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.
Purveyors of gloom and dead things that go bump in the night, VAZUM, are a very productive duo. It seems not that long ago we reviewed the album Rated V and now they have a new double single, that is not on the last album. “Gallows” is the name of the single dropped at the beginning of January and it is a double single in pixie point boots.
An eerie guitar swell that rolls into Sturm’s vocals, so is issued forth the warning to not to go to the Gallows, for a terrible fate will await you. Her voice is light and airy, bringing notice to the heavy done of the music, causing a sense of unease. The second song is the LostForestMix of “Gallows” with a wondrous far more synth spin which is equally spooky and a little electronically colder.
It is nice to hear gothic music that embraced both the more traditional guitar based music and evolving a more industrial sound as well. “Gallows” is an atmospheric deathgaze (goth +shoegaze) piece and dark synth affair you can indulge in.
Last year saw the release of the post-punk/goth EP, Beautiful Hell by Orcus Nullify. Kindly, Bruce Nullify answered some questions for us about the EP, his views on the last few years and his connection to Australia.
Bruce Nullify, welcome to thedarkside of Onyx. Congratulations on the new EP, Beautiful Hell.
Thank you, interviews are always a pleasure to do. I very much appreciate this opportunity.
Beautiful Hell was released in 2021 which included the singles Night Dance and Pandemonic, which were both released in 2020. How has American politics and a world pandemic shaped this EP?
It’s been very clear that citizen’s health and safety has taken a back seat to the Economy here in the US. Early on during 2020 there was severe negligence in doing what was necessary for safety. Initially it was a failure of the government to move all the chess pieces and do it quickly. And it was heavily political too. But even still, the pandemic has not ended and yet so many carry on as if it has. We are currently approaching one million deaths here in the US. It’s shameful and unnecessary.
There were a few months that I was at home quarantining during 2020. Most of the country was too, for even longer. The solution, or at least a mitigation to pollution became apparent. Cars were off the roads, and folks were working from home. It became clear in cities around the world this created a reduction in air pollution. The atmosphere had a break and it helped. But what happened by the hand of the Orange Beast? Reversal of environmental policies like ending the US’s participation in the Paris Climate Accord, and termination of the Clean Water Act. I didn’t realize exactly how poorly educated and ill advised so many people of this country had become. Then the Orange beast happened. Now I know.
Previously, you have independently released your work but recently have released with Australian label, Mantravision Productions, which is run by Ant Bannister of Sounds Like Winter and many other acts. How did you find yourself involved with Mantravision and release the last two EPs with them?
A few years back Ant did some radio shows on Mixcloud. I believe I reached out to him and we starting talking. We had similar tastes in music. He was also spinning some messed up stuff that caught my attention. We started exchanging music. I confess, at the time my sound wasn’t the best. I did my own production, which was beginner level. Ant, on the other hand has a lot of experience. He’s a kind person. He lets me do what I can and then takes it from there. It’s always exciting for me to get my songs back after he’s worked his magic. It typically goes to the next level or better. After, years of online friendship, I consider Ant to be my Brother from another Mother. And I do very much love Sounds Like Winter. I consider them an inspiration.
Bannister also lent his talent to programming the drums on Beautiful Hell which he also did on Death Hag plus you had help on production of one track by Pete Burns. How do you find these friendships/collaborations lend themselves to your music?
Ant is a member of the band now a days. He has contributed way too much to just be a collaborator. I feel very fortunate to have such great friends. Collaborations have been extremely beneficial to myself and I hope to both Ant and Pete. Collaborating, in my experience, should give you an extra perspective – whether it be a drum beat where you didn’t expect it, or stressing a particular frequency in the mix. It’s important in music to think about what it is you’re trying to make or say. I think adding an extra set of ears aids in refining that process. I would recommend collaboration to anyone trying to make music or art.
You have also been recording with Ant and keyboard player Colin Gallagher as Sequential Zero, another post-punk/goth band. How did this come about?
I believe Ant sent me a track, that he and Colin had been working on, and asked me what I thought about it. He added that he “saw a place for my guitar sound in it”. I was very excited to join. All three of us are putting our hearts into this. Ant said to me a while back that we have a strong synergy. I think that really sums it up well. I hope to join them on stage in Australia or here in the US some day.
