Posts Tagged ‘Dark Pop’

eMERGENCY heARTS – 6th May 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

SINE’s new 5 song EP, Mantis 1, is the first in a trilogy of EPs, “Mantis 1, 2 & 3”. The hype for the release pulls a spotlight on the involvement of a name producer, with the EP being ‘produced by SINE founder, Rona Rougeheart in collaboration with esteemed audio engineer Charles Godfrey at Scary American Studio in Austin, TX. Godfrey, in his two decade plus career, has been engineer/producer on over 75 recordings, including the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’, It’s Blitz! and Mosquito, The Black Angels, Indigo Meadow, and notable work for…Trail of Dead, SWANS, among so many more’. No question: Godfrey’s resumé is impressive, and there’s similarly no question that a decent producer can make a huge, huge difference, with great production having the capacity to render a recording far more than the sum of its parts (Joy Division simply would not have been the same without Martin Hannett’s work, however unconventional and difficult his methods), while equally, poor production can be crippling. Then again, engineering is perhaps equally important: it’s worth noting that Steve Albini doesn’t consider himself to be a producer, but his engineering skills have brought the life to so many albums, and not just the ones he’s renowned for. Still, for all that, you can’t polish a turd: you still need songs and for them to be played in a way that does the material some kind of justice.

Everything comes together just so on this release, and one question I often consider is how close to the artistic ambition is the end result? I have a sense that Mantis I is everything Rougeheart had in her head at conception.

‘Attack’ certainly brings plenty, a combative, dark disco thud of a beat pitched against a relentless throb of synthesised bass. In contrast, ‘Until’ is more overtly pop, but it’s pop in the way Garbage are pop – eclectic, savvy, the production simultaneously crisp and grimy. ‘Future Whores’ is stark, and if there’s something of an early New Order vibe about it, there’s equally some early Pet Shop Boys, and that’s by no means a criticism. Then again, the expensive, yawning notes border on the mellow new age grooves of The Beloved, while the distorted vocals and thumping bass are more industrial… in combination, it crashes hard in the domain of industrial shoegaze, and if that’s not yet been recognised as a thing, now is the time because it’s here and it’s in your face.

Things get murkier and meaner on ‘Blurred’, where I’m reminded of The Human League’s ‘Being Boiled’, only with a harder technoindustrial edge, and the pulsing, bulbous bass is dominated by Rougeheart’s blank, robotic monotone vocal, that’s treated with a metallic edge and some grainy reverb.

Closer ‘Control’ burrows deeper into the darkness, a shuddering mass of slow velocity – yet for all the crushing grind and gnarly digital distortion, the dislocation and thunderous tribal drums, it still slides in a truly aching bridge with a magnificent vocal melody that evokes wistful summer scenes, before crushing them like ant underfoot in a driving death-disco slam.

It all adds up to a meaty and pretty powerful release, and if the idea of releasing three EPs instead of an album seems perverse, it will be interesting to see how SINE utilise the format after such a strong start.

AA

a2098796503_10

Futura Futura Records – 6th April 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Ah, romantic love… that all-encompassing, all-immersive burst of excitement that comes with the new. It’s that euphoria that drives people crazy, that people spend half their lives chasing, only to find it elusive, and it’s the blinding dazzlement of this ‘love’ that’s inspired infinite pop songs and poems through the ages: it was the very cornerstone of the tropes for the Elizabethan sonnet, and not a lot has changed in five hundred years, in real terms. It’s not that it’s a myth, it’s just that it’s fleeting at best.

Subterranean Lovers know this when they sing ‘I want to love you like a mother / I want to love you like a king / I want to love you like a god / I want to love you more than I’ve loved anything / I want to love you like a poet / I want to love you like an artist…’ and this makes ‘Brilliant Things’ a savvy slice of gothy pop.

