POP. 1280 is a novel by Jim Thompson, published in 1964 and it contains a tale of deceit, coercion and murderous intentions. POP. 1280 is also a three piece band from New York, who have revealed their single, “Brennschluss“, from their imminent new album, Museum On The Horizon, which is on the label Profound Lore Records.
The beginning is intriguing with it’s sequenced drum machine and synths, but then they dragged me in with those guitar chords. The vocals from lead singer, Chris Bug, are bleak and flow into the dirge of the guitar, whilst the drum machine forges on regardless. The synths almost paint a soundscape behind all this, vast and a little dark. A narrative, describing a kind of first-contact-gone-wrong, influenced in part by Fiasco by Stanislaw Lem, is how POP. 1280 explains the lyrics.
It is hard to quantify POP. 1280’s sound. It is most certainly post-punk that reaches back to Joy Division and like Joy Division, what seems abstract is completely danceable, yet that industrial/noise is also there. Maybe that’s the point that they are not in a pigeon hole and there is something satisfying in that. Brennschluss is German for end of burning. This normally refers to when a rocket is in flight and reaches the point when the fuel runs out or is cut off, leaving the rocket to the mercy of only gravity. POP. 1280 have definitely not reached the end of their fuel supply and you should definitely check out “Brennschluss“.
Kimberly Kommeier is the founding member of the band Bow Ever Down, which was formed in 1998 and in 2020, a full length album, Lost In The Woods was released. Now we have the June release for the huge electronic/darkwave album, Let It Burn.
From the get go, the title track, “Let It Burn“, will set the tone for this album. There is an electronic simpleness that adds to the sorrowful and yet defiant storytelling. It is of no longer taking the blows life has handed out, yet proudly showing those scars. For me the standout number is “Cold Machine” which it’s wonderful swirling and tinkling chorus that rises up to proclaim I would give anything to be human because they are the machine. Truly a lovely and yet so mournful sentiment. “Born Into Darkness” continues the dance of damnation.
Silence In Machine aka Wess Fowler lends his harsh vocals to the songs, “Shed My Skin” and “Not Your Victim“. While the former is a pulsating piece from start to finish, the latter is like waves on the shore as it draw back, then comes crashing in. The common theme though is owning your fate which again can be seen in the track, “Burn You Alive“, and it has some really nice synth transitions. “BurnThem To Ashes“, has a certain, reflective quality and a anger that is almost palpable in the chorus, while “My Last Day” is such a despondent expression of the inability to go on, this is still quite full of great, infectious beats.
The remix for “Cold Machine” is a jewel and Assemblage 23 has really outdone themselves. Miss Suicide from Germany remixed both “Shed My Skin“, giving it a far more aggressive sound and “Glass Doll” which has those synth lines dancing all over it. “Burn You Alive” remix by Replicant RME, takes this song into new territory while the John Ruszin III, whom plays on the album, gives us a version of “Not Your Victim“, and it feels more pensive than the original. The Stahlschlag remix of the title track definitely has teeth, as Sebastian Sünkler is the master of that wonderful crunchy power noise, while the Silence In Machine retake of “Burn Them To Ashes” feels very off kilter, as if the insanity is too much. Continuing in this vein is the forever haunted remix of “Not Your Victim” by Adian Caine with it’s introspective and quiet defiance. The album is completed by the new version of “Glass Doll“.
The prominent concept is the use of the word burn. Fire is not only thought of as dangerous but also as cleansing, to wipe away completely what was. A renewal like a phoenix dying and coming back to life through fire. These are songs about survival and coming from a dark place. Kommeier has a big voice that is quite delightful and garnered a host of talented musicians to remix her tracks, so you should check out Let It Burn by Bow Ever Down.
Brisbane’s DirtFactory released a new single in August called “CrashLanding” and we are here to let you know it’s of the little green men kind. This is the first single from the soon to be released, third album from brothers DanielAllen and MichaelGillman who reside in Melbourne and Brisbane respectively.
You will be regaled by the story of making first contact as the beat pushes you along with a sense of urgency. It is raw and metallic, grating your nerves as you know that they are out there waiting for you. Apart from the person telling his story of a conspiracy to hide that aliens are here, there are really no other vocals to accompany, just the sound of Allen screaming into the void.
