Jean-Marc Lederman – Night music for seahorses and manatees – Legendary Belgian producer from COP International has created a new aquatic themed electronic voyage to the depths of the unknown. I don’t speak of it much but I have had a fascination with sea life that bordered on addiction. There is something about the alien danger and beauty in the unreachable ocean depths that has always captured my imagination. I love how Jean Marc has captured the constant execution of concept.
Sharks: We’re Gonna Need Bigger Slippers – Ok this song is a Jaws reference which is always a powerful nostalgic start. Where much of this album breaths with a sun filtered bright colorful contrast to Ledderman’s last few darker ideas. This song is a stalking predator of fast moving tension and deep shadowed water. A thirsty darting unease that is ever present in the sea.
Night Music for Seahorses and Manatees – The title track which encapsulates the bright alien exploration of the world within a world. An homage to both the Sealab ideals and to French electronic artist Philippe Zdar. I’m always amazed that legend though he is, Jean Marc’s humility seeks out ways to lift up others who have inspired him.
Song To The Siren (Feat: Emilegh Rohn) This team up of COP International artists Emilegh Rohn (Chiasm) and Jean Marc has turned out to be one of the most powerful and seamless collaborations of the last 3 years. Here a cover of the TimBuckely song from 1970 “Starsailor” made popular by This Mortal Coil in David Lynch“s 1997 film Lost Highway.
In 2022 many artist have managed to stay relevant through nostalgia and delivery of what has been successful for them in the past. The thing that has left me in continual awe of Jean Marc Ledderman is his ability to always explore new ground with wreckless abandon. Each new album is a fresh idea, not just for him, but for the world of music.
It is from gloom-laden antiquity that the Jean-Marc Lederman Experience brings forth the latest compilation album, The Raven, featuring some of the most well known names in the Gothic Industrial soundscape. 13 tracks inspired and adapted from the works of Byron, Shelley, Poe, and even cinema from the Classic Hollywood era, this album has something that will appeal to all tastes and appetites, no matter how dark.
The man behind the project is Jean-Marc Lederman, a Belgian better known as Jimmy-Joe Snark III of The Weatherman. A man who’s placed his name on a variety of projects throughout the last few decades Lederman has been refining his craft since he was 18, and was first inspired by electronic luminary Brian Eno. Some notable projects of his include Gene Loves Jezebel, The The, and Fad Gadget. On this album, he has brought together some great minds and song-scribes such as Christopher Hall, Mari Kattman, and Emileigh Rohn.
Mari Kattman of Helix opens the album with “The Cold Heart Slept Below”. The track, the title of which alludes to The Telltale Heart, opens with a backdrop of a clock ticking steadily before the main beat and Kattman’s entrance. The track has a wonderful, almost dark-jazz type element that marries well with Kattmans vocals.
Conrad Aikens poem “The Vampire” is the inspiration of the second track of the same name by Stabbing Westward. Christopher Hall conjures bloodthirsty fiends and the struggle to escape them which is destined to be a fan favorite on the album. There’s no hint of cringe-inducing melodrama here, only the story of a creature that is going to rip you apart and eat what it finds inside. “The Vampire” would be equally at home on any Halloween playlist or any other time of the year on the dance floor of whatever Goth-Industrial night is smart and lucky enough to play it. Stabbing Westward never disappoints.
Unique among the tracks are numbers 3 and 13 respectively as these are not merely inspired by past works but adapt them completely to musical form. Track 3 “She Walks in Beauty” performed by Mark Hocking‘s band Mesh is a full adaptation of the Lord Byron poem of the same name. The albums final track is a musical adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” by Magnesium Burn‘s Christina Z. Both of these are fun to listen to and amount more to a reading of the aforementioned works set to music done in each artists style. Similar to the two aforementioned tracks is “Frankenstein” by Dr. Strangefryer. The lyrics of the song are made up of prose from Mary Shelley’s book. The accompanying industrial music fits well with the scene of Dr. Frankenstein witnessing his creature awaken for the first time.
Track 9 features Sound’s and Shadows own Duchess. Ken Magerman, and his band Amaranth. “Crushing Weight” is the bands take on Poe’s “The Raven” rebooted as a modern day panic attack brought about by the phantom bird visiting an introverted and reclusive Poe. Magerman‘s echoing vocals eerily convey the mood and essence of the man’s frantic uncertainty as he is buried beneath the inescapable truth the bird portends.
Stefan Netschio provides a personal nostalgia trip for me on track 11, “Smouldering Corpse In The Mourning Sun”. An avid listener of Stefan Netschio‘s band Beborn Beton since my teenage years he has long been able to bring a darkly elegant sound to every project he is a part of.
