Music Reviews

Veil Of Light: Front Teeth

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Aug 07 2017
Artist: Veil Of Light
Title: Front Teeth
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Avant Records
Stepping up the tempo and attitude from previous releases, Veil Of Light’s new LP (or CD or digital if you prefer) is a revamping of the punkier side of new wave, constructed with a production blend that’s for most part retro 80’s, and for the lesser part modern thumping techno. Here are ten tight, energy-packed, radio-edit-format (nothing over 4 minutes) pop songs with distorted male vocals, heavy guitars and attitude-laden, fast-retriggering drums.

The lo-fi parts of the production are sometimes reminiscent of Mesh’s early demos and at times faintly KMFDM. The goth-ish lyrics are sometimes hard to discern and veer dangerously towards cliché on tracks like “Cut Out Your Name”. The more distinct melodic elements of tracks like “Body To The Ceiling”, “Strum Und Drang” and the surprisingly bright “Under A Sun That Never Sets” end up being the better bits.

It’s somewhat surprising how backwards-looking this release is, no more so than with the film dialogue samples and orchestral synth stabs of “Fight Fire With Fire”. It’s an approach really inhibits its ability to impress or stand out. It’s solid and obviously heartfelt but sadly too forgettable.

Irmler / Oesterhelt: Die Gesänge des Maldoror

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Aug 03 2017
Artist: Irmler / Oesterhelt
Title: Die Gesänge des Maldoror
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Klangbad
Assuming my German is just about adequate enough to understand the press release correctly, “Die GesÄnge des Maldoror” is a mostly-instrumental musical setting inspired by the six cantos of the influential Isidore-Lucien Ducasse writings of the same name from 1869.

It’s a startling and dynamic six-part epic composition combining a compact traditional orchestra with a sprinkling of added ingredients ranging from prog rock-style heavily effected guitar through to electronic ambience.

After a deceptively calm start, the first and longest part is a multi-sectioned affair full of percussive shifts and tension, with a theatrical flavour. The short second part pushes the prog rock elements and will appeal to King Crimson fans, before the third part shifts gear boldly into a pared back near-minimalist environment of soft drone, distant indistinct solo choral voices and gentle bells- towards the end of which, the German spoken-word reading of the text sharply jolts the listener’s complacency.

In some ways, the second half mirrors the first. The fourth part brings back the orchestra, with gentle plucked strings, before yet another unexpected diversion into analogue synth noodling reminiscent of very early Kraftwerk, that then somehow hops into downtempo jazz. The fifth part, another highlight, loops us back round to the rock guitar, with added sharp-edged cuts and distortions, which fades as the more conventional orchestra returns, before the sixth and final part offers us a sombre analogue-electronics-heavy finale.

Every time you think you’ve settled into the listening experience of this album, things shift- but in a non-brutal way that keeps you along for the ride. It’s a fascinating, expansive, melodramatic and high-budget affair which deserves a lot of attention.

Electric Bird Noise: The Moonflower

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jul 24 2017
Artist: Electric Bird Noise
Title: The Moonflower
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Silber Media
Confusingly, the latest Electric Bird Noise release is simultaneously both the imagined soundtrack to a Philip James Fox play, and a ‘greatest hits’ release gathering together extracts from previous Electric Bird Noise releases.

Across the fourteen short pieces there’s a diversity which reflects the diversity of the project. From more straightforward meandering solo guitar pieces like the opening few tracks, some of which have somewhat drunken-sounding filters over them, to more fully-rounded shoegaze-type stuff like “Welcome To Static Beach” and “I Come From The Earth”, to fast punk workouts like “I Miss Those Hardcore Kids”, to the synthwave tones of “Carnegiea Gigantea”, it certainly tries to encapsulate a lot.

