doktorjohn.com

Iron Factory 20″ X 16 ” Oil on Canvas

Filed under: My Art — doktorjohn August 19, 2020 @ 2:29 am

NEW DARK AGE -APRIL 2020

Filed under: New Dark Age Monthly — doktorjohn April 22, 2020 @ 4:40 pm

Interview with Rotersand

In the world of industrial music in the new millennium, German futurepop stars Rotersand stand out for their irresistible rhythms, mastery of musical electronics and gripping themes. Earlier this year they released their seventh album “How Do You Feel Today” about which you can read in the March issue of New Dark Age, which you can go at doktorjohn.com/?p=3647

When Metropolis Records and Athan Maroulis (Spahn Ranch, Noir) put me in touch – remotely – with Rotersand’s members, I took the opportunity to spy into their collective approach and sources of inspiration to construct their total sound. So I asked questions directed to these issues. I found Rasc and Krischan – who took turns responding – to be straightforward and modest, as musicians confident in their success at achieving what they set out to do artistically. Below is what I learned, much of which would be a treasure trove of music technology, their cultural milieu and much else about the band.

*************************************
Doktor John
What are the main instruments and/or electronic devices employed in creating Rotersand’s signature sound?

Rotersand
-Rasc:
The same technology can drive a completely different sound. The guys using it determine the sound.
If you really like to talk technology: As far as I am concerned, Hardware: Nord Lead 1, Micro Korg, Mac Book Pro 2016, guitars. Software: Logic Pro X, Nexus 2, Predator 2, Punch, Spire, Minimonsta, and more. But of course the production arsenal of Krischan in his Studio 600 and his incredible studio skills are the ultimate force of all Rotersand productions.

-Krischan:
i guess some of rotersand’s signature sound as you call it is result of rasc’s magic skills of creating songs out of nothing and my more alchemistic way of creating by reassembling and recombining. the devices used aren’t that essential but helpful and as much tools as sources of specific ways and processes to bring an idea into the final form. i still feel bound to stuff and devices that offer randomness and some uncontrollable stuff.


Doktor John
From what cultural sources (events, issues, writers, artists, philosophers, etc) do you draw inspiration?


Rasc:

-The daily news. Earlier Life: V. Flusser, S. Lem, von Glaserfeld, Varela / K. Dick, T. Mann and many more. University: E. Husserl, A. Schütz, L. Thayer, H. Maturana, N. Luhmann and many more. Movies: Bladerunner, Brazil, Sci Fi as a genre, D. Lynch, R. Scott, W. Wenders as my fav directors.

Doktor John
-Do you like or do you reject the label “futurepop?” Why?

Rasc:
I´d prefer Industrial Pop as this synth pop thing is just a part of our work.

Krischan:
i kind of like that label “futurepop”, even if it is anachronistic nowadays. but maybe that twist is what i like about it.
Doktor John-
Will you be performing live when the pandemic passes? Plans? Commitments?

Rasc: We have been performing live all the time but, yes, not in America since 2010. The immense costs of buying work permits is one factor as well by the way. We can´t just go there for a week without losing money, so we would need to go for several weeks which is not so easily to do for me as flying is. I do fly but I do not like it.

Doktor John- What were the early musical influences that Rotersand members (or spokesman) recall before becoming established professional musicians?

Rasc: Pink Floyd, Queen, Tears for Fears, New Wave, Skinny Puppy, Front 242, Detroit Techno, UK Techno, mostly Underworld in the 90s.

Doktor John- It may be one of my favorites from Rotersand’s body of work, but, what the heck is the idea behind “Waiting to be Born?”

Rasc:The longing of a young woman for a feeling of really being alive. She is missing something essential, maybe also missing someone. So she waits, hopes, longs and dreams.<

New Dark Age – Last Day of March 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — doktorjohn March 31, 2020 @ 3:24 pm

Ghost VI : Locusts
NIN

Over the years, Trent Reznor and NIN have scored or contributed tracks to at least seven motion pictures and – in collaboration with Atticus Ross – many, many more. This 15–track sequel to the series “Ghosts I – IV” (2008) is said by Mr. Reznor to address the anxiety associated the current age – and helping us “get through” the current situation, presumably the Coronavirus pandemic. It certainly doesn’t offer anything resembling consolation. Instead it resembles nothing so much a a catalogue of motion picture sound track elements for sale to the movie industry.

Addressing anxiety certainly isn’t a new m.o. for NIN, but it doesn’t seem that this long, largely formless opus is geared to that at all. What it does represent is a more or less total abandonment of NIN’s traditional industrial dance music characterized by anger and iconoclasm, to say nothing of NIN’s reputation for catchy hooks, striking melodies and enigmatic lyrics full of non-sequiturs.

With this new album, NIN has left behind completely the industrial dance genre and continued with another wordless sound collage into the business of movie music.

