The French have a very interesting history of coldwave/darkwave/gothic bands. Adding to that rich tapestry is the three piece band, JE T’AIME. If you were unaware of what the meaning of JE T’AIME, it is I love you. Yes, those smooth Parisian types have released an album on Valentine’s Day (14th February) called PASSIVE. This will be paired with the next album already named AGGRESSIVE to be released some time later this year by the guys, dBoy, Tall Bastard and Crazy Z.
The album starts off with “Another Day In Hell” and if this song is any indicator for the quality of the rest of the tracks, then I may have died and gone to a much better place. The synths bring in the percussion and the guitar lights up the track while we are treated to dBoy’s vocals. There is a certain amount of feeling of out of control in “Dirty Tricks“, as it speeds away without concern for the passengers, before we calm down a little with “Lonely Days“. and the chorus makes me conscious of this is how The Police would have sounded if they had been darker and makes me giggle a little. A great little track though with the classic line And she is dancing around my dead body.
“Unleashed” definitely is more foreboding in mood. A tale of a love that hurts yet unable to leave that power play because of the perception of losing that love. The vocals convey a certain desperation and longing. When you leave a relationship, certain songs will remind one of the other person, even if It reminds me of your shitty taste in music. This is “Stupid Songs” which features Saigon Blue Rain’s, Ophelia giving her sensual vocals in the maelstrom of conflicting emotions. The body of the relationship is “Cold” and dead. Really digging the synth lines versus the guitar as everything breaks apart. “Blood On Fire” has these really bright synths, I mean really upbeat which is nothing like the sentiments of the lyrics which tell of a man who has lost all interest in life and feels like the undead.
The music and vocals wrap around you with “Give Me More Kohl“. The joyous embrace of the night and everything that might be a bit vampiric in nature. The gothic anthem of the dark children. Talking of night children, “On The Phone” is about a rather awful gothic girl that is very cruel. The guitar is very beautiful and you can’t help but feel for the boy in the tale. Oooh yes, that bass wraps up the album full circle in “Marble Heroes“. The Cure influence is very strong, with rivulets of sound running down in an achingly gorgeous way.
There isn’t anything that I don’t like about PASSIVE and damn it, that bass alone is purely sexual post-punk candy. So much passion, unrequited love and the soul wrenching devastation of loss, all drenched in fabulous guitar and synth, with the agonised and honey dripping vocals. Now bring on AGGRESSION.
When US band Sunshine Blind came to prominence in the gothic scene in the early 90s, it also heralded a new resurgence in bands and music of this style, making it an extremely exciting time. Caroline Blind was the front woman for Sunshine Blind and after a hiatus, returned to the scene as a solo act and also a member of the experimental project Voidant. We spoke to the gracious and lovely Caroline about life, friends and of course the music.
Caroline Blind, a warm welcome from the Onyx rabbit hole.
You first started out in the band, Sunshine Blind. What drew you to that style of music and how did the band form?
Hi. I was well into the style of music before I started the band, of course. I was looking to submerge myself into it more, by going ahead and playing it, and not just listening to it. Probably what made me really go for it was seeing actual people where I lived doing it. Listening to bands from some far off place is one thing, but actually going to a show and seeing friends, or friends of friends, in my neighborhood having a go at forming their own bands and writing their own music, was the thing that made me realize that I could do it, too.
I put an ad in a local music paper, looking for a guitarist, and I met with those that responded. I found CWHK, it turned out he literally lived around the corner from me, but I didn’t know him then. We started working on songs, and the mix was right. We formed Sunshine Blind, and played together for 13 years. A million tour dates, and 3 albums later – it took us all over the country and beyond.
I first remember hearing you sing on the compilation Masked Beauty In A Sea Of Sadness (1994) with the song Crescent And The Stars. That whole CD was full of some great bands. Sunshine Blind broke up as many bands do when they hit a certain point. You must look back of that time with some whimsy but do you feel being a performer under your own name suits you better now?
That was a good compilation…. I don’t look back with whimsy, doing the band was my life, my purpose, and was wrapped up with the personal relationship- CWHK and I were married, and we had kids.
We divorced in early 2000’s. Realizing after ten years that doing our music was really only my dream, and not his, or at least, not anymore, was a serious break that totally shook me- The band had been my identity. Our identity, I thought, but things changed. I really didn’t know where to go without his half, I didn’t know who I was anymore without being “Caroline of Sunshine Blind”.
I had been very dependent on him for music production, as well, so I knew I would have to learn that part of it if I wanted to continue to make music, so in 2016 I took some music production courses. The first time I recorded a song in Protools by myself, rough as it was, I cried. I was able to express myself again through music, and I felt I had years of anguish to process/ express!
