Posts Tagged ‘goth’

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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Christopher Nosnibor

This is probably – no, certainly – one of the oddest events I’ve attended in a while. I came because I wanted to see La Costa Rasa, who I caught a couple or so times in their 90s heyday supporting The Sisters of Mercy at Birmingham NEC and at the Off the Streets Shelter benefit at the Town & Country where The Utah Saints headlined, with a guest vocal appearance from Andrew Eldritch, in ‘93, and because their 1994 album, Autopilot, released via Merciful Release has been an enduring favourite of mine. I had been a shade perturbed by the 80s ‘theme’ element mentioned in the event description, but figured my everyday clothes should pass.

On arrival, I ordered a pint of Lagunitas IPA, got something completely different from what I’d asked for – some lager or other – then headed upstairs – and then the weirdness hit as I commandeered as table just inside the door.

Everyone here seems to know each other, not in a club or college reunion way, but more like a birthday party for someone’s granddad, with three distinct generations, none of whose age brackets correspond with my own. The middle generation all look to be around 50-odd and more, which would probably fit with the clientele of the legendary 80s club venues which provide the night’s theme. Then there are some really decrepit old buggers who look like their parents, and then a bunch of women in their early 20s. No-one looks remotely goth. It’s mostly middle-aged and older men with beer guts in check shirts. Apart from me, sitting here in black jeans, jacket, shades and Stetson. It’s the first time I’ve felt so completely out of place at any gig, let alone a supposedly goth gig. This isn’t a matter of nostalgia not being what it used to be, this is a bewildering experience where I truly have no idea. I feel lost, confused, and with maybe twenty people here early doors, I feel exposed, conspicuous, like I’ve gatecrashed someone’s private do, like… like… Like I’m a miscast extra in a bar scene.

Here’s the convoluted but relevant bit. The evening it pitched as a celebration of legendary Leeds clubs, Le Phonographique, et al, with DJ sets capturing the spirit, as well as live sets from Power to Dream and La Costa Rasa.

La Costa Rasa seem an odd choice for an 80s night, being an overtly 90s band – grunge with a drum machine, as I tend to describe them. Of course, there’s the Merciful Release connection, and Mills is, or was, with legendary F Club and Le Phonographique DJ Claire Shearsby (who is significant in Sister circles as Andrew Eldritch’s ex, and who isn’t one of tonight’s DJs, who spin a mix of 80s tune and more recent stuff like Garbage from their laptops at the back of the room). And despite having released a run of three of singles in the mid-80s, this is Power to Dream’s live debut.

La Costa Rasa’s bassist Jim Fields is wearing a Bivouac t-shirt. It seems fitting that not only has it been almost thirty years since I last saw La Costa Rasa, and about the same since I saw a Bivouac T, and within seconds of their starting La Costa Rasa transport us back to back then with their strolling basslines, wall-of-sound guitars, and thumping sequenced drums.

No-one claps. They all just carry on chatting. A huge Jabba of a grandma sits on a sofa by the stage and bangs her stick on the floor in time – or not- for a bit and waves to the people sitting on the window bench. Eventually, three or four songs in, people seem to catch on that there is a band on.

Only two of the songs in tonight’s set are from Autopilot, the first of these being ‘Like a Machine’ which lands early. Slower than the album version, it’s followed by a raging ‘Burning Idols’.

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La Costa Rasa

Mills switches to violin for new song ‘White Rose’, a raging industrial stomper, and some guy looking like uncle fester sits on the sofa and starts clapping like a seal for the second half of the set, while mopping his bald head frequently with a handkerchief and waving to some of the oldies on the other side of the room. The closer is a squalling epic where Mills again switches to violin – played through his guitar FX units to build a screaming climactic wall of noise. It’s blistering, and elating to see – and hear – that after all this time, they’ve not lost the fire.

Oops. Sweaty Fester is Terry Macleay, the singer with Power to Dream. He plonks his red felt hat on and steps into character. Well, he tried, but he can’t stop grinning and gurning. He’s one of those flamboyant goths. Grating dense, dark ambience heralds the start of the set. They open with a cover of Alex Harvey’s ‘Faith Healer’, released as their second single back in the day. It’s surprisingly soulful, more Depeche Mode than Foetus.

