So maybe it’s time to get your goth on and revel in the debut single, “Glamour Girls” from Brisbane/Meanjin band, Sacred Hearts. The band explained in a radio interview, that they are femme fronted, LGBTQIA+ band, something that is close to their hearts, as well as their great love of retro post punk bands such as Echo And The Bunnymen, Nick Cave and The Cure.
Not going to lie, I don’t know much about these ladies other than that they are young and pulling on a lot of influences. There is the jingle jangle of guitar and those dark brooding bass lines, topped with delicate vocals, that swirl and lure you into the musical darkness. In true goth fashion, a la Dr Avalanche, a drum machine gives you the rhythm.
Lyrically this is a number about the dubious world of actresses and models, being beautiful doesn’t always translate to being treated well. It is melancholic and graceful. If this is a taste of what SacredHearts have for us, we might be in for a treat as they continue to create music. For now though, I hope you will enjoy “Glamour Girls“.
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“.
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’mAfraid Of Americans“. Maybe the format and purpose are similar as this was Bowie and BrianEno’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 “TheTakeaway” 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
Deine Lakaien have been gracing our ears for 35 years and are now giving us their 10th studio album, Dual. These maestros of the experimental electronic – classical hybrid, have released a double album, with the first being all new music and the second showcasing covers that influenced vocalist Alexander Veljanov and composer/multi instrumentalist Ernst Horn.
The medieval flavour of “Because Of Because“, is a stately start. The classical overtones are simple and mix beautifully with the electronic components, Veljanov’s silken crooning, dripping over it all, about finding one’s piece of mind.
A slight middle eastern touch to “Sick Cinema” and a comment on artists involved in promoting less than reputable causes. The organ swirls and picks up pace. All quite gorgeous.
A ballad in the form of “In Your Eyes“, and it is a perfect piece of Deine Lakaien crystal that reflects a myriad of emotions and colours, of sadness and joy. The pledge of eternal love.
“Snow” is as slow as it is beautiful. A tale of another era or a dream of what was. It is facile and warm, as if you can feel the shafts of sunlight that are sung about.
The electronic brilliance comes to the forefront in “Happy Man“, where a smile is enough to lighten a heart. The experimental textures abound and it conjours the mood of a courtly dance.
A near futuristic impression is given with electronic music of “Run“. Whatever happens in life, they ask their ‘braveheart‘ to stay on the move and keep their hopes alive.
“Les oiseaux” is French for the birds and the feel is of feathers whirling in flight, going higher and higher with purpose. Maybe you can even hear them crying out to each other.
Sounds like a harpsichord in “Unknown Friend“, with a haphazard rhythm, making your senses spin. The synthesizer witters away in this timeless piece.
What is a qubit? A unit of measurement as seen in the Bible. “Qubit Man” comes with stringed instruments that make it sound off kilter, while the vocals seem near monastic.
The last song for the first album is “Someone To Come Home To“. A reflective piece about loss and longing for that person that makes you complete. The hurdy gurdy of emotions is keenly felt.
The second half of this album is the tributes to songs or acts that influenced Deine Lakaien but also they have matched to the feel and sound of tracks on the the first album. Starting with the Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen piece, “Because The Night“, “Spoon” by Krautrock group Can, The Cure’s classic, “The Walk“, “DustIn The Wind” by Kansas, Kate Bush’s “SuspendedIn Gaffa“, also surprisingly Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun“.
There were for me, some really stood out. “La chanson des vieux amants” was originally performed by Jacques Brel in 1954 and in English is known as the Song Of OldLovers, which is wonderfully nostalgic. The CatSteven’s track, “Lady D’Arbanville” is treated like electronic spun satin with golden threads.
The oldest cover is of the Russian, 1879 piece, “Song Of The Flea” by Modest Mussorgsky and lyrics from Goethe’sFaust which has gone from a piano accompanied piece to a cheeky, fun and quirky number with chimes, bleeps and Veljanov giving amazing belly laughs whilst singing in Russian. I admit to never really being into Linkin Park but have a new found respect through Horn’s handling of “My December“. It is delicate, sad and profound with strings making this feel even more compelling.
Ernst Horn has again created the near magical world that is occupied by Deine Lakaien. Classical/medieval traits mixed with the electronic genius we have come to expect. The warm timbre of Alexander Veljanov’s voice is so brilliant and utterly recognisable, the trademark of the band. Dual is the present and the past for Deine Lakaien, in a musical extravaganza which will make you fall in love with them all over again.
Mats Davidsen for a very long time, has been the central pillar for his band, Painted Romans. Somewhere in recording and releasing the mini album, Heart, which came out in October 2020, the band became trio with Jan Ottar Nystad (synth) and Thomas Sejnæs (bass).
