doktorjohn.com

New Dark Age May 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — doktorjohn May 22, 2019 @ 7:51 pm

New Dark Age: Johnny Marr at the Wellmont Theater and more!

NEW DARK AGE – April 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — doktorjohn April 22, 2019 @ 11:43 pm


Darkside of the Con – March 29, 30, 31 – 2019

There are almost countless “fandom” conventions that cater to one or more pop culture phenomena. Prime examples include the Comic Con, Steampunk Con, Dragon Con, and the cons devoted to Anime, Manga, Star Trek, gaming and many more. Most fandom cons include a significant component of darkside interest. E.g., the first con I ever attended was Goth Con in New Orleans in 2001.

For the past three years, under the auspices of his online community, Vampire Freaks, impresario and producer Jet Berelson (Jet VF) has hosted an increasingly popular, annual convention that caters to the fans of dark entertainment and interest – those generally known as Goths.

Jet Vampire Freaks & friends

Darkside of the Con 3 was a three-day convention held at a castle-shaped, luxury hotel, the Sheraton in Parsippany NJ. Its scope, as in two previous iterations, included everything dark and creepy, whether musical or fashion related, especially those morbid phenomena with a sly, tongue-in-cheek aspect. Goth – as the subculture labels itself – is a “big tent” phenomenon, built around post punk, electronic and industrial music, its adherents identified by predominantly black attire.

The Long Losts on stage


Performances by some eighteen bands, including such famous acts as Stabbing Westward, Aesthetic Perfection and Assemblage 23 were held in a Grand Ballroom. Beloved local and indy bands filled the bill. Renowned deejays from New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia spun appropriate tracks for late night dance parties, balls and nightclub-themed events, including Cybertron, Stimulate, The Red Party and QXT’s. Naughty burlesque performances and costume contests featuring outrageous and diverse characters took place. Some contestants wore incandescent and LED-illuminated total body garb. Others appeared as villains and victims of sci-fi, fantasy and horror fiction. A live theater troupe performed the action of “A Nightmare Before Christmas” simultaneously while the movie itself ran on the big screen behind them.

Some costume contestants

Panels and lectures/workshops abounded with such interesting and useful subjects as Goth Parenting, the Paranormal, Rope Bondage, Gothic and Horror Literature, Mask Making and Elders of the Goth community. Live action role playing theater invited attendees to participate in the action. Artisans of all ages got to paint in a workshop, and an introduction to making electronic music was held for aspiring composers. History buffs got to learn about the Original Goths and How They Shaped the World.

A lecture and demonstration of live bats was presented in a side room by state licensed wildlife exhibitor “Batman” Joe D’Angeli. Joe’s background as a singer in a 90s glam metal band and as a frequent presenter at Chiller granted him a certain theatricality in addition to his take on conservation science.

Hallway beauties


The halls were lined at all times with vendors selling artworks, jewelry, garments, accessories, literature, and more.

Vendor stands

Those same halls were replete with the most astounding and alluring eye-candy that this subculture can put forth. Both scantily-clad beauties and decidedly overdressed models, some in steampunk, outlandish or fetish attire strolled the corridors displaying their costumes, corsets, headdresses, footwear, horns, studs, spikes, armor and the like.

Mr Haunt and friends

Not only does Goth flaunt the norms of mainstream culture and society, but encompasses numerous subdivisions and outliers that go against the norms of Goth itself!

Sights in the corridors


No one, not even Jet VF himself – who was omnipresent, seeing to the smooth running of events – could take it all in. Without intending to slight or overlook many of the fine and fabulous participants, I offer my own observations on those few highlights I was able to attend, given the fact that I was confined for most of the three day schedule to my table where I was vending artworks from the opening hours on Friday night right up until the closing on Sunday evening.

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Panic Lift on stage


At around 10 pm Friday night, one could attend a screening of the original “Dracula” (1931) starring Bela Lugosi. Friday’s lineup in the Grand Ballroom included Jersey boys Panic Lift, who wed electro-industrial to melodious song, sometimes sung full-throat, sometimes delivered in a distorted growl. A video of their performance at Darkside is linked on their Facebook page.

Stabbing Westward

It is not a shortcoming, but a virtue that Friday’s headliners, Stabbing Westward, rest upon their laurels that go back more than thirty years, because this is music that never fails to excite. The industrial rhythms, the recurring hooks, Chris Hall’s plaintive scream and mantra-like lyrics constitute a formula that is hard to beat for sheer musical enjoyment. Their performance was followed by a show of voluptuous beauties on stage as the Darkside Burlesque.

Around the same time, and going on into the night were two party events. The Red Party hosted by Sean Templar et al. ran a night called “Stay Sick” playing Deathrock, Goth and PostPunk. A few doors over, Cybertron teamed up with Stimulate to host an industrial dance pajama party.

One of several dance parties


Saturday performances in the Grand ballroom started at 2:00 pm with Lorelei Dreaming, an electro-EBM group with a bewitching female lead. Also on the playbill was the horror-rock couple, the Long Losts, who spiced their act up with a sexy dancer/contortionist. Later Rexx Arcana’s FGFC820 performed harsh EBM as a lead into LA-based industrial/pop trio Aesthetic Perfection, just before another round of costumes and burlesque.
Meanwhile in the various salons were panels on Gothic literature, on “What the Hell is Goth?” and on Dark Visual Arts. A panel of Elder Goths brought their combined life experiences to bear on the issues of the Goth subculture and the Goth lifestyle as they relate to personal values.

Elder Goths Panel

The evening ended for many with a QXT’s-hosted dance party at which one could stomp to Sisters of Mercy, Skinny Puppy and Covenant.
On Sunday, those wishing to participate could wake up to morning yoga. There were panels dealing with race issues in the alternative music scene, on polyamory, on Gothic horror in cinema and a conclave of the Iron Garden community. Kids were entertained in a salon that offered Spooky Story Time, Spooky Coloring and the chance to paint a ceramic skull with or without supervision.
Stone Burner performed a violent, primal kind of tribal rock music in the Grand Ballroom. Andy Deane’s singing solo with the backup of percussion as The Rain Within was nothing short of spectacular and not to be forgotten.

Andy Dean of The Rain Within

At 5:00 pm the festivities ended with EBM favorites Assemblage 23, and the vendors closed down amidst last minute impulse sales.
Happiness, a sense of community and a feeling of exhausted satisfaction prevailed as attendees, participants and the staff brought the festival to a conclusion.

Play It Loud – The Instruments of Rock & Roll

The Metropolitan Museum just launched a mega-exhibition entitled Play It Loud – Instruments of Rock & Roll, co-organized with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. This is the first time a major museum examines the instruments of Rock & Roll. It’s impossible to overestimate the influence of Rock & roll on 20th century culture. The instruments have had a profound impact on the form that rock music has taken.
Guitars and bass guitars make up the essential bedrock of the exhibit, and include the first ever Fender from 1949, Les Paul’s early “Klunker” (1942), “The Hoss” Telecaster, the Stratocaster, the Gibson Southern Jumbo (1944), Rickenbacker’s Twelve-String and Eddie Van Halen’s “Frankenstein” composite electric.
Radical designs include such novel shapes as the “Flying V, the skewed Explorer and the SG by Gibson. But the collection also includes a petite grand piano, a Tama drum set, an upright bass, the Aztec 5-string, and a bass violin.
The Hammond organ is represented along with the Moog synthesizer and numerous compact electric keyboards. The venerable saxophone made the transition over from jazz and blues to rock & roll, and is seen in the collection along with such special items as the autoharp, Brian Jones’s Appalachian dulcimer, the Rolling Stones’ violin. Trumpets, trombones and the Sitar and even the Theremin are on view.
Rigs, amps and Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP piano with custom housing round out the music-making machines.
But there are also stage costume garments and iconic posters that demonstrate the rock & roll sensibility in graphic arts. Many show wear and tear as well as actual destructive abuse, The term “Loud” in the title refers not only to the sound but to a whole style and attitude.
All in all there are 185 objects that make up the exhibit, and there are both a catalog and a photo book available for purchase.
The exhibition is free with Museum admission.

Album : “Invocation” with image of Bulgarian “kukeri”

Dead Can Dance
Dionysus – Act II: The Invocation
Back in October last year we reported that Dead Can Dance was releasing their ninth studio album. It went on sale in November 2018. Now they have released a fascinatingly beautiful video of “The Invocation,” the second movement of the Act II of this album, “Dionysus.” It was directed by a Bulgarian company and contains breath-taking imagery including Bulgarian folk dancers – called “kukeri,” in colorful, exotic costumes. They perform ancient Balkan ritual dances as a form of exorcism to ward off evil in a tradition that is believed to date back to the cult of Dionysus, the Greek god who is also the title and the subject of DCD’s album. Mingled with the dance sequence are magnificent time-lapse landscape and skyscape sequences that are the signature style of video artist Ron Fricke, previous videographer for DCD and responsible for “Koyaanisqatsi” (1982) and “Baraka” (1992).
Above all, it features the glorious and blissful music of Dead Can Dance and vocals by Lisa Gerrard that are of surpassing beauty. It’s easy to access and view on Youtube by searching for it under the title and Dead Can Dance. DCD will tour Europe in May and June of this year. They haven’t announced an American tour yet.

New Dark Age March 2019

Filed under: Events,Goth Stuff,New Dark Age Monthly,Uncategorized — doktorjohn March 20, 2019 @ 11:24 pm

Necropolis Attendees

Mandana Banshie and Sean Templar with portrait

Ashley Bad enjoying sitting with Chloe Alexis at Necropolis

Adorns on stage at the Red Party

DJ Glenn Maryansky and host DJ Sean Templar at the Red Party

NEW DARK AGE February 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — doktorjohn February 18, 2019 @ 5:03 pm

Sanctuary Magazine 5 Year Anniversary Party
QXT’s, Newark

On Jan 12, QXT’s hosted the Sanctuary Magazine 5 year anniversary with much festivity. Attended by models, including magnificent Ashley Bad, the event included participation by fashion designers and entertainment by The Iron Garden, an act by shibari artist Flame Hel and live performance by electro-industrial duo Hot Pink Satan. Owing to the fact that Sanctuary Magazine features photography of glamorous, gothic and fetish models, interviews, profiles, and articles relating to underground lifestyle and events, dark, mysterious, intriguing and seductive night creatures filled the club.

