When I received the new Bow Ever Down single, “Undercover“, I thought, oh yes, I’ve heard about this. Have to say I was not prepared for it to be so big as it is. I mean it’s generous enough to be called an EP. Kimberley Kommeier with her co-conspirators, John Ruszin III and Wess Fowler (Silence In Machine) have created a synthpop driven collaboration with an interesting crew, whose talents lay from darkwave to industrial.

There is the delicate and yet forceful “Trail Of Tears” that features Silence In Machine and produced by Ruszin the III, which is followed with the electronic overhaul by replicant rme remix of “Burn You Alive“, off the previous album Let It Burn, released in May. Fiction 8 and The Bleak Assembly have created The Cure like “Slow Down Time“, full of wandering guitar and beautiful sadness with Kommeier’s vocals. Next is the slow and melancholy dirge of the Spungee written track “Human Emotion“.

Okay…. now we come to the cover version of Madonna’sOh Father“. I am not the biggest Madonna fan and the name didn’t ring any bells until I heard it, jogging my memory. Ah, yes, so you have the original cover with the music supplied by Artificial Zero which is a far more industrial interpretation. There are nine…. yes 9… remixes for your listening pleasure, from a plethora of talent giving their spin to this track, from acts like Sys Machine, Addambombb, Raygun Girls and others. Oh, you want to know what they sound like? Well then you might just have to go to Bandcamp and give it a little spin

UNDERCOVER (the singles) | Bow Ever Down (bandcamp.com)

Bow Ever Down 0fficial | Facebook

Music | silence in machine (bandcamp.com)

Music | Fiction8 (bandcamp.com)

Music | Artificial Zero (bandcamp.com)

Music | dj addambombb (bandcamp.com)

Music | Steven OLaf (bandcamp.com)

Music | Dread Risks

Music | SINthetik Messiah (bandcamp.com)

Music | The Raygun Girls

Music | .SYS Machine (bandcamp.com)

From Paimio, Finland, Eenian Dreams are beckoning you with their newest single, “Beacons (chroma null)“, released on September the 1st. Pauliina (vocals) and T. C. Newman (synths, producing) are the duo that make up this electronic project, founded in 2021.

There is anticipation at the start to see where the piano style goes to and then we aren’t disappointed. Pauliina’s vocals are electronically contorted though this seems to fit the ambiance of the track. There is such pain in the lyrics, a sadness that consumes all in its wake, a promise that there is a point of no turning back. The electronics are sympathetic and swell beneath the vocals

What do you do when all all hope seems lost for a planet that we are destroying? Most definitely write a song about it, because silence is being a complicit accomplice. It is almost like the vocals are the modern world, unnatural. I can see why they call this dreamy music, as it billows and wanders through your ears very pleasantly. “Beacons (chroma null)” are used as warning signals and Eenian Dreams have lit theirs in a beautiful manner.

Beacons (chroma null) | Eenian Dreams (bandcamp.com)

Eenian Dreams | Facebook

Eenian Dreams (@eeniandreams) • Instagram photos and videos

PURE OBSESSIONS & RED NIGHTS have been in the French scene for well over 20 years, though previously under the guise of PORN, this original incarnation being a far more heavy industrial affair. Most recently, the band released the synthwave influenced album, Let Your Obsessions Run Wild, where every track is so good, they are all being set free upon the world as singles. The 7th of September will be dropping the latest single, “Don’t Let The Night Die In Vain“, with a lush video to go along with it. Of this four piece band, Philippe Deschemin is their lead singer and main writer, so honestly there is no better person to ask about the band, the foray into synthwave style and the new album.

Bonjour Philippe, bienvenue sur Onyx!

What is the darkwave scene like in France?

We have a small but active scene. France was never a country where this kind of music was very successful, but we always had some good bands!

Your project was originally called PORN, which was much more industrial. How did it all start?

I started the band a long time ago in the early 2000s. We were playing a kind of industrial rock, with some glam rock elements. The name of the band was PORN. I am a big fan of The Cure, so it was a reference to the album Pornography. At the time, I did not know how complicated it would become to be visible in the internet…

There was a three-album release about a strangler. What inspired you to write this?