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Power to Dream

1986 single  ‘Frantic’ is second, and lays down some taut grooves, although the style is somewhere in the region of Culture Club with more funk. ‘Fountain of Youth’ lands ironically. With just trebly guitar and drum machine, they sound really thin, and there’s just way too much vocal. But you can barely hear any of it over the chat. No mean feat when there are about 20 people in the room in total, all at the back. Fuck’s sake, they should turn their hearing aids up, or fuck off.

Guitarist Alex Green plays a solo rendition of Steve Harley’s ‘Sebastian’ while Macleay takes a seat. It’s barely audible above the babble. Terry keeps looking around, irritated, but to no avail, and I’ve seen enough. It’s time to split.

Machine Man Records – 27th May 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

‘Into the Glow’ is the second single from Michael Haggerty’s upcoming album, Fire Behind The Paper Trees, and his second official release under his real name having previously recorded as Krebs. Perhaps stepping out and being himself is in some way liberating, but whatever the motivation or rationale, it’s fair to say that the results are thus far positive.

There’s something somewhat uncomfortable when critics speak of ‘craft’ in their critiques. Perhaps it’s because ‘craft’ connotes something one works at, and improves, honing to a point whereby a level of quality can be achieved consistently, day in, day out, up at the crack of dawn and chiselling away until sundown, manufacturing… which there is a certain sense to, and it’s valid to a point, but this is to diminish the flare of creativity, the sparks of emotional channelling, the way in which elements of chance and happenstance all combine to make art. Because music isn’t furniture.

‘Into The Glow’ is probably as close to perfect songwriting as you can get. It is crafted: the dynamic shift between the 80s-style electronic verses and more guitar-driven choruses is precise, and balances subtlety with impact. The tempo change is sweet and shifts from reflective to driven, and the production is vast – also crisp, cold, mechanical. Bleak, brooding, but shining with optimism, ‘Into The Glow’ packs so much range into its concise three-and-a-half minutes, it’s a glorious thing.

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14th February 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Was I the only one to misread the band’s name on first seeing it? Probably, and I suspect it says more about me than anything. Ah well. Meanwhile, as much as the quality of the band’s new single speaks for itself, the list of collaborators who’ve contributed remixes to this EP says a fair bit about the Chicago ‘post-punk demolition duo’, notably Stabbing Westward and Dean Garcia of Curve / SPC ECO.

It’s the Stabbing Westward remix that’s up first, and it’s a stonking industrial rock chugger. It has a crisp, bright feel and is driven by an explosive snare, the likes of which you rarely hear now, but was popular in the 80s. Of the different versions, it’s arguably the most radical, yet at the same time is also the one with the broadest commercial appeal, in that it is more overtly industrial and metal-edged.

Structurally, the song’s interesting for the fact it consists of several sections rather than a simple verse / chorus, and as each section rolls around, it develops something of a cyclical feel (I usually tend to feel most songs are a linear listening experience. ‘Confusion’ and ‘confusion’ make for a nice rhyming pair, but it’s the bass that’s as strong a hook as any of the lyrics, and it’s the bass that dominates the band’s own single version, which adds ten seconds to the original, which appeared on the Dead Lights five tracker released last year. Said bass is a shuddering low-frequency grind, and the drum machine tips a nod to ‘Blue Monday’ then goes into overdrive, giving the song a real urgency.

The DG Impulse remix grinds harder and longer, stripping it back to the bare bones of that sonorous bass and a pounding beat, to oppressive effect, while the IScintilla Remix is a full-on rabid aggrotech workout, and pretty nightmarish with it.

In contrast, the Loveless Love take on the track plays to the songs 80s electropop roots, coming on like The Human League remixed by JG Thirlwell or Raymond Watts.

It makes for a varied listening experience, and one that marks a neat evolution from the band’s previous releases to date.

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Christopher Nosnibor

Purveyors of aggrotech and dark electro, Against I, take something of a swerve for this new release, a four-track EP led by single ‘You and I’, which features guest vocals (and lyrics) by rising star on the scene, J:dead, who comments that “‘You And I’ is a story about a relationship breaking down, because either person cannot love themselves first. Each person is trying to hold the other up from their own struggles but in turn, is forgetting about themselves and their own needs.”

The cover art is more horror than dark techno, and it’s not entirely representative of the EP’s sonic contents, but you should never judge an EP by its cover of course.

