Posts Tagged ‘Gothic’

Following the announcement of IAMTHEMORNING’s new studio album The Bell, due for release on Kscope on 2nd August, the Russian duo, comprising of virtuoso classical pianist Gleb Kolyadin and charismatic vocalist Marjana Semkina have premiered the first single to be taken from the new opus ‘Ghost Of A Story’.

You can watch the video for ‘Ghost of a Story’ here:

Following the announcement of IAMTHEMORNING’s new studio album The Bell, due for release on Kscope on 2nd August, the Russian duo, comprising of virtuoso classical pianist Gleb Kolyadin and charismatic vocalist Marjana Semkina have premiered the first single to be taken from the new opus “Ghost Of A Story”.

Marjana explains more on how “Ghost Of A Story” fits into the album’s song cycle “’Ghost of a Story’ starts the second part of the song cycle that is The Bell, and we decided to launch it with a brighter note to have a bigger contrast with all what comes after. It’s a song about awakening, reinterpreting and questioning yourself and the world and looking for deeper meanings. It’s a song about how pain dims with time – about the fact that in the end, every tragedy that we suffer through is just a drop in the ocean of suffering of men – that we survive anyway. "Nothing feels real, these scars won’t heal – Nothing’s worth tears, it was alright from very start"

The live studio clip was filmed by the band’s long-time collaborator Eggor Kree at Lendok studios in St Petersburg.

The duo’s dedication to writing forward-thinking and thought-provoking music sees them create a new album of impressive depth and playability. A modern blend of rock, classical and folk, The Bell makes use of 19th Century song cycles – a style established by Schubert – that cohesively tells 10 individual stories. Vocalist Marjana Semkina explains in more detail “The Bell is divided into two parts but each song is a story in its own right, all of them are fuelled by human cruelty and pain caused by it. Cruelty is the central theme of the album – together with all the different ways we respond to it and cope with it. This album is multi-layered and is, in many ways, a journey inwards, taking us inside of a mind of a person suffering from abuse or neglect or open hostility of the society or a specific person.

“Aesthetically, the album is based on themes taken from Victorian England’s art and culture, but more in a way of turning our attention to the fact that at its core, humankind isn’t making much progress in terms of emotional maturity.”

The Bell was recorded in March 2019 across Russia, the UK and Canada in several studios: Mosfilm in Moscow; Lendoc and Red Wave in St Petersburg; Noatune in London; The Studio at Sunbeams, Penrith; and Union Sound Company in Toronto. With engineering and mastering handled by Vlad Avy. 

The album features the track “Blue Sea” which featured in demo form on the band’s studio film Ocean Sounds.

The album’s beautiful cover artwork was created by the band’s favoured collaborator Constantine Nagishkin. Marjana explains the imagery “on the cover is a safety coffin bell – it’s a 19th century idea born from people’s obsessive fear of being buried alive, having been provoked by a lot of press attention to supposed cases of premature burials across the country.  and the fact that Edgar Allan Poe frightened many readers by vividly describing the premature burial phenomenon in his short stories.

“One of the inventions to escape such a terrifying ordeal was a so called “safety coffin” that existed in many different configurations, including the one that had a bell attached to the gravestone with a thread that was attached to it and went all the way underground into the coffin so that the when the poor soul awoke  and  on realizing  he’s been buried alive, could ring to let the people outside know what has happened.

“Although the idea is a bit morbid I feel there is hope in the artwork too – no matter how low you are or desperate you think your situation is, you can still call for help, but more than that you have to call for help if you need it”.

Chelsea Wolfe has always been a conduit for a powerful energy, and while she has demonstrated a capacity to channel that sombre beauty into a variety of forms, her gift as a songwriter is never more apparent than when she strips her songs down to a few key elements. As a result, her solemn majesty and ominous elegance are more potent than ever on her forthcoming album, Birth of Violence to be released on Sargent House September 13th.

Today she’s unveiled the album’s opener and lead single, ‘The Mother Road’, a harrowing ode to Route 66 that immediately addresses Wolfe’s metaphoric white line fever. It defines the nature of the record-the impact of countless miles and perpetual exhaustion-and the desire to find the road back home, back to one’s roots.

