This is our second S & S Darkscene chart chosen completely by the Djs, Bands, Reviewers, Artists, and Super Fans, of the international group Sounds and Shadows. This features singles from any country and any genre within the loose darkscene category (Goth/Industrial/Darkwave/Postpunk/EDM/EBM/Electronica).
The Joy Thieves(feat. I Ya Toyah) – Money Is Not Our God (Killing Joke Cover) by Coitus Interruptus Productions – Chicago superband The Joy Thieves return to this chart with a blistering cover of the Killing Joke classic. This entire compilation is full of banger tributes to one of the great names of the scene. Ania (I Ya Toyah) unleashes a terrifying and powerful rendition full of punk rock snarl and sky splitting technicolor. Milligan puts on a loving masterclass in syncopation on drums.
daddybear(feat grabyourface) – Hypnotic – Madison WI – I love this team up more every time it happens. Matt Fanale (Caustic/Klack) dropped this immediate dance floor classic with frequent contributor Marie (Grabyourface) on vocals. It’s a buzzing electronic zapper you can’t help buzz towards your destruction on. Whispy sensual, destruction core vibes. A must own banger.
Aesthetic Perfection (feat. Isaac Howlett) – Save Myself – Austria – The king of pop industrial teams up with glorious songsmith Isaac Howlett (Empathy Test) to create this perfect style blend duet. It cooks and yanks the hell out of your heart strings as two of the great voices of the modern scene push and pull a furious cyclone of exploding energy.
Stabbing Westward – I Am Nothing – From COP International LA Progdustrial sensation continues to prove they are a force of challenge and artistic expression in 2021. It’s fierce guitars and laser burn vocals from Chris Hall, who remains one of the best in the business.
Helix – Run (Hallowed Hearts Remix) – The husband/wife team up of Tom Shear (Assemblage 23) & vocalist Mari Kattman are one of those things I am embarrassed I waited so long to get on board with. It is sledge hammer dance beats smashing ice castles of precision and fractal light beam beauty. Spinning motion I never want to put down.
S Y Z Y G Y X – Light You On Fire – I have been so excited to hear where Luna and Cold Transmission Music would go next with this project. This scorching sensual growl of death disco minimalist glory. I don’t even know how to categorize it. Only that I can’t get enough eagerly await the full album release this Friday .
grabyourface – Rob the Bank – The French Negative Gain artist makes their second appearance on the chart. This coldwave slow stomp single of revolutionary nihilism and burning intelligence is a smoldering exhibition on a post capitalism world.
PALAIS IDEAL – The Voice Of Reason – Cold Transmission progressive post punk artists have again produced a higher concept thinking dystopian sound for the modern age. Overlapping waves of technical excellence and poetic intent. Everyone in the genre wants to make the next Star Wars while John and Richard are creating Issac Asmov.
Sapphira Vee(Feat Cat Hall) – Breath of You – Distortion Records artists teams up with peer vocal power Cat Hall to belt this powerful single about the strength and perseverance of cancer survivors. The weight and emotion of this personal track is a crackling orb of enormous movement and resilience.
ULTRA SUNN – Young Foxes – Saucy Belgian cold wave trance from Cold Transmission. Sam Huge has a resonating voice that fills a room and stalks with intent. Pete Burns adds an elegant mastering to create cavernous echos.
Coitus Interruptus Productions quotes writer Steve Taylor from his 2006 book, The A to X of Alternative Music, as saying “Killing Joke have inspired all dark music since 1981” going on to posit that “Scrape the surface of just about any Industrial Metal or Alternative Rock band worth their salt, and you’ll find some aspects of the prolific and powerful Killing Joke.”
With that bold statement, they bring us Follow the Leaders (A Killing Joke Tribute), an 11 track compilation that dares to take on the challenge of honoring one of the greatest progenitors of the post-punk/industrial metal genre.
Snowbeasts start it off right with their take on the KJ classic Wardance. Primal rhythms with a darkly polished sheen. This wardance knows it’s not just about brutality and wounds its prey with subtle efficient strikes… Makes you wanna pogo along like a flashback to an 80’s punk show by way of a Berlin discotheque.
