It’s that time again. The Sounds and Shadows Darkscene singles chart. Where you our group of Artists, Djs, Reviewers, Promotors, Labels, and Superfans vote on your favorite song releases in the month of June. These are your votes tallied and awarded from top to bottom. This month we have some amazing bangers from an eclectic group of artists in the broad “Darkscene” genre. If you have a single releasing in July or know someone that does, make sure to add it to the poll in the Sounds and Shadows Facebook group or Patreon.
Mari Kattman – Swallow
SINE (Textbeak Remix) – Attack
The Static Architect – Bitmask
Odonis Odonis (Feat Actors) – No One Left
GoFight – Machine Rock
Girls Under Glass (Feat Mortiis) – Backdraft
The Vulgar Parts (Dread Risks Remix) – Tu As Perdut Tes Droits
A Covenant Of Thorns – Idols
Dead Lights – I Am Electric
Spank The Nun (Batavia Remix) – On The Run
Mari Kattman – Swallow – There is zero mystery how this track showed up at number 1. Total unadulterated banger. This track slithers through the electro rain forest untethered. The delivery Mari gives of sizzling beauty spewing forth a poignant political message crucial to this time. Soul and execution in equal measure. This was the number one pick by a margin, and for good reason.
2 SINE – Attack – Textbeak Remix – Two of my favorites here teaming up to lock down spot #2. Texas ElectroCaberet artist SINE remixed by Detroit noisepainter Textbeak. This is smokey, electro hex witch energy magic. I love the glitch and chaos blended into Rona’s haunting vocals. This is a slam dunk.
3 The Static Architect – Bitmask – New single from SoCal noisetronic artist Nick McLaren. I believe this is their first time on our chart. Production levels here are FIRE. It sounds very retro, very red hot machinery on fire reckless feel. Yet these synths are moving so precisely and building with a purpose. The vocals had a Downward Spiral controlled fury, I’d love to get a larger dose. Another band on the chart that really imprinted their name in my mind and said pay closer attention.
4 Odonis Odonis – No One Left (Ft. ACTORS) Award winning Toronto retrowave band Odonis Odonis teaming with one of my all time favs Actors is a recipe for a sweet treat. This exceeded all expectations. This band is shooting like a rocket for a reason. I am yet to find anything that Jason couldn’t touch and make better. This song was a whole other rung on the ladder. It has that life affirming energy that those truly great songs of the past had. To make your moment brighter. This isn’t one of those songs though, it is brand new. It is ours. It holds that same power.
5 Go Fight – Machine Rock – The man, myth, legend of Chicago Industrial Jim Marcus. Rather you are a fan of Die Warzau or the latest project GoFight Jim has a gift for blasting the hardest industrial beats with a sensual vocal line and bouncing energy that stretches the definition of Industrial music. This newest single is bursting with sexy douse the world in gasoline and let’s see what happens energy. Until I am proven wrong, my stance remains if Jim puts out a song buy it immediately sight unseen. He is yet to disappoint.
6 Girls Under Glass feat. Mortiis – Tainted – German Based veteran artist on COP International with a brand new release full of classic Industrial sound contrasted by rising choir vocals in rapid bark cadence from the lord of dungeon synth himself Mortiis. Powerful flow and anthem energy make for a banger collaboration from both artists.
7 The Vulgar Parts – Tu As Perdu Tes Droits (Dread Risks Remix) – So Dread Risks the remixers I know well. The Vulgar parts from Perth Australia I am just learning about. using one word to describe, frantic. Bubbling energy hot and pressurized from under the crust. Nice blend of lifting pierce vocals and sinister growl. I really like how the guitar is held back in reserve for the exact moments it will cause the most impact. You have my attention.
8 A Covenant of Thorns – Idols – I just did a full review of this album and didn’t even pick this as one of my stand out tracks but it’s a haunting whisper with a sizzle of Roxy Music glam. Scott-David delivers with construction time rapture and waterfall reflective beauty.
9 DEAD LIGHTS – I Am Electric – UK Glam goth band returns to our charts with this dark bouncing synth blazer. Nice rich baritone vocals offset by shimmering lip gloss harmony. Jackhammer drum concussion driving color splash keyboard waves. Wonderful music to work out or smash glass windows to.
10 spankthenun – On The Run (Batavia Remix) – Texas based thunderdustrial band Spankthenun remixed by Florida electrospice couple Batavia for this Tron laser car chase with demon growls and sparkling explosions. Installment 3 of Bunker Tapes releases at the end of August and features glorious new material and remixes from top electronica artists.
