Proud goth, ex DJ and music reviewer

Portland’s Xibling (Sibling) are a synth lead duo on the experimental edge and on March the 1st, the label Young And Cold Records, combined two previously released EP’s, Yesbody and Maladjusted onto one vinyl. Moriah West and Julian Thieme have so far released four original EPs, plus other livestream material.

Hello Stranger” exudes the enthusiasm that this band seems to be all about with a rhythm that thrusts you forwards, glitching with the howling vocals replicating a wolfs’s call. The single, “Butterfly Curbstomp” is a brutal space oddity of having your teeth kicked in, with an strangely B52’s feel while “Fold” could have come from the early 80s with its manic robotic intent. To be a model, you might have to be made of “Plasticine” to keep your looks and figure, which is exactly about what this song is about, sung with such passion. “Schadenfreude” or the pleasure gained by someone else’s failure, the male German style vocals in staccato, all over this piece and this mixes so well into “Maladjusted“, with the rap inspired spoken word that melt into beautiful, silken tendrils of singing and who can say no to lyrics like a maladjusted little shit, dropping the bass. There is a slow burn to”Slow Fold“, as it curls around you, fingers digging into your throat.

Butterfly Curbstomp IV” is possibility what it is like to be on speed in a formula one vehicle, an insane ride for a remix. The darker allure of fetish and sexual angst is “Latex Gloves“, which is going to stalk you with those commanding beats, though this all hits the brick wall in “Vine“, with the echoing, glossy attitude. The bleeps and electronic distortion vie with the vocals for control with “Contract“, while “Puppet” has an air to it like the Siouxsie/Budgie project, Creatures, especially vocally. There is this beautiful synth line that runs through “Reflection” and though the lyrics are not a happy affair but the music itself whirls around you. The last track is one of the title tracks “Yesbody” and it had an amazing vibrancy and a pop like perfection.

Bloody marvelous and such a fun collection of tracks. I love how they manage to pull so many different sounds out of their electronic equipment and it is all about the passion behind the music. You can hear the enjoyment Xibling exude when they play and while they might play electronic music, but they really have a very punk attitude behind it all.

Yesbody / Maladjusted Split LP from Young and Cold Records | Xibling (bandcamp.com)

Xibling | Facebook

Young & Cold Records | Facebook

From the British hotbed, of goth music, Leeds, Skeletal Family broke out in 1981 with the single “Trees“. There has been a lot of water under the bridge and the band has become one of the lynch pins of the gothic sound. With a wealth of musical experience behind them, Skeletal Family are gearing up to release a new album and they have dropped the new single “My Own Redemption” with video.

The new vocalist is Anneka Faye and she compliments the Skeletal Family sound so very well, sultry and commanding. The guitar work is haunting in shadowy echos, while the keyboard picks out the tune, adding an extra layer of lilting grimness. The video, directed by Danny Hardaker, is shot in a black & white noir style, with thuggish heavy men and a sleazy underground promise.

So, this is the first call to arms for the faithful and the soon to be inducted, with Skeletal Family’s sixth studio album and “My Own Redemption” is a wonderful introduction to an eagerly awaited release. There is the pervasive Family sound but I like the fact they don’t try to stick to a formula either, just making a beautiful post-punk music with a soul.

My Own Redemption | Skeletal Family (bandcamp.com)

Skeletal Family | Facebook

We like a bit of the voodoo music, so when I crossed paths with Voodoo Drummer, I thought….ooohhhh. There is the new single “Set The Controls (Pink Floyd in 7/8 Greek Rhythm)” and yes this is a kind of cover version of the Pink Floyd classic, “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun“, off their 1968 album, A Saucerful Of Secrets. Now I do say kind off because they have recorded it in a tradition Greek rhythm of 7/8, instead of 4/4 and at the end you get to hear the “Milo mou kokkino” from which the tempo comes. Within all this, they have mixed in John Coltrane’s track, “A Love Supreme”, which is from the album of the same name and possibly one of the most influential and important jazz releases ever.