The Iron Garden put on The Dark Banquet, which involved a procession of candle-bearing models in Goth attire, followed by a reading by Madame X, then the undressing of two sacrificial “victims” – one male and one female – who got down to their barest minimum of body coverings before reclining on the centrally-placed altar and undergoing ritual cleansing and sham sacrifice.

Next, their supine bodies were strewn with various fruit, including bunches of grapes, etc. A call to various pagan deities was issued by a celebrant in honor of the passing of a successful year of the magazine. The procedure concluded when the on-and-off stage participants came up, picked and devoured the fruit while ominous music played. This process can be viewed by searching “The Dark Banquet” on YouTube.

Live musical entertainment for the night was provided by Hot Pink Satan an aggro-industrial duo out of Pittsburgh, featuring an incredibly gorgeous and wanton vocalist, Clea Cutthroat, in heels, fishnets and electrical tape pasties but not much else, except a blond wig that came off midway through the act revealing a black Mohawk, and theatrical blood, which got generously smeared on her statuesque physique, also, midway through the performance.

Clea Cutthroat of the band Hot Pink Satan while still “dressed”

And what a performance! guitar accompanist Jeremy Creamer blasted out beats, noise and hooks while dancing singer Clea Cutthroat released vocal hellfire. The otherwise unflappable audience stood in shock and awe. It proved to be a musical act that transgressed many norms and rules of civil society, even for QXT’s, the headquarters of gothic, punk and industrial culture in the metropolitan area. Keep an eye out for the next time Hot Pink Satan passes through the tri-state area and, if the description herein appeals to you, make every effort to attend their performance.

at Windfall NYC

Sean Templar (left and center)admiring his portrait by Doktor John (right)

Feb 2, the first Saturday of the month saw a recurrence of the immensely popular dark dance night Necropolis at its usual location, Windfall on 39th St in Manhattan. Host deejay Father Jeff was at the turntables early on, although from time to time he did turn the music over to his associates, Angel, Patrick and Templar. The last of these, Sean Templar, was basking in the attention he was getting from the same-night unveiling of his painted portrait by yours truly. His better half, Mandana Banshie, had propped the oil painted canvas featuring his likeness at the entrance desk to draw the attention and admiration of all comers. When questioned as to the choice of subject, the artist responded that few subjects had the similar level of celebrityhood or good looks.

When not in the booth, Father Jeff greeted arriving attendees at the desk. Some distinguished guests included off-duty deejays V-Christ and Arsenal; Sir William Wells of web directory New Goth City; Jorge Obando of the band Lost In Echoes; and Derrick Hussey of Hippocampus Press, publishers of sci-fi and horror literature.
The crowd was well turned-out and included some eye-catching goths and cyberpunks of both genders. Windfall’s host, Chris Savo oversaw the festivities with dutiful attention to comfort and safety.

Celebrity guests at Necropolis

Housekeeping note: The coat check at Windfall has been moved upstairs from its prior basement location, making it easier to don and doff outerwear in the winter season. Clean and convenient restrooms remain at the basement level, where there’s now less traffic owing to the removal of the coat check to upstairs. One more note: Chris Savo is exploring the possibility of a “drink and draw” night at Windfall for those artistically-inclined within the gothic/punk/industrial scene. Keep an eye on this column for further developments.

QXT’s So80’s Nite

Friday Feb 8 saw a special edition of QXT’s recurring “So80’s Nite,” this time featuring a celebrity guest deejay appearance by DJ Kurt Harland, singer for the band Information Society. In addition, it served as an afterparty for birthday celebrations of two Iron Garden luminaries, namely Madame X and Denise Ericksson, who transported their festivities from an earlier gathering at Lee’s Hawaiian Islander in Lyndhurst to the Newark Nightclub.

Fanged celebrants – Photo by Dario Valdivia

Regular deejays Damian Plague and Ash filled the bill and the air with apropos iconic dance favorites from Pet Shop Boys, The Cure and Joy Division. It was a particular pleasure to pound the pavement to rarely heard Joe Jackson masterpiece, rapidly cadenced “Steppin’ Out.”

Mercury Lounge NYC

Spear of Destiny

On Feb 9 the monthly Red Party provided exception live entertainment this night in addition to the select dance atmosphere for which it is famous. Not widely known this side of the Atlantic, British band Spear of Destiny features original founder, lead vocalist Kirk Brandon on rhythm guitar. It is presently a quintet with five-string bass, a lead guitarist, drummer and keyboardist. Founded in 1982-83, they have fourteen albums including seven in the 80s/90s and seven post turn of the millennium.

Coming on shortly after midnight, Spear of Destiny, on the first stop of their North American tour, put on one of the most memorable performances ever featured in a small venue like the Mercury Lounge. Led by Kirk Brandon, whose vocal skills are nothing short of astonishing, they put on a set of folk-infused hard rock that was so exhilarating that it provoked a spontaneous slam-dancing mosh pit.

Rumbling bass, explosive percussion, a versatile and creative lead guitarist and keyboards that ran the gamut from synthesizer to organ to electric piano backed and supported Brandon’s vehemently rendered singing and rhythm guitar. His vocals were clear, and full-throated, articulating serious lyrics in a forceful, emphatic but melodious fashion. Virtuoso guitar and drum solos added depth to the tight and captivating arrangements as did backup vocals from the entire band. The manner in which Spear channeled British/Celtic folk music was in a manner reminiscent of U2.

Dance music before and after the live performance was curated by host Sean Templar and by his consistent Red Party associate, Jarek Zelazny as well as by guest DJ Jose Frances of Dark Dance Radio.

Museum of Sex
Leonor Fini: Theater of Desire 1930 – 1990

Until March 4, 2019

Leonor Fini – Self-portrait

It is a disgrace and a genuine outrage that this uniquely talented visionary artist is not a household name. Leonor Fini, (1907 – 1996) was a prodigiously talented, multidimensional artist and forceful proponent of the feminist outlook in her paintings, her designs, her statements and – above all – in her life. Italian-Argentinian, Fini settled in Paris where she became acquainted with Max Ernst, Picasso and Salvador Dali. She had no formal training, but she became an accomplished painter through association with established artists, and by her own spectacular talents with a brush and by her unorthodox compositions. In addition she wrote novels, plays and did designs for theater and commercial items. Her iconoclastic views on life, sex and gender provided rich inspiration and material for her artistic expression.

Fini’s paintings, drawings, and costumes will leave visitors with the fineness of her work as well as the explicitness and the allure of the disturbing subject matter. Self-portraiture, human subjects, full frontal nudity and sexualized situations, all executed beautifully, cover the wall and fill the glass cases on two floors of the Museum of Sex. Women – and Fini herself, for she declared that she was the subject in which she was most interested – are portrayed as warriors, powerful, sexy, and iconic. Men – Fini had two male live-in lovers all her life – appear as objects of desire – passive, beautiful, androgynous and under the gaze and protection of a woman, usually Fini in self-portrait.

Two paintings by Leonor Fini

A slide-show is ongoing in an entrance foyer and features photos of her posed in various environments plus quotes and observations about her by friends, critics and lovers. Her own statements declare her denunciation of tradition, conventionality and the commonplace in life, the arts and sex. Two videos are on giant screens showing her theatrical performances and dazzling costumes. On display are explicitly erotic drawings and illustrations she did for such publications as Petrarch’s “Satyricon,” “The Story of O” and works by Edgar Allen Poe, Shakespeare, Jean Genet and the Marquis de Sade.

In her lifetime, Leonor Fini was featured in the “Fantastic Art, Dada & Surrealism Exhibition” at MoMA and the “International Surrealist Exhibition” in London. She was sought after as the portraitist of choice for the rich, famous and glamorous and even featured in LOOK magazine. Yet somehow, all that has not been enough to place her at the level of fame of Picasso or Dali. The only explanation appears to be outright discrimination on the basis of sex, because – for originality, creativity, diversity of talents and utter quality of her work – Leonor Fini stands at the highest level among the other artistic giants of the 20th Century.

Le Ceneri di Heliodoro
Rome

Trisol Music Group (Germany)

If you haven’t heard of ROME, or of singer-songwriter Jerome Reuter, stop whatever you are doing and check him out without delay. New Dark Age first encountered this unique music experience at the Dark Alternative Music festival in Poland’s Castle Party in 2017 and again at Wave Goth Treffen in 2018. Defying classification, Rome has been called “industrial folk” and “neo-folk” because of its blend of high-cultural references, profound themes and ingenious blend of poetry, traditional song-writing and unusual acoustic/industrial arrangements.

On “Le Ceneri di Heliodoro” one will be mesmerized by Reuter’s melancholic baritone and simple, sincere melodies combined with chant, electronica, bombastic interludes, to say nothing of the industrial and ambient sounds. Twelve tracks are presented, starting with the momentous “Sacra Entrata,” followed by emotionally-wrenching “A New Unfolding,” in which ominous male chorals accompany Reuter’s plaintive call. The next several are heart-wrenching, melodious, acoustic guitar pieces that deal explicitly and painfully with Reuter’s pessimistic commentary on America, Europe and the world.

Creative use of samples and a backup chorus prove to be powerful adjuncts to rich, hypnotic guitar and vocal mantras that together make up a spectacular musical collage. Track titles are in Latin, Italian, German and French, but Reuter’s impassioned lyrics and those of his male and female vocal accompanists are in English, even as they reference Roman legions, philosophical issues and life-and-death questions.