From there we move onto Element, and their version of Turn to Red. Element trades the punk reggae vibes of the original for more darkwave sound and turns up the dub a bit to make this one hard not bob your head to its tranced out vibe.
Next, The Blue Hour brings us The Gathering. I am not sure how they do it, but TBH takes this classic Killing Joke track, and channels the ghosts of Bow Wow Wow, and still makes the track sound fresh.
Riotgun takes on the herculean task of covering one of the most well known KJ tracks, Eighties. You have to give these guys credit… This is the one track that I had the most concern about when I heard about this compilation. Yet I think they do an admirable job of keeping the aggression in place and not turning in an unintentional parody of the original. Hats off to Riotgun… Well played!
Here in the middle of the group, we find three of the best tracks of the compilation in my opinion…
Shhadows brings us a dreamy, trip hop inspired version of my all time favorite Killing Joke song Love Like Blood. For all its dreamy, spaced out qualities, it still keeps its power.
Trance to the Moon tackles Love of the Masses. This song hits me with the same angst of a song like Love Like Blood from a new direction, and I feel the pain in every note that vocalist Monet Alarie hits. Like a love gone wrong, it leaves you longing for another kiss.
And rounding out this triad of greatness is The Joy Thieves (featuring I Ya Toya) with Money is Not Our God. Ania Tarnowska, takes no prisoners with her vocals on this bombastic assault against capitalism, propelled through the night by the punishing rhythms courtesy of Dan Milligan and crew.
On The Death and Resurrection Show, Missing Witness brings us a version of the song that we might have seen if Jaz and the Gang had gotten snared in the Wax Trax net circa 1986. The track evokes the feel of Ministry tracks The Angel and Over the Shoulder. Very cool old-school Chicago industrial vibes here.
The Raygun Girls bring those Big Paul Ferguson Beats to the front of the line on their take on Hosannas from the Basements of Hell. This is the most Killing Joke like track on the whole record, yet doesn’t cross that line over into cover band purgatory.
This World Hell by Dead Receptors is an interesting track full of contradictions. Its brutalist vocals and staccato clipped synths are weighted down by the sleazy/funky bass and drums that remind me of great tracks like Golgotha Tenement Blues from Machines of Loving Grace.
And finally, HadesMachine shows us out with Euphoria. A Goth rock banger tinged with siren call synths pleading for us to show some urgency, like a vampire biker gang racing against the dawn.
So the final Bandcamp day of 2020 is upon us. This whole year feels like an absurd blur. I continue to beat the drum hard for all Bandcamp does to support artists all year round. This day each month has become something I cherish as it usually leads to several new releases. As usual I am up at midnight firing through whiskey and trying to share some of the new music that is filling my heart with fire. As the possibility of Facebook turning away from artists sharing their work I urge you to follow the page and comment below the review music that is inspiring you that I might put it in future reviews.
Codename: Lola – Lets start out with this badass cover of one of my favorite bands Ultravox in one of their more underrated songs. The single features fireball vocals from Gothzilla frontman Tim Jarvis. It’s got a glorious walking gansta style and a wailing guitar solo. Just blistering energy that never lets up and fills me with excitement for the future of this project. Currently it is free on bandcamp and is a must grab.
Vlimmer: Alexander has done it again. His ability to crank out albums at the highest quality in record speed leaves me speechless. This latest release “XIIIIIIII” has his textured emotive stark imagery. Opening with an urgency and seamless blend of guitar slush with cascading keyboards. It’s gorgeous, immersive, and never disappoints. I am always shocked by how far from the previous concept each release leaps. This one highlights the vocals and has a brighter indie rock sensibility. I’m in awe, how does he have so many ideas that always sound so fresh.
The Funeral March of the Marionettes – New single from the Illinois post punk band called “Useless”. It’s brash and melodic with 80s Killing Joke feel. That driving bassline that never lets up and chanting devil may care vocals that add weight by floating on the wave of sound.
