guitar leads which create motion from an otherwise crushing weight. It’s a nice effect that draws a beautiful contrast. Quickly rising on my list of modern bands making goth romantic again.
Stoneburner – Sell Out – Steven is newly signed to label COP International and broke out the first single. To no ones surprise it is a total banger. It was produced by living legend John Fryer and features remixes by Klack, Stabbing Westward, and Sick Jokes. I love the crushing 100 MPH pop stinger tempo and tongue and cheek clever delivery. “I want to look good in the DJ booth” “You have to sit through my noisy ass shit”. This is a cleaner burning view into the wit and humor that Steven uses to connect with his audience outside of his music. I love the left turn in direction to show the range and endless creativity Stoneburner continues to bring.
Shadow Fashion – One Black Rose – San Antonio darkpop darlings have dropped a new single and this is my favorite of their releases to date. I fell deeply in love with this track. It hits on so many genres and decades in one dark clean insta classic. Huge John Hughes romantic swirling film feels. Patrick’s vocals are crisp and dreamy. It has a modern production with a nostalgic tone. This single really paves the way for a bright exciting future. I’m jaw dropped blown away by how much this track is stuck in my mind when I least expect it. Must have.
Dove Tribe – All In The Waiting – No one is a bigger fan of the artistic exploration of sound by Hide Tepes of Carrion than me. He is on a constant journey to create some of the most cutting edge sound crafting in the modern scene. So when I heard he was doing a new project with a more rock focused old school bat cave sound I knew to expect something exceptional. The song “New Cold War” is a powerful political statement with an emotional delivery that harkens me back to 1959 by the Sisters of Mercy. A track that transports you and paints a picture of strife and rebellion. It shows Hide’s voice in a completely new light that left me spellbound. Currently available for pre order for a 5/15/21 release. I feel like this EP has the raw power to be a game changer in a genre hungry for new sound.
Lyres Of Ur – I Look Good On You – I know, I know, you are thinking Ken are you just reviewing all of your contributors at Sounds and Shadows? No, this new single from Lou Blacksail is pure blazing fire and marks more young talent that is hitting a stride which strikes me deeply. The vocals are a sinister reflection of 80’s pop. I love how accessible the hooks and cascading synths feel while the vocals hint at something secret. A dangerous curl of the lip and arrogance of the eyes. As Lou continues to find his voice, I continue to be more invested and impressed by a future talent in this scene. Show support now for this “It” factor artist.
MORIS BLAK – Irregular Revisions Vol. II – Brand new remix album from Boston EDM wizard Brian Blacknoise. Powerful reimagining from 2019 The Irregularity of Being. This album is a epic dance journey where sounds are sculpted from chaos into form. A masterful job of enlisting vocal performances from the likes of Alicia May, Luna, and Pete Crane to add layers that elevate the intent and narrative. Finding a fresh image in songs you have previously done is no easy task, but this remix album cracks the standard code. It’s a collaboration that takes something wonderful and fires it through a prism.
Favorite Track: I have a tossup here. Between Alicia May‘s vocal delivery of empowerment and grace on Burying Place, and the and the HAEX remix of of Erase Displace. Both brought such a fresh vision to Brian’s vibrating walls of earthquake destruction. Honestly I am hard pressed to find anything here I didn’t enjoy.
ΣΕΘ(SET) – Disorders Of The Heart feat. Morgue VVitch – So this was a powerful and abstract find from Arizona featuring Morgue VVitch. An unnerving and beautiful forest of terrifying Will o Wisp lights. Goblins horror texture blended with dungeon synth adventure. I loved the spoken word intro and the fingers on your spine chime movement. What left me enthralled by this was how unfamiliar and dangerous it felt. A chilling feeling of desperation leaving me hungry for life. I want to explore deeper in this haunting mystery.
Hot new video release from Portland’s electronic dance rage band Slighter. This song has such a creeping sludgy sex appeal. Colin Cameron has a filthy vocal delivery which stalks you like a hunter beyond your vision. I love the contrast of the glitchy sound and booming bass with those whispered promise melodies. The video is an amazing ghost in the machine view. Innocence is dangerous, inside of us”. I love the hard build in this short banger. A hungry snarling club growl for your next playlist
So many great Industrial/EDM/EBM albums this year. This is a genre that has been expanding and drawing fresh listeners all year. Again I can’t possibly include everything I loved, however these albums were the ones that fired a jolt of electricity into my spine and made my gears churn. These are all artists who had a full release in 2020.
20) Rabbit Junk – Xenospheres – Seattle based EBM/Metal dance explosion has been churning out explosive action movie soundtracks with razor sharp production. This album is swinging a sledge hammer around their heads on a leather cord. The cover of Iggy Pop’s “Kick It” with Peaches singing is worth the price of admission on it’s own.
19) eHpH – Infrared – Colorado band eHpH did this timely politically charged record that really captured the fear and division in the current climate. I think what I loved best were how wide the influences present were. Some melodic and post punk, some bright buzzing EBM. The whole record was full of intelligence and challenges the listener to face their own ideas about where the world is headed.
