Posts Tagged ‘Darkwave’

The latest single by Swedish post-punk/darkwave act A Projection sees the Stockholm-based quartet maintain their recent move towards a more electronic sound with a new single entitled ‘Anywhere’ that has a distinct mid-80s electro-pop vibe. Out on 30th September, a video for the song has been made available a day ahead of its release.

The group’s upcoming fourth album, In A Different Light, has already had the songs ‘Darwin’s Eden’, ‘No Control’, ‘Careless’ and now ‘Anywhere’ lifted from it as singles. Encompassing both ‘80s post-punk and electronic elements, it will be their second full-length record released on Metropolis Records and follows 2019’s ‘Section’. Further details will follow shortly.

Initially inspired by the dark post-punk/proto-goth of The Cure, Sisters Of Mercy and Joy Division along with the electronica of Depeche Mode, the band are also known for their compelling and dynamic live shows.

The video for ‘Anywhere’ has been made by Ukrainian filmmaker and artist Shorkina Valeri, who also shot the recent promo clip for ‘Careless’.

Watch the video for ‘Anywhere’ here:

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On September 9, darkwave artist Curse Mackey will release his highly-anticipated new full-length album, Immoral Emporium, the follow-up to his 2019 industrial masterpiece, Instant Exorcism. Curse will also embark on a North American tour as a special guest for darkwave legends, Clan of Xymox.
Immoral Emporium is an intense, dark electronic music experience. Curse emphasizes, “This is a NEW album for modern times, in the here and now.”

True to his word, Immoral Emporium pushes the boundaries of genre with a vast dynamic range, from a tortured whisper to a triumphant howl. The first single, “Lacerations” is a dancefloor stomper with hypnotic vocals, a hard-hitting chorus with wailing synths and bin-shaking beats.

The album moves into poppy, upbeat club territory with the earworm ‘Dead Fingers Talk’.  The buildups are big, such as in ‘Omens and Monuments’, with monstrous synths that bring Immoral Emporium to a goosebump-inducing, cathartic end leaving the listener looking forward to the future.

Curse says, “Immoral Emporium was created under very remote, unusual, stressful conditions. This record is a dangerous listen. By the time it reaches the last song, I, as the protagonist, am essentially already dead. However, my last words are meant to give hope to the listener, my friends around the world…that you can live to fight another day, knowing you don’t have to give in to the fear, pain, and worry. These things will pass and you are not alone."

Clocking the William Burroughs reference in ‘Dead Fingers Talk’, interest in the album is piqued here at Aural Aggravation, and never more so than by the promo clip for ‘Lacerations’, released as a taster for the album, which you can watch here:

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5th August 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Lately, I’ve been seeing people on the Internet bemoaning the number of ‘lockdown’ albums, and even the emergence of ‘lockdown’ novels, questioning the need for anything that recreates, recounts, reflects upon or is otherwise set during the most recent of historical events. They all seem to make more or less the same case – that we all went through it, it was bad enough, and there’s no need to harp on or relive it. But artists tend to process and comprehend the world and their experiences of it through the act of creation, and just because we all experienced the pandemic and various lockdowns, no two people will have had the exact same experience or the exact same psychological response. Besides, isn’t more or less all art some form of response or reaction to the human condition, or otherwise a reflection thereof? No-one beefs about an excessive amount of war novels or poems or various genre novels, like crime or sci-fi or fantasy. Perhaps it’s because they prefer escapism to real life.

As the accompanying blurbage explains, ‘This album is a reflection of the dark days the world has seen in recent years. It’s about the tragedies many of us have faced and the effort to find the will to fight on. We remember those we have lost because it is through them that we carry on into tomorrow’.

Strange Days is pitched as ‘a symbolic re-birth for the project, returning with a new zeal to create and perform’, and it’s not short on pumping beats and rippling synths. What sets it apart from so many other industrial / electropop / darkwave hybrids is Voicecoil’s vocal: it’s in that gothy baritone region, but for all of that, and the sense of performance and theatre that comes with those well-established genre tropes, his delivery had a certain emotional depth and sincerity that lifts the songs to another level.

So where ‘Versterbrogade’ comes on like a dance remix of a Depeche Mode in terms of its musical arrangement, and the verses observe the popular style of singing in the throat, a wheezy, grit-edged monotone, the verses unleash the hook and some ‘proper’ singing with heart and soul, and in doing so breathes life into the bleak experience of life where days drift and fade into one another. ‘Speak in Sine’ brings a harder-edged beat and a starker atmosphere, and it sits well with the themes of dislocation and alienation which run through the lyrics. ‘No Easy Reply’ is remarkably sensitive, not to mention accessible, and Strange Days has some great tunes, from the expansive, pulsating yet reflective ‘Why’ to the brooding piano-led curtain-closer of ‘Drift’.

While electronic music – particularly of that dark pop / industrial / goth disco persuasion – can often suffer from feeling sterile, detached, robotic, and impersonal, Strange Days is anything but. It possesses a certain warmth, a humanity, that resonates on numerous levels.