This past weekend I traveled back to my roots. To a goth industrial festival in downtown Detroit. My first in many years. I grew up going to the legendary City Club, travel regularly to see bands at Smalls. I still have a nostalgic tie to East Michigan. I learned about the Skull Fest late, yet quickly was got excited at the idea of an ambitious goth industrial festival in Detroit. I quickly reached out to offer support anyway I could. I was welcomed with open arms both as a pretend music journalist and getting to play with my band Amaranth. Those of you that follow our blog and podcast know that I have a dreamer’s optimism about our scene. In B.P. LeGault I felt the kinship of a mutual dreamer dedicated to bringing together our community while creating an inclusive environment. Four days, major acts, vendors for art, fashion shows, giving a chance to goth adjacent new sounds sometimes over at festivals. He also did something I feel is important to a festival’s success, he included and promoted local talent. Detroit artists were a prominent part of the stacked lineup. I was also impressed by outside the box thinking. Day four, Sunday was an all-ages show. Taking a chance to help encourage both young fans, and parents who love the scene but have a hard time attending a music festival which often start around 9pm and go until 2-3am. This allowed them to take part and share an experience they love with their kids. This also was wonderful for goths who don’t drink and feel uncomfortable. I got the chance to attend on Friday and Sat, then play on Sunday with our amazing photographer Whitney Flaherty. So please follow along for the highlights of a truly uplifting experience for the goth scene.
So I didn’t get to attend Thursday, but I wanted to share what was there 🙂
-Noir Leather Stage- CYANOTIC, Chicago Second Salem, Detroit Eprom Colony, Detroit Triangulations, Tri Cities Access to Concrete, Ypsilanti EnD, Ypsilanti Opening Ceremony House Deejay: Remnant, Defiled, Ypsilanti
-Russell Industrial Stage- Darks Choir, Ination, Toledo Havok, Ination, Toledo Audioflesh, Ination, Toledo Misanthropia Narcissus, Detroit Gates Of Janus, Novi
Friday 11-18-22 *Fetish Night 6pm-Midnight 18+
-Noir Leather Stage- HIDE, Chicago Noelle Solringen, Detroit Crune, Detroit Noir Leather Fashion Show B.P. LeGault, Detroit Vazum, Detroit House Deejay: Raedy Lex
-Russell Industrial Stage- EXT EST, Detroit Justin Carver, Something Cold, Hamtramck Marc Church, Detroit Engine, Detroit Udenjoe, Detroit
Walking in the door I was greeted by the liquid translucent shadowgaze sounds of our friends Vazum local to Detroit. Zach and Emily bring an organic and emotional DIY style that always stands out. It feels like the prevailing wind in goth is to emulate the 80s synth or early Batcave sound. Vazum shows their influence more in slushy guitar-based shoegaze with dark themes and balanced communicative vocals. They have a new EP out called “The Precious Ones” with a punk rock tempo and thundering drumbeats. Vazum is a staple of the new Detroit goth scene. The live show feels so thunderous and organic. If you are 3 feet away from the stage or 100 feet, a Vazum show always feels intimate.
BP. LeGault who made this all possible did the next set. I was enjoying bopping around the dance floor when 50 absurdly hot people walked past in a large block. I remember thinking to myself something must be happening because that was too much attractiveness in one place. It of course marked the beginning of the visual extravaganza of Noir Leathers Fashion Show. If you grew up in the Detroit suburbs like me the Royal Oak store was a big part of your counterculture life. It was the main place to get alternative clothes and learn what was happening in the scene. This was an impressive spectacle, but also called attention that unlike other festivals I have attended the people of Detroit on average were all rocking a full-blown look. A commitment to the aesthetic I just don’t see all the time.
Crune – Next up was Detroit’s own CRUNE. I knew nothing about this band going in other than an introduction from amazing Dj Noelle Solringen. Without previous knowledge coming into this performance, I was absolutely floored. This band was my favorite surprise of the weekend. I couldn’t stop talking about it to anyone who would listen. “Sassy Yee Haw Goth with a Theremin” was something I had no idea I needed. I did. A searing energy captivating performance with engaging lyrics and a vocal delivery that made the hairs on my arms stand up. Do you know when you see “IT” even if you can’t put your finger on what that is? You know when you see it. Picture being a music reviewer that listens to 200 bands a month, then you feel “IT” happen. That was CRUNE for me. As gods are my witness I have made it my mission to make the scene aware how blistering talented this project is.
HIDE – After a Dj set from Noelle Solringen Chicago based electronica band HIDE took the stage. I have heard the legend of the intensity from their stage show. I have listened and loved their albums. Nothing I heard prepared me for the jagged glass introspective emotion which fell on me like a firestorm. If you have never seen HIDE play live, I don’t know how to describe the experience to you. I know others tried to describe it to me, and now I understand what an impossible task was being ask. It is not a simple thing to witness. It is the full intensity of overpowering conflicting emotions dragging you back and forth at maximum velocity while you question every truth you have been fed. Does that sound over the top? Well trust me, unless you have seen it and you know, you don’t know.
