In 1996, History Of Guns started their musical adventure and now in 2022, they continue that quest to create music after a hiatus, with the release of a new single, “You Wanted To Live” on the 25th of May. The currently incarnation has original members Del Alien (vocals) and Max Rael (keyboards, programming), plus adding newest member Jamu Knight (guitars).
Fuzzed out beats meet chiming keyboards, in a building vortex of emotions, all the while Alien’s vocals taunt you with the question of if you want to live, then why don’t you live. The angst is high and the guitar goes from strained to decimated complacency, though the electronics never stray from adding an extra layer of weighted darkness.
The band were helped out in the studio by Daniel Vincent (programming), Jason Knight (drums), and Gary Hughes (additional instrumentation). It is a great starter single, for the new album, that History Of Guns is threatening us with. Gothic, deep vocals and guitars that singe the air, all the while the electronics/synths give the track that harder industrial quality. In the end, you have this one life, so you can choose how you live it because “YouWanted To Live“.
July 15th with see the release of the new Kill Shelter album, Asylum, which is a celebration of over 40 years of the dark scene, but for a taste now is in the form of the new single, “Necklace:, featuring Sweden’s Agent Side Grinder. Edinburgh’s Pete Burns (Kill Shelter) composed the music while Johan Lange (Agent Side Grinder) wrote the lyrics.
From just the beginning, you know this is going to be good, the way the guitars collide and resolve, only to be subsumed by the drum machine and electronics, that play host to the vocals. It makes you want to move and dance to the thrum of the beat and guitar, whilst caught within the vocals of Emanuel Åström. It’s simply brilliant.
Such a breathtaking use of instruments, highlighting the darkness between the light. The vocals wash over your senses, not only sonorous but also pulling at your subconscious with the lyrical content because “Necklace” is about finding solace within one’s self when faced with daily abuse, be that physical and/or mental. This all ties back to the album, Asylum, which is all about the different types of havens people seek to survive.
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!
In Milan, Italy, there is an act called HiddenHouse, an amalgamation of two local talents, FranCesco (vocals, guitar) and Giò (vocals, bass, programming). They have dropped the single “Hide” with a rather spooky video, off the album, InsideTheHiddenHouse, that was released last year.
The tone is set from the beginning with the synthesised harpsichord. This reminds me a lot of the gothic music that was coming out in the early 90s… muted vocals that haunt you over the dark vampiric styling of a dark dance room ball.
The beat with the twang of the bass, propel this forward. Those fond of gothic lace, bats and such things are going to love everything going on in this. It reminds me of another Italian band called FlowerOfSin. Dare you “Hide” in the HiddenHouse?!
Vlimmer, German post-punk/electronic project for Alexander Leonard Donat, has released a split single comprised of “Erdgerurch” and “SpaceDementia” in January, on Blackjack Illuminist Records, which is also run by Donat.
“Erdgerurch” is a wonderful post-punk piece that has a retro feel with the sublime synths and deep vocals, matched with the drum machine that is spine tingling. Every so often you hear a fuzz of electronic noise creeping at the edges and this feels so warm and familiar that it is instantly likeable. The beginning to “SpaceDementia” is surreal and continues in that vein with the vocals. It is a bit like being on the deck of the Star Trek Enterprise, if they were a bit dark and flying to their doom. An impression of infinite space to be lost in forever as it wavers between soft orbits and growling flight. Originally written by Matt Bellamy and performed by Muse, Donat sings in his native German and it loses none of it’s impact, sung with such passion.
I really enjoy it when Donat sings and especially without electronics distorting his vocals and this is no exception. From the beginning, you are immersed straight into “Erdgerurch” and there is no escape from this beautifully crafted song as it captures your soul in sway while there is a crystalline quality to the cover, “SpaceDementia“, a reflection in the obsidian black of the expansive universe.
March the 19th is the release date for the album And The Light Goes White by LA based act, TheDramedy, aka Dave Dramedy. The Dramedy have been around since 2014, with EPs and the album StrAngr(S)tiL in 2018 under their belt, so with this new LP, has come the joys of recording in a time of pestilence.
Kicking this off is “Vow“, and acoustic guitars starts the steam locomotive style rhythm. It’s a bit like a western and then you hear the bangs like gun shots and glass tinkling that might happen in a bar brawl accompanied by electric guitar and raw vocals.
The second single released off the album is “Parasite“, with wonderfully jangly guitars. Something eats away at the back of my mind… the way Dramedy sings and then it hits me. He reminds me of Stan Ridgeway (ex Wall Of Voodoo) in the animated drawl and the post punk ambience. This is a great little number with a lot of heart, even if it’s about the fact that all is lost. I think Buffalo Tom would have been proud to call this their song.
“The Clock Strikes Heaven” does sound very spontaneous, as if written in one sitting and they just said, this is it. For a tune about when you’re time is up, it seems pretty cheery and has a slightly live feel to it.
Heavier guitars herald “Popsicle” and can we say sexual connotations. Sucking on popsicles can make people very, very happy but the downside is addiction and a nasty case of diabetes. Gosh, I’m not sure if this a promise or a threat but it does make me giggle and even with the driving guitar, Dramedy doesn’t sound like he’s taking it all that seriously.