Do you think living in South Carolina colours how you write your music ie folk lore etc?
Lol, I doubt it. At least not in that way. That’s an interesting perspective though. I need to pay closer attention to local folk lore. It’s a beautiful part of the country. I love nature. I moved here mostly, to get away from a more urban life. It can be truly energizing and lovely to live isolated in a forest. Without people in ear shot it’s been very easy to crank up the guitar or belt out some vocals late at night. People here do remind me almost daily that I’m that I’m different. Just today I had a guy ask me where I am from. I was born in New England. I do have a Yankee accent and I have no problem telling people what I think.
What music did you listen to when you were young and do you think your tastes have changed? Who do you enjoy listening to now?
My tastes have expanded some, but I still primarily listen to Alternative music. Today you’d find me listening to Sounds Like Winter, Burnt Souls, Kill Shelter, IAMTHESHADOW, October Burns Black, Kentucky Vampires, SENEX IV… There’s so much great music out there.
What is in store in the future of Bruce Nullify and Orcus Nullify….or maybe more colaborations?
I’m working on a few new Orcus Nullify tunes. I plan on keeping up with that. Might be adding another person to the mix. I consider Sequential Zero a full time gig. I’ve got ongoing work with them. So my schedule is pretty well full.
For many of us, James O’Barr wrote such an iconic comic in the form of The Crow, it touched our collective dark souls and later became the equally wonderful movie. SEVIT are a five piece, darkwave band from Texas who decided to see if they could write a song for the mythological track “It Can’t Rain All TheTime“, which of course also became the most recognised line from the movie. They released it as a single on Hallow’s Eve, October the 30th, 2021.
Heavy 80s vibe with the bass and drums that have a early New Order flavour. The guitars are deliciously vocal and there is a cute synth break. The vocals and lyrics perfectly align with the whole ambiance of the title track and at the end we hear the original snippet from the movie of Eric Draven singing with Hangman’s Joke. The b-side or added extra track is “It All Comes Down To Me“, which is a far more languid affair. Tendrils of Pornography era Cure permeate. Echoing refrains of bleak sadness in a pool of existential crisis.
“I always wanted to embody myself into the character’s mindset and finish the lyrics the way I always wanted to hear them in their entirety. I started to imagine the words I would have written if I was Eric Draven.
The Crow was a beautiful film – so much sadness and so much longing, so much heart… When I decided to write this song, I wanted to revisit my hearts emotional vault and I wanted the words to belong to the film’s character, Eric Draven, who I imagined to be dark, poetic, theatrical, daring, passionate and beautiful. ” – (Jackie Legos – Vocals/Guitar)
I really like the concept of this but more to the point SEVIT has run with it and pulled it off. In someways, for many, The Crow feature movie and soundtrack were a gateway into the gothic/industrial music scene and those of us that were older, it was watching a beautiful and lush portrayal of the comic and a dark romantic story that love goes beyond death. Check out these guys as their sound warms the corners of my little gothic heart.
We are going back into the year to bring you an EP that was released in May of 2021, called Beautiful Hell by Orcus Nullify. Orcus Nullify is the project for Bruce Nullify who lives in South Carolina. On this EP he plays bass, guitar as well as being the vocalist, while enlisting Ant Bannister (Sounds Like Winter, Def FX) to help with drum programming. Bannister is also Mantravision Productions who mixed and produced four of the six tracks.
There is a sonic appeal of the beginning of “Beautiful Hell” the title track. An ode to those who have taken power by the throat and wield it unjustly whilst telling you it is for your own good. The guitar work very much stands out in a whirling maelstrom. Even though the drums are programmed, they sound super good on “Night Dance” and this unearthly, witching hour two step takes you away to the edge of what is real and that which exists in the night. I am going to guess “Under The Eye” was written about Trump and his administration, as he divided a country and made others unwelcome in a country they called home. The music evokes a certain circus feel, though a creepy one with a full freak show attached.