First things first: ‘You and I’ is a richly atmospheric tune, with a so much texture and detail. There are strong leanings towards later Depeche Mode, and I’m most reminded of ‘Little 15’, but there’s a lot going on here, not least of all a thick, chuggy guitar and an insistent bass that’s pure goth vintage. The baritone vocal – rich and crooning – very much invites positive comparisons to Dave Gahan and it broods and cruises the mid-pitch, mid-tempo sonic structures that climb and loom over damaged emotional states. As a single, it’s a sock in the chops.

As an EP, this does feel like a bit of a cobbled-together effort that may have worked better with either the lead track and either the instrumental ‘My Madness’ – a high-octane technoindustrial stomper (a strong contrast) – or the ‘Club’ remix of ‘You And I’ as a B-side. Said remix is pretty decent. I don’t actually know if goth club nights are still a thing, but then this isn’t excessively dancey, and hasn’t been remixed as a dancefloor-packing stormer, but instead accentuates the track’s solid mid-tempo groove.

But then there’s the ‘Mayhem’ remix of ‘OMG’ from the debut EP, courtesy of Guilt Trip, which is so much more overtly metal, and snarls and rages like a rabid beast – save for the mellow Kraftwerkian rip in the mid-section. And if ‘You and I’ was intended to showcase a different aside of ‘Against I’, the inclusion of an older track feels like a slightly awkward fit.

Minor niggles aside, it’s a solid effort led by a cracking single tune.

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Season Of Mist – 6th May 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Sometimes, in this line of work, an album will land – or however else you prefer to phrase it – and you know it will likely mean almost infinitely more to you than pretty much anyone you’ll see or speak to or who’s likely to read the review. As a reviewer, you pretty much live for opportunities like this, to cover bands you’re not only a huge fan of, but have been since you properly started discovering music, and also reading the music press (something that sadly no longer exists, at least here in the UK, which once had a rich range of reportage and critique, thanks to Melody Maker, Sounds, and last one standing, NME. Sure, they had their failings, but like The Word, Snub TV, and The White Room on TV, and John Peel, Janice Long, and even Zane Lowe on Radio 1, they were key for providing exposure to ‘alternative’ music and breaking new acts.

It was via Melody Maker and Mick Mercer’s Gothic Rock Black Book that I first encountered Christian Death, and purchased Sex and Drugs and Jesus Christ on its release in 1988. This in turn not only led me to excavate their back catalogue and purchase each new release, but to catch them live a couple of times. They’re a band I’ve not so much returned to, but never really left, despite not always keeping up to date with new releases.

But here we are: it’s the spring of 2022 and after a significant gap since The Root Of All Evilution, Christian Death return with Evil Becomes Rule, which Valor says is, essentially, a sequel, explaining, “Both Evil Becomes Rule and The Root Of All Evilution are pretty much the story of evil. These songs are generally about “The Evil Within Society,” not necessarily stemming from a demon, or a devil, or a God. Instead, it’s about something concerning the evil within mankind… Evil Becomes Rule is a continuation of this theme. We’re going from the present time into the future. When we started writing this album, we anticipated an event like the pandemic; a disastrous event occurring on the earth. So now we’re asking the question, “maybe this is just the beginning of it?”

Evil – and its opposite – is a familiar theme for Christian Death: The simultaneously released All The Love / All the Hate albums explored these diametric standpoints, and essentially aligned hate with evil, taking this idea of the evil within man to its logical end with songs like ‘Nazi Killer’ and ‘The Final Solution’. As such, perhaps the lineage of exploration can be traced a fair bit further back in the band’s career than the last album.

Evil Becomes Rule is quintessential Christian Death, but as is always the case, it’s different from anything before. It’s heavy in places, a shade less metal than things were around the turn of the millennium (Sexy Death God, for example, felt a bit too metal and a shade underproduced), and they seem to have hit something of a sweet spot in terms of balance this time around.

Opening the album, ‘The Alpha and the Omega’ is sparse, but tense, claustrophobic, and initially finds Valor in his best Bowie mode – crooning, stealthy – and this, is the shape of the verses – which contrast with the explosive choruses, there things get dark and, I have to say it, high gothic. ‘New Messiah’ has a quite different vibe, and is almost swingy, smoochy, but does again exploit the quiet verse and big chorus dynamic, and faintly echoing in the dark recesses, there’s the ‘I feel like my heart is being touched by Christ’ sample from Altered States that also appeared on ‘Mors Voluntaria’ from Insanus, Ultio, Prodito, Misericordiaque. It’s still fucking eerie.