Listen to ‘The Mother Road’ here:

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Chelsea Wolfe Acoustic Tour:

31/08: Pasadena, CA – Pasadena Daydream Festival * (Non Acoustic Set)

18/10: San Diego, CA – Observatory North Park

19/10: Phoenix, AZ – Crescent Ballroom

21/10: Salt Lake City, UT – Metro Music Hall

22/10: Estes Park, CO – Stanley Hotel

24/10: Chicago, IL – Metro

25/10: Detroit, MI – Senate Theater

26/10: Toronto, ONT – Queen Elizabeth Theatre

27/10: Montreal, QC – Le National

29/10: Boston, MA – Royale

31/10: Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer

01/11: New York, NY – Brooklyn Steel

03/11: Washington, DC – 9:30 Club

04/11: Charlotte, NC – McGlohon Theater

05/11: Atlanta, GA – Terminal West

06/11: Nashville, TN – Mercy Lounge

08/11: Dallas, TX – Texas Theatre

09/11: Austin, TX – Levitation

11/10: Houston, TX – White Oak Music Hall

12/11: Santa Fe, NM – Meow Wolf

13/11: Tucson, AZ – Club Congress

15/11: Los Angeles, CA – The Palace Theatre

16/11: San Francisco, CA – Regency Ballroom

18/11: Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom

20/11: Seattle, WA – The Showbox

21/11: Vancouver, BC – Vogue Theatre

* All dates with special guest Ioanna Gika except 31/08

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Album Artwork (Cover Photo by Nona Limmen)

Christopher Nosnibor

It may only be nine minutes on foot from the station according to Google Maps, but despite having probably been maybe twenty or even thirty times, I still find myself struggling to find it, even with GPS assistance. I have no idea why: it’s like I have some kind of mental block, or the venue has some kind of cloaking device that blocks my internal geographical radar. And so I’m disproportionately pleased when I find myself within yards of the venue without taking a single wrong turn. And then I remember the bar doesn’t take cars, and despite having intended to get cash at York station, then Leeds station, then en route, I’ve sailed past all of the cashpoints and only have about four quid on me. Even with beer at £2.80 a pint, I might be a bit thirsty at the end of the night.

I still make it back, with cash, before doors, and they’re not quite done soundchecking. The fact I’m considering plugging up just for the soundcheck brings a small buzz of anticipation: we’re here for some hefty riffage, and it’s best experienced at an appropriate volume. If it doesn’t hurt, it’s not loud enough.

Leeds drums and bass duo Calm are an interesting proposition on paper, consisting of John Sutcliffe from Canvas, Humanfly, Kings, Natterers, and Paul Handley from The Plight, Kings and Ladies Night. In the flesh they’re interesting, too: at the opening, oscillating sequenced synth lines bubble along beneath woozy bass before the distortion crashes I like a tidal wave of sludge. The drums are more energetic than the low-BPM grind of the chords. Structurally, the compositions are segmented and almost sound like three or four pieces glued together, but the transitions make for a set that holds the attention well, and as Sutcliffe, on drums, intones mystical droning incantations into a sea of reverb against a wall of low-end that sends vibrations through my steel-toed boots, the experience takes on an almost spiritual quality.

Calm

Calm

A Headless Horse bring a much more sedate atmosphere with mellow female vocals and delicately layered, meticulously structured songs. Their songs are keenly focused on texture and melody. In contrast to Calm and the rest of the lineup, there’s significantly less weight, and less emphasis on volume overall: that isn’t to say they’re quiet, but when they bring in the riffs, they’re not obliterative, but simply denser. Comparisons aren’t everything, but The Cure and Cranes provide fair touchstones here, and Headless Horse demonstrate that they’re capable of delivering mathy post-rock with emotional resonance. Given that this is only their second outing, they show a lot of promise.

A Headless Horse

A Headless Horse

There’s a proliferation of beards tonight, and Dystopian Future Movies are very much a beard band (singer / guitarist Catherine Cawley clearly excepted). They’re also a very much an atmospheric band, and a band who exploit the dynamics of volume to optimal effect, as abundantly demonstrated by the choppy stop/start lumbering riff of ‘Dulled Guilt’ which opens the set powerfully. Their description of themselves as ‘taking a Sonic Youth approach but arriving at some dark place between Neurosis and Chelsea Wolfe’ is pretty accurate, and they pull the listener in with slow-burning ethereality that yields to punishing riffery, without at any time falling into the trap of formula.

Dystopian Futuere Movies

Dystopian Future Movies

This four-date joint tour sees DFM and Grave Lines unveil a collaborative / split EP, and they’re joined on stage by Jake Harding for a killer rendition of ‘Beholden, which begins a brooding whisper, almost folky in feel, before erupting into thunderous power chords The vocal duet is magnificent: the two singers intertwine with Hardin’s baritone croon underpinning Cawley’s graceful, evocatively gothic intonation to conclude a mesmerising set.

Grave Lines stand out as being very much different from their peers by virtue of the exploration of extended quiet passages that are as much dark folk as post-anything, while exploiting tropes commonly associated with post-rock. This imbues the songs with a palpable emotional depth, and when they crash in with the u-to-eleven distortion, it hits hard.