In 2010 I was working on a Sci-Fi novel: Contoyen (a word I invented, made with CONsumer/ciTOYEN (means citizen in French). The main character feels like he is devoured from the inside by an Ogre. I wanted to go further with this “feeling”. Years after, I started to work on this triple album. The main character would be Mr. Strangler, a serial killer. During the first album of the trilogy, about his childhood, he experienced this feeling. And he became the Ogre, with an insatiable appetite. About the name, I practice a lot of combat sport: Boxing, French Boxing, Judo, MMA, Brazilian Jiujitsu. I had some choke specialties, worked them a lot (in MMA/BJJ), so the name Mr. Strangler came to me… I wanted to create a comic-like character. A dude that can be Batman’s enemy!

Since then, you have changed the band name to PURE OBSESSIONS & RED NIGHTS. What was the reasoning behind this change?

It was a nightmare. Our YouTube page was (and is still) ghosted, the Facebook publication restricted automatically, same on Instagram. And sending them tons of emails changed nothing. It’s was a big thing to do, and it was not that easy… At the beginning, I did not know what to do… Then I figured something out with the 4 letters. And the new name came! I was already thinking of a new trilogy or concept/story to work on. And The Night Trilogy came to me! And it suited perfectly with the new name: Pure Obsessions / Red Nights

Philippe, you have said that you are now pursuing a more 80s electronic/synth sound. What is it about the 80s that is drawing you to that style?

I grew up in the eighties. My first musical memories came from the mid-eighties. I remember listening to the radio, I discovered Depeche mode, The Cure, Tears for Fears… I did not know the names of the bands. I discovered their name later, when I saw the music videos… It was a “love at first hear”. I still love the era. Maybe it’s a kind of “Madeleine de Proust”.

You have a new album out “Let Your Obsessions Run Wild”. How long did it take you to write and record it?

It took me a year, I think… It was a very natural session. I did almost all by myself. I was very focused, so it was quick!

This new album is all about wooing the ladies, so is this a nice change from writing about stranglers?

I don’t know… but I hope it works!

Many songs have been released as singles. Was it something you were going to do from the start or did it just happen?

It just happened. It was also a way to prepare the audience, and not just drop an album without any guitars! Some of my followers are metalheads. But nowadays, even metalheads like synth music!

Did Covid affect the making of the album?

Not at all! But the gigs were cancelled… I hope we will be back on tour soon!

The new single is “Don’t Let the Night Die Vain” with the official video, out on the 7th of September. Can you tell us about this song and also about the creation of the video?

I think that this single, ‘Don’t Let the Night Die in Vain’, represents very well the essence of this new album. Half alive, half dead, Mr Strangler haunts the nights, and helps people in despair. He appears as a guide – teaching you how to live and how to fight, when you think that all hope is gone. In this music video, a young woman comes to Mr Strangler. She is looking for help, abused by her boyfriend. Mr Strangler gives her some advice, and a useful tool…

We’ve done a lot of music videos with Matteo and Chiara from VD Pictures. They work with great bands – Lord of the Lost, Powerwolf… and Matteo is also a musician. So, it’s kind of easier to work with them, ‘cause they understand the music. The shooting took place in an old paper factory in Switzerland. I wanted a place that looked big, wide, haunted… A place where Mr Strangler could be appearing, like a ghost…

Is Philippe a romantic at heart?

As Mr. Strangler! And Mr. Strangler is, and is not.

Who would you say are your influences for this new sound?

After the industrial rock / gothic metal of the ‘Mr Strangler Trilogy’ (triple album, 2020), and the alt-rock / goth / post-punk of ‘We are the Stranglings’ (2021); I wanted to dive deeper into my eighties influences for this 100% synth-driven album. I produced this new album using vintage synths and equipment: I wanted it to have that very warm, analogue sound, typical of the period. I tried to create something between my eighties influences and my industrial / goth-rock background – synthpop grooves and darkwave ambiances, but with an industrial rock energy. The influences: The Cure, Killing Joke, Tears For Fears, Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode …

Would you say this is the music you grew up listening to originally?

