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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Review of Scary Black: Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Scary Black

From: Louisville KY

Release date: 12/26/19

https://scaryblack.bandcamp.com/album/are-you-afraid-of-the-dark

https://www.facebook.com/scaryblack502/

This is a really exciting new traditional goth release from Louisville KY band Scary Black. I love the return to early roots I am seeing in the scene as of late. Rich and flowing with that Sisters of Mercy fender jazz tube amp guitar sound. Filled in with delicate and impact heavy synth lines. The album is diverse and places a huge emphasis on lyrics and poetry. Singer Albie Mason has a powerful and deep bass voice that really holds in place all the high end moving parts. It has the quality of a large moving glacier full of ice and magnitude crawling towards you with cold beauty.

I found myself in love with the ability of the songs to be modern and direct. Then switch hard to a campy Anne Rice Vampiric romanticism. I’m a huge fan of bands that can go over the top without losing meaning and credibility and Scary Black really drives that stake through the heart. A lot of bands these days can create a beautiful sound that pays homage to the past. It seems the harder task is to have poetic lyrics that capture that same level of meaning as The Cure and Sisters. That to me was the true magic of this record.

This is a complete album (One that made me upset I had already completed albums of the year when it released). Here were some stand out tracks.

Stay in Your Lane – Those beautiful muted guitar lines with sinister delay. Albie’s voice sinks to the lowest register and bellows out a powerful whisper full of menace and beauty at the same time. The synth lines are gorgeous with a very New Order feel to add a New Wave feel.

A Few Things I Hate – Holy creeping through the cemetery drinking a bottle of Merlot and smoking clove cigarettes. This song really transported me back in time. A horror movie soundtrack feel full of foreboding atmosphere. The vocals whisper a secret you have to reach for and it creates a powerful effect.

Are you Afraid of The Dark – The title track is such a beautiful break from form. Those creeping pan pipes sound build a lead in with a melody that sticks with you. Then the trademark delay sliding guitars. This one has so much of that overt vampire novel feel. It tells a story and one I am here for.

Overall I was immediately drawn in and in love with this record. It’s lovely, layered, and will require many more listens in the coming months to unpack. I questioned bringing this up but I think it is important to acknowledge. The Goth rock genre can feel fairly underrepresented by people of color and I love when an album of this quality also brings a perspective to this scene which hasn’t been heard enough. I really look forward to hearing many future releases from Scary Black.

Cold Transmission Zeitgeist Vol 10

https://coldtransmissionmusic.bandcamp.com/album/zeitgeist-vol-10

When our friends at Cold Transmission release two compilations back to back like this two things are generally true. 1) They feature a perfect blend of some of the hottest new music available from around the world. 2) They have one volume dedicated to Goth/Post Punk/Cold Wave and the other primarily electronic. This ended up right to form. It’s about 40 songs total at an unbelievably low price so I can’t touch on every single track. However I made a picture of Bloody Mary, hooked up my good speakers, and I am going to see how many I can do in one review. Buckle in and lets go for a ride.

Andy and I being adorbs 😉

Volume 10: So the genre of “Gothic Rock” is one that has been sitting on the self for a few decades without nearly enough attention for my personal taste. I feel like it is really making a huge comeback in the modern scene. Bands are really coming forth with new and exciting things from wicked goth guitar riffs and driving bass lines. I was blown away at how this compilation captured so many of these great next wave Goth Rockers from all over the world in one place. If you call yourself “Goth” and want to have your finger on the modern pulse, Zeitgeist Vol 10 is a great place to start. It puts me in mind of those old Cleopatra Records comps I fell in love with all those years ago.

Track 1: A Projection – Stockholm Sweden post punk artist off of Tapete Records. What a strong start this song is. It bounces and the snapping of those live snares gives a furious pace. This track had a lot of The Mission UK flavor and a beautiful melody. I became an instant fan. Lots of depth, lots of rawness.

Track 3: Mark E Moon – This is a previously unreleased track Delta of Venus of this Cold transmission act from the Isle of Man is a gasoline fire of dark driving poetry. I love the lyrics, the cascading synths, and Mark’s Jaz Coleman style vocals. Total Burner

Track 4: SonsombreFear is a a slow driving goth rock modern classic from North Virginia revivalist Brandon Pybus. I really feel like Sonsombre are leading the charge for this next wave of goth music. Lots of Sisters of Mercy/Mission/Rosetta Stone ballad feel on those sweeping light finger drip guitars. This song makes me howl at the moon at 3am.