Emileigh Rohn, or Chiasm as she is better known in the Goth-Industrial world, sings a rendition of “Pretty Fly” in track 12. Originating during the classic age of Cinema in the 1955 horror film “The Night of the Hunter”, this spooky lullaby is sung by a little girl named Pearl to her brother as they drift down a river at night, pursued by a serial killer preacher. Rohn‘s rendition of it is just as dreamlike and spooky and remains my favorite track on the entire album. At only 2 minutes and 16 seconds the track is the shortest on the album but is not to be overlooked.
Beyond this, there is a lot more to the album, the stories it has tell tell definitely make it worth a listen. Ancient poems and macabre tales from the past conveyed through the filter of modern day dark wave artists is a natural enough pairing in itself, but Jean-Marc taps into something special here. Edgar Allen Poe and his works have long been inspiration for the thematically darker artists that have come after, but my personal intrigue was stoked by the other sources that were drawn upon for the creation of this album, and it is in their adaptation that it’s charm truly lies.
Interview With Jean-Marc Lederman:
James: What was it that inspired the other sources of the album beyond Poe?
JM: I wanted to do something darker than my usual work and had the idea to take several writings from the goth authors to oblige me to turn more somber. I was of course well on point about goth and goth culture (for Christ’s sake, Peter Murphy slept in my mother’s bed, she wasn’t in it, back late 80’s) but started to read and document myself more on the subject of goth in art and literature, which is the way I always do when I start a new album: I want to dig more into the album concept, and doing so I learn and discover more about it, its surroundings and the areas I could expand to. The concept always evolves from a genuine interest I develop about something or a certain frame of work I want me to discipline into. Or an idea I find funny and a possible vehicle for a cool album. And at the end of the adventure, I want my listeners, the artists involved and myself to have a solid, bold and interesting album to dive in. So, I compiled texts from the usual suspects (Mary Shelley, Oscar Wilde, …) but also less known authors like the US author Percy Byshee Shelley. But some are total outsiders of the known authors, like the one Jean-Luc Demeyer (F242, of course) picked up: a very unknown early dark ages french poet. But I didn’t want the influence to be only about texts, but also insights from the other arts, like cinema (Night of The Hunter, horror movies, etc…) or even architecture and paintings. Eventually, the scope moved to be about dark sides, being them in us, in nature, in mythology…So, while it started being about goth culture, it ended up being much larger
James: Were they pieces that resonated with you personally?
JM: Yes, I cannot work for something I’m not passionate about. All the pieces are equally resonating with me even though I do have some tracks I favor because there the magic really worked: “Pretty Fly” with the very talented Emileigh Rohn (from US band Chiasm) is a good example. I have wanted to cover that song from that incredible movie for years and Emileigh just nailed it in a single take. But all tracks are special to me: I wouldn’t put them in the album if it wasn’t resonating strongly in me.
James: How much input were the artists given in their contributions to this album?
JM: Pretty much all control. I would contact singers and ask them if they wanted to participate. They had really quite a lot of freedom, the main idea being for them to sing or recite something which would represent some gothic /dark aspects for them. If they were game, I would then send them a poem or a writing and the music customized for them. Some would jump in straight away, some would ask for a different text (or different music) so I would let them choose a text or even write one on their own. I wouldn’t dare have an artist being unhappy about his work: they have the last call on the mixes of course. With some it’s very easy, they love it and it’s wrapped in a few days, for some it takes a few “trial and errors” before we get to a mix we are both happy with.
James: Was there much discussion with them regarding the songs they were to craft and the individual inspirational sources?
JM: The texts were only proposals and so was the music I would created for them. I think artists like to work with me because they know I’ll tailor things around them. One of the main reviews feedback I have from my collaborative works is how the song and the singer are so embedded into each other: one can really feel it’s been fine tuned around the voice and the end result is strong because of that. It’s not a voice being dropped in a song, it’s a coherent musical universe.
James: Or were they involved in the selection of the topic?
JM: The freedom given to the artists make them very proactive: some created their own lyrics (Lis Van Den Akker, Azam Ali,Chrystopher Hall, Ken Magerman,Jim Semonik, Stefan Netschio), some glued very much to the text (Christina Z and her dazzling performance of The Rave (Poe) which was in fact the 1st track done on the album, Mari Kattman, Elena Alice Fossi, Mark Hockings, Dr Strangefryer, Jean-Luc De Meyer)
James: Given the sheer amount of darker literature throughout history, were there song ideas that were cut and would you ever consider doing a sequel album to this one, inspired by other literary or cinematic works?