I will not have the pretention to say that I do the same as The Cure, Depeche Mode… I am not that talented. I do my thing…

Which modern musicians influence you these days?

I like TR/ST, Boy Harsher, IAMX, Kat VON D, Blakq Audio, The Soft Moon, Empathy Test, Cold Cave… The actual darkwave scene is great

Do you think you’ll ever go back to that heavier industrial style?

Of course!

How did fans react to the new sound?

Our followers are very open-minded. Even with the Mr. Strangler Trilogy we were not a pure metal/rock band. We always had this darkwave / dark synth side. I was very surprised with the feedback, and it looks like this album, Let Your Obsessions Run Wild, continues to gain more listeners!

Are there any plans to play live soon?

We are working on it! I hope in 2023. I just finished a new album, so we will have more time for the gigs.

Thank you, Philippe, for joining us!

Thank you very much!

Music | Pure Obsessions & Red Nights (bandcamp.com)

Pure Obsessions & Red Nights | Facebook

The label, Brutal Resonance Records, had a bit of a coup, signing the cyber synth project, Slighter to their stable. Colin C. is Slighter and to celebrate this union, has brought forth the EP, Welcome To Riot City made up of five original tracks and five remixes.

Welcome To Riot City” is brooding and dark from the start. The hairs rise on the back of your neck with the movement of the sleek synths, which runs into the the robotic vocalised “Breaking In“. A sleaziness invades “Comadose“, foreign and exotic, waving in and out of reality. The tension builds as there is a “Firefight On Warett Street“, where you can almost hear evasive sirens in the music, as well as the cocking of a gun. Last track before the remixes is “High Tech, High Life” with its crunchy glitching married to the soundscape building synths that are taking you on the journey.

The remixes are made up of Eva X with her intriguing wubbing and chunky power noise influenced “Welcome To Riot City“, the HOSTILE ARCHITECT brings in stellar beats and bass drops to aid you “Breaking In“, royb0t is definitely not going to let you slip into a coma with what they do with “Comadose“. Planetdamage take on “Firefight On Warett Street” and the shells are falling as we go into hyperdrive mode while Kizunaut gets all prickly and dance inferno for “High Tech, High Life“. It is a really fun EP with Slighter showing his expertise in electronic music and getting five amazing musicians to give each track a thumping good makeover. Welcome To Riot City, and come and get some!

Welcome to Riot City | Slighter | Brutal Resonance Records (bandcamp.com)

Slighter | Facebook

Music | Brutal Resonance Records (bandcamp.com)

Music | Eva X (bandcamp.com)

Music | Abelisk (bandcamp.com)

royb0t (bandcamp.com)

Planetdamage (bandcamp.com)

Music | Kizunaut (bandcamp.com)

What might you do if you are stuck inside? You might listen to some music and that music might be the latest single from She 1 – Him 2, called “Stuck Inside“. Evan Nave (Lestat/PKS) and Cassie Bishop (Shy Moon) make up this electronica duo of power!

Nave is the electronic voice in the background, maybe trying to escape the confines of its box. All the while, Bishop’s feminine wiles and vocals delicately lure you in. Sweet and moreish in this synth laden wonderland.

I like how this pair share the lead vocal roles, there is a real symmetry in the singing and even the electronic dimension. It wavers between 80s synthwave and the modern era, which is both fun to listen to and quite catchy. Get “Stuck Inside” with She 1 – Him 2.

Stuck Inside | She 1 · Him 2 (bandcamp.com)

She 1 · Him 2 | Facebook

Brought to you on the German label, Blackjack Illuminist Records in Europe and self released in their homeland, Social Union is the Aotearoa (New Zealand) darkwave/synthpop project with their latest EP, Fall Into Me.