Six other albums are available from this astonishing artist, but the latest, “Le Ceneri di Heliodoro” is a great place to start for those willing to explore the opus of this wondrous and extraordinary musical genius.

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductions 2019

Hall of Famers – The Cure

Congratulations to The Cure, the sole representative of the Post Punk movement in this year’s class of inductees which otherwise included metal’s Def Leppard, pop stars Janet Jackson and Stevie Nicks, alternative music giants Radiohead, and classic 60s rockers The Zombies.

Just for the record, the Cure started out in 1976 as The Easy Cure, soon evolved from their earliest New Wave beginnings into icons of the gothic rock scene and by 1992 had been accepted into the mainstream as cited in Pitchfork’s video “A Brief History of Goth.” They secured their status, having won countless awards and having been nominated for two Grammys and numerous MTV awards. Led by frontman Robert Smith they produced over a dozen CDs and 29 world tours, with their most recent stop-off in the NYC area in 2016 to sold out crowds at the ma

Promotional Image for Darkside of the Con

Filed under: My Art — doktorjohn January 2, 2019 @ 2:34 am

December 2018 New Dark Age

Filed under: Events,Goth Stuff,live music,New Dark Age Monthly,Reviews — doktorjohn December 5, 2018 @ 7:37 pm

VNV Nation at Irving Plaza

Nov 24, 2018

Hamburg Germany-based electronic music project VNV Nation (“Victory Not Vengeance”) fronted by Dublin-born singer-songwriter Ronan Harris continued their 2018 tour with a performance to a packed and enthusiastic audience at NYC’s Irving Plaza in support of their latest album, “Noire.” They are famous for idealistic themes bordering on the sentimental and for passionate anthems.

New Dark Age doesn’t attend VNV shows because of Ronan’s unwarranted and incessant talking instead of singing, but we interviewed scene celebrity and event promoter, Lady Zombie, a big fan, who was attending her third VNV concert. She found the synth-wavers openers, The Rain Within, to be an awesome stand-alone act, capable of pulling off an amusing cover of Rihanna’s “Umbrella.” They were followed by Holygram, updated post-punks from Cologne, Germany whom she described as having “an 80s goth sound.”

VNV opened with the ominous-sounding “A Million” from their new album followed by “Retaliate” from their “Transnational” (2013) album, then went back to the new album with “Armour” which features soaring, heartening melody and lyrics.

Ronan was loquacious as always, expressing his love of New York and imploring the crowd to put their phones down and to sing along.

They hit a couple more tracks from the “Noire” album, concentrating their set on their fans’ beloved favorites from their historic body of work. Thus, “Space and Time,” “Farthest Star,” “Chrome” — Lady Zombie’s favorite — and “Resolution” were included in the regular set. After nineteen songs they took a break and the crowd chanted “VNV! VNV!” prompting a return, starting with “Nova,” the first of the three encores which concluded the show with “All Our Sins” from “Noire.”

An official afterparty was held at the Pyramid club at which Ronan and the opening bands socialized with the fans.
VNV Nation at Irving Plaza
Nov 24, 2018

Light Asylum at Synthicide

Brooklyn Bazaar
Nov 29 2018

And Harriman’s club night Synthicide hosted a performance by Brooklyn-based electro-darkwave band Light Asylum on Thursday night, Nov 29. Normally residing monthly at the Bossa Nova Civic Club, Synthicide was held this time in the underground space of Brooklyn Bazaar to a packed, sold-out audience.

The focus of Synthicide is on electronic music with frequent live acts, as on this occasion. The opening group was Ghost Cop, a spacey duo consisting of Lucy Swope and Sean Dack. Early in their performance they were joined by some technical and musical assistants who worked multiple sound boards and keyboards producing compellingly rhythmic, sometimes brutal noise, with some pre-recorded samples as well as, pleasurable, echoic, sung vocals.

Next up, androgynous synth wave duo Korine, from Philadelphia, now frequent flyers in the NY/NJ metropolitan area and coming off their well-received shows at Stimulate the week before as well as the Human Music Synthwave Festival in May of this year, put on an excellent example of that style. This was my fourth time seeing Korine and I had an impression that the they came across like New Order might have sounded if Ian Curtis had survived to sing for them.

Between the acts, hostess Andi Harriman manned the turntables with powerful, danceable tracks, but the packed crowd had little space to move other than to sway side-to-side or bob up and down. precisely because no one was giving up their place for viewing the upcoming, headline act, Light Asylum.

Led by female vocalist Shannon Funchness and accompanied by pre-recorded electro-industrial tracks, Light Asylum burst right on with the first five tracks from their eponymous album. “Hour Fortress” was followed by he funky “Pope Will Roll,” then “IPC.” The next song, “Heart of Dust” has a discordant and erratic vocal quality with a harshness reminiscent of Nitzer Ebb. So did the next track, “At Will,” also from the album.

A couple more tracks from that album were performed, and attention was turned to the “In Tension” EP, concluding with the overwhelming favorite “Dark Allies.” This masterpiece features bizarre minimalism combined with perverse gospel vocals that highlight Shannon’s frenzied, baritonal voice. The crowd of twenty-something Brooklyn goths and hipsters went wild.

The Red Party

Mercury Lounge
Sat Nov 10

The Red Party hosted the dark rock duo the Long Losts who performed selections from their album “Scary Songs to Play in the Dark.” Guest DJ Valefar Malefic joined regulars Jarek Zelazny and Sean Templar playing goth, death rock, post punk and cold wave.

QXT’s in Newark
Nov 16, 2018


The mid-November weekend was eventful at the premier alternative club in the metropolitan area, QXT’s in Newark. Friday Nov 16 saw an early evening presentation of Diva Burlesque, produced by Lady J in an effort at reproducing the atmosphere of early 20th Century strip tease in the tradition of Newark’s Empire live vaudeville theater.

At 10 pm, the dance area took off with a night dubbed “Cure/Mode” with emphasis on the repertoire of those two iconic post-punk bands and other 80s standards in the deejays’ sets. In Area 51 the theme was “Shelter” where one could hear German Industrial Techno, Danish Electro, French Industrial and more new contemporary artists.

Nov 17, 2018 saw Green Jello headline a list of live bands which included the Gothsicles, Singaya and the Broken Co., following which noted DJ Aengel joined forces with QXT’s regular DJ Mindsolvent for an edition of Blasphemy, the original goth and dark dance party on the main floor with the likes of Peter Murphy’s dance-conducive “Indigo Eyes.” Downstairs in Area 51 there was a variety of music with the likes of And One and Project Pitchfork, while DJ Victrola played 80s synth pop and Wave in the Crypt.

On Sunday Nov 18 Sunday Brave rattled the rafters in support of the release of their EP “Taking Over,” alongside noted soloist Constantine Maroulis and two of the hottest local bands, The Randy Haze Trio and Our Fears.

Dec 1, 2018 Q’s also hosted a performance by 80s superstars Anything Box to a packed audience with opening band, Philadelphia duo, Korine.

Stimulate

Drom
Nov 23, 2018

Producer and DJ Xris SMack presented an exceptional edition of the recurring dance and entertainment party Stimulate on Nov 23, Black Friday at the East Village nightclub, Drom., Featured were a synth wave-style original band and two renowned tribute bands as well as hours of ambient, alternative dance tracks curated by well-known metropolitan area deejays including DJs Paradox, Phoenixxx, Cyclonus and Xris himself.

The night was dedicated to facing industrial giant, NIN against PostPunk icons, Joy Division cover bands. The crowd’s choice was to be determined at the end of the show.

Philadelphia duo Korine opened at around 11:30 with catchy, electronic numbers and a pleasingly androgynous, New Romantic stage persona. They had just made a big splash at NJ’s Human Music Synthwave festival this past Spring and were performing in support of their debut full length album, “New Arrangements.”

Over the PA and between band performances we heard “Better Be There” by FunkyGreen Dogs and “Cold” by the Cure. Hot, live go-go action provided visuals through the night, spot-lighting at least three sexily-clad ladies who took turns on stage as the crowd of attendees danced to the likes of Marilyn Manson and Icon of Coil.

Next up, Nine Inch Nails tribute band SIN opened their set with “Pinion” in a 30-second intro, then quickly launched into “Terrible Lie” off “Pretty Hate Machine.” Frontman Byron did justice to the frantic style of early NIN with an uncontrolled performance that saw him strip to the waist and wrap his torso in strands of black tape as he sang and gyrated convulsively on stage. “March of the Pigs,” “The Hand That Feeds” and five more hits followed, for a total of eight songs. Included of course was the once-shockingly explicit “Closer” and concluding the act was “Head Like a Hole,” the milestone entry that brought industrial into the alternative mainstream back in 1989.

Finally, renowned Joy Division tribute band Disorder started their set with archival radio announcements of JD’s historic recognition in the U.K media, then fired up their performance with “No Love Lost” off their “Substance” collection. They moved steadily through eleven songs from the band’s body of work with such beloved selections as “Dead Souls,” “Ceremony” and the mega-hit “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” Even “Blue Monday” by the successor band, New Order, got featured toward the end of the set. Approval from the audience was overwhelming.

Art Exhibit and Lecture – “Metaphysics in Everyday Life”

Center for Italian Modern Art
Antonio David Fiore & Paul Stiron
Nov 28, 2018

The Center for Italian Modern Art has been exhibiting and educating those interested in the peculiar, seminal school of Metaphysical Art for the past year and a half. The standard-bearer of that school is of course Giorgio de Chirico (1888 – 1978), whose works were on display early last year, followed by exhibitions of, first, Alberto Savinio, and – now, currently – collected works of Morandi, Sironi and Carra, all recognized exemplars of the style.

Having always been fascinated by the concept, I attended a lecture and slide show on a Wednesday evening at the Center lower Manhattan, hoping to get a grasp on what this artistic genre is really about and how to distinguish it from Surrealism, to which it is ancestral.