18) Seven Federations – Holy Orders – A wonderous sonic explosion from South Dakota. The vocals just crackle with electric ferocity from exploding transformers. Filthy basslines and wolf growl guitars. this album is the naughty demon on your shoulder whispering to you of sinful roads not taken. They might be the most underrated album on this list. People need to know about this record.
17) Carrion – Testament Ov The Exiled – This is always such a hard review to write. Carrion is so powerful, so fresh, but just doesn’t fit into any box that makes sense within the mind. This textural terror noise has a level of intensity that demands recognition. How to quantify it I have no idea. Other than to say it is music that leaves you changed, afraid, praying for the dawn. Hide [Adrian] is creating on a level that artists and critics in the next decade may have artful words for. This whole record just leaves me moved and unsure how to describe. Best to bare witness for yourself.
PS: Carrion is already reissuing the album via Brutal Resonance Records, the `Revised Edition ` includes 5 bonus tracks!
16) Corlyx – Together Apart – World traveling EDM darkpop couple Caitlin and Brandon with their sophomore offering have captured the glory of pageantry in dark music. Caitlin has a beautiful voice that captivates and builds dreams in your mind. I love the dark LA gutter glamor this band always commands. They have added a level of clarity and refinement for this album and continue to evolve. Get in on the ground floor of these future stars.
15) Rottersand – How Do You Feel Today – The way this German band turns and twists on different axis within the same tracks is reality defying. The echoing chorus’s that have an intelligence and feel of Roger Waters bursting with electronic futurecore explosion. This album is a special journey with peaks and valleys that run the breadth of human experience. It is a modern album that has something for every kind of listener to enjoy.
14) Trevor Something – Deep Wave Data Dark Web Deamons – Florida dance demon Trevor Something might be the sexiest thing I heard all year. The way they capture raw, grinding, sexual energy in sonic form is something of glory. It shakes your bone marrow awake and says you are an animal that hungers for flesh. Buy this record, shake a martini, and have a private dance party with your favorite partner.
13) 11 Grams – Humancide – The super combo of Rob and Simeon put out this long awaited album of everything you ever loved about old school industrial/electronica. It always has a toe over the line while sounding so familiar. Perfect execution and narrative intensity. This record is a rocket jocks sci-fi soundtrack to explore the speed of the stars.
12) SpankTheNun – The Bunker Tapes Volume I – Hard and metal to the floor industrial from Texas. How do you find that line between crystal clear beats and filthy growling vocals? It’s right here. We aren’t reinventing the wheel here, we are greasing the axle to make it spin harder and faster. A bunch of amazing remixes from Blue Ant, Assemblage 23 , Melodywhore, Sapphirra Vee, show the faith and influence that this band commands in the scene.
11) Caustic – A Succession Of Repetitive Beats – Our only double album winner in this genre is Matt Fanale. The return of Caustic and their DIY punk rock mentality with witty and humorous electronic slither is a breath of fresh air in the modern genre. The song Stale Semen, Shame, and Video Games is a poignant slam of the Incel culture. Make me dance and make me think. This is what Joe Strummer trained us for.
10) Sapphira Vee – The Mask – The smoky and subtitle voice of Sapphira Vee from Rochester NY has been tearing up the airwaves the last two months. A slow drink of whiskey in sonic form. It’s slow and grinding full of personal reflection and self realization. I had a small part guest vocal on this album and it’s a point of personal pride that I was involved with such a powerful release this year. I’ve bought multiple copies of this record to send to friends. This is a great example of why trip hop is the highest evolution of music.
9) Kanga – Eternal Daughter – LA based artist wields this sonic saber like a charging cavalry officer charging by on a horse slashing on both sides. It’s that effortlessly cool beauty blended with icy dance beats. I’m not sure what category to put this in beyond excellent.
8) Grabyourface – Sea – Every once in a while some album comes along that is so fresh and honest you sit up in your chair and just feel something new. One of those artist that grabs hold of their own ribcage and rips themselves open to let you in on the guts and grime of everything inside them. This album forces you to feel things, to confront and absorb the empathetic tone within yourself.
7) Klack – Probably – The Wisconsin EDM sensation that brings together Matt Fanale (Caustic) and Eric Oehler (Null Device). I’ve watched this project grow and blossom and this album really hit the perfect stride and balance of their styles. It’s clever, it’s electric, and the single Faith In Me is a glorious jam that could have been on a Depeche Mode album in the late 80s. I love when you hear a collaboration and can hear how much the artists respect and care about each other. It can’t be faked and this album brims over with it.
6) The Joy Thieves – A Blue Girl – Chicago superband led by drummer extraordinaire Dan Milligan has been garnering much deserved respect in Industrial circles. The way he blends old school Industrial with organic hard rock is an energy which is contagious. The contributor list is impressive and so long I won’t add everyone but names like Chris Connelly, Jullian Beeston, and Ania Tarnoska are just a few highlights. The title track is a slamming cut for the ages. If you don’t know about the next Pigface you need to get on board this train.