It starts with “The Cursed Clock,” seven minutes of ominous, creepy chimes that tick like a clock that resemble the soundtrack to a 1990s slasher movie. From there it takes off into 10 and 11-minute dirges with deranged piano arpeggios, sometimes meandering, melody-less fingering of the piano’s lower keys (or higher keys, too). “The Worriment Waltz” doesn’t seem to have anything resembling the 2/3 timing that defines a waltz, and many of the tracks have no discernible cadence at all. There are a lot of staticky, percusssive sounds throughout the album. Whirling wind sounds, repetitious arpeggios against formless synthesizer noise, and the clunking noise of assembly-line machinery are the best way to typify much of this opus as well as tracks with names like “TURN THIS OFF” (in all capital letters) and “So Tired.”

There are couple of ultra-short ( two or three minute) tracks, one of which, “When It Happens Don’t Mind Me,” features the metallic, xylophone-like sounds of an Indonesian gamelan.
The sixth track, “Another Crashed Car” is dominated by the sounds made by an unmanned windshield wiper, continuing – one must assume, following a fatal car crash.

Die-hard NIN fans will stick by Trent Reznor’s endeavor as he pursues this, his 21st century business. Industrial music fans may have difficulty doing so. It’s not the kind of album to which a fan of Rock – in any sense – will want to sit and listen unless his or her preferences have been softened (or heightened) by drugs. It might best serve as background noise – that’s not intended as a term if disparagement (for it mostly is loosely structured noise) – while reading a book or social distancing.

“Corpus Christi”
Starring Bartosz Bielenia

Written by Mateusz Pacewicz
directed by Jan Komasa

This 2019 Polish-language release with English subtitles has a unique and fascinating premise. In modern day Poland, religious devotion and daily religious ritual saturates institutional and everyday life. When violence-prone, juvenile detainee Daniel is released, having served in an altar boy capacity at the detention center, expresses an absurd and untenable interest in applying to a seminary, the idea quickly discouraged and dismissed by the priest charged with counseling and releasing him.

But before reporting to the rehabilitation-labor camp to which he assigned, he stops by a neighboring church where he whimsically makes the false claim to be a priest, perhaps to impress a cute teenage girl whom he encounters praying inside. Despite appearances, she is taken in by his claim and arranges for him to stand in for the parish vicar, who ,as fate would have it,is about to undergo a medical collapse the next day.

The imposter, posing as his replacement, finds himself in a maelstrom of situations both predictable and unforeseeable. Reading up on liturgy and employing some of the unconventional tactics to which he was subjected in the detention center, “winging it” with situational ethics and dodging his unforgivable past history make for a story that is heart-breaking, uplifting, joyful, terrifying and riddled with conflicts, contradictions and dishonesty.

No spoilers here: This magnificent motion picture has to be seen and digested in all its humor, pathos, ambivalence, tragedy and triumph before deciding where one stands on the moral, philosophical and existential issues it inflicts upon the viewer.

New Dark Age – Late March 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — doktorjohn March 24, 2020 @ 2:30 pm


Released March 27, 2020

Abolition of the Royal Family
The Orb
Cooking Vinyl

The Orb is a fluid collective – founded in 1988 – the brainchild of English deejay and musician Alex Paterson who has, over the years, worked with a long list of various techno artists. A former roadie for Killing Joke, his influences also include Kraftwerk and Brian Eno. Famous for ambient industrial and psychedelic club music and now – in collaboration with a large ensemble of associates – The Orb has produced its seventeenth album. Mastery of synthesizer-based, computerized enhancement, mixing and reinterpretation is evident throughout this 12 track work which delves in multiple styles, from R & B to World Music, from Reggae to Trip Hop; from ambient to sci-fi/and post-apocalyptic sounds.

It starts with a couple of R & B tracks featuring mesmerizing, complex, racing rhythms and sweeping strings. It achieves a very pleasant electronic, groovy sound that could be a mix of Barry White and Sade – a kind of techno-soul. There’s a track called “Hawk Kings” that overlaps a repetitive, nervous, Angst-ridden piece with a disturbing voice-over featuring the once-familiar mechanical voice associated with Stephen Hawking, narrating Stephen Hawking’s theories on the origins of the universe and other arcane matters.

The Orb has been noted for frequent references to drugs, especially psychedelics. Accordingly there’s an ethereal, ultra-spacey track, its title, “Pervitin,” referring to the amphetamine-like substance reportedly said to have fueled the Nazi blitzkrieg. All kinds of recording aural effects are too be heard, coupled with R & B riffs, sci-fi-sounds, New Age lullabies, cool jazz and, on several tracks, reggae. There all kinds of voice samples and never before-heard synthetizer sounds.

As a finale. there’s even a menacing announcement from an authoritarian, 1984-like police state in some future, dystopian USA, declaring a list of draconian regulations, which is paradoxically paired with dreamy, flowing pleasant ambient music. The outrageous restrictions and penalties being proclaimed by the dictatorial voice are eerily analogous to the restrictions currently imposed around the country and the world to contain the Coronavirus pandemic.

If you are a fan of any or all of the foregoing list of musical styles included in this album, you will find Abolition of the Royal Family a special gem. It could only have been put together by a mature genius for this kind of music, a group that has come to its finest level of achievement at the pinnacle of their career.

March 2020 New Dark Age

Filed under: Uncategorized — doktorjohn March 15, 2020 @ 2:28 pm

Occulture Feb 28, 2020

New Dark Age had the pleasure of a visit to the landmark shrine of postpunk nightlife,downstairs at the Pyramid on Ave A in lower Manhattan.

