December is the time to catch LunarPaths new single, “Shine“. The transatlantic darkwave duo are back after the launch of the EP, Fuse.
There is a crunchy, broken glass like texture in the rhythm at times from the electronics. The vocals are beautifully clean and clipped, holding your attention, until they drift into another dimension, sliding you with them.
Currently, I cannot put my finger on what exactly but this track reminds me a lot of Siouxsie And The Banshees, around the time of A Kiss In The Dreamhouse (1982). Lush, charismatic and experimental might be some of the reason why. The way they have distorted the rhythm, giving it a modern industrial feel, mixed with the gorgeous singing. “Shine” is possibly my favourite Lunar Paths’ track to date yet.
Ludovic Dhenry is back with his darkwave project, Eleventh Fear and a new EP. Out on Neris Records, the EP is called Waldhexen, and released on the 29th of November.
From the outset of “Waldhexen“, the build up alludes to a electronic trip of beat filled ebony darkness. The hissed whispers are the promise of portent. The flickering and stalking atmosphere of “Wald der Seelen“, has those beautiful synth chords that choke the air around you like a smoke imbued room. Tod basically means death and maybe death is awaiting you in the track, “Wie im Tod“, as it slowly creeps through and it is followed by “Waldhexen“, the remix version with its far more dance floor stylings, which sounds amazing.
As far as gothic electronic projects go, Eleventh Fear is really interesting, with the use of German lyrics by the French Dhenry, that gives the ambiance of a movie like Metropolis mixed with dulcet tones of Voldemort concocting a dangerous spell. You might need some Waldhexen in your life.
November 15th was the one year anniversary for the creation of Lunar Paths, so to celebrate, they have packed up their five singles, into an EP. Appropriately, they have called the EP, Fused, which includes the single “Rise“, that we featured previously. The group consists of Diane Dubois and Kevin Hunter, whom in the 80s were bandmates in the goth rock band Cold Dance. Life moved on, Dubois living in the US but a year ago, technology reacquainted them and Lunar Paths was the result.
From the beginning, “Dérive” is star struck with the keyboards twinkling. When the vocals arrive, the track becomes ethereal and beautiful, slowly consuming your will to escape with siren song. Hmmm, I could tell you that “Rise” has a Middle Eastern tone but then, you could also go read my previous review or more wisely, listen to it.
Imagine falling backwards into the world of Dead Can Dance, circa Within TheRealm Of A Dying Sun, and that will give you the feel and sound of “Altahilili“. Monumental and yet incredibly fragile. Next you are somewhere tropical, with the birds calling out and the natives drumming away to create “Lo Oa Soa“. Maybe the witchdoctor had you in his sights!
“MetaGoth#1” starts low and bassy, while the electronics like to remind you of their presence, but then there is that magnificent guitar. Like a tether to previous era that glitches and morphs with the electronics, unable to remain in the past.
Dubois has an angelic voice and even though Lunar Paths has a modern sound, I hear a harkening back to the 4AD period, tinges of Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance merged together, on the experimental edge. They are plumming the depths of your soul, evoking dreams of shores yet to be touched.
“The Precious Ones” sounds like it could be from Lord Of The Rings, however, it is the single that deathgaze rockers, VAZUM, dropped on the 18th of November. Emily Sturm and Zach Pliska are gearing up for an album drop next year, called V Sessions, but in the meantime you can listen to the new single with it’s complimentary two b-sides.
Pliskais the main vocalist this time for “The Precious Ones” and venomously spits out the lyrics, while the guitars are violently loud, rolling like thunder in their discontent and the drums emphatic. Sturm’s vocals wind around the chorus almost stealing it. “Actor” really slides into deathrock mode with the buzzing guitar work, that occasionally breaks out then returns to the fold. The way the rhythm moves is very snake like. The last track sees both the vocalists sharing the duties, screaming out guitars and what feels like intense pressure in the build up for “Skooge“.
I actually had to look up “Skooge” and it was in the urban dictionary as basically describing an idiot. These tracks definitely have a common theme running through all of them…..pretty much go fuck yourself and go fucking die. I mean I could be wrong but I don’t think I am. “The Precious Ones” is a dig at a scene that often is constantly looking backwards at what has been, rather than the new music there is now. Many, many moons ago, I used to run a club and if you played all the classics, you were guaranteed a full dance floor. Introduce something new but great, suddenly the floor was clear. If I go out, I still hear all the same music….it is boring and like going back in a time machine. Plus, I guess there are probably certain musicians today that will have everyone pandering to them, while others will miss out on coverage even though they deserve to be heard. In the meantime, the single and extra tracks are fantastic. I love the furious guitars and VAZUM being all prickly has made this all the more interesting. Watch out for “The Precious Ones“…….
Knock twice, your fate sealed, A CloudOf Ravens does reveal. Indeed, the 11th of November was the date for the release of the second single, “Nature If Artifice“, off the LOST HYMNS album, set to come out on the 24th of February, 2023.