The diversity isn’t so broad that you would think “I can’t believe these all come from the same artist”, but it’s certainly a neat and versatile range that has the dynamic changes that make sense if you think of it as a soundtrack album. Alternatively it’s a decent sampler advertising Electric Bird Noise’s longer and more consistent previous works, but either way, it’s worth checking out.

Collide: Color of Nothing

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jul 16 2017
Artist: Collide (@)
Title: Color of Nothing
Format: CD + Download
Label: Noiseplus Music (@)
Rated: *****
'Color of Nothing' is Collide's 8th studio album and their first one in six years following 'Counting to Zero' in 2011. That album was a rather downtempo, melancholy affair that although well-executed, largely lacked the fire that they exhibited on 'Two Headed Monster' from 2008. There's fire aplenty though in 'Color of Nothing' and it begins with the aptly titled "Wake Up". If Collide's fans thought they had lost some of their industrial edge previously, I can tell you that it's back in full force now. The harder edge here is provided by the guitars of Kevin Kipnis (Purr Machine) and Scott Landes. Statik is still handling programming (electronics, percussion) and kaRIN has never sounded more seductively witchy. Something about the ways her voice was recorded on this album is really different. She is still immediately recognizable but there are places where her vocals are elusive as smoke. Statik incorporates a lot of melodic/rhythmic industrial loops on this album, perhaps more than he's ever used before. Where Collide had once flirted with taking over the mantle of the 90's band Curve (ie; The Secret Meeting - 'Ultrashiver') here on 'Color of Nothing' they do so forcefully and unapologetically. They even invited Dean Garcia back again to play bass on a track ("Fix"). This is a bigger, bolder and heavier album than they've ever done before. Although there's no definitive unified concept here, this is one of those albums that plays best as a whole rather than trying to pick some hit song, of which there isn't really one here. They're all good. Even though it took me a while to really get into 'Color of Nothing' it was worth it, and I think Collide's fans will think so too. It's an album that could only have been put out by a goth-industrial outfit of the calibre of Collide, and was worth the wait. I can only hope they'll feel like touring it.

Furvus: Aes Grave

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jul 04 2017
Artist: Furvus
Title: Aes Grave
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Dark Vinyl
The first Furvus album in eighteen years is a cinematic journey of gothic neo-classical dark drama. Long drone bass notes, religious-sounding organ and harpsichord arrangements and sparse, surprisingly prosaic, militaristic drumming combine into a sinister arrangement, over which pained, gravelly male vocals sometimes strain themselves in Latin. It’s not a comedy album.

While opener “Missio Apostate” is a strong introduction, it’s closing piece “De Rerum Natura” that is the definite highlight, with a strong sense of the culmination of all the expression and tension having built up to this determined release of energy that seems to make sense of everything that came before it.

Pieces like “Melopoeia pestilentiae, caudata domina nostra”, with its horses hooves, distant bells tolling and whispered Latin incantation-style vocal, do border more than a little on the gothic cliché, but for the most part it walks its own distinctive and sincere path. “Pos de chanter m'es pres talenz” predictably introduces a chanter into the mix and makes you wish its authentic evocative tones had been present more often.

“Mon In The Mone” stands out as anachronistic- a folksy guitar and multi-layered vocal affair that takes a break from the dark drones in favour of a more around-the-fireplace-in-the-pub singing tradition. The other unusual interlude is the Gregorian chanting of “Attollimus culignas, pro gloria Bacchi!”, which sounds like it’s been recorded in a road tunnel.

The production is good, but perhaps not as epic as it might have been. While many of the string and bass sounds are very rich, the drums sound thin and undynamic. The powerful acapella vocal that opens “Pos de chanter m'es pres tanlenz” somehow doesn’t cut through as much as it might. The end result is just a touch too muddy.

It’s a bold and very focussed statement that adds only the very slightest touch of modern production to an organic musicality steeped in both the Middle Ages’ primitive side and its religious pomp and circumstance. Limitations in the production budget are the only thing holding “Aes Grave” back from being truly stunning.

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