Kimberly Kommeier is the founding member of the band Bow Ever Down, which was formed in 1998 and in 2020, a full length album, Lost In The Woods was released. Now we have the June release for the huge electronic/darkwave album, Let It Burn.

From the get go, the title track, “Let It Burn“, will set the tone for this album. There is an electronic simpleness that adds to the sorrowful and yet defiant storytelling. It is of no longer taking the blows life has handed out, yet proudly showing those scars. For me the standout number is “Cold Machine” which it’s wonderful swirling and tinkling chorus that rises up to proclaim I would give anything to be human because they are the machine. Truly a lovely and yet so mournful sentiment. “Born Into Darkness” continues the dance of damnation.

Silence In Machine aka  Wess Fowler lends his harsh vocals to the songs, “Shed My Skin” and “Not Your Victim“. While the former is a pulsating piece from start to finish, the latter is like waves on the shore as it draw back, then comes crashing in. The common theme though is owning your fate which again can be seen in the track, “Burn You Alive“, and it has some really nice synth transitions. “Burn Them To Ashes“, has a certain, reflective quality and a anger that is almost palpable in the chorus, while “My Last Day” is such a despondent expression of the inability to go on, this is still quite full of great, infectious beats.

The remix for “Cold Machine” is a jewel and Assemblage 23 has really outdone themselves. Miss Suicide from Germany remixed both “Shed My Skin“, giving it a far more aggressive sound and “Glass Doll” which has those synth lines dancing all over it. “Burn You Alive” remix by Replicant RME, takes this song into new territory while the John Ruszin III, whom plays on the album, gives us a version of “Not Your Victim“, and it feels more pensive than the original. The Stahlschlag remix of the title track definitely has teeth, as Sebastian Sünkler is the master of that wonderful crunchy power noise, while the Silence In Machine retake of “Burn Them To Ashes” feels very off kilter, as if the insanity is too much. Continuing in this vein is the forever haunted remix of “Not Your Victim” by Adian Caine with it’s introspective and quiet defiance. The album is completed by the new version of “Glass Doll“.

The prominent concept is the use of the word burn. Fire is not only thought of as dangerous but also as cleansing, to wipe away completely what was. A renewal like a phoenix dying and coming back to life through fire. These are songs about survival and coming from a dark place. Kommeier has a big voice that is quite delightful and garnered a host of talented musicians to remix her tracks, so you should check out Let It Burn by Bow Ever Down.

https://boweverdown.bandcamp.com/album/let-it-burn

https://www.facebook.com/nora.hazeena

https://www.facebook.com/silenceinmachine/

https://www.facebook.com/misssuicideofficial/

https://www.facebook.com/Psiactive1/

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100044546464584

https://www.facebook.com/STAHLSCHLAG

The Latin American gothic music scene never fails to give us some sparkling musicians. From San José, Costa Rica, Ariel Maniki And The Black Halos are a seasoned darkwave band with several albums under their belts and currently signed to Deepland Records.

August brought us the release of the latest album, Black Light. This is where you are going to get your value for your money. No less than fifteen tracks and there are no remixes from this trio made up of Ariel Maniki (vocals, guitar, synths, bass, programming), Janice Black (synths/keyboards) and Eva Red (bass and vocals).

ARIEL MANIKI AND THE BLACK HALOS

The first guitar lines are reminicent of London After Midnight, on the title track, “Black Light“. There is something just spine tingling about the progression which climbs and swells. “Strangers” is a wonder piece as it feels uplifting and dark at the same time. The guitar riffs will become highly recognisable once you have heard them.

The bassline harkens back to The Cure’s Faith period in the song “Emptiness“. The synth swirls and entwines you. “Sadness” is a bitter-sweet ode to losing a loved one to a depressive melancholy, waiting with them to come back to you. It’s is slower and more delicate yet the chorus soars through the pain.

All the spookiness is with “Oh Milena!“. Is she alive or dead or, perhaps, even the undead?! Cue the dead sexy saxophone from James Perry, which is an interesting juxtaposition to the Hammond organ sounding synth, so prominent in Hammer Horror movies.

Again the spook factor is present in “Mirror“, with creepy laughs and a slightly more manic feel with Caro Campos, not for the last time, joining Maniki on vocal duties. “We Only Have Tonight” is a touching, gothic tribute to a forever love. It is sweet and seductive with the guitars, both acoustic and electric aplenty.

