The end of July saw the release of the album, Kiss Of Death, by English band, Black Angel, a follow on from 2019’s debut The Widow.
England definitely exploded with successful gothic bands in the early eighties. Their legacy is like a ripple that still effects us 40 years later. Matt Vowles is the progenitor of Black Angel, as well as being a music producer, whom been heavily influenced by that early scene and has come full circle to the music that influenced his early years.
The start of the title track “Kiss Of Death” is like a soul crying out. Great first tune to start with as it is atmospheric and sets the tone for the rest of the album of dark desires for an eternal passion.
“Animal” is the second single off the album and is heavy with sentiment that is raw with longing and wanting. The animal logic overriding all. The beat pounds and the vocals exotically call you to give all for that animalistic love.
Dirty and bass heavy are a heady mixture for “Alchemy“. A concoction of rockabilly and goth guitar sensibility make this a lethal combination that doesn’t dawdle. Voodoo, magic and love are a powerful cocktail.
Female vocals reminiscent of the Ofra Haza version of “Temple of Love“, start off and weave through “Call Of The Night” but that is where the similarity ends with this sensual ode to the gothic tribes that inhabit the dark.
Wayne Hussey would be proud of the guitar in “Hurricane” and just like the namesake, this song spins and swirls at a terrific pace.
You think there might be a change of pace with “Want For More” and it you aren’t wrong and it reminds me of Lacrimas Profundere in their heyday. Laid back, slow burn with guitars crying out and female backing vocals to rival the later Sisters of Mercy tunes.
“Put Your Lips…..” is the jaunty first single with a rockabilly beat and a very much the cowboy goth feel that Fields of the Nephilim introduced the world to, with striding footsteps and a shotgun to the Sun. the singer is sure her lips would look good on him.
The wonderfully sonorous guitars, whirl you away in “She Said“. This winds along in a languid, serpentine way as we ponder the wise words, the devil is a bitch.
Sirens ring out to herald in “Prisoner” and the guitar here reminisces of The Cult, circa Love album. But then again, with the baritone Russian choir style aaahs could be mistaken for Mige Ure’s,Ultravaox.
The last song is also a homage to the band name, “Black Angel” and you could knock me down with a feather, as this sounds so much like Bauhaus, including a sax accompaniment, which is very, very 80’s. It swirls and undulates to a rather satisfying end. We all know about the devil in a black dress……
I’m honestly pleased that this isn’t another Sisters imitation band. You can hear the influence but Vowles has found a vocalist who stays true to their own style whilst not trying to sound like someone else. Black Angel are leading the gothic rock charge with fellow contemporaries, Norwegians, October Burns Black.
Recorded and mastered at Matt Vowles‘ own studio, The Manor, Kiss Of Death is a polished production which reminds me of the bands I have loved for so long and has forged ahead with that sound instead of living in the past. Love, longing and lust are are old as mankind and Kiss OfDeath is all this and a whole lot more with Black Angel giving it beautiful inky wings.
This May saw the release of Manchester’s, Rhys Bloodjoy‘s album, Human. Pattern. Repeat. In hiatus, ensconced in Spain during the height of COVID-19, Rhys found himself in a position to find inspiration to create.
Bloodjoy’s style is described as shoegaze, sophisticated electro loops with melody. With that in mind, let’s delve into this noise monster.
Instantly you are taken by the electro beat and the almost Joy Division guitar with “Death By Succubus“. The vocals are distorted and the guitar starts to wail as the song picks up speed, becoming more frenetic. And then nothing…….
“Suck” has a middle eastern feel, threading it’s way though this rhythm driven piece. Like a psychedelic trip in a demented hippie van of free love and sexually driven tension.
Single, “Run From The Hunter“, draws on an almost American native rhythm and texture. Feed back upon feed back, as the guitar fuels the claustrophobic feel that you can’t get away from.
An interesting title in “Birth Canal Contemplations Blues” and like a Jim Morrison messiah from under the sheets, Bloodjoy wants to make love with that waggling tongue.
“Celebration” is down and dirty rock and roll that is relentless and pulsating. Not everything is worth celebrating because life can be difficult and painful without being constantly reminded as well that you can do better.
An intense build up to “Infernal Regions” that winds around your senses. Reminiscent of The Cramps‘, Lux Interior, both vocally and suggestively in a lurid wanton manner. This lascivious and dark.
