One of the strong synthwave albums of 2022 was Hatif’s debut, Everything Is Repetition, via Town And Tower Records. The Swedish based duo of Markus Majdalani and Johan Eckerström, began this musical project in 2020, and May 26th saw their new single, “Long Year“, released into the wild.
I do love that Hatif have this wonderful ability to meld electronic music with that exotic Middle Eastern flare, and ‘LongYear” is yet another beautiful representation of this ability. However, this latest track seems a lot heavier and darker, as the electronics snap and hiss at times. Around this is the succulent vocals of Markus Majdalani and the sinuous weaving of the synths. Maybe this track by Hatif, is about the time of Covid-19, that did indeed seem like a “LongYear“.
The electronic merry men of British project DecommissionedForests (DF), have a new release, which is not a new release. How is this so, you might ask yourself?! I shall elucidate. DreamTechnicians2023Promo is a compilation album, drawing on singles, remixes, the most played on Spotify, and favourite tracks chosen by bandmates, MaxRael, HowardGardner and DanielVincent.
There are tracks from the debut album Forestry, released in 2019, such as the delightful and gauzy “DriftingIntoDarkness“, the gothic overtones of “AsleepUnderTheLeaves” that invoke the ghost of Coil, and and you get to enjoy the stunning “Impermanence“, with the entrancing synth playing that swells, begging for your attention..
The last album, Industry, was released in 2022, and there is “Base“, full of turgid, droning insecurities. DF have added a previously unreleased version of “Triggered“, now called “TheseTriggers“, which is equally electronic, but this new version almost jumps out at you with a faster rhythm pulsating and increasing the nervous tension. “A Comforting Uncertainty” was also the backdrop track for a short movie of the same name, and its tendrils slowly envelope your psyche, while the creeping doom of the monstrous entity within “DropBrick“.
You can lose yourself with the transcendental 2022, electronic remix of the instrumental “ImpermanentState“, that was the band’s original single, while “BadDust“, paints a languid soundscape, with Rael’s voice burbling occasionally in the background, running for a gargantuan 20 minutes and 48 seconds, off the EP Fortean Amps. Dream Technicians 2023 Promo has been put on Bandcamp for free and you really can’t do better than that. One cannot deny the influence of Coil on this project and all three members all admit to being huge fans, yet you can most certainly hear their sound is developing and further becoming very much Decommissioned Forests. Just brilliant.
Norwegian, ErlendEilertsen of EssenceOfMind, is about to release the second album under the project name LightsA.M., on the AlfaMatrix label, called StoriesWithoutWordsVol. 2, on June the 23rd. However, we get our first listen through the single “NotReadyForThis“.
An element of foreboding and lament is in the electronics, as they waver and chime through the instrumental track. Ancients drum whilst the low murmur of the droning electronics is in stark comparison to the gentle synths, that hold the lilting melody of what has passed. Subtle, beautiful and memorable is “Not Ready For This“, which you are utterly ready for by Lights A.M.
New Zealand is the Land of the Long White Cloud or in the tongue of the original occupants, the Māori people, Aotearoa. For a small country, a lot of talent resides there. Frau Knotz is the solo project for New Plymouth electronic artist Lauren Nottingham, and 24th of March is the release date for her second single “Runway Of Reality“.
Some things in life are like that little red dress that is worn a few times and then forgotten as it is no longer needed in life, like a persona. Frau Knotz is your narrator in this song, a noir styled track, with an 80s electronic pop sound that tinkles like stardust and dowsed in shimmering darkwave vocals and rhythms.
The video features Frau Knotz as the Pierrot made-up usher of the theatre, while the stage is graced by the beautiful Erika Flash. The music video compliments the track beautifully with the near sepia tones. Join Frau Knotz on the “Runway Of Reality“, so you might also enjoy her dulcet tones while getting your groove on.
Woohoo and the year kicked off with a bang. German industrial meisters, ROTERSAND hit the ground running with a new single, “Higher Ground” as of New Years Day 2023, on the label MetropolisRecords. It is has been exactly a year since the release of the previous single “Grey“, and though we have been able to hear the guys performing remix magic last year, the exciting news is that “Higher Ground” is heralding the countdown to a new album!