BUT WAIT! There is the added bonus of not only a Voodoo Drummer playing drums, tubular bells & percussion but also Stavros Parginos on cello, Tasos Papapanos on bass and it features Adrian Stout, of The Tiger Lillies, on musical saw. Yes you read it. MUSICAL SAW. Life is good! The saw makes those wonderful eerily haunting sounds, cello and bass give a hefty weight, pinning the saw down so it doesn’t fly away. The drums and percussion guide you through and it amazing to listen to such a fascinating version. There seems to be only the YouTube version to listen to this project but if you like quirky covers with strong musicianship, then I highly recommend you check out Voodoo Drummer.

Voodoo Drummer | Facebook

http://www.instagram.com/voodoo_drummer/

End of last year saw the debut album, Blacken The Skies released on Metropolis Records, by the South African band Terminal. The end of June, they released the official video for the track “Godfire” which comes off the aforementioned debut album. It is an epic track with driving guitar, huge drum beats and a bludgeoning chorus that should have you up on your feet and dancing. “Godfire” or holy war, but who is right and who is wrong and when does God’s name mean peace instead of war in the name of religion? The video is full of confronting images of modern warfare but as always it is the music that has last word. So if this tickles your fancy, then you need to check out Terminal’s whole album.

Blacken The Skies | TERMINAL (bandcamp.com)

https://www.facebook.com/terminal.industrial

Detroit deathgaze duo, VAZUM have their latest single, “Angel“, awaiting your pleasure. Dropped on June the 24th, it can be found on Bandcamp for name your price.

There is a harkening back to a 90s sound, but my goodness, those guitars sounds so incredibly good. I do like it when they have the dueling vocals through the chorus and the lyrics speak of a person who acts self righteous, however, lacks moral fibre and blames everyone but themselves when caught in a lie.

This might be my favourite song yet by VAZUM. Zach Pliska is the lead vocalist this time and Emily Sturm does a stirling job at backing vocals. There is a heavier accent on the deathrock influence here. It’s hard to describe but the feeling is that VAZUM are becoming ever more comfortable and confident. A cohesive ease so to speak. Beware of any “Angel” as they might beguile you with their light and betray you with a kiss.

VAZUM (bandcamp.com)

VAZUM | Facebook

Legends of the electronic scene. Germany’s X MARKS THE PEDWALK, released the official video of their latest single, “Yesterdays“, which is off their album, New / End, on the Meshwork Music label. The video is beautifully made, cine graphic and rich, complimenting the gorgeous vocals of ESTEFANÍA, a track about family and love that transverse time. It is a perfect synthpop tune and in some ways, reminds me of ABBA, especially with the very human sentiment.

New / End | X Marks The Pedwalk (bandcamp.com)

meshwork music | label for electronic music (meshwork-music.com)

X-Marks The Pedwalk | Facebook

Pennsylvania based, The Number H has dropped the EP, The Conditioning, on May the 27th, with Lost Glacier Records. This is their second dark electronic EP release, which, in true industrial style, they are using recordings of everyday noises and fusing them into into these techno and bass influenced tracks.

Straight off the bat is “Nothing“, sexually charged industrial beats, that build up and breakdown, lulled by her vocals. Industrial bass is beautifully used to full effect in “Grief“, with science fiction overtones, the electronics in a juxtaposition of being smooth and abrasive at the same time. “Tell Me” is a techno whirlwind with glitching vocals, designed to build you higher with those rhythms and then you are plunged into the dark depths of “Miss Me“, which gave me goosebumps.

Hideous Dream” is in no way terrible to listen to and in fact delightfully works its way through your senses, the electronics implanting themselves into pleasure centres. Last track is “Undone“, ominous and foreboding as it builds to a whirling techno synth vortex, that collapses only to take you an unwinding journey.

Erotically charged, surreal and sublime. The low spoken vocals, not quite disinterested, drawling out, cutting into your skin. I think I could easily listen to The Number H all day, if I am being perfectly honest. She has an amazing flow that grabs you with the intensity of the music. Loss, intense sorrow and hopefully healing, now you have The Conditioning,.