Sonsombre

Track 6 : October Burns BlackCast Aside is a “Proper” Goth rock track in every old school sense. This super band made up of bits and pieces from all around are giving you the real deal right out of 1981 preserved in dark crystal and given new life in the present. A mournful emotional outburst full of texture and power.

October Burns Black

Track 7: Astari NiteDearly Beloved, This crooning shadowy ballad from Miami Florida’s robust goth scene. A lot of David Bowie/Roxy Music glam to this dark winding tale of loss.

Astari Nite

Track 8 : Secret French Postcards – The most recent signing for Cold Transmission from Baltimore Maryland. Make Me Bleed is a beautiful track with very dark overtones but an ethereal shoegaze backdrop. One of those tracks that hits you on different layers every time you listen.

Track 9 : Icy Men – Another amazing Cold Transmission band hailing from Keiv Ukraine. They have another just released single I need to review. I love this minimalist bleak tone of isolation and desperation. I can’t understand the lyrics but i still find myself moved by the power of the delivery. The bending low range guitars create a great movement in a place devoid of hope.

Track 13: Caidas Libras – Post punk from Costa Rica. This song Poderes Simples has an intense and driving bass groove that charges through the track like a raging bull. The vocals are very whispered and low fi. I found myself wishing to hear more of it. The music has an undeniable groove and a sinister tone.

Track 14 : Paradise Cove Inside is another previously unreleased track on Cold Transmission. I love the distorted voice and punk rock vibe. Very Alien Sex Fiends buzzing club jam feel. Slick as an oil spill on an a frozen lake.

Track 15 Scary Black – Louisville KY goth masters Scary Black bringing one of my favorites on this compilation of goodness with Starlightdancer. Those reverb dreamy guitar riffs, the sinister low register vocals, and the ringing chime bells. So old school, so fresh, I can’t get enough.

Track 17: The GatheringBuilding a Bridge is the slashing builder and breaker from Vancouver also on Cold Transmission. It’s so open and harmonic, almost feels pop punk but with such perfect instrumentation and looming dark tones.

Track 20: Death InstinctHide is a track from Pittsburgh PA’s dark rock band Death Instinct. I love the Steven Morris drum builds. The echoing vocals with a slight lilt giving just enough glimpse of light to add some extra spice to the cold wave feel.

Track 23: AmaranthMy Turn Again is a song from Kalamazoo MI goth rockers. The singer sounds like a pretentious prick. Fuck that guy. The bass player seems hot though.

Track 25: The Bluebeard’s Castle – Another Cold Transmission band this time from France. I love this old bat cave feel yesteryear goth. Also the vocals have a touch of Jello Biafra in them which is awesome. I love the cadence and the bass underneath driving it.

I’m going to try and go back and fill in the bands I missed but this was just a marathon of reviewing. Needless to say I put in this much time because everything on this compilation is worth exploring and it takes you on a journey across the world. It makes me excited for what the goth scene is still capable of in 2019.

Review: Death Loves Veronica – Concept

Review by : Katy Knal May

Band: Death Loves Veronica

Label: Cleopatra Records

Members: Live act includes Jamie Cadaver on synths, Chase Bats on drums, Detra on bass, Veronica Campbell on vocals and synths.

Home Base: San Antonio, TX

https://deathlovesveronica.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/deathlovesveronica/

Concept is the latest release by Death Loves Veronica. The album is industrial, cosmic, electronic, symphonic, cinematic, and synth-heavy. You’ll feel an array of emotion as you listen, but it won’t fill you with hope.  This Sci-Fi film inspired album is dark and may make you feel like you’re aimlessly lost somewhere far from the home you know.

It’s not often that I find myself listening to such ambient music, but this was truly a pleasure. This album is visual, deep, and thought provoking. When I first heard it, I felt elevated and emotional. 

Concept is hypnotic.  From the moment the first track, “Overdose” begins I felt taken somewhere else. The tracks flow together and form a story arch that is so intense I couldn’t help but write my mental movie to play along with the screen.

Something about how this score is laid out makes it feel like the setting is in a distant future where Earth is just a memory.  I personally felt like I was on a spaceship where everyone is sleeping in pods, waiting for a signal to awaken.  Suddenly, something goes horribly wrong and the ship has to make an emergency landing on a foreign landscape.  In the end, when “The Process of Sedation” finishes, the feeling of resolve and relief is huge.

