Music Reviews



Black Tape for a Blue Girl: Halo Star

 Posted by Kristofer Upjohn   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Aug 07 2004
Artist: Black Tape for a Blue Girl
Title: Halo Star
Format: CD
Label: Projekt
The dynamics - both in instrumental and songwriting terms - of Black Tape for a Blue Girl's "Halo Star" is the personified melancholy that's as much a member of the band as the actual humans who serve as vessels for the angst. In many ways, this can be considered definitive of the goth genre (the non-metal, non-industrial side) in that, like the broadly sweeping spectrum of bands loosely dubbed "goth" mostly due to the shadowy mood, in that it moves through a number of different instrumental constructions in its effort to face the pain within. Besides the soft and deliberate but captivating vocals, there are a number of different flavors - all within Black Tape's style - of music. Tribal percussion and world flavored music grace "Tarnished"; drifting flute, gentle acoustic guitar and lethargic and simple percussion flow through "the Gravediggers"; "Knock Three Times" surprises with its downtempo morphine nod to burlesque or crooner music of yon old times ... classic style filtered through the goth sensibilities of Black Tape; "Damn Swan" is haunting and ethereal and mesmerizes with ghostly female vocals; hints of Pink Floyd can be heard swimming through "Dagger"; and the concluding title track compresses heartache into a piano driven piece with the vocals leaving the sense of saying goodbye with a cure unfound for the soul's pain. And yet as varied as this description sounds (and I've not mentioned every song on the CD), what's most compelling is how subtle the differences seem to be in the course of the track to track flow of "Halo Star". Sadness and wistfulness pervade ever second of this lonely but warm stream flowing slowly, weepily through the mind.

Black Tape for a Blue Girl: Halo Star

 Posted by Kristofer Upjohn   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Aug 07 2004
Artist: Black Tape for a Blue Girl
Title: Halo Star
Format: CD
Label: Projekt
Black Tape for a Blue Girl's gothic dark wave veers away from the ostentatious melodrama of a lot of wannabe goth artists and presents simple and captivating music that moves with the sad flow of a lethargic river of tears. Soft guitar or new age-inspired ambient melodies back soft vocals, both male and female - either/or and sometimes both - and the effect is the moody cry of a pained soul with a strong spark still striving to reach out to another soul. Slightly exotic world - and even, at least once, crooner on morphine ("Knock Three Times") - flavors creep up in places, contributing to the overall texture. This new disc, "Halo Star", is a pretty piece of heartfelt songwriting that opens its trapped under shadows heart for the listener, who may discover herein another soul like unto his own. The lyrics are poetic and evocative, as one should expect from music whose mood relies as heavily on the lyrics as the instrumentals, though those things of beauty too are, well, instrumental. If you spun ad shadows into music you would have Black Tape for a Blue Girl.

Chamber(L'Orchestre De Chambre Noir): Miles Away: A Premonition of Solitude

 Posted by Kristofer Upjohn   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Aug 07 2004
Artist: Chamber(L'Orchestre De Chambre Noir)
Title: Miles Away: A Premonition of Solitude
Format: CD
Label: Projekt/Tristol
Chamber (L'Orchestre De Chambre Noir) has released "Miles Away: A Premonition of Solitude", as just what the title suggests, a preview of the upcoming album"Solitude." Technically, they're calling this a single, but at 12 tracks, it's the longest single I think I've ever heard of. The tracks are minimalist for an, er, 'L'Orchestre', but that's the point, it seems, to show the listener another side of Chamber. There are strings accompaniment behind some of the singer/songwriter style songs but the focus is the piano or guitar plus the deep vocals of the singer, reminiscent of the low slung singing of Crash Test Dummies' front man. The music is poignant and saturated with melancholy, though more playful elements rise to the surface at time. The compositions are lovely and there's no doubting the talent of the singer. Mostly acoustic singer/songwriter goth-folk, listeners who enjoy soft and contemplative tunes with an eye for sadness will find here something to enjoy. Non-goth fans may find the vox a little melodramatic, but that's often a staple of gothic music and "Miles Away" boasts appeal beyond so-called goth fans. Anyone who likes acoustic, soulful songs will like this.

54seconds: Coma

 Posted by Kristofer Upjohn   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Aug 02 2004
Artist: 54seconds
Title: Coma
Format: CD
"Coma", from 54seconds, is one of those CDs you lay back, close your eyes and drift into. Roughly categorizable as shoegazer, though without the heavy distortion element sometimes found in that arena, "Coma" is a very aptly titled release, not because the music is boring - it's not - but because it is so inward reaching you'll find yourself inhabiting a state of mind, not body, as you sink into the sadness and contemplativeness of 54seconds personal and expressive lyrics. Drifting through the clouds and pondering one's life, mind and soul ... this is the sort of realm inhabited by 54seconds' music, which comes off sort of like indie rock heavily filtered through ambient. Pianos, lethargic guitars and psychedelic effects, topped with quiet, sad vocals, create a sound that is melancholy but also capable of bringing you into the realm of musical relaxation.

Written in Ashes: s/t

 Posted by Kristofer Upjohn   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jul 18 2004
Artist: Written in Ashes
Title: s/t
Format: CD
David Bowie meets Bauhaus with a heavy electronic element is what I wanted to say after sticking this disc in the machine. Essentially electronic goth rock with an obvious and heavy love of the indie artists of the genre's roots, Written in Ashes is a startling breath of fresh air in the electronic scene, which is riddled with boring soundalike acts, to be sure. The electronica aspect of the music is well handled andenhances the music's interest while the rock side of the songs are also executed nicely. The whole product is dark and truly gothic and with no more pretension than the genre typically boasts anyway. The beats are infectious, the melodies are emotional but not cloying and the vocals are so classic and archetypal, it's a bit surprising the band doesn't come off as any more self-conscious. In other words, here is a band that has managed to incorporate all the classic elements ofgoth rock and gothic industrial without sounding hackneyed. NO mean accomplishment.


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