It sucks you in from the beginning with elegant simplicity, from the beats to the build up into vocals. That guitar in the background like a warning siren, with the very deliberate heavy keyboard chords begging you to give them your attention. The vocals sombrely remind you that not all is well in the world.
The video alludes to past mistakes of humans only in the last century and yet maybe A Cloud Of Ravens is also tying to point out that we are making those mistakes again, though even if you aren’t a history buff, the music is brilliant. This is the “Nature Of Artifice“.
Seattle based Vance Latta is a musician of the darkwave persuasion whom previously released the EP, The Ravening. October the 27th marked the drop of his latest single, “Mysterious Places“.
No special effects or over production here and it is refreshing in a way. The synths are bright, while the drum machine keeps the score and Latta’s vocals caress the lyrics. Latta and the electronics delivering a stark and heart felt eulogy to another they love, who is caught up in religious zealotry. Definitely coldwave feels from this track, so support an upcoming talent and check out “Mysterious Places“.
This month we brought you the review of “RIP (Dead To Me)” by AILSHA and the 28th of October has seen the spooktacular release of the accompanying video. Electro goth pop about the modern inconvenience of ‘ghosting’, which means baby…. you are Dead To Me. Don’t say we never give you anything nice!
April 1st saw the release of the single “Your Last Kiss” from VVMPYRE, which features both the vocal and lyrical talents of Boston based musician, Maverick.
Maverick is going to beguile you with her vampiric touch, which may be your last. Her vocals drip promise and sexual delight to an electronic backdrop of beats and synths, with that occasional interlude of horror inspired organ/harpsichord.
VVMPYRE are threatening us soon with a good time in the form of an album. With the connections he seems to have in the industry, I can see it being a blood suckers favourite dance track.
Berlin based, Paradox Obscur, are soon to drop a new album, MORPHOGENESIS, on May, 6th but the first single has been lifted, called “Animal Reactor“, out on Metropolis Records. A video directed by Sheng-Yang Su in what looks to be in one take, has been unleashed, which to my mind is very much in Paradox Obscur’s style.
From the very beginning this grabs your attention and you feel it in the pit of your chest. There is a brilliant array of electronic sounds that assault your senses and make you want to move your body. Fingers of synths drag across your senses in a scintillating fashion.
The duo from Paradox Obscur, Toxic Razor and Kriistal Ann, pride themselves on playing everything in real-time, which means no sequencers and the like. A cross of synth pop and dark electronic music which culminates in an absolutely delightfully danceable track . Bring on the album!
David Lawrie is The Royal Ritual, an Englishman living in the U.S., taught music from a young age, now involved in the goth/industrial scenes as a composer and producer. He kindly spoke to us about his project, the new album, film making and what inspires him.
Welcome David Lawrie to the darkside of the rabbit hole that is Onyx. The Royal Ritual is a new project for you. What inspired you to go on this solo journey? The last time I had performed in an industrial outfit was with my friend Chris Coreline in 2008-2009 – when we played a string of shows, starting with the inFest Festival of 2008. It was so much fun. Since that point I have been mainly writing for documentaries, doing audio post production for film, and producing EPs/albums for various independent artists under my birth name.
Fast forward to Coldwaves 2018, where I was in the audience with Dustin Schultz who, the night before, had performed with ohGr. It made me remember how much I wanted to get back into the fold. I mentioned this to Dustin, and we started working together in 2019. With the pandemic looming, it became more of a solo project in early 2020. Ultimately Dustin contributed significantly to two songs on the debut album, but without the initial collaboration with him, I don’t think I would have pushed forwards with the project.
As the lockdown clamped down harder on us all, I continued to work on the album. The name “The Royal Ritual” came to me on a cross country road-trip, in December 2020.
I would like to talk about the two singles you have so far released. “Pews In a Pandemic” is an observation of how commercial religion can be both controlling and coersive of their flocks, then married with the music that is harsher in sound. Can you say what roused you to write this and influenced the choice in sound? Firstly I don’t want to be insulting with anything I write. Whilst it is probably very obvious that I am fundamentally anti religion, I do not hold hostility towards the majority of religious people. It is no secret that I am atheist (and as close to “a-deist” as can be), but I also understand that a belief in a higher power brings comfort to a great many people, and I wouldn’t want to take the comfort of belief away from so many.
Where this breaks down, at least for me, is in the boldness of a select “holy” few who not only claim that they have a direct communication with a deity, but they can disseminate a deistic message to a congregation – a move that, to me, is a parallel with divine dictatorship.
In the decade I have spent in America, I have really seen how bizarre things can become when religion makes good business, and the social fallout from that is a topic of great inspiration in my writing. As for the overall sound, this was not the first song I wrote for the album, and as such, it was arranged to fit in with the already fairly solid palette of the other songs that had been written.
“Empires” is the second single and a comment that many English hark back to the ‘good old days’ when the British had a huge colonial empire which was at it’s peak during the Victorian era, with the British Raj in India, the jewel in the crown. Your song writing takes on a more classical quality and evocative of something exotic, maybe even forbidden, referring to the the line ‘when I was a little girl and you were a little boy’. How did this piece come about? I do hope that the irony and sarcasm in this song is obvious. I also hope that my exclusion of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland in the proclamation of “England” and not “Britain” is not dismissed as ignorance on my part.