Music has always been a collaboration for me, with someone I cared deeply about. I feel personally that the music is boring if I do it all myself, it’s better as a collaboration, I need someone to bounce ideas off of, to compliment and blend with,- music needs a ying and a yang, it’s a conversation. Doing music “by myself” is not something I even want to do. Just doesn’t appeal to me. So of course when people offered to help, I jumped at the chance.
I don’t know why it didn’t dawn on me that I could work with new or different people, probably because “why would I want to?”. But in the end I was forced to. When people offered, and I took them up on it. I found It was EXACTLY like going from being married, to ‘dating again’. Can be exciting, full of promise, and then, maybe transitory, and you can get your heart broken. You can work very superficially, or you can get into a very strong connection with a collaborator. Very hit and miss. I’m learning to rely on myself to be the constant thread through it all, since I guess I’m the one with my own vision, and I don’t wish to give that away ever again. Does it suit me? No idea. I just have to express myself, and follow where it leads, as I always have done. I know that some great music can come from when you are going through things and have real emotions to express, and I’ve been having some real emotions about my new working form/ collaborations (!) , so I feel my music will have that intensity that I’m drawn to, in music I listen to, and probably people will be able to relate/ connect to my music because of that, too.
As you said, you have been creating music again. With several singles released, you then dropped the album, The Spell Between in 2020. The list of people you have on the credits is fairly impressive, so do you think you have found some of your tribe, so to speak, who mirror your own need to make music?
That’s a good question. I am really driven to do music, to live a life in the music industry. I do not feel like some the people I have worked with in the past 6 years are so driven, no. People have moved on. There are a few who are always working on something, or doing as many shows as they can, or out there creating things, but some people maybe ‘used to do it full time’, and maybe stopped, or just do it sometimes, or on the weekends or something… you know, they have lives (lol!), maybe kids, big jobs, who knows, not me. Doesn’t really matter to me. I’m here to work on music. That’s my fun, it’s my therapy, how I self actualize, work out my karma, whatever. It’s the lens I see the world through. It feels like the point of my life, I guess, -and the thing that was neglected for a bit there, so feels AMAZING to be back at it, and IN it. The people I’ve found to work with, are just friends, old a new. I’m happy to be hanging out with them whether we do music or not, because we share a history and/ or a scene. I’ll travel across oceans to see a show as happily as I will to play one, I just like being a part of the industry and scene, and expressing my art in it, when I get the chance. It feels like home to me. So yes, I’m back with my ‘Tribe’. (Which is coincidentally the title of a song I released recently, that I had some of the greatest guitarists in this scene help me with!)
I see you caught my drift. The song Tribe was re-recorded and as you said released as a single. How was it hearing this song refreshed and does it take on new meaning for you now?
Tribe was a song we wrote with Sunshine Blind, but never recorded in the studio. I always felt it was a quintessential Sunshine Blind track- a torrent of riffs and guitars, a soaring and powerful vocal, I wanted to get it done in the studio and put it out. I was able to get the full Sunshine Blind lineup; CWHK on guitars, William Faith ( Bellwether syndicate, Faith and the Muse) on Bass, and Geoff Bruce ( Sunshine Blind, Faith and the Muse) on Drums, to record their parts for it and send me the files. I had Gordon Young in Edinburgh mix it with my other solo album tracks, and we put it on my solo album “The Spell Between”.
But my solo album was mostly grooves and acoustic guitar, after I released the album, I wanted to showcase “Tribe” on its own, where it’s power would stand out. Just rock/ electric guitar music.
My solo album had been very limited by “what I can do on guitar” , which is “not much”! lol! Giving free license to someone whose language is guitar, was kind of what I had been looking for- making something that was more than the sum of it’s parts. I was so thrilled. I contacted Mark Gemini Thwaite directly, and he and Ashley Bad got busy on a remix which turned it into an extended club mix for the dancefloor, and that was epic!
I started looking in to getting remixes done. This was during the pandemic, and lots of people who play guitar live for touring acts were grounded with no work. Many of them turned to doing studio work for hire, and it was perfect timing for me. I got connected to Andee Blacksugar of KMFDM though my PR company, and he did a remix. To your question, yes, it’s very weird to hear someone change a song you agonized over and wrote and recorded to be “just so”. But it’s also fascinating. You can get some “why didn’t I do that?” or “that’s a really interesting spin!” The remixes can make you hear the song in a whole new way, for sure.
Finally, my friend Michael Clark had produced some work with Ben Christo (gutiarist of Sisters of Mercy), and since The Sisters were a big inspiration when we started Sunshine Blind, I thought who better to work a song that was pretty much made for the style? Ben knocked it waaaay out of the park- he added backing vocals and sped it up even more, it just rocks harder than anything I’ve done in a long time, and I am fully here for it, and ready to take that inspiration and run with it. Warm up is over, no more acoustics…next album will be some serious riffy guitars, which was where I started in the first place. Looking forward to getting back to it. Gotta thank those guys all, for reminding me what is possible. I’m very inspired.
I saw Ben Christo last play with Andrew Eldritch and Mark Gemini Twaite with Peter Murphy and David J (Bauhaus 40th Anniversary of In The Flat Field). Both are amazing guitarists. The pandemic has not been kind to the music industry over the last two years but it has also forged some dynamic and strong friendships borne of the desire to create and connect. How has covid affected the way you approach music and did this inspire you to go ahead with Voidant?
Covid hasn’t really affected my music too much. Since I did whole “restart as solo artist” a few years ago, it’s been a lot of “working from home “. I started my solo thing just by myself and a computer/ home studio, and then when I started working with my first collaborator, Rich W.- (guitarist from The Wake (US)), we were 2000 miles apart, and traded files back and forth. When I started working with other people, like Wolfie ( Guitarist from Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, who I also do that electronic music project called “Voidant” with), who is in Leeds, England, and Gordon Young, who mixed and mastered my album from Edinburgh, Scotland- it was the same, all online, trading files. I did eventually meet them all face to face at least once or twice, before the pandemic, but writing and recording is a bulk of the work I’ve done, so far, in my “comeback”, so no, covid hasn’t affected that part at all. Working with Rich, him introducing me to Wolfie and the relationships I have started and sustained through both of them, started and evolved just like they would have in real life, they just happened through talking and working online, thanks to the internet.
As for shows; I was just starting to play out live before the pandemic, just getting a live band together, I was lucky to have Dave (from) The Dramedy play bass, and George Earth ( from Switchblade Symphony) play guitar for me, for some live shows in 2019.
We only did a few shows, but we traveled , but we had some ADVENTURES!
Our working together was kind of a long distance thing, as well, -they were both in LA and I was in San Francisco ( 400 miles apart). I would drive down to rehearse with them once or twice a month.
Since the shut down, I’ve moved back to my original state, New Jersey, which is 3000 miles from LA, so it’ll be hard to keep working with them. My move wasn’t Covid related, I had been planning it since before the pandemic. I was sick of San Francisco, and I wanted to be home, and closer to the UK, too. When I thought of moving, I figured I would find people out here on the East Coast to play with, but THAT has definitely been hindered by the Pandemic. I can’t get out to go to the clubs and see people and who is still around New York and NJ that could play for me.
I hadn’t originally planned on finding people in LA before my move, and playing shows with them, but the need arose and it just happened! lol! Sometimes you just have to go with things that happen organically, even if they aren’t what you planned or how you planned it, if it’s working for you, why not follow it? And people loved meeting/ seeing George and Dave, it just worked, and we had lots of fun. My band Sunshine Blind did a tour with Switchblade Symphony back in 1997, so George and I have memories and history that go back a while, it was great to reminisce and work together again, this time in the same band!
I just booked my first post -pandemic show for this coming July- I’m headlining one of the nights of Goth City Leeds festival in the UK. I am worried about how Covid will affect it, but I went over to the UK this past Halloween for a music festival ( to attend, not play), so I’ve travelled in a pandemic time, I should be able to do it again. Fingers crossed.
You mention the Leeds goth festival and I know that Wolfie Wolfenden will be looking forward to catching up with you. Will he be getting on-stage with you and can you tell us about this friendship across the sea?
Yes, I met Wolfie though Rich (guitarist from The Wake (US)). Rich and I started working on music together, he was my first collaborator as a solo artist. I was recording some cover songs, Swans “God Damn the Sun”, and such, and I wanted to cover “Heaven” by Red Lorry Yellow Lorry. I didn’t know at the time that Rich knew Wolfie. Rich and I worked out a version where Rich played a Baritone acoustic guitar, and I sang, and we made a decent demo. Then one morning I woke to a message from Rich saying he had sent the demo over to Wolfie. I was horrified, because I’ve not had good experiences in meeting my idols up until then ( see: https://www.mtv.com/news/1434098/sisters-of-mercy-slag-bands-for-being-too-goth/ wherein Andrew Edlritch almost single handedly ruined our career back in 1997 by throwing us off an opening slot for The Sisters of Mercy show in Philadelphia, PA. The fallout made our record company fold, and left us stranded in California, on different coast from our usual recording studio.)
