doktorjohn.com

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.

May 2019 NEW DARK AGE

Filed under: Uncategorized — doktorjohn June 5, 2019 @ 2:13 pm

New Dark Age March 2019

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

Necropolis Attendees

M 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

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 – July 2018

Filed under: Events,Goth Stuff,live music,Movies,New Dark Age Monthly,Reviews,Uncategorized — doktorjohn July 3, 2018 @ 9:00 am


Das Ich Besucht Amerika

STIMULATE
at St. Vitus/ QXT’s
Brooklyn/Newark

Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination

Satanik Germanic
Hanzel und Gretyl

New Dark Age – June 2018

Filed under: Events,Goth Stuff,live music,New Dark Age Monthly,Uncategorized — doktorjohn June 27, 2018 @ 10:06 pm

2018

General Information

The world’s greatest festival of Goth culture takes place in Leipzig, Germany, during 5 days leading up to the Monday of Pentecost that follows Easter by 40 days. Wave Gotik Treffen begins on the Thursday and concludes on that Monday, which is an official holiday In Germany. Leipzig is an ancient city, a traditional commercial center since the Middle Ages, rich in European history, art, music and architecture, boasting famous medieval churches, two grand opera houses, ancient and modern town squares, the oldest restaurant in Europe and countless museums, music halls, cafes and entertainment establishments.

Attendees at WGT have to resign themselves to the fact that they will only be able to catch and enjoy a tiny fraction of the vast array of entertaining and educational experiences that the festival offers. This report is based upon our hectic experience in trying to see and do as much as humanly possible during the five-day festival.

The central theme of WGT is music. Although Post Punk, Goth and Industrial are the main agenda, dark electro, experimental, classical, baroque, opera, chamber music, church organ, folk, world, variety, modern dance, ballet and cabaret are all presented. Performances number in the hundreds. There are around thirty music venues, big and small, some of which have multiple spaces within, such as the fortress-like multilevel stronghold, Moritzbastei or the cavernous Agra. In addition to the massive music hall, Agra also contains a huge shopping mall where items of clothing, costumes, fetish accessories, footwear helmets, headdresses and the like are for sale. One of the great delights of the festival is to stroll through this section browsing and occasionally succumbing to make purchases of unique items. It also contains an ongoing exhibition featuring grotesque works of explicit art.

Besides standard music venues, there are churches, parks, theaters, restaurants, cemeteries, hotels, monuments, and even ancient ruins that serve as attractions and performance spaces, hosting exhibitions, lectures, films, shows and presentations. There are around ten participating museums to which there is free access for attendees ranging from fine art to Egyptian to a museum documenting the activities of the secret police, the Stasi, during the Cold War era of Communist domination of East Germany, the DDR. Even the main train station hosts opening events and concerts.

In addition to brochures outlining the many venues and participating institutions, and an exquisitely illuminated hardcover program book, there is an extremely helpful smartphone app that presents the entire schedule, lists the artists and the performances, providing samples of the music at each event and directions on how to get to each venue. Public transportation is free to WGT attendees wearing their identifying wrist bands.
Festivities began with welcoming parties at Moritzbastei, the multilevel complex very near the town center and other venues on Thursday May 17, the night before official opening of the festival. Free entry to the various museums also became available that day.

A nice place to ease into the WGT scene is the Absintheria Sixtina, a friendly bar that is open 24 hours a day and features a small menu of beers and wines, but over 250 types of absinthe and a near infinite variety of cocktails derived from them. One afternoon we sampled some absinthe while a rock band, Nietzsche and the Wagners, performed on the small indoor stage. Outdoors, in back of the bar is a yard where beverages bratwursts and similar fare are served at tent-covered picnic tables.

Performances and Events

Victorian picnic

On Friday things got serious. That afternoon we attended a massive gathering of thousands of festival-goers, with a sprinkling of tourists and local gawkers gathered at the Clara Zetkin Park for the annual Victorian Picnic. Participants wearing their finest appropriately-themed attire settle in groups on blankets to socialize and dine in highly civilized fashion from picnic baskets while around them is a promenade of costumed strollers wearing Gothic styles ranging from Victorian, Steampunk and Baroque to the most outlandish sci-fi, fantasy and fetish outfits.