The Number H (bandcamp.com)

Lost Glacier Records | Facebook

Australia’s deathrockers, Sea Lungs, have launched the new single, “Truffle Pig“, as of the 27th of June. Out on the Sydney label, Mantravision Productions, this sees vocalist and lyricist, Andi Lennon with composer Jarrad Robertson, mixing & mastering by Mantravision’s Ant Banister (Sounds Like Winter). These gentlemen are scholars of past empires and though this seems like a commentary on the child labourers, as young as five years old, in coal mines during the Victorian Era, aka, the Industrial Revolution, it is also looking towards our modern times and the erosion of worker’s rights and dismantling/banning of unions.

The thing that hits me the most to begin with is the rhythmic pattern that is like being in a boat, continuously bobbing up and down, pounded wave after wave but never swamped, as Lennon’s vocals call out over the top as the tether. The guitars crash down, condemning, onto those who don’t learn from the past, in wonderfully poetic prose.

Truffle Pig” just proves that Sea Lungs are going from strength to strength, creating a diverse catalogue of tracks, with which they are honing their sound. It is deliciously dark, melodic and has a political beating heart, so you need your serving of “Truffle Pig“.

Truffle Pig | Sea Lungs (bandcamp.com)

Sea Lungs | Facebook

Autumn Tears is a name from the 90s, synonymous with gothic music inspired by classical/traditional styles and they have married a split album, Widowing/Possessing, with the newer dark folk project, Zeresh. Ted Tringo is the man who has continuously been at the helm of the US band, Autumn Tears since 1995, which has picked up steam in the creation of new music in the last few years. Zeresh is Israeli musician, Tamar Singer, who also sings for Autumn Tears, so it seems quite natural for these two projects to share a split album. Windowing is the Autumn Tears half and it has pulled together musicians who play traditional instruments and vocalists of such a high caliber, so the tracks are rich, ethereal and romantically dark. Possessing is of course Zeresh, and it weighs more in your heart, an overwhelming sadness and torment. The instruments are often far more modern in this production but just as eerie and beautiful as Widowing. You can hear the Singer’s homeland influencing the undercurrent of the songs and the sound of the music.

So, we bring to you an interview in two acts. We we very luck to interview Ted and Tamar about their respective bands, their influences and above all the split album. If you love Dead Can Dance or remember the 90s, when Arcana, Lycia and Autumn Tears were the medieval babes of the scene, you should indulge in this offering of Widowing/Possessing and read on!

ACT 1 – AUTUMN TEARS

Greetings to Onyx’s dark side of life and the winter garden, Ted Tringo of Autumn Tears.

Thank you so much! I really appreciate the opportunity 🙂

Autumn Tears has been around in different forms since 1995, with you as the permanent founding member. Did you think Autumn Tears would still be around, creating music and the and still this popular, more than quarter of a century later?

Honestly I had always planned on it as once I began Autumn Tears in 1995, I envisioned it being around for decades. What I had not anticipated was the long 11 year hiatus that I took from 2007 until 2018. Thankfully that is in the past and I don’t plan on ever stopping again.

You released the albums “Colors Hidden Within The Gray” (2019), “The Air Below The Water” (2020) and “The Glow of Desperation” (2021) in very quick succession. Each of these were very highly involved albums as far as people contributing their talents and orchestration. What prompted this surge of creativity?

I think most of it stems from the bottled up creativity I had stored from the 11 years which I was not active. I had a lot of time to reflect and to study music, that in the event of a comeback, I would be more than prepared with ideas and the musical knowledge to give Autumn Tears all that I could.

It was the 2020 album, “The Air Below The Water”, that first saw you collaborating with Tamar Singer. How did you first come into contact Singer?

I first discovered Tamar and Zeresh when I was asked to take part in the ‘At Sea Compilations’ – “Snowflakes”. We both shared songs on the comp and as soon as I heard Zeresh, I knew Tamar had a very unique and special sound which I felt would be a wonderful addition to the Autumn Tears ever evolving sound.

Singer also performs under the name of Zeresh and this year, Autumn Tears and Zeresh released a split album together. What was the thinking behind this and who first suggested this joint operation?

I actually suggested this to Tamar a few years back. I was completely taken with Zeresh upon my first listen and have become a fan ever since. I felt a split release would be a great way to share our collective works with our respective fans and let them experience music from both of our projects. I’v always enjoyed split releases so this was a great experience to be able to be a part of one together with another music project that I love.

Autumn Tears is on the first half and it is called “Widowing” which is also the seventh track on the split, that features Singer. Why did you choose this as the title track and does it have any particular significance for you?

The significance of the title ‘Widowing” is about loss and acceptance, and I felt that having Tamar sing on the title track was important as It not only bridges the gap between the two releases, being the last song on the Autumn Tears EP, but also it flows right into the first Zeresh track having Tamar be the lead singer on both songs back to back.

You have access to all these gorgeous female and male vocals. How do you ever choose who sings what and how lucky do you feel having access to such talent?

Some of them I sought out and some I was already familiar with. Caroline and Darren Clarke from the acoustic opera duo Trovatori I discovered on Fiverr and they have been permanent members ever since, of which I am very grateful for. I also discovered Ffion Elisa on Fiverr as well. Dawn I have known for over 20 years having been the lead singer for Rain Fell Within who were signed to my label back then so my appreciation for her is a given. Of course Agnete from Madder Mortem and Ann-Mari from ex The Third and the Mortal were both long time favorites of mine so I am very thankful for their appearances.

Again, there has been many musicians you have collaborated with to create “Widowing”. I was wondering about how you ended up recording this album, as I can imagine Covid would have played havoc with your plans?

Well like many musicians nowadays, thankfully Autumn Tears has also benefited from the power of the internet and of remote recording. It of course makes everything possible with all of the different members living all over the world.

There are very heavy accents of middle eastern influence, like in “Of Sun, Sky and Rain”. Is this a style of music you particularly enjoy or find enhances the exotic flavour of your music?

It’’s actually both. I have always enjoyed Middle Eastern music, and having Soroush Abedi as a member of Autumn Tears, he is very skilled in many musical styles and able to authentically incorporate the Middle Eastern and instruments into the Autumn Tears style to create a very unique fusion which I think only helps to enhance our overall sound and diversity.

For me, “Bringer Of Balance” is just spine tingling with the entwined male and female vocals in an almost baroque style. Do you have a favourite track off this album?

Thank you so much! I am sure lead singer Darren will be very happy to read this. It is hard for me to pick a favorite as I enjoy them all very much, but I think I may still have a soft spot for the title track ‘Widowing’ as it encompasses the feel of the album as a whole. Of course if you ask me tomorrow, I may have a different favorite ;).

Even though bands like Dead Can Dance had started in the 80s, it was really in the 90s that medieval/classical gothic styled music really took off. You are still producing that style today, however to my ears, it is much more refined and cohesive. Do you feel this way about your music now as compared to the original albums?

That was always my goal with Autumn Tears. I will always appreciate the early sound we developed back in the 90s, however it was always my goal to mature Autumn Tears with real classical instruments and musical style to hopefully one day try and carve out our own sound. Hopefully we are aa little closer to doing so now 27 years later. 🙂

I am curious as to who were your inspirations in music when you first started and if there are any newer loves you have now?

Back in the 90s when I began, my influences ranged from DCD, to Stoa, Anchorage and Arcana, (Arcana’s – ‘The Song of Mourning’ actually helped to kick start my desire to write Autumn Tears music) and now I think I am more influenced by modern and traditional classical music as well as cinematic score and soundtracks. I think I will keep evolving the styles while still retaining our core sound.

If you could choose any musician to record with (alive or expired) for the next album, whom would you desire and why?

There are so many I admire that I would love to work with but if I had to choose one, I would have loved to collaborate with Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson. I actually dedicated the 2019 album ‘Colors Hidden Within the Gray’ to him.