I wouldn’t want it to be said that I am not proud to be English, because I do love the country. Whilst its history is turbulent, it is a history from which there are many lessons to be learned. I genuinely hope that as we move forward, these lessons will inform positive change.
Me being the “little girl” in this scenario harks back to mockery in the playground, where physical weakness and displays of emotion were “girlish” traits, whereas physical strength and the “stiff upper lip” were “boyish” traits. I’m very glad we are gradually evolving past this nonsense.
The video for “Empires” is simple and yet beautifully directed by HARUKO. How was the experience making this video? I try to separate out my different creative outlets, and HARUKO is my visual artwork pseudonym. I have been fascinated by filmmaking for many years, and in 2013, purely out of necessity, I made my first videos with just me, a camera, and some lights for the music released under my birth name. I learned a great deal very quickly, and since then I have continued to add to my equipment and skillset. That enabled me to do the first two videos for The Royal Ritual completely isolated from other people (I had some help carrying lights deep into the forest for my cover of Phildel’s “Glide Dog”).
For “Empires” I wanted to work with actors to tell a story, and I knew that I needed to put the cinematography in the hands of my good friend, and long-standing filmmaker colleague, David Diley of Scarlet View Media. He and I have worked on films for many years, with me taking care of audio post production in many of his projects. His expertise, along with his knowledge of my general vision, meant that I could focus on the direction and project management of the “Empires” video – trusting that it was being captured to a very high standard. I have directed videos for other artists in the past, but this was the first time using actors. A full production, if you will. I am very proud of the outcome!
As an Englishman in the U.S., do you think being away from the U.K. gives you more perspective and also a different view while in the States? Kind of a stranger in two worlds so to speak. I have always felt like an outsider, so I am used to that feeling of being a “stranger” – I think most people who work in the arts probably feel it too!
What I have found about splitting my time between the two countries is that it has opened my eyes to layers of odd logic on both sides of the pond, and it has also left me much more humble and less opinionated about subjects on which I am not well versed, as well as being more interested in learning.
Whilst I know that my transatlantic travel leaves a large carbon footprint (which I try to offset with the food I eat, minimising the waste I create etc.), I do feel that travel is key to us all understanding each other. Until you see the “other side” for yourself, you never really know how it compares to your own situation – and I think that being able to compare makes you not only more grateful for what you do have, but also more compassionate towards other people in worse positions. Experience, not hearsay, is key to progress.
You are a sound engineer and you do musical scores for documentaries etc. Could you tell us about these and how it has influenced how you have approached creating music with Royal Ritual? Working in audio post production/sound design for film came about almost accidentally, even though in hindsight it makes perfect sense. Using found sounds as percussive (and even melodic) elements of my music has been something I have done since studying my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Field recording is one of my favourite pastimes.
When David Diley asked me to work on the audio for his film “Of Shark And Man” in 2012 (the film was released a few years later), it was a really exciting challenge. He told me that the main character of the film was not the sharks, nor the interviewees, but rather the water itself. Creating an almost musical sound for the water was a very rewarding exploration – almost the reverse of what I had been doing to create elements of my own music.
David Diley also asked me to compose the opening theme for the film, which helped me to develop my own way of mapping out a piece of music to visual cues. With regards to The Royal Ritual, every single song was written with a very strong visual in mind, using techniques I have developed in both my musical and audio post production worlds.
What can we expect from the full length album MARTYRS? “Pews In A Pandemic” and “Empires” paint the musical extremes for the album. There is a lot of darkness, but also (I hope) a lot of light in there. As much as I focused on creating sound design elements for the musical side of things, I also spent a long time working on the lyrics – something I hope translates and resonates well with people. Words have always been important to me, so I made sure to take my time with the words on the album.
As I mentioned before, the album has something of a sonic “palette,” so whilst the songs have a lot of variety in their songwriting, I think their arrangements are tied together by a general “sound” (for want of a better term).
I am so glad that the singles seem to have been well received so far, but I feel like they make more sense in context with the rest of the album. I pieced it together with two sides of a record in mind, and I am very much looking forward to holding and spinning the vinyl myself!
What music first set your soul on fire when you were young and who do you enjoy or still fans that fire? That question is always going to open Pandora’s Box, as far as I’m concerned, so I will try to keep it short.
The influences that jump to mind right now are Erik Satie, Pink Floyd, Arvo Pärt, Tool, Henryk Gorecki, Aphex Twin, Philip Glass, Björk, David Sylvian, Nine Inch Nails, Tears For Fears, Nitin Sawhney (and I could go on and on…)
The most perfect piece of music to me, however, is “High Hopes” by Pink Floyd. There is a long story behind that choice, but I am certain that it was that song which served as the catalyst for me truly wondering about how modern music was put together.
Thank you for your time and we can’t wait for the album MARTYRS. It has been a pleasure – thank you!