With ragged hair and beard, wrists and shoes wrapped in grubby shreds of bandage, and a dingy off-white vest, Jake Harding cuts a dramatic and tortured figure as he spews anguish and nihilistic fury, his body tense and wracked, over low, slow sludginess; then again, guitarist Oli, with Alan More hair and beard and sporting a torso so tatood as to appear to be wearing a heavily patterned shirt brings a stoic intensity that’s in stark contrast to the laid-back drumming of Julia Owen, who has an airy style of playing that belies the force with which she delivers stick on skin.

Grave Lines 2Grave Lines

Grave Lines

And yet it’s when Harding ceases words and spits a guttural ‘urrggh’ that most succinctly articulates all the pain and frustration the band channels.

Caroline from Dystopian Future Movies returns the favour of providing additional vocals on Grave Lines’ contribution to the new EP, the epic ‘False Flame’, and they take things right down for the penultimate track of a remarkably concise – but suitably hard-hitting – set with the minimal ‘Loathe / Disgrace’, pairing a droning organ sound which quavers against a vulnerable, melancholic vocal performance.

My notes blur to nothing as the band drive the set home with crushing force with ‘The Greave’. And in this high-volume release lies the uplifting joy of catharsis.

Sargent House – 22nd September 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

Chelsea Wolfe is one of those artists who seems to continually grow with every release, and 2015’s Abyss was something special: a grand, powerful, and intense musical work that reached the parts other albums cannot reach. It’s fair to say that expectations for Hiss Spun were set high as a consequence.

As the accompanying blurb tells us, ‘the album was conceived as an emotional purge, a means of coming to terms with the tumult of the outside world by exploring the complexities of one’s inner unrest’.

Chelsea gets down to conveying this turmoil from the first bars: opener, ‘Spun’, is a throbbing deluge of dense, low-tempo, Godfleshy, bass-centric grind, a seething surge of low-end noise with an overloading, freewheeling lead guitar that’s not so much a solo as an out of control rollercoaster of fretwork that heaves and lurches every which way as if uncertain of its own direction but desperate to find a route to the end. ‘Particle Flux’ is also centred around a tectonic, subterranean low-end pulsation, and builds to a multi-layered, multi-faceted crescendo.

Single cut ’16 Psyche’ has the epic qualities of some of the strongest tracks from previous album Abyss – ‘Iron Moon’ in particular – and ‘The Culling’ repeats the trick of bursting into a crushingly powerful bloom from a quiet, delicate bud. But while nailing choruses of immense scale, these tracks also pound hard, sonically and emotionally.

Placing Hiss Spin side by side with Abyss is instructive: this latest work marks a considerable shift from the brooding industrial-edged gothic folk of its predecessor toward a much more metal-orientated sound that’s not only heavier and more abrasive, but more overtly challenging and confrontational. In fact, everything about Hiss Spun is more.

Following a heavy synth drone intro, ‘Vex’ brings blistering guitar dynamics and a shoegaze atmosphere to a twisted, reverb-soaked vocal that’s simultaneously emotion-rich and curiously detached. ‘Scrape’ draws the curtain with a dark, murky grind that’s as intense as it is dense, and Chelsea’s voice soars higher than ever, wracked with desperation. Thunderous tribal drumming blasts through the squalling guitars to render an imposing finale.

The production on Hiss Spun is immense. The percussion is enormous, every snare hit an explosion, every bass thump enough to trigger an earthquake or tsunami. Every beat, every note, strikes deep into the soul and drags at the deepest levels. To explain precisely how and why Hiss Spun resonates so deeply would be to ruin its magic: this is an album which connects subconsciously, subliminally, pulling as it does between fragility and fury, and with such stunning grace, and it drives, but as a slow pace.

Instrumentally, the dynamics are breathtaking. And never has Wolfe sounded so raw, by turns so fragile and so powerful, channelling emotions to utterly devastating and bewildering effect. Superlatives are inadequate: Hiss Spun is an album so strong as to be almost overwhelming and marks, my a mile, a new career high-point.

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Chelsea Wolfe - Hiss Spun Cover 3000x3000 300 dpi (1)

Dark Tunes – 9th June 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

Confidence in a band’s abilities is a good thing. And in context, this is impotent: history shows that even in 1981, Andrew Eldritch was convinced that The Sisters of Mercy were an important band. He’s been proven right, but could very easily have been forgotten and disappeared into the musical morass of the post-punk era, leaving a handful of interviews with one more egotistical tosser languishing in obscure and long-forgotten zines.

