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/

This year, the band, Amaranth, in conjunction with Sounds And Shadows, 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, Ken Magerman 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 Lorelei Dreaming 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 (People Theater 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 LikenessDarkness” (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.

Crying VesselIllusions” (remix Dead Agent) 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 “Code Blue” by I Ya Toyah (remix Arcontas Blank) rings out with that wonderful heavy organ based synth filling it out. A song close to singer Ania Tarnowska’s heart, about the loss that comes with suicide.

Really digging Twin Tribes the more I hear them and “Dark Crystal” 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 John Edwards from Palais Ideal 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.

Silver Walks has remixed “Fuck That Fascist Beat” 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.

VlimmerSchnittstelle” 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.

Rob Early and Simeon Fritzpatrick 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 Ego Likeness 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.

https://theamaranth.bandcamp.com/album/tiny-gods-who-walk-beside-us

https://loreleidreaming.bandcamp.com/

https://acot.bandcamp.com/

https://corlyx.bandcamp.com/

https://antipole.bandcamp.com/

https://egolikeness.bandcamp.com/

https://machineryofdesire.bandcamp.com/

https://adorationdestroyed.bandcamp.com/

https://cryingvessel.bandcamp.com/

https://iyatoyah.bandcamp.com/

https://twintribes.bandcamp.com/

https://palaisideal.bandcamp.com/

https://causticngp.bandcamp.com/

https://sevenfederations.bandcamp.com/

https://blackjackilluministrecords.bandcamp.com/

https://dogtablet.bandcamp.com/

https://kissofthewhip.bandcamp.com/

https://stoneburnerofficial.bandcamp.com/

https://cliffandivy.bandcamp.com/

https://orcusnullify.bandcamp.com/

https://ritchual.bandcamp.com/

https://shadowsandrust.bandcamp.com/track/tripwire

https://swansect.bandcamp.com/

https://11grams.bandcamp.com/

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 Ly Nguyen, Rico Sperl plus Matthias Zimmerman 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.

PAAR

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.

https://paarmusic.bandcamp.com/

https://m.facebook.com/Paarband/

https://www.instagram.com/paarmusic/

https://m.soundcloud.com/paarmusic

http://www.paarmusic.com/