It has been a tough few months. A Lot of stress, but also a lot of exciting news. Sounds and Shadows keeps finding new ways to grow like last months S & S Darkscene Chart. I did Bandcamp Friday reviews last week, but I wanted to write a few tonight and just spend some time with new music. As always reach out to me or one of our other reviewers if you have something you want to hear us write about.
Machines With Human Skin – Transience – Brand new album from Chicago Industrial artist Adrian Halo. I’ve been spinning a bootleg CD copy of this Adrian handed me at Coldwaves festival. I’ve really loved watching his growth and progression. As a songwriter and producer I hear continual learning with every release. Such an underrated aspect or organic growth. I love how this album uses the power of a whisper. The power and anger comes forth, but not with exploding bass, ear splitting guitars, and screams. When you deliver lyrics with a breathy and melodic intensity it makes you lean in to listen. Makes you want to be inside the circle and absorb the emotion. The bounce of these basslines really create movement and give the wispy chant a vehicle. This is my favorite work MWHS have put out to date, it is effortless, soulful, and the mix really sits in the pocket without forcing the intent.
Favorite Track: Invisible – This song really struck me in part for the clean and focused tone. In part for the raw and exposed aspect of the lyrics. It’s glitchy with a high energy pace and curled lip defiance. A firehose of pressure and political discourse fired with crystal cool water and builds.
Recorded at Maynott Studios, Chicago, IL Mastered by Jules Seifert at Epic Audio Media, London, UK Artwork: Jim Marcus
Sequential Zero – Second Sequence – Some of the great Australian goth talent teams up with Orcus Nullify axe master Bruce Nullify. Ant Banister of Sounds Like Winter provides a haunted, emotive delivery on vocals. The dark disco style Lenn drums create an abstract Cabaret Voltaire openness. The tracks are gripping hands of tension, holding the mind and forcing introspection. This release really excites me for the future of the project. So many talented voices finding a space together and lifting each other up.
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.
Favorite Track: Run (Hallowed Hearts Remix) – These tracks have all really impressed me. This one though managed to take that same beaming energy and fire it through a violet lens of darkness. The shadowy tones open up even more space for Mari’s vocals to shine. I put this track up for the S & S Darkscene charts. These layered guitar leads add a whole other level.
daddybear – Hypnotic (feat grabyourface) – It seems whenever Matt Fanale (Caustic/Klack) and Marie Dragontown (Grabyourface) team up glory ensues. This beat is grinding dance floor magic. Marie’s vocals are sensual and terrifying. The whole song is a promise of ill intent which remains tantalizing while communicating destruction. After a few collaborations anytime I see this team put out a new song, it is an automatic buy. I have been requesting it in every Twitch Dj stream I jump into.
Goth Professor – Swamp Gothic (Halloween Single) – Unnerving atmospheric horror trance from Florida’s Goth Professor . I really didn’t know what to expect wadding into these swampy waters. If you want to invite 9 guests to a mansion, feed them delicacies, then commit a murder everyone remaining is left to solve. This is the soundtrack you need.
Brand new video from French Coldtrance artist Grabyourface on Negative Gain Productions. A tip toe grinding electronic sermon of post capitalism dystopia and rebellion. The video features this wonderful Mad Max tractor pull aesthetic. Join in the heist
The modern Darkscene has always been a place to push the boundaries of standard definitions of gender and self concept. Exploration of what society has subscribed is called into question through self discovery. Much like the umbrella that is goth and the genres within the artists who create the music form a broad and complex spectrum. I don’t want to dive deeply or speak for those that make up this rich tapestry. Instead I will focus on shining a light on some of the great non binary artists I have discovered.
Mystic Priestess – Oakland California dark punk band brings a cobweb lace batcave chaos full of elder goth tones and floor shaking intensity. The percussion is a non stop primal assault. The effective use of time change and intensity make each song dynamic and captivating. The instrumentation used shows a range and craft to the rough and passionate style. Eternal Resurrection features a muted saxophone that perfectly contrasts and shows a depth beyond standard 4/4 punk. The vocals carry a chanting energy teeming with life and prowling danger. A creature from a buzzing bog moving with jerking purpose ready to strike out at anyone who makes eye contact. I love that no matter how deep I dove into this album, I never found the floor. There was always another layer.
Favorite Track: Christian Lies – This opening tom fill makes my heart beat fast. It’s one of those recorded tracks you can’t help but picture live. The energy is infectious and the breakdown at 1:40 just collapses the floor and leaves you in a free fall ready for the trap to spring. A politically charged flame thrower that holds the spirit of what punk was always suppose to mean. I want to hear this song as I charge up the hill to burn post world capitalism from the landscape.
Sister Sarin – I first became aware of this Baltimore artist when they played percussion for Steven Archer with his Stoneburner project. Hemlock has one of those terrifying and remarkable energies you can’t help but spot from across a room. The sound is immersive and textual. A carefully orchestrated journey that makes the abstract realm of emotion take on shape through tone and hook. I’ve always been fascinated with chimes. That place where percussion and melody meet. Hemlock has an amazing talent for creating a dance of these aspects that seem to always strike a cohesive picture in my mind. Right Where I Belong is one of the few tracks that feature vocals and they are gorgeous. A sort of David Gahan’s ghost calling from beyond the veil. This EP is my soundtrack to a steamy ivory bathhouse lit with candles. It’s a challenge, it’s a comfort, it’s real.
Favorite track: Tripwire – Here those amazing chimes are on display. The percussion is complex and in the front. It’s a mystery of anticipation I’m drawn to because I want to be surprised.
Vortex Empath Xen, Moira Scar – Another Oakland California talent. A very experimental and raw sound with a minimalist efficiency. Sometimes with something this raw in production it might have a hard time capturing me, the more i listened the more it grew on me. It feels like being invited into an underground lair of where a secret society is preforming Kaos majick with thick smoke and hundreds of flickering candles. The guitars growl firing around the room like a demon summoned by Raw Power. This was never intended to be an easy hook driven listen. I feel the intention is to be unnerving. The vocals are delivered with power and unity like a flung spell taking shape from the void. I found myself constantly wondering if a cleaner production would clarify or ruin the vibrating hunger. This is an album you need to be in the right place for, however if you are in this place, it’s staggering and emotive.
Vinsantos – I first witnessed NOLA artist Vinsantos opening for Peter Murphy in a Chicago church and my heart stood still. It was as though they grabbed ahold of the center of their rib cage, tore themselves open, and 1000 ravens and doves flew out. The entire catalog is masterful in a way that makes the hairs on my arms stand up. This single in particular is a blend of the conceptual story telling of Robyn Hitchcock and the effortless emotion of Q Lazzarus. This song builds, it delivers, it places it’s hands on the side of your head and makes you stare into the windows of it’s soul. You need this, everyone needs this.
HIDE – If there is something more intense, powerful, and visceral in the modern scene than HIDE, I am hard pressed to say what it is. The Chicago based duo play slow meatgrinder machinery sounds that roll towards your body and you watch yourself chewed away by the awesome, unstoppable force of the lyrics and soul splitting delivery. There is nothing fun or happy go lucky about this phycological assault on the senses. This is true high art delivered with a morning star to the face instead of a paint brush. Sometimes when you hear an album, you are changed forever and terrified to keep listening. This is one of those records. You need to summon your courage, you need to listen, you need to be changed.
Favorite track: Daddy Issues – Holy shit, a brutal and unapologetic judgement on modern society and rape culture and Brock Turner. The fury and delivery of his fathers quote is staggering in it’s force. They hold a mirror up to society and then smash society over the fucking head with it.
Synth Witch – An artist from Portland Oregon that does lovely slow creeping interstellar travel sounds. Gorgeous textured bleeps and bloops I want to fill my ears while constructing high risk plans in the dangerous far reaches of space. One of those artists that truly captures a visual wavelength without the use of lyrics to paint the picture. Set the controls for the heart of the sun and sail away.
Favorite Track:Dangerous – This immersive soundtrack for a space heist is effortlessly cool. Perfectly tailored leather jackets in dirty space.
