The label, Brutal Resonance Records, had a bit of a coup, signing the cyber synth project, Slighter to their stable. Colin C. is Slighter and to celebrate this union, has brought forth the EP, Welcome To Riot City made up of five original tracks and five remixes.

Welcome To Riot City” is brooding and dark from the start. The hairs rise on the back of your neck with the movement of the sleek synths, which runs into the the robotic vocalised “Breaking In“. A sleaziness invades “Comadose“, foreign and exotic, waving in and out of reality. The tension builds as there is a “Firefight On Warett Street“, where you can almost hear evasive sirens in the music, as well as the cocking of a gun. Last track before the remixes is “High Tech, High Life” with its crunchy glitching married to the soundscape building synths that are taking you on the journey.

The remixes are made up of Eva X with her intriguing wubbing and chunky power noise influenced “Welcome To Riot City“, the HOSTILE ARCHITECT brings in stellar beats and bass drops to aid you “Breaking In“, royb0t is definitely not going to let you slip into a coma with what they do with “Comadose“. Planetdamage take on “Firefight On Warett Street” and the shells are falling as we go into hyperdrive mode while Kizunaut gets all prickly and dance inferno for “High Tech, High Life“. It is a really fun EP with Slighter showing his expertise in electronic music and getting five amazing musicians to give each track a thumping good makeover. Welcome To Riot City, and come and get some!

Welcome to Riot City | Slighter | Brutal Resonance Records (bandcamp.com)

Slighter | Facebook

Music | Brutal Resonance Records (bandcamp.com)

Music | Eva X (bandcamp.com)

Music | Abelisk (bandcamp.com)

royb0t (bandcamp.com)

Planetdamage (bandcamp.com)

Music | Kizunaut (bandcamp.com)

What might you do if you are stuck inside? You might listen to some music and that music might be the latest single from She 1 – Him 2, called “Stuck Inside“. Evan Nave (Lestat/PKS) and Cassie Bishop (Shy Moon) make up this electronica duo of power!

Nave is the electronic voice in the background, maybe trying to escape the confines of its box. All the while, Bishop’s feminine wiles and vocals delicately lure you in. Sweet and moreish in this synth laden wonderland.

I like how this pair share the lead vocal roles, there is a real symmetry in the singing and even the electronic dimension. It wavers between 80s synthwave and the modern era, which is both fun to listen to and quite catchy. Get “Stuck Inside” with She 1 – Him 2.

Stuck Inside | She 1 · Him 2 (bandcamp.com)

She 1 · Him 2 | Facebook

I was brought up on classical music, not opera but all the masters and musicals. When I was sent the Crooniek album Trails Of Time, I will admit, it was a strange experience listening to each track, struck how it was like hearing brass bands in my childhood, mixed with modern guitars and a darker ambiance, a sorrowful heart so to speak. The album has a gothic essence of family, loss and memories of dark histories, set to a style called neo fanfare. There is probably no one better qualified to tell you about the Belgium band Crooniek, the music and their debut album, than the man behind this project, Gerry Croon. I invite you to the fanfare!

Welcome Gerry Croon, from Crooniek, to the hallowed halls of Onyx where time is just an abstract concept.

Hey Onyx, thanks for the support!

Gerry, you play the cornet. How long have you been practicing with this classical instrument and when did you think, I can use this in more than jazz?

Yes, I play the cornet. I started, at the age of nine playing the cornet, in our local fanfare. Later, I started playing in different ensembles (fanfare, brassband), but I always felt the need to have a band of my own. To do the things I really want to do. And that is to combine my two musical loves – gothic & brass/fanfare music – together in an unique blend. So I’m not into jazz. The cornet is not a typical jazz instrument, it fits in many genres. At the age of 17 I lost my self in the dark music, favoring bands like Das Ich, Arcana, Tristania, Goethes Erben and of course, Lacrimosa!

You hail from Belgium, so what is the alternative dark scene like where you live?

Yes, there is a alternative dark scene in Belgium, like most of the European countries. As you may know, I also write some things for the Dutch online underground magazine Dark Entries (www.darkentries.be). About the dark scene, it is alive. Not exactly in my hometown, that is rather a small village, nearby historical cities like Brussels, Mechelen and Leuven. Concerts and parties are scheduled, luckily there are enthusiastic people and organizations (like http://www.portanigra.be) who have the guts to do so. Believe me, it is not easy to organize things, and it is even more difficult to make them even profitable.

There are two projects you are involved in. Winterstille is one and the other Crooniek. Which one came first, and did it influence the other?