Greek goths The Black Capes aren’t lacking in confidence, as their bio indicates: ‘Lamentations about the fading glorious times of gothic culture may very well come to an end with the arrival of The Black Capes. Where great icons such as Type O Negative, The 69 Eyes or The Sisters Of Mercy have been unchallenged in the gothic Olympus, finally there is a worthy successor from Athens.’

But with the opening bars of ‘Sarah the Witch’, I’m hearing technical goth-metal overtones and catch a strong whiff of cliché (and I’m not going to comment on the press shots). Much as I admire their balls – metaphorically – I can’t entirely buy into the hype. All These Monsters isn’t a bad album by any stretch, and against chunky, chugging guitars, it packs in a proliferation of nagging, hooky choruses.

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‘Now Rise’ packs the chunk of Killing Joke and a claustrophobic verse dominated by a thick bass with some roaring metal vocals which tear into the verses. Elsewhere, the picked lead guitar work on ‘New Life’ is pure First and Last and Always era Sisters, but the throaty vocals are more Fields of the Nephilim, and the overall effect is diminished by its obvious drawing on pre-existent sources, in that it boils it all down to a derivative, Sisters of Murphy type amalgamation.

But The Black Capes are very much mistaken if they truly believe they’re the saviour of goth. They’re too much straight-ahead rock for a start. As such, it leans very much more toward Type O (are they really considered ‘icons’ of ‘goth’?) and equally sits more with the mid to late 80s second wave as represented by rock-orientated contemporaries like Gene Loves Jezebel and Rose of Avalanche than post-punk progenitors like The Sisters or Siouxsie. Ultimately, All These Monsters is adequate, but uninspired and unremarkable, and seems to largely miss the connection with the roots of the genre the band claims to be so keen to reinvigorate.

BlackCapes_cover

Cleopatra Records / Practical Records – 23rd June 2017

Interdisciplinary artist Rachel Mason has spent the best part of the last two decades carving out her own niche from within the hotbed of the NYC and LA scenes, with music being only one of the many strands of her creative explorations. In between making films, sculptures, and creating performance art pieces which range from the playful to the weird, she’s released quite a lot of albums. Her latest, Das Ram, is billed as ‘a full-blown modern pop-rock album of catchy songs with flamboyant flavor, dramatic vocals in between Siouxsie Sioux and SIA, captivating melodies and poignant lyrics’.

It’s not easy to focus on the lyrics, poignant or otherwise, when there’s so much going on. Das Ram is an album that’s very much geared toward delivering songs with groove and big energy. ‘Rosie’ kicks off with a delicate shoegazey pop verse that blossoms into a glorious chorus propelled by a super-frenetic drum machine with hectic hi-hats and a glistening, glittering energy shimmers.

Rachel Mason 2 - credit Kerwin Williamson

Das Ram is an eclectic set, and wildly varied. The dramatic orchestral strikes which jut and jar through ‘Heart Explodes’ provide a dramatic landscape for Mason to prowl through en route to a soaring chorus which indicates what Florence and the Machine could sound like if Flo Welch and her crew had any grasp on subtlety.

Single cut ‘Tigers in the Dark’ is a flamboyant gothic-hued disco cut that pulls together the danger of Siouxsie with the brooding electropop sensibilities of Ladytron or Goldfrapp. ‘Marry Me’ goes all Disintegration-era Cure in the mid-section, but Mason’s vaguely shrill and increasingly desperate-sounding imploring to form marital unity (part Kate Bush, part PJ Harvey) is actually quite scary. You’d probably agree just to avert the danger of being strangled in your sleep, although it would only be a temporary postponement).

‘Cancer’ is a wild, woozy ride, a blizzard of wibbling electronica and car horns and stammering programmed drum ‘n’ bass percussion providing the sonic terrain for lyrics that veer from the abrasive to the abstract. ‘The end stage is on!’ she squeals as a refrain before a gritty, funk-infused bass cuts in half way through.

Das Ram is good. Really good. It’s a pop album, and one which will evoke myriad comparisons. And it’ll touch them all favourably, because Rachel Mason assimilates her influences in a way which isn’t merely derivative, but innovative, and Das Ram is an album which wanders through infinite shades of weird, and bristles with tension and myriad shades of darkness.

Spiegelman/Rachel Mason

With Observed in a Dream, Norwegian purveyors of  psychedelic post-punk / shoegaze, Mayflower Madame, delivered one of our favourite albums of 2016. While their second album is unlikely to see the light until late 2017 or even early 2017, they’ve unveiled ‘Drown’ by way of a taster now. It’s by no means a mere stop gap: to say the signs are good for the next album would be an understatement. A whirl of echo-heavy gutars and even more echo-heavy baritone vocals, ‘Drown’ has an aching melacholy emotional pull. Watch the video and get your lugs around it here: