Soooo, fancy a bit of gloom with your goth? I may have the answer to your lachrymose prayers, in the shape of Sacramento duo, Venetian Veil and their EP, released on November the 11th, called The Lands Of The Living And The Dead, on the Dune Altar label. That title alone should have peaked your interest dare I say. The EP was recorded by Jim Willig in the Sinking Room between 2020-2021, and then mixed & mastered by Patrick Hills at Earth Tone Studios.

First we must be “Asleep In The Land Of The Living“. The guitar strums delicately over the droning noise, an electric guitar in sonic overload in the maudlin atmosphere. The shotgun drum machine rhythm and understated synths in “Quiver” really harken back for me to the early 80s. So simple and so effective, especially with the male vocals. There is something so utterly gentle about “The Lamb“. The soft, feminine vocals, the low and controlled bass belie a great sorrow and shame, for the blood of the Lamb was supposed to wash away the sins.

Awake In The Land Of The Dead” is the instrumental bridge and the mirror image to its sister, “Asleep In The Land Of The Living“, where now most is quiet but for the strumming guitar. “Treeline” offers perhaps the view point of a soul leaving it’s earthly bonds, heading for the void. Slow and thoughtful, with stirring vocals. The Cure like “Phantom“, tinkles with those sweet guitar notes and sweeping synth chords. The lyrics are not so much sad but almost an acceptance of something that can never be.

I hear the experimentation and in a way, it greatly reminds me of the early 80’s when The Cure created Faith, 17 Seconds and Pornography, albums that truly pulled you into their misty, Victorian era like, dark and tragic romanticism. Light the candles, a drink of what you please and settle down to the Venetian Veil, as they take you to The Lands Of The Living And The Dead.

The Lands of the Living and the Dead | Venetian Veil (bandcamp.com)

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UNFEELING is one of Derek Rush’s projects, a New York electronic artist who has recently been on the road touring. His latest ambient album, VERTICAL SLEEP, is out on the CHTHONIC STREAMS label, created between June to October 2022, on the previously mentioned US tour.

Ever been so tired that you drag yourself around while everything and everyone is conspiring against your ability to shut down? This is the premise behind VERTICAL SLEEP, where one’s sleep cycle is so contaminated, nothing seems real. The music is slow like being caught in a nightmare, every movement laboured.

Even the names of the tracks conveys the near death like state of the subject due to the trauma of not being able to rest. There is “PAROXYSMAL” which is at such a low level of noise, that when there is a change it actually seems like a big deal, to “BAROTRAUMA” slowly pulsates and grows in seeming pressure, from the void, that slowly dissolves into the state of near nothingness.

The burbling and twittering of “SURRENDER” definitely conveys the loss of one’s senses, as the conscious stream goes for a wander due to the inability to turn off, or in other words that unhinged feeling and spacing out. The whole point of this electronic quest is to express how the mind reacts once it has passed the limits of regular sleep patterns, into the realms of mental torture and numbness. UNFEELING might be not as unfeeling as they pass into VERTICAL SLEEP.

VERTICAL SLEEP | UNFEELING (bandcamp.com)

I am going to tell you a little about AMMO and then you will need to listen to her music. She is a director, photographer, a composer/singer/musician and a voice whom has been at the fore of helping women and LBGTQ+ people tell their stories. So AMMO has dropped the video for the single “A Cold War City“, this month, on the label Mourning Sun Records, which was co-produced and recorded with Alex Posell, whom also contributes on percussion.

A Cold War City is an exploration of human memory and its fickle nature. We rewrite details of past experience over and over until eventually a fiction replaces our recollection. We are the authors of our own memoirs which are under constant revision,” says AMMO.

This track is so utterly beautiful and you can hear there is that nucleus of darkness and doubt, in this devastatingly ethereal track. Her soft and entrancing vocals glide effortlessly into the void of echoing and reverberating sound that seems ever so expansive. The layers of vocals are an added angelic sprinkling.

I think the metaphor of using the cold war is a clever one. The time of the cold war was marked by secret agents, spies, double agents, propaganda and misinformation, where people were second guessing themselves. In essence, this is what this track is about. Are you memories real or just influenced by everything around you, so can you trust those memories? Dreams become self perception. Definitely a song you should check out if you are a fan of shoegaze, dream pop and ethereal wave like Cocteau Twins. AMMO is hauntingly perfect.

https://musicbyammo.bandcamp.com/track/a-cold-war-city

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If you are old enough or a devotee to the 4AD label, the name Robin Guthrie brings up memories of dreamy guitars and iconic melodies due to being a driving force of the eternally beautiful Cocteau Twins. Since the end of Cocteau, Scottish born Guthrie has still been involved in the music scene with solo projects and working with other artists. Now based in France, he released the EP, Mockingbird Love on October the 15th, 2021.

ROBIN GUTHRIE

There are four instrumental tracks, which starts with “Copper“. Slow, near sensual piano strokes, whilst eventually the guitar chimes in. It is unhurried and simple and flows into “Eight East” which feels like a stream of consciousness, as it floats through, though a part of my mind is aware of a tinge of sorrow.

Again, “In Love And At War” bathes in a warm light and still a darkness slips through in the background. Something so beautiful as love can make hardships better and yet break your heart when that bond is stretched or broken. There is definitely a yearning in the the piano lines. Last track, “My Courtesan“, just speaks of passion and longing. It is the most verbose of the tracks and it swirls away like the sands of time.

I can hear what made the Cocteau Twins sound so unique still in this EP. Guthrie has always had this amazing talent for filling in the spaces with nearly imperceivable, harmonic noises.The EP is gorgeous with the ambient, ethereal sweetness based in real life and it is almost too short.. well that’s my complaint because I was enjoying it far too much. Luckily for us, Robin Guthrie will be giving us an album on November the 5th, called Pearl Diving. In the end this is a graceful and sublime release, however one cannot help but wonder if the title Mockingbird Love refers to the birds that hide the product of their mating in other bird’s nest…maybe that interpretation is up to you.

https://robinguthrie.bandcamp.com/album/mockingbird-love

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