Brisbane’s The Blackwater Fever, describe themselves as dark & moody rock n roll and that is a title well earned. July the 28th was the release for their ballad, “The Hurt“. Mmmm, ballads that hurt, so you know this could be a little wrong and yet a whole lot right, with the trio Shane Hicks (guitar, vocals), Trevor Gee (drums) and Jed Walters (bass).
The smooth, heavy bass weighs the track down and the lead guitar cries out it’s pain, ever the while, the drums hold sway, urging on the players of this affair, bursting into speed once in a while like a heart going into tachycardia and then just….stopping. Hick’s vocals are just the icing on top.
The blues and heartbreak ooze like blood from a thousand cuts. An abusive relationship they want to leave but yet they know mentally, they shall never recover from. It is the dirty rock’n’roll that moves your feet to the beat and your soul feels the misery but wants to rise with the winding notes. So tell us where The Blackwater Fever touched “The Hurt” on you?
Brought to you on the German label, Blackjack Illuminist Records in Europe and self released in their homeland, Social Union is the Aotearoa (New Zealand) darkwave/synthpop project with their latest EP, Fall Into Me.
With the title track, “Fall Into Me“, kicking things off and it feels old school synth with beautiful rolling vocals entwined with the electronics, smooth and tugging at your heart strings. “Choke” has these lovely guitar jangles infiltrating the tune which gives this track a nice dark feel with the lyrics about needing a friend but instead, being put in a situation of wanting to escape.
Staccato beats between the drum machine, guitar and synths, herald in “Abscond” and the vocals fall into your ears, while the vocals in “Our Hands Don’t Fit“, are gorgeous as they sit hand in hand with the guitar. “Fall Into Me (Social Sport Remix)” just kicks this track into a new realm. Bass heavy with touches of power noise and trance, that pierce your insides in a rather pleasant way and this would be great on any dance floor.
What can I say? It is pretty lush mix between the vocals, electronics and guitar work. Social Union holds your attention with their wonderful compositions, borne of light thrown on murky corners, matched with soul touching simplicity. Fabulous darkwave coming from New Zealand that easily matches the likes of Twin Tribes or She Past Away.
Melbourne is one of the dark and mysterious cities of Australia, which is a place well known for it’s alt rock bands. Society Of Beggars are one of these such bands and their single, “Lick“, by the four piece, came out on the 28th of July. Yianni Michalopoulos (lead vocals), Jim Michalopoulos (guitar), Dibi (drums) and Nicoli Foulstone (bass) are the members making up Society Of Beggars.
The video for the track has band members and others wearing masks, as if they are in some otherworldly Greek tragedy, except for lead singer Yianni Michalopoulos, who is the story teller, leading you through this tale that Julie Leung, has wandered into. There is a deep melancholy to match the rich vocals and simple piano and guitar, as the music gradually builds and swells.
I think this is definitely one of those tracks that grows on you every listen. It is also going to mean different things to individuals, such as loss, lies, overcoming the seemingly impossible. The track is insistent that you listen carefully and soak up the ambiance bubbling up through the cracks. And remember folks…..once you lick it, it is yours.
July the 28th saw the release of the EP, Ad Aeternam Damnationem, by the Italian band Horologic Mime. This is an independent release for the group and their second EP, describing their instrumental style as experimental industrial metal.
Metal infused with off kilter electronics, seemingly wanting to consume you alive in “Excessive FatAccumulation“. This leads into “Acufene Scolopendra” that has a winding purpose, with those chiming synths, belied by angry guitar, laying below, ready to pounce, pushing and prodding onward. Crunching industrial metal invades your ears, as we are taken on the great circus ride that is “Bird Up“. It lurches and tumbles into chaos, broken and looking for resurrection, slowly rising like a ghoul from a grave to haunt you.
Horologic Mime seek to use their experimental style to create soundscape worlds with the noise they pull from their instruments, mixing delicate bell like synths to aggressive metal guitar and changing rhythms. With this in mind, I remind people that this is experimental and you approach this style without expectations and just bathe in what the musicians are inviting you into.