Pete Burns of Kill Shelter, produced “Fall From Faith“, a title that probably needs no explanation. I hear little bits of Southern Death Cult in this, such as the guitar riffs. A nice bit of bass playing is highlighted in “NightBird“. Again the drums harken back to something a bit more old school. The last track in “Pandemonic” is an instrumental with the voice overs that could be heard on the news in the US speaking about the shocking speed Covid-19 overran countries and that governments acted so slowly. It is the litany of missed opportunity to a sludgy drone of music.
I hear a lot of influences in this EP. From Bauhaus to Christian Death and Southern Death Cult plus a few others as well. It is gothic darkwave but I would even say this definitely crosses into deathrock as well because I think the songs would have suited Rozz Williams’ style very well. But Beautiful Hell is also an creation of it’s time, written in isolation with political tensions running high and a wish for something more eloquently dark to drag them away..
A new single has dropped for Norwegian band, Painted Romans called “In The Hour Of Fear“. Thomas Sejnæs (bass), Jan Ottar Nystad (keyboards) and original member Mats Davidsen (vocals, guitar, drum programming) making up the dark, post-punk/pop styling that is Painted Romans, who have been active since 2007 with an array of albums but are finding their niche in the renewed interest in post-punk.
Oh my, Davidsen is giving us the deep and gravelly gothic vocal treatment along with those 80s inspired guitars and hooks. The synths give a mysterious air in the background while the guitars chime out, unmissable and constant. Lyrically there almost seems to be a list of the types of people found in a horror movie, the types that get picked off one by one by some mysterious entity.
I love the guitar work in this because jangly guitar is very much a staple of the post-punk scene, though vocally I was reminded of the deep male vocals of many of the early 90s European goth bands. So, you might not be in need of a fright or even a bite but there is always time “In The Hour Of Fear“.
Black Doldrums are from London and since their inception, self released their first EP, before signing to ClubC30 and releasing two EPs on that label in 2018. 2021 saw the duo sign to Fuzz Club Records, become a trio and now fans are eagerly awaiting the debut album, Dead Awake, but in the meanwhile the first single has been dropped this month called “Sad Paradise“.
I am just going to put it out there, these guys could have listened to a lot of Joy Division and lead singer, KevinGibbard’s vocals are a dead ringer for Ian Curtis. Like Curtis, his voice is deep and emotive which spoke to a legion of young people of the day and still does. A song about watching people float through life without really leaving anything remarkable to show for their existence. The music is glorious and pulls at your heart imperceptibly with the guitar chiming out and the driving rhythm section. Some of the progressions reminded me a lot of EchoAnd The Bunnymen or Jesus and Mary Chain which is never a bad thing with the psychedelic swirling guitar noise.
Jared Artaud of Vacant Lots, who are also on Fuzz Club, produced and mixed the new album, which is due for release in March 2022 and so far he has done a sterling job. So we wait to hear this debut album but if the single is indicative, it’s going to be a lush affair.
When brothers Eric and Jeremy Hanes of Spankthenun released the albumBunker Tapes Vol I, in the beginning of 2021, they found they had created enough material to record Bunker Tapes Vol II, which hit us on October, the 27th. Spankthenun have been on the scene since 2019 and yet they are already an integral part of the American and world wide industrial scene with feature artists, other bands remixing their music and a huge number of guest remixes for other acts under their belts.
The lads roped in Claus Larsen of Leæther Strip fame, to guest vocal on the single “Off Beatings” which of course had to be a single. This is a slow burn of angst that Larsen pulls off so well. There is something about the beginning of “I Self Me” that invokes goosebumps, it is possibly the scintillating synths mixed with the gritty vocals. Is it just me, or does the little electronic voice sound like the robots aboard the Cylon mother ship of the original Battlestar Galactica in “The Smoking Gun”? Nefarious things are afoot. Itwas never you says Jeremy in his abrasive metalized observation before we are hit with the rather dance-able “Right Father“, a call to keep the bastards in power honest and accountable, because it is true that the more the wealthy will continue to reap the cash and watch the poor fade away.