What is next for yourself and Autumn Tears?

We are currently working on our next full length album which hopefully will be ready by the end of the year.

Thank you for the enchanting and haunting music, as well as your time Ted.

My absolute pleasure, thank you!

ACT 2 – ZERESH

Zeresh is your project and I believe it came into being around 2017/18? Also what prompted you to create Zeresh?

The name “Zeresh” came to be around 2017 but the idea and many of the songs existed long before that and were waiting for me to be able to give them some kind of an output.

In June 2017 I did my first solo concert and that’s when the need for a name became obvious.

My debut EP ‘Sigh For Sigh’ was already recorded at the time yet I struggled hard with mixing it since I had zero knowledge or experience of how to do it.. but once it was completed I embraced the name Zeresh for this project.

The name Zeresh seems highly symbolic. In Persian it means gold, in the old Testament Zeresh is a wife, as well as being linked to meaning strange or misery. Why did you choose this name?

First of all I liked how it sounds – yet it seemed a bit too “black metal” for my project.. It didn’t feel right for this purpose but I loved the name so much that I’ve decided to name my beautiful black cat ‘Zeresh’. After doing this, I got “jealous” and stole the name for my project too.

I also liked the fact that in the biblical story, even though she was a side character (Hamann’s wife) she was the smartest and most evil figure.

If you don’t mind me asking, what is the dark/gothic/metal scene like in Israel?

I’m glad you asked because I love the Israeli scene – we have a lot of wonderful bands and musicians over here. Some of them are very very special.

The local Gothic scene is tiny, almost nonexistent but the general dark scene here has some wonderful projects. 

Also, our metal scene is pretty rich and ever changing. Israel has some bigger mainstream-ish metal bands and some very ‘strange fruits’ (which are usually my favorites);.

I’m probably forgetting many other great projects but here are some of the ones (which are still active) that I love the most from the local scene:

Kadaver, Choshech, Kchörtoo, Ketoret, Zimmer Witch Night, Winterhorde, Rain Dirty Valleys, Kluvim, Prey For Nothing, Sleep’s Sister, Agnivolok, Kip, Kashaiof, Subterranean Masquerade, Seven Morgues, Obsidian Tide, Svpremacist, Bormavet, Dukatalon and more.

There is also the doom project Cruel Wonders. What drew you into the realms of neo-classical/neo-dark folk?

I’m into dark music of all different genres and kinds, both as a listener as well as a musician.

You have not only collaborated with Autumn Tears but also you did the split album with them. What was this like for you as an artist?

Amazing! Working on the split album has been an honor and also very special to me because I tried to take my songs to be’ more romantic’ while Ted took his songs to a darker place this time, so they would fit well together.

Also, Ted is really wonderful to work with, both artistically and personally.

Your half of the album is called Possessing. Could I please ask about the concept behind Possessing and how you feel it couples up with Widowing?

My half of the album is about obsession; holding on to a relationship that’s not there, not being able to get another person out of your head or to let go.

The way I see it ‘Widowing’ (the part by Autumn Tears) is about loss; but from a “healthier” perspective – sort of the other side of the same coin.

Which do you feel is your favourite track off this album and why?

I can’t really say too much about Possessing but even though it’s hard to choose – my favorite song from Widowing is “Unmaker of worlds”, simply because it’s absolutely perfect!

It’s dark, heavy and intense musically and lyrically. Plus, I just love Caroline Joy Clarke’s vocals there. 

I actually admire all the other Autumn Tears singers and musicians and I still can’t believe I’m sharing music with those extremely talented professional musicians.

If given the opportunity to do another split album, would you do it again and are there any other artists you would like to collaborate with?

I’m actually working on a short split collaboration for a local label as we speak and I would love to do more in the future.

I would gladly collaborate again with everyone I’ve worked with before so far.

The list of musicians I’d be thrilled to work with for the first time is endless but I’ll try to sum it up somehow: 

Rïcïnn, Kim Larsen (Of The Wand And The Moon), King Dude, Darkher, Darkwood, None, Les Days, Liturgy, Leya, Natural snow buildings, Ungfel, The Drows, The Devil’s Trade, A. A. Wiliams…

It really is a Never-ending list so I’ll randomly stop here.