“Fall” is a reminder of the electronic pop that flooded the airways in the late 70s/ early 80s. It feels light but with dark over tones. Nice clean guitar and bright keyboard with a fuzzy deeper undercurrent of noise.
They dance and get drunk to “Forget“. Probably something most of us have done before. Swirling electric organ is just the thing. Like the twisting feeling of a inebriated haze, it spins you around
PatrickWray is not only featured on the song, “Drives Me On“, but also has previously released music with Mats as Davidsen and Wray. Also featuring Roxy Dunn, this a percussion lead piece that should be played while cruising down the highway in an open top car… or at least that is the feel.
A gothic turn for “Formation“. This is very pretty with Mission style guitars that jangle away. The way this spins the theme of love with fire, ice and all that lays in-between.
“New Kind” is a far more bassy and laid back affair. How to find new life in the person you are with rather than finding it in another, a new kind of self.
Rather a Level 42 vibe from “Treat Yourself“. A light last track with funky undertones and a chorus of voices.
Overall, there is a very 80s tone to this album, paying passing homage to past styles, while the group are all contributing to a nice balanced style of electronics and guitar. Painted Romans are giving you their Heart, so it might be time to let them in.
Are you partial to some post punk- gothic goodness? If that’s the case, Norwegian band, Painted Romans have released a single in January that will warm the pit of your dark heart called, “The Cold Delight“.
Mats Davidsen is the original Roman who delivers lead vocals, guitar & drums programming, with Jan Ottar Nystad playing keyboards and Thomas Sejnæs on bass, joining around September of last year.
I have to say I rather enjoyed this a little too much. It’s dark and morose just like all good goth songs can be and yet full of movement and life at the same time. There are hints of The Cure, Clan of Xymox and March Violets. Could easily be played at a goth club mixed in with older classics.
This takes me back to early 80s, when bands such as Echo and the Bunnymen, Psychedelic Furs and Simple Minds were blowing us away with their wonderous guitar/synth filled, forlorn brilliance.
You can find the single on Bandcamp as well as other previous releases. Painted Romans are developing a rich, flavoursome sound and that only bodes well for the music to come. So turn down the lights, ready the candles and have a dance to “The ColdDelight“.
Norway’s Mayflower Madame, released on the 19th of November, a single off their album, Prepared For A Nightmare. It is called “Ludwig Meidner“, named after the German artist, who is most famous for creating apocalyptic landscape art pieces. Meidner wished to evoke an emotional response from the viewer and these art works were created before even the First World War, which Meidner was a participant in.
A tribute to the man, the artist and the perhaps the madness of wanting to feel more… what extremes would you go to, to get that rush?
There is a harkening back to the early to mid 80s, when post punk was evolving into goth. It is serpentine in the way the music winds with the jangly guitars. There is a healthy dose of Mission like tunefulness and the keyboard chimes in giving the song an ethereal feel.
These guys do a beautiful blend of gothic rock beauty, highlighted with that shoe gaze swirling guitar. Guitar based post punk is in good hands with Mayflower Madame, so do yourself a favour and have a listen to “LudwigMeidner“.
July has seen the release of the EP, Unicorn Bones, by Chicago duo, Karen Righeimer and Ivan Russia, also known as Bellhead. I can definitely say the rhythm section for this band is tight. Both Righeimer and Russia both play bass, low and high respectively, both share vocal duties, though Ivan is very much the lead singer and are backed up by their dependable drum machine.
The band in their bio, make reference to their influences from goth rock legends, Bauhaus to the alternative rock royalty that is the White Stripes to the gothic/post punk stylings of She Wants Revenge, yet truthfully, they definitely have a sound that is very much their own.
“Snuff Film 1974” is straight off the bat with it’s thumping heavy rhythm that grabs your attention before dragging said attention to the graveled out vocals of Russia and the disturbing lyric content about a small female child murdered in film for others entertainment. This is the only track not written by Bellhead but rather penned by Sheriff Michael Scabs of the Sheriff Scabs band of which Russia has also been a member of. A thing of nightmares.
Really dig “Unicorn Bones” as it is a very nonchalant, grooving number that just has that keep ontrucking feel. The vocals play tag as they paint a vision of glittering violence and sad demise of those that live in the shadowed, dangerous places. Sinister and sleazy.
A song about a conman or less than reputable fellow, trying to stay one step in front of oblivion but wanting to take to take one last stab of having the person they have always loved. A final last chance is of happiness is “Always (Running After The Sun)“. This is a far more poignant track, slower and thoughtful with intensity.
Annnd serial killer/psycho time. “Knife” is sexy whispers with the intent of maiming and destroying. Low and distorted noise backs the bass just for that extra creepy ambiance.
