French gothic rock group, Divine Shade, is finishing off a year that saw them with a remix by ex-Nine Inch Nails member Chris Vienna, a twenty date European tour as support for Gary Numan, with the release of the newest single “Stars“, that also features the vocal talents of Shan Moue and production by Ren Toner.

Sometimes there is a longing to go back to our childhood, a time that is meant to have a blend of safety, everything was new and dreams seemed possible, like starring at the star laden sky in wonder. In this vein, the longing in the vocals builds, with the rising of the heavy electronic influence and Moue’s singing, gently caressing the lead vocals in the chorus.

Chic cool darkwave, mixed with an electronic sound bearing the marking of 90s era NIN is how I would I describe “Stars“. Brooding and full of of wanting to be able to touch those lights in the heavens again, Devine Shade, through belief and heart, are bringing you the “Stars“.

Stars | Divine Shade (bandcamp.com)

Divine Shade | Facebook

Divine Shade (@divineshade) • Instagram photos and videos

Alexander Leonard Donat... teacher, marathon runner, musician, man behind the label Blackjack Illuminist Records, co-conspirator for several musical acts, driving force behind his own project Vlimmer and very possibly a crime fighter by night (just saying Vlimmer man has a certain ring to it!). November saw Vlimmer’s second, full length album, Menschenleere, enter the watery light of day.

The first tastes of forbidden fruit came our way in the form of the two singles, the rhythm filled darkwave tendrils of “Erdgeruch” and the wondrously 80s inspired eccentricity of “Kronzeuge“. There are such gems hidden within, such as “Mathematik” with its giddy synths that remind me so much of the electronic trailblazer, John Foxx, even more so for the fact his backing band were The Maths.

Noposition” has a magical trance like quality within its warm embracing beats, while “Schwimmhand” leaves you not only amazed by the sheer brilliance but also experiencing tingles through your extremities. Even the title track has an ancient feel, whilst playing with time signatures. “Menschenleere” is vast and echoing in the chamber of what might not be a pained reality.

Yes you can dance to Vlimmer, but for me, there is something akin to multiple storylines. Each track is crafted just so, this one with a more science fiction vibe, another with more sombre tones and yet another with a spinning glorious shoegaze vision. All held together by Donat’s vocals, be they happy, sad or even imploring.

Vlimmer is the centre of this world he has created, and has the knack of spinning his musical tales that capture us up into this web of darkwave delights. Even better is the fact that Alexander touches back to the styles that have influenced him but he never let’s them consume him, rather experimenting to create tracks that encapsulate his music journey. Beautiful, fragile and ashened songs to drink, dance to, and watch the moon…Menschenleere (Deserted)

https://blackjackilluministrecords.bandcamp.com/album/menschenleere

https://www.facebook.com/VlimmerMusic?mibextid=ZbWKwL

https://www.facebook.com/Blackjack.Illuminist/?mibextid=ZbWKwL

Parisian, ManuH’s darkwave project, Distance H, has released the next single, “Reason To Rush“. In line with their previous singles, which feature a female singer, this time they have Cuban born and French based Liset Alea, gracing their track.

Alea’s dulcet tones are warm and inviting, like a lover’s breath, skipping over bare skin, drawing you into promise of more. The electronics are running there, besides the vocals, with the electric guitar breaking through, respectfully and even hauntingly in the background.

This is definitely music to zone out with, escaping the humdrum of regular life. Alea’s voice and lyrics are both soothing and inviting, coupled with ManuH’s music, it all becomes sensuous and a “Reason To Rush“.

https://distanceh.bandcamp.com/track/reason-to-rush-feat-liset-alea

https://www.facebook.com/DistanceH?mibextid=ZbWKwL

Covid decimated the music festival scene, around the world for 2020, 2021 and a good chunk of 2022. Things are coming back to normal and in fact, you can add a new festival to endeavour to attend. Dark Force Fest will kick off in 2023, over three days, March 31st to April 2nd, in New Jersey, USA.

The event is being run by VampireFreaks, at the Sheraton Hotel, in Parsippany and this is not the first time the venue has been used by the VF crew. The hotel was built like a castle, including crenulations (just in case you find yourself in a siege situation with all those goths).

There will be over 100 vendors, to buy things that make your little dark heart happy, clubs, costume competitions and sideshow performances. However, the most important thing is the music… there will be 30 plus bands/artists ranging from darkwave through to industrial. A chance to see pioneers such as Das Ich and Suicide Commando, big hitters Combichrist, Solar Fake, HEALTH, Empathy Test and ACTORS plus brilliant acts like MORIS BLAK, Third Realm, Bootsblack and Rabbit Junk.