The beginning of “Absence” is misleading. It seems all so quiet but will soon reveal the surging synths that roll into the vocals. Campos‘ voice is angelic as it accents the interludes. Maniki has been to the Robert Smith school of creepy whispers in a song where something is going to drive you insane with the wait. So in a way the torture is “Pain“.

The Pale Horseman” sounds exactly like modern, gothic, western should. That iconic guitar made popular by Ennio Morricone in the spaghetti westerns is there but all prettied with synths and a helping of dark sarsaparilla, if you please bartender. It’s mighty dusty. The guitar work is beautiful in “Sleep” and with the vocals, it is a reminder of The Wake in the early 90s. It really is a lovely throw back and the song is truly a succulent morsel.

Flowers have meanings. “Lilies And Carnations” can be flowers that mean a deeply desired love and they can also represent death of a perfect love and terrible grief. The latter is the premise of this track, the fleeting time lovers have together, which is a complete difference from the more dirge like “Shelter“. Maybe he’s the dark shaman that lives in the woods destined to never leave but in any case this is a far more gritty piece.

Coming to the end, the last two tracks are “Afterthought” and “Cocoon“, with the former being a meandering tribute to the power of being so caught up in love and all else fades away. “Cocoon” is a trippy little piece that plinks away like a child’s music box with ghostly intent.

From the first time I heard Ariel Maniki’s voice, it reminded me of another, then it hit me. The ever youthful Sven Friedrich of Dreadful Shadows/Zeraphine has a very wonderful rich tone and Maniki is scarily and delightfully similar. The album is a velvet tapestry of lush tracks that contain a nice balance of electronic along side more traditional instruments. Full of gothic romance and horror, which for most of us is the same thing, it paints a delicate fog drenched background for the children of the night to fall in love with. Definitely do check this out if your little dark heart beats within Black Light.

https://arielmaniki.bandcamp.com/album/black-light

https://www.facebook.com/ArielManikiMusic/

Post punk duo, The Cold Field, released the album Hollows on August 6th, on the label Cold Transmission Music which is famous for their darkwave retinue. Their debut, Black River, was warmly greeted and so Hollows has been much anticipated by fans.

THE COLD FIELD

The emphasis is very much on the atmosphere which is created by the echoing vocals, the deep bass plus jangle and buzz of guitar. The album is comprised of ten tracks and notably, two are instrumental pieces for the most part. “Ride The Breeze” is the intro to set up the feel whilst, “Floating Above The Wasteland” is filled with gorgeous bass lines and guitar work, whilst the faint ghost like whispers are seemingly unintelligible and beyond deciphering.

“Reaching For Things Things You Cannot Hold” is a great example of the style, with the low echoing vocals, delicate guitar work which is layered in synth. Other stand out tracks are Beauty Expired”, with its rapid pulse and its variance in tone, while “Into The Light” actually does have a slightly more airy feel to the music, a

From the get go, you hear the influence of Joy Division, Lebanon Hanover and Ritual Howls in their music and the common themes in post punk music of isolation, a longing for what is denied and the nature of addiction. There is the ever present spectre of existential dead that pervades all, for this is music that sits on the edge of dusk asking how did this all come to pass.

https://thecoldfield.bandcamp.com/album/hollows

https://www.facebook.com/thecoldfieldadelaide/

https://www.facebook.com/coldtransmissionmusic/

https://www.coldtransmission.com/

https://coldtransmissionmusic.bandcamp.com/artists

Mach Fox for the last decade, has been the man behind Zwaremachine, however Conquest 3000 is the first album where the act has become a three piece. Fox (vocals, synths, programming), based in the United States, joined by D-Bot (bass guitar, vocals) whom is also based in Minnesota and Dein Offizier (drums, percussion), who hails from Europe. D-Bot had played previously with the Mach Fox band and for a number of years playing live with Zwaremachine.

Conquest 3000 is a mixture of re-recorded tracks that have appeared on previous EPs and singles, as well as four new tracks. The tracks like ‘International Hero“, that appeared originally on the Ripping At The Fabric EP, have had subtle changes to the sound. My focus however is on the four brand spanking new numbers.

ZWAREMACHINE

The cybernetic track, “Toymaker“, flows with hypnotic synth lines and gritty vocals. About, not only enhancing human bodies but also replacing everything that no longer works, creating a human like doll.

For my money, “Parasol” is the best of the new songs. It has this late 70s, early 80s inspired funk sound, mixed with with the more modern vision of Zwaremachine. It is a seamless dance number about a world, where the atmosphere has been destroyed and the population is protected by an umbrella. Science fiction or a portent of science fact?

A serious Suicide Commando vibe with “Zero Containment“. There is great energy and hooky synth lines that sparkle and drag you in. A song about one fire that can’t be stopped and it could be about the burning up the dance floor with this track.

There is one place that authority and corporations cannot control us.. our dreams. The last of these new tracks is “Until Tomorrow” and it is about the sovereignty of the mind. Love the chimes that ring out in this angry and punchy number.

Already, you can see the influence of the newest members in Zwaremachine, which are only going to push these guys into good places if the latest tracks are anything to go by. Zwaremachine was already a cutting edge, industrial act, experimenting in their sound. Would highly recommend listening to the new tracks from Conquest 3000, to get a taste of things to come!

https://zwaremachine.bandcamp.com/album/conquest-3000

https://www.facebook.com/zwaremachine/

if you are a fan of Matt Hart and his apocalypse inspired, industrial style, then you would be well aware that he has been releasing songs throughout the last year, remixed by friends and acquaintances. July was the release of Tales Of Terror And Chaos Retold, a culmination of these remixes that includes three extra and new mixes by Antibody, Spankthenun and Simon Cater.

MATT HART

The first of the new mixes is “Outlaws” by Antibody. It’s dirty and dirge like with the sonar like echoing off beat and that wonderful electronic heaviness.

Killoreality” for me has hints of Elecric Hellfire Club with the metallic menaces of the story enhanced by Spankthenun. It definitely has this band’s fingerprints all over it. It has a distinct harkening back to the early 90s that mixes well with Hart’s harsher dance style.

The Simon Carter mix of “Triolith” is almost hypnotic with a near constant beat and a slight undertone of dread just below the surface. It’s a great trance dance version.

in a way this compilation has everything from old school style to break core. Acts like Witch Of The Vale brings a heavy, verbose beauty and the ESA mix is a thunderous earworm that makes you want to move. Matt Hart’s Tales Of Terror And Chaos Retold is definitely worth a listen because you don’t just get Matt Hart but all those other amazing artists with their interpretations. Put a smile on your dial.

https://matthart.bandcamp.com/album/tales-of-terra-chaos-retold

https://www.facebook.com/djmatthartuk

Ever since the Shiv-r first album, Hold My Hand, came out on Infacted Records/Metropolis in 2010, they have gone from strength to greater heights. Members, Pete Crane and Ben Bulig are Australian lads who have taken their sound to the rest of the world, playing some of the biggest EBM festivals. They have lived abroad but now call Sydney home once more. In that time Pete started up the music label, Blind Mice Productions and through this label, have self released their fifth album, Kill God Ascend.

PETE CRANE OF SHIV-R

From the first chords of the title track, “Kill God Ascend“, you know Shiv-r is taking no prisoners. It races over you like a wave, to then retreat and hit you again with karmatic insight. You cannot attain enlightenment until you no longer hold onto anything and kill the god like ego.

Borne From Hate” is a banger of a track that powers away and makes you wish you were on a dance floor at the time. Beautifully harsh and electronically cold which suits the title completely.

With an infectious chorus, “Spark” is a jewel of industrial pop. All it takes is that spark to ignite a revolution. It rolls along at a danceable beat and surely is going to be a single at some point.

There is the slow burn of “Promises Of Armageddon“, which won’t disappoint with its ideology that nothing will kill you faster than boredom.

Blue Turns To Black” feels thoughtful and peppered in yearning. The vocals low and hushed with the near reverent music, an ode to the fact that we can eventually find the light in even the darkest situations.

Emotions are simmering and the tension high in “Empire“. Don’t ask me to fight your meaningless endeavours rings so true of these times. This is one of two numbers on the album written solely by Crane, the other being “Borne From Hate“. It’s a cracking number as well, with harsh vocals and sparkling synths.