JM: Oh yes, there are ideas that weren’t used. It always happens when you embark on projects like this: you search, you find, you complete…but sometimes it just doesn’t work, whether it is the text or the music but it’s the rule of the game: not everything can work out, you need to allow yourself space for failures in order to achieve your vision/the vision of the other artists. A sequel would be so not like me 🙂
You can purchase the album on bandcamp from COP International.
This year has had the release of so many amazing albums. I’m a bit at a loss of how to do a Best Of List. I have so many records I loved after I made a list, then a list of another 100 I loved. It caused me anxiety thinking about how to categorize or order them. So instead I am going to treat this like a montage in no particular order. Just thinking about all the things that brought me joy in this dark year fills my heart with hope for the future. These are not singles, EPs or Full lengths released in 2021 with all genres mixed together in a blender like the Darkscene gods intended.
Actors – “Acts Of Worship” – This album is going to change the standard. Rather than think of it as an album out of time. Hear it as the type of puncturing emotional thought pieces we talk about as nostalgia from a previous era. I choose to see the hope it promises. To be a place where those that remember the past, and those that are blazing new ground in the future meet. Where they say this was the moment where the music we talk about twenty years from now with a new generation is remembered. It’s a powerful feeling that you can be apart of now. This is my album of the year. The second time I have given them this award.
Creux Lies – Goodbye Divine – October was the month of spooks, a shaky return of Halloween since the long-endured pandemic and a myriad of releases by many artists within the undead world of dark-alternative music. Among the wave of new, brooding and shadow-y music unleashed upon the world shines one LP that stands apart from the cobwebs and screeching bats in the night; ‘Goodbye Divine’, the second album by moody, Sacramento post-punkers, Creux Lies. More than three years after the band’s debut record, ‘The Hearth’, Creux Lies brings us a new collection of eight tracks packaged with an avante-garde painting by Alex Kanevsky on the LP’s cover. Preceding the release, the “New Romantic” quartet appeared in promotional images portraying them as disaffected souls in serene, open fields; a fitting aesthetic theme for the music’s despondent sonic-template. “Jungle” kicks off the record with a wave of sinister keyboards before the rest of the band commences their wall of gray, foreboding rhythms, setting the tone for the LP’s thematic statement. By track four, we are treated to the bitter-sweet, emotional “PS Goodbye”. Singer, Ean Clevenger croons against the soft-rock instrumentation with lyrics, “Mercy you, you helped me shine. Although the last, it was the very first time.” One of the most distinguishing elements of Creux Lies’ sound is Clevenger’s vocal contributions. – James Edwards
Rohn – Lederman – Venus Chariot – My love for Belgian composer extraordinaire Jean-Marc Lederman is deeply known on this page. His previous work includes ( Fad Gadget, The The, Gene Loves Jezebel, The Weathermen) as well as some of the most thought provoking higher tier concepts in electronica music of the past 5 years. Teaming here with COP International and exceptional producer/Vocalist Emiliegh Rohn of Michigan they blend into a poetic electrified katana of grace and fury. I have spoken of this record in the Sounds and Shadows group but was shocked I had yet to write a formal review. When I hear someone of Jean-Marc’s pedigree say “This might be one of the most important albums I have ever released” it tends to make your ears perk up. This album is full of endless fusion energy both in the intricate hair splitting craft of the music, and Emileigh’s power whisper beauty. it’s the record I reach for whenever I need to force my body into action. A well of strength at your fingertips for these draining times. Greg Rolfes provides cover art to set the tone of this runaway stampede of electronic elegance.
Black Rose Burning – The Wheel – George Grant of New York has taken an already amazing sound to a completely different level. This new album is progressive, complex, expertly executed emotional darkscene that permeates the skin and resonates in the chest. These vocals harken to a previous time of dripping Peter Gabriel emotion that spiral in crystal facets on top of shifting translucent hooks. It ebbs and flows through a stylistic spectrum and delivers with every memorizing tale. I continue to be blown away by one of the most criminally overlooked master songsmiths of our scene. This is a record that needs mainstream attention.
The Joy Thieves – American Parasite – This album is an opus from Chicago Industrial Superband The Joy Thieves. Dan Milligan and crew mix the best of hard thrashing rock and Industrial electronic explosion. The amount of talent and fury unleashed on this record is staggering and at no point disappoints.