Have to say I have liked Rotersand, since I first heard them many moons ago and their remixes for other musicians are great. Now we can enjoy the German’s mixing MATT HART‘s “ABSOLUTE ZERO“, off the album, BELOW THE TERRA. PT. 1 and came out on the 26th of July.
There is a looping and sensuous flow to the beeping and bleating rhythms. It is a near sublime background which makes HART’s anguished rant standout further. The electronics mesmerize you with their epic flow and yet there is something urgently wrong amongst the dance beats.
The machines in the storyline are bringing the temperature down to “ABSOLUTE ZERO” and the electronics, which Rotersand have brought to the fore, are the intent of the aliens while HART gives the vocal resistance of the humans. The mix is so smooth and flows beautifully, a balance of crushing brutality and perfect symmetry.
Gold Coast based, Jed A Walters, dissolved his previous project, Tesla Coils, which was well loved in the Brisbane scene and began something new in Chiffon Magnifique. This latest incarnation is a lot more serious in manner with lashings of electronic/darkwave/post-punk creamy bits and the newest single “Cyanide” is a perfect example of this. Not only have we been able to listen to the latest single but Chiffon Magnifique have been doing a few live gigs for the release, which I was lucky enough to attend one of these.
It is a breezy, winter evening in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane and I rock up the the pirate bar, O’Skulligan’s. It is dark inside and I spot a few of the regulars of the scene, from there it is not long until Chiffon Magnifique are on stage, bathed in red lighting. Everyone moves towards the stage and before we know it, Walters with his friend, LindsayBright-Mync, helping out on bass and synths, start up the show. Every track has a different feel or texture to it and when they strike up the debut single “Abomination“, there are squeals and cheers from the masses as they dance.
Of course, the song of the show is “Cyanide” and from the start of the drum sequence and those spooky guitar notes, you won’t be able to stop yourself from dancing like Saint Vitus’ Dance has you under it’s spell. Lurking under all, are those deep bass lines, as you drift off to the land of dead, in a whirlwind of guitars and synths.
Walters really has a knack for writing great, solid minimal wave with danceable rhythms and catchy hooks, in the vein of an outsider looking in, whom feels far more at home in the shadows. Also, a consummate professional and showman on the stage, if you get the chance to catch Chiffon Magnifique live….do it! Added bonus is the fact he is a really lovely fellow. You will not be disappointment in the live experience and neither will you in giving “Cyanide” a listen or ten. Warms the cockles of my small dark heart.
People might recognise the name Jasyn Bangert and that is hardly surprising as the lead singer of the ever popular God Module but he is also the fellow behind the synth pop project Hexheart. Funeral Flowers is the second album from Hexheart, which was released on June the 17th.
From the first track, “Erase Yesterday“, there is actually a profound sense of joy, as if the whatever happens, there is always a tomorrow or sparkling rivulets of synths such as “RED“, which for some reason reminded me a little of early New Order. “OV ME” and “(bottom of) BELOW” feel like the lead up to the first single off the album, “The Funeral Party“. If that sounds familiar, then you would be correct as it is a cover The Cure track, though this version has a far more jaunty vibe to it than the original, off the vaunted Faith album.
Keeping in that mode, “See In The Dark” with the chiming guitars and dance beat, while the cosmic “PsychicFriends” spirits you away with the pulsating rhythm. There is the wending “After This“, that bops it’s way through to the last track, “(so far) BELOW” which is the only song that sports a slightly harder edge in it’s melancholy.
Most electronic/industrial artists seem to have more than one project on the go and Hexheart is very synthpop orientated, so utterly different from God Module. There is a air of Birthday Massacre, mixed with The Cure’sDisintegration, with that lilting guitar . I am still not sure if I like an album completely with electronically altered vocals, though I know Bangert is using them to create a theme throughout, the semi human or slightly detached to humanity but I would love to hear him sing a few of these tracks in clean vocals as I think that it would be magic to hear these dreamy pieces given extra soul breaking warmth.
Melbourne band, Roles, are about to unleash their debut album of post-punk/art pop goodness….I know this because I have been privileged to an early listen.
But before the drop of the album, Roles are doing something a little special. In line with their artistic pursuit of music, they will be giving registered participants, an opportunity to be part of a five day, rolling event for the album, There’s A Space.