We were there at the invitation of Giselle DJNegrarose, who was serving once again as guest deejay. The relatively-new dance night, Occulture has been going strong every 4th Friday since last June, successful mainly on the skills and repertoire of Resident DJ Zvetschka, whose deep background in dance soundscaping goes back to 2002 when she acquired fame for spinning pouty post-punk, wicked wave and darkly danceable industrial at famous club night Contempt (1998 — 2003).

DJ Negrarose – Aimee Grasic – Dina Verbena

In 2019, founders Aimee Grasic and Dina Verbena set about to organize a dance party night that would both serve the present and yet evoke the glory days of the New York underground music scene with heavy emphasis on the electronic sounds of EBM, Dark Techno, Freestyle and House.

DJ Zvetschka’s command of rapid-fire, simultaneous multi-track cueing and thoughtful layering fit the bill perfectly.
Noting that all three ground-floor participants were of the feminine persuasion, they decided to basically keep it that way. Thus, even guest deejays are chosen from the fair sex both to support and boost the presence of women in the position and maintain a level of consistency in Occulture’s trademark brand. They are, however, considering if and when to have male disc jockeys on a guest-basis from time to time.

On the final Friday of February, before the virus quarantine hit the scene, we had the pleasure of listening to DJ Negrarose alternate spinning with the famous Zvetschka, and took particular satisfaction when she added a beloved track from New Dark Age’s ideal list of favorites, namely the inimitable Skinny Puppy’s “Assimilate.” And the consistently feminine atmosphere – including mixologist Nette Moreno – was a decidedly pleasant touch for those of us admirers of the female gender.

“How Do You Feel Today”
Rotersand
Metropolis Records

This is the sixth studio album for futurepop German electronic band, Rotersand, founded in 2002. Lead singer Rasc (Rascal Nikov) is backed by fellow-founding members, Gun (Gunther Gerl) and Krischan (Krischan Jan-Eric Wesenberg). This album, consisting of eleven tracks is outstanding on its own, yet is typical of their exceptional body of work, noted for clear emotionally moving lyrics, gripping, articulate themes and irresistible rhythms. Oh, and did I mention lush, affecting melodies? Yet with this said, the album holds some welcome surprises.

Starting with a melodious, deeply musical first track, “Who We Are Now,” that employs dance rhythms only sparingly, the album moves next into the bizarre, album version of the 2019 hit single, “You Know Nothing.” This delightfully obsessive and furious song is reminiscent of the 1966 novelty classic, “They’re Coming to Take Me Away,” popularized in 2005 by fellow futurepop-sters Neuroticfish, but instead being jocular it is industrial-strength angry.

The third track, “Silence’” is a pleasant, electronic piece with has an intimate, restrained sound until about three-quarters into it when it becomes an emotionally-wrenching entreaty. Next up comes “Blind Vision” which features (as do many other tracks on the album) strong, plaintive vocals combined with hypnotic, exciting rhythms and featuring the kind of mechanized, EBM beat that denizens of dance floors adore, enhanced with interesting synthesizer sounds and powerfully sung, delightfully dismal lyrics. A similar description applies to the equally danceable fifth track, “Whatever.”

But the sixth track, “Elements,’ is a passionate ballad that brings out another side of Rotersand, although I doubt the crowd would have trouble dancing to it. And the seventh track zooms along on the mesmerizing monotony, interrupted by ethereal wailing vocals that mingle with it and definitely enhance it. It may be the most seductively delicious track on the album. For the sake of brevity, all I will say about the eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh tracks is that each and every one of them is – in its own way – a superb entry into the oeuvre of electronic music with creative as well as genre-specific standard sound, instrumentation and enchanting vocals.

Genesis P-Orridge (1950 – 2020)

This month saw the passing of Genesis P-Orridge, lead vocalist of the pioneering industrial band Throbbing Gristle. P-Orridge, born Neil Megson in Manchester, the U.K. in 1950, founded the confrontational, transgressive and subversive artistic collective COUM Transmissions (1969 – 1976) along with Cosey Fanni Tutti and numerous others, all of whom were influenced by Dada. In 1975, s/he (P-Orridge’s preferred gender pronoun) founded Throbbing Gristle along with Cosey Fanni Tutti, Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson and Chris Carter.

In 1981, s/he founded Psychic TV along with Alex Fergusson, but eventually some twenty or so collaborators had joined the experimental video art and music group. In 1995 P-Orridge married h/er second wife, Jacqueline (Lady Jaye) Mary Breyer, with whom s/he engaged in a bizarre project of what they termed “Pandrogeny” in which they underwent body modification surgery in an attempt to “unite” as a single entity, resembling each other. Lady Jaye died in 2007.Throbbing Gristle disbanded in 1981 but re-formed in 2004. S/he had two daughters by h/er first wife, musician Paula P-Orridge (nee Paula Brooking).

On March 14, 2020 the “Godparent of Industrial” and icon of the avant-garde/underground, counter culture movement died after a long struggle with leukemia.