Rare and stunning works by the three above-mentioned artists are on display as well as one iconic piece by de Chirico which helps orient the viewer to the precise core of the artistic movement that arose in and around Italy in the very early 20th century.

A lecture by two scholars of art appreciation delved into the influence of Metaphysical art on realms of décor and architecture beyond the narrow field of painting. What I found most satisfying was coming to learn the philosophical and psychological substratum that inspired the movement, and it is – as I understand – as follows:

With the decline of religion at the end of the 19th century, the Western world – as often the case, led by Italy – was seeking a deeper, mystical meaning in the everyday world, something spiritual in the forms and objects of the real world. Thus, an abandoned piazza, a lonesome statue, an anthropomorphic mannequin, stark earthenware vessels with cast shadows might all evoke an otherworldly feeling that religious experience might have provided in the past or simply as a rebellion against Renaissance high art. Another source of such rebellion was found in ancient and medieval symbols, which got reworked by Metaphysical artists into decorative architecture and interiors for the same effect.

This erudite presentation and repeatedly viewing these artworks provided me with immense help in understanding an art movement with dark undertones that was, for me, previously a mystery.

Stan Lee (1922 – 2018)

By now everyone has read that Stan Lee died Nov 12 of this year at the venerable age of 95. Born Stanley Martin Lieber, he was the editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics, its publisher and chairman. Collaborating with Steve Ditko, he helped create the immensely popular Spiderman; and with the late Jack Kirby, with whom he shared the prestigious “Disney Legends” award, Lee helped create a whole stable of comic book legends including Fantastic Four, X-Men, and the Hulk.

Noted for having brought the genre of comic book art to a more complex level that featured flawed heros, burdened with ambivalence and existential issues, Stan Lee is thought to have elevated the category to the level of 20th and 21st Century literature.

Alex von Nihil aka Oleksander Fushtey (1988 – 2018)

The No Return Post Punk Society, a twice monthly dance club night will now be without one of its resident deejays and co-founders, Alex von Nihil who died suddenly and unexpectedly a few days short of his 30th birthday. Partner and close collaborator of founder Ryan Walker, Alex was known and beloved of the NYC underground post punk scene for his sense of humor, warmth, openness and hospitality.

Alex welcomed all to the events he hosted, from die-hard Goths to casual clubbers, tourists, street people and even yuppies who often made their way down the steep staircase to the Pyramid’s basement level on the first and third Friday of the month where he served up the sounds of classic goth, death rock and synth.

In 2012 Alex won the Eklectik Poetry Contest with his poem “We the Villains,” reproduced here. He was remembered at various commemorative events held around town and in a eulogy written by Luna Pallida.

New Dark Age – Nov 2018

Filed under: Goth Stuff,New Dark Age Monthly — doktorjohn November 12, 2018 @ 3:03 pm

Concerts

Nine inch Nails
Radio City
Oct 13, 2018

Opening at 7:00 pm sharp was Kite Bass, a comely female duo consisting of a blond guitarist with a really nice voice and a brunette with a thunderous bass guitar. The vocals were beautiful, but the songs were definitely industrial, lacking true melody.

Second openers, The Jesus and Mary Chain followed at 7:50 pm, introduced by splashes of electronic static noise, that led up to almost an hour of hit after hit from their much-loved repertoire.

After they closed the stage was crowded with a throng of technicians, musicians and other support staff. The crowd was excited and restless waiting for NIN to come on. As the band set up on stage, strains of Angelo Badalamenti’s “The Fireman” filled the air. The arena swarmed with wandering light beams and the stage sparkled with glittering waves of dazzling LEDs in bizarre purples, magentas, yellows and blues that never occurred in nature. The opening piece was “Mr. Self Destruct” off the “Downward Spiral,” then on into one of the most popular of their entire body of work, “Wish” from the 1992 EP “Broken,” which created a roar of enthusiasm bringing many to their feet.

Their enthusiasm seemed to sink with “Less Than” from the 2017 EP “Add Violence.” It has the signature NIN sound, but the audience was there to hear classic NIN. They were charged back into a frenzy with “March of the Pigs” that followed. But “The Lovers,” and ”This Isn’t the Place,” two wishy-washy, predominantly instrumental pieces, also off “Add Violence,” had a sedating effect.

“The Perfect Drug” from the soundtrack of the motion picture “Lost Highway” and best remembered for its steampunk-style video extolling the alleged virtues of absinthe restored the crowd’s joy, especially by inclusion of a virtuoso drum solo. This was followed by a several pieces from the latest album, “Bad Witch,” including “God Break Down the Door,” which has a distinctive, erratic drum cadence.

The rapid techno mantra piece “Copy of A ” offered a pleasant return to a compelling rhythm, and was followed by the even more rapid, frantic “Gave Up” from “Broken.” ThenTrent Reznor took a moment to remember David Bowie and to perform one from the late rock star’s famous video, “I’m Afraid of Americans,” in which Reznor himself appears. It is always good when a giant celebrity pays homage to the greats of the past. To Reznor’s credit, the next entry was also a cover, the Joy Division tribute, “Digital.”

NIN was definitely on a roll at that point, nailing down two of its best, “The Hand That Feeds” and the trailblazing “Head Like a Hole,” which paved the way for industrial music to cross over into mainstream and alternative.
After a brief break, they returned with three encores, “All the Love in the World,” “Over and Out” and the grand finale, the low-key, passionate, “Hurt.”

The world of industrial and rock music is replete with flashy, raucous and bombastic shows, but there is nothing that quite matches NIN. That said, this groundbreaking, prolific and inventive project is in its creative twilight. The iconic masterpieces of the 80s, 90s and early this millennium stand the test of time, but the most recent entries seem to be pedestrian works with erratic rhythms, incoherent noise and meaningless lyrics. It will always be a delight to revisit “Head Like a Hole” and “Closer,” but we should stop asking Mr. Reznor to stretch his body of work into four more decades.


Stabbing Westward

Gramercy
Oct 20, 2018

Stabbing Westward was founded in 1986 before they dissolved semi-permanently in 2002. During those years they produced one EP and four studio albums. The reunion and revival of Stabbing Westward began in 2016 when they celebrated their 30th anniversary with shows at the Chicago Cold Waves Festival and Dracula’s Ball in Philadelphia. This October 2018 represents the first activity of the band – aside from the release of two recordings – since then.

As for the opening band, The Amatory Murder: the less said the better. But second openers, The Clay People, revived the crowd with mind-blowing industrial-strength punk metal on a par with giant rockers, Tool. The Clay People have been around since ’89. Why haven’t I heard them?


The main set of Stabbing Westward’s performance was drawn from their smash hit album “Darkest Days” (1998), playing all but three tracks, in the order in which they appear on the record. They opened with the title track, a lumbering piece that nonetheless affords Chris Hall opportunity to scream his rage and declare his pain as did the next selection, “Everything I Touch.”

“Drugstore” picked up the pace and did more to grant the instrumental accompaniment opportunity to shine as Hall screamed the rhetorical question, “How Can Everything Be Justified By You?” Next they went into what may be the favorite of many fans, the raucous ”Save Yourself,” unless, of course, your favorite is “Haunting Me,” which followed.
The show galloped along on “Torn Apart,” then slowed a bit for “Sometimes It Hurts,” and the creepily sedate “Drowning” and “Desperate Now.” Chris Hall found his spleen again with the rocking anthem, “The Thing I Hate” and “On Your Way Down,” then closed the set with “Waking Up Beside You” before taking a brief break.

They returned with five great encore pieces, namely “Nothing” off the 1994 album “Ungod,” “So Far Away,” from their final, eponymous album, and “Violent Mood Swings,” also off “Ungod.” Next came their iconic masterpieces, “What Do I Have To Do?” and “Shame,” both from “Wither Blister Burn & Peel” (1996).

It’s sad in a way that this brilliant and engaging musical group found it necessary to break up after four terrific albums. Stabbing Westward has done a great job of giving voice to anger and frustration in an industrial, yet melodious format. Whether they must continue to rehash their oeuvre from the 1990s or if they can – reunited – create new music in the same ferocious mode remains to be seen.

Halloween Specials


Endless Night : New York Vampire Ball 2018

Drom
Oct 20, 2018

International impresario Father Sebastiaan hosted the latest – and final – NYC-based, Halloween-season Vampire Ball and Long Black Veil Reunion on Oct 20 at Drom in the City’s Lower East Side, co-hosted by club scene veteran Chi Chi Valenti and backed by a who’s who of top class deejays, Aengel, V Christ, Xris Smack and Ian Ford. The dress code called for all-black with attendees encouraged to wear costumes, custom contacts, fangs and necklace ankhs.

Doors – manned by Victor Magnus and Mandana Banshie – opened at 11 p.m., and the crowd of dancers and imbibers grew rapidly. Enthusiasm swelled to a crescendo when, at midnight, Father Sebastiaan, with the support of Chi Chi Valente and the pulchritudinous presence of Sabrina and Claire, led the faithful in a warm and nostalgic “Howl and Toast.” In a healing ceremony, Sebastiaan spoke of the history of his Endless Night series with reference to the origins as Long Black Veil, the ancestral club event which launched himself, his Sabertooth Clan and Endless Night series into leadership of the Gotham – and later world-wide – vampire community.

Svelte Cassandra Rosebeetle performed an ecdysiast dance followed by K-Star who performed a belly dance wearing a long, sheer, wing-like cloak. As on all previous iterations of Endless Night, a costume contest was held, with winners selected by the crowd’s response. The dancers of Stimulate performed on stage between the major events while deejays filled the air with the likes of Nine Inch Nails and Bauhaus.

The party went on until 3:45 a.m. at which time there was a last call. Father Sebastiaan has since made it clear that New York City no longer provides venues of sufficient size to accommodate the massive crowd which Endless Nights draw, making this the last such event. Those who yearn for more such gatherings can keep track of and plan to attend Endless Nights in various locales around the USA and the world, or they can hope to be invited to exclusive invitation-only functions that hopefully will occur locally in the New York area.

