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

James Lees’ project, Ghostwoods, began in the Covid lockdowns of 2020, gaining members and releasing an EP. Based just outside of Brisbane, Ghostwoods is back with a new single, “Terminal Bliss” and with the rather exciting news, that they have been signed to the label 4000 Records. Lees provides drums, Mark Angel on electric guitar, Karl O’Shea on bass, Andrew Garton & Andrew Saragossi sharing the duties with saxophone/clarinet/flute and James Halloran & Rohan Seekers tickling the keys/synths.

Photo by Sam Scoufos

There is a finality to “Terminal Bliss“…. it could be slow and steady beats or the saxophone that wails its discontent with the world. The guitar strums its way gently through the demonstrative sax, courting the piano along the way, wending until its ultimate demise.

In contrast, “Brighter Soon” is a more ethereal affair, creeping beautiful darkness, echoing in pulsating loops of electronics that caress your ears, luring you into another plane of existence. The piano hypnotically runs up and down, keeping you rooted in the here and now.

Dark electronics, fused with jazz sensibilities, makes up “Terminal Bliss“, while “Brighter Soon” is a sophisticated track, that catches you off guard with a certain degree of crystal clarity. As always, Ghostwoods paints emotion filled pictures without words or boundaries. The best bit is that in the new year, a new album should be ready.

https://ghostwoodsau.bandcamp.com/

https://4000records.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ghostwoodsmusic

https://www.facebook.com/fourthousand