“Sidewinder” has a more rock flare about it, but it’s all the dirty bits of rock. The low and high bass building the sound up in such a manner that it feels angry and greasy, finishing off the EP.
The choice and use of high and low bass without any regular guitar is an interesting marriage of instruments but works well for Bellhead. Bass brings on the rhythm and produces a rich, big sound.
So if you fancy the darker, more nightmarish side of the industrial, gothic rock genre, then do catch up with Bellhead and their not so sparkly but equally intriguing, UnicornBones, with none of the guitar bull.
Whilst in isolation, Tesla Cøils from the Gold Coast, Australia had been working on a single with video and now in July, “The Party” is out for our entertainment.
The band is made up of Jed A Walters, the writing mastermind/renaissance man on lead vocals, keyboards, guitar and programming with drummer extrodinaire, Chris Dennis.
“The Party” is aptly, as the name implies, the experience of attending a party…. and hating every second of it because you are a gothy antisocial, not a smoker, rarely drink or just dislike humans.
Love the line about latching onto the dog so they don’t have to interact with other people. This is very much tongue in cheek dark humour and yet so very relatable.
It has your attention from the beginning with the rumble of drums that suddenly come to the fore with Jed’s very distinct voice. The chorus it just a wonderful swell of sounds, jangly guitar and it just barrels you over. Just so good. Even after listening to it several times, I’m still finding new layers to marvel at. Even to the low baritone vocal sound in the instrumental interlude which makes it so rich.
I first saw Tesla Cøils live when they were the support for the 40th anniversary PeterMurphy and David J (Bauhaus) tour of the album, In The Flat Field, which left enough of an impression on me to video a portion of their performance.
Not only is this a cracker of a song that will worm its way firmly into your head but the music video is genius. Highly recommend having a look as it is really well done.
Whether you like or hate parties, this “TheParty” is so danceable and really deserving of airplay and you can find the lads on Bandcamp or support them on Patreon. Tesla Cøils are delivering the quirky yet intelligent, dark electro industrial we need in these times.
German composer and musician, AlexanderKling, just released his latest album, Love, which consists of nine song. You will find synth and piano lead music with soundscaping from his project, Dedalos.
This is the beginning and it starts with the “Ending“, a slow yet gradual building piece, with piano at the front and centre and synths giving depth. There is definitely the feeling of melancholy.
“Why” is a soundscape that taps into the MassiveAttack feels. A lonely expanse with whispered questions.
Third number is “Missing“. This is the loss of another or even a part of one’s self. A languid piece of realization that not all is right. There are musical outbursts along the way as the feeling builds. The buried vocals in the background lamenting ‘miss you so much‘.
Next is a bit of “Insanity“, a reflection of a mindset. The plodding rhythm of sadness settling into ones soul which then becomes the deafening noise that encapsulates all reason.
Darkness with bright areas is how I would describe “You“. There is such poignant bubbles of joy that slowly are eaten by the intruding dark fringes.
And so “Unbearable” follows. Low flowing and tidal with sound enveloping your senses. Nothing else but the feeling of being overwhelmed and that heartbeat rhythm.
“Last” is like the slow waking and a movement towards the dawn. It pauses for an effective break as the music builds. It is not joyous nor does it feel relieved but rather purpose driven.
The completion of any relationship is the “Farewell“. This is release with emotions still attached and yet within you hear the freedom to launch forward and leave the shackles of mental torment.
The conclusion is “Love“. Reflective and careful but with hope of the future, this is the title track and the end of a journey.
This is very much dark ambient/synthwave instrumental music which is very much based on real life. AlexanderKling explained to me how the album came about after the breakdown of a relationship.
‘Istarted with this album after the end of a relationship. But I started to recording this album with the burning pain. Sometimes I cried while recording, it is tear notes. You can feel the atmosphere, you can feel the pain, the depression and sometimes salvation and peace’. – Dedalos
This is an instrumental journey through the heavy realization that not all loves last and that there is a beauty in that suffering, though painful non the less. This is despair, loss and revelation with Dedalos and his Love.
This year, the band, Amaranth, in conjunction with SoundsAndShadows, 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, KenMagerman 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 LoreleiDreaming 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 (PeopleTheater 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 Likeness “Darkness” (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.
CryingVessel “Illusions” (remix DeadAgent) 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 “CodeBlue” by I Ya Toyah (remix Arcontas Blank) rings out with that wonderful heavy organ based synth filling it out. A song close to singer AniaTarnowska’s heart, about the loss that comes with suicide.
Really digging TwinTribes the more I hear them and “DarkCrystal” 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 JohnEdwards from PalaisIdeal 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.
SilverWalks has remixed “FuckThatFascistBeat” 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.
Vlimmer “Schnittstelle” 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.
RobEarly and SimeonFritzpatrick 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 EgoLikeness 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.