Dead Astronauts : Silhouettes– A new release from our friends at Cold Transmission from Seattle WA. This record was a articulate and purposeful release that had a craftsmanship that placed it in the upper echelons. That made a lot of sense once I heard Slade Templeton (Crying Vessel) had a guiding hand involved. Florence, and Jared seem to have an instinct for where a song needs to go. Melody to melody, song to song, everything seems to flow in it’s perfect natural direction. It makes it so easy to fade away and become lost in the futuristic textures. They each have such a distinct and soothing voice. Made stronger by their combination and ability to hold the depth of a conversation instead of a monologue. The music has a lot of subtle dissonance and complex themes. What really makes it effective though is how these details are woven around straight forward pop hooks that remind me of Peter Hook’s Revenge , or Pet Shop Boys. This is a record that doesn’t need to scream to get your attention or convey emotion. It tells you everything without ever having to raise it’s voice.
I Ya Toyah – Out Of Order – I am constantly memorized by the way Ania’s star keeps growing in size and brilliance. With Out of Order she travels away from the standard rock aspects to the other spectrum of her electronic abstract. It truely feels like a fusion between robotic precision and human heart glow.
Kill Shelter & Antipole – A Haunted Place – Here it is, Pete Burns is operating on a level in modern postpunk/darkwave that is rewriting the script. Here instead of recruiting a variety of singers like his groundbreaking album Damage he takes the vocals upon himself. His voice is rich and rings with the power of a well aged bell. To build on that previous level of variety in the soulful lyrics, he has added possibly the top Post Punk guitarist in Antipole’s Karl Morton Dahl. It’s an effortless compliment which locks perfectly as a puzzle falling into place. Every track is done with such expert precision and runs the spectrum of emotion. This is an early contender for album of the year. Like an expertly honed novel I could hear this record 1000 times and find a new detail to zero in on each play through.
Stoneburner – Apex Predator – This is Steven taken off the chain and turned to 11. Unapologetic making industrial music of wild machines and wires. Spewed forth with venom to a world without a concern to how it will land. This is the true punk rock ethos driving giant steam punk construction vehicles. This is the industrial that Joe Strummer prepared us for.
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. I feel like this EP has the raw power to be a game changer in a genre hungry for new sound.
Ashes Fallen –A Fleeting Melody out of a Fading Dream – The Sinister Guitar Lord of Sacramento CA James Perry returns with a long anticipated album. I’ve been a fan of the hard rock edge and dark overtones of Ashes Fallen for a while now. This new record finally fully embraces the goth aspects of the gothic rock. I feel like the scene has been so hungry for a voice of processive morals and guitar driven dark music. The other major step forward for this release is the collaboration heard on keyboard and additional guitars by Michelle and Jason. The seamless blend of these other voices in the song writing process really elevate and highlight the best aspects of James talent. The mastering by Gordan Young crackles with deep lines and definition. James voice has really found it’s internal confidence and writhes and strikes like a sea serpent bursting through phrases and throwing weight on those show stopping fretboard fireworks
The Ending Nights – A Landscape To Die – The newest offering of Pedro Code (IAMTHESHADOW) of Portugal on Cold Transmission Music. A definingly dark apocalyptic disco drive produced and mastered by Pedro for a soul wrenching personal explosion. Jagged glass drenched in rainbow oil and water. How do you take one of the most distinctive voices in modern goth/darkwave when you find a way to make the steaming disco beats the star of the show you have really broken ground. This is a record that creates a world. Grime and desolation, the remaining survivors of a broken world follow the electric pulse of a melody from within. A perfect anthem for these fractured times.
PALAIS IDEAL – Negative Space – Palais Ideal is my favorite advanced evolution of progressive post punk. A calculated artificial intelligence writing out the history of humanity in reverse. This is thinking persons post punk for a modern era.
SHIV-R – Kill God Ascend – Brand new album from the Australian electronic apocalypse know as SHIV-R. I love the expansive fantasy metal destruction fed into a machine brain and turned loose on an unsuspecting populous. Pete Crane is a force of nature in the industrial scene and has a glorious gift for poetic imagery in his lyrics. If you are a fan of the violent industrial power of Front 242 and shaking your body in dangerous convulsions, this is your jam.
LEATHERS – Reckless – Second time on this list for Shannon of Actors. A unique departure from her other projects and really highlights her essence which is more collaborative in Actors. It’s sleek, it’s beautiful, it’s as light as an angel dancing on a pin. I love the silky billowing synths and how they flow off the shoulders of her voice. The sound is such an immersive dream which slides along the borders of reality. I spend moments dwelling on how something so beautiful manages to remain so relatable.
The Gothsicles – Animal Songs– Brian breaks ever barrier of what we think this scene means. A pure shot of rainbow bright laser explosions telling the tale of animals while making you shake that ass. A unique voice and vision in a carbon copy world.