Final number is the title track, “Human. Pattern. Repeat.” It is a short explosion of screaming noise and reverb that rings out, then suddenly fades to nothing.
Death and sex are often thought of as two sides of the same coin, just like genius and madness. Bloodjoy likes to use the references of one for another or double entendre to evoke those feelings and ideas through both the lyrics and the tone of the music.
It is a clever use of off kilter psychedelic with raw guitar mixed with that industrial sensibility, which makes it a tad unusual and extremely interesting.
It’s got a little bit of everything for those that love experimental, noise and shoegaze styles. Check out Rhys Bloodjoy’s album as it is name your price for the download or you can buy the vinyl LP and remember Human.Pattern.Repeat.
From Wroclaw, Poland comes the band xDZVØNx with their album Everything We Dreamt About, released April 3rd.
Welcome to the sweet insanity that is Børa on main vocals, synths plus mandolin and Snufkin on backing vocals, synths and programming.
They describe their style as noisepop, mixed with brutalistic architecture and glitch art, and originally were associated more with the witch house scene in Europe.
Intro piece to the album is “Why I Called You“. Just by listening to the lilting short number, you can tell that this is going to be a highly electronic album.
Current truth is “Face By Face” right now is my favourite track off the album. The vocals are wonderful and just something about this is almost soul deep.
“The Final Boss” really feels like a cheesy platform game tune gone cyberpunk. It’s fast and fun, brilliantly light yet bassy massive beats in this short piece.
Rolling seamlessly straight into “Panic“, the vocals puncture your ear membranes as they shred straight ahead, frantic with a reprieve at the end.
The dulcet and seductive tones of Børa in “Pray” lead into fast paced beat, that spirals and twists in an almost out of control fashion.
“Bubbles” actually does sound like foamy spheres floating and eventually popping. A low electronic buzz in the bass ties down those light bubbles of sound.
The somewhat dirge start of “You Have To Be Alone” is a bit confusing until the cacophony of noise breaks through. And so we have lulls and crescendos of screaming synths as well as the human machine.
You might find “I Want To Find This Girl“, sweet and understated, almost ballad like. It is pieces like this that show a lot of depth.
Like a bad trip, the single, “Litzmannstadt” featuring Belmondo, wavers, like you are in and out of consciousness and there hints of DieAntwood. Belmondo is the rapper that embellishes this with his deep vocals and polish lyrics.
Imagine an 80’s electronic wonderland mixed with Ladytron and you have “Playground“. This is nearly hypnotic in the way it is written.
“I Will Vomit Glitter” is a get your punk/industrial on extravaganza of a single. A fun upbeat track about literally vomiting glitter.
The song, “No Eyes” just explodes in a glorious wave of sound. It will suck you in with the tune and make you want to bounce.
Angelic vocals over soaring synths and hard bass is the style of “Stupid Smile“. Booming and echo filled visions of a smile that is left in the mind. You might think for a moment that something is wrong as the sound skips and wobbles like a tape being eaten by the deck but this is part of the experience.
Not sure if the vocals are Børa or Snufkin on “I Am Saint“, as they have been slowed right down to a deep rumble of a voice. And this is also the last number for xDZVONx and it leaves you wondering who that was.
There is nothing boring about this album. This is avant-garde, experimental expressionism in electronic art form. We hear Børa both sweet and harsh and Snufkin helps push the boundaries of electronic music as an extension of themselves. Every time I listen, I hear something new. This is Everything We Dreamt About from cool tunes to dance beats from xDZVØNx.
Neurobash are a two piece electronic/ industrial group from Sweden and in April, they released a new album, 2K2X.
On vocals and keyboards is Ewan “Oberfunk” Kelley and on electronic wizardry is Patrik “G-Nome” Nelson and they make up the stellar Neurobash.
We begin with “Consumed“, a high energy piece with great crisp vocals. And this also sets the overall feel of the album. Doom, questioning, desperation and spiraling decay.
Next is “Blame“, the insanity that comes about by being held responsible for terrible truths. The vocals are brilliant and it melds into the virtual maelstrom of music and yet the synths are kept so light.
Kelley has such a wonderful voice which rings effortlessly over the music and in “Screamer“, he is plaintive and evocative with a techno beat pairing with industrial crunching.
Just when you think the synth genre could not surprise you, music like “Fake” hits your ears. Distortion with heavy bass and a rhythm that is inconsistent and experimental, yet it works so well.