Dracula’s Ball Oct 31, 2018
Patrick Rogers’s Dancing Ferret hosted Dracula’s Ball at Philadelphia’s Trocadero on Halloween night this year. The fact that Halloween occurred on a Thursday in midweek didn’t stop it from being a sold-out, all-ages event. Planners only allowed two-thirds of capacity tickets to be sold, so that there was comfortable space for attendees to enjoy. Plenty of NY/NJ’s Goth aristocracy showed up for the annual festivities.

Dutch darkwavers Clan of Xymox headlined the show with support from Baltimore’s Ego Likeness and coldwavers Curse Mackey from Texas. Costumes were encouraged but not mandatory.

Nights Out

Necropolis at Windfall
Windfall NYC
Nov 3 2018

Father Jeff Ward’s famous recurring dark dance event took place on the first Saturday of November at its regular location which was decorated for the Halloween season as shown in the photo. Jeff’s deejaying efforts were supported by his top tier associates, DJs Patrick, Templar and Aengel. Mandana provided hospitality at the gate and guests were greeted warmly by Windfall’s host Chris Savo. Celebrities in attendance included Hippocampus Press publisher Derrick Hussey, New Goth City’s Sir William Welles and the Long Losts, Anka and Patrick McGowan.

Museums


Alive! Frankenstein at 200

The Morgan Library and Museum
NYC

To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s famous book, the Morgan Library and Museum is hosting an exhibition, “It’s Alive! Frankenstein at 200” until Jan 27, 2019. The universal appeal of this story, the landmark starting point for science fiction cannot be overestimated. As a book, it has spawned countless books, plays, cinema works and the other media. Commentary has been vast as have been imitations, sincere as well as plagiaristic.

As a story it surpasses others in that those who have not read it know the basic premises of the story almost as well as those who have. The story has penetrated down into the collective consciousness like few others have done. A significant segment of the population consider themselves “fans” of Frankenstein. Even the back story of how a nineteen year-old girl went into competition with some literary greats to write a gothic novel is pretty well known.

What is a gothic novel? Basically any novel that deals with the nightmare side of the world, whether supernatural or rational in its explanations. This exhibition gives credit for the first gothic novel to Matthew Gregory Lewis for “The Monk” (1796), but Horace Walpole’s “The Castle of Otranto,”(1764) is more commonly cited for that title.

This exhibit shows that despite the enthusiasm that we all share for “Frankenstein,” it has all been “tip-of-the-iceberg” knowledge, and that there is factual history as well as critical literary analysis still to be learned about “Frankenstein” and his girl-genius creator. From this exhibit we learn that Gothic style in the arts had been popular for centuries in the English culture in which Mary Shelley grew up. Also shown are books she read as the daughter of two writers and her father a publisher as well. All the reading and writing in which Mary Shelley was immersed paid off by providing her with creativity, style, knowledge and profound insight.

We learn that she first published “Frankenstein” anonymously. In the days when theater companies disregarded copyright laws, three Frankenstein plays plagiarized the story with variations on characters and issues. These boosted Mary Shelley’s creation from book to myth status.

And it’s not just scholarly stuff at the exhibit. There are colorful movie posters from early cinema and rows of comic books and graphic novels featuring the monster or the name. There’s a clip of stop-action animation from the Thomas Edison’s 1910 silent movie in which the monster “self-assembles.” An early edition volume of “Frankenstein” with notes in the margins in Mary’s actual handwriting is displayed in a glass case. Classic portraits and Richard Rothwell’s beguiling portrait of Mary Shelley in oils are on open viewing. Walls and shelves have images of gothic horror and even a display explaining the electrical discoveries that informed Mary Shelley at the time of her writing.

This is a must see exhibition, on display during what remains of the winter 2018 -2019. Otherwise one will have to wait until 2118 for the 300th anniversary of this immortal masterpiece.

Recordings



Ash Code

“Perspektive”
Metropolis Records
Italian darkwavers Ash Code’s third and newest album featuring seventeen tracks was released this month. A video of the ninth track “Black Gloves” gives a representative sample of the frenetic industrial rhythms and creative, layered electronic arrangements that typify their style. The video, available on Youtube, features some pretty edgy, sensuous and sado-horrific images while the sound track is compelling, mantra-like and repetitively hypnotic.
The album is available on CD, vinyl and download as of Nov 9, 2018.

NEW DARK AGE – OCT 2018

Filed under: Events,Goth Stuff,live music,New Dark Age Monthly — doktorjohn October 10, 2018 @ 3:17 am

A Murder of Crows – 2018

Recurring NYC summer music festival, A Murder of Crows – focused on Post-punk, New Wave and Death Rock – was held at Brooklyn Bazaar on the mid-month weekend of Sept 15 and 16, under the auspices of TempleChurch Entertainment. Festival-goers had access to sets by five different bands in the upstairs performance space on each separate night. On the ground level were merchants and curators manning booths to constitute The Dark Market where wickedly themed, crafted curiosities and more were on sale and where advocacy groups gave voice to their causes.

On the basement level, a nightclub disco dance party was also part of the festival. Famous deejays serving up tracks at this lower level dance party the first night included DJs Dave Bats, Martin Oldgoth, Patrick and the event’s impresario, Sean Templar himself. Lovely hospitality hostess Mandana Banshie greeted arrivals and oriented them to the various points of interest at the festival, offering one-day ($30) or two-day ($50) access according to their preferences.

Mandana Banshie and friends at the entrance gate

One of the themes was bidding farewell to the famous Goth party, Release the Bats in one of three end-of-an-era parties to conclude its run in LA on Oct 26.

After satisfying our curiosity at the Dark Market and making a small purchase, New Dark Age settled in to hear the live band performances that took place on Saturday. First up, Floridians Atari Nite opened with a pleasantly bombastic rock set. Next, Cemetery proved to be anything but dead, with an even more bombastic, even frenetic, driven, almost chaotic set, the vocalist jumping offstage into the crowd to supercharge up their energy.

Next, Dave Bats introduced Minnesotans, Rope who played an eminently danceable and melodious set. They were followed by The Last Cry whose emotionally wrenching, melodious hard rock was spear-headed by a highly dramatic, full-throated lead vocalist.

Ritual Howls on stage on first night of A Murder of Crows

Finally, headliners Ritual Howls opened with their hit, “Helm”, its incongruously Western style guitar strumming punctuating its pitch-black chanted chorus. Ultra deep bass, twangy guitars, and deep drones amplified the deliciously morose mood of “Nervous Hands,” “Final Service” and other such other favorites as “Scatter the Scars” which they played late into the morning.

The second date, Sunday Sept 16, saw Rhode Island’s post punk band Way Out open; followed by popular Brooklyn bands the Bootblacks and Azar Swan; then displaced Australians – now out of LA – the VOWWS, before headlining dark wavers, Actors from Vancouver concluded the show. The deejay party downstairs, termed Forever Young, was different the second day, featuring such top spinners as DJs V Christ, Angel, Jet and Ash. DJ Frankie Teardrop manned the mixer in the Dark Market on closing night.

New Wave/Goth/Post-Punk Tribute Nite at the Bowery Electric

Sept 7, 2018

The Bowery Electric is a bi-level nightspot with a nice bar upstairs and a cozy performance space downstairs featuring a raised stage and split level viewing and/or dancing. The usual bill includes live rock bands, punk, reggae and the like as well as deejay dance parties.

This first September Friday night provided an exceptional experience for fans of New Wave and Gothrock. Headlining the bill was the by-now famous Joy Division tribute band, Disorder stopping back at home base as part of a brief East Coast tour which recently included an August gig in Baltimore and a subsequent stop in Richmond Virginia to take place in mid-September. Superstar DJ Sean Templar manned the booth and spun iconic favorites of the genre with the likes of Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy and Peter Murphy.

At 8 p.m. opening band The Scream paid tribute to Siouxsie and the Banshees, led by adorable Siouxsie lookalike Eva who, backed by guitar, bass and a spectacular drummer, did justice to such favorites as “Israel” and “Spellbound.”

The Scream

Next up, All Cats Are Grey, an all girl band (but for the aforementioned male drummer who stayed on from the first band) covered The Cure’s beloved opus, including “In Between Days,” “Just Like Heaven” and rendered a consummate performance of “A Forest.” Lead singer Mary Choselle Colbert relied upon her own singing voice and stage persona rather than attempt to effect a gender-contradicting imitation of Robert Smith.

All Cats Are Grey

At around 10 p.m. acclaimed tribute band Disorder opened their act with a montage of interview clips relating to the burst of enthusiasm over the early discovery of Joy Division before launching into the ominous “No Love Lost.” Then on to “Disorder” from which the band takes its name.

Disorder at the Bowery Electric

Interspersed amidst the eleven track set were more archival samples, some from radio host John Peel, a pre-eminent discoverer and admirer of Joy Division. In one of these samples Peel announces JD’s release of the much celebrated “Dead Souls” and it serves as the prelude to Disorder’s closely matched version of that masterpiece. On another, Peel announces the sad news of lead vocalist Ian Curtis’s death by suicide, and it serves as a lead-in to “New Dawn Fades.”

Yet another voice-over features a monologue of Henry Rollins discussing the influential importance of JD’s album “Unknown Pleasures,” several pieces from which filled out the set list with “She’s Lost Control” and “Shadowplay.”

By the time Disorder had reached the tenth song, “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and the eleventh, “Transmission,” the exhilarated crowd of young and not-so-young spectators, was not letting them off stage. A ferocious demand went out from the audience shouting for an unplanned encore, so Disorder pulled a tour de force with the emotionally apt “Ceremony” before being allowed to end their performance.

