This weekend I was suppose to be in Boston for the Dark Spring Festival. Enjoying the warm embrace of meeting new friends and swaying in rhythm to music. Instead here I sit in Michigan at the computer eating curried mash potatoes alone. I do have a tether to this distant world. New music to conjure dreams of adventure from the ether.
Icy Men – Low Light – I’ve been taking in snippets of this album leading up to the release today. Another strong offering from Cold Transmission. This Ukrainian band gives me a tie to a world far away. It’s the perfect sound to capture the isolation I am fighting. Everything sounds so open and full of negative space. The songs resonate with grey concrete and oppressive darkness. I am in love with the striking drums and the powerful delivery of the voice. It’s the weight and power of each track that strikes your mind and demands reflection. Dedicated to the victims of medieval inquisition this is not background music. It’s a forceful reflection of the human condition. I couldn’t turn away from how I could not understand the lyrics, but I felt the meaning.
Favorite Tracks : The Captain , Uninhabited Buses, We Shall Be Together
Sawtooth –Hostile Design – Massachusetts sinister EDM Sawtooth unleashed this ferocious team up of several guest vocalists each swinging sword cut glitch sounds and boot stomping snare beats. The most challenging aspect of EDM music can be finding range of sound and emotion when releasing an album of 13 tracks. I really enjoyed the different cadence to the poetry spoken lyrics. A real roller coaster of rises and falls.
Favorite Tracks: Devoured, Venomous Whispers, Miss America (Echo Haus remix)
Iza Grau – Vastness Hurts – Italian Post punk full of sharp edges and driving precision from Cleopatra Records. The growl and burning anger just beneath the surface of these vocals really give a fresh feeling among the mellow and blending style of most Darkwave Postpunk. Not that they didn’t find a shade of beauty with tracks like Burn Everything. This was an album I stumbled on but I am really glad I did. It’s ability to twist, turn, and surprise me has left me hungry for more.
Favorite Tracks : Burn Everything , The Grace within Nocturnal Animals, Inviolate.
FIRES – BitchCorona – Aedra has done it again. It’s a huge swing from her previous album. Complete chaos incineration that really taps into my feelings of frustration of being home bound. It’s just one track, but it’s fun, it’s fierce, and it makes me want to run outside and scream while I spin in circles in my backyard.
UIU – Acid Joe Davola – So I am a long time fan of Perth Austrailia’s synth wave wizard Greg Weir. However nothing could prepare me for this bizzaro Kraftwerk style dance jam. An express train to the underground. It’s good to have new music from UIU.
Black Nail Cabaret – No Gold – New EP and Video from my favorite Hungarian electronic band. Emese’s voice is one of those things that brings me joy anytime i hear it. Another track with beautiful pop dance sensibility but such a rich soulful vocal delivery and powerful lyrics. Their videos are such high art as well. They can really do no wrong in my eyes.
Antipole – Perspectives II – Karl Morton has returned with the second in the series of his remix albums Perspectives II. For this offering the songs have a vastly different tone. Away from post punk and into a more avant garde texture. Outstanding re imaginings by bands like SYZYGX, Crying Vessel, The Coventry, and European Ghost. I love the feeling of cold remembrance here, the songs have become a spectral haunt of intention that adds such contrast to Antipoles driven and concise style.
I am sitting here on Thanksgiving thinking on all the great things in the last two years this page has brought me. The wonderful people I have come in contact with and now call friends. The wealth of music that has opened up for me. The way this page has grown in readership, content, and me as a writer. The podcast has been a real hit right from the starting gate and it gets me excited for the future. I have added in new voices like Collin, Katy, and Adrian. I wanted to take a moment to thank you all who read, submit, and have open minds to find and support new music. These are intense times, art and each other is what will help us get through them. All of you are what makes my future seem bright and meaningful. I hope you that believe in the power of music reach out today and show an artist you love that they are important to you. Maybe sharing something of theirs, buying their art, or sending them a message letting them know they matter to you. Here is some of what I am enjoying today.
Sunshine Blind was a band essential to my musical evolution. Caroline has been a groundbreaking voice in the goth/industrial genre since I first discovered what that meant. A women who Andrew Eldrich said was “too goth” for him to play with. Her release Liquid really opened my eyes to the broader world of possibility in dark music. (If you have never listened to it you really need to get on that right away). Recently she released a cover of The Swans God Damn The Sun which was majestic, tragic, and gorgeous. Tomorrow her new original single Need to Say drops. I was lucky enough to hear it and I cannot stress the amount of power and emotion this song summoned. It was a vast change from her previous style. A slow heart wrenching ballad so personal and tortured I found myself with wet eyes and a quivering lip. To anyone who has known a crucial loss this is art at it’s most powerful to punch a hole in your chest and hold your heart. You will want to make it a part of your collection.
Icy Men – Uninhabited Buses EP on Cold Transmission Records
Ukrainian Coldwave Post Punk Artists Icy Men have just released a new EP on Cold Transmission. I was immediately struck by how different this sounded from their other material. I think part of what makes Icy Men so intense is the mechanical urban feel of the music. I always think of subway tunnels and empty spaces. The lyrics are mostly in either Russian or Ukrainian (So I can’t understand) but the delivery and cadence of that low octave powerful drone put me in mind of Ian Curtis. The bass lines are forceful and thick. The remix of Carlo Onda is such a thumping jam of weighty low end with a sinister slashing guitar riff that crackles with electricity. The EP also features a remix of the song Raindrops from one of our favorite Philly synth wizards Kiss the Whip. Its such a surreal experience hearing the light dancing pop beats straight out of a John Hughes movie delivered with the power and brevity of Lytvyn and Den. The whole EP really transports you to the isolated streets of Kyiv. Fans of chilling dark melodies will be excited to hear Icy Men.
Swansect the project of our very own Adrian has released this new EP S/T. I know they felt a little tentative of using the page to cover their new single and EP. Luckily for all of you I don’t care about standing on such ceremony and wanted to share this with you. This album is so hard to put in a box or describe. A truly daring artistic endeavor using sounds and ambient effects to set a mood. The tone and expression of each of these 5 tracks takes a drastically different direction. It’s frightful and truly outside of genre. Adrian’s voice roars from inside a gaping chasm. The drum beats of heavy handed and pound from inside you. This is a journey into the unknown I really enjoyed.
Heavy Water Factory – Remix of Schedule IV “Fault”
Another blast from my past Jesse McClear of Detroit Industrial royalty Heavy Water Factory have come out of the darkness of the last 14 years with some amazing new material. Today it’s this remix of our friends Schedule IV. This remix is crackling purple lightning shooting out of the Emperor’s hands. Always one of my favorite Schedule IV tracks for Steph’s piercing power and sinister growl. McClear has infused it with a perfectly balanced electronic club beat sure to blow the roof off of your next party. I was smacking the steering wheel so hard to this beat I almost went off the road.
Philly’s lord of Darkness Michael Sky has just unleashed a new Lust For Nothing EP with two tracks. I was a huge fan of their first album (See Previous Review). These new songs are a huge leap forward in both emotion and production. Sky has this inane sense of the line between fiery energetic uptempo electronic and something sinister that almost puts me in mind of 1980’s The Damned. These songs will both get a lot of play in my rotation.
We were recently on a compilation with Mark e Moon and I feel in love with his imagery rich lyrics and bottom of the well rich voice. This has tones of Mission UK and Sisters old school goth. Blended with crisp tight keyboard melodies and drum beats. A little extra sizzle with my darkness is never bad. Moons voice is really what holds everything together and I am going to deep dive this album soon.
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.
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: Sonsombre – Fear 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.
Track 6 : October Burns Black – Cast 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.
Track 7: Astari Nite – Dearly 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.
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 Gathering – Building 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 Instinct – Hide 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: Amaranth – My 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.
So since we have started doing interviews with bands to add another layer of content to Sound and Shadows it got me thinking about all the other pieces that go into creating a vibrant and exciting music scene. Djs, promoters, and record labels. At the moment the world of music is changing to a focus on global reach and grass roots distribution. No one is doing more to build a base and put out great music for Post Punk/Dark wave/ Cold wave/ Shoegaze genre than Frankfurt Germany based label Cold Transmission Music. Run by Andreas and Suzy Herrmann with Yvonne Kiel as graphic designer, this label is on the forefront of the multimedia movement happening in dark music. They aren’t just a record company, they are music lovers that are looking to lift all ships and find exciting new ways to share the music they love with the world. They have made the idea of musical distribution into a family with a caring touch to foster the people on their label as much as putting out albums and compilations. The Cold Transmission playlists have come to set a standard for support of what is cutting edge. I had the opportunity of getting to know the people behind Cold Transmission a little better and want to share that experience with our readers. Bands currently on Cold Transmission Music: Elz and the Cult, White Mansion, Push Button Press, Carlo Onda, Rosi, Monographic, La Mécanique, Reconverb, S Y Z Y G Y X, Silent Runners, The Blue Beard’s Castle, Icy Men , Palais Ideal, Bedless Bones, Closed Mouth. We have reviewed some of these bands and the more I hear from them the more I like, I can’t wait to continue working my way through their catalog.
(Ken) When did you start the label and what was your goal starting out with Cold Transmission?
(CT) In 2017 Cold Transmission began as a Mixcloud show because we had the burning desire to make more people aware of the new music and bands that were coming up in our scene. The shows were very well received on Mixcloud and the number of followers grew steadily so we created the name „Cold Transmission“ and launched the Facebook page. The next idea was to create a digital compilation, so our ZEITGEIST series was born. Although Andreas always thought about starting a label from the beginning, it was a spontaneous idea that evolved over time, a next logical step. We are still growing into it, learning new things every day about what it takes to be a label and it makes us very happy to support up-and-coming bands and help them grow. So our greatest respect goes out to all other independent labels that are doing this for many years now with enthusiasm and passion. It’s a lot of work especially when doing this next to your normal jobs. The music is our true satisfaction.
(Ken) I feel like goth music has always been a genre focused on the past, in the last couple years this style of music is seeing a huge resurgence with fresh new talent in unprecedented levels since the 80s/90s. What do you think is leading this? What do you see as Cold Transmissions role?
(CT) Yes, we have the same feeling about the scene. You can hardly find a band that is not referencing one of the 80s bands like Joy Division etc. Even our name is inspired by a Joy Division song! Those are all icons we really love but time doesn’t stand still and music is developing further with fresh impulses, techniques and sounds combined with the classic Post-Punk influences. Jason Corbett of ACTORS once called it Post-Punk 2.0 which is an apt description. When you go to parties or festivals a lot such as we have since the 80s we had the feeling of hearing the same music all the time in the last 10 years. We talked to many people from all over the world who had the same experience. Maybe people had gotten a bit fed up with this. We created Cold Transmission to show people from the scene what great new music is out there and what great new bands are surfacing from all parts of the world – through our Mixcloud shows, social media accounts and our label. We’re going to concerts and festivals, sometimes hosting them ourselves. We did a Cold Transmission party, re-invested the money we earned with it to buy new music to support the bands. We also see Cold Transmission not just as a label but as a platform to connect bands and supporters from all over the world. There is a great community of artists, labels, blogs, radio stations, growing up around us and we’re proud to be part of it and support it with all our energy. There also have been great collaborations between the bands already doing remixes of each others songs which is great to see. We created our t-shirts and sent them to supporters, bands and friends around the globe – for us it’s a statement of being part of a wonderful and growing community in our scene.
(Ken)You had a lot of success in 2018, I have watched your support base grow. What are you excited for on the horizon in 2019? What new albums are you looking to release this year?
(CT) In 2019 we’re looking forward to growing our label further – we will release the new albums by La Mécanique, White Mansion, The Blue Beard’s Castle and many more in the future. (Since this interview they had a very exciting release from Palais Ideal currently available) Also we will release four new ZEITGEIST compilations this year. And of course there will be our first little Cold Transmission Festival in Cologne, Germany in July. Still there is no 5-years-plan or anything for Cold Transmission. We love to see things develop organically – we have amazing friends around who are supporting us in so many ways, bands that became friends, interesting people that we are discussing partnerships with to allow us all new opportunities. We have hundreds of ideas in our minds and the day only has 24 hours so let’s see what happens!
(Ken) Recently I interviewed Jim Walker of Push Button Press (amazing new album) and Ashe Ruppe of Delphine Coma. Both are American bands that spoke of how happy they are signing with European labels. What do you think is drawing American bands to think of European labels for the dark music scene?
(CT) Since we are very new to that business we don’t really know about the major differences between European and American labels yet to be honest. We as Cold Transmission try to be as professional and committed as we can when signing bands to our label – a typical German attitude maybe. We are still a small label and the personal contact is very important to us and also to our bands. We want them to feel like they are part of a little family that believes in them and motivates them. A way of working that is maybe difficult when you are a bigger label with many bands. The scene in Europe is very old, still vibrant and much more concentrated simply because of the size of the continent compared to America. Maybe that is also a reason why so many bands are looking to Europe and has nothing to do with the differences between European and American labels in particular.
(Ken) What inspired you to become a part of this music scene? Was there a band in particular that let you know this was your chosen path in life?
(CT) We have to distinguish here between us due to our age difference of nearly ten years. Andreas was more into electronic music since 1980 starting with bands like Kraftwerk, Ultravox, Gary Numan, Cabaret Voltaire etc. In 1986 he was really convinced to be part of the scene through bands like Click Click, The Klinik, Skinny Puppy and Front 242. Suzy was more into guitar music, and a real 90s Dark Wave girl – so was Yvonne. Starting with Depeche Mode, The Smiths and Sisters of Mercy in the late 80’s her first „dark love“ was Deine Lakaien in the early 90’s
(Ken) Talk to me about the Post Punk/Darkwave scene in Germany, what is it like today and how has it changed in the last 20 years?
(CT) The scene was always great in Germany from our point of view. You have so many huge festivals, concerts and parties in nearly every part of Germany. In particular the Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig that has become the largest Gothic festivals in the world. As said before, from a music standpoint you had the feeling that nothing really changed in the last 20 years. Sure there were new bands surfacing all the time but not many people seemed to be really interested. Especially in the last few years there are new artists emerging and we get the feeling that more people are now open to finding new music. There are more small festivals coming up in Germany next to the big ones that give you a more traditional feeling. The Wave Gotik Treffen took notice of a lot of those bands and presented many of the newer acts in 2018. This is a trend we really hope to see continue.
(Ken) Along with putting out music you got your start in creating playlists and sharing music for bands in the genre. You even had Amaranth on a few, so thank you for that. What lead you to this idea and what role do you think it will play in the future of music?
(CT) The Mixcloud shows were the starting point of Cold Transmission. Andreas is a passionate music collector and spends a lot of time searching for interesting new music on the internet. The desire behind the playlists was to make people aware of that new music – Hey guys, listen, there is more to our scene than our beloved classics! A sort of modern mixtapes we did in the 80’s. Many people don’t have the time anymore to spend hours searching for music on the internet or in record stores – they have their music players and mobile phones, listening to playlists on Spotify or other platforms. This form of listening to music will continue to play an important role in the future.
(Ken) You have a festival in Cologne this July featuring some amazing acts. I’m beyond excited that Rachel and I will be going to witness it. Tell me about it, who will be there, and what are you celebrating?
(CT) The festival will be our first Cold Transmission festival. We are celebrating Andreas’s 50th birthday bash. We chose the Blue Shell in Cologne since we have very strong connections to that club and also close friends in Cologne since Suzy lived there for 20 years. The club has a storied history going back to the 80’s so they are quite experienced and passionate. Some really great bands which we also call our friends are playing live that night: Crying Vessel, IAMTHESHADOW, featuring members of Antipole, Joy/Disaster and Silent Runners. The after show party is hosted by our close friends of Disorder Cologne (Holger and Chantal) who have been successfully running that party for nearly 10 years now. We are also very proud and overjoyed to have a special DJ set by Pete Burns and Christian Schaefer of Rule of Three. A music blog that inspired us from the beginning. Pete recently garnered critical acclaim with his project Kill Shelter! Pete has also became very important to us personally at Cold Transmission through his friendship and guidance from our beginning. We have the feeling that this is not only a festival but also a way of connecting people with a common love of darkwave/postpunk music. People from all over the world are planning to come to Cologne to meet with bands and friends. For example Jim Walker from Push Button Press traveling all the way from Florida. It will be a great event and we are really looking forward to that! Glad that Rachel and you will also be part of it. Let’s make this a night to remember!