New Dark Age – Feb 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — doktorjohn February 5, 2020 @ 3:17 pm

Aenthology 2010 – 2020
Aeon Sable

Assembled to celebrate the somewhat chaotic ten years during which Aeon Sable has risen to international renown, Aenthology 2010-2020 contains nine of their best-loved works – re-mastered with the latest technology — plus a new, unreleased track. I.e., the opening track, “Oblivion,” is a 10-minute, apocalyptic dirge – deliriously melodious with an hypnotic and increasingly compelling rhythm that seems to rise, like a growing threat, out of the chaotic ambient and spoken word that initiates the track.

This is followed by nine tracks drawn from their spectacular body of work , self- and best- described as “a soundtrack for dark souls.” It’s nearly impossible to single any one or two tracks as standing out from this consistently treasure-worthy collection. The second track, “Follow the Light,” the third, “Burn For Salvation” and the sixth, “Visions,” exquisitely embody Aeon Sable’s special gift for creating the uneasy pleasure that compels dark souls to either reverie or dancefloor abandon. If I were to choose one track for instant appeal it would perhaps be the seventh, “Dancefloor Satellite,” a six-minute dose of dark energy that will prove irresistible when played in goth nightclubs and events. On the other hand, the final track, “Praying Mantis,” accomplishes the same but in a totally distinct fashion.

Did I mention the intelligent, challenging and poetic lyrics? There’s so much to be said about the entrancing music – vocal, instrumental and structural ¬– that it’s possible to overlook the profound thoughts – philosophical – and multi-lingual – expressed in virtually each and every track. Aenthology 2010 – 2020 provides over an hour of gloomy rapture, featuring hypnotic rhythms, wide-ranging vocals and creative instrumental styles that capture the magic of goth rock. The album provides a deep, dark ambience for dance or simply for listening pleasure.

This album is available as CD or digital download Bandcamp or through Aeon Sable’s website/Facebook page. So is Aeon Sable’s entire discography, a treasure-trove of goth rock.


Jan 10 2020

Damian and Erik Aengel’s dual birthday Celebrations

Friday Jan 10 marked a special night at QXT’s, Newark NJ’s classic goth/punk/industrial dance club. Both Entertainment manager Damian Plague and noted DJ Erik Aengel were celebrating birthdays.
Both received canvas prints from Doktor John’s Studio, shown below, receiving their birthday presents directly from New Dark Age itself.

Portrait of Robert Smith looking over birthday boy Damian’s shoulder

Damian Plague is of course the entertainment manager and events promoter for the notorious and unique underground club, QXTs. In addition, he serves as one of the top staff deejays at that legendary institution. His history with Q’s goes back a long way in fact into the 90s. His relationship with the club is so integral to Damian’s identity that he can boast having actually lived inside the multilevel venue during his professional development. More interesting places Damian has inhabited include the Netherlands, Belgium and the German city of Bayreuth, epicenter of Wagnerian Opera from Wagner’s time up to today.

His travels and years-long residence in these countries served him well when he was called upon by German “death art” band, Das Ich to serve as a keyboardist. That relationship has continued over the years, and as a result you may note from time to time that Damian is absent from the scene. In that situation it is likely that he is on tour with Das Ich either in Europe or here in the USA.

Damian was also associated with the long gone and sadly missed record fan store, Cafe Soundz, in Montclair NJ. This gave him exposure to and coaching from some of the top DJs in NYC who relied on the Soundz to find the latest and best music, whether vinyl or CD. With all this on his resumé, its no wonder that Damian is the top level contact for such international acts as Covenant, Assemblage 23, Hocico and the like. Belated Happy Birthday, Damian!

DJ Erik Aengel beholding a portrait of Ian Curtis


Also honored the night, DJ Erik Angel was observing his 40th birthday. Brooklyn-born and much sought-after for his curator skills as a knowledgable DJ , Angel started immersing himself in the scene as early as age 14. He’s extra tall, and at 14 he might well have passed for 16 or 18. He spent the 90s soaking up the post punk music scene. At first he got a position as a promoter for the Bank and later the Batcave where he started guest-doing for Patrick in Oct 2000.
By now a regular among the four top DJs who provide the dance-scape at Necropolis, having been part of that venerable party night since it was called Necromantic. Aengel has deejayed over a hundred parties in 8 states and two countries. He’s thinking of doing a 20th anniversary celebratory tour this year.
As is customary, cake was served alongside the hard and soft drinks at QXT’s bar, and music from both these two celebrants and their deejay colleagues continued to pour into the festive ambience of all three dance-spaces of the club.

It’s not that far off, and it’s time to clear your calendars March 27 – March 29 for

Past years’ experience with darekside has been nothing short of spectacular. More about Darkside will be forthcoming in future issues of New Dark Age.

New Dark Age January 2020 (continued)

Filed under: live music,Movies,New Dark Age Monthly,Uncategorized — doktorjohn January 22, 2020 @ 3:04 am


Dracula 2020 – the BBC and Netflix Series

The BBC miniseries – actually trilogy – that debuted on Netflix this January is a worthy retelling of the classic Bram Stoker gothic novel for a myriad of reasons. Without going into actual spoilers, it is possible – and my intention – to examine this “nth” reiteration of one of the best loved and most disturbing stories that set the standard for gothic tales, looking for unique contributions it makes to the vast output of Dracula cinema.