Dissonance Feat: Kurt Larson: If there are three things I love it is 1) Kate Bush 2) Kurt Larson (Information Society) 3) The soulful smokey croon of Cat Hall. It’s a song that has seen covers before but this one is special for the vocal duet and digital downpour of sound falling on us while we are running up that hill. A special release from one of the most underrated voices in this scene. This single comes off an amazing compilation of cover songs by electronic artists called “Numbers Covered”. A great value here but if you have to check just one track it is this.
Vertical Patrols – Another single from the San Diego synthwave artist. It’s warm and puts me in mind of catchy New OrderTechnique until the vocals drop with a unique accented feeling of frustration and loss. It grabs hold of your lapels and shakes you furiously searching for it’s own answers. It’s one of those bands where I hear what is coming, as much as what I am hearing. This single paves the way for something exciting in the future.
Damien Done : My fellow Michigan native has released 3 new demos songs in November. It’s always a great experience when you have an artists that you have followed the evolution of their sound. Moyal has had an impressive career with a wide range of styles. His voice really has so many tricks in the bag and shifts from album to album and even within single tracks. An impressive talent and lyrical storyteller that drenches each canvas with rich and immersive imagery. My favorite of the three tracks was “Always On Fire” with featured this beautiful harp sound. His voice takes on a rich Brendan Perry (Dead Can Dance) lilt. Then shifts into a powerful growl at just the right moment as a booming trip hop drum beat sinks in. A Master of the song writing craft Damien does not disappoint. The blistering guitar solo in the outro is a scorching flame on oil soaked waters. Powerful.
Dead Astronauts: New release out of Seattle from Cold Transmission Music called “Silhouettes“. This one is a pre order not available until January but it already has me bubbling with excitement. First single is “Chauffer and the Flame” ok to start with I love that song title. This is hungry and sensual. It features a beautifully matched duet vocal that creates duality and tension. These drum beats come from within you and burst out of your chest. The sleek electronic style feels like I am in the Tron stadium racing in a light motorcycle with everything on the line. It’s hot, tantalizing, and leaves me hungry for more.
Modal Citizan : New album Control Alter Deplete from chaos dark grunge out of Virginia Beach. So this was admittedly a little closer to metal edge than I generally venture. My first inclination was to kick it over to Collin or Adrian. However I found it growing on me as I played it more and more. The thick as fuck crunching guitars took me back to Bad Motorfinger from Soundgarden. The vocals while full of screech and growl, also found tones of gentle beauty which rode that razor edge never quite crossing over into something to hard for me to relate to. It was one of those records I kept expecting to want to get off the ride, but found myself clutching the bar and feeling myself pulled deeper. I always know something is impressive when it is obviously out of my wheelhouse but I keep coming back to it. Even now I am not sure how I feel, other than I was never bored or lost. I think this is a record I will find me daring myself into exploring again and again in the future.
Sapphira Vee: Ok there are a lot of reasons I am excited for this album “The Mask” due out 12/15/20. One of which are the bevy of awesome collaborators including Spankthenun, The Joy Thieves, Melodywhore, and yes Amaranth. I even do a bit of guest vocals on the track “World My Voice“. Sapphira has a voice and energy that fills a room. It’s dangerous and calls you like a siren from the rocks. These tracks are so personal and really tear her open as she holds out her heart in her hand. I love the throwback tone of dropped beat triphop. It really highlights the power of her controlled elegance. It’s music that gives you a shiver. A tension in the air. An inhaled breath with every roll of the dice. In a world of darkpop about escape, this album demands your focus. It’s hard pressed to pick a favorite track, but “Mask of Happy” is such a creeping and subtle jam you don’t realize has ahold of you until it is too late. A powerful release that belongs in your collection.
Grabyourface: French ultraviolet blade runner who has just signed with Negative Gain records will release an eagerly anticipated new album 12/18/20 called “Sea“. This record is gorgeous from the get. The spoken word poetry style is engaging and draws attention to the lyrics. It’s a drowning plea cutting through an ocean of depression, trying to break the water. The music is a slow electronic cascade weathering down the rocks. I really found myself getting lost in this. Sonically it’s like the other side of the same spectrum as Mr.Kitty. My pick for favorite track was “So”. The mixture of piano sound and florescent fog synths give a beautiful setting for the melody rap poetry. Overall this is an impressive offering and one I will definitely be getting preorder for.
Caustic: Matt Fanale also of Klack released a new 5 song pandemic club massacre ep. Rhythmic robot signal beamed into your brain guiding your body as a marionette. My jam was Tu Madre. It was so hard to stop my feet from stomping and waking the house. The AI efficiency of the music is memorizing. There is so much movement with so few different sources carrying it. Around 2:50 the blasting toms start and kick the floor from under you. You also get Matts clever humor in songs like Stale Seman, Shame, and video games. The whispered secret, and old school dancedustrial beat are a delicious combination. Matt is really one of the leaders in the charge of current industrial/edm.
When i write reviews one of the common traps I try hard not to get lost in is comparing every new band I review to one of the sacred dark gods of the 80’s and 90’s. It’s a pretty common tactic and lets face it an effective one. It’s easy to associate with what is familiar. Often feels like the world of goth/industrial/darkwave/new wave/ect has pretty much been discovered and artists are searching for ways to test the boundaries of what is possible and find some new ground. I figured I would take a moment to acknowledge this is a reality for a lot of people.
Label: Dark Vinyl Records – Now on Cold Transmission Records JOHN EDWARDS: VOCALS, GUITARS, SYNTHESIZERS, PROGRAMMING RICHARD VAN KRUYSDIJK: BASS, SYNTHESIZERS, BACKING VOCALS, BARITONE GUITAR, PROGRAMMING Produced, Mixed and Mastered by: Uwe Teichert At Electropolis
Palais Ideal means the Ideal Palace. A concept of building a home or place from the things you find in everyday life. This is an album that achieves something I think is so lost in the modern music scene. Each song is so unique in it’s sound and style. All the ideas tie together but the songs themselves have such an individual sound and aesthetic. This is a intellectual thinking album that has a calculated scientific arc. The songs are poppy and engaging but the words behind each song are a challenge and inspiration. This band from Netherlands attacks themes of politics and technology in the modern world. Lofty ideas that go beyond the standard party themes you could expect from club beats and hook melodies. I found myself lost and found following this story laid out about the hardship and pitfalls which face the modern person. I think the true genius on display was how easy it was to set aside these thoughts and get lost in how fun and energetic the songs sounded.
John Edwards vocals are a master class in range and engagement. From driving chants, beautiful croons, spirited edge, along with playful tongue and cheek. The theme and sound changes within each song and from one to the next. The synths are masterfully sculpted to create a rising falling tide of emotion. Van Kruysdijk’s guitars and bass lines are a driving cacophony of sound and style that build an express train for Edward’s vocals to ride upon. I hear New Order, Joy Division, Information Society, Pet Shop Boys, Japan. All are blending together but the fusion creates something unique that finds it’s own path. From a technical standpoint the music is as precise as the lyrics. No sound is wasted or lost. This is purposeful production that has a journey and a destination. I love when a true professional enhances their vision with craft and that is what Palais Ideal has achieved. I listened to this album 4 times before attempting to review it and I feel like I am just scratching the surface.
trouble choosing standout tracks because the flavor is so different
with each but here goes Standout tracks:
Crossfade/Dissolve – Here is that beautiful New Order chanting anthem sound right off the bat. It’s catchy, it’s evolved, the lyrics are delivered with just enough sharp edges to enhance the emotion while having this beautiful calculation of an architect building a better world. I played this track 7 times and regretted none of them.
Deity – Beautiful sped up cut time drums. Textural open voice lyrics delivered with a driving cadence. Again this song has such a science fiction story delivered with a build that opens up with a wonderful guitar line. This is the soundtrack of a future I fear that strikes a logical chord.