Some favorite tracks

Process – There is only one song that has lyrics, “Process,” and it is my personal favorite.  What I liked the most about it was how the track teases as it slowly builds.  The track has a tension and darkness that gave me an odd sense of comfort by the end that was so relieving.  Not to mention, Campbell’s lyrics are perfectly ominous and her voice is airy, like she’s standing right behind you.  

The Process Of Sedation– Close your eyes and find yourself encompassed by darkness. The void feels lonely, but there’s a pulse keeping you going. While this is the longest track on the album, it’s also the most cinematic. It has a story arc of it’s own. One second you feel like you’re in a room with a malfunctioning motherboard, then some tribal beats come in and it’s like you’re reflecting on your own existence. Then there’s a part that’s so human, it’s like you’re back home on earth. By the end, that chilling effect that’s filled this album comes in and leaves you with a haunting feeling.

Probably my favorite aspect of this album is only one song has lyrics out of the five, so it’s the music alone that gave me a reaction. No one is narrating the story, which makes the plot more subjective.  A room full of people can listen to this album and get similar feelings at similar times, but have a completely different mental image of what’s going on. That’s fucking art, y’all.

If you’re interested in learning more about this album or artist, check out their website at  https://deathlovesveronica.bandcamp.com/. “Concept” will be available on September 13, 2019.

Hot new releases in October

It has admittedly been tough to get behind the keyboard in October. I have had a lot of focus on my band and lots of shows I needed to see. However I wanted to take a moment to call out a few important releases this month.

First and foremost is a new single from goth legend Caroline Blind of Sunshine Blind. Sunshine Blind was so important to many of us that fell in love with goth industrial music in the 90s. It really opened my mind to how something could be both delicate and beautiful at the same time as ferocious and intense. The album, ” Liquid,” was a CD I played until the scratches looked like grooves on a record. I just had the pleasure of seeing her open for Stoneburner in Detroit, and it was like being transported back in time. This first single in far too long is a cover of my favorite Swans song, “Godamn the Sun“. It is moving in it’s nihilistic humor and gloom. I feel like this version takes everything wonderful about the original and adds a level of stark contrast from the gorgeous soul of her voice. The ringing acoustic guitar and timed delivery has an almost Leonard Cohen feel in it’s poetry. This is a must hear for lovers of dark music.

https://carolineblind.bandcamp.com/releases?fbclid=IwAR1rsGgTNAF389aEwZHX6GsxmGgHndN7w_zEe8v1iOSn3XnFWU3zxqk586c

The lovely lads from Texas Twin Tribes have done it again. Their first single from a sophomore album, Ceremony’s, shows another level in the electric progression of one of post punk musics fastest rising stars. There is a smooth synthesis to the flow and texture of these singles that is surpassing the already brilliant Shadows. Each song is a Ceremony that brings you inside it’s ritual and core. The personal connection created from these songs makes it a contender for album of the year.

Our dear friends in S Y Z Y G Y X have unleashed a Halloween single called, “Samhain”. They always have a spooky, atmospheric edge, spurned on by Luna’s truly unique vocals. For this cemetery dance jam, they turned the danger up to 11. Feast on the nightmares in sonic explosive form.

Ghost of Bela Lugosi, the man too intensely punk rock to ever hold between the lines, unleashed this searing napalm of a single. I am always surprised how much every song he releases is so different and so good. This one is an unapologetic throat punch of melodic fury. It’s hard to sit still just to write about it.

https://ghostoflugosi.bandcamp.com/album/colombian-neck-tie?fbclid=IwAR1qjVVV1w7Q3MnaUwArvsjK7Lkb5aRrwaITUVC6y5Z_YoIO9WByeAicirw

Carrion N.O released a new single, “Through the Eyes of Flys.” Another Halloween sinister noise assault in the vein of the Goblins. Full of atmospheric terror and slow building tension. I don’t want to run into this song in a dark alley.

https://officialcarrion.bandcamp.com/track/through-the-eyes-of-flies?fbclid=IwAR1586Qxl4ezaItvoa0jMgUWkWwaMD8rpeY2U9X7BpWuFOsDOCBF18zaFAY

And Screw it, a band named Amaranth I am pretty fond of, made a new single, and I think it is peachy keen 😉

https://theamaranth.bandcamp.com/track/my-turn-again?fbclid=IwAR2pJtCXNtaUCdzW5SgY3GHFRDjiTLi4qfySKvuZ5gjmRW0k7-JmrkIYZWc