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California darkwave duo, Male Tears has just unveiled their latest single, ‘Deal3r’. The song plays into the themes of an upcoming record that speaks on the abuse and hypocrisy of city night life.

‘Deal3r’ tells the story of the ultimate example of ‘style over substance.’ It’s the tale of an important person; a ‘legend’ embraced by the ‘scene’. But beneath the ‘image’ and artistic craft, lies an individual empty and shallow; a hypocrite and drug dealer whose true identity was hidden under the skin of the community.

The song is intended to be an aggressive dance-pop track pulling from darkwave and EBM influences. Filtered through the lens of 90’s pastiche and acid house, ‘Deal3r’ is a departure from the band’s established 80’s new wave sound.

Watch the video here:

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DEAL3R cover

A Projection are a post-punk/darkwave act from Stockholm, who signed to Metropolis Records in 2019 for the release of their well received third album, Section. Initially inspired by the dark post-punk/proto-goth of The Cure, Sisters Of Mercy and Joy Division along with the electronica of Depeche Mode, the band are known for their compelling and dynamic live shows.

Following Section, the group released the singles ‘Darwin’s Eden’ and ‘No Control’ that saw them enter a more danceable electronic realm while still embracing their darkwave roots. Their brand new single, ‘Careless’, offers a further example of this sound and provides a taster for a forthcoming album that will be released via Metropolis in late 2022.

Recorded both during and after Covid lockdowns, ‘Careless’ reflects the restlessness and hope of the last two years. Additional recording assistance was provided by fellow musicians that included Henrik Linder of the group Dirty Loops.
The video for ‘Careless’ was made by Ukrainian filmmaker and artist Shorkina Valeri and shot in the band’s home city of Stockholm.

Watch the video here:

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20th July 2022 – Produkt 42

Christopher Nosnibor

Sever The Servants – a nice play on words – have dished up an eponymous debut that’s as dark as darkwave gets, with subsonic bass, thudding beats and hushed, deadened vocals. As much as anything, I’m reminded of Test Department’s The Unacceptable Face of Freedom, only much more muted, and less abrasive, antagonistic, and slowed to a crawl.

Sever The Servants are no less political, skewering slabs off both ‘political and social commentary. From the ‘right wing hivemind’ theme of the title track to the things that slowly kill us day to day’, STS are seething… but with a taut musical restraint. It’s stripped back, minimal. No samples, no loops, just an undulating larval creep.

Instead of going all-out raging, industrial-style either by means of guitars (e.g. Ministry) or snarling synths (e.g. Nine Inch Nails), Sever The Servants create a dense, suffocating soundtrack that recreates the pressure of oppression with a sonic density and uncomfortable weight. Listening to this album is like having a heavy cloak pulled over your head. Everything is muffled, and you can’t think straight. You panic. The drum beats are like kicks to the chest. It’s hard to breathe. And they never let up. You feel the atmosphere thicken.

I was sold on the pitch that ‘The album’s themes are generally apocalyptical with some each of the album’s six tracks represent the freedom to explore with a complete lack of care towards staying in a “box”.’ Having spent the last couple of years effectively living in a box, I’ve grown accustomed to a certain sense of claustrophobia, but Sever the Servants manage to intensify this with the six tracks on the menu here. As for the apocalyptic… the world is quite literally burning now. And yet right-wing boomers are decrying those who dare to mention climate crisis as ‘woke’. We are fucked beyond fucked. The end of the world is truly nigh, and I’m out of words to describe just how fucked we are. But Sever The Servants at least manage to create a soundtrack that goes some way to articulating it – for as long as we have power, before the blackouts commence.

The vocals wheeze uncomfortably amidst tense soundscapes that roll and lurch, and the weight doesn’t come from volume or abrasive, but a menacing dark force.

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Christopher Nosnibor

Having just spent a depressing afternoon hearing the new Interpol album for the first time, I decided I needed cheering up. Scanning my immense backlog of releases for review – and, with new submissions landing faster than I can open emails, let alone download and listen to albums, I realise that Hanging Freud’s album has been lurking unplayed for far too long for an album I’d been excited to hear since ‘Antidote/Immune’, released as a taster of album number six, Persona Normal back in June last year, landed in my inbox.

The release / review cycle is in itself a pressure we would all do without, since albums by their nature have a slow diffusion. In an accelerated world, PR campaigns are over a month or so after release, and I suspect that under the current model of pre-release hype followed by a rapid burndown, most releases shift 90% of their units within the first months of release, before things taper off and pretty swiftly drop off a cliff. But I digress, as I’m prone to doing.

Persona Normal is not the kind of album you’d expect to provide joy, but, in context, it’s a welcome reminder that there are still bands who are at a more advanced stage in their career delivering albums that channel difficult emotions and explore them in real depth.