-Noir Leather Stage- COMFORT CURE, Detroit Textbeak, Cleopatra Records, Cleveland/Detroit Spike Hellis, Los Angeles Veganinblack, Chicago SOROS, Grand Rapids/Detroit Wraith & Remnant, Defiled, Ypsilanti Schedule IV, Detroit House Deejay: Niko Fierro
-Russell Industrial Stage- Absynthe Of Faith, Minneapolis Satanic Hispanic, Blvsphemy Records, Chicago Plvgues, Blvsphemy Records, Chicago Sain’t, Blvsphemy Records, Chicago Doc Colony, Detroit
So Saturday I knew my way around the festival site and was excited to take everything in. I knew I had to play on Sunday so I took at easy on the Maker’s Mark to be fresh for our performance. Saturday’s line up featured mostly bands I had not seen live yet. Once again, the surroundings were inclusive, friendly, and focused on highlighting new exciting dark music. I loved the shadow market of vendors featuring everything from bondage gear, art pieces, and magic. Noir Leather once again had a shop set up. A wonderful space set up to plunge in and out of performance engagement and leisurely stroll through darkscene art.
Schedule IV – Starting off with one of the most underrated talents in the Detroit scene. Powerful emotive lyrics and delivery by Steph Strange and precision post punk music that flows with the energy generation of a V8 engine. This was a new lineup from the last time I saw them play. When post punk music is done with this level of fine-tuned twists and turns it takes the listener on a journey. Schedule IV always brings that ferocious driving energy and it really set the tone for night 3 of the festival.
This festival featured two stages, one primary where full bands played. Then another for Djs and individual electronica artists. The set up again reminded me of old school raves. On Saturday this second stage was dominated by Blvsphemy Records from Chicago. Primarily known as a Chicago VVitchaus label with the added twist both sonically and aesthetically of Black Metal. As someone new to the Witch house scene it was amazing to see a “Goth/Industrial” festival embrace this subgenre and give it a place to bring in new fans. Seeing people catch word of the crackling energy and ritualistic thrum, packing the room with wide eyes and flailing limbs showed me that this is a part of the future of our scene.
Satanic Hispanic – Furious slow grinding back beats of house and triphop, with terrifying expulsion of anti religious emotional outbursts. The imagery and sonic assault projected a punk DIY ideal into a chaos magic lens. This set made me a believer in how this music fits into the future of the scene.
Plvgues – The final set from Blvsphemy was the Plvgues, which took the concept of everything the label had exposed me to, then turned it to 11. The massive presence of this hooded giant had an undeniable magnetism. His voice flowed beneath the sliding evasive beats to surface with shattered glass fury when you least expected it. Keep a close eye on this artist. They have star power.
Spike Hellis – Next up on the main stage is a LA based electronic explosion Spike Hellis. I have seen them before at Cold Waves, but never before in this intimate underground setting. In 2022 Atari Teenage Riot got involved in some NFT Crypto madness that tainted my image of furious electronic anarchy. Spike Hellis brought that sonic image back with crystal static anger and EMP pulse which writhed out in shockwaves to assault the adoring crowd. I enjoyed their performance at Cold Waves. I was memorized here. Impressive emotional transfer from stage to crowd. The aggression and intensity doing something this inclusive is a bizarre combination of feeling but the most accurate description.
TEXTBEAK – Another Detroit band. More festivals need to take note, if you are holding a festival in a city, then show love to the bands that are a part of that scene. I can’t remember a time I saw this ideal held up more than at the Skull Festival. Michael Szewczyk is such a warm overlapping part of the whole Detroit scene who’s talent and glowing spirit are never more on display that in his primary project Textbeak. As someone who grew up on Detroit electronica Michael seems to have the core concept written on his DNA. Every track has a brilliant and unique composure yet somehow resonates with that distinctive house sound that transports me to a warehouse on Hastings Street. Michael is also a part of the previously mentioned Crune and continues to impress with their talent and vision.
COMFORT CURE – Closing out the night was another Detroit talent. I am always left impressed lately by solo electronica artists who manage to unleash the energy necessary to captivate a crowd alone. Percussive EDM with a lashing distinctly Detroit beat and poetic vocal delivery that reminded me of Underworld. I didn’t know nearly enough about Comfort Cure going into the weekend. They left an impressive mark on me. As an added bonus while watching the set I noticed Detroit Electronic music royalty ADULT was standing in front of me enjoying the set. I love seeing artists I associate with a city coming out to support.
This Sunday matinee was special to me for many reasons. I got to play on the stage, I had just watched so many amazing bands. We got to open for one of my favorite bands in the modern darkscene Wingtips. I also appreciated the vision and concept of B.P. doing an all-ages daytime event as part of the festival. Too often it feels like goth culture is not focused on the next generation. It is a scene that tends to worship and embrace the past. Also A lot of folks my age do not get to attend goth festivals anymore because they have children. Who can get a sitter from 10pm-3am two or three days in a row? Having an event focused on family inclusion as part of a major festival spoke a lot about how this event felt different in thinking outside the box.