Correct. Winterstille went first. In 2020 we released the CD ‘Puin van Dromen’ by the label Wool-E Discs (www.wool-e-discs.be) This is a project (dark folk/chanson/gothic) I started with Xavier Kruth, whom I’ve met by Dark Entries, where he is also an editor. Xavier is a self made man, singing, playing the guitar, writing his own songs. In a way he was looking for a band to help to get these songs recorded. Because he knew about another project of mine (www.olivier-crooniek.be – 2018) , we agreed to join forces and establish this new project Winterstille. First, we thought to call this project ‘Xavier & Crooniek’, like the project with Olivier. But after thinking it over, we decided to go for Winterstille, which is German for ‘Winter silence’.

And yes, the new album of Crooniek is influenced by Winterstille. We always evolve, always trying to make something new, better. But also keeping looking back and have our musical history embedded in our musical path. Two songs on ‘Trail of Time’ are new interpretations of songs by Winterstille.

Crooniek just released the debut album “Trail Of Time”. How did you get together a large group of classically trained musicians to record this album?

I’m blessed to have them! Most of the musicians you can hear on ‘Trail of Time’ are friends, some go way back. One of them is Jan Croon, my nephew who was there from the start in 2005, when we were just a instrumental ensemble. And Annelies Callewaert (melodic percussion and flute) is the woman I married in 2009 😉. A few members are new forces, just to complete this project. You know how is goes: you spread the word and the right people will find you.

The style is called neo-fanfare, which until now I had never heard of. Can you tell us about this style?

Because we use typical fanfare instruments like alt saxophone and flugelhorn, but not in ‘regular’ fanfare way, we called in neo fanfare. It leans on to neo classical, also favored by the people who like darker goth sounds. Perhaps a synonym could be gothic fanfare, but I leave that up to the audience and music reporters.

There are also modern instruments such as electric guitars and bass but no synthesizers. Was this a conscientious thing or did it never suit the style?

In a way, it was already a selection of instruments. If you would asked me my dream, I would like to record an album with an entire brass band, combining harsh guitars, bass guitars, drums and dark vocals. Perhaps someday? But to stick to the question: the electric guitars and bass guitars (and sometimes synths) where absolutely necessary to create the sound the voices in my head tell me to do. Could you image whether there would be electric guitars when Richard Wagner was composing? I’m absolutely certain that he would also have uses bass guitar and electric guitars: it just gets a full, dynamic, deep dark sound, other instruments cannot manage

The title “Trail Of Time” refers to a point in your life when you start to reflect on your life? What caused you to start this reflection and how does that tie in with the music?

I think the cover says a lot: two hands, one pocket watch… four generations. My father’s hand passes my grandfather’s pocket watch to the child hand of my son. It symbolizes time passing by as well as the inevitable fact that someday, time will run out.

Thematically, this album reflects on the concept of time. In particular, the inspiration for ‘Trail of Time’ is the conflict between the known past and the unwritten future. The future remains hidden and we do not yet know it. But we do know the past.

This album is a nostalgic journey through my past, my musical projects (‘Parade of the ‘Funeral Fanfare’) and my relationship with my own birthplace Kampenhout, a small village in Belgium, known for its chicory cultivation. After all, at a certain age, you realize that time is running out and, without realizing it too well, you sometimes start to look back (‘When I look back upon my Life’). And do you ask yourself, did I do it right (‘G &B’)? Could I do better or would I do it differently now? Have I listened to the right advice (‘Would you wake me up in Time’)? You realize that you have lost friends / acquaintances along the way, because your life path is going in a different direction (‘Nieuwe Dromen’). Although this continues to gnaw, you have to accept this. Everyone is looking for new ways. But it still gnaws at your mind. The sickness of my mother set the lives of my family upside down (‘On the origin of Sorrows’). Everyone also sees that the world is changing very drastically, due to human intervention. While in the past time seems to move slowly, humanity now appears to be driving the world into destruction in an express train (‘The 6th Extinction’).

As mentioned, the village Kampenhout where I live, has also an unique history and stimulating sites. On ‘Trail of Time’ a few peculiar subjects are transformed musically into melancholic songs. We pick out three of them.
For example, ‘At the Lemmeken Monument’ is a tribute to the victims of the plane crash, which took place in 1961, near my hometown.

On Wednesday, February 15, 1961, a Boeing 707-329 of Sabena, the national Belgian airline, crashed in ‘Het Lemmeken’, a district of Kampenhout. All of its sixty-one passengers and eleven crew members were killed in the accident. Among the passengers were the entire American figure skating team (US Figure Skating Association) on their way to the Prague World Championships. Young champions, some of them no older than sixteen, on their first ever trip abroad, en route to their moment of glory.