There are remixes from proponents of the thriving Brisbane industrial scene. FailedAssimilation guitarist, CameronRees gives us a explosive, metal coated version. There is the laid back, laconic remix by Cosmos Synthetics which will take you to a different state of mind. Nyteshade is RogerMenso, a mastering genius and member of the infamous Dogmachine and he brings us an almost experimental feel to “CrashLanding“, keeping us off balance with the changing beats. Exocult is DanielAllen’s new solo project and also signed to ViralRecords. His version has an 80s feel to it with a heavy guitar creeping up from behind.
Suddenly there is a shift in momentum with the HOSTILEARCHITECT remix heading in a far more dance oriented direction. H.A.’sMitchKenny is a man who can do no wrong currently and this is a really glorious remix. Next is the newest band on the block but don’t let that fool you as members are not new to the scene. This is RAZRWHIP with their dream like offering, though this dream is more like a drug induced fantasy. The synth lines from JethroHilliard are sublime. Last is not the least. Vargil is the talented CamillaAstridStrand and her take on this piece is a science fiction techno myriad. It pulsates and is simply joyous.
There is literally something different on every track which means there is going to be something to tickle the tastebubs of everyone that enjoys this genre and is a showcase of local talent. So if this is the “CrashLanding“, can’t wait for the invasion.
The Latin American gothic music scene never fails to give us some sparkling musicians. From San José, Costa Rica, Ariel Maniki And TheBlack Halos are a seasoned darkwave band with several albums under their belts and currently signed to Deepland Records.
August brought us the release of the latest album, Black Light. This is where you are going to get your value for your money. No less than fifteen tracks and there are no remixes from this trio made up of ArielManiki (vocals, guitar, synths, bass, programming), JaniceBlack (synths/keyboards) and EvaRed (bass and vocals).
The first guitar lines are reminicent of LondonAfter Midnight, on the title track, “Black Light“. There is something just spine tingling about the progression which climbs and swells. “Strangers” is a wonder piece as it feels uplifting and dark at the same time. The guitar riffs will become highly recognisable once you have heard them.
The bassline harkens back to The Cure’sFaith period in the song “Emptiness“. The synth swirls and entwines you. “Sadness” is a bitter-sweet ode to losing a loved one to a depressive melancholy, waiting with them to come back to you. It’s is slower and more delicate yet the chorus soars through the pain.
All the spookiness is with “Oh Milena!“. Is she alive or dead or, perhaps, even the undead?! Cue the dead sexy saxophone from James Perry, which is an interesting juxtaposition to the Hammond organ sounding synth, so prominent in Hammer Horror movies.
Again the spook factor is present in “Mirror“, with creepy laughs and a slightly more manic feel with Caro Campos, not for the last time, joining Maniki on vocal duties. “We Only Have Tonight” is a touching, gothic tribute to a forever love. It is sweet and seductive with the guitars, both acoustic and electric aplenty.
The beginning of “Absence” is misleading. It seems all so quiet but will soon reveal the surging synths that roll into the vocals. Campos‘ voice is angelic as it accents the interludes. Maniki has been to the Robert Smith school of creepy whispers in a song where something is going to drive you insane with the wait. So in a way the torture is “Pain“.
“The Pale Horseman” sounds exactly like modern, gothic, western should. That iconic guitar made popular by Ennio Morricone in the spaghetti westerns is there but all prettied with synths and a helping of dark sarsaparilla, if you please bartender. It’s mighty dusty. The guitar work is beautiful in “Sleep” and with the vocals, it is a reminder of TheWake in the early 90s. It really is a lovely throw back and the song is truly a succulent morsel.
Flowers have meanings. “LiliesAndCarnations” can be flowers that mean a deeply desired love and they can also represent death of a perfect love and terrible grief. The latter is the premise of this track, the fleeting time lovers have together, which is a complete difference from the more dirge like “Shelter“. Maybe he’s the dark shaman that lives in the woods destined to never leave but in any case this is a far more gritty piece.
Coming to the end, the last two tracks are “Afterthought” and “Cocoon“, with the former being a meandering tribute to the power of being so caught up in love and all else fades away. “Cocoon” is a trippy little piece that plinks away like a child’s music box with ghostly intent.
From the first time I heard ArielManiki’s voice, it reminded me of another, then it hit me. The ever youthful SvenFriedrich of DreadfulShadows/Zeraphine has a very wonderful rich tone and Maniki is scarily and delightfully similar. The album is a velvet tapestry of lush tracks that contain a nice balance of electronic along side more traditional instruments. Full of gothic romance and horror, which for most of us is the same thing, it paints a delicate fog drenched background for the children of the night to fall in love with. Definitely do check this out if your little dark heart beats within BlackLight.