Fortunately Wolfie is a very personable guy, and he loved the demo, and was flattered by it. He said it almost made him cry. I asked him why later, if it was a bad memory for him, and he said no, that it was a super happy memory, so maybe it was just bittersweet. In any event, Rich asked Wolfie to play on our cover of the song, and he did. So there are two cover songs on my CD where I have the original songwriter of the song playing on the song with me singing. ( The other is the cover of The Wake’s “First”, because Rich played guitar on that for me.)
So Wolfie is great, we got to chatting through the internet, and after a while, he asked if I would sing on an electronic project he was working on. I said, “Of course”, and he sent it over. It became the song “Death to Sleep” which is on my solo album, “The Spell Between”.
Very different style and working style for me, but I love what we came up with. After this, he had more songs, so we started working on an EP/ Album. He would send me the files, I’d write and record my vocals and send them back. So we’re working partners now, as well as friends.
In 2019 I went to England to see James- (bass player from The Wake) – he had a new band, ‘October Burns Black’ , and they went over to play a show at the Tomorrows Ghosts Festival in Whitby, England.
While I was over there, I stopped in Leeds, and Wolfie let me stay at his place, and took me all around Leeds for the grand tour, which included stories of himself and all the bands that came out of Leeds, and where they played and lived back in the day, the Sisters, The Mission, The Lorries, March Violets, the Rose of Avalanche, etc. Great stories!
We worked on our electronic album, and it came out under the project name “Voidant” last year. It’s pretty experimental, but there are some great tunes in there! It was a good exercise in songwriting for me, trying different styles, etc, and I’m pretty excited about it.
I went back to England, to the Whitby Festival again in 2021. The Wake were supposed to be playing but the pandemic made it too hard to get Visas, so I was very sad not to see my friends playing there, but I had a hotel booked from the previous year, and decided to go anyway, because of pandemic fatigue! I went over, and I stayed with Wolfie again on my way there, we had a great time catching up and playing music then as well, before I headed over to Whitby.
I have asked Wolfie to join me for this show in July, we can do some Voidant songs and some Lorries Songs, people should get a kick out of that. The hometown of the Lorries and all…. I’m looking forward to it!
When I interviewed Wolfie, he had this to say about you. “She stayed with us and she’s a really big fan of Zakk Wylde and I can see he’s a terrific guitar player although his music isn’t something I would listen to but there is one Zakk Wylde song that we both agree on that we’d like to do a cover of in a 4AD kind of ideal and it’s this song called Spoke In The Wheel which I think is a fucking great song because you know it’s a really great song”. The burning question is, is this going ahead because I want to hear this?!
That is the plan, though we haven’t begun yet. When we were together in Leeds at Halloween, Wolfie and I started talking about what songs we’d do next, and that cover was one. When I got home, I was at a Black Label Society show about a month later, and I took a little video of Zakk playing ‘Spoke in the wheel’ live, and sent it to Wolfie to show him how Zakk changes up songs live, to show how we could change it up. So, we’ll see how it turns out. I am a huge Zakk fan, I’ve gone to tons of his shows, they are good fun, and he often has great bands on the road with him, that I also enjoy. I’ve been to so many shows, that Wylde’s road crew recognizes me, and they say hello when they see me!
Can’t wait to hear your version. Wolfie also mentioned that it might be on a new EP. EPs seem to be popular again. What music did you grow up on that would influence your getting into the industry?
I like music with actual emotional intensity, in pretty much any genre. I usually dislike pop songs, or music that is just for filling space or just for dancing. I’m attracted to darker themes and moods. My history of musical exposure goes like this: started with the Beatles, and music from the UK has always been a theme for me from there. Being from New Jersey I was exposed to a lot of Classic Rock, Heavy Metal and Southern rock, so I have all that, but even there, the classic rock from the UK stood out for me, like Pink Floyd, Judas Preist or Led Zeppelin, not US bands. As a kid in the 80’s, I loved New Wave, but really New Wave, like New Romantics (UK), not like Madonna (US). My other recurring theme is guitars, guitarists, and guitar based music. I liked a lot of music that had synths, but bands with guitars is what I like. Grunge, Hardcore, Metal, indie bands and ‘120 minutes’ Alternative music in the 90’s, I liked. That’s where I first saw bands like Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Swans, The Bolshoi and a bunch of the more trad goth bands, too: The Mission, Love and Rockets, Peter Murphy. I knew some people at university who were in Goth Bands, and by the time I started looking for a band, I knew that was the way I wanted to go.
Currently there is a post-punk/coldwave/darkwave revival, with a lot of interesting acts like Twin Tribes, TRAITRS She Past Away to name a few. Are there any particular bands in the current era that you hear and think, yep I can get into that?