Stimulate 10th anniversary

Sept 22, 2018
Drom NYC

Stimulate, the notoriously edgy, recurring music party celebrated its 10th anniversary in September by bringing back the very first band that performed at their opening event in 2008, Imperative Reaction. Host and impresario Xris SMack welcomed the return of these L.A.-based electro-industrial veterans along with Brooklyn trio, NØIR who opened the live show. The anniversary was combined with a Gary Numan after-party following the New Waver’s sell-out performance at Irving Plaza.

As always there was a stellar lineup of deejays including Annabelle Evil, DJ Paradox, Jet of Vampire Freaks fame and the host, Xris himself who treated attendees to every kind of gothic/industrial dance-conducive music. Again – as always – there were sexily-clad dancers on stage overlooking the highly stimulated crowd on the dance floor below.

The trio of Metropolis recording artists NØIR came on around midnight – masked, as is their signature stage appearance. They performed several of their by now increasingly popular and familiar songs plus a special throw-back to frontman Athan Maroulis’s early career with a piece from his earlier association with the industrial band Spahn Ranch.

World-famous electro-industrialists Imperative Reaction were welcomed with enthusiasm and reintroduced to the crowd around 1:30 a.m. and performed a set including their hits as well as new tracks, in their characteristic style employing two vocalists, one of whom served at the keyboard as well, while both were backed by live drums and electronic percussion.

Imperative Reaction

A trample-enthusiast, wrapped in a carpet, lay adjacent to the bar, making his encased anatomy available to assist bar patrons to step up as they approached to get their drinks.

NYC goth scene celebrity Aurelio Voltaire accompanied by his lovely lady, was present as were Sean and Mandana Banshie Templar and delight-to-the-eyes, statuesque, red latex-clad beauty, Ashley Bad, who participated along with Xris, in presentation of the anniversary cake topped with a pyrotechnic sparkler. It’s hard to imagine a more fun and festive night than this, that continued well into the morning.

Vampire Freaks Presents

Friday Sept 28
The Knitting Factory
Brooklyn NY

The entertainment production company Vampire Freaks, along with three outstanding musical performers hosted a night of shows at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn on the evening of Sept 28, headlined by the world-famous Aurelio Voltaire. The Knitting Factory is a grungy yet cozy venue that resembles the old CBGBs in spirit and mission. Indeed, its original location was in Manhattan’s Lower East Side like that venerable, now-defunct club to which comparison is often made. It’s on the ground level of what used to be the Brooklyn Luna Lounge and has a capacity of about 300.

This night, about 150 showed up to see the trio of acts introduced by impresario Jet VF, noted producer of such famed events as NY’s Cybertron and the annual Dark Side of the Con. Jet also curated the deejay set between acts with the likes of London After Midnight, Bowie and The Smiths.

Opening the night around 7:15 p.m. was the horror-punk duo The Long Losts, consisting of the married couple, vocalist Anka Jureña and guitarist Patrick McGowan. Their performance was nothing short of dazzling. Tambourine wielding Anka’s noticeable baby-bump, made her even more delightfully shapely than ever, while her beautiful features were under lit – cinema style – in brilliant and garish colors. The themes were – for want of a better word – “spooky.” Drawing from their popular album, “Scary Songs To Play in the Dark, they performed such gems as “Girl With the Haunted House Tattoo” and “Glow in the Dark.” In a twist on a classic scene from “Frankenstein,” a scantily clad dancer rose up from under theatrical wraps when they played ”Fritz Throw the Switch” off their “To Night” collection.

A tribute to The Munsters’ Lily Munster was introduced with the famous TV show’s musical jingle. Patrick’s electric guitar and a pre-recorded percussion track kept the set within the traditional hard rock & roll style.

An amazing performance followed, featuring North Carolinian, Crystal Bright, a gorgeous keyboard virtuoso and operatic vocalist who appeared in steampunk attire and performed a set of luscious, creative and amusing pieces accompanied by a drummer. Each gave her opportunity to showcase her amazing voice and stunning skills on both the accordion and a freestanding keyboard. In a twist on the old standard, “You Are My Sunshine,” Crystal Bright led the audience in a sing-along in the darker key of A minor (instead of the usual C major), reflecting her “Southern gothic” style. The combination of her vocal skill, musicianship and stunning stage persona were a rare treat and a source of astonishment to those present.


When the headliner, Aurelio Voltaire was introduced by Jet, the crowd roared to welcome him. He is known for interactive, tongue-in-cheek, clever and cutting narratives done along with acoustic guitar-driven Anti-Folk style. He quickly demanded – and received his consistent companion – a bottle of spiced rum from which to swig.

Playful pirate themes and social satire ran through the performance. Goths, small town America and the New York scenesters were targets of Voltaire’s sarcastic parody. His show was highly interactive with an audience that appeared to be composed of deeply committed fans that sang or lip-synced along with much of his set.

He told many an amusing anecdote and singled out birthday celebrants in the audience for good-natured ribbing. When a funny narrative about his Hispanic ancestry and the Mexican Day of the Dead prompted him to mock a meddling “Social Justice Warrior,” one angry protest was issued from an audience member who stated that she was from the U.K. She tried to instruct Voltaire that the term was used only by what she called “right-wing a—holes.” Voltaire leveled her, first, with a snarky reply, that this is America and that we give instruction on how to speak English. Then he went on to demolish the whole SJW attitude with a hilarious song off his newest album, “So You’re Offended,” mocking those who perpetually take offense.

Voltaire’s show had so many and diverse jokes, themes and tales that it is impossible to keep track and report all of them here. Suffice it to say that as always, he left the spectators, laughing, singing along and eager for every musical element and humorous yarn.

QXT’s 27th Anniversary

QXT’s 27th Anniversary Tee-shirt

Sept 29, 2018

Newark’s famous nightclub also celebrated an anniversary in September – its 27th! This makes QXT’s not only the foremost dedicated alternative dance establishment, but the longest running in the greater metropolitan region. To honor the occasion, entrance was $15 that night, and the first hundred attendees received a free, newly designed teeshirt. The line-up of deejays ran from A – Z, DJ Ash to DJ Zeitgeist including residents like Damian Plague and Mindsolvent plus frequent guests Helixx and Caelestka, fourteen in all! Videos were curated by TM5.

All three bars and dance spaces on both floors were open from an early 9 pm start, and festivities ran until 3 am in the landmark venue located in downtown Newark adjacent to the safe Ironbound section and provided with plenty of secure parking.

The legend lives on!

Gothic Vampire Cruise on the Hudson

Oct 6 2016

Passengers aboard the “Demeter” on the Gothic Vampire Cruise

The first Saturday in October kicked off the Halloween season with a special event, the Gothic Vampire Cruise. Hosted by Faunesk Productions, this represented the third recurrence of this event. Hostess Kai Irina Hahn arranged a unique variety show of entertainment including role-playing, costumed Count and Countess Orlok, belly dancers and a smashing performance by her own band, the electronic rock group The Sedona Effect.
Kai Irina Hahn of The Sedona Effect

The excited crowd was both Gothic and Victorian in looks and attire as they boarded the fully rigged schooner, the Demeter, via gangway at the Battery Park slip. Happily the weather held off, but the ship’s deck was well equipped with a canopy, just in case.
Besides playing their own hard-hitting industrial repertoire, TSE concluded their set with a tour de force, strong-female version of the iconic anthem, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.”
The piéce de résistance was a grand finale featuring Vangeline Theater Company’s Sindy Butz, who performed a riveting and poignant Butoh “dance” of sorts, that both touched and terrified the completely transfixed audience.

DJ Patrick kept the appropriate mood between acts with an ethereal, trip-hop blend that included Dead Can Dance and similar moody tracks. A well-stocked bar and hospitable crew made everyone comfortable as the Demeter hoisted sails and cruised the environs around the Stage of Liberty, Ellis Island and the Upper Bay area. The cruise went on from about 9 pm to 11 pm when the ship finally returned to dock.

Necropolis

An afterparty for the Gothic Vampire Cruise on the Hudson was held at Necropolis in its customary location, mid-town’s Windfall, where landlubber goths were joined by the recently disembarked vampiric cruise attendees. Upon arrival, they were greeted by Skinny Puppy’s “Smothered Hope” spun by master DJ Erik Aengel. DJ Patrick regained his land-legs and joined the stellar roster of deejays which included Sean Templar and host Father Jeff Ward spinning New Wave, Synth and dark dance into the night.

Morbid Anatomy Library & Green-Wood Historic Fund

“Bridging Two Worlds” Opening Party

Sept 21, 2018

Exhibit curators Joanna Ebenstein and Laetitia Barbier greeted and directed the dozens of Morbid Anatomy devotees who attended the latest exhibition and re-opening of the library’s new home in the enchanting Fort Hamilton Gatehouse of Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery. An outdoor wine reception was combined with a meet-and-greet, as attendees entered and toured both the first floor exhibition room, and then made it up the charming, antique spiral staircase to the newly re-stocked attic library.

Containing over two thousand books, Morbid Anatomy serves as an open-access research library and is also home to photos, artworks, ephemera, and artifacts. Starting out as the Morbid Anatomy blog run by author Joanna Ebenstein (“A Graveside Companion” et al.) in 2007, the library first found a home in 2008 in Proteus Gowanus, subsequently at the now permanently closed Morbid Anatomy Museum, before settling into the Green-Wood Cemetery’s historic gatehouse. All this while, it has hosted and produced lectures, presentations, exhibits, workshops and publications around NYC as well as organized tours to festivals and museums around the world.

The current exhibition and the focus of the event is housed on the first floor of the gatehouse and features art and artifacts that fit into the theme of “Bridging Two World: The Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead.” The centerpiece of the exhibit is housed in a glass cabinet containing statuettes, tiny dioramas, articles and artifacts mostly pertaining to the Mexican Day of the Dead and other folkloric traditions. Representations of shamans, spiritual mediums, rituals relating to ancestor worship, metaphoric and allegorical imagery of the interface between the living and the dead are on display on the walls. Besides their fascinating symbolic significance, these works prove to be of surpassing aesthetic appeal, even when somewhat gruesome.