A Black Noise – This one gets dark, really dark. A droning Bauhaus drum beat with sinister guitar riffs. Edwards drops his voice to the low register to paint a frightening picture of fear and loss. “Every secret sight and sound, where are they now. A million voices underground, where did they go.” This bassline has a Sisters of Mercy Floodland drive. It’s a fierce and frightening emotion that captures and grasps.
Overall this album is just well done. The highs are high the lows are low. It’s an album you can dance in the club to but take home and really listen for the deeper meaning. I found myself falling into it like a pit that had no bottom. What an experience, what a record. You need this, if you are up for the challenge.
After spending a lot of time with the album I got the chance to talk with John and Richard a bit about what went into the construction and vision of the record. As well as get to know the artists who created it.
(Ken) – I did a bit of research about your name Palais Ideal and found there was a lot more to it then I originally suspected. Why did you choose it and what did it mean to you?
(Palais Ideal) – The Palais Ideal – “Ideal Palace” in French – is a strange and eccentric 19thcentury building that was created by Ferdinand Fernando Cheval, a postman from Southeastern France. He had no formal training as an architect, but collected stones while he delivered letters and built his very odd palace. A perfect metaphor for the desire to create something purely because it ought to be created – which is the foundation of all great art! We love austerity and starkness, but are also heavily into romanticism and bizarre ideas – like building your own private palace!
(Ken) – You have plenty of experience which I feel brought richness and depth to the album. Tell me what you have coming out down the road and what led into it?
(John) – Palais Ideal has only been around for two years, but Richard and I formed our very first band together ages ago, playing a mix of prog rock and goth. Over the years, I’ve been in bands performing everything from latin music to technical death metal. The fact that we both play different instruments and have experience arranging, recording and producing has also helped us to get where we wanted to be. The next big thing for us is the upcoming release of our second album, on which we’ve brought together a wider range of influences than before – from Low-era Bowie and classical music to funk pop and krautrock. We kept pushing each other in interesting new directions and wanted to see how much we could expand, while still staying more or less within the post-punk and new wave genres.
(Richard) – I have been exploring many different musical styles, albeit all of the darker, melancholic variety. Early new wave and post-punk are my roots, and to create something that references this musical era feels very natural to me. We are trying to keep our musical direction and style very clear, and at the same time looking for ways to find our personal ‘signature’ within the genre. A very interesting journey!
(Ken) – Music is usually not all glitz and glamour. You need to pick moments to fuel you into the next. What is the moment you are most proud of in your career?
(John) – For me, touring in Germany with Clan of Xymox was a big occasion – if I’d have known that would happen when I was a teenager listening to their albums, my head would presumably have exploded. We toured the UK last year, which was another wonderful experience. Of course, working with the legendary John Fryer, who produced many of our favorite albums, has been incredible – he’s brought a whole new perspective and has been delightful to work with. We’ve had a lot of great reviews and met some wonderful people through our music, which is highly inspiring. In May, we’re releasing our new album at an event featuring some of our favorite bands – She Past Away, Selofan and Auger – and we’re looking forward to that!
(Richard) – I am fortunate to be able to say that there are so many moments that come to mind! For instance: watching Gitane Demone delivering spine-tingling vocals in the studio on a track by another band that I am involved in: Phallus Dei. To have co-written songs with heroes such as Graham Lewis (Wire), David J (Bauhaus), Winston Tong and Blaine L. Reininger (Tuxedomoon), Peter Christopherson (Coil), Edward Ka-Spel (Legendary Pink Dots) and Larboe (Swans). Also memorable is the tour I did with Daniel Johnston, for whom I arranged three songs for big band. A very special programme! As for Palais Ideal: There have already been so many highlights in our short existence! I’m proud of our videos, our releases, and especially our upcoming album.
(Ken) – So one of the things that enamored me with this record was its eclectic nature. Every song has it’s own flavor. Who was your inspiration and how did you make the styles fit together?
(John) – I’m a big prog rock fan, especially the early 1970s stuff, such as Pink Floyd, Genesis, Van Der Graaf Generator and King Crimson. On many of the albums from that period, each song would be clearly built around a specific concept, which could be a musical theme or lyric, yet all tracks would be tied together. It made sense to try this approach within a post-punk concept: creating a self-contained little world around the musical and lyrical concept of each song.