No, not really. lol! The new bands I’ve been most excited about in the past few years are/ were: Sometime the Wolf, October Burns Black, Bootblacks and Auger. Like I said, it fit doesn’t have enough guitars, it probably won’t be on my list.
Sometime the Wolf broke up, but Drew (lead singer) has a new project called “All My Thorns”, and Drew is about to be the new Singer for Sweet Ermengarde, too, so looking forward to that. Also, October Burns Black is about to drop a new album, so that’s coming up… I think Auger are probably the youngest/ newest band on my list. Love ’em to bits. Saw the lead singer, Kyle, do a solo set last Halloween at the Marquis Masquerade party in Whitby, unbelievable, that guy.
Have to say I really like Tommy Olsen (ex-Theatre of Tragedy) from October Burns Black’s, other project, Long Night. He is such a polished guitar player. And Auger, we have reviewed before and they have so much talent going on there. In July, as you said, you have Goth City in Leeds, but what else does the future hold for Caroline Blind?
Oh yes, I love Long Night, and all the bands associated with October Burns Black. All the bands Simon Rippin ( Fields of the Nephilim) plays for : Grooving in Green, etc. I was sad Tommy didn’t come over with OBB when they played Whitby, so I could meet him. Gordon Young ( Dream Disciples, Pretentious Moi, Children on Stun) filled in for him.
As for the future, right now the only things in current works are getting ready for, and playing the shows this summer, I have a song due for a Compilation of covers next month, and Wolfie and I have a tentative plan to do more Voidant work. I have a couple songs that I need to cobble together for an EP for this year or next, but I’m brainstorming how to do them, who to do them with, etc. I like to have a rough idea to begin with, start putting things in place, and then something will happen and the last pieces will click, and I’ll know exactly what I need to do… it’s that “preparedness meets opportunity” thing… I’ll see it, and then I know exactly what I’ve prepared for, and it works really well, though not always on a timeline I think it will, but the ends are usually worth it.
Is there anything else you want to touch on or feel I have missed that we should cover? I have enjoyed reading everything immensely. Otherwise, I can say – Thank you ever so much for the talking to me and giving us some of your time. Can’t wait to hear what comes next!
Jean-Luc Courchet is the man behind the experimental post-punk act called Spiryt. February the 14th saw the single “V” drop with guest vocalist Kimberly from Bow Ever Down gracing the track. Courchet is from Toulon, France while Kimberly is based in Maine in the United States.
From the opening piano, you can tell this is going to be an introspective number, as the notes seem to hold their own woes. Kimberly’s vocals break through, clear and full of the weight of the sadness in the lyrics. A tale of judgement and being left behind for not being able to be what others deem acceptable. Often the tale of alternative types or those that do not conform.
There is a simplicity in the music that makes it charming and very heart-felt. I know that Kimberly almost always writes her own lyrics and that they come from a place deep inside. While she has sung and played piano, Courchet has wound his music around her, like the coils of a serpent. It is a bitter sweet and darkly touching track in “V“.
Not many musical acts can say they have continuously been creating and performing for 40 years. ATTRITION is one of those groups that have weathered the British music scene since their evolution in 1980, to become a force spoken in hushed tones, passing from an electro/industrial band to being something legendary within the scene. Martin Bowes had been at the helm consistently, throughout all the band changes. He was approached by Sleeper Records to release a special vinyl album to celebrate this milestone. They decided to pick music from the period 1986 to 2004, as this music has never been released on vinyl until now.
This compilation is named A Great Desire, containing ten tracks that can be found on a variety of albums which were all originally only released on Compact Disc, which was crushing the sales of vinyl by the end of the 80s. There are a selection that includes the wonderfully brass filled and brash “To The Devil“, the delicate and sinful “Acid Tongue“, the sexy “Sister Teresa” and the experimental and extraordinary title track, “A Great Desire“. To that end, Martin Bowes spoke to us about the new album and the past, present and future of ATTRITION.
Welcome to the rabbit hole that is Onyx, Martin Bowes.
Thank you for having me!
Did you ever foresee ATTRITION lasting more than 40 years and still making relevant music?
I don’t think I really thought that far ahead in 1980! And I still often get the feeling I have only just started in music… which propels me to make the next album or shows or videos or artwork…. I write music for myself… a cathartic thing… so the relevance I feel is only ultimately for me… but I know other people get something from my music and that makes me smile…
ATTRITION started in Coventry, your home city, which you have never really left and have your studio, The Cage there. Until the 90s, it has a been a city that bore the scars from the Second World War. Do you think in part this has been a catalyst for the sound and imagery of the band?