5) Klute – Queer For Satan – Claus Larson of Leatherstrip unleashed this gorgeous record of furious destruction and sensual magnetism. This year must have been one of the toughest things a person can go through for him and that unbridled emotion pours forth in a firehose of pain and fear. If you love Leatherstrip (and how could you not) this album is top of the game.
4) Stoneburner – Beauty Is Terror – Steven Archer has had multiple releases this year, all great. His ability as an artist and multimedia creator really is the top of the game for DIY synthesis of audio and visual. To me this record was the highest evolution of his style thus far. It’s hard, world view, narrative, intelligent music that conjures images like you are reading a novel. The single “Are you here the way I’m here” is a steampunk electrocore time travel head flip. This album truly pushes the boundary of what is possible in thought and feeling. You need it.
3) ESA: Electronic Substance Abuse – “Burial 10“ – EBM music is not my cup of tea. However, anything done at the top of the game is easy to know when you hear it. This album is hard, filthy, and so full of nuclear radiation it is impossible to not stomp your feet and dance to. The concept, power, and delivery are peerless in their execution. Add to that guest performances by Jo Hysteria, Cainlin Corlyx, and Lecture and you have one of the breakout album experiences of the year. This is one of those records I could listen to 100 times and hone in on a different detail each one.
2) The Jean Marc Lederman Experience – Letters to Gods and Fallen Angels – For all those wondering where are the albums touching on a higher artistic ideal in the modern age. This is it. The Belgian artists who’s resume has touched some of the most prolific music to occur in the electronic era has compiled a group of guest singers both legendary and future stars and ask them to write a letter to God or a fallen angel. The responses follow the course of human mysticism and discovery. This album is a true journey of thought and expression that touches on a myriad of styles and ideas. It’s been a long time since a record made me think and feel so much. Do yourself a favor and take this adventure.
Pig – Pain Is God – Some people had a punk rock phase in their angry youth. I had an industrial one. A big part of that was Raymond Watts. KMFDM and <PIG> was a remind that Industrial music could mean something else. That it was a music of synthesis between electronic dance beats and any other style you could imagine. Here he is reborn the swine lord persona with a heady blend of of gospel, hard rock, and neon gutter grime. This record was the open gate between my 2020 self and my 1993 self. A DeLorean that connected me to my ego and my wisdom. A glorious return for the master of swine.
Today is the day when Bandcamp (The one music streaming and distribution company that seems to care an iota for musician’s) waives it’s fees and gives everything spent, to those making the music. It’s been a tough few months in particular and I am in the middle of Sotember (The month each year where I recharge and drink nothing stronger than Earl Grey tea)
Death Loves Veronica : In The Silence
Newest single from Texas darkwave sultry star Veronica Campbell. This song has a brighter more open tone than previous offerings. It really highlights the elegant purity of her voice. Also included is a beautiful synth rich remix of “In The Silence”. A cascading waterfall of cool crystal sound.
I have been waiting for someone to put raw emotion and sass back into the darkpop genre. This album crackles with mid tempo dance beats to fill the back walls of the club. The lyrics are an inward journey with an 80’s Madonna soul. Beautiful modern layered vocals to create movement and build. It’s one of those sounds that flows through your earbuds and into your nervous system and flexes attitude through your body. I feel like other people can hear these songs through my movements when I listen.
Chicago retro-synth dreamboats Wingtips have done this fitting tribute to criminally underrated 90’s Aussie pop band Savage Garden. I love the interlocking vocal duet here. The frosting sweet swirl of keyboards and chimes on this song make my heart dance with delight.
Firebrand driving doom dance with a nice sprinkle of Industrial guitar and finger firework keyboard work. I really like the effective chanting vocals which hit right on the needle of what I want from a club jam. Extra bonus remix layers on some teeth and glitch for a aggro feel. Stomp your feet and scream obscenity.
Listen to Klack or I will attack, and you don’t want that. A fresh new feel here from Matt and Eric. I really have enjoyed every evolution of this project. This has a Construction Time Again DM flavor. It has clever carefully placed samples. The beats have a real shake that ass groove. The keyboard melody lines are beautiful retro hooks. I really fell hard for these breathy cleanly delivered vocals. It’s something I hadn’t heard from them before and immediately wanted more of. The lyrics really became a strong suit here. This is an album plucked out of the timestream and dropped hard in 2020.
Kim Bell and company have released this lovely shadowpop with misty daybreak darkness. It has a dreamlike quality, with a Til Tuesday retro flow. I really like the front edge of Kim’s delivery on the vocals. This really gets me excited for the future direction of the project. Now on Swiss Dark Nights
I will always buy every GoFight release. I will never regret my decision. Jim Marcus understands the blending of body gyrating dance music in the way an Indian executive chef understands the blending of spice. The layering of elements allows you to get lost in what kind of a song you are listening to. His voice is that perfect growling beauty snapping at your heart with desire and terror. Another single, another home run.
I think this band from Toronto now on Cold Transmission takes the award of the day for something I had no idea I needed and now can’t live without. The scope of tempos here run from blistering car chase to lullaby shouting fuck. Gorgeous dreamy vocals that would make Robert Smith raise an eyebrow. I’m not sure where this was hiding but it just took my 2020 by storm.