(Ken) What do you look for in a potential band to sign to Cold Transmission?
(CT) Since we like to call our label our “Cold Transmission family” We are currently signing bands whose music we really like and believe in. People that are as passionate with their music as we are. We have close contacts to all bands signed to our label and support them in any way we can in a variety of ways. Every success the bands have makes us very happy and proud. We want to grow up together with our bands so it’s symbiotic in a sense. We also aim for long-term partnerships to achieve that. Of course we also want to have a good mixture of different music styles from different countries on our label especially in the Post-Punk and Coldwave genre. In nearly every country of the world you can find bands and artists from our scene and we are happy to have some of them on our label to show the variety that is out there.
(Ken) If you could travel back in time and see any show ever in recorded history, what would it be and why?
(CT) That would be shows of today’s Post-Punks icons like Joy Division in the late 70’s and early 80’s. To see such a show in a small club with around 20 people, listening to the music and having the feeling that something great is happening. That would have been awesome.
Since this was our first interview with someone who wasn’t a band I thought it was important to share some perspective of some of the people who surround Cold Transmission. Musicians, artists, producers about what this label means to them. Here are some of those thoughts.
Jim Walker (Push Button Press) “I will let a big secret about the label out of the bag, Suzy is the secret special sauce that makes everything fall into place.”
(SYZYGYX) “Suzy’s and Andy’s passion for music shows in the way they treat their artists, we’ve been lucky to work with such amazing people and label, and look forward to continue working with them. They know the scene, they’re knowledgeable on how to target the audience and promote! Love Cold Transmission”
Pedro Code (IAMTHESHADOW) “They are great enthusiasts of the dark Scene, wonderfull people and my friends. I knew them long before they started Cold Transmission, in WGT, Leipzig, 2017 but now its another level. They are growing and its a great thing for the dark scene in Europe hey are very passionate about the music being made. Its great for all the bands what they are doing, They once told me they had the idea of Cold Transmission, after we meet in WGT, 2017. :)”
Silent Runners “Like many people in the scene we met Andy and Suzy online, enthusiastically spreading our music on forums and groups within the scene. From the start they were the greatest supporters a band can hope for! They really have a personal love for music and the scene and want to spread it so other people can enjoy it as well. Since we met personally on WGT2018 we’ve been in touch weekly. Seems only logical that we recently took the next step and joined their great label family as band. We hope to do great stuff together in the future.”
Monographic “Cold Transmission is not a “normal ” record label! For us, its more a collaboration between friends for the most important thing… music!!! They’re doing a lot for new bands and for the underground scene. You can feel, its not about the money compared to other labels, its more about spreading the love … Suzy and Andreas are doing everything, for the bands to keep moving forward and you can see they are doing it right. We hope to be part of it in the many years to come and we look forward to the bright future of their label”
Pete Burns (Kill Shelter) “Andy and Suzy have been great supporters of both Rule of Three (which I run with my partner in crime Christian Schaefer) and also my personal Kill Shelter project so I can’t thank them enough for that really. They are extremely passionate, kind and energetic people and are always incredibly positive – you need unbridled enthusiasm and optimism to work in this industry and they have that in spades. I’ve been lucky enough to help them with engineering and mastering of some of their releases and that’s just been an absolute joy. I’m hoping we’ll do more of that in 2019. I’ll be heading to Germany in July for the Cold Transmission Festival & Disorder Party where Christian and I will be doing a special audio/visual DJ set and we have some surprises lined up for that. It will be an honor to be part of that event and I really hope they have a magical time – they deserve it.”