Bow Ever Down – Lost In The Woods– Kimberly Kornmeier sizzling darkpop from 2020 which left me swaying and captivated. The synthy star sparkle spins are a wonderful atmospheric journey. Their voice is an icy and bracing powerful clarity. They have a honesty and power that rings forth with every delivered line. It’s vulnerable and indomitable at the same fine. The music has a soulful and serious tone. A shattering crystal castle of faced disillusionment growth and regret. I also love the use of samples to set stories that allow the vocals to show the emotional range of the story portrayed.
A Cloud of Ravens – Another Kind of Midnight – New album from Brookland band ACOR, which has left me immediately captured and ready to dive into this deep pool. This record is a perfect blend of the homage to the past and the modern construction of the future. Well deep power and resonant vocals carry these stalking shadow woven songs. It’s concrete wilderness and Peter Murphy poetry. Ringing guitars and driving basslines carry a heroic journey through a desolate land. The power of this story is to make the situation always seem so bleak but leaves a glimmer of hope in every song. We have an interview coming out soon that provides a glimpse behind the curtain to this emotional hand quivering delivery.
Mark E Moon – Old Blood – Old and sinister music and vocals from Cold Transmission and the Isle of Man. I have been a fan or Mark E Moon for a while but this new record is a huge step forward in shadowy transmission and feeling that rips open your skull and pours raw unhinged emotion directly to your mind. It’s stomping, unforgiving and full of truth. I picked this record up and couldn’t find a way to put it down. Released on April 2nd you can get two tracks now with preorder. It has a sense of poetry and theater that has been lacking in the modern goth scene. It rides the line between beauty and grit. I can’t remember the last time I heard a band take such a monumental step forward from a previous album I enjoyed.
Twin Tribes – Altars – The beautiful lads of TX have released a remix album. Now I will always buy anything Twin Tribes put out sight unseen. I have to say this collection of remixes by some of the hottest names in darkwave was a special treat. The songs were big departures from the standard Twin Tribes style, but Luis voice still kept each song familiar. It included tracks from both previous albums placed lovingly up for sacrifice on the Altar to be transmuted and given back to the world.
Hueco – Canciones de Oscuridad y Desaliento – One of the most important Mexican darkscene bands of the past few decades. Hueco brings forth a unique flavor and tells sinister ghost stories in a universal emotional impression. I love the Iggy Pop “Raw Power” driving wilderness rhythm section. A must own record.
Helevete Inc – The Inevitability Ov Nothing – This is a new rerelease from Helevete Inc. We recently had the opportunity to interview them, so keep an eye out. I feel in love with the hard old school style of this band. This album was such a drastic departure and really shows the range they have. A rich and meaning drenched darkwave goth sound. TION shows a gripping and introspective melodic aspect of their voice. These songs have such a powerful authenticity of someone stepping outside of their wheelhouse, uncertain where the music would take them. Confronting the fear and darkness of that reality. I feel so deeply in entranced by this record. It showed me something, it had glorious imperfections which revealed the artists and left you gripped by the connection. The album also has fierce and snarling beauty in the form of guest vocals from Jenny Rae Mettee. This is one of the most underrated finds of the year.
unitcode:machine – Themes for a Collapsing Empire – Dallas TX Industrial artist has been on my radar for a while. This new album hits a whole new gear. I remember being at Cold Waves this year and hearing person after person in the know say “Holy shit have you heard this album”. This is a masterclass in marble statue precision craftsmanship in electronic music. The vocals are melodic and driven in a way that haunts your head. I love how clearly the poetry of the lyrics rings out beyond music that fills every wall of a dance club. It follows the template of classical industrial while finding a tone distinctly it’s own. People need to know about this, it needs to be appreciated.
Bootblacks – Thin Skies Remixed – Remix follow to the break out record Thin Skies. A who’s who of the modern darkscene reimaging an album that shook the foundations of the scene. Hear something you loved though a different lens.
Angelspit – Diesel Priest – Well this new Angelspit album is not pulling any punches sonically or politically. Zoog Von Rock has returned with an army of cyborg technicians of revolutionary destruction. Stomping machines of punk rock anti establishment zealots rolling on tank tread speed. It always leaves me stunned how something so fueled by chaos can fit in such a tight refined space. With every building track you never know where the creature will go next or who will be brought down in the explosion. I think the greatest power here is how the lyrics effect 16 year old me as long as 44 year old me with both the passion and intelligence. This album is an experience that hits on so many levels
WINGTIPS – Cutting Room Floor – I saw Wingtips this year and they had the best performance at Cold Waves. That is really saying something for this show. This record was the perfect storm of edge and refinement. It’s so explosive, beautiful, and tragic. So much is conveyed with two amazing humans in perfect harmony.