That is a whole lot of music and an amazing line up, so you are spoilt for choice. As the inaugural show, you want to be able to say you were there for the first ever…. unlike myself, stuck in another country, half way around the world, who will have to live vicariously through others, and the buckets of fun they are having. (Insert gothic weeping).

Home

https://m.facebook.com/darkforcefest/

https://vampirefreaks.com/

ManuH of French Darkwave act, Distance H, is back with a new single, “Waters Of Woe“, featuring the lyrics and vocals of Marita Volodina from STRIDULUM, Burial Fields, Blood Tears After. Known for working with different female vocalists, he has also on drums Amélie G and Louise Decouflé on bass guitar.

A hail of guitar hits your ears, marking the launch point into “Waters Of Woe“, with murky synths before it all resolves into a charmingly wondrous, spinning culmination. Marita Volodina’s voice slides like silk between the jangling guitar.

A gothic shoegaze haven of swirling guitar, mixed with the undulating, dulcet tones of Marita Volodina, create a heady mixture. “Waters Of Woe” is the second single from the soon to be released EP, Infinity,

Waters of woe (feat. Marita Volodina) | Distance H (bandcamp.com)

https://www.facebook.com/DistanceH

What is dead sexy and chic? Saigon Blue Rain and their latest single “The Mort“, released the 7th of October. Based in Paris and Prague, this is a taste of what is to come on the duo’s soon to be released album, OKO on Icy Cold Records.

From the start, “The Mort” is synthwave bliss as the synths tumble over each other in a majestic stream and Ophelia’s vocals are simply dreamy, a lure to your certain doom if you let her into your head. The bonus track is “J’t’aime pas“, a rush of emotion, and a mixture of breathy and demanding vocals to raise your flesh to goosebumps.

The Mort” quite literally means the death and with the sumptious vampiric video, leaves you in no doubt about how this fate was met. Both tracks are equally as enjoyable, the first a sensuously provocative track and “J’t’aime” hits you like a burst of hot and cold rage. You are never so alive as when faced with death, so check out Saigon Blue Rain.

The Mort | Saigon Blue Rain (bandcamp.com)

Saigon Blue Rain | Facebook

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

Melbourne based, synthpop/darkwave act, Suburban Spell, have released the single “Fools And Clowns“, with a lushly produced music video. This latest single, comes from the Split Levels album that was released in February and the video was shot and edited by Adam Calaitzis, of Toyland Studios.

From the very beginning there is the shoegaze electronics, that swirl and envelope your senses in a gorgeous blanket of sonic emotion. It is about being out in the wee hours of the morning and the temptation of a one night stand, perhaps also the regret of the aftermath too.

You are taken to spots along Victoria’s Great Southern Road, which is a truly beautiful trip, though I must say in black and white, can look almost menacing at times but also shot in inner Melbourne. Peter Endall has taken his song and pared it down from around six and a half minutes, to a neat, just a smidge over four, yet the track has lost none of what makes it quite beautifully tragic and is only enhanced by the video.

Fools and Clowns (The Single Edit) | Suburban Spell (bandcamp.com)

Suburban Spell | Facebook

Toyland Recording Studio – Melbourne Australia

Berlin based, Paradox Obscur, are soon to drop a new album, MORPHOGENESIS, on May, 6th but the first single has been lifted, called “Animal Reactor“, out on Metropolis Records. A video directed by Sheng-Yang Su in what looks to be in one take, has been unleashed, which to my mind is very much in Paradox Obscur’s style.

From the very beginning this grabs your attention and you feel it in the pit of your chest. There is a brilliant array of electronic sounds that assault your senses and make you want to move your body. Fingers of synths drag across your senses in a scintillating fashion.

The duo from Paradox Obscur, Toxic Razor and Kriistal Ann, pride themselves on playing everything in real-time, which means no sequencers and the like. A cross of synth pop and dark electronic music which culminates in an absolutely delightfully danceable track . Bring on the album!

Morphogenesis | Paradox Obscur (bandcamp.com)

Paradox Obscur | Facebook

The post-punk/goth single, “Heartvine” was released in March 2022 by the New Mexico project, Blood Relations. E. K. Wimmer is the man behind Blood Relations, as he plays all the instruments, vocals and even created the video for the single.

Between the gentle guitar and the delicate synths, there is a light touch here. The vocals are actually a slight surprise as Wimmer’s voice is melodic and graceful as it sits above the music. Plaintive and sorrowful without being suffocatingly heavy.

The track is name your price on Bandcamp but I digress. This is a song of what is meant to be love eternal, though death will eventually slow and stop all hearts. Sweet and darkwave candy. April sees the release of the second single, so it will be really interesting to see how this sound develops for Blood Relations.

Heartvine | Blood Relations (bandcamp.com)

Blood Relations – The Art of E.K. Wimmer (ekwimmer.com)