Those of you who are not familiar with Sidewalks And Skeletons are at a disservice. This UK band has been making compelling sonic cascades for nearly a decade. ‘Exorcism’ is the newest full-length addition to their catalog (courtesy of Re:Mission Entertainment) and… Well, I supposed that S&S mastermind Jake Lee puts is best himself:
"'EXORCISM' is an album that explores the frailty of human existence,
and the harsh realities of the world. We all start the same way -
Innocence among chaos. We are all thrust into this existence and
left to find our way. And YOU have ended up HERE. So this is for you.
This is your Exorcism."
Guest vocalists are featured throughout these 14 songs, with Ferngazer, Goo Munday and CASHFORGOLD lending their heavenly voices to supplement the soothing yet catchy synth lines.
The remaining tracks change gears, the track Cybercrimes is an example, so there’s never a chance for any one hook to get tiresome. And believe me, this one is LOADED with tasty hooks. ‘Euthanasia Daze’ and the title track are also examples of the diversity; the beats border on hip-hop territory at times while the ghostly vocals keep the song aloft.
There is something for everyone on this record; whether you just want to tap your foot (the song ‘Holy’) or bang your head (‘Name in Blood’). In fact, it’s very clever how the breakdowns on tracks like ‘Name in Blood’ jump genres entirely.
‘Exorcism’ is a record that defies pigeonholing and is hard to categorize. And that’s a good thing.
So the world is in turmoil with war and pain. It has seeped into our scene and cast a wicked shadow over our lives around the globe. In addition the news that Bandcamp has been bought by Epic Games. A large company known mostly for Unreal Engine and Fortnite. I don’t pretend to know what this will mean for the future of independent music. Generally speaking in my experience involving a big company in something doesn’t make it better. However the technology of Bandcamp has not really progressed much in the past few years as it has grown. Perhaps the resources and tech of Epic will improve the experience of Bandcamp while maintaining it’s independent opportunity . For now I shall remain optimistically terrified and keep writing reviews of the glorious new darkscene music I am finding.
Sidewalks and Skeletons – Exorcism – I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Sidewalks and Skeletons for the webcast and was really excited to expand my knowledge of the “WitchHaus” genre. When I first decided to dive in I reached out to a few friends: Kenzi Burke (FIRES) and Hunter Hunter (W/O) for suggestions. Sidewalks and Skeletons of England was one of the first suggested. I suppose going in I had some pre conceived notions of what “WitchHaus” meant, but I have to say I was presently surprised by the texture and diversity of sound on this album. From track one “Exorcism” a glitchy sliding bass beat slither of technomancer energy tendrils, to “Shadow” feat: Goo Monday with it’s throbbing electronic club pulse, this album rings with a clarity and precision that tells a winding story of internal energy. I kept being struck by influences I never expected to encounter like shoegaze and ethereal which gave the entire journey a slick and winding synthesis. I am always impressed when in 2022 I hear something new. A fresh blend of ideas from a chemist taking previous concepts and making new science. It doesn’t happen enough. It is happening here.
Favorite Track: Eternal Rest (With CashforGold) – This is what I was searching for with WitchHaus. Violet mist rising from a concrete floor. Ice rink backbeats sliding effortlessly around strobing lights. I was also introduced to the breathy beautiful vocal stylings of CashForGold who I learned was a Detroit native. Subtle electronic textures you can feel.
Morgue VVitch – Lore – New three song EP from Tara Saavedra who I got to see at 2021 Cold Waves in Chicago. I feel like the buzz around this talented artists continues to expand with every telling. Much like the title of this new EP their Lore is being whispered around the scene like a guarded secret we cannot help but share. These tracks are a transportation to a garden of shadow dreams. A spinning layer of veils and enticing vocals that remind me of Tina Root with their charismatic enchantment and alien foreboding. A dark Grimm fairytale of electronic texture. Experts Production by Tara, as well mastering by Francisco Mendez. The future is so bright for this project.
Favorite Track: Lore – The title track is such a haunting and dynamic resonance of phantom images. I love the way drums/synths/vocals all sit in the mix in even measure until you are captured in a virtual sonic reality.
Dread Risks – Automated Disappointment – “GiddyYip this DeathRock Electro Cowboy shit!” A wise man once said about Texas IndustroDoom band Dread Risks. That wise man was me. Releasing 3/25/22 on ReMission this album is a return to the meaner barb wire aggression of industrial music. As an evolution from the past this aggression is no longer aimed outward but directed at addressing and concurring personal trauma. I love the molten glass cutting attack and melodic beauty of the vocals. The overhand bastard sword swing of the drumbeats. Berserker rage in clean focus. This is the next great wave in electronic musical concept.
Récipe Morado – Re•Habilitación – The Oscura Festival introduced me to Venezuelan post-punk band Recipe Morado, and I was immediately entranced. Relentless basslines follow you like a bloodhound while Siniestra’s spectral vocals ripple like an aftershock Even with a limited understanding of the lyrics I felt the pull of emotion and energy. The snare beats snap with crisp intensity on “Vueltas en Sante Fe” pushing the pedal to the floor with 90’s dark rock flavor. I love the bounding chaotic style changes throughout the album. A darting shadow always changing form. The Central/South American darkscene is a rich and fertile land I must continue to explore.
Snog – Eight Offerings For The Undead – From Australia artist Vince Valentini of Fate Razor places you in an intimate craft and pushes you a pole at a time down a winding River Styx. Leaning into crafted poetry and slow grinding rhythms. This is a whispering demon of Nick Cave void seeking sensuality blended with the clean complexity of Robyn Hitchcock story telling. With track 4 “Domesticated” the tone does a hard turn into slow sewer sludge industrial crawl. I love the twists and turns of this journey. An introspective thought piece that follows the journey rather than steers the course.
Favorite Track: (I Am Not) An Algorithm – A beautiful oscillating electronic pulse with overlapping vocal melody repeating a self actualizing chant . Hands reaching out to touch reeds on still water. I felt like this track connected all the parts reaching for light in the combined concept.
Ashes Fallen – Stand Your Ground – Always impressed by the ever expanding range of Cali goth rockers Ashes Fallen. They also seem to always be actively seeking ways to address the pain and injustice in the world. Here with a new single with all proceeds going to Direct Relief for their humanitarian mission in Ukraine. I love the punchy Dave Vanian snarl to James vocals. As well as the blended harmonies from Michelle and Jason. A very throwback Synthpunk edge which feels relevant to the world situation. A bonus remix by The Axiom Divide to cast a shadow against the fire.
Sever The Servants – Brand new collaboration that sprung from the Sounds and Shadows group. A world grinding doom tank apparatus rolling through a nightmare hellscape of Hide Tepes and Mike Nolen imagination. Stone walls on all sides as Hide starts filling the room with dank modular synth water. Mike who doesn’t usually do vocals hisses out a poisonous danger that left me floored and impressed. I hungrily await the future offerings of this project. A perfect synthesis of styles to form a stronger bond.
ERIC OBERTO – Closer Than Ever Before – Brand new single from ex Tungsten Coil star reborn. I had Eric on for an interview which will release tomorrow 3/4/22. I loved hearing the story of him coming back into the music scene with an emphasis on horror film soundtracks. This single is a glitchy prayer of longing into a dark starless sky. I defiance of mortality through acceptance. The track comes with a cinematic video co directed with Erik Gustafson of ADORATION DESTROYED.