Music Reviews

Duskmortym: One Night over the Baltic...

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Sep 10 2018
Artist: Duskmortym (@)
Title: One Night over the Baltic...
Format: CD + Download
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Any time we get a metal album in, we always need to make sure that it's either gothic, industrial or both. Some (but not all) black and doom metal qualifies (if it's bizarre enough), but that's usually up to the reviewer. There is an awful lot of good stuff that gets sent to us that just doesn't qualify for Chain D.L.K.'s genre parameters. Duskmortym makes the cut on its sheer outrageousness, its refusal to be confined to a genre and its generally gothy tone. The band is actually one man- E. S. Bowles, originally from Victoria, BC but now farther north of Vancouver Island in Nanaimo, BC. Bowles does it all - electric and acoustic guitars, bass, keyboards, drums, vocals, plus artwork and design for the CD and recording and mixing. 'One Night over the Baltic...' is Duskmortym's debut album, originally released in 2014, but re-released in 2016. Don't know why it's taken so long to reach us. A lot of it is extreme metal, which Bowles calls symphonic black metal. (Think of bands such as Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Emperor, etc.) Like the Borg of black metal, Duskmortym has assimilated an amazing amount of metal tropes and styles (Speed and Thrash included) and everything is played with accomplished expertise. Problem is, Bowles can't seem to to stay in one area long enough which makes for rather schizoid continuity. One minute you're getting gothic organ, the next- speed metal guitar riffs, then intricate classical acoustic guitar in a medieval folk style. The album seems to be more of a showcase for this talented musician than an album of well-composed and structured songs. There is a theme though - a journey across the Balkans with encounters with the occult creatures of the night, not to mention some Greek and Indian Goddesses. Song lyrics are quite poetic, whether they're spoken, pitch-shifted (down to demon range) or screech-growled in that stereotypical black metal mode. The only other musician on this album is Sara Robinson providing some voca. (Some sections reminded me of early Mortiis.) I think if the album was a little more focused I might have rated it higher but don't underestimate it. 'One Night over the Baltic...' is bound to impress black/gothic metal fans no matter what I think.

Map 71: Void Axis

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Sep 03 2018
Artist: Map 71
Title: Void Axis
Format: CD + Download
Label: Fourth Dimension Records
The fusion of Lisa Jayne’s Essex-tinged spoken word poetry and Andy Pyne’s drums and electronics results in a raw, sometimes abrasive album that expects attention. Over steady non-evolving electronic patterns and aggressive snare-heavy drum work, Jayne reads freeform lines full of abstraction and idea collisions that suggest this is what Karl Hyde would sound like if he was simultaneously both very tired and very angry.

There’s a strange nostalgia element at points that seems to be harking back to the political and musical dissent of the 80’s, not just lyrically in pieces like “The Prefab” but sonically as well at times- and even in an odd way in the artwork. Themes are deeply physical and confrontational but not devoid of moments of self-doubt and at times self-pity.

“Nuclear Landscapes” is one of the strongest tracks, particularly dark and distorted electronics and rumbling drums underpinning more sparse words. The multi-layering of the vocal on “Armour and Ecdysis” combined with drumming that steps towards freeform jazz also makes it more intriguing, with more depth than some of the other more one-note offerings like “Neonsignquietlife”.

It’s a rough-edged and challenging listen at times from a duo that might be more watchable and engaging in a live context than on a recording. It didn’t really float my boat but if you’re looking for the punkier side of avantgarde, here’s some worth sampling.
Sep 01 2018
Artist: Rudolf Eb.Er
Title: Om Kult: Ritual Practice of Conscious Dying - Vol. I
Format: CD + Download
Label: Schimpfluch Associates
“Om Kult” is a collection of 31 short atmospheres built out of electronic drones and noises that are garnished liberally with a broad collection of dark, gothic audio imagery- found sounds from monks chanting, maggots feeding on carcasses, the sound of digging and scratching in dirt, human and animal growling, scream in pain and so on. describes it as “a glimpse into occult techniques for the transition from life to death”. It’s fair to say this isn’t a comedy album.