Among the most gruesome of these was the large acrylic-on-panel painting, “Kingdom of Death” (1990) by Wolfgang Grass, lent to the exhibit courtesy of the Stephen Gallery.

“Styx” – Ink on fabric

An ethereal, black & white, Spiritualist-inspired artwork, “The Styx” by Sherry Kerlin portrays ghastly yet serene figures in Victorian attire aiding the transport of a recently deceased over the river that leads to the world of the dead.

The list of intriguing, emotionally moving and historically important pieces on display is too great to cover in this report. So too, is the broad and rare contribution which Morbid Anatomy has made and continues to make to our regional culture, exhibiting, educating and enthralling all who frequent this unique institution.

Visit the morbidanatomy.blogspot.com to learn more, and by all means get over to the Morbid Anatomy Library in Brooklyn on Saturdays and Sundays to view the exhibition and to peruse the library. It is to be found at the gatehouse by the intersection of Fort Hamilton Parkway and Micieli Place.

“De Glömda”
A Glimpse into Supernatural Scandinavia

t of Darby Lahger
Last Rites Gallery

One of the most prominent tributaries of Goth culture flows from the cold, dark land sunless winters, particularly the Nordic traditional folk traditions from the Middle Ages. These are the original Goths, whose sombre folklore has shaped numerous forms of expression from Existentialism to Black Metal.

Darby Lahger is an American-born transplant to Dalarna, up in the forests of northern of Sweden where, with her husband and three children, she lives a life heavily influenced by the history, legends and aesthetics of her adopted homeland. She is also noted photographer.

The Last Rites Gallery hosted Lahger’s first solo exhibition of 17 of her drawings in graphite and charcoal, depicting witches, giants, gnomes ghosts and the like, all culled from Scandinavian mythology. Some are portraits, other scenes and others still are surreal. All have a naive, art-brut style which is not to say that there isn’t some excellent draftmanship as well.

Artist Darby Lahger at Last Rites Gallery

We spoke to Darby who was enthusiastic in reporting on the legends and superstitions that inspired her work – ghastly night stalkers, practitioners of black arts and characters from nightmarish folk tales. Currently she is illustrating a book of stories with related fables being written by her Swedish husband. The exhibition opened Oct 5 and runs until Oct 20, 2018.

That’s The Way (I Like It) EP

Metropolis Records
Raymond Watts of industrial rock band in collaboration with author/singer/adult film star Sasha Grey issued this EP on Metropolis Records on Aug 31. Built around a cover of the 1975 disco hit by KC and the Sunshine band, it also contains remixes of three tracks off the recent (June 2018) album “Risen.” Two versions of “That’s the Way (I Like It)” appear on this EP, constituting the first and third tracks.

The first of these is dubbed the “rougher” version and the other called “PIG in the disco Remix.” The former is also available as a softcore video – believe it or not – on Pornhub! Musically, it is a down and dirty cover of the Sunshine Band’s original, complete with harsh percussion, growls and choral voices. Sasha Grey’s lead vocals have a sensuous, seductive quality, and are counter-posed to coarsely baritonal male replies. In second version (track number three) there is a weirdly ethereal intro with faraway vocals that rise gradually and distantly out of the wash of instrumental music. As this track progresses, it grows chaotic, yet retains a menacing, relentless cadence that suggests a plodding hoard of zombies on the march. Both tracks retain the familiar driving rhythm and backup vocals of the 1975 work but with sonic complexity galore.

Track number two, “Truth Is Sin” represents a Chris Hall remix of the song of the same name off the “Risen” album. It is a mean-spirited, hissing revisit of the album original but with bursts of guitar and a generally faster pace, giving it the Stabbing Westward signature sound.

Track four, the Hanzel und Gretyl remix of “The Revelation” has the same feel of post-apocalyptic funk as the original, featuring gravelly, croaking vocals, and swirling, repetitive guitar mantras that are on the “Risen” version, with little discernible difference from the original.

Finally, Ego Likeness has remixed “Cult of Chaos,” adding crackly deep male vocals, hand beaten percussion and tidal waves of pleasing, melodious, rhythmic sound.

Like the antecedent album “Risen,” this EP offers mesmerizing grooves, irresistible rhythms and creative electronica in both the original Raymond Watts compositions and the cover versions of the familiar 70s megahit. Be sure to check out the PIG & Sasha Grey video of “That’s the Way (I Like It)” which you can find on Youtube without having to navigate through Pornhub.

Dionysus

Dead can Dance

Neoclassical darkwave music project Dead Can Dance is about to release their ninth studio album called “Dionysus” after the Greek god of wine and religious ecstasy. Like much of their body of work, it will address its theme with folk instrumentation, field recordings and chants. The opus represents the myth of Dionysus in two acts of seven movements. The first movement of the second act, “The Mountain” has been made available to listeners on Pitchfork.

The myth of Dionysus, his birth on Mt. Nysa, where he was brought up by the centaur Chiron and ultimately, the chants and dances of the Bacchic rites are represented in musical form in this work. Listeners can expect the same gorgeous, powerful-yet-ethereal melodies, operatic-quality vocals and mesmerizing rhythms for which DCD is famous.

In support of this potentially monumental album, DCD will tour Europe in the Spring of 2019. The album will go on sale in November of this year. Pre-orders of the CD, vinyl, hardcover booklet, digital downloads and combinations of each are available through musicale.com

The Bela Session
Bauhaus

To celebrate Bauhaus’s 40th anniversary two companies, Leaving Records and Stone’s Throw Records are issuing an EP of largely unreleased tracks from the January 1979 session at which the defining anthem of Goth rock, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” was recorded. It opens with a nine and a half minute remaster of the work after which it is named.
The second and third tracks are the never-previously-released “Some Faces” and “Bite My Hip” which was later re-recorded as “Lagartija Nick,” the latter of which was included in the Singles EP. The fourth track is “Harry,” the Ska/Reggae-flavored piece named for Blondie’s Debbie Harry.

The fifth and last track is the original version of “Boys,” a very different version of which can be found in the Goth Box compilation.

It’s rare for something as monumentally iconic to arise from the corridors of time as far back as 40 decades ago, and this EP is sure to be a collector’s item when it comes out. Right now they are taking pre-orders and offering free download of the title track. A red vinyl version will be available as will the entire Bauhaus catalogue later this year to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the band.

“Ewige Eis”
Eisbrecher
Metropolis Records

Industrial, dark-electro rock band Eisbrecher released a 2-CD collection “Ewige Eis” (“Eternal Ice”) subtitled “15 years of Eisbrecher” with 20 tracks on the first disc and 18 on the second. This “best-of” set captures the German powerhouse band’s repetitive guitar riffs, deep dark vocals, with a smattering of choir singing and heavily cadenced military-march-percussion. Gravel voice vocals are the rule but occasionally more melodious male singing alternates with ritualistic and female choral sounds.
If you wish to sample the album, there are two tracks, namely “Verrückt” (“Crazy”) and “Was Ist Hier Los?” (“What’s Going on Here?”) that are both available as cinematic videos. The former mocks corporate board meetings. The latter displays disturbing, archival videos of examples of barbarity in war and everyday brutality that usually goes unseen. Both feature the driving beats, industrial guitars, chorals and danceable rhythms that are representative of the 2-disc Eisbrecher retrospective.

The War of the Worlds – The Definitive 80th Anniversary Collection 1938 – 2018

Stardust Records

All fans of radio and of Sci-Fi are aware of – and fascinated by – that wonderful historical event when eccentric media icon Orson Welles played a monumental prank on audiences when he broadcasted a show based on H.G. Wells’s “War of the Worlds.” He so structured the narrative as to leave it ambiguous to naive, radio-era listeners as to whether it was an actual news report or a mere tale of fiction. Mass panic ensued. It turned into one of the greatest spoofs of all time in 20th Century American culture.

Now Cleopatra Records exec Athan Maroulis (Spahn Ranch, Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Noir) has gathered together a 2 CD collection that includes the complete original 1938 broadcast along with a 1940 conversation between Orson Welles and H.G. Wells and a rare 1955 broadcast. It became available Oct 19 on disc and on digital format in both the U.K. and the USA.

A must-have for students of weird history, 20th Century madness, Depression-Era eccentricity, media, sci-fi and general shenanigans.

Wave Gotik Treffen (WGT 2018) Handbrotzeit

Filed under: Events,Goth Stuff,My Art,Uncategorized — doktorjohn September 27, 2018 @ 3:13 am

This was a scene in a courtyard outside Taubchental in Leipzig during Wave Gotik Treffen

Oil on canvas 16″ X 20″

New Dark Age — August 2018

Filed under: Goth Stuff,live music,Movies,New Dark Age Monthly,Recorded Music,Uncategorized — doktorjohn August 6, 2018 @ 4:01 pm



Necropolis

This month’s edition of Father Jeff’s Necropolis truly lived up to its name by hosting an official book launch of Hippocampus Press’s “New York State of Fright,” an anthology of horror stories by NY authors featuring stories set mainly in and around NY.

Before the first music began , there were readings, book signings and trivia discussions. Then, after the first set of dance tracks, Windfall manager Chris Savo called a pause. Brooklyn horror author, Teel James Glenn, attired in tuxedo, manned the temporary podium and read a creepy, humorous vampire short story with an unexpected twist to great approval by the necropolis crowd.

Also in attendance was film director Jonathan Berman, visiting NYC for the premiere of his documentary about the UFO-cults of the 20th century, “Calling All Earthlings.”

Despite the heat, the humidity and the absence of numerous scene sustainers who were away in Ireland, Father Jeff and Patrick pulled off a rockingly successful episode of Necropolis with the assistance of DJs Joe Hart and TJ Lepore.