En-Roles-ees will be immersed in the music, videos, art, reflections, bonus material and behind the scene scoops of how the album was created. It all kicks off on the 2nd of August, 2022 and you will be lucky enough to get all ten songs for free, before anyone else. So to register go to https://rolesband.com/retreat/.
The duo have created an album with the synths of Luis Gutiérrez, that remind you of early Gary Numan, while the soft feminine vocals of Louise Love, often clash with her far more fuzzed out guitar playing, with their beat perfect drum machine keeping tempo. It is about the art of words that can transport you and are only limited by your imagination. Often these words have been found in audio recordings and interviews, given new life and gifted back for others to hear.
About eight months ago, German EBM giants, Tyske Ludder released the single “Peststufen” but now you can get another bite of the cherry with Infacted Recordings‘, J:dead remixing and bringing his own vocals, in English, for this bi-lingual track. UK based, J:dead is Jay Taylor, who incidentally is also the live drummer for one Tyske Ludder.
The J:dead remix is a very polished affair, smooth and flawless synths in complete opposition to the growled out lyrics in German, with Jay Taylor’s dulcet vocals silkily sliding through. There are so great changes in tempo all building to a wondrous vortex in this dance friendly track. “Peststufen” has gone from a great, raw industrial track, to a great, sinuous and elegant remix….. and you can’t get much better than that.
Bradford, in the north of England, known for their working class pride and also for their musical storytellers. This brings us to the pairing of Nick Toczek & Signia Alpha for the album, The Columbus Memoirs, released on the 4th of June. Nick Toczek is a ranting poet (as in they emotionally air their grievances in angry monologue and normally in the form of free verse), while Signia Alpha is Matt Webster, supported by a revolving retinue of musicians, creating post-punk style music incoporating funk, jazz and indie rock.
The first track “The Hour Glass” is literally about time and how there is never enough of it. The guitars wail in a cacophony of noise and it is wonderful plus I am sure I heard a flute. There is a near aching colonial sadness in “Another Shoreline” as the music ebbs and flows as a ship on the ocean. A track about the movement of slaves for the advancement of Imperialism and capital gain which comes with a loss of culture and identity. There might be a slight nod to the sound track War Of The Worlds, especially in mentioning H.G.Wells with the track “Time Tripper” in the wandering guitars and it is not aliens but rather can the Earth survive the human race’s selfish ways.
The psych-funk is strong in “Threads” with amazing bass thumping through the track as Toczek contemplates how technology has changed the world and everyone is being watched. The tempo changes and swings before we are given the next piece, “Dead Lines” because while the print press was huge at the end of a second world war, there is an air of live for now and excess…maybe they were dead inside and the music reflects the era of glamorous jazz filled soirees, at high end bars. “Just For A Moment” is a simple lament for a lost one and the sax reaches into your soul to touch that memory, so real.
With “Moonwatchers“, for me is like, looking at the night sky and the moon as a child, with a wild imagination that conjures up all sorts of stories, which some of us never grow out of. A lightness and joy in reveling in the darkness, the edge of where reality and lore meet in the inky hours. The 60s funk is dripping through with “Four And A Half“, a tale of youth and a telling of past experiences with near fatal consequences, sucking you in with the true events. For the title track, “The Columbus Memoirs“, North America is similar to a pop-up book, watching a strange amalgamation of that nation’s history, the oddities that make it what it is. I don’t think Columbus would recognise the America he first stood on to claim for Spain. I listen to this and cannot help to hear a line from a song of the band, The Church, Oh Columbus, I never should have let you go. The final track, “Dignity“, is straight out sleazy rock. A song for the survivors, the refugees, the tortured and maimed, to whom the world turns a blind eye and yet deserve so much more than being told they are a burden and should be grateful for a handful of dust.
The level of musicianship is stellar. Webster has really got some top notch talent to help out, which includes Paul Gray (The Damned) playing on four of the tracks. It is political at times and that is the raw punk edge showing but also wistful and even tender tinged sadness, all by using voice of a wordsmith while the music gives those words greater weight and emotional depth. I think the poetry is masterfully woven throughout and the instruments given their own voice in a story, that as of yet, has not an end.