Dread Risks – Trauma Ties – Texas extreme crushdustrial band has taken several years of evolution and compressed them into a truly unique fury of sound. Music to smash your enemies with a sledge hammer with.
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.
HAEX – Aethyr Abyss Void – This is one of the meanest chaos cannon grimy warehouse fireballs I have heard in a long time. A forceful ritual of madness and terror pop sensuality. This is the soundtrack to your next Hellrazer Barker themed dance party. Inspired wall smashing guitar work and apocalypse chant vocals. I want more and want it now.
Lorelei Dreaming – Future Fables – Long have I awaited this 6 track EP complete with wonderful remixes by Chicago dystopian pop princess Laura. It’s so clear and textured from their previous release. Laura’s voice breaks through the wall and takes it’s rightful place on center stage. The album opens with an absolute banger in Of Stars. I’m loving the rippling synth sounds to add a fantasy feel. Each song is a striding step forward for an armor clad paladin facing down the demons surrounding her. This album was so worth the wait and every song is an adventure. The remixes are a brilliant contribution with the likes of Kanga, Sawtooth, Eva X, Angel Metro, and more. I love seeing so many top tier ladies involved.
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.
Dead Animal Assembly Plant – Bring Out The Dead – Another bone jarring hit from our friends at Armalyte Industries. This album is venturing a little closer to the metal aspects of industrial/metal than I tend to go. Sometimes in life you just need music to smash shit to, and that’s what the Portland band is bringing with rapid fire whole sale destruction. What leaves me impressed isn’t the moments it hits hard, it’s in the subtitle intelligence where pulls back and lulls you into a false sense of security just to swing the bat at you again with reckless abandon. Another great highlight is the cover of the folk song “Gods Gonna Cut you Down”. They say when Johnny Cash covers a song he makes it his own. Sometimes though you need to rip it out of his hands and shake the shit out of it with blistering guitars and fiercely whispered vocals by Time Bitch.
Push Button Press – Black Swan – This is a long awaited album from our friend Jim Walker and Cold Transmission record. The title really sets the tone for an amazing artist which has been a bit misunderstood and on the fringe. Writing music that was visionary and a bit progressive for some audiences. Right from track one The End of Time we are pressing our foot steady on the gas and gaining speed with clarity and purpose. I am feeling a lot of smooth spreading bassline and Jim has a stabbing staccato. That blend calls to mind early Psychedelic Furs. I think the thing that strikes me most in track 2 Trace are the crisp and driving drum beats. It really adds a powerful element of rock to the post punk concept. Title track 6 Black Swan lays open the the heart of the band. For every truth there is a black swan. The transitions here are so abrupt but maintain a silky smoothness that create constant motion. The guitar work here has a lot of early punk elements with heavy rhythm guitars. It feels like jumping across fast moving water from stone to stone. Always a sense of danger and concentration.
Stabbing Westward – I Am Nothing – Ok this was only an EP, but the amount of nostalgia and lightspeed rockdustrial perfection was impossible not to mention. Chris Hall is a voice that keeps getting more impressive by the year. Listening to this record can take 10 years age off your swagger.
Long After Midnight – Painkiller – Really liking how much rock is mixed into this Industrial Rock. The mastering was done by Jules Seifert so everything is smooth as an Aston Martin’s fender. Ross Martin’s vocals are crisp and powerful to cut through the progressive hard edge of the music. Mike Nolan is juggling a lot of moving parts here to give the music a sense of complexity and movement. Really exciting taste of more great things to come. I need to play with these cats once shows start again.
The Cult Sounds – Death of a Star – A haunted carnival of opaque modern rock sounds and blistering originality. This album felt so fresh I had no idea how to categorize it beyond being firmly in the camp of yes please. It’s dirty, mean, and dangerous with a cult energy I want to join up with.
Red Meat – Homo Vulgaris – 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.
The Burying Kind – The Burying Kind – Ok, do I have a personal stake in this album ? Sure. It was still something I always reached for all year long. One of my favorite modern goth singers Scott-David Allen and Industrial musicians Dan Milligan coming together to make the best Shoegaze album of 2021. What is not to love about this entire concept. It’s passionate, it’s expressive, it’s perfect. You need to give this album a try, it will change you.
LINGUA IGNOTA – AGNUS DEI – Every time I think we as a species have hit the wall of new kinds of music we can make, someone surprises me. This year that surprise came from Lingua Ignota. It you took the hair wrenching sound of a morning party on an Italian cliffside at midnight and blended it with Peter Murphy doing electronic performance art. You might be in the ballpark. This record isn’t easy listening. It’s hard, glorious, mind expansive listening.