Like all movie versions of Bram Stoker’s gothic novel, from the 1931 Bela Lugosi Universal Studios classic to the nearly one hundred motion picture versions, it derives its story from the original novel, while taking liberties to satisfy the filmmakers’ urge for creativity or to express poetic license or merely to lay a claim to some elements of originality. The trick has been – and many have succeeded at it – to stay true to the core elements of Bram Stoker’s book while paying respect to the character that Bela Lugosi created without being imitative to the point of caricature. To do otherwise – and some have done so – is to invite scorn, ridicule and failure. This involves walking a tightrope between the book’s portrayal of a demonic cadaver dwelling in a coffin in Transylvania and Lugosi’s suave, Central European aristocrat. The Netflix series succeeds at this.

A praiseworthy feature of this trilogy is that it honors Bram Stoker’s format of retelling the story in “epistolary” form, i.e. in broken-up narratives derived from diaries, letters, ship‘s log, memoranda and the like, but it does so in cinematic form.
The first episode “Rules of the Beast” provides an utterly dismal yet fascinating narrative of poor Jonathan Harker’s encounter, imprisonment, victimization and eventual destruction by Dracula. A sort of connecting thread, or recurring character introduced is that of a fly, whose unpleasant presence appears again and again – on window panes, on people, and – most disturbingly – on Harker’s eye as he is being interviewed by a Catholic nun named Van Helsing, who will prove to be Dracula’s nemesis and situational companion. Elements of Catholicism have always been a part of the Dracula story, and this trilogy is true to the tradition. Also introduced is Harker’s fiancée, Mina, who – as in the book and the countless retellings – becomes a particular target for Dracula’s bloodlust. Harker’s character – an undead victim of Dracula’s contagion- lays out the prototype for the state of being undead in a way that is uniquely explicit in this series.

This first episode goes a long way to creating an expansion of the Dracula world by way of introducing a whole population of box-contained “undead” in varying degrees of decomposition – begging for release. Thus the zombie trope is added to the vampire story, while intersecting with the terrible predicament of premature burial, popularized in writings of Poe. In so doing, the series has contributed another dimension to the lore of vampirism.

Yet another contribution that this series makes is to expound the effecting in which Dracula’s drinking of blood results in his absorbing the knowledge, experience and – if he chooses – personal qualities of his victims, something not included in other Dracula tales. I.e. he learns to act like a fine Englishman by drinking Harker’s blood. Thus, the subtitle “Blood is Lives.”
The second episode, “Blood Vessel,” tells a previously unexplored story of Dracula’s voyage on the sailing ship the Demeter to be transported from Transylvania to England along with a coffin containing his native soil, an essential ingredient in the folklore of vampires. Most other stories have skipped over this period, simply reporting the mysterious deaths of the crew at the end of the ship’s passage. In this second entry in the trilogy, the ending of the passage is quite different and unique. No spoilers will be disclosed here.

Without apologies or detailed explanation, it can be reported that the third episode, “Dark Compass,” brings Dracula – and a niece of Sister Van Helsing – into the 21st Century. There and then he pursues the fearless-of-death Lucy Westenra, as in previous retellings. As disconcerting as it might seem to purists, the 21st Century action works to expound much about the icon that may have been overlooked. He is explained to be a hedonist – whose pursuit of immortality has been in order to prolong his pleasures and epicurean delights is expressed and explained quite explicitly. He longs to see the sun after centuries of avoiding it. He has (irrational?) fears of the cross and of light and – above all – death, an obsessive fear he shares with most of mankind. And he has been – ironically and paradoxically ¬– shackled, for ages, by the superstitious peasant folklore which he has imbibed from countless Transylvanian victims, at least some of which proves to be totally false.

The series succeeds because it meets fans’ desires to see consistency and continuity with the essential features contained in the book and the classic cinema, elaborating them creatively and adding interesting tangential elements without detracting from the traditional and venerated story.

Peter Murphy

Jan 20, 2020
Le Poisson Rouge

Goth rock icon Peter Murphy reprised his famed residency at Manhattan’s Le Poisson Rouge on Monday, January 20, picking up the thread with a “Greatest Hits” night that ran a little over an hour and half, performing 17 songs from his vast repertoire.

Peter Murphy on stage at Le Poisson Rouge

First up was a torch singer, Vinsantos,
self-described “New Orleans-based
Drag Musician, Performance Artist and Queer Witch,” with a remarkable voice, a creative keyboard style and over-the-top drag-queen costume and make-up.


Peter Murphy came on around 9 p.m. and opened with an extended, electronically-enhanced and slightly discordant version of “Cascade” off the album of the same name – his fifth studio album and thus legitimately considered to be the epochal mid-point of his solo career. He then went on to “All Night Long,” with its unmistakable introductory, persistent wooden xylophone riff, from his second album, “Love Hysteria.”