Arden and the Wolves – Wonderful talent from Los Angeles that also does a podcast about magic and art(I linked it below) . They have a voice that absolutely drips with power. A look and sonic energy that resonates with every step. I found myself struck by the theatrical delivery and spiritual passion. It almost feels like the goth version of modern secular music delivered by a soloist in front of a choir . Shadowed by the mystical roots to make a contrast. This is a teaching sound, each time i listen I feel like I am unraveling a story.
DORIAN ELECTRA – Artist from LA doing a blood pumping spicy trip hop. I love the way they spray the sexuality around like a firehouse. The vocal timber has a really unique feel and the energy is pure darkpop adrenochrome pumped right in the vein. The album brims with guest artist which adds a lot of flavors and complexity. This has such glorious relatable pop sensibility but delivered with razor edge and soul.
Favorite Track:My Agenda (Feat: Village People and Pussy Riot) – This has such a slinky beat and a real fire in the vocal delivery while holding a smoldering flame of pop beauty.
Darkswoon – Portland artist with singer Jana Cushman who also has done soundtrack work for the film “My Summer As A Goth”. Smokey driving shoegaze flavor. I really love how the music has a wall of sound shoegaze feel but the vocals are very forward and ring clear like a bell. Andrew Michael really puts on a clinic with the movement of a fuzzy swelling bass tone.
Favorite Song:The Flesh – Huge 10,000 maniacs meets Kevin Shields vibes. This song is a twisting mechanical snake with Jane pouring visceral soul from their mouth. Chefs Kiss.
Sawtooth – New England EDM artist Lillian Edith Martin that does a body shaking synth heavy dance drive. I love the labyrinth of staircases and moving paths. It’s glorious to hear dance music take on such a fantasy tone. It’s like listening to imagination. Some great collaboration with Juliet Brownell-Lee (Gorgeous vocals) and John Greene (Makes my arm hairs stand up). I have gotten lost in each of these tracks in different moments for different reasons.
Favorite Track:Crawling Towards the Light Feat: Juliet Brownell-Lee – Such a perfect homage to fantasy and nostalgia with modern dance flavor and perfect movement. This song is such a journey.
grabyourface – Marie does the most amazing sad industrial hybrid music. Tortured soul bearing poetry poured over a beat like blood down a fountain. Hearing the courage with which they reveal the most intimate aspects of their soul in every song fills me with strength every time I hear it.
Favorite Track: Shore – From the album Sea in 2020. When you think of a song as haunting and revealing. Every time I hear this is leaves me shook. The imagery, the self reflection, the tone.
Shadows Beloved – My dear friend Adrian Auchrome from Maine does such an amazing job of resurrecting old school traditional goth like Rossetta Stone and seasoning it with anguished vocal delivery. What really hits my heart every time is the guitar tone perfection that blisters to the front to take center stage. This album is so under appreciated in the discussion of the modern goth renaissance. Emotional abstracts and artisan crafting in perfect blend.
Favorite Track:All We Want – Adrian is at their best when letting their beautiful voice be itself and ring forth. This song captures that. The guitar solo is a powerful masterclass in modern traditional goth.
Sloar&Mordor – Wisconsin artists Matt Florence andSvea Tiberius Trzebiatowski bring their love of Science fiction and pop culture into this dungeon synth art house explosion of Easter eggs and shake that ass beats. I love the spoken word delivery and raindrop synth sounds.
Kali Ra – Oakland California artist does amazing offbeat driving guitar slather that I want to be my entrance music when I walk into a party. It’s dark and has it’s own saunter. David Goad has a 30’s phonograph sex appeal on their voice. It’s breathy, beckoning, and full of temptation. The album “The Monarch” leaps around between tone and style ranging from 90s goth pop to 70s Glam rock. Their voice is the one thing that ties together all these colorful threads stretching out on a loom of sound.
Favorite Track:Gaslight – The spirit of Brian Eno has been summoned and infused with youth to entertain me in the modern age. I also love what a contrast this is to the other tracks.
Dea Decay – Florida Dj/Artist Dea does this lovely candy sweet synthpop full of magic and color. If I had to choose a word to describe their sound it would be vibrant. It features samples and head bopping energy.
Favorite Track : Catronica – Look I love the new She-Ra and in particular Katra. Feel good adorable energy and breakneck fun pacing. Yes please.