Death Loves Veronica – Chemical – The first album from the glorious union of the Texas siren and Cold Transmission Music. I love the crashing tide synth drive and the contrast of warm whiskey sliding down the back of your throat. A ritual incantation and self realization. Every time Veronica announces a new release I am left wondering what new territory her voice will take me. Pre Order is currently available with the first two singles “Burn” and “Spindein”. The power of this album is how instead of you studying the painting while listening. The stalking control and awareness in the eyes of the music is staring back at you. You are the one on display and the tendrils of the music creep towards you and wrap you up.
LA electronic songsmith producer with another powerful release. Colin Cameron is an absolute maestro of riding the razors edge between drifting spaceship on the edge of the known galaxy and that hook that gets stuck in your mind for days. The true modern day composer commanding a symphony of expression at the tips of his keyboard. The aptly named Void is a lost soundtrack of space horror like Event Horizon. Cameron has a sexy whisper voice that leads you like a siren into the unexplored darkness. Brilliant use of guest talent like Vocals on “Spill Blood” by R.A. Desilets. Proving again to be at the top of the game while drawing far outside the lines. I continue to be impressed by LA song crafter Colin Cameron. He takes an approach to music akin to graphic design. Every weighted aspect seems to bring contrast and focus to both the positive and negative space within a sound wave. This track is the perfect journey track to travel the stars on an extended tour of the universe. A hit of peace, a hint of madness, drifting into the beyond behind the hum of subspace engines.
Dogtablet – Pearldrop Blue – So many amazing elements in one place that connect all the tiny synapses in my mind and unleash a flood of dopamine right in the brainstem. Scene legends Martin King, Roberto Soave, and Jared Louche, have teamed up once again to bring out all the best in each other and we are reaping the sonic benefits. I’ve had a hole in my heart as Jared has been quiet lately. Hearing his mad prophet poet spinning spiderweb dreams again takes me on a fantastical journey
MALE TEARS – Trauma Club – LA synth stars who captured my heart with this slithery filthy synthwave sin. It’s the old effect, but in the modern light. James voice rings bright and tortured with beautiful poetry and anguish you can feel in your bones.
Jean-Marc Lederman Experience – The Raven – The living legend keeps finding ways to show me there are whole other levels of composition and concept us mere mortals have only begun to scratch. Another concept album where he uses guest singers to express a central theme he has written. This one the Poe infused macbre holding court in the modern electronic era. The list of contributors is a fitting testament to the brilliance of the composer.
Sapphira Vee – Duets – NY siren Sapphiria uses another great talent beyond her production and vocals. She draws people to her with her light. In this case a plethora of industry greats to place their voice next to hers in a duet. Mike Reidy, Jim Semonik, Chris Connelly. Turning the monolog into a glorious dialog.
Batavia – Mythos – Ed and Terri Cripps have found something between medieval bard and smashing industrial noise. I don’t know how to put a finger on it but I don’t ever want it to stop. It’s so gorgeous and original. It’s full of hope and inspiration. This is what I listen to when i need to be inspired to write music.
Black Angel – Prince of Darkness – It’s so good to have the ROCK back in gothic rock. La sleezy thrashing darkness that reminds us where we came from in this genre. It’s pumping hearts in barb wire and leather. Feel undead in the anarch LA streets of darkness.
Vision Video – Inked in Red – Glorious throwback 80’s glory full of The Cure/Smiths/ sad beauty you want to follow the violet winding star beam into the night to. Creeping comfort of a dream I needed to remember.
Bedless Bones – Bending The Iron Bough – My favorite band from Estonia. The wind rustles gentle through purple grains. The chant grows in electric power and swirls with spiritual majesty. Another one of those fresh sounds that sparks the heart with exploration.
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.
Jean-Marc Lederman is an artist who’s pedigree in music is undisputable. Aside from his composition work he has played with bands like The The, Fad Gadget, Gene Loves Jezebel, The Weathermen, and Front 242. Take a moment to absorb that resume to understand the scope of his career. As an artist where do you go to break new ground that can still inspire and challenge? With this album he has found a multimedia experience that raises the bar of expression in sound. It comes in the form of a package including a 36 page image book by Erica Hinyot. and texts by Philippe Genion , Ceratomia and the comic writer and singer Christina Z. 24 original tracks with a diverse cast of musicians spanning wide the breadth of genre . The tracks are varied but tied together by an insistence of craft and quality. Ambitious while relatable to a central concept. In this time of quick hit pop singles, this 2 cd package is relying on a hunger for intellectual art.