By the time we found our way to Taubchenthal, a large music hall with a resort-like courtyard and surrounding food stands, the Beauty of Gemina, a Swiss gothic rock band was underway and sounded fantastic. The venue was so packed, however, that the crowd couldn’t enter, blocked the entrances and milled about outside, unable to get in and see the stage. We met up and socialized with our New York celebrities, Sean Templar, Matt V Christ and glamorous Serena Goss while sampling the local fare.

Boy Harsher

From there we headed over to see dark electro duo Boy Harsher at the Stadtbad, a large building that had once been an enclosed official public swimming pool now paved over and serving as a music hall. This dark electronic duo, with roots in the US South mesmerized us with Augustus Muller’s minimal dance beats and grinding synths and with Jae Matthews’s eerie, ethereal vocals.

At 11 pm we caught the avant-garde, neofolk (or “apocalyptic folk”) combo, Rome, out of Luxembourg. Singer-songwriter Jerome Reuter plays acoustic guitar while crooning deliciously morose, and poignantly poetic, English-language lyrics in his emotionally-wrenching baritone, supported by emphatic percussion and occasional industrial samples.

Oomph! on stage at Agra

Things really got rolling on Saturday down at Agra. Having taken the twenty-minute tram ride it takes to get from Leipzig town center down to Agra, we were treated to the onstage performance of German industrial hard rockers, Oomph! whose bombastic style enthralled the crowd with high-energy, Rammstein-style rock. The audience revealed their devotion to Oomph! by knowing and lip-syncing the lyrics to most of Oomph!’s songs, while frontman Dero Goi energetically led the crowd like a conductor as he sang in clear, perfectly enunciated German and in English.

Oomph! was followed by Canadian electro-industrial originals, Front Line Assembly, whose underplayed performance fell below our expectations.

The reward for the night came with Norse ceremonious, traditionalist ensemble, Wardruna, whose grandiose use of ancient instruments and solemn chanting enraptured listeners with ominous percussion and pompous horns that are recognizable to those who are familiar with their soundtrack contributions to the series “Vikings.” Great music by which to burn witches!

Arcana at Kirchenruine performing at Wave Gotik Treffen

On Sunday we took the 12.5 km (a 25 Euro cab ride) to an event at Kirchenruine Wachau, the magnificent, still-standing ruins of a gothic-style church, the interior of which has been entirely gutted to serve as a meeting place and music venue. Tall, ivy-overgrown stone walls bearing the remaining framework of pointed-arch cathedral windows towered over the crowd and the Swedish neo-classical, darkwave band, Arcana. The audience was tightly crowded into the capacious space under a blistering sun. Peter and Cecilia Bjärgö, supported by guitar, percussion, keyboards and backup singers, took turns thrilling those within and those gathered in gardens and cemetery grounds outside the walls of the church ruins. Medieval, ecclesiastical and oriental style songs were sung – mainly in English – creating a transcendent, otherworldly atmosphere that was both somber and uplifting.

Afterwards, back at the Stadtbad we caught three great EBM/industrial acts back to back. Spark!, from Sweden featured a lovably clownish duo whose irresistible, compelling music caused a wild mosh pit to form. Next, Sturm Café continued in the same style, but darker and even more furious. The third was an original industrial pioneer, Belgium’s Vomito Negro, whose delightfully nasty, deep bass beats and vicious, repetitive lyrics were perfectly matched by creepy, projected video images.

De/Vision at Agra

On Sunday evening, the next to last day of the festival, German 2-man synthpop group De/Vision took the stage at Agra, and it was a welcome experience to hear Steffen Keth’s smooth and pleasing vocals as he belted out songs with inspirational and positive lyrics.

During late mornings and early afternoons we took the opportunity to visit museums and galleries. The Egyptian Museum (Aegyptisches Museum) had extraordinary pieces, grand and small. The most remarkable of these was a perfect cast of a Mesopotamian stone column bearing the text of the legendary Code of Hammurabi, carved into the stone in cuneiform script.