Yet another stonkling brilliant tune is “Stone And Skin“. This is possibly the Bulig/Crane version of a love song wrapped in a dance rhythm. Holy crap, the chorus with that fabulous synth line, combined with Crane’s softened timbre, just makes this fly.

2020 for all intents and purposes, was really a stressful year, dealing with a pandemic, race riots and far right leaning governments around the globe. This is reflected in “World Ends Tonight” with its course, crunchy textures and bleak, confronting lyrics.

Doom, doom, doom, in the “Valley Of Death“. It is like moving through sludge, slow and trudging until the chorus which lifts up its broken wings to escape the mire.

BLIND MICE PRODUCTIONS

Turpentine” is the last track, about the lies and things we accept in relationships in order to stay together. Crane voices his melancholic misgivings and the music Interlude is almost like impromptu jazz.

So much exploration going on in this album. Life, death, morals and spirituality. A blurring of good versus evil…. the beautiful imagery of angels and demons being one in the same, a reflection of humans. If you are looking for a EBM dance album, this isn’t it. Yes, there are great danceable tracks, and there are slower numbers, but all are thought provoking and will touch your soul. The production is flawless and a reflection of the music created by Shiv-r. Crane and Bulig are glorious, blackened angels and Kill God Ascend their opus.

https://blindmiceproductions.bandcamp.com/album/kill-god-ascend

https://www.facebook.com/shiverindustrial

https://www.facebook.com/blindmiceproductions/

https://www.instagram.com/PeteCraneMusic/

IDM or intelligent dance music can sometimes be a confusing title for some. It often isn’t really danceable but rather electronic music that experiments with electronic rhythm by creating all the noise within the structure called music. For more than decade, Tapage from Hilversum in the Netherlands, has been creating electronic ambient music and May saw the release of his new album Recover, out on the label, Point Source Electronic Arts.

The first piece is “Test“, a low tonal number that tentatively reaches out towards you before the clicks begin. Like a radio, with someone flicking through without any discernible channels, just spurts of static that chirp away. “114120A11” even though electronic, makes me think of a dark, tranquil forest in prehistoric times, where insects talk to each other and large bird like creatures call out in the canopy, filled with the beat of life.

A darker turn with “Begin“, deep and ringing with those clicks and snaps that Tapage has in spades. Next could be mistaken as a performance piece on harp, that has gone horribly wrong, warped chimes flood your senses. “We Will Become” has an apocalyptic, horror ambience….. possibly otherworldly.

Almost like stars blinking in and out in the night sky comes “Prolog“. It does give the impression aliens are trying to control us and then transmission just stops. “Peepsqueek” is a multitude of squeaks that culminate in a rhythm vortex, perhaps inferring to drum and bass.

A dreamscape of space. Not so much out of space but the general term when it comes to “Able To NSet“. There are the clicks and whirs but also a lightness and expanse. The eighth track is “Ancient Tiger Proton” and it features Access To Arasaka, who fit in perfectly, also known for dark experimental ambient, that compliments Tapage’s. This feels epic and austere in a way, like you are walking the halls of the gods.

The last three tracks are remixes. Experimental artist, Klunks, re-imagines “We All Became“, that burbles along like a cosmic stream. “Able To NSet” is broken down by The Fellow Passenger, to a wandering, ethereal quality. The last remix is by Tapage, of the track “Test“, which has developed wings it seems, elevated from the drone, though that aspect it still present.

I’m never going to say I’m an expert at electronic music but in essence it’s the visceral reaction that counts. This is technically good but it’s also touching you at another level, with how it makes you feel without words to paint a picture and that’s always very special. Recover isn’t going to be for everyone but I’m also very sure Tapage know this as well and sometimes it is worth going out of your comfort zone to experience something that will take you unexpected places.

https://tapage.bandcamp.com/album/recover

https://www.facebook.com/tapage.sound/

https://www.facebook.com/accesstoarasaka/

https://www.facebook.com/thefellowpassenger.music/

https://www.facebook.com/pointsourcearts/

Long The Night is the project of UK based, multi instrumentalist, Derrick Stembridge, who released his album, Illusion, in the beginning of April. Stembridge is most well known for his main act, Drifting In Silence.