First act i saw Sunday was Detroit’s own The Picassos. A glorious darkternative band I recently discovered who seamlessly blend The Pixies, Nick Cave, and Violent Femms. I had the pleasure of doing an interview which I will post below. When I spoke to Charles and company they told me of their connection through theater. I loved seeing this translate into their stage show. A funeral set where all the listeners could take part in the production. The sound was everything I want in a live show of a band I know and love the recordings of. Everything I loved in the song writing and emotional connection was here, with an added layer of projection and emotion. Charles voice is unique and captivating. I found myself lost in the performance. This is a must-see live band if you ever get the opportunity.
FAUX FEAR – Next up was a post punk dark wave duo from Reading PA. I had the pleasure of speaking to them in the green room and instantly felt a kinship with their devotion to DIY inclusive grass roots promotion of the dark scene. The music was sleek and sophisticated with driving baselines and cascading synths. The vocals had a resonating Terri Nunn vibe with more understated delicacy. They did a fantastic Cure cover. This is a band I will be looking to connect with for a show exchange soon. My only regret is I had to spend part of the set behind stage getting ready to play.
We got to take the stage next. It was a great honor to play with so many talented people who I love. I grew up on this side of the state and being a part of the energy here was a transcendent feeling. The sound staff were all wonderful. We played songs about Ninjas, Assplay, Feminism, and Onlyfans. In my mind it was one of the best sets we ever played in modern Amaranth. After I helped get our gear off, I was walking with Collin. A young lady locked eyes and started walking towards me. I assumed I was in her way and tried to speed up and change direction. I turned back to Collin and she tapped me on the shoulder asking if she could take a picture with us. I get a bit of that from Sounds and Shadows at music festivals. This was for Amaranth, this was different, this was a young person who really enjoyed what we played enough to chase me crossed a warehouse. I forgot how special that can feel.
WINGTIPS – When I spoke to Hannah and Vincent after the show I told them something I aspire towards. I have seen them about 7 times live now, and every time I see them is the best time. The darkest side of retro melodrama and beauty blended with furious emotional outburst and shocking realism. The amount of star power dripping from this duo is something you feel in your bones. They closed with “Last Minute” which was my first introduction to them. The song that was my first love. The perfect close to a wonderful event of memories.
Images by Whitney Flaherty
Now a brief interview with B.P who made his dream a reality.
Ken: What made you first fall in love with this music and scene?
B.P: My passion for dark music is deep rooted. I started attending goth nights in Detroit back in the 90’s. The scene just felt like home. Goth nightlife, music, fashion, and subculture has been a part of my identity since those early days. As well as writing and recording dark-wave and industrial music. Throughput the years Detroit deejays and bands have kept the music alive in the underground. And I love that.
Ken: I really felt a sense of kindred spirit in you. You are a Dreamer like me. Tell me what you wanted to accomplish with this festival? What was your vision ?
B.P. : Thank you, Ken. After getting to talk with you a at the festival I felt that too. I remember telling someone, Ken is a great guy, he is sincere, passionate, and sees the big picture. The goal of SKULL was to bring together as much of the regional talent possible to provide an opportunity for Detroit’s goth music scene to build a stronger community and more support for the musicians and deejays as well as the artists, vendors, and lovers of all things goth. I truly hope everyone met someone great that they didn’t know before. Or made friends with an acquaintance. Because we have so many wonderful people in our scene.
Ken: Tell me about some of the people who helped you pull off this ambitious undertaking?
B.P. : Remnant aka Casey Discursion of Defiled was the first person I had a conversation with about bringing together the older and younger music fans of goth and industrial in Detroit. There is a great divide in ages and genres and he understood how all of the sounds could compliment each other and that creating a stronger community was possible. There are a couple silent partners behind SKULL that believe in the mission. The SKULL managers Xaina, Marie, Stacey, and Jai Jay all did an amazing job in their leadership roles. There were also several friends of mine and deejays that helped physically put the event together and promote it for months. I am grateful for all of their efforts.
Ken: Why was it so important to include an all-ages day for the festival? Why should more festivals do this?
B.P. : There are a lot of young goths out there. One, they deserve to have a place to experience the subculture, and two, they are the future of our community.
Ken: 5) What is your hope for the future of Skull Festival as well as the Detroit scene?
B.P.: We have several meetings coming up with the main people involved in SKULL and I know there are a lot of creative ideas floating around on what to do next. All things will be taken into consideration and once we decide on our next goth adventure we will make an announcement. Stay tuned Ken, thank you for your time and your efforts in the world of dark music.