I almost cringed when I heard the internet dial up tone from another era. “Firewall” could be taken in this digital age as the protective shell people put around themselves to stop others from polluting or hurting them. Definitely more thought provoking and low key number.
Last year’s single, “Bloodlines” has a trippy feel to it with falsetto vocals! It’s groovy and yet ominous at the same time. This just moves along nicely as we reminisce on how we ever survived our youth. Beautiful big cords on this.
Club beat kicks in for “TheNight” and this really hits the sweet spot. As Neurobash lose themselves in the night, we can lose ourselves in this great song. It winds like a snake and squeezes you with the fabulous keyboards.
Slow and rolling, like a lake, is “Amber“. It is might be not be fast but do not underestimate the depth. This is slightly off kilter and a little bit dangerous in a experimental way.
Another single from the end of last year is “SolidState“. Angry electronics bleep out along with the vocals that threaten to make you go away. This is punchy and makes no apologies for its brashness.
The b- side for “SolidState” was “Impulse“, which makes an appearance. This is darker and dirtier than its angry brother. It oozes a contempt with a wonderful synth wall of sound.
Last track is “Reminder” and Neurobash are going out with a bang rather than a whimper. Big beats with a glorious synth lead array. Futuristic and oh so danceable.
Nice production but also this is rich in texture. These guys have a lot of style and class and if this is your first time hearing them, go listen to the 2015 album Doctrine, which will equally knock your socks off.
They still are looking to push the genre with experimenting whilst giving us simply stunning music and great dance tracks. If you love great EBM and Covenant makes your toes curl, then you need to check out Neurobash and their album, 2K2X.
German composer and musician, AlexanderKling, just released his latest album, Love, which consists of nine song. You will find synth and piano lead music with soundscaping from his project, Dedalos.
This is the beginning and it starts with the “Ending“, a slow yet gradual building piece, with piano at the front and centre and synths giving depth. There is definitely the feeling of melancholy.
“Why” is a soundscape that taps into the MassiveAttack feels. A lonely expanse with whispered questions.
Third number is “Missing“. This is the loss of another or even a part of one’s self. A languid piece of realization that not all is right. There are musical outbursts along the way as the feeling builds. The buried vocals in the background lamenting ‘miss you so much‘.
Next is a bit of “Insanity“, a reflection of a mindset. The plodding rhythm of sadness settling into ones soul which then becomes the deafening noise that encapsulates all reason.
Darkness with bright areas is how I would describe “You“. There is such poignant bubbles of joy that slowly are eaten by the intruding dark fringes.
And so “Unbearable” follows. Low flowing and tidal with sound enveloping your senses. Nothing else but the feeling of being overwhelmed and that heartbeat rhythm.
“Last” is like the slow waking and a movement towards the dawn. It pauses for an effective break as the music builds. It is not joyous nor does it feel relieved but rather purpose driven.
The completion of any relationship is the “Farewell“. This is release with emotions still attached and yet within you hear the freedom to launch forward and leave the shackles of mental torment.
The conclusion is “Love“. Reflective and careful but with hope of the future, this is the title track and the end of a journey.
This is very much dark ambient/synthwave instrumental music which is very much based on real life. AlexanderKling explained to me how the album came about after the breakdown of a relationship.
‘Istarted with this album after the end of a relationship. But I started to recording this album with the burning pain. Sometimes I cried while recording, it is tear notes. You can feel the atmosphere, you can feel the pain, the depression and sometimes salvation and peace’. – Dedalos
This is an instrumental journey through the heavy realization that not all loves last and that there is a beauty in that suffering, though painful non the less. This is despair, loss and revelation with Dedalos and his Love.
This year, the band, Amaranth, in conjunction with SoundsAndShadows, released the epic goth/EBM/industrial compilation, Tiny Gods Who Walk Beside Us. All songs were donated by the bands for a rather wonderful cause.
Most dark alternative types will tell you they are very fond of animals and especially cats. When band member of Amaranth, KenMagerman found out his young cat, Freya, had cancer in her leg, Ken was devastated and desperately wanted to save his feline companion’s life. This is an expensive procedure, so musician friends from around the world offered songs to help pay for this treatment, so began this complilation.
The classical undertones of LoreleiDreaming bring us “Edge Of The World” (I.X.XI Remix), which is grand beginning with beautiful choral touches that give this great depth and a glittering beauty.