Divided Souls” is a sonorous blanket of sound, unwavering and deep like an ocean, bereft of a spark to ignite a soul torn asunder. The beginning of “Untold Mind” is in a similar vein, however distinguishes itself, with a generic buzzing, that belies the calm as it slowly builds in strength. The introduction of Gregorian style monks chanting is a sublime touch.

An unearthly sense to “Divine Symmetry” as it almost hovers, imperceptibly, at a distance, while “Transparent” is smooth and, for the want of a better word, breathy, like air being inhaled and exhaled at an ever so slow rate.

A sombre darkness from “Through Blind Eyes” and through the ambient drone, it almost seems as if there is much going on, in an near overwhelming nature. Then there is “A Forgotten Time“, where the electronics gradually swirl to conjour a dream like memory.

But is it real and are these monks luring you into the piece. “Altered State Of Conciousness“? It vibrates under the skin until it reaches the point of calm. The longest track is “The Myth Of Now“. It sounds like an electronic orchestra, warming up at first, with fingers of ethereal tendrils wriggling between, growing and stretching.

Immaculate Perception” does feel like you are sitting in a cathedral with an organ playing, where something heinous may have occurred. Last track to grace us, is “Illusion“, that growls in its being restricted, trying to push at its confines and yet, like an illusion, cannot be touched, ephemeral as a phantasm.

This is an evocative album of musical sounds describing the dark without words and yet there can be no darkness without some light that gives depth. Really love the Gregorian styled monks which make this even more special. This is the first release under the moniker Long The Night, on the label Kalpamantra and if you love electronic droning sounds that evoke your mind’s eye then I highly recommend Illusion.

https://kalpamantra.bandcamp.com/album/illusion

https://www.facebook.com/longthenight/

December 2020, saw the album release for StereoTYP by Canadian artist, JHNN. Based from Calgary, JHNN said ‘Basically the album was made from 2016-2020 and it’s about my biggest pet peeve of society which is the existence of StereoTYPs“.

JHNN

Kicking it off with with the soundscape science fiction plains of “Children Are The Future“. My first foray into JHNN’s style and it’s smooth strangely, almost hypnotic with his voice drifting above the electronics as he explains that children don’t see skin colour or disabilities like adults do. They see another human.

East Hastings” is a very stripped back piece with a machine gun style beat. The lyrics are literally ‘Remember, When you said, Never again‘ with the never again said a hundred and fifty- one times. It does build to a climax that reminds me a little of Boy Harsher.

I can hear the techno and house influence in “Again“. There is the ever pervasive synth line throughout with others layering over and around it. It feels slightly haunting, trying to survive the after effects of a traumatic relationship.

The lyrics alone for “The Takeaway” made me instantly think of the David Bowie single, “I’m Afraid Of Americans“. Maybe the format and purpose are similar as this was Bowie and Brian Eno’s industrial phase. However JHNN does far more slow burn electronic, that harkens back to a more European flavour.

From the sing song beginning, “The Warning” is claustrophobic. The tale of how a person wants to control everything around him to stop him losing control and yet he knows he can’t control anything, least of all himself. The bursts of static style noise and wandering plucked notes keeps you on edge.

The Warfare” is a follow on from “The Takeaway” and “The Warning“, a trilogy of mental health breaking down. You feels his growing tension and anxiety with the nervous beats growing with JHNN’s vocals making you wonder when he might explode.

Addiction…. explaining that anything that you invest too much of yourself into and get lost in, is almost as bad as an addiction to “Heroin“. It can be self destructive. This music starts like a drug induced stupor where everything feels great and there is nothing outside of this. Towards the end, it seems like a free fall with JHNN’S breathy vocals.

Is someone into you due to an ideal or because you look like someone else? Do they see the person below the surface skin colour? “Fetish” asks these questions. There is a slight disjointed nature to the music, like the vocals don’t quite gel with the music, which is entirely on purpose to put you at unease.

The Lie” starts like is being played backwards. It launches a great synth line with layers of electronics added and diminished throughout. It’s a heavy subject. Is religion the greatest lie ever told? If you believe, does it mean you need all the indoctrination to believe in a God?

For a moment I don’t hear anything, before a simple few notes register for “Crisis“. This is a instrumental, a graduation of textures, that then wends its way, then seemingly falling into the pit of despair.

Track number eleven is the final on the album. “Darkness Will Always Be There” could be a downer but oddly, this is light and free, a type of acceptance. There are sparkling synths accompanying the harsher ones.