WINGTIPS – Chicago synthdriven apocalyptical dreampop which captured my heart a few years back and continue to impress. Gorgeous flowing imagery turned into sound and fired out of a smoke machine to create a shimmering wave of deeper dreaming. One of the truly exceptional performances to see live in the modern scene. One of those bands that continues to evolve in complexity with every passing year.
Favorite Track:Last Minute – They have had so many amazing songs since, but you never forget your first love. When I heard this track I was instantly transported to the post apocolyptic John Hughes prom and I never wanted to leave. It’s unforgettable beauty.
Since I have come this far 🙂 I also want to give a shoutout to three Djs very near and dear to my heart that help make this scene what it is 🙂 Pat Allen, Kate Mior, and Azy Bats. All of them are great ways to hear the best in new music and keep your finger on the pulse of the modern scene. Pat 626, Darkness Forever, and Obscura Undead.
Our podcasts have been really improving. Having interviews that are a real conversation with some of the artists I love and give all their fans a feeling of knowing them on a personal level. I wanted to compile them all in one place that give you the opportunity to find and enjoy them.
2/25/21 Grabyourface – Talented French artists Marie Dragontown on Negative Gain. Talking about their breakthrough album Sea, France, and their favorite pizza.
2/19/21Tear Down The Wall discussion with Russ Robinson (Infectious Groves Podcast) and Dan Milligan (The Joy Thieves). Here we discuss the charity compilation of Industrial artists put out by Riveting Records in Colorado that has a cover version of every song on Pink Floyd‘s iconic album “The Wall”
12/22/2020 Rodney Orpheus from The Cassandra Complex – Amazing interview with one of the godfathers of goth. Telling stories of meeting Andrew Eldrich, their new album, predicting the attack on our Capital, and the past and present of Goth.
6/25/20 Interview with Dogtablet Martin King (Test Dept) and Jared Louche (Chemlab) – Where they discuss history on the road, their song writing, snowball fights with Trent Reznor, Jared’s Shoes, and rescuing dogs.
As 2021 begins and the world continues it’s isolation we find comfort where we can. For me that has been finishing an album, enjoying our ShadowBook Facebook group, and finding amazing new music to drop my hard earned duckets down for on Bandcamp day. The first Friday of every month Bandcamp gives all of it’s proceeds from album sales directly to the artist. So let me fire through what will be taking up residence in my ever expanding collection.
Stoneburner – No Light No Spark – It is fairly well known Steven is a friend of the page. That is why I appreciate it so much he never makes me forfeit my integrity by consistently putting out increasingly amazing albums. In this one he calls upon an army of Industrial compatriots to remix some of his recent work. (Bellhead/Assemblage 23 / Machines With Human Skin / Dogtablet/ Sister Sarin / Stabbing Westward / Joy Thieves / Bativia / Hollowboy / Pill Brigade). It’s always a joy to here material you love, reimagined by other people you love. Often they do something I always want to hear from Steven, which is giving even more clarity to his concepts and poetry.
Standout Tracks: All of them.
Amnesialand(Dogtablet – Soldier Ant Mix) Static strikes like brushes, a machine powers up, Steven’s rapping flow is clarified and direct. I love how the drums slide off the beat behind him.
Are You There The WayI’m Here (Assemblage 23 Remix) A slow and deliberate grind that isolates the lyrics. Striking hard on the front beats. Just wave after wave of giant stone wheels crushing the land before it.
No Light No Spark (Terror Management Theory version) Giant and terrifying in it’s scope. This track stomps around on iron legs with drunken fury. A stalking beast of a song.
You can never have too much Stoneburner in your collection.
SINE – DesolateDistrict Feat. Chris Connelly – This is an absolute burner single that came out last year. It’s starburst drums and satin vocals, weaving through a shattered landscape. Then it adds in Chris Fuking Connelly. I love this call and answer flow of the vocals. The power of the drum beats shakes your spine. This song is a dance club hit every place in America needs to be thumping through a system. When Connelly is the icing on your cake, that is one hell of a cake. Hot poetry like this “The name’s contagious, written in smoke You force fed energy, starved and soaked You misread crime when you look at decline Desolate district dissolute signs”
Die Robot – Frantic – Portland’s cybernetic punk energon cubes released this single in May last year. It’s that perfect synthesis of funky electropunk and smash your face flying robot fist. Great mixture of voices and sensual inflection. I got done stomping my feet to this single and picked up the whole discography. My advice is get this and then when your legs can’t dance anymore build better ones out of broken robot parts.