With the title track, “Fall Into Me“, kicking things off and it feels old school synth with beautiful rolling vocals entwined with the electronics, smooth and tugging at your heart strings. “Choke” has these lovely guitar jangles infiltrating the tune which gives this track a nice dark feel with the lyrics about needing a friend but instead, being put in a situation of wanting to escape.

Staccato beats between the drum machine, guitar and synths, herald in “Abscond” and the vocals fall into your ears, while the vocals in “Our Hands Don’t Fit“, are gorgeous as they sit hand in hand with the guitar. “Fall Into Me (Social Sport Remix)” just kicks this track into a new realm. Bass heavy with touches of power noise and trance, that pierce your insides in a rather pleasant way and this would be great on any dance floor.

What can I say? It is pretty lush mix between the vocals, electronics and guitar work. Social Union holds your attention with their wonderful compositions, borne of light thrown on murky corners, matched with soul touching simplicity. Fabulous darkwave coming from New Zealand that easily matches the likes of Twin Tribes or She Past Away.

Fall Into Me EP | Social Union (bandcamp.com)

Social Union | Facebook

People might recognise the name Jasyn Bangert and that is hardly surprising as the lead singer of the ever popular God Module but he is also the fellow behind the synth pop project Hexheart. Funeral Flowers is the second album from Hexheart, which was released on June the 17th.

From the first track, “Erase Yesterday“, there is actually a profound sense of joy, as if the whatever happens, there is always a tomorrow or sparkling rivulets of synths such as “RED“, which for some reason reminded me a little of early New Order. “OV ME” and “(bottom of) BELOW” feel like the lead up to the first single off the album, “The Funeral Party“. If that sounds familiar, then you would be correct as it is a cover The Cure track, though this version has a far more jaunty vibe to it than the original, off the vaunted Faith album.

Keeping in that mode, “See In The Dark” with the chiming guitars and dance beat, while the cosmic “Psychic Friends” spirits you away with the pulsating rhythm. There is the wending “After This“, that bops it’s way through to the last track, “(so far) BELOW” which is the only song that sports a slightly harder edge in it’s melancholy.

Most electronic/industrial artists seem to have more than one project on the go and Hexheart is very synthpop orientated, so utterly different from God Module. There is a air of Birthday Massacre, mixed with The Cure’s Disintegration, with that lilting guitar . I am still not sure if I like an album completely with electronically altered vocals, though I know Bangert is using them to create a theme throughout, the semi human or slightly detached to humanity but I would love to hear him sing a few of these tracks in clean vocals as I think that it would be magic to hear these dreamy pieces given extra soul breaking warmth.

Funeral Flowers | Hexheart (bandcamp.com)

Hexheart | Facebook

Portland’s Xibling (Sibling) are a synth lead duo on the experimental edge and on March the 1st, the label Young And Cold Records, combined two previously released EP’s, Yesbody and Maladjusted onto one vinyl. Moriah West and Julian Thieme have so far released four original EPs, plus other livestream material.

Hello Stranger” exudes the enthusiasm that this band seems to be all about with a rhythm that thrusts you forwards, glitching with the howling vocals replicating a wolfs’s call. The single, “Butterfly Curbstomp” is a brutal space oddity of having your teeth kicked in, with an strangely B52’s feel while “Fold” could have come from the early 80s with its manic robotic intent. To be a model, you might have to be made of “Plasticine” to keep your looks and figure, which is exactly about what this song is about, sung with such passion. “Schadenfreude” or the pleasure gained by someone else’s failure, the male German style vocals in staccato, all over this piece and this mixes so well into “Maladjusted“, with the rap inspired spoken word that melt into beautiful, silken tendrils of singing and who can say no to lyrics like a maladjusted little shit, dropping the bass. There is a slow burn to”Slow Fold“, as it curls around you, fingers digging into your throat.