On Monday the last day we toured a local gallery where one section featured acrylic paintings with mildly transgressive imagery and another, more secluded section, displayed small, life-size and larger sculptures representing female genitalia, some crafted in metal to serve as costume jewelry such as pendants and brooches.

Composer Felix Mendelssohn’s Leipzig home has been preserved as a museum of his life and work. It is not an official, free-admission item in the WGT festival, but was well worth the small charge for a visit that shed light upon this remarkably gifted human being. Mendelssohn’s masterful paintings and drawings came as an unexpected surprise to those of us who only knew of his great musical compositions. In previous years we have toured Leipzig’s spectacular Johann Sebastian Bach Museum, which likewise is a non-participant, therefore , requires a small admission fee.

The last night at Agra provided a sensational experience which included Dutch band Grendel, whose thunderous EBM style was electrifying, highlighted by superb, savage vocals. They were followed by Floridians, God Module, whose pitch-dark, demonic growling vocals, grim themes and pounding rhythms were occasionally spiced with cinematic samples and grisly backdrop videos. For lovers of this kind of entertainment, this provided the perfect conclusion to the five day festival.

Phantom of the Opera

Phantom of the Opera
The Majestic Theater
NYC 2018

Although Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera” premiered in the U.K. in 1986, it made its Broadway debut in 1988, making this year its 30th anniversary in the States and the 30th anniversary of winning the Tony Award for Best Musical. It is arguably the most successful work of gothic-themed-mainstream-crossover performance art ever, as it continues to extend the longest run of any show on Broadway.

It is based on the long out-of-print, Gaston Leroux novel (1909). It shares, with other stories of the gothic genre, the theme of a flawed, demonic-yet-sympathetic villain who threatens to corrupt an innocent woman. The time setting places the action in the turn-of-the-century world of Steampunk. The gothic status of the work is established early when in a parody of a scene from the opera “Hannibal,” a diva strides to the front of the stage displaying a decapitated head with simulated blood dangling from it. As in most gothic drama, there is a suspicion of the villain’s having supernatural powers, but his ability to appear and disappear is explainable as theater tricks and pranks of a deranged but focused mind. A piano plays by itself. He employs his “Punjab lasso” to ensnare and kill with lightening agility. The final resolution of the love triangle that constitutes the plot is both touching and tragic.

This musical leads – and has eclipsed – a long list of works of literature and drama that are definitely categorized as horror. The vast scope and depth of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s adaptation goes farther than any prior versions, including Lon Chaney Sr’s famous silent movie; the 1943 Technicolor motion picture with Claude Rains; the Hammer production from 1962; Dario Argento’s Italian movie; as well as a musical by Ken Hill who wrote English lyrics to the music of classical and opera composers. Some have suggested that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s score can be classed as rock music, and at least one aria, “Point of No Return” has a rhythm that fits the description. But not all goth is rock and not all rock is goth. Certainly the heavy, minor key melodies place the score of “Phantom” music into the category of gloom and melancholy.

Thus, despite the overwhelming mainstream success and acceptance of “Phantom of the Opera,” it seems appropriate to place it squarely in the pantheon of Goth Icons.

Disorder at the Red Party

On Saturday, May 12th , The Red Party presented the 10th Annual Joy Division party at Mercury Lounge! Called The Atrocity Exhibition, there was live music at Midnight, Back on stage was Disorder, “A Tribute to the Sounds of Joy Division.” This edition of the Red Party served as a pre-Wave Gotik- Treffen warm up party!
As usual the Red Party was hosted by the Red Queen, M Banshie Templar. As always it featured Goth, Post-Punk and DeathRock with special attention given to the music of Joy Division and wasserved up by DJs for the evening, Sean Templar, Jarek Zelazny and special annual guest, Frank Deserto, aka teardrop (The Harrow).

Excitement occurred when a disorderly (no pun intended) patron began to mess with the stage equipment, specifically the stand and cables serving the keyboard. Vocalist Mike Strollo proved up to the task of neutralizing the would-be vandal with one hand while still manning the microphone with one hand. Stage manager Pete Mele quickly removed the stage crasher, and with the assistance of yours truly, had him escorted from the premises.