‘Cureseque’ is a term that’s passed into parlance to make a shorthand reference to anything that draws inspiration from The Cure, but it’s trouble some and rather inadequate given the band’s range. More often than not, it seems to translate as ‘lots of layered synths like Disintegration’. Not so Persona Normal, an album that condenses the style and atmosphere of the unparalleled trilogy of Seventeen Seconds, Faith, and Pornography into a single set. The atmosphere is bleak, and the production sparse, but there’s some monumental percussion that’s more akin to Pornography.

It opens with the droning, wheezing synth of ‘Too Human’. It’s pitched against a trudging, monotonous drum beat with a dominant snare, and this provides the backdrop to a gloomy yet elegant vocal that aches with resignation, before ‘We Don’t Want to Sleep’ pounds in on a rhythm reminiscent of ‘A Strange Day’, and this is around the level of the bleak, brooding atmosphere. It’s thick and heavy with angst.

But then, amidst the doomy, droning synths and metronomic, motorik drum machines, Paula comes on with the sass of Siouxsie, with her enunciation and her glacial cool post-punk intonations. And as such, while Persona Normal really is pretty fucking bleak, dense, and dark, it’s uplifting to hear an album that so perfectly captures the spirit of the bands from which it draws unashamed influence. Elsewhere, I’m reminded of Chelsea Wolfe and Pain Teens; ‘Is This Why?’ may be sparse in its arrangement, but the sound is full, expansive, epic, and there’s something graceful and plaintive in its inward searching. An in an album of wall-to-wall quality, ‘Immune’ stands out as a snarling post-punk beast with the sharpest of hooks – and it’s all in the delivery.

More often than not, the sounds and overall sound and delivery convey so much more than words alone – and the production only enhances the experience. It’s dense, dark, drum-heavy, and even in the middle of a heatwave, it’s an album that will chill you to the core.

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Enigmatic Italian singer Elena Alice Fossi has released the next fascinating single, ‘Indigo Cypher’, which is taken from the forthcoming new full-length of her dark electro project SPECTRA*Paris. The fifth album of that band is entitled Modernism and has been scheduled for release on August 26.

Watch the seductive and deceptively gentle electro track ‘Indigo Cypher’ here:

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“Memories of a life that does not belong to you”, singer, composer, and lyricist Elena Alice Fossi muses. “If you don’t feel at least a bit like a fish out of water in this grotesque theater that is humanity, then this song is not for you! We were born in deception and there we stay until we realise that real life is running elsewhere. ’They’ shape us in order that we make our own lives and that of others worse. ‘They’ mold us to obey slaves and to become slaves ourselves. ‘They’ shape us so as to love our family even when it has nothing to do with us.”

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Electronic project NADJIA celebrates 25 years of releasing music with their new single ‘Spy vs Spy’, a biographical song commemorating the life of frontman and founder M’s father, who passed from COVID-19 in December of 2020. The track is a continuation of NADJIA’s Bat-O-Matic, their full-length album being released one song at a time. ‘Spy vs Spy’ is the second single.

While M handles lead vocals, percussion, samples and synths, he is joined by Angela Denk on the track. Denk, who sings and plays guitar for Chicago rock project Pretty Cliques, lends her vocals on the hook. NADJIA cofounder Paul Jansen sings backup and provides a symphonic touch with the violin, and Johnny McAndrew—of Baton Rouge’s goth rock group Kali Yuga—plays guitar.

“I wanted to capture the truly cinematic scope of remembrance on this track. There’s no way to encapsulate a whole life inside one song, but I wanted to give the feel of that sweeping span of time if possible, and I feel like Paul’s strings really brought this there,” said M.

The single comes out as both audio and video. The video, a black and white visual nod to mid 20th century espionage films, was directed by New Orleans visual artist Opus Mercury.

Watch the video here:

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2nd May 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

‘Bitch 16’ is the debut single from French darkwave project Distance H. It was recorded in collaboration with Ophelia from Saigon Blue Rain, one of a number of female vocalists to feature on Distance H’s forthcoming EP, Intimacy.

It’s a deft slice of dark pop with both atmosphere and edge, not to mention hints of Garbage. And while not without hooks – it has plenty – it’s the atmosphere that stays with you, at least after the first listen, and it’s the vibe you want to revisit and which makes you hit repeat – and that urge to hit repeat is strong.

Propelled by an old-school drum machine sound, there are some retro drum fills that sound just a shade clunky against the austere, smooth-surfaced synths, but there’s a compelling urgency, and a certain sass about ‘Bitch 16’ as Ophelia’s vocals glide and soar – and yes, perhaps it’s something about the translation, as the band summarise that ‘Bitch 16’ is ‘in some ways opposed to Sweet 16 and its form of happy, carefree transition. When sweetness gives way to brutality; when detachment gives way to obsession, when desire gives way to disgust’.

These are strong emotions, and Distance H have distilled them into a taut four and a half minutes, making for a strong debut.

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