(Richard) – Before we started, we defined a very clear sound for our music: what kind of drum sounds, synths, bass and guitars we were going to use. The fact that there is a logical connection between these sound elements, allows us to go to the heart of each song without the album becoming incoherent. We are always looking for clarity in our musical ideas and arrangement. Every track should be a strong statement in itself.
(Ken) – So “Seen Missing” was a song that has been playing over and over on my phone all week. The lyrics has such a mystery of a secret message. Maybe it is the double entendre in the name 🙂 What was going on when you wrote this, tell me the secret?
(John) – Basically, it’s about the fact that, thanks to the internet, we currently have access to a huge amount of art, music, writing and more. We can access all of this at any time, from anywhere. Countless great ideas and creations that might have been forgotten forever are available to us. It’s important that we look back and remember all of the people that came before us, re-evaluate what they’ve created, and share our discoveries. A lot of our lyrics are a bit bleak, kind of techno-paranoia “Black Mirror” stuff, but technology can also have a huge positive influence on our lives.
(Ken) – To me seeing a great band live needs to be a different experience than hearing the record. Tell me what you do live that makes it different?
(John) – Personally, I’d rather see a band like Motorhead playing than watch some dude behind a laptop. We like to get carried away and focus on getting across as much energy as we can and involve the audience. It’s fun to goad each other on a bit on stage. One of the greatest gigs I’ve ever seen was The Fall, who were completely serious and totally entertaining at the same time. Why shouldn’t post-punk be fun?
(Richard) – Whereas in the studio one can zoom in on the details, on stage it’s about the right energy. A live performance is, first and foremost, about communication. To feel connected with the audience is a great sensation that can take you to great heights on stage. Most important thing is to be fully authentic and really go into the feeling of a song. We dive in head first into our shows and people feel that. A live show is about celebrating the moment. We have played quite a lot, hitting the stage just a few months after we started, and we have taken that experience back into the studio and into song writing.
(Ken) – We have talked about something happening lately in dark music. A Renaissance, what do you hear and what does it mean for you?
(John) – There are quite a few contemporary bands that are making music that is strongly inspired by the “golden age” of post-punk, new wave and goth, but with a contemporary spin and new energy. At the same time, a lot of the 80’s generation of musicians are reappearing, or still going strong. I think people are pretty sick of the generally pathetic, bland and whimsical nonsense that the music industry is forcing on them, and looking for something that dares to ask relevant questions and tackle difficult themes. There’s a kind of grassroots movement happening across different countries, with new labels, blogs and bands that are just ignoring the status quo. Something similar has been happening in the Synthwave scene, and it’s great to see how so many people have picked up on that.
(Ken) – If you could play with one band current or gone who would it be and why?
(John) – I think being on the same bill as Killing Joke would be pretty awesome. We have a lot of respect for them, musically, and also because they’ve been doing their own thing for decades. I’d also love to perform with Joy Division, The Sound or one of the Rozz Williams incarnations of Christian Death, although that’ll never happen for obvious reasons. If I could join someone else’s band for a day, it would be early Genesis or Van Der Graaf Generator 😉
(Ken) – This one is for the gear heads. What is one piece of equipment you couldn’t make your sound without?
(John) – I bought some late 90s USA-built PRS guitars last year and couldn’t do without them! My Roland Jazz Chorus 120 amp and my Juno and Oberheim synths are pretty inspirational, too. Although we use a lot of hardware and tube gear, we’re both big fans of the UAD hardware and software platforms. However, I like to think that we’d still sound like us if we were limited to a pair of banjos
(Richard) – My ’62 Fender Jazz bass is totally the sound that I love! As for synths: My Prophet 5 features in every song we make. The most beautiful synth for me.
(Ken) If you could use dark magic to span time and steal one dead musician from history to join your band, who would you summon forth?
(John) Bowie! We’d let him do anything he wanted to, obviously… Johann Sebastian Bach on keys would be quite good, too.