The premise is concise, yet deep as the earliest longings of humanity for answers to questions beyond proof. To write a letter to faceless entities of the gnostic realm. Each “letter” is penned by a different artist with a human voice beseeching the beyond of angels and demons. Some with pleading, others with snark, but each is a revealing correspondence with a human voice. I also love the idea of letters. We live in a digital age of texts and snippets. Putting pen to paper holds a power. The energy of will and intent made into matter. I will give thoughts of some of the songs that struck me hardest. This is a concept album, I strongly suggest listening front to back in the order Jean-Marc intended. Everything you are hearing has purpose and is best absorbed through that lens.
Letter From JP Aston ft. Julianne Regan – This gentle ballad from the Gene Loves Jezebel members is full of defiance. Beautiful harmonies and lush layering. Aston’s voice has always had a calming and sparking effect. These gentle string plucks vibrate the wave of angelic harps. I don’t believe in angels, don’t need angels. A masterful portrayal of indecision in the face of unanswerable questions.
Into My Arms ft. Jenna Fearon – Jenna does vocals and music for several wonderful projects including HAD TO KILL, THE SIREN AND THE VOID, SOPHIE STRYCHNINE. This cover of Nick Cave is a warm and tender hymn stripped down and soulful. Beautiful pads that seem to have a beating heart behind the honey rich voice.
Letter From Tom Shear – The vocalist Of Assemblage23 offers this pleading call to the void in a moment without control. A rolling tide of humming synth work with a David Gahan flavor. I love the steady build and poetic intention. The sensual beauty of feeling lost and wanting more.
Letter From Mark Hockings – Artists of Warner Chappell Music this letter again focusing on the marching feet of a human who asks for no help or quarter. I love the vocal changes in effect to add weight to this prayer which says I help myself. The music crackles and glitches to add a dynamic backdrop to this pronouncement.
Letter From Rodney Orpheus – The Cassandra Complex star strays far from his goth roots to give a tongue and cheek lounge song in purgatory with all the sass of Jarvis Cocker. Dark gallows humor as stinging as it is playful. Organic open room piano with marimba , and tamborims that makes heaven feel like a smokey lounge in Las Vegas. I kept coming back to this track again and again.
Letter From Haydn Park-Patterson – I couldn’t find a lot of information about their other musical projects. I really love this track though. The vocals have a very Magnetic Fields feel and a brit pop ring. A hope and fear at the same time “I’m scared of waking up with open eyes” Lovely and brimming with emotion.
Letter From Emileigh Rohn – This beautiful track comes from a fellow Michigan resident of the band Chiasm. Breathy and hopeful with an enticing whisper. Hard dynamic shifts in the changes here. I love the computerized vocal effects which add a different layer to the concept. I love how abrupt the ending comes upon you when you don’t expect it.
Letter From Claus Larsen – The amazing person behind Leatherstrip stepping so far outside the box of what I am used to in his art. This track is driving and uplifting. Leaving behind the chains of life and reaching skyward. Claus shows the amazing range of his voice and it is clear and ringing. What a glorious and bold exploration of two great artists reaching into uncharted ground for both and create something wonderous.
Overall this double album is such a journey. It brings each artist out of their comfort zone and stretches in so many bold directions. It really runs the breadth of human emotion while struggling with the biggest questions of life, death, and divinity. I review a lot of music and always tend to find things I love in most albums. I steer my reviews to focus on those aspects because making art is hard. I find it difficult to judge beyond what something makes me feel. Every so often though someone of immense talent comes up with a concept which challenges the mind. Has a carefully constructed well done musical vehicle. Is full of soul and emotion and pulls on the heart strings of the listener. Doing all three is a rare gem in this day and age. So please feel the weight of me saying this is what Jean Marc Lederman has accomplished. It’s a feat worth celebrating and definitely worth owning in it’s full form.
CD1: 01. Intro Log By 8 Of Nine Letter From Agi Taralas Letter From Emma Barson 04. Letter From Ghost & Writer ft. Jo Quail Letter From Mari Kattman 06. Letter From JP Aston ft. Julianne Regan Letter From Coline Wauters Letter From Christina Z 09. Letter From The Vintage Letter From Lucia Fairfull Letter From Stefan Netschio Letter From Hunter S. Thompson
CD2: Letter From Elena Alice Fossi Letter From Tom Shear Letter From Mark Hockings 04. Into My Arms ft. Jenna Fearon Letter From Emileigh Rohn 06. Letter From Miriam Christina 07. Letter From Haydn Park-Patterson Letter From Rodney Orpheus Letter From Louise Fraser Letter From Lis Van Den Akker Letter From Claus Larsen Outro From Friedrich Nietzsche