Building from simple acoustic guitar and vocal and introducing the other instrumental elements of drums, bass, synth in succession, ‘Brilliant Things’ may glow brightly, but there’s a dark undertone beneath the lustrous, basking glory of these elevated aspirations, as if the weight of them drags such perfection beyond reach. This, in itself, brings a twist of anguish, the realisation that perfection is even more unobtainable than that magnificent, pedestal-standing object of desire.

‘You’re silver and gold / you’re mine to hold / you’re everything’ hints at the all-consuming and ultimately potentially damaging way obsession isn’t healthy, and the delivery is bold and dramatic, with a captivating vocal melody that’s enriched by enticing layers of harmony that leave you aching for more. Brilliant indeed.

AA

Artwork - Subterranean Lovers

Greek dark pop artist Lia Hide has recently unveiled ‘Proposal’, the first single from their new album, The Missing Fourth Guest.

The ‘Proposal’ is an invitation to a debate, a dispute, a symposium, where the three people involved are discussing the ideas that puzzle them throughout their lives. The lyrics are weaved in a dialogue between the lead singer and her alter-ego.

The ‘Proposal’ video was shot at the historic Bagkeion Hotel, in Omonoia square, Athens, Greece. The three band members are investigating elements of the Timeaus (Plato) dialogue, getting ready in their rooms for a later dinner (“Dinner” is also the title of the next single & the musical sibling of “Proposal”), in the Timeaus Sonata, the conceptual three-part work of the album .

Watch it here:

http://a%20href=

AA

thumbnail_liaphotofixed

Darkwave act VVMPYRE begins a new reign in blood in 2022 with a horrific new single ‘Offering’. Inspired by vampire cults and 70’s cult horror films, ‘Offering’ is a track that personifies the leaders of these cults in an alluring anthem. VVMPYRE creates a modernized sound with a rekindled inspiration from artists like The Sisters Of Mercy and Inkubus Sukkubus.

In a search for the right voice, VVMPYRE reached out to CORLYX singer Caitlin Stokes. VVMPYRE’s twisted imagination is met with a set of lyrics as if the chant to a ceremony against the backdrop of increasingly massive and infectious melodies.

Together with VVMPYRE’s production, ‘Offering’ is a monstrous mix of classic electrogoth, 70’s horror scores, and modern darkwave to form a bloody anthem that unleashes a barrage of hooks. Brandon Ashley of DTuned Brighton Productions and The Dark adds a gripping guitar to the mix, building the track up further in the chorus and bridge, only equally met by VVMPYRE’s haunting organ melodies.

Check the video here:

AA

d8ede0ae-4189-1bba-8cd4-c424e569b1c9

Ahead of the release of their new album, Fascination, released 18th February 2022 on Metropolis Records, The Birthday Massacre have unveiled ‘Dreams of You’.

Listen to ‘Dreams of You’ here:

A Canadian darkwave ensemble who incorporate elements of electronica, goth and new wave into their lush and atmospheric dark pop sound, The Birthday Massacre have enjoyed success over the last decade with albums such as ‘Hide And Seek’ (2012) and ‘Under Your Spell’ (2017), both of which charted at home and abroad. The early spring of 2020 then saw the release of the brooding and mystical ‘Diamonds’, just as the onset of the global pandemic curtailed extensive touring plans to promote it.

The group has released a brand new single entitled ‘Dreams Of You’ today as an opening taster from their upcoming ninth album, ‘Fascination’, which is out on 18th February 2022. Expansive sounding yet intimate feeling, TBM’s signature blend of captivating electronics, aggressive guitars, cinematic melodies and beautifully bewitching vocals are on full display, while the album shows that the magical world they have created with their music has grown ever more captivating.

The Birthday Massacre commence a 30 date US tour the week after album release, with a similarly extensive set of dates in the UK and mainland Europe to follow later in 2022.