This is a starkly personal album. It’s about struggling with mental health, personal relationships, the struggle of not being defined by your colour or being held to account by systems you can’t believe in, especially if they inhibit the person you are.

JHNN has taken you on a journey that includes anxiety and occasionally hopelessness but in the end there is also the realisation that unless you love the darkness within, then then you can’t live with yourself. This is an electronic saga that uses subtly to great effect. StereoTYP is a more laid back type of electro/darkwave that touches on the field of industrial and it is very powerful with its sentiment. Check out JHNN

https://jhnn.bandcamp.com/album/stereotyp

https://www.facebook.com/JHNNbook/

Deine Lakaien have been gracing our ears for 35 years and are now giving us their 10th studio album, Dual. These maestros of the experimental electronic – classical hybrid, have released a double album, with the first being all new music and the second showcasing covers that influenced vocalist Alexander Veljanov and composer/multi instrumentalist Ernst Horn.

ERNST HORN & ALEXANDER VELJANOV

The medieval flavour of “Because Of Because“, is a stately start. The classical overtones are simple and mix beautifully with the electronic components, Veljanov’s silken crooning, dripping over it all, about finding one’s piece of mind.

A slight middle eastern touch to “Sick Cinema” and a comment on artists involved in promoting less than reputable causes. The organ swirls and picks up pace. All quite gorgeous.

A ballad in the form of “In Your Eyes“, and it is a perfect piece of Deine Lakaien crystal that reflects a myriad of emotions and colours, of sadness and joy. The pledge of eternal love.

Snow” is as slow as it is beautiful. A tale of another era or a dream of what was. It is facile and warm, as if you can feel the shafts of sunlight that are sung about.

The electronic brilliance comes to the forefront in “Happy Man“, where a smile is enough to lighten a heart. The experimental textures abound and it conjours the mood of a courtly dance.

A near futuristic impression is given with electronic music of “Run“. Whatever happens in life, they ask their ‘braveheart‘ to stay on the move and keep their hopes alive.

Les oiseaux” is French for the birds and the feel is of feathers whirling in flight, going higher and higher with purpose. Maybe you can even hear them crying out to each other.

Sounds like a harpsichord in “Unknown Friend“, with a haphazard rhythm, making your senses spin. The synthesizer witters away in this timeless piece.

What is a qubit? A unit of measurement as seen in the Bible. “Qubit Man” comes with stringed instruments that make it sound off kilter, while the vocals seem near monastic.

The last song for the first album is “Someone To Come Home To“. A reflective piece about loss and longing for that person that makes you complete. The hurdy gurdy of emotions is keenly felt.

The second half of this album is the tributes to songs or acts that influenced Deine Lakaien but also they have matched to the feel and sound of tracks on the the first album. Starting with the Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen piece, “Because The Night“, “Spoon” by Krautrock group Can, The Cure’s classic, “The Walk“, “Dust In The Wind” by Kansas, Kate Bush’sSuspended In Gaffa“, also surprisingly Soundgarden’sBlack Hole Sun“.

There were for me, some really stood out. “La chanson des vieux amants” was originally performed by Jacques Brel in 1954 and in English is known as the Song Of Old Lovers, which is wonderfully nostalgic. The Cat Steven’s track, “Lady D’Arbanville” is treated like electronic spun satin with golden threads.

The oldest cover is of the Russian, 1879 piece, “Song Of The Flea” by Modest Mussorgsky and lyrics from Goethe’s Faust which has gone from a piano accompanied piece to a cheeky, fun and quirky number with chimes, bleeps and Veljanov giving amazing belly laughs whilst singing in Russian. I admit to never really being into Linkin Park but have a new found respect through Horn’s handling of “My December“. It is delicate, sad and profound with strings making this feel even more compelling.

Ernst Horn has again created the near magical world that is occupied by Deine Lakaien. Classical/medieval traits mixed with the electronic genius we have come to expect. The warm timbre of Alexander Veljanov’s voice is so brilliant and utterly recognisable, the trademark of the band. Dual is the present and the past for Deine Lakaien, in a musical extravaganza which will make you fall in love with them all over again.

https://deinelakaien.bandcamp.com/album/dual

https://www.facebook.com/DeineLakaien