What musicians/bands or type of music first dragged you into the scene and what ignites your soul now?

I’m not sure which scene I should refer to, but if we’re talking about ‘non-standard’ folk, the first ones I listened to as a teenager were: Current 93, Death In June and some other similar and related projects.

Nowadays I still listen to a lot of different types of neofolk, dark folk, industrial and also just plain beautiful folk.

I love it when folk music manages to somehow fit in nicely with industrial.

Anyhow, here are some examples of things I love in particular:

Of The Wand And The Moon, Sangre De Muerdago, Laura Marling, Rome, Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio, Darkher, Aggaloch, Hasta LA Victoria, Nebelung, Darkwood and many more.

I also listen to other genres – from black metal to classical music, experimental, drone and lots of other things.

Taking possession completely off the tracks here but if you could be possessed by one deceased musician for a day, to let them record one more track, who would you let use your body?

The obvious answer would be Kurt Cobain or Elliott Smith, so I’ll go with that.

What is in the future for Zeresh?

The next Zeresh album is almost 100% written but I have to produce it. It is going to be darker than anything I’ve done so far.

Nowadays I’m actually working as Zeresh on a short split collaboration for a local label. It’s a project I’m doing with one of my favorite Israeli bands – ‘Ketoret’.

Besides that, I’ve already recorded a song for the next ‘Autumn Tears’ album and we shall start writing the third ‘Cruel Wonders’ album pretty soon.

I’m also involved in a new project with my husband who is the other half of ‘Necromishka’ (and mostly known as ‘Kadaver’) plus another of my favorite local musicians – Shay Mizrahi, of ‘Choshech’. I’m not sure if it’ll be a 3-way collaboration or whether it’ll have its own name.

And lastly – we’ve been producing a split album between ‘Necromishka & Agnivolok’.

I’m planning to remain busy..

Autumn Tears (bandcamp.com)

Widowing / Possessing | Autumn Tears / Zeresh | Zeresh (bandcamp.com)

Autumn Tears | Facebook

Zeresh | Facebook

The duo, Johnathan/Christian have released the single, “Talkin’ About The Wolf“. It is a track inspired by the Ukrainian resistance against a much larger foe, trying to take by force, their county. Johnathan/Christian is joined by The Legion Of Whom, a mixture of talented humans, whom appear in the order of Matt Vowles: Black Angel (guitar), Lee Meadows: The Glass House Museum (bass), Athan Maroulis: NOIR, Steven Archer: Ego Likeness/Stoneburner, Claus Larsen: Leæther Strip, Martin Bowes: Attrition, Alla Miroshichenko: Attrition/Alia Synesthesia (cello), Jeff Diehm: The Last Dance and Ania Tarnowska: I Ya Toyah

Verbose gothic melancholy, wrapped in this wonderfully rich guitar and complimented by the electroincs in a most symphonic manner. Sliding between vocalists is a truly interesting experience, it drags you in to listen to the the words and marvel at the mixture of styles, accents and timbre. They ask what we want to know, ‘how many Putin?’.

“Since the Donbas Invasion in 2014, Ukraine has been telling the world the wolf is coming, and what have we done to help?  As the battle continues, now is not the time to move on. Ukraine needs everyone’s help now more than ever” – Johnathan

The title of the track refers to a Ukrainian saying, ‘talking about the wolf‘, which basically means ‘speak of the devil‘. All proceeds, from the single will be donated to the Come Back Alive Foundation in Ukraine, which was created during the War in Donbas. In return, you get a darkwave track of immense proportions, catchy and chock full of some legends in the business.. Mmmmm, very tasty and remember, you think you are safe until they are at your door.

Talkin’ Bout the Wolf (ft. The Legion of Whom) | Johnathan Christian | JOHNATHAN|CHRISTIAN (bandcamp.com)

Johnathan|Christian | Facebook