From the beginning, already, the skin is goose fleshing in anticipation with the build-up. Nikov’s vocals really are just silken and ever smooth, an observation that some people will always be a beacon of hope and sanctuary, even at their own discomfort. I even detect the strumming of an acoustic guitar. That is before it all just takes flight with that fabulous synthie pop beat and surging electronics coming at you in waves.
The Evendorff remix is fresh and intense, like a blast of concentrated ROTERSAND,which makes it pretty electric. Beautifully recorded and mastered. Also, there is the radio edit version, but that is neither here nor there as “Higher Ground” is a little piece of EBM magic
Alexander Leonard Donat... teacher, marathon runner, musician, man behind the label Blackjack IlluministRecords, 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)
People that know me well, will tell you….I don’t much like Christmas tunes. Might be a leftover from being made to listen to the Chipmunks (I blame my brother for that one) and that I only really endure the classical ones. UK bunch, In Isolation told me about their cover of a Greg Lake festive classic called “I Believe In FatherChristmas” just in time for the crinkly season. I am guessing Greg Lake was a member of Emerson, Lake & Palmer but this song is completely new for me. After research, the single was originally released in 1975, highest chartings at Number 2 in the UK, 17 in Ireland and 98 in Australia.
I hear the sleigh bells ringing and I wonder what I’m getting myself into…. actually the guitar work is really beautiful and of course the vocals aren’t cheesy. As bright as the music is, there is something of a sad quality to the lyrics. There is also the Matt Pop mix you can check out, which is an electronic version, that is sure to warm the cockles or you folk that like their synth music.
Trust these guys to pick a song that they could rock out to a bit but also has a much darker meaning. Even with the bells and explosive orchestration, the lyrics actually talk about that loss of childhood belief. Okay I’m not reviled by this track, and in fact could listen to it a few more times as it isn’t the normal Christmas fare. Still not sure if “I Believe In Father Christmas” but I believe In Isolation.
December is the time to catch LunarPaths new single, “Shine“. The transatlantic darkwave duo are back after the launch of the EP, Fuse.
There is a crunchy, broken glass like texture in the rhythm at times from the electronics. The vocals are beautifully clean and clipped, holding your attention, until they drift into another dimension, sliding you with them.
Currently, I cannot put my finger on what exactly but this track reminds me a lot of Siouxsie And The Banshees, around the time of A Kiss In The Dreamhouse (1982). Lush, charismatic and experimental might be some of the reason why. The way they have distorted the rhythm, giving it a modern industrial feel, mixed with the gorgeous singing. “Shine” is possibly my favourite Lunar Paths’ track to date yet.
It is always a blow to fans when a band calls it a day. Germans, X-Vivo have decided to announce that due to a myriad of reasons, this creative outlet has run its course. But they have agreed that they go out with a bang, rather than a whimper, so to that end, they have released their final single, the very aptly named “Nothing Left To Say“.
This last track has a quality about it that reminds me of Linkin Park, not only musically but lyrically. The ebb and flow of the song, the losing pieces of one’s self, so as not to deal with the subsequent pain.
Before they go, you can see off X-Vivo by going to their Bandcamp page, because this track is name your price. And if unfamiliar with their industrial rock music, this gives you a chance to check out what you were missing.
Ludovic Dhenry is back with his darkwave project, Eleventh Fear and a new EP. Out on Neris Records, the EP is called Waldhexen, and released on the 29th of November.
From the outset of “Waldhexen“, the build up alludes to a electronic trip of beat filled ebony darkness. The hissed whispers are the promise of portent. The flickering and stalking atmosphere of “Wald der Seelen“, has those beautiful synth chords that choke the air around you like a smoke imbued room. Tod basically means death and maybe death is awaiting you in the track, “Wie im Tod“, as it slowly creeps through and it is followed by “Waldhexen“, the remix version with its far more dance floor stylings, which sounds amazing.
As far as gothic electronic projects go, Eleventh Fear is really interesting, with the use of German lyrics by the French Dhenry, that gives the ambiance of a movie like Metropolis mixed with dulcet tones of Voldemort concocting a dangerous spell. You might need some Waldhexen in your life.