He continued with “Marlene Dietrich’s Favorite Poem” and then a funky, almost unrecognizable version of “Deep Ocean Vast Sea” both from the third album Deep (1989). Then it was on into the Holy Smoke (1992) album for “The Sweetest Drop.”
“Lion,” from his last album of the same name isn’t heard very often. That album was the only one passed over during the August residency. It was followed by the much more popular “Socrates the Python,” with its undulant, leisurely pace and mysterious mantra, “Bennett, Gurdjieff, Jesus.”

The eight song – the halfway point in the set – “Gaslit” is from the Secret Bees, an EP that was a spin-off of – but not included in – the Ninth album (2011). Next came the much loved ”The Prince and Old Lady Shade” which was, however, included in Ninth.
Peter continued his well-established practice of joshing with the audience during several noteworthy exchanges. Early on he assured the crowd that he was “definitely NOT an icon,” while implicitly assuming the role of icon. There’s common and frequent speculation regarding just how big this “icon’s” ego is, and he teased a bit when he expressed the opinion that “these lyrics are brilliant” in reference to, I believe it was “Deep Oceans.”

Whether it was intentional or thoughtless, Peter let the microphone stand far away from his mouth during talks with the audience, rendering much of the patter inaudible to all but the front two or three rows of spectators. When heckled about it by farther away audience members – those unable to hear what he was saying – he continued speaking in low, intimate tones that perhaps only the closest five or ten people could hear. The heckling continued but to no avail.

“Subway” from Cascade was a most welcome return to Peter’s beloved, melodious oeuvre and was sung in a faithful-to-the-original style.This was followed by “Disappearing” from he same album and “A Strange Kind of Love” from Deep. “His Circle Meets Hers” and the raucous “Low Room” drew up to the final song of the main set, his all-time favorite and most requested song, “Cuts You Up.”

After a short break he returned with the lullaby, “Huuvola,” accompanied by his silver-voiced daughter, Hurihan. The concluding song of the night was “Hangup” from Lion, during which he repeatedly implored the listener to “hang up the phone! ” while echoing the name of Turkey’s most famous ancient edifice, the magnificent cathedral-museum “Hagia Sofia.”

This night was billed a night of “Greatest Hits,” but I would prefer to see it as Peter Murphy’s own personal favorites. Entries from Lion and “Secret Bees of the Ninth” hardly qualify as having “Greatest Hits” status among fans in terms of sales or requests. But they might have special meaning to Peter himself. For those fans who love the melodious, rhythmic selections like “Indigo Eyes” and “Hit Song” this set was a disappointment, since the emphasis was on funky, discordant, Bauhaus-like dissonance – not only the songs chosen, but in the manner of delivery ¬– of even the most romantic selections in the set. A
He had a cold to start off with, and all the chatter in which he engaged revealed that his voice had become quite hoarse and gravelly. His singing however, suffered little if at all, and his commitment to putting maximum effort into every note continues to be fulfilled, even after having suffered a heart attack late last year during the residency that he is now completing.

NEW DARK AGE Early January 2020

Filed under: Live Music,Movie Reviews,New Dark Age Monthly,Uncategorized — doktorjohn January 13, 2020 @ 3:39 am

Wozzeck

We attended a “live-from-the-Met” cinematic broadcast of the much acclaimed Metropolitan Opera production of Wozzeck with music and libretto by Alban Berg on January 11. It was also scheduled to be repeated in local theaters that carry such events on January 16. It is an extraordinary operatic work by one of the most modern of 20th century composers, famed representative of the “Second Viennese School” an early 20th century musical movement noted for atonality with elements of late Romantic Influence. Think: Beethoven off-key.

It is based on a play that was itself based upon real life events that took place in 1821 and were publicized when a despondent and exploited war veteran, (real name Woyzeck) murdered his unfaithful girlfriend and was executed, leaving their child orphaned. In Berg’s opera, Wozzeck dies by drowning himself as he seeks to flee accusations and to destroy evidence.

This woeful mess is rendered dismal and pitiful not just by way of the lyrics and the somber music, but by an hallucinatory production by South African animation-film artist William Kentridge. The dismal and apocalyptic sets and scenery are continuously worked, enhanced, altered and heightened by projected images of loosely drawn, illustrations and suggestive figures, usually but not only black and white – sometimes still and sometimes animated. At times the projected image creates the entire backdrop as, e.g. a cityscape. Other times it takes the form of a screen or an ever-changing poster. The effect is phantasmagorical.

One advantage of the live-from-the-Met, HD transmitted version, is that the viewer benefits from camera cinematography that zooms in on singers and follows action when appropriate.

Even if one has not had the opportunity to see this spectacular production either live or in cinema, it would be well to take note of the elements contained in this report and to keep an eye and an ear open for other works by these gifted artists for future reference.

Art of 2019

Filed under: My Art — doktorjohn December 14, 2019 @ 10:10 pm

Below are some of the portraits I painted in 2019. For more of my art, select the “My Art” link from the “Categories” column on the right of these images.

Morrissey

Dr. Marzena Odorczuk

George Orwell, author of “1984,” “Animal Farm,” etc.