“For Freya” is a very raw piece from Amaranth, but then this is understandable knowing where this song is coming from. With bluesy overtones that expand to anguished gothic rock.
A quieter synth lead piece from US act, Covenant Of Thorns in “Dahlia” (The Joy Thieves remix). A sweet number that is both darkness and light at the same.
Got to say, Corlyx‘s “Deform” (ESA remix) is a really a great song and remix. A mixture of trap syncopation and lazy beats keeps this very entertaining.
Antipole and their sexy song, “1983” featuring the completely sexy Eirene (PeopleTheater remix) show you their brilliance. Danceable, pop electro synth number which you can’t help but enjoy the airy joy it exudes.
Like silk, Ego Likeness “Darkness” (Dracos Deep Mix) will grace your ears. This is smooth, electro beats and oh so catchy to boot with this remix.
Machinery Of Desire drip with gothic honey in the form of “Forever Remain“. I would not be surprised in the least of they were influenced by Wayne Hussey’s The Mission. That similar winding flowery style.
The synth musing of Adoration Destroyed in “Both of Me” (Authentic Impulse Remix) as they try to reconcile the two sides of their personally. Those that like Third Realm will really enjoy this number.
CryingVessel “Illusions” (remix DeadAgent) is a throw back to the early 80s electronic period. A simple, clean track with a light touch in the remix, making this a really danceable track.
The haunting number of “CodeBlue” by I Ya Toyah (remix Arcontas Blank) rings out with that wonderful heavy organ based synth filling it out. A song close to singer AniaTarnowska’s heart, about the loss that comes with suicide.
Really digging TwinTribes the more I hear them and “DarkCrystal” is a great example of their post punk, goth electro sound. Really fabulous tune that chimes away and gets into your head.
Radiograph is in essence JohnEdwards from PalaisIdeal and he has contributed “Catnipped“, an instrumental piece centred on an electro beat/ synths with guitar accompliment. Edwards is well known musician in the scene and a deft hand at penning a tune.
SilverWalks has remixed “FuckThatFascistBeat” by Caustic. This already a good song which now is even more urgent in the remix. The song is probably more poignant than ever before and is old school style industrial done well.
Straight from the beginning, you hear that this is going to be a bit special. Seven Federations gives you “Syzygy” or a celestial alignment. It is reminiscent of Attrition’s classic “Into The Waves“, with its simple beauty.
Vlimmer “Schnittstelle” is ethereal and unearthly as they try to interface. Even though ethereal, it feels so organic at the same time, natural.
Dogtablet are kind of a mini super group. “Showtime” (Melodywhore Slave Remix) is a rhythmic groove piece with piano as the standout instrument amongst the electronica.
If you like pure instrumentals with some sublime synths and an interesting configuration, then Kiss Of The Whip has “This Pain Is Ours” for you.
Welcome to Steven Archer’s “The Showroom“. It’s s little dirty and has a bassy chorus which is never a bad thing. Archer who is also Stoneburner, is all class.
This isn’t even mixed and Cliff and Ivy have a tremendous earworm in “Will To The Power“. I have to say, Christian Death. It smacks of many the great things about Rozz Williams and company in the 80’s.
The off kilter start by Orcus Nullify, launches “March Of The Lost“. Very much in the vein of the Bauhaus vibe with a experimental edge. A dirge to the those forever destined to wander without end.
The sombre tones of Ritchual‘s “You Lied” lilt with a plaintiff anguish. This is clean, delightful synth wave with a European flavour even though they are based in Austin.
Sister Sarin is the project for Hemlock and she gives to you “Split“. This is a percussion heavy piece with all the keyboards rounding out the beat heavy sounds.
Get ready for the nightmarish spokenword performance of Swansect with “Clovermouth“. This is claustrophobic and sinister in the modern era electro.
RobEarly and SimeonFritzpatrick are 11Grams and you are going to feel them in your “DNA“. This is a blend of old school industrial with a clever reinvention, which they are well known for. Slow and menacing, as it gets under your skin.
Ego Likeness is the last track on the album for the digital download with “Breedless” (Sombre Remix). The lyrics are truly interesting to listen to, with ‘maybe my mother was a hydra‘ as well fae folk and other such creatures making EgoLikeness the crooning sexy beasts they are.
This is a great showing of gothic, synthwave, EBM, darkwave and industrial being represented and definitely worthy of many listens. The best part of this story is that Freya may have lost a limb but she is still with Ken and a truly loved being.