QXT’s Aug 3, 2018

Newark dance club, QXT’s nightclub hosted a free admission night called “2080” dedicated to 80s New Wave, Synthpop and Synthwave, at which DJs Ash and Damian Plague served up the requisite fare from 10 pm to 3 am the following morning. Heard was the softer stuff on which the crowd grew up like Depeche Mode, The Cure, Duran Duran plus Synthwave giants Lazerhawk and Dance with the Dead. About midway into the night, Damian concocted a beautiful mashup of Filter’s “Hey man, Nice Shot” and NIN’s “Closer” which set the dance floor into ecstatic frenzy.

Cabaret Voltaire


Cabaret Voltaire
Industrial Demos 1974 – 1976
Mataram Music (2018)

Cabaret Voltaire, the English industrial music pioneer group, formed back in 1973 before the era of digital media. Experimenting with cut-up technique, using audio tapes, sound samples, loops and the like, they introduced the world to a radical alternative to the conventional music based on rhythm and melody and helped create the industrial genre.

Still active in both performance and recording (although the personnel members have evolved) they just released a collection of their do-it-yourself works from the mid-70s entitled “Industrial Demos 1974-1976,” containing ten tracks from the era when they were musical icons of the Dada art movement. As far as I can tell, each of these have been released before amidst the myriad studio, live, remix, and compilation albums and numerous singles and EPs.

This album starts with “The Dada Man,” an erratically cadenced series of speeded up tape squeaks, metallic banging and sci-fi noises. The next track,“Ooraseal” has no recognizable rhythm and plays with vocal samples run backwards while an electronic chirp drones on. “A Sunday Night in Biot” features distorted, tinny vocals that pierce the waves of synthetic roars, beeps and burbles. The sound of a kazoo breaks in now and then.

“In Quest of the Unusual” is a brief piece that produces a chaotic wall of sound with clicks and snaps occurring without any regularity. Echoic roaring sounds and vocals are heard through the rhythmic, percussive “Do the Snake.”

“Fade Crisis” utilizes echoic, foghorn-like samples to create a spacy, faraway feel without anything resembling rhythm. “Doubled Delivery” is characterized by a double-speed marching cadence that is relentless, over which are layered synthetic burps and buzzes.

“Venusian Animals” is the track that most resembles the soundtrack of an early sci-fi thriller with loopy mournful electronica and sweeping wind-like noises. “The Outer Limits” falls into the same category but employs a painfully high-pitched drone behind the repetitive sound of a machine sloshing through an electronic swamp toward some remote destination.

The album concludes with “She Loved You,” an eight-minute largely empty track with sparse pounding sounds, backwards recorded voices and quiet blasts of synthetic growls and horns.

Credit where it’s due – this group took what limited technology was available and put it through every conceivable operation, thus helping open our minds to a new auditory experience that led to where we are now. It was more noise than music, but it served its historic purpose, and from it has flowed industrial, techno, electronic, EBM and more.
All these tracks can be accessed on Youtube.

Panic Lift


Panic Lift “End Process” 10 tracks
Metropolis Records

This is Panic Lift’s fourth album, released this Aug 24, two years after, “Skeleton Key.” There are ten tracks of essentially industrial electronic rock with elements of symphonic, synthwave and Linkin Park-like rap. It opens with an electro-industrial track that has interjected spoken word, The next several tracks contain some nice, melodious singing that alternates with harsh, hissing vocals, always to a compelling, rapid beat. Several tracks are at a slower, more moderately pace and feature eerie strings and hypnotic, synthetic arpeggios. Staticky voice samples make an occasional appearance setting a post-apocalyptic mood. Some of the electronica has a pseudo-aquatic, New Age feel even as it leads into a mechanized cadence and pleasant full vocal singing. Belching guitars form a frequent element that places the overall category of the album into hard, symphonic rock.

Sometimes the lyrics (all of which can be read on the included cover art) have an angry, accusatory sense, issued in a gravelly voice, but James Francis’s versatility is that he can switch to mellow crooning within the same track. The music is always inviting, pleasing to the ear as well as conducive to the dance floor. The appeal of this album was such that on first listening I was able to find each track immediately satisfying.

Panic Lift is on their “End Process” tour in support of this album.

Rated A
Beautifully brutal

The Ink Bats


The Ink Bats
“Loss”

The Oakland, CA-based Ink Bats are touring the West Coast in support of their nine-track 2017 disc,“Loss” and to promote the Youtube-accessible video of the album’s sixth track, “Caves.” The album starts right off with a rocking number with a driving beat and mournful, high-pitched wailing vocals. The pace slows a bit with the second track, but the beat is still compelling and vocals more controlled, though no less anguished. The third cut features a drawn-out, elongated electronic guitar droning and plaintive masculine vocals that evoke Fields of the Nephilim over a snappy cadence, The fourth track opens with an eerie, eloquent sample of a British patrician that contrast with the long instrumental intro and beautiful choral vocals supported by prominent drumming with – again – a driving rhythm.

By the fifth track begin to wonder if the Ink Bats are going to keep up the irresistible verve you have been listening to, and they succeed admirably. Luscious female vocals of rhythm guitarist Josie Dot have an operatic quality as they rise above accompanying mean-sounding instrumentation and male backup. Judge the deliciously dark sixth track, “Caves” yourself, by checking it out on Youtube. Rather than stand out above the other tracks, it rather epitomizes the richly textured gothic, PostPunk style of the rest of the album, which itself is a stellar entry into that beloved genre.

The last three tracks are three, four and five minutes long, respectively, and each presents a unique, work, consistent and well-situated within the traditions and conventions of the Goth Rock style. Except for the percussive elements, any of these ten tracks would make suitable soundtrack entries to mystery or horror cinema.
Find the album which is available via Bandcamp in digital download, on CD or even in vinyl edition, and don’t fail to check the “Caves” video on Youtube.

Cyborgs Among Us


Cyborgs Among Us (2017) 1:45 documentary

This film takes a serious look at the increasing interaction of humans with technology, with particular emphasis on implanted electro-magnetic and mechanical devices. The opening sequence seems, at first, to be a fantasy in which a young man with an antenna arising from the back of his head narrates his bizarre perception of the sights, sounds and aromas he experiences in a natural as well as urban environments. Shockingly, and amazingly, it becomes apparent as the narrative progresses, that he is in fact a real person, not an actor. Born without any color perception at all, he lived – prior to the implant – in a world of grays, blacks and whites. He had a real antenna surgically connected to his brain that allows him to experience the colors of the world – as well as electromagnetic wavelengths such as ultraviolet and infrared – in the form of sounds of different pitch and timbre. The implant collects colored light information and converts it to sound perception in his brain.

This is only one astounding example presented in this real-life documentary. A worker who lost his right arm in an accident is shown having had a high-tech, incredibly versatile arm connected to not only the remaining bone of his arm’s stump, but the actual nerves that allow him to control the movements, – some of them quite complex – of his elbow, wrist, hand and fingers – and to actually feel the touch and weight of objects he is handling!

Shown is a sort of Olympics of paralyzed and amputated individuals with devices that replace and/or augment their ability to ambulate, control artificial limbs and perform tasks.

A deaf gentleman who has had cochlear implants to restore hearing directly to the auditory area of his brain discusses the versatility of his sound perception, and the options it provides him to focus on various sounds, to filter out unwanted noise so that he can understand conversation in loud environments and to shut out sound completely when he chooses to do so.

The film turns to a workshop run by a small group of piercings-adorned cyberpunks who are engaged in high-tech body modification: the surgical implant of electronic devices into their hands and fingers that enable them to operate electrical sensors and devices and to perceive electromagnetic fields.

Finally the film calls attention to the growing political movement and in particular Mr. Zoltan Istvan, sometime-presidential candidate of the Cyborg Party, who expounds on his belief that immortality in some form or other will be coming soon as advances in technology make replacement parts and computer storage of brain functions a reality. The future – this film reveals – is now!
This film can be accessed on Amazon Prime and other sources.

Nico, 1988

“Nico,1988” (2017)
Written and directed by Susanna Nicchiarelli

Manhattan’s Film Forum held the US theatrical premiere of “Nico, 1988” – an unsentimental docudrama about the last years of punk-cultural icon, Christa “Nico” Päffgen. Model, singer, actress and Andy Warhol-designated celebrity, Nico gained recognizable status singing with the Velvet Underground on their 1967 debut album, “The Velvet Underground & Nico.” Prior to that she had been a model and had acted in Fellini’s classic “La Dolce Vita” and Warhol’s experimental film “Chelsea Girls,” roles earned in no small measure by her lanky 5’10” supermodel frame and exquisite, chiseled features. Musically, she is credited with a role in initiating both the punk and Goth-rock scene.

This movie is not about those joyful years of celebrity and triumph, but the sordid last couple of years, when Nico expressed violent objection to nostalgic attempts by interviewers and fans to reawaken those memories. Sometimes she even tried to reject the stage name Nico and demanded to be called by original name, Christa. Except when the need to finance her costly heroin addiction forced her to revive her chanteuse performances before rock music-thirsting fans in Italy and in Eastern Europe.

Danish actress Trine Dyrholm masterfully portrays Nico – aging, dissipated, hoarse from chain-smoking and booze, numbed with Methadone and hard stuff, reviving the stage persona that was Nico again.

We get a view inside her bitter decline during interviews and when she is interacting with her tour crew and her devoted, late-career manager, Rick, convincingly portrayed by Scottish actor John Gordon Sinclair.

The plot includes bizarre experiences touring in Italy and in dilapidated, police-state Eastern Europe. It shows her causing disillusionment of naive, nostalgic fans and making quick, necessary getaways from the law. It peers into the pathetic relationship she had with her estranged son. Thrown in are a couple of kick-ass, out-of-control and drug-infused band performances. Altogether it is a lurid story line that serves as a vehicle for spectacular, stirring acting and brilliant cinematic direction.

“Nico, 1988” acquaints the post-Millenial generation with an historic cornerstone personality from the countercultural 60s, as she coasts twenty years later into her final demise.

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