“Sick Pathos” again has those brilliant beats that propel it along and lead into “Man In The Moon“, who sounds like a rather vicious fellow who spreads descent and mistrust with the music taking on the dark oppressive attitude. “Industrial Beats” definitely have industrial beats that pound on because there is a specific list of things this industrialist likes and needs. Hard to tell if this is tongue in cheek or not but make sure you get your beets (sic) as they are now stuck in my head. We all live in the broken machine,lockdown is “Lockdown” and honestly two years ago, the term lockdown was used for security facilities mostly and not civilians but now it is common vocab in this dystopian feel track.
The nonsensical “I Am The Fire” is a bit of a fun and the last track before the four guest remixes of which the first is the Mirland remix of “Off Beatings” with it’s more crunchy textures that the Europeans do so well. NatureOf Wires polishes “Right Father” and it is given a more sci fi feel while “The Smoking Gun” is given the treatment by Planet Damage and this becomes a different creature. Last of these great remixes is the Psychosomatik and they take “I Self Me” to dance floor heaven
Listening to Spankthenun really is a bit like a timewarp and landing back in the 90s when there was a turn towards a heavier, gritty tone lead by SkinnyPuppy, Ministry et al. There are tell tale signs of the 80s industrial influences that graduate into the 2000s by the end of the album which was done on purpose. The remixes are the modern cream on top so to speak. Social concious mixed with great music never goes wrong and Spankthenun has both.
Detonic Recordings released on November the 16th, the latest album from mnttaB called This Friction. Okay, it is a bit like this. We get an email with the album and cover plus a cryptic hope you like this message. That’s it. I know they are from Melbourne and possibly one guy. Is his name Richard Payne? Is he also known as Dik Detonic from Australian post-punk band S:Bahn? I bloody don’t know but have an inkling it is this ex Brit.
So we kick off with “Alison” and there is the drum machine diligently doing its thing while the synths take center stage until the vocals chime in, A very English accent tells you that Alison is always in the right place at the right time, The tonal electronics start before the bright synths for “Denominator“. The lightness of the synths is in contrast to the lyrical content which speaks of lost dreams and entrenched sadness of being.
Title track “This Friction” is actually glorious for minimal fare. It has this science fiction feel with the sound building and becoming a near cacophony until the sudden stop. There is a woman speaking… is she speaking English? Is is hard to tell but it may be German. “Ulrike” is like a dream where you think you are awake but cannot grasp anything tangible.
Hmmm what to make of “Burnt To A Crisp“. His dinner may be ruined or all his hopes and aspirations but he’s not happy whatever the case. You mention “Xerox” and I think of Adam And The Ants which was a very catchy tune and this as well will get stuck in your head. This possibly the stand out song and I really like it with the bleating electronics and the way kind of becomes a bit intense and crazed. “Sensurround” is the last track and it feels like it was lifted from Blake 7 or Tron. It is fleeting, for as you get into it, then it is gone.
mnttaB describe this album as moods raging from abrasion to a caress. Contrail or Chem-trail? Kaleidoscope or Rorschach? Its hard to tell until you get up close. They aren’t wrong and it feels like going back in time when synthesizers were more basic, conjuring up the ghosts of Fad Gadget or Cabaret Voltaire and yet there is a fair amount of punk attitude also. Punk, minimal electronica and we are having a good time!
Well let me tell a little story of a man named Jed, who lived on the Gold Coast of Queensland and proved he was not dead, who started up a solo project called Chiffon Magnifique and the post-punk was very chic. Jed A.Walters recently laid to rest his previous band, Tesla Cøils which made us a little sad, however since releasing the first single “Abomination” last month, things are looking up!
I should warn you that this will be stuck in your head for a while, though your good fortune is that it’s a brilliant song. There are the bright synth lines and gorgeous jangly guitar, that lead you to Walters’ brooding vocals because baby he wants to be your abomination. He really is a master at creating wonderful catchy tunes that get under your skin.
This small taste has me desperately needing to hear more. For a one man project it is lush and ChiffonMagnifique definitely is as good as other current post-punk acts such as TRAITRS, She Past Away and Twin Tribes. We like this musical “Abomination” and now wait with baited breath for what comes next.