Shannon of Light Asylum – 20″ X 16″ Oil on Canvas


Barnabas Collins of Dark Shadows

Johnny Cash in front of Folsom Prison – 20″ X 16″ Oil on Canvas

Peter Cushing as Dr. Frankenstein – 20″ X 16″ Oil on Canvas

Vampira – OIl on Canvas 20″ X 16″

A wet night in the West Village Oil on Canvas 24″ X 18″


Sunny day in Washington Square Park – Oil on Canvas 24″ X 18″

Mary Woolstoncraft Godwin Shelley – 20″ X 16″ Oil on Canvas

NEW DARK AGE – Nov 2019

Filed under: New Dark Age Monthly — doktorjohn November 7, 2019 @ 10:26 pm

New Dark Age – Nov 2019

Dia de Muertos – Day of the Dead

Nov 1-2, 2019

This year we decided to do something really special for Halloween. Well, let’s just say for the Halloween season. Because the Mexican Dia de Muertos – Day of the Dead – is a distinctly different holiday that occurs right on the tail end of Halloween — extending from Nov 1 through Nov 2.

One day is dedicated to remembrance of departed children, and the other is for deceased adults, usually ancestors. It traces its origins to the Mesoamerican, indigenous holiday, when Aztecs and other Nahua people celebrated this feast honoring the dead as far back as one or two thousand years ago. As with so many pagan traditions, it became appropriated by the Roman Catholic colonization by Spain, i.e., it was made to coincide with All Saints Day, celebrated by Catholics around the world. Now it is a national, public holiday in Mexico.

Dia de Muertos is not to be confused with Halloween although distinctions have blurred in recent years. Day of the Dead is celebrated with colorful remembrance and displays of fearless love for departed relatives, whereas Halloween is a dark, macabre event evoking horror and mischief. The ubiquitous displays of skulls and skeletons – however joyfully presented – has created a false convergence of the two holidays in the minds of many observers, and not just those north of the border.

Even some Mexican celebrants don zombie attire and makeup that more reflect the latter rather than the former. Mexican children have incorporated trick-or-treating on Halloween that continues through the next two says of Dia de Muertos.

Pre-Columbian/ Mesoamerican Day of the Dead

To prepare for what we were about to witness, we toured the Anthropological Museum where we found ample evidence of a death-centered religion including death by human sacrifice. The museum is filled with artistic representations of skulls and skeletal remains of sacrificial victims from pre-Columbian civilizations that flourished long before there was a Mexico. We climbed the steep, monumental Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan and walked the Avenue of the Dead connecting it to the nearby Pyramid of the Moon, both thought to have been the sites of human sacrifice.

The Offerings Altar

The central element of modern-day Dia de Muertos is the construction of household altars with flower arrangements and food items tailored to the special likes and tastes of departed relatives being honored — parents, grandparents and others — whose photos are posted atop the edible offerings. Special, sweet, delicious bread – the pan de muerto — is always included. The dead are remembered and are thought to return in spirit to enjoy the consumption of their food favorites by their living descendants.

In Mexico City’s main square, we observed the construction of enormous, temporary structures to house over-sized, public versions of the altars that are universally set up in virtually every home.
Costumed individuals, their faces made up as skulls in stark black and white strolled amidst colossal, colorful skulls and skeletons present on every corner, in the streets, in stores, hotel lobbies and parks.

Indigenous performers danced in the street to the rhythm of native drums and conducted healing rituals amidst clouds of fragrant incense. Three-dimensional representations of Calavera Catrina, the elegantly dressed skeletal lady in 19th century attire with her wide brimmed hat, were everywhere, coming in different sizes, ranging from monumental to miniature.

Venturing out into the rural environs, our host drove us to the village of San Andres Mixquic where spectacular displays in the local church, its courtyard, the local school and cemetery had drawn crowds from around the world to join in the festivities. Food and souvenir stands lined the path leading to these church-based attractions. Households along the way offered their backyards to provide parking spaces and opened their homes and allowed use of their bathrooms by the public for a nominal fee. As a measure of their profound hospitality some invited us in and offered us pan de muerto or other treats while we viewed the family’s altar.

Once we had passed through the rows of merchandise and food stands, we joined the crowd of revelers, many of whom wore costumes or skull-face masks and makeup, as we walked from attraction to attraction in and around the church and cemetery. The cemetery and its graves were decked out with candles, incense burners, bouquets and carpets of marigold flowers.

Besides the myriad family tombs, there was a nameless pile of bones dignified with a crucifix to commemorate the native people killed during the Spanish conquests. There were cheerful altars — big and small — everywhere we looked, with food offerings, flowers and photos on exhibit. We dined in a makeshift restaurant set in the schoolyard of the local kindergarten.

A stage was set up where comedy routines, song and dance were performed with a traditional, folkloric Mexican flavor. The overlap with American country & western, cowboy music was unmistakable.

The whole experience was mind-blowing as well as enlightening. We could see how the ancient, Mesoamerican religion, so obsessed with death, served as a substrate for the equally death-obsessed elements of Christianity and Catholicism. Both worldviews focus on immortality and concern themselves with the mortal remains of ancestors, but the Mexican-based approach is cheerful, and jubilant, whereas traditional European Christianity takes a more somber and solemn approach. These two morbid traditions clearly complement each other, and with their synergy have produced a uniquely intense celebration of life and death.