My last cat passed away at 20 years of age and I mourned her death for many years until l adopted a rescue cat and to be honest, fell in love all over again.
Once cats were revered as celestial beings in Egypt and one can understand why. We love their arrogance, sass and let’s face it, they can be completely selfish pricks yet if you do love them, they will give you so much in return.
So show some love for Freya and her kind as well as all the wonderful bands that have been so generous.
Die Notwendigkeit der Notwendigkeit translated into English means the need for the need and is also the title for the first album release for the Munich based trio of PAAR.
This three piece comprises of vocalist LyNguyen, Rico Sperl plus MatthiasZimmerman and they can be found on the Berlin based label, GRZEGORZKI Records.
Can’t help but notice that German precision, perfect beats and timing. “Common Crimes” starts and is soon in the swirling heady territory of the wonderful Curve. Nguyen’s vocals curl and bedazzle, adding to a powerful wall of noise.
“Beauty Needs Witness” is brooding and bass heavy, seems to hold a great sadness of lost innocence. The guitars almost cry out to you.
The intro to “Rework” is delightful and breezy. This is what Siouxsie and the Banshees would sound like if in a lighter brighter world. The guitar work again is an exquisite construct to hold the vocal jewel.
“Modern” at the beginning makes itself known with frenetic buzzing guitar work and an almost imperceptible oriental quality to the tune at times. Nguyen is joined by guest vocalist Grotto Terrazza also known as Thomas Schamann, who’s deep sonorous tones melt nicely in accompaniment.
Again a nice lightness that highlights the darkness is heard in “Pure” which wouldn’t amiss on a Cocteau Twins album.
“Eis” is a little faster and more jaunty and the guitar work is wonderfully jangly and this song has a lot of personality. It would almost be a crime for it not to be a single.
So what lays in the “Lakes“? Not sure because either it’s unknown or they aren’t listening. But seriously a tune with mystery at its heart.
Last track is “Metal” and this is sassy, in same way as Blondie both vocally and guitar wise. That punk infused joy of new wave music, with a shimmy inducing last song, which is a great one to end on.
Earlier I mentioned Cocteau Twins and a lot of this is very much in the vein of that 4AD ideal and ethos. This embodies that movement of when new wave was developing out of the punk scene in the late 70’s going into the 80’s, fused with that sweet European cold wave/dark wave sound and cool culture.
Art inspiring music and music inspiring art which might explain the title, the need for the need or Die Notwendigkeit der Notwendigkeit, for art and music do not exist without the other muse and here PAAR are the catalyst.
Norway…. land of Vikings, long dark days, extreme cold and musicians that wear hats, i.e. TommyOlssen. However we have other hat wearing musicians to talk about in the order of a band called, MayflowerMadame.
On the 27th of March, they released their follow-up album, PreparedForANightmare, released on OnlyLoversRecords. MayflowerMadame are a three piece, made up of TrondFagernes – vocals, guitars, bass, HåvardHaga– guitars and OlaJ. Kyrkjeeide – drums.
A kicking this whole album off is the title track, “PreparedFor A Nightmare“. What strikes me first off with laconic guitars that jangle away and I am transported to another time of bands such as Wall Of Voodoo and Concrete Blonde.
There are tinges of Fields of the Nephilim in “Vultures” which also happens to be the first single. The lead drawls like some dark, laid back, hellion cowboy, riding the wave of guitars chiming in over each other and a good beat which promises getting darklings on the floor.
A nice big bass line with psychedelic intonation brings you “Swallow“. No we ain’t talking about the birds here here either of you get what I’m putting down. Lovely vocals and this isn’t crass but rather artfully done.
“Ludwig Meidner” was a German artist, most memorable for his apocalyptic landscapes which were created before the devastation of the First World War, in which he served. Later he became a writer of unnatural stories and maybe this is the vibe of this number… that darkness that lurks within. Such a great chorus with lyrics like, ‘I wanna go, I wanna stay, I want desire, And I’ll be dancing on your grave…”.
A little dramatic and expressive with “NeverTurning(InTime)” as the lads give us the last thoughts before the ultimate journey which you can never come back from.
Moody, almost Cramps inspired guitar work with drumming that beautifully fits in throughout the sixth track. . “SacredCore” vocally also makes me think of WayneHussey and TheMission.
“TheNightBefore” is a tale of maybe not only having a partner die but the loss of an unborn child. This number is shorter but seems to meander with quieter harmonic vocals.