The show went on without interruption and concluded with enthusiastic approval by the audience.

Florence Bullock of Glitbiter

Plague Productions
and NewRetrowave presented the second, two-day Human Music festival on Saturday may 26 and Sunday May 27 (the night before Memorial day) at QXT’s Nightclub in Newark, featuring line-ups of top listed, international artists who are prominent in the Synthwave scene.

Synthwave is the relatively new and post-millenial genre of music that distinguishes itself by emphasizing electronic, mechanistic, and computer-based sound, drawing heavily from the aesthetics of the 1980s and the sonance of popular music during that era. Thus analog synthesizer instruments and samples from video games, synthpop recordings and sci-fi film soundtracks are reintroduced, but updated to the 21st century sensibilities. Thus, the term “retrofuturistic” is applied. The emphasis is on rhythmic, danceable cadence with a fabricated, computer basis, in which the human participation is cyborg-like, almost a mere option, in support of the over-arching electronic entity. Calling it “human” seems to me to be ironic use of the term.

The opening performer on the first night was Glitbiter, a one-woman project of gifted vocalist Florence Bullock from L.A. Those who arrived early were treated to original and mesmerizing beats, ethereal melodies and operatically-trained vocals as well as the appealing stage presence of a stunningly attractive young woman. This set the stage for one spectacular band after another.

Korine’s androgynous look brought a New Romantic flavor to the Synthwave style and the Encounter was admirable in their mastery of the electronic instrumentals. Brooklyn-based Aeon Rings, just back from conquest of Wave Gotik Treffen, brought ferocious energy and dance-burner intensity to their performance. Protector enhanced the theatrical aspect by wearing a flying saucer-like helmet with laser light adornment that went further in emphasizing the predominance of sci-fi and computer electronics over flesh-and-blood participation.

[caption id="attachment_2763" align="alignnone" width="520"] Protector


Over the course of the evening, Neoslave, Betamaxx and headliner Timecop1983 turned in mind-blowing and energizing performances of equally enjoyable sight, sound and rhythm.

Time constraints made it impossible to attend the second day of Human Music 2, but reports are that the nine-band line-up of groups from the US, France and Mexico met with equal success and were as well received as those of the first night.

Goth Icons

Filed under: Goth Stuff,My Art,Uncategorized — doktorjohn April 23, 2018 @ 1:30 pm

The 2017 Series “Goth Icons” – a rogue’s gallery of fine characters who are admired in the Goth scene.

CAN YOU NAME THEM ALL?


April 2018 New Dark Age

Filed under: Uncategorized — doktorjohn April 18, 2018 @ 12:55 pm



NEW DARK AGE – APRIL 2018

Filed under: Art Reviews,Goth Stuff,Live Music,live music,New Dark Age Monthly,Recorded Music,Uncategorized — doktorjohn April 4, 2018 @ 10:54 pm

Annual Festival

Darkside of the Con 2

Billed as “North America’s 3-Day Dark Alternative Convention” and sponsored Jet Berelson’s online community and event-hosting network, Vampire Freaks, the second iteration of Darkside of the Con took place at – and took full control of – the Radisson Hotel in Piscataway, NJ, about midway between NYC and Philadelphia.

Many, if not most of the attendees at this three day, multi-event extravaganza took overnight rooms at the hotel, and wisely so, because there was an available swimming pool, late night activities, dance club events and unofficial parties late into the night. Impresario Jet was joined by famous deejays including Mike Saga, Aengl, V Christ , Annabell Evil, Swabby, End:The DJ, Sean Templar and Xris Smack in providing late night dance ambience.

The widely diverse agenda included six bands Friday the first night, nine bands Saturday the second night and six bands on Sunday morning. Such popular regulars of the scene as the Long Losts, The Rain Within, Ego Likeness, Disorder, Xentrifuge and Panzie were joined by others, equally popular, but too numerous to mention.