Gothic Vampire Cruise
Oct 19, 2019
NYC

On a Saturday night in mid-October, electro-industrial band The Sedona Effect hosted a 2-hour cruise on the Hudson on a fully-rigged, 150-ft schooner. When the crew hoisted sail, guests were treated to a comfortable tour of New York Harbor, passing near Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, plus the gorgeous views of lit-up Manhattan. DJs Mike Stalagmike and Aengel with sound engineer Chris Savo provided ambient and atmospheric music between live acts. That included a performance by The Sedona Effect, namely charismatic vocalist Kai Irina Hahn, Joe Dallarda on guitar and Nicole Eres on keyboards.

The ever-present and ever-contributing Madame X served as stage manager. Statuesque actress Katherine Crockette, performing as Lily Langtry, put on a riveting, one-woman dramatic ballet. Both the performers and the audience of guests were decked out in Victorian or Steampunk attire, creating the atmosphere of a 19th Century gothic novel.

Live theatrical performances included interactions among Dr. Van Helsing (Victor Noirlocke), Sir William Gull a.k.a Jack the Ripper (Drew Nardone), the Prince of Wales (Zen Mansley) and Sarah Bernhardt, played by Kai herself. Socializing, watching the shows and imbibing kept guests well entertained the entire evening.

The bar served standard beverages plus hot cider and hot toddies. Cameras were everywhere, and photos as well as videos by Swav Jusis, Jesse Kleitman and Dario Valdivia are to be seen on the event’s Facebook page.

Ritualists
Oct 18, 2019
Bowery Electric
NYC

New York-based quartet the Ritualists, brought their latter-day glamrock/stadium rock sound to the Bowery Electric on this mid-October Friday night. Frontman for the band was vocalist and hyperactive stage performer, Christian Dryden, whose feet were seen to leave the floor more than once during the show. They performed the eight tracks of their debut album Painted People to a notably packed audience.

Opening with “Rattles,” the first track from the album with intensely plaintive vocals layered over sweeping, symphonic elements, they moved next into “She’s the Sun,” that has melodious, wailing vocals and middle-eastern-flavored accompaniment. Frontman Christian Dryden’s amazing vocal range became apparent as they transitioned into the new, third song, ”Queen of Dolls,” distinguished by its driving bass-line and Dryden’s facile falsetto vocals. The slowed-down, ballad-like “Starry Night” followed after giving Dryden another chance to showcase his strong and impassioned voice. Then came “Ice Flower,” the hook-laden, emotional and vocally-challenging first single off the album.

The sixth song, “Forbidden Love,” presented alternating styles between the feel of Black Sabbath and that of Duran Duran, and may be the best track on the album. Dryden justified to the Gen-X crowd his reaching back to the doo-wop era – in deference to his own mother in the audience – with the Elvis cover “One Night,” a stroll-cadenced retake of “One Night of Sin” by R & B singer Smiley Lewis. Both versions are worth searching.

The show concluded with the raucous title track, “Painted People,” and mash-up with the Bowie ”Heroes” medley, leaving the audience emotionally fulfilled.


Aether
Aeon Sable
Solar Lodge Records

Aether is the sixth release by this deep, dark, gothic rock band out of Essen Germany. We first ran into them when they took the stage at Castle Party in Poland, the Dark Alternative Music Festival in Poland where they were the most outstanding act of the whole event. Aether was released in 2018, but we feel sure that it is new to most American audiences.

Consisting of only seven tracks, it is nonetheless over one hour in length, featuring a couple of monumental pieces.

The first track, “Hand of Glory & The Nihilist,” opens in a wind-swept fantasy environment and is largely an instrumental dirge that lumbers along at a funereal pace, with groaning guitars to accompany Nino Sable’s melodious cries of desperation. From then, on, there is one irresistible song after another, with ringing guitars that reappear in several tracks as a kind of signature sound of the band. The rhythms are compelling, and will have one eager to get up and move freely on a dance floor. Nino’s vocals are distinctly confidant and the lyrics, persuasive.

A couple of tracks slow ominously down as guitars wail, growl and mingle with Nino’s impassioned vocals, but most set an irresistible pace out of which clear vocals rise mournfully and the guitars respond sympathetically.

The fifth track, “O Senhor Do Medo (The Lord Of Fear)” is a ten-plus minute work, sung in Portuguese. One doesn’t have to know the language. It is built on a repeated minor key arpeggio that climbs deliberately up and then relentlessly back down, which translates to inevitability in any language.

Several tracks feature ponderous, plodding cadences with restrained, despondent, echoic vocals and eerie background sounds giving a mystical, mesmerizing effect. Eventually these sonic elements gather and merge into a crescendo before reaching an exultant conclusion.

The seventh and final track is a monumental 17-minute opus that runs the gamut from soft, wistful vocals to harsh cries, angry, belching guitars, driving rhythms and soaring symphonic elements. It features a false conclusion at around 11 minutes, but then undergoes resurgence and concludes with an unmistakably Middle Eastern melody-and-rhythm conclusion.

The album is available on Spotify, Bandcamp, Youtube and as a CD from Aeon Sable’s website/Facebook page. It captures the gothic musical aesthetic feel like few other collections, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Next Page >>>