On the chicory field where the Boeing fell, two young men were working. Michel Theo De Laet was fatally hit by flying debris, while his workmate Marcel Lauwers lost a leg. He was dragged from among the rubble by an aunt of Theo’s. He is the only survivor of this terrible crash.

‘Condemned to the fire: Josyne Van Vlasselaer’ goes further back in history, to the ancestors of the composer Ludwig Van Beethoven.

Distant ancestors of Ludwig van Beethoven lived in Kampenhout. One of them was Aert van Beethoven. He was married to Josyne Van Vlasselaer. She was arrested on August 5, 1595 by order of the mayor Jan-Baptist van Spoelberch on suspicion of witchcraft (“suspitie en inditie van soverije”) and taken to a Brussels prison. Villagers had accused her of having a pact with the devil, because four horses had fallen dead in places she had passed by.

Of course, she denied the allegations, but exhausted, she admitted everything on the torture rack. On the eve of her execution, she made a failed attempt at suicide by swallowing potsherds. She was condemned to the stake (“gecondemneerd tot de brand”).

Only one woman was ever sentenced to death as a witch in Brussels, and that was a distant grandmother of the famous composer

‘Melancholy at Torfbroek’
The Torfbroek in Kampenhout is a remnant of a vast and unique swamp in the Low Lands, fed by very calcareous groundwater. It offers a unique landscape with large open ponds and is the last remaining refuge of several plant species in Flanders. It is one of the most valuable nature reserves in Western Europe. But above all, it is also a place of deep melancholy.

And so song does have a story to tell, either about the world I’m living in …

It is interesting to see that the tracks are written by different members of the group. How does this change the sound of the album for you?

As by the other albums I was involved with, together with Crooniek, we strive to make very variable albums. No two songs can be similar, every song has to be unique. So different song writers, definitely helps to make a sound variable as possible.  

Which do you feel is your favorite track off the album?

Without any doubt: ‘Would you wake me in time’. I wrote the music, Xavier made an excellent text that fits close to the music. This song is inspired by bands like Die Verbannten Kinder Evas and the amazing Sopor Aeternus & The Ensemble of Shadows. Two bands I appreciate a lot! In a way, this is by far the ultimate neo fanfare song on the album: combining rhythmic brass sounds, blending softly with the enchanting voice of Elisabeth, supported by dark organ sounds and funeral bells.

Do you associate music closely with art as this is the impression that I perceived?

Interesting question. I’m an art historian, so yes, I appreciate art. Especially medieaval art: the gothic cathedrals and the paintings by the Vlaamse Primitieven, like Rogier Vander Weyden, but also baroque art, with artists like Caravaggio. I like it when albums have an Classique painting on the cover or uses elements out the art historian catalogue 😉. But for this album: no paintings were involved inspiring me. As you could read earlier: this album reflects personal experiences.

Crooniek plays live concerts. How different do you think it is setting up for your live shows as compared to a regular band?

Actually, we still need to play our first show with the new album. As you can imagine: it is not easy to get all those musicians together: I would need to get 10 to 16 musicians together. As we have all jobs, families and work to do … not easy. And the songs are complex and not easy to get them live on stage. I think ‘Trail of Time’ fits best at your living room, enjoying the sunset with a good glass of red wine. But when the opportunity crosses our paths, we of course will play live, hoping to persuade the audience. Crooniek can be combined with Winterstille, because all the musicians of Winterstille are also involved in Crooniek.

What is in the future for Crooniek and Gerry Croon?

We would like get into the hearts of many people around the world. That’s why we make music: we want to touch people. I think every band strives to do so. So we appreciate you effort for this interview, perhaps the audience will like us. Time will tell …

Thank you for giving us the inside view! 

Many Thanks for the support! We appreciate it a lot !!

WED088 – Trail Of Time [neo-classical/neo-fanfare/gothic] | Crooniek | Wool-E Discs (wool-e-discs.be)

Crooniek | Facebook

There is some “Silent Love” coming at you from Montreal, in the form of a single by The Ember Glows. Richard Bunze (guitar), Kevin Hills (bass), Martin Saint (voice, guitar) and Dan Stefik (drums), make up this indie/new wave band, that came into being in 2019.

It is definitely a guitar driven sound, strong bass, rhythm and lead, jangling in a heady fusion, while the vocals sits above them, never lost in the string’s pealing notes and chords.

I can definitely hear why this group is compared to Echo And The Bunnymen, with similar guitar arrangements and the vocals having that soaring quality, though not the same timbre as Ian McCulloch. It is a track full of sweet sentiment, of being there in another’s darkest moments, even if it just to help hold back the invasive dreams by holding their hand through the night.

SILENT LOVE | The Ember Glows (bandcamp.com)

The Ember Glows | Facebook

emberglows (@emberglowsband) • Instagram photos and videos

From the depths of Narrm land (Melbourne), a noise was heard on June the 30th, for it was the band Sudden Debt with their single, “DD“. They are a three piece alt band with a dark, no wave appeal.

The bass is the prominent instrument, with its rhythmic notes plucking away hypnotically. The vocals are words, echoing across the surface in stark defiance. The reverb jumps in between like a chaotic mass breaking up the segments, dramatically giving you a shake.

This reminds me a little of something Daniel Ash and David J (Bauhaus/Love & Rockets) might have done. It has remnants of the early 80s, angry disinterest at a world lacking visible passion or compassion and the way they express themselves brings me a pang of joy. Each time I played “DD“, the more it drew me in. Check out Sudden Debt on Bancamp for name your price, as you have nothing to lose and a band to gain!

DD | Sudden Debt (bandcamp.com)

Sudden Debt | Facebook

Mach FoX is the originator behind the industrial project, Zwaremachine, but currently, FoX is delving into another solo album, VideoLogico. to be released on Phage Tapes later on in 2022. In the meantime, the single “Low Tech” has been released, with three mixes, to give you a taste of what is to come.

Burbles, of what sounds like old school electronics, warbles away, like a glitching billboard in Bladerunner. At about the 2.45 mark, we get beats coming into play and there is the twang of a guitar that filters through this instrumental piece, that tops out at over 9 minutes. Long time collaborator, Planktoon mixes the first version with vocals from Maybeeh (Maybeeh & Punsch) and J-C (Vuduvox). This couldn’t be much more different from the original, far more poppy and bright, a synthetically cool dance floor track, enhanced by Maybeeh’s sighed singing and J-C’s sexy French accent.

FoX remixes the next version, the NewBarbarian mix featuring J-C and it is more true to the original, heavier and glitchy, the vocals folded and extended into echos, while the final track is an extended version with J-C, which is like a more modern version of the original which becomes a tad crunchy in texture.

I say we need more J-C vocals but then I might be a little biased. All in all, it is an interesting vision of what an instrumental can become. Hypno western redux to dance floor killer to near power noise and glitch tech. I am going to say the Planktoon mix really blew it out of the water and yet it is still the same piece of music. It is name your price on Bandcamp and this is just the beginning to the introduction to MacH FoX’s cyber spaghetti western.

LowTech SINGLE | Mach FoX (bandcamp.com)

Mach FoX | Facebook

Post-punk/goth is probably my favourite genre, if people haven’t gathered yet. Yes, today we get to talk about Pete Burn’s project, Kill Shelter, and the new full length album, Asylum, a theme continued through the whole release about finding escape and safety, in all forms. Interestingly, there are two versions out, with the European version on Manic Depression Records and the US on Metropolis Records. What makes these versions different you might ask? Each has two tracks only found on that particular version and we are looking at the European.

And so with the vocals of the man himself, Pete Burns, we are hit with the first track “Time Will Come” as it pulsates with a menacing overtone. For a man that rarely sings on his tracks, he sure has a great voice and his guitar playing in on point. The second single recently released, is “In This Place” with Stefan Netschio of Beborn Beton and it has this amazingly heavy ambiance, as in abandon all hope behind you. The music is stalking and promises a violence below the surface. There is a sparking quailty to the synths while Valentine Veil (VV & The Void) sweetly tells you she is the “Queen Of Hearts” that are broken and your house of cards might collapse at any moment. The guitars ring out the warning as the synths swirl. Antipole are long time collaborators and “Buried Deep” is the track with deep vocalisation of fathomless loss, a weight that is far too much for the soul. What do you have when someone takes everything away? It is achingly somber. There is something sad, sleazy and a little dingy about “A Room“. This instrumental gives the impression of being trapped almost.

The Necklace” featuring Agent Side Grinder was the first stunning single to be released. It only gets better with each listen with those wondrous snaking guitars and stark synths against Emanuel Aström’s singing. Ash Code are helping to “Feed The Fire” and those first guitar chords remind me so much of early Cult. But other than the guitar, this is where the similarities end, the drum machine savage in its beating and the synths trickle down. I love the beginning to end of “Cover Me” featuring William Faith of The Bellweather Syndicate and it just rings so utterly pure in gorgeous waves of guitar versus electronics, with Faith’s ever so crystal and plaintive vocals. “All Of This” features Ronny Moorings (Clan Of Xymox) and there is a heavy accent on the electronic side. Moorings really does make this his own track and it could honestly easily fit into a Clan Of Xymox album, headily dark and brooding. We finish with the melancholic instrumental piece,”A Shadow Of Doubt” which feels as ancient as time, foreboding and cataclysmic.

It is written on the album that it is also a celebration of 40 years of the post-punk scene (stop reminding me!!) and you can most definitely hear that reflected in the music. From the jangle of the guitars to the use of electronics and drum machines, post-punk began in an era that was dark and gloomy. The UK was at war with the IRA, the Falkland War and even with their own people, with Thatcher at the helm. Globally, we looked to
the USSR and nervously watched on for our inevitable nuclear annihilation, which luckily never came but it left an indelible mark on that generation, so that dark and wonderful bass lead music has permeated goth, darkwave etc. It is has made beautiful songs about love and lost love but it has also been a political call to arms, calling out injustices. I think this album has a lot of heart. Musically, Asylum really has everything you could want, with fantastic melodies and brilliant collaborations but the kicker is the humanity at its core.

Asylum [European Version] | Kill Shelter (bandcamp.com)

Asylum [US Version] | Kill Shelter (bandcamp.com)

Kill Shelter | Facebook

It has finally happened…. Australian duo, ZCLUSTER have finally put out their debut album, The Rapture, as of the 8th of August. With INfest8 living in Sydney & Sai Jaiden Lillith in Melbourne, like so many electronic/industrial groups, they have created this release through the internet, and I like to think that it makes it all a bit more industrial.

Starting off with the title track, “The Rapture” was also a single release back in February and back then, I believe I said this was a provocative track, and it sets the tone for this album. Winding electronics call in “The Haunting” and Sai’s vocals really make this song, especially in the chorus, and there is no exorcising this spectre, with a hint of Alice In Chains. The light, wandering synths with the heavy backing electronics sets up “Judas” wonderfully, while “Death Drive” was another single, angst ridden and hard edged with the tribal beats underneath all.

Shadow” is heavy and drapes over all, with the sexuality oozing throughout and this transfers well into “Vessel” with its frizzing electronics, a shift into something far more urgent that becomes almost overwhelming, There is a frustration that can almost be tasted in “The Hunger” and the final track, “Monster” has dueling vocals. There is something actually quite compelling about the energy in “Monster” and you can feel it in your chest.

ZCLUSTER are bringing the heavy and sexy in The Rapture. There is a prevailing darkness or murkiness painted into the music, which reminds me a lot of watching something like The Crow and you can hear the Nine Inch Nails influence and that the band has a connection to those industrial bands that rose to prominence at that period. The lads have injected eroticism into the whole album and Sai Jaiden Lillith is going to vocally rub up against you, purring, cajoling and lyrically urging you on. So for a good time, maybe get yourself a little of The Rapture.

ZCluster (bandcamp.com)

ZCluster | Facebook

Menticide” is when you try to brainwash another person with the intent of control. It is also the new single from Miss FD released on August 5th and let’s face it, I know a fair few people who wouldn’t mind being brainwashed by the lovely Miss FD.

The unrelenting rhythm is the constant background noise that media outlets use to influence your thoughts and memories. Global gaslighting. The vocals convey the act lulling you into a false sense of security, while the electronics glitch and frizz.

A serious message within a dance track, of an era where everyone is plugged into some type of online construct, owned by a few who want to control the masses. The music is indeed hypnotic and alluring with synthpop princess, Miss FD.

https://missfd.bandcamp.com/track/menticide

https://www.facebook.com/MissFDMusic/

Hmmmmm…..mmmm. Capsicum Boyz. Yeah, nah, don’t ask….. or do at your own peril. Chop up some TFG (TONTTU) with Mac Hine (Oldschool Union) and you get this track called “KKÄ“. The Finnish are up to no good I tell ya, describing themselves as dodgy and shifty! Yep, may whatever gods you call upon have mercy on our souls and guts.

I can feel the sweat already, literally with the sound of a frying pan on high heat. This is a song about eating stomach ripping chilies and dousing them in beer. With that in mind, the burning ring of fire, aka stingy ringy, will only encourage those hip thrusts. In a style that crosses the electronics of Front 242 with Laibach‘s pomp and vocal ferocity (though this could be due to eating far too much of the hot stuff).

Out on the PANICMACHINE label as of the 4th of August, you may verily burn your ears off to “KKÄ“, on Bandcamp for name your price. Capsicum Boyz putting the sizzling oomph back into hot dance tracks. Remember to wash your hands afterwards as no one wants a chili willie.

KKÄ | Capsicum Boyz | PANICMACHINE

TONTTU | Facebook

Oldschool Union | Facebook

Panicmachine | Facebook