Panel discussions featured celebrity discussants as Sean Templar and Xris Smack among others. Topics discussed included every field of interest and inquiry pertinent to this community, including cosplay, gender issues, oddities, Wicca, vampirism, and “What the Hell is Goth?” Madame X hosted two meetings of the Iron Garden community discussing paranormal experiences and strange sightings. Bella Morte’s lead vocalist, Andy Deane succeeded in conducting group participation in extemporaneously writing a song that turned out with a sci-fi theme.

Fetish and handicraft workshops and ticketed, open-bar socializing parties were among the many activities in which attendees participated. A pool party took place on Saturday night. Vendors hawking corsets, masks, costume jewelry, accessories, toys and eccentric, crafted items contributed to the grotesque atmosphere.

Among the crazy entertainments there was a vampirish ballet in Victorian costumes called “The Burlesque Revue,” and a screening of “Little Shop of Horrors” simulcast alongside a live performance of the scripted action complete with life-size actors and hand puppets.

Xentrifuge on stage at Darkside of the Con 2

By far and away, the major attraction was the attendees themselves whose contribution was to provide the most gorgeous and extravagant outfits, costumes and make-up depicting every conceivable identity and persona that fit into the diverse agenda of the Gothic, punk and industrial world. Whether heavily armored in fishnets and leather or scantily exposed in bikinis and boots, the predominantly black-clad population of the dark underground community attained the heights of glamour, beauty and bizarre style. Photographers and mere onlookers stood in the corridors gaping in awe and admiration at the endless parade of beauty and outré fashion.

Darkside of the Con has achieved status as a convention on a scale similar and comparable to some of the major events that take place overseas. When I attend music and cultural gatherings in Europe, I am sometimes asked if there are like events in the States. It has been a long time coming, but now I can answer “yes.”

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Nights Out

Clan of Xymox
Brooklyn Bazaar and St. Vitus
Brooklyn NY
March 25 & 26, 2018

Metropolis Recording artists and Dutch dark wavers, Clan of Xymox performed at Brooklyn Bazaar on Sunday night, March 25 and again on Monday March 26 at St. Vitus, both Brooklyn venues. Tracing their origin to 1981, Xymox is famous for being early pioneers of the quintessential Goth sound. Their origin with iconic 4AD Records adds to their “cred.” presented by M Banshee and Sean Templar’s Red Party they performed identical set list at both places.

We missed the first opening band but caught the dazzling keyboard-centered Decoded Feedback and the Skinny-Puppy-sound-alike Static Bloom, both of which bands would be well worth going to hear live just on their own.

Xymox started with the eerie, instrumental intro, “Days of Black,” then went into “Stranger” off their first, eponymous 1985 album. The eighteen song show included mainly entries representing depressing – seemingly intentionally depressing – tracks from their numerous recordings, e.g. the languid “Leave Me Be,” and the morose “Louise.”

They also performed the utterly secular “Hail Mary,” which is not to be confused with the well-known Catholic prayer, although both touch upon the issue of redemption. The relatively recent “In Love We Trust,” title track off a 2009 album of the same name, was the ninth and midway-through-the-set song. The decidedly industrial “A Day,” integrates a melodious minor key melody and plaintive vocal callings of Ronny Moorings with bursts of mechanized and rapid rhythm. It was followed by “Back Door” from the “Medusa” album just before the first break.

Encores included “Obsession” from Twist of Shadow the third full album and “Cry in the Wind” and “Farewell” from the post-millennial album of the same name. “Muscoviet Musquito” off the 1st, eponymous album 1985 opened the second set of encores. They concluded the final set of encores with the much-covered 60s mega-hit “Venus.”

Throughout the show there was an unconventional and fascinating use of handheld bright diode lights of various colors.

COX, founded by Ronny Moorings, Pieter Nooten and Anka Wolbert in the Netherlands in 1981, is now mainly Ronny Moorings. He is joined by Mojca, Mario, Sean & Daniel. Nooten and Wolbert are no longer associated with the band. Despite superficial similarities, COX is not to be mistaken for a cultural spin-off of the immensely more successful band, the Cure. While the Cure is known for dark, introspective music, they have stretched their repertoire to poppy, even jolly, major-key entries, experimenting with brass instrument accompaniment, Latin rhythms and more. The Clan sticks pretty much to the mission of providing reliably gloomy, minor-key and somber electronic works to please the fiercest adherents to Goth orthodoxy – whether rapid for dance or slow paced for a funeral. Ronny Moorings’s plaintive vocals express better than almost anyone else – the wounded feelings and existential complaints of Goths around the world.