Well I arrived in Coventry as a 5 year old in the mid sixties, my parents moved here during the post war car manufacturing boom town era. I saw it falling apart in the eighties when the factories closed down (becoming a ghost town, as the song says) and after the first ATTRITION album in 1984 and first european tour (with the Legendary Pink Dots that same year) we all uprooted to London for a couple of years… after which I moved to Holland for another couple…. Coming back to Coventry in 1989. I think the industrial decay of my home town has definitely had an impact on the sound of ATTRITION, but it is also a very historic town…thankfully being restored these days… and that love of history has always been with me too.
Could you tell what influenced you into starting ATTRITION and how the band began?
I was blown away by punk rock in 1977…. It was there for me at just the right time…what an angry teenager needed… helped make sense of the nonsense I could see around me…. And it still does. I had absolutely no musical skill or knowledge but needed to get involved in this… so in 1979 I started my punk/post-punk fanzine “Alternative Sounds” , writing mostly about the scene in and around Coventry at the time, which was a wonderful scene… the Specials and Two Tone being a very famous part of it but there was so much more…. I did 18 issues and a special for the BBC TV Something Else program at the time. In 1980 I finally started to mess with recording sounds and instruments and a fledgling ATTRITION was born…. We played our first few shows in December 1980 as a kind of anarchist/post punk guitar, bass, drums and vocals line up…After those shows we soon started to trade in guitars and drums for synths and drum machines….
February see the release on vinyl of A Great Desire (1986 – 2004), which is a collection of songs from that time that that were released on CDs. It was around 1986 when the CD was coming into vogue and many said that vinyl was nigh. What inspired you to do this release and is it satifying to see these tracks going to the classic and dare might I say, beautiful vinyl?
We have started to have some new vinyl releases or reissues and we were asked by LA/Berlin based label Sleepers records to release this vinyl… they actually chose the track listing which I found interesting as I always do it myself and it was good to have a different opinion. Its wonderful to have music released in any format but of course vinyl is very special…. They have included 2 posters with this too which is something you can only do with vinyl!
You remastered all the tracks at The Cage Studio. Was it a good feeling to wander down those musical lanes of memory and was it a big task to do the remastering?
I have a large box full of all the old DAT tapes from that era and it didn’t take too long to track down the original mixes and master them specially for vinyl this time… I’m really pleased with how they turned out… well I master music here almost every day so I’ve had enough practice by now! Its always a strange but ultimately nice experience… like looking through old photographs or diaries…. I’m happy with the past….
Was there anything that you would have liked to change or did change?
It was more just getting the old recordings to sound as good as they can… and have recordings from different eras and studios sit together well…. I think it worked!
You also run the record company Two Gods which was originally created to release the ATTRITION albums. Since then you have opened up the label and put together some rather interesting compilations. What does running Two Gods mean to you personally?
Yes I started the Two Gods label (taken from the song of the same name) in 2006 when I was releasing music through a larger distributor … so it was all the old ATTRITION albums, and some live and compilations or remix albums at first…I then took it further and digitised/mastered a lot of old recordings from cassette etc for digital only release… it made sense for the recordings that didn’t warrant a physical release but I still wanted to get out there… I expanded this for side projects like ENGRAM and took on some other bands for digital only release… that part was an experiment and I didn’t have anywhere near enough time to market the other bands…I’d thought of it more as a collaboration using my networks… so after a few releases and label samplers I decided to take it back to ATTRITION only and give me more time for me…
Since you released Death House in 1982, how do you think the sound of ATTRITION has changed over the years?
The sound has always evolved and changed…and there has always been two sides to the sound… a more upbeat, rhythmic side to ATTRITION, and I have also been interested in sound tracks… as a visual artist origionally I still see music in terms of pcitures, of landscapes… so I relate to soundtracks… This Death House was the first soundtrack we ever did… in amongst all the “strange” experimental electronic songs we were mainly recording… It was reissued on vinyl too last year and we finally got to perform it live… I got the original line up together for that and we performed it as “Death House Variations” with a new take on it…
Just before ATTRITION came into being, there had been several waves. Glam rock, followed by punk which then morphed in the post-punk. Yet, under all that was this odd electric style being pioneered in Britain by the likes of Cabaret Voltaire, Throbbing Gristle, Clock DVA etc. What bands or music inspired you in your youth?
So many… I first got heavily into the glam of Roxy Music, Marc Bolan, Cockney Rebel, and Bowie of course…then I got into rock n roll in that boring period for new music of the mid seventies… then Punk totally captivated me… politically at the very least…post punk of bands like Kraftwerk, The Cabs, Magazine, PIL and Joy Division influenced the early ATTRITION sound…and then over the years I have taken in more and more influences… as much from life itself as from art….