Maitri takes the lead vocal on the urgent thrashabout of ‘Elegant Sleeping’, which harks back to their earlier works more than any other on the album, before ‘Blood Moon’ crashes in and already feels like a familiar friend. It’s as strong as any of the singles they put out during their late 80s commercial peak, as represented by ‘Church of No Return’, ‘Zero Sex’ and ‘What’s the Verdict’, and the production is smoother, too, and it very much works in its favour. ‘Abraxas We Are’ is a heavy rock epic which is equally single-worthy, and features some blistering lead guitar work, and they find their rock stride even more solidly with ‘The Warning’ – bursting into a rabid, ragged, industrial stomp about killing sprees in the chorus, and it kicks arse abundantly.

The songwriting – and attention to dynamics – are very much to the fore on Evil Becomes Rule, and the switch to pastoral chamber music in the intro to ‘Beautiful’ brings a nice contrast – the song effortlessly swings into stonking post-punk and is quite uplifting. The album concludes with the suitably dramatic two-part ‘Who Am I’, that combines Spanish guitar and a surging crescendo.

Evil Becomes Rule is by no means their most biting or intense work, and it doesn’t have the raw impact of Sex and Drugs, but instead harks back to the dramatic style of Atrocities, and it works well. It is, perhaps, their most rounded and well-realised release yet, as well as their most consistent. Oh, and yes – we are indeed ruled by evil. These are dark times, where we really need Christian Death and voices of dissent.

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22nd April 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

This seems to have been a long while coming – and that’s because it has. The New-wave / No-Wave gothy post-punk duo have been kicking out killer EPs for a decade already. Six EPs and a single to be precise, with each EP containing five, six, or even seven tracks. It’s a substantial body of work, however you look at it. And yet it’s only now that they’ve got around to an album proper.

They’ve made the most of the time and the previous releases to realty hone and refine their sound, and having done so, Admire feels like a proper album. It’s ten tracks, solid, packed, back-to-back, arranged with sequence in mind. It’s a sequence that finds things getting slower in the second half, and it would be interesting to hear how this pans over two sides of vinyl. Admire would likely be dissected as having a ‘fast’ and a ‘slow’ side.

As Admire demonstrates, GHXST have remained true to their original sound and ethos – scuzzy, reverb-soaked murkinesss, with a deep psychedelic twist. There’s a lot of twist and a lot of noise on Admire. Comparisons only go so far with these guys, and while The Jesus and Mary Chain is an obvious one, they’re probably closest to A Place to Bury Strangers in their shimmering wall of sound face-melting blast of FX and overdrive. I may have also mentioned Curve before as a comparison: it still stands, and I’m wondering why when people are whittering about various 90s bands

The build on the upward arc is fairly rapid to say the least: it’s just over two minutes into single cut ‘Pls, You Must Be a Dream’ that the extra level of distortion kicks in and blows the roof off everything. And for a time thereafter, you find yourself adrift in a wash of reverb and overloading distortion. Things simply drift: it’s dense, it swashes and coasts along, splashing against the shores as the waves splash the deck, and each song has a certain supple power.

‘Sonores’, the album’s seventh track, marks the first real spot of respite as they pare things back to a swampy synth and bulbous bass notes hang in the dense air, and ‘Nights of Paradise’ slows things to a crawling trudge that threatens to take the album down into a low-tempo slump, as if they’ve run out of steam and simply got stoned to a half-pace stoned sonic swamp. In context, recent single ‘Marry the Night’ is a bit of a crawler, and closer ‘Only Lovers’ is a murky slice of wistful melancholy. Of course, all the best albums conclude with a slow-burning epic, and this is definitive. Don’t ask me why, but this is one of those slow-burning min-epics with piano and a towering wall of rippling overdrive what tugs hard on the emotions and makes me want to cry without even understanding why. But it is, without question, an outstanding finale to what is, also without question, an outstanding album.

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Plotting a rapid follow-up to their acclaimed 2021 debut album, the track arrives as the first insight of what the band confirm will be their upcoming second full studio release.

Whereas much of their debut album, ‘Deathretro’, was thrashed out during the band’s first incarnation almost 15 years ago, “Exit Point” stands as Deathretro’s first completely original composition in over a decade.

A frenzied post/punk thrill, it veers and swerves through surf-carved curvatures and barbed guitar prangs, as the band spout nihilistic lyrics for the end-of-days.

“In the bowels, the people scream. Humanity, it appeals to me. Dirty machine, a wretched beast, We give life to the old devil.” howl Deathretro here.

Touching on the darkest of themes with a white-hot intensity, “Exit Point” rages against religion and propaganda in a dystopian realm of vivid, Dantean imagination.

Having already aired the track live at a smattering of live fixtures, Adrian of Deathretro sums-up the response so far:

“This is the only second album track that we have played live and to great reception…It’s punky, urgent, does it’s job and f**ks off”

Listen to ‘Exit Point’ here:

Around the release Deathretro are lining up a run of Spring headline shows and Summer festival dates (including Bluedot and Kendal Calling) that will offer fans another opportunity to catch the band performing “Exit Point” live. Full dates are as follows:

DEATHRETRO – LIVE DATES

28th April – Oporto, Leeds
(w/ Deathretro / Neeta)

18th June – Gorilla, Manchester
(w/ Sea Fever / Riding the Low / Deathretro

+ DJ sets from Gillian Gilbert & Stephen Mortis (New Order) & Chris Hawkins (BBC6 Music))

24th July – Bluedot
30th July – Kendal Calling

Deathretro

Black Nail Cabaret have released a video single for the new track ‘Orchid’. The Hungarian avant-garde synth pop duo that has added this stunning song to the bonus material, which is enhancing the reissue of their originally self-released and thus widely overlooked 2018 masterpiece Pseudopop. The album will first be re-released on Digipak CD and at a later date also on vinyl due to production shortages. Pseudopop will also include the previously hidden bonus track ‘The Worm’ and the Digipak CD has been slated to hit stores on April 29, 2022.

Watch the video for ‘Orchid’ here:

Black Nail Cabaret comment: “We wrote ‘Orchid’ towards the end of 2021, which means that this song is a completely new recording”, singer Emèse Árvai-Illes reveals. “We felt that the remastered Pseudopop needed a new track in addition to the previously hidden track, ‘The ‘Worm’. It was a means to distinguish the reissue from the original first release and and also adds value for those fans, who already own Pseudopop, but want to have the new version as well. ‘Orchid’ fits perfectly into the atmosphere and concept of the album. The song deals with intimacy and trust, but also obsession and vulnerability. The music video was created by Tamás Mesmer, who has previously captured the wonderful images for our songs ‘My Casual God’ and ‘Resonance’. He approached the clip from the perspective of obsession and intimacy. Tamás’ clip conveys the feeling of a 90s art film about a complex relationship.”

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Pic by Zoran Varga

11th March 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

When it comes to goth, you might say that the apple never falls far from the tree: there’s a long history of references and recycling, with bands often taking their names from songs or otherwise referencing other bands, and there is, or at least should be, a goth band name generator somewhere on the Internet, with ‘Children’, ‘Sisters’, ‘Grooving’, ‘Dead / Death’ and ‘Ghost’ featuring prominently in the not-so random permutatable word selections. Funerals and marionettes are pretty popular, too, from as far back as 1986, when The Marionettes began life as The Screaming Marionettes.

Taking their name from the Charles Gounod composition of the same name, best known as the theme music for the television program Alfred Hitchcock Presents. The Funeral March of the Marionettes go back to that mid/late eighties heyday (broadly 84 or 85 to 87 or 88) that saw ‘goth’ solidify from being a nebulous array of post-punk bands (The Sisters of Mercy, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus, Alien Sex Fiend) being lumped under an umbrella by a lethargic press into an actual genre with more defined stylistic boundaries, typically drawing on the aforementioned acts, but with more indie-leanings typical of The Mission and the style of guitar Wayne Hussey introduced to The Sisters on his arrival in 1984

The Funeral March of the Marionettes, from Rockford, Illinois, cite The Cure, Bauhaus, Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and others among their influences, and while they describe their latest offering as something of a departure, it’s still dense with latter-day gothic tropes, albeit leaning more towards the atmospheric post-punk/industrial crossover space, whereby you’ve got Depeche Mode covering Joy Division, a brooding atmosphere as cool synths drift in an ocean of reverb while angst oozes from every corner of the dense, gloomy production.

Yet for all its adherence of those tropes, for all its stylistic familiarity (just look at that cover art, that’s The Sisters of Mercy / Merciful Release meets Joy Division via Rosetta Stone), ‘Slow’ hits a spot, because it’s dark, dark, dark, and the execution is spot on, sending a shiver of torment down the spine that entices you to bask in the gloom.

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