The Birthday Massacre formed in 2000 in Ontario and were originally known as Imagica, their name taken from the title of a novel by Clive Barker. Having relocated to Toronto, they renamed themselves The Birthday Massacre just before the release of their debut album, ‘Nothing & Nowhere’, in the summer of 2002. The ‘Violet’ EP was issued in 2004 and then made available in expanded form as a full album via Metropolis Records, a label with whom the group have remained ever since.

The next two TBM albums, ‘Walking with Strangers’ (2007) and ‘Pins and Needles’ (2010), plus the EP ‘Imaginary Monsters’ EP (2011), were followed by 2012’s ‘Hide and Seek’, which enjoyed a warm critical reception and a measure of chart success. The group turned to their fans to help crowdfund their sixth album, ‘Superstition’, which appeared in late 2014 and was supported by major tours in North America, the UK, mainland Europe and Brazil.

A compilation of early four-track demos entitled ‘Imagica’ (2016) preceded ‘Under Your Spell’, released in 2017 and which made a strong showing on multiple US charts. Three years later, the band celebrated their 20th anniversary with ‘Diamonds’, its release seeing new drummer Phillip Elliot and bassist Brett ‘Bat’ Carruthers join the band’s ranks. The latter is also the frontman of alternative rock band A Primitive Evolution.

2404a3cc6255e036d4779a41b476f4484d2dd75c

Finalists in Belgian’s magazine Humo’s Rock Rally 2016 and winners of broadcaster Studio Brussel’s ‘De Nieuwe Lichting’ 2018, their packed festival summer and completely sold out club tour took them all over Belgium in 2018. Portland creates dreamy, everlasting storytelling songs.

The band’s debut single ‘Pouring Rain’ gained more than a million streams on Spotify, under their own management. Their subtle rework (upon request of Studio Brussel) of alt-J’s ‘Matilda’ gained popularity faster than expected and was released as a successful second single.

Their rise in popularity didn’t go unnoticed and last summer Portland proudly teamed up with [PIAS]. The first result of this partnership was ‘Lucky Clover’, an emotional, dreamy and subtle piece of harmonic prose, whose greatest strength is the harmonies and interaction between front duo Jente Pironet and Sarah Pepels. The single got picked up on radio in Flanders, club shows sold out quickly and an invitation to play this year’s Rock Werchter and Pukkelpop festivals followed.

Gearing up to release their debut full length album after the summer, Portland now proudly presents their new single ‘Expectations’. An epic and cathartic love song using lush strings, chimes, timpani, electronics and electric guitars to counter Jente and Sarah’s remarkable voices. “‘Expectations’ is about high hopes, deep disappointments and very abstract interactions between attractions, rejections, doubts and certainties,” Jente explains. It’s a bold move and a step up from their previous output, still retaining the same otherworldly, dreamlike quality.

Watch the video here:

AA

Portland

Christopher Nosnibor

There’s nothing shameful about pop music per se, and there’s no two ways about it: a good hook is a good hook, and however much you – or I – might adore obscure noisy shit of the most punishing velocity, there’s no substitute for a killer chorus, well-delivered. So, enter Chess Smith. She looks the part, and sound it, too.

So how’s ‘Queen of the High Held Head Walk’ for a tongue-twister of a song-title? It’s the first we’ve heard of Chess Smith here at Aural Aggro but hopefully, it won’t be the last. A sharp-edged, dark-pop tune, it’s the lead track from her six-track EP of the same title, and melds a heavily chorused / flange-treated Curesque bassline to a hard-edged 80s disco beat. Smith’s vocal is strong without being shrill, as she delivers a powerful message of self-affirmation.

The other tracks are far from weak, showcasing a pop talent with a heavy 80s influence, benefiting from 21st century production values. The seething dark electro of ‘Pinocchio’ offers up an undulating rhythmic force, and as a whole, this EP shows more than a little promise: there’s a confidence and coolness about Smith’s presentation which suggests she’s got big prospects.

 

 

Chess Smith - Queen