I Ya Toyah – Out Of Order – Chicago/Poland’s favorite one women sound extravaganza has this eagerly awaited sophomore EP out 3/26/21 which is now available for preorder. So far one single is available and just like every time Ania puts out something new, my jaw hit the floor. Instead of napalm energy, this new sound is a cutting laser or focus and complexity. Like a fine wine every moment it lingers in your throat offers a new flavor and tone. This is a must order and early contender to be on albums of the year. It’s so seldom you see someone with the talents of Ania work as hard as she does at her craft to grow exponentially with each release.
Also a bundle package available Unisex T-shirt designed by Chicago artist Danesh Kothari, printed on soft and natural Bella Canvas, plus limited edition holographic sticker, and CD in 6 panel art wallet with 6 page lyric and art insert. Photos and art by award winning European artist Krzysztof Babiracki. 15% of each physical album sale goes to American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to aid mental health cause. Ania is an amazing human changing the world with everything she does.
The Churchill Garden – Fade Away – Gorgeous new dreampop single with a team up of Andy Jossi and (Whimsical) singer Krissy Vanderwoude. This track is a tear rolling slowly down the cheek just as the sun strikes it to make it sparkle. I kept feeling my heart rise up towards my throat as layer after layer emerged and joined a cacophony of tender sweeping wind. Music to make your feel.
Luis Vasquez – A Body Of Errors – I hate to be that guy, that says I was at that one show. I’m just kidding, I love to be that guy. I got to see The Soft Moon at Berghain and it altered the course of my sonic life. This new solo album is a percussion driven instrumental masterpiece. Rising cities, cities destroyed, the screams of a dying age. Textural emotive hums infusing the body and blasting a prism of colors into the mind. I’m not usually one for instrumental works but just like anything when it is done at this level it is something that moves you. Future Sounds of London with the edgy tension of Coil. I want to be back in that bunker in Berlin riding the wave of this journey of sound.
Doors In The Labyrinth – The Shadow Of The Monolith – I love when a band has so many present influences that their is no effective way to categorize it. New album from the Pittsburgh native Josh Loughrey has a textured coldwave isolation crashing up against sizzling guitars and wilderness crooning vocals. Full album release is 3/15 but this first single is full of promise and explosive energy. I had the opportunity to see Josh open for Adoration Destroyed/Lorelei Dreaming and this is an artist with a bubbling volcano of passion ready to explode.
Collapse of Dawn – of dreams and nightmares – This is a sound that really leans into it’s album name. A sinister stalking wispy electronic sound. Both Saphirra Vee and Melodywhore contribute vocals and it is a powerful combination to give the shadow images both sensuality and dark intention. My personal favorite was “Silent Howl“, it managed to elevate the surrealism to further the dream metaphor. Just like a dream or nightmare I think the true star of the show were the tiny brushstrokes of sound you don’t remember you heard until later reflection. Everyone who listens will get their own story. I’m glad I heard mine.
Kandinsky Noir – DOM-J (Feat. Grabyourface) – This track immeadiately puts you back on your heels with explosive force and smashing guitars. Very old school industrial tone with a sharp high speed modern sound. The effect is made even stronger with a wonderful guest vocal by Marie of Grabyourface providing French lyrics. This one is even more special for me because the collaboration came out of our Sounds and Shadows group. A beautiful textured jam with teeth and blood.
Dissonance – Damage 1st Assault (Feat Melodywhore) Ok I am a long time fan of Cat Hall, she has one of the most underrated voices in modern electronic. So when I say this is my favorite track I want you to appreciate the weight of that. James lays down a filthy grinding beat that really let her voice off the chain. Puts me in mind of that aggressive feminine power of Lords of Acid and My Life With The Thrill Kill Cult. All broken glass and velvet sass. I can’t wait to hear more from this powerful collaboration. The single also features some powerful remix work from Joe Haze , Machines With Human Skin, Steven Olaf, and more.