A more acoustic flamenco influenced turn with “Days“. Lyrically, it could be the verbalising of an abusive relationship, purposely going off key to set you on edge.
The first single, “Waiting On You” changes track again. Like a 50s doo whoop of teenage longing with a dose of blinkered crazy on the side, you hence get the slightly erratic guitar work upping the ante. This number also appeared on an EP in 2019 but less dressed up, let us say.
There is a very skiffle Brit-pop sensibility to “What’s Left To Say?”. It still it definitely overall American but the timing and rhythm have that undeniable joyous bouncing flavour that you got from bands such as Swervedriver and Suede.
Oh I hear a bit of the deathrock in “Life BitesMe” and quite frankly life can be like that in these times of covid… watching the time tick by. This could also be a reference to a dead romance that one can’t get over. A cacophony of guitar, drums and enthusiastic vocals.
On a more reflective note is “Circle The Road” which questions why someone else gets to walk away from a relationship and leave the other with no answers. I hear the influence of Jesus and Mary Chain in the guitar here.
As it began, so it finishes with an acoustic piece, “All Our Yesterdays“, which is a ballad with harmonisation from Caroline Blind. Again there is the sound of Jesus And Mary Chain in the structure and also the sentiment, with a bit of Screamadelica, Primal Scream thrown in for good measure.
Dave Dramedy comes with some lofty cred in the post punk/goth community, as the main live guitar player for Caroline Blind (ex SunshineBlind) and appearing on her debut solo album with a host of other heavyweights such as RichWitherspoon (The Wake), Dave Wolfenden (RedLorrry Yellow Lorry, The Mission), Gordon Young (Children On Stun, Pretentious Moi?), WilliamFaith (Faith And The Muse, Christian Death) and we could go on. Plus he was in the deathrock band Readership Hostile, which has its own claims to fame.
This is not some over polished jewel but then there is no fun if everything is over produced. You won’t find any voice modulation or slick production. You will get the bull, horns and everything though, with all the emotion and genuine candour. It’s a little western (pew pew), a bit more angst soul searching and a lot of jangly guitar. Get The Dramedy on and indulge in And The Light Goes White.
Electronic Boston band MAN1K1N, made up of singer Johnny Veil and drummer CristianCarver, have released a single in November called, Into The Wounds. Turns out this is, in my eyes, like a double A side of sorts with the songs, “IntoThe Void” and “Wounds:.
Veil’s voice is very reminiscent of MarilynManson’s timbre but that’s where the comparison ends. Darkwave electro is a very apt description with a trip hop influence, making this such an interesting style that is very pleasing to the ears. This is almost a parody of those in the gothic subset that push for an ideal look of beauty but within can be rotten to the core.
“Wounds” is a swirling maelstrom of uplifting electronic synths and beats coupled with brutal, angst ridden lyrics, which works. I can only best describe the feeling as wanting to dance without limits but you know your heart is breaking. This is the remix by Big Time Kill, who have lent their distinctive fingerprints.
“Into The Void” is a good, solid number and the Big Time Kill remix of “Wounds” sounds glorious. You can find Into The Wounds on Bandcamp and it’s name your price, so you should go check out this offering from MAN1K1N.
New Orleans conjures for many of us thoughts of Mardi Gras, voodoo, vampires and now you can add the band, The Palace Of Tears, who released at the end of October, their debut album, Of Ruination.
The band is comprised of vocalist and lyricist, L.V. Darkling and Erick r. Sheid who pretty much plays and programmes everything else you hear.
The slow, wind swept, instrumental void of “TerraEphemera” or loosely interpreted, a land that was never meant to last, introduces you to the album. With graduating synths, the vale is lifted and hints of a tribal beat come into play.
Dark and imperious is the beginning to “ThyWomb Is Full Of Black Nectar” before we are acquainted to Darkling’s sonorous mezzo soprano vocals which are delicate and dripping with sensuous lyrics.
In a case of art imitating life, “Masque L’Intrigue” seems to be a result of the need for wearing masks to stop the current contagion. This is bitter sweet in its sentiment and like a reflection in obsidian… dark and cool. The synths and vocals entwine smoothly.
“Tears Of The Moon” is slightly more hard edged, with buzzing electronics, yet still so ethereal just as the light of the moon is. This is eloquent and beautiful.
One does not think normally that “Cold Dead Skin” as romantic prose however it is used in effect to give contrasts of symmetry of the divine and the grotesque. The music feels like it is rising heaven bound with black gothic wings.
“Shadows Of Whispering Phantoms” is the perspective of one whom has just lost the fight with death. Brooding in tempo as the spirit questioningly implores of they can be seen or heard by their loved ones as they pass beyond the vale. The guitar is almost hidden amongst the rising synths and there is something heart squeezing in the gorgeous sentiment.
The screaming angst of Scheid’s guitar marks the last song, “Of Ruination“. This is a wall of noise with the eloquent Darkling, cutting through with that magnificent voice. The swirling heavy guitar with the light electronica just make this truly breathtaking.
Ambient, dark soundscapes that are created here by Sheid are fabulous but it’s definitely Darkling’s vocal talent that takes everything to a higher, ethereal realm. It’s a bit like listening to Dead Can Dance if they were darker and more modern. So I say, go unto The Palace Of Tears to listen to the sweet seduction Of Ruination.
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.
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.