Does it stand up as a sonic work out of its compositional, or de-compositional, context? Not wholly. With many of the tracks under two minutes long it sounds like a sketchbook of sonic ideas, many of which begin and end abruptly as though samplers of longer works. The digital processing certainly throws up curious effects. The pieces are rarely long enough to have the kind of mental baseline-shifting effect that some drone and noise works are capable of. At times it just sounds like the blackest of sound effects CD’s.

The six parts of “How To Die” are perhaps the strongest section, adopting a structure that feels more scripted and ritualistic, especially with the slow unrelenting kick sound that begins in the first part. “Licht (Unborn Light)” is notably theatrical, with more overt vocal noises and wailing. “Beelzefest” is notable, for maybe the wrong reasons, because it’s difficult to tell whether you’re listening to pitched-up human screaming, or the sound of seagulls who’ve spotted your sandwich.

There’s a rich underground history of dark noise work like this, and while this release increases the size of that oeuvre, it doesn’t really expand or push it particularly far. If you like your extremely dark noises in bite-sized easy-to-digest chunks, then this may well be very palatable for you; if not then you may find it to be one of those challenges that doesn’t offer enough reward.

øjeRum: Stilhedens Strømmen I Fuglenes Blod

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Aug 14 2018
Artist: øjeRum (@)
Title: Stilhedens Strømmen I Fuglenes Blod
Format: CD
Label: KrysaliSound (@)
Rated: *****
The title "Stilhedens Strømmen I Fuglenes Blod" (it should be Danish for "the flow of silence in the blood of the birds") could fit to the sound you'll meet in this release by Danish visual artist (I guess he made the meaningful collage of the cover artwork) and musician Paw Grabowski aka øjeRum: initially issued in a very strictly limited edition of 30 self-made cassettes in 2016 and recently re-issued by Italian label KrysaliSound, which kept the hiss of the tape during the mastering, the sound gets unrolled over a one single 30 minutes lasting track, based on repetitive loops of a slightly pinched acoustic guitar, sparse elongated sounds, abstract field recordings and other evanescent resounding entities (including birds, of course!). Paw shows he learnt the minimalist lesson by the way he stacks identical chords through unperceivable (the tonal ones) or clearly (the length of the whole phrase or of single tones) listenable variations, but besides some insertion like the hits on glass (following the same speed of the guitar chords after 7-8 minutes), the fading of music overwhelmed by almost silent field recordings in the middle of the recording and an unexpected flooding of an ambient ghostly pad in the last minutes, the composition is quite flat. It can match a vague sense of loneliness, a romantic (in the authentic meaning of the word...) dazed melancholy or a merely hermetic detachment, but a mushrooming of this dark-tinged ambient-folk in the music (more or less independent) market is getting closer to those cliches, that should maybe have been antithetical in the guise of many musicians orbiting around these sonorities.

Ghost Painted Sky: Flightless

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Aug 02 2018
Artist: Ghost Painted Sky (@)
Title: Flightless
Format: CD + Download
Label: Restless Grey (@)
Rated: *****
Ghost Painted Sky is a goth/darkwave band from Northampton, Mass., and 'Flightless' is their first full-length release after a few EPs going back to 2014. GPS stated out as the solo project of David Strong but now includes vocalist Lisa Wood. 'Flightless' consists of 13 tracks full of melancholy atmosphere. There's a lot of old school flavor updated with a modern sensibility. Opening track "Liminal" is drum-heavy tribal in which we get a hint of Lisa's prowess with wordless vocals. The music still continues along tribal lines on "Cleansed" with the addition of doomy guitars and Lisa's vocals take center stage with a touch of the shamanic. Okay, I'm impressed now, but can they keep it up? Well, not really. Most of the rest of the album kind of sags and drags with mostly David on vocals. I'm getting rather bored until Lisa returns on the 12th track, "A Fleeting Moment" which is refreshing. She also appears on the final, and title track "Flightless". It's obvious to me now that without her vocals the songs sound lackluster. It seems to be a typical case of too much too little too late, but I've always been a picky goth when it comes right down to it. I wouldn't pass this up out of hand, but I would recommend listening to it first. Maybe you'll have more of a taste for David's vox than I did, and maybe you'll be less critical about the songwriting too.

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