A slightly synth start to “Goldmine” although it doesn’t take much for the stringed instruments to come back with shoegaze swirls and that underlying guitar noise.
Once, even fallen stars had “AFuturePromise” but can’t always live up to those expectations. This is dreamy and I love how it harkens back to a sound that reminds me of old guitar based ClanOfXymox.
The last track is “EndlessShimmer” and I can’t decide if this is a love song or a lament for what the vocalist can’t reach or have because of some inner flaw. A slow start that graduates with each word.
You can hear a multitude of influences though the biggest for me is that twangy insistent guitar led music of FieldsOfTheNephilim. Fagernes does not growl like McCoy but similarly, sinfully singing doomed nothings.
There are so many layers to this music and every time you listen, you will hear something you didn’t hear before within the swirling psychedelic eddies. MayflowerMadame has based itself on shoulders of wonderful past bands and then taken it to the next level, making this uniquely theirs.
PreparedForANightmare is going to appeal greatly to those who love guitar based music that is an inspired piece of gothic rock. An illuminated piece of beautiful darkness.
In 1999, Slovakia saw the birth of electro-industrial group, LastInfluenceOfBrain. This year has started off with the release of a new album, Insomnicons after a silence of almost ten years.
L.I.O.B. (LastInfluenceOfBrain) is made up of three members who are mysteriously only known as Blazena, Solo and…..Bob. Not much else is known about them other than they are in other projects. Their previous album was TwoFaces before their hiatus and they are featured on the Slovakian record label AlienProductions.
“Twone” might be something you need. This goes from grinding vocals to bright and light synths which are a almost a contrast of dark and light. The beat continues to build and swell. This is just the beginning and it’s started well. In the Urban Dictionary, Twone is described as ‘a phrase that silences participants‘.
The second track, “Invasion/Introverted” just smacks of all the things that are best about LeætherStrip, punched out lyrics and a beat you can bounce to.
This is a great song with its intensity and wonderful synth cascade that crashes down on you with “Idolatry“. It rivals the sound of FrontlineAssembly with the finesse of LeætherStrip.
“Binarea” is heavy and wanting to force the rhythm straight down your throat at the start. The beat at times almost resembles a machine gun going off. It’s like a lethal game show and where they are taking us no one knows.
Khonsu was the Egyptian god of the Moon, who was especially worshipped at the holy city of Thebes. “Khonsu Again On His Eternal Path” is about the journey this deity takes across the sky, bringing the tides, marking the seasons and future telling with foreboding signs. To reflect this the music does feel otherworldly, space like, consistently traveling.
As we discuss the Moon, we have the track “Sedimental (In The Mare Nubium)“. The Mare is within the Nubium crater which is on the visible side of the Moon. The staccato, grained vocals punctuate through the electronic noise. The Moon will reek it’s toll on the mental faculties.
Dark and forbidding is “Hypnosphere” made all the more so with a small child crying for mummy and then sounding like a demon from the darkest recesses of hell. This is reminiscent of SkinnyPuppy both vocally and musically.
There is a slightly experiemental to “Duality“. Purposeful and almost ambient as it winds itself into your brain. It is angst and beautiful all at the same time. This is emotional and poignant with so much depth.
Not sure what a moonster is but this is a “BrokenMoonster” and the dynamics between those heavy vocals and light synths make this very listenable. Possibly it’s due to the weaving harmonies you perceive, as delicate as spider webs.
Almost a busy hip hop feel to the beginning of “Necrotopia“. This loops back with an almost delicate rhythm that harkens back to SkinnyPuppy’s “Protest” . For a song about a nirvana for death, this is very much alive.
With that understated slower pace that L.I.O.B seem to be masters of, they are taking you away to the “E-Sylum“. They growl about pressure and progress as the music backs this up with it’s own version of expanding noise. Yet it is almost cool and distant.
“Twone” gets a remix by award winning industrial composer and producer Ken ‘Hiwatt’ Marshall which at the start is a tad creepy before finding a techno style beat. This is a great remix to tie up the album.
L.I.O.B are an anomaly. They sound traditional harsh industrial and yet they, in many ways are not. They obviously like to create atmosphere and this comes off as being almost dark ambient in its style.
This is a great come back album and if you are a fan of 90’s SkinnyPuppy and other older acts such as LeætherStrip and especially FrontlineAssembly then I can highly recommend Last Influence Of Brain and their newest creation, Insomnicons.