Butterfly Curbstomp IV” is possibility what it is like to be on speed in a formula one vehicle, an insane ride for a remix. The darker allure of fetish and sexual angst is “Latex Gloves“, which is going to stalk you with those commanding beats, though this all hits the brick wall in “Vine“, with the echoing, glossy attitude. The bleeps and electronic distortion vie with the vocals for control with “Contract“, while “Puppet” has an air to it like the Siouxsie/Budgie project, Creatures, especially vocally. There is this beautiful synth line that runs through “Reflection” and though the lyrics are not a happy affair but the music itself whirls around you. The last track is one of the title tracks “Yesbody” and it had an amazing vibrancy and a pop like perfection.

Bloody marvelous and such a fun collection of tracks. I love how they manage to pull so many different sounds out of their electronic equipment and it is all about the passion behind the music. You can hear the enjoyment Xibling exude when they play and while they might play electronic music, but they really have a very punk attitude behind it all.

Yesbody / Maladjusted Split LP from Young and Cold Records | Xibling (bandcamp.com)

Xibling | Facebook

Young & Cold Records | Facebook

Legends of the electronic scene. Germany’s X MARKS THE PEDWALK, released the official video of their latest single, “Yesterdays“, which is off their album, New / End, on the Meshwork Music label. The video is beautifully made, cine graphic and rich, complimenting the gorgeous vocals of ESTEFANÍA, a track about family and love that transverse time. It is a perfect synthpop tune and in some ways, reminds me of ABBA, especially with the very human sentiment.

New / End | X Marks The Pedwalk (bandcamp.com)

meshwork music | label for electronic music (meshwork-music.com)

X-Marks The Pedwalk | Facebook

Am Tierpark is a project with the combined superpowers of Claus Larsen (vocals, lyrics) and John R Mirland (music, production). They dropped their latest album, Forevermore, May the 10th, on the Læbel record label. This is the duo’s synthpop project, amongst their other acts such as Larsen & Mirland plus a.o., Claus Larsen’s Leæther Strip, Klutæ, and John R Mirland’s Mirland, M73….that is only naming a few.

Oh yes the synthpop is strong in this album, as it starts with the “Shower Me With Freedom” and Larsen’s dulcet tones and those brilliant synths. It is followed by the lyrically mournful and poignant “I Let You Go“. There is a wonderful trance element to “Love Collide“, as the delightful synths dance around Larsen’s vocals, which changes pace with the more somber “Just Watch Me“, that has these beautiful whirls of electronics that make your senses fly.

Ooh yeah, the sassy and sexy boy toys in “Room 24“, has those heavy overtones of Bronski Beat with an Italo disco feel, which is continued in “Not Welcome“, though this is a tale of love, rejected by a ignorant portion of the population. Title track, “Forevermore” has a heavenly start with those synths, in a slow burn of hurt and those sighing synths meld into the smooth sounding “Mighty World“, while “Sacrifice Your Purity” has an amazing amount of movement, and threw me into 1983, with the dance rhythm.

This blips of a ghost submarine dive into “You’re not My Enemy” with its cool chic, and some keyboard lines that could have come from the sublime John Foxx. Larsen is cooing into your ear over a freight train of delicate electronics in “Bloom Together“, unlike the track “Leave In Peace” with it’s purposeful slower beats. There is a light feel to “Hold Our Heads High“, conveyed in the lyrics and bright music. “Cleanse Our Hearts” is pure joy in music form, while the last track, “Moving In“, is almost hypnotic in tone.

Okay, confession time. I have had this album for a while and unforeseen circumstances have slowed me down, but this is an album that I wanted to desperately tell people about. The late 70s and early 80s is where my musical influences lay, so listening to Forevermore, definitely stirs memories of Depeche Mode, Erasure, John Foxx and artists of that ilk, who were on the cutting edge of electronic music at that point in time. Though, that is not to say the Am Tierpark is some sort of copy, as they are most certainly not, taking the love of this style of music and adding their modern spin and incorporating the Euro/Italo style such as “Sacrifice Your Purity“, which is pure disco orientated joy. Larsen’s vocals are yet another facet to the distinct sound that is Am Tierpark, making their music so enjoyable. You don’t have to be a child of the 80s to enjoy this album though but don’t take my word for it…please go check them out for yourselves.

Forevermore | Am Tierpark

Am Tierpark (facebook.com)