Do you remember the first live band you ever saw?
I remember it well…it was The Stranglers here in Coventry in June 1977. A good time to be alive.
What acts or bands do you listen to now or find enlightenment in?
So many from the past still…I still listen to lots of old punk records… love The Fall… and over the years I got into classical and neo-classical… and bands like The Prodigy and drum n bass and rap from bands like Public Enemy …I get to hear so much new and “new to me” music in my studio all the time…. It’s all good.
I noticed on social media that ATTRITION has been featured as a exhibit, with flyers, posters and such things in Coventry. How does it feel knowing you are now woven into the fabric of that city?
Coventry is the UK City of Culture 2021/22 and I have been a part of that… my fanzine was featured heavily as part of the Two Tone exhibition here and as part of a Coventry music mural in the town centre… was great to see a photo of me up there… I offer to take anyone to see it when they visit… ATTRITION has featured as part of a Coventry music scene of the early eighties photo exhibition (we played a show as part of that too) and I had some music commissioned as part of a City compilation of bands… Despite living here in Coventry I never had to much to do with the place musically (I had so much of the world to get to) so its been nice to have the recognition now.
You did the mastering for the Thanatos album Covered Country. I am still trying to think of payback to inflict on a certain Kiwi that tricked me into review it (country and I don’t mix). How did you find listening and mastering this genre?
Haha! That’s my old friend Pat Ogl! He used to work for our old US label Projekt back in the nineties and we always stay in touch…. I love his songs! I’m also a Johnny Cash fan so give it a few more plays, it will grow on you!
I know you do a lot of mixing and mastering for others. Has covid affected how you go about playing and promoting with ATTRITION?
Well between Covid and Brexit we haven’t been able to play abroad since we went to Tokyo in December 2019… have been playing some more low key UK shows recently so I’m hoping things get better again soon…I am used to touring all over the place (we have played on 4 continents so far) so I’m missing all of it… I know its been the same for so many bands… promoting isn’t too bad, I can still do that in other ways… and for my studio, I’ve actually had more music sent to me to mix/master than ever, as more bands concentrated on recording.
What plans lay ahead for Martin Bowes in the future and what shall we hear next with ATTRITION?
My long delayed new album, The Black Maria… will be finished soon and out later this year (planning vinyl of course) and I am also planning to release a lot of the older CD only albums we did in special limited runs…. And then I’ll be onto the next album and hoping to get out to play near you sometime soon!
Thank you for so kindly for talking to us.
Thank you for the interview…. Martin Bowes, Coventry, England. February 2022
New Zealand seems a long way from anywhere and maybe this is why they have developed their own rich musical tapestry. Singer Justine Ó Gadhra-Sharp, around 20 years ago, went into a recording studio in Auckland, with collaborator Iva Treskon, laid down some tracks and there they remained until another musicians, Bryan Tabuteau and Josh Wood bringing them back to attention. The tracks were given a new lease of life and the EP called Sidhe, the Gaelic pronunciation ‘Shee‘, was created with Wood (The Mercy Cage) in the engineering/production seat.
The opening track is “Charmer“, about that person that has a silver tongue and worms their way into your affections but never should have. Some songs just make your jaw drop at the pure elegance of the music and the vocals. “Stanley’s Only Hope” is one of those songs. A duet between Ó Gadhra-Sharp and Michel Rowland (Disjecta Membra) done in the broken carnival style I like to think Nick Cave pioneered. The vocals fence with each other before joining in a beautiful spiral, Rowland with his deep and smooth baritone complimenting Ó Gadhra-Sharp.
“Red Room” is the single and deservedly so. An electronic turn of the aloof, sexual kind with a catchy chorus that will stick with you for quite a while. There is a whirlwind of guitar and piano in “Hypnosis“, as if there is something unstable going on in her racing mind. Completely on a different plane is the mellow “Walking OnAir“, a minimalist piece that wanders it’s own path before the last track, a remix version of “Red Room“. TheMercy Cage are another New Zealand group who give this mix a cyber-industrial tickle.
Yes, my favourite is “Stanley’s Only Hope” because of the finesse of the vocals and the drama involved and “Red Room” will be a crowd pleaser. Her vocals are just smokey seduction and with the help of other members of the New Zealand gothic and industrial community, Ó Gadhra-Sharp has brought out an eclectic, dark electronica and cabaret style offering in Sidhe.
Greek duo, Mechanimal, are celebrating 10 years together and releasing albums. So it is fitting to release a best of collection. This best of however is made up of songs that were picked by other artists and then they have remixed them. The compilation is called LivingWithAnimalGhosts and was released on InnerEarRecords on January the 14th, 2022.
If you are a fan of Mechanimal already, you will enjoy this look back and re-interpretation of past works. There is also pretty much a style to suit everyone. TheDansMonSalon remix of “InSomberAccount“, with it’s trap influenced industrial or the minimalist vision PsychedelicTripsToDeath have given “Un/Mobility“. There is the 80s sounding “ShadowsOnTheWall” by JaredKyle, while the LiaHide version of “TheDen” is a classical, stripped down affair. And that is only four songs into this 17/18 track album.
Special mention of the RodneyOrpheus (CassandraComplex) club mix of “RedMirror“. The song is molded into a far more post-punk direction, adding extra guitar and maybe even giving it an extra air of being subversive and dirty.
It is a melting pot of musical styles with Mechanimal as the flavouring ingredient and their friends have lovingly reworked songs to show their admiration for the talent that has gone into each. A wonderful way to celebrate a band, their work and hopefully another ten years!
London based, post-punk trio, BlackDoldrums are back with another single, “IntoBlue” to tease us with before the release of the album DeadAwake. The debut album hits us 11th of March, 2022 on FuzzClubRecords.
There is a sonorous beauty to “IntoBlue“. Gibbard’s vocals gracefully take centre stage while the sweet chime of guitars is pervasive, making the hairs on the back of your neck rise. How do you explain a piece of music that resonates at a primal level to your very core.
A slow burning shoegaze ballad. There are touches of Ride, Joy Division and Jesus and Mary Chain throughout. The video is a black and white extension of the music, that explores the play of dark and light. “IntoBlue” is yet another example of the skill of the band to craft guitar based delights. We count the days to the release of the album.
Those that know the US act, Strap On Halo, will know of their singer, Layla Reyna and if you don’t then you are in for something a bit special. After relocating to Seattle and finding Strap On Halo on a hiatus, Reyna created Licorice Chamber for herself and in doing so, released the EP, “The Taste Of Falling“. This is a project that she not only does the vocals for, but apart from the guitar work, impressively, everything else is her including writing the music. Four of the five tracks, feature Michel Rowland of New Zealand bands Disjecta Membra and Dreams Are Like Water on guitar and as you will find out, he was not the only guest.
If “As The World Breathes” is any indication of what this album is going to be like, then this is going to be a treat. A mixture of electronic beats, melancholy guitar, and Layla’s vocals just flowing seamlessly into your ears. What catches my attention is the heavy down notes of piano and guitar. The beautiful, “This Love Is Dark” is mesmerizing and this it the Codename:Lola remix. Codename:Lola is the project for UK artist Lee Meadows. Full of lament and longing of wanting a little bit longer. The synths are just wonderful, along with the jangle of guitar make it a truly haunting number that gets under your skin.
The sliding notes of the guitar again are spine tingling in “Just Like The Horror Movies” as Rowland out does himself. Reyna makes horror movies so far appealing with those sensual vocals, luring you into a gorgeous nightmare. “It’s An Illusion” just floats and while it has a Siouxsie Sioux vibe, it is definitely all Reyna. New Zealander, Blair Wotton (Columns Of Sand, Froithead, The Flickering) provides the fuzzing guitar that fits in perfectly with the electronics. The final track is the original version of “This Love Is Dark” which is far more stripped back than the remix yet it does not detract as you hear all the nuances that make up this shadowy fantasy.
There is something inextricably deep and sensuous about “The Taste Of Falling“. It could be the composition or the beautiful singing. Maybe the guitar work that harkens back to albums like Pornography that give you goosebumps. Whatever it is, Licorice Chamber has it in spades. There is a palpable texture of velvet and satin to lay your fevered brain and rest as the quality of the recording, mixing and mastering is perfect. Just for good measure, it was mastered by Gordon Young of Children On Stun fame. This is a cracker of an EP and I am left craving more………..
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?!
Feeling in the mood for some electronic beats in an 80s style? Then we have “OutAlive” by LikeWhat. This New York act released the track on January 11th, 2022 and I was reliably informed it was created on an ipad with a guitar. I honestly don’t know much more about this project yet…..
There is something so reminicent of the wonderful TobiasBernstrup. It could be the singing style and annunciation of the vocalist. The rhythm with the synths are stalking you and will find you wherever you try to hide. The guitar chiming in is extra foreboding as you won’t get out alive.
Electronic music will always lend itself to an apocalyptic vision, concealing and on the run from an unnamed, yet terrible foe. This is definitely one of those tracks that you think, at the end that it finished far too quickly. Damn it, we need a longer remix!! So you can guess by that statement I may have liked it quiet a bit. Get your darkwave on with LikeWhat and “OutAlive“.