Konqistador released at the end of last year, the album Nafada. The band started back in 2005 and is a collaboration of Detroit musicians, ReginaldTiessen and ElizabethGraham as well as Sydney artist INfest8.
This latest album has a theme, in which Konqistador invited female hip hop artists to perform on their tracks, although they are more known for their industrial, gothic and electronic music. These women are as diverse in nationalities as they are in sound.
Kicking off is MedusaTn also known as Boutheina El Alouadi, from Tunisia with the single “Eden,Woman’sWar“, a powerful start. Not only does MedusaTn rap but her singing voice is beautiful and provocative, woven with the middle eastern traditional music and an industrial beat.
“Adrestia” by Moroccan artist, Soultana starts as a staccato monologue with backing synths that you feel building up and then the beats kick in and it becomes a whirlwind of sound. This is a great mixture of electro and vocals. A Greek warrior goddess, Adrestia punishes those who cause injustice.
Solemn beats bring in “Hamazam” and if I didn’t know any better, I would say MeryemSaci has a cheeky little smile on her face. Meryem is from Algeria singing in French and English. She is bold and sexy and makes the intricacy of this song work for her. It is about strong women that use their power, not for war but rather strengthening bonds of love and peace.
Fourth track is “Karitha” by Iranian, SalomeMC and featuring from Detroit, DJLos, a heavy weight in the hip hop/rap/beatboxing world, who does all the scratching on this song. Salome’s voice soars to the heights and yet will hold your attention even when at a whisper. This is why SalomeMC has been recognized not only as the first Iranian female rapper but perhaps one of the best in the world. For a song about the evil residing even in the best of intentions, it is such a gorgeous blend of industrial background with female sass.
Traditions can be safe and easy to follow but sometimes they are also meant to be broken and this is “Safiyya” by Moroccan songstress Soultana aka YoussraOukaf, who has been rapping since she was thirteen and a strong voice in advocating women’s rights. The music with her voice at the beginning reminds me of vast deserts and then unleashes the storm.
“Nafada” is the title track and the call rise up and rebel. Nafada means in Arabic tremor. MeryemSaci returns and is accompanied by Sultana who hails from Turkey and is yet another progressive female that championed hip hop in her country. It begins low and dark and the ladies voices are like a light, drawing you up. It feels ancient and yet it most definitely isn’t. Saci and Sultana compliment each other so well, whether they are rapping or singing.
“Sahar” literally means awakening in Arabic. This piece is based on an Iranian folk tune, Morq-e sahar and performed by MissUndastood of New York aka TavashaShannon. ‘My talent a gift and a curse’, when the eyes are opened to all possibility there is the realization of the double knife edge of going two ways… rising above or falling down. You can hear the influence of being brought up in America in Shannon’s style of rapping but this just brings a new facet to this story of traditional verses modern.
“Kahina” by MedusaTn is just epic. Such a big voice. Passionate hip hop bringing to life Kahlina, a queen and warrior of the Berber people. She is remembered with great fondness and kept alive in spirit as the invocation of the power women hold and that females should never be kept down or silenced because of their gender.
This could be a song SkinnyPuppy created when you hear the start. HanHan brings her native Filipino languages to “Visaya“. This is fresh and dynamic with synths chiming in. The Visaya are a people in a region of the Philippines but more so the song is about how we are far more similar than we are different.
I have to use the word powerful again because that is what this album is. I’m not in any way into hip hop and yet these women are inspirational in every way. They bring a beauty to the art of rapping and yet they are so much more than that.
They are mostly the voices of a female minority of the countries they represent and this makes them pioneers and bravely throwing light on the music they love. They are most worthy of being looked up to with much respect. Not just because they are originators of an art form in their homelands but rather for their conviction to never give up or give in.
INfest8, ReginaldTiessen and ElizabethGraham are the trio of writers that carefully crafted all the songs presented and you can hear the devotion to this project through the beautiful lyrics, as well as the fact each hip hop artist was able to inject their own influence into their track/s.
It’s an amazing cross cultural exploration and recorded mostly on two different continents, utilizing many different musical genre, mixed by INfest8 in Australia and mastered in the United States.
This is exotic and the Arabic/ middle eastern/ Filipino influences just push this into a different realm of wow. Social order, peace, solidarity and the support of women who can be the centre of change because music is the voice of change. This is Nafada by Konqistador….. hear the call.