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Stimulate

March 31, 2018


The premiere monthly music event Stimulate celebrated the birthday of its founder and chief promoter, Xris Smack to close out the month of March with a special edition featuring three live bands at Drom on Avenue A.

Panzie at Stimulate

The opening band was the Manson-esque group from NYC’s Lower East Side, Panzie, supporting their new album “The Joke’s on You,” and came complete with masks, make-up, balloons and a ferocious sound that contained elements reminiscent of Rage Against the machine as well as Rob Zombie. This certainly established a festive atmosphere for Xris’s birthday celebration.

The next two bands were from our home state of NJ. Metropolis Records hard rockers Panic Lift, supporting their recent releases, “The Poison Remains” and “From Blue to Black,” provided a welcome change to melodious, but heavy, guitar-based sounds with an industrial edge. Coming on late – very late – was the Cleopatra Records’ electro-industrial duo, Xentrifuge, whose harsh, mechanized and highly synthesized sound – drawn mainly from their new album, “Desensitized Parallels” – was a perfect apocalypse to put a top on Xris’s birthday event.

As is usual, there were gorgeous and exotic dancers joined by the even more gorgeous Ashley Bad whose green vinyl outfit riveted the gaze of onlookers and dance floor participants during between-the-acts sets provided by the stellar cast of deejays, including Father Jeff, Paradox, Joe Hart, Siren and the host, himself Xris Smack.

Beautifully under-dressed Nola Star shocked the audience with an act of self-inflicted piercing to provide Xris with some artfully-placed birthday candles to blow out.

DJ Paradox

Once again, Stimulate provided a night of over-the-top entertainment filled with great music and glamorous guests, both onstage and off.

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Lost in Echoes at

BerlinNYC @ The Pyramid
Manhattan
March 30, 2018

Lost In Echoes

Berlin is a “Goth, Industrial, Alternative NuWave (sic) Underground” music event held on select nights of the month at the popular Pyramid Club on Avenue A in the East Village. We attended on Friday March 30 both to investigate the dance club event and to see a performance by a new cover band, Lost In Echoes. To add incentive, Berlin was also hosting a quickly arranged art exhibit.

Painting by Victor Auton

Upon our early arrival in the famous downstairs basement space of the Pyramid – entry through the upstairs had cost us $8 each – we were greeted by host and deejay, Alex von Nihil, longtime veteran of the lower Manhattan scene. While he and his colleagues spun danceable tunes, we meandered about in the dim light, augmenting it with our phones’ flashlights, to inspect the remarkable paintings that had been -spontaneously and on short notice – churned out by Victor Auton in the preceding seven hours. Full of energy, frenzy and with highly suggestive imagery, they had both the feel of punk and that of a confident and accomplished artist.

When performance time came, the same Victor served as lead guitarist of Lost In Echoes. He was joined by vocalist Jorge Enriquez Obando, Diego on bass and Dyanne on drums.

What followed was a thoroughly entertaining set of new pieces and covers drawn from the tradition of goth and punk, starting with “Human Fly” by the Cramps. Obando imbued each lyric, each note with a mix of furor and punkish rage while still adhering to the most appealing qualities of the originals. “Alice” by Sisters of Mercy got exactly that treatment as did LIE’s original piece “Visions.”

A particular treat came when drummer Dyanne, a statuesque brunette, pulled a microphone close so she could take over lead vocals for a cover of Concrete Blond’s best song, “Bloodletting,” although I believe it caused her to break a drum pedal. This only enhanced the raw feel of the high energy show. A heated version of Bauhaus’s “Stigmata” and Peter Murphy’s “Final Solution” concluded the show.

Lost in Echoes at this point has a short-list repertoire but more than makes up for it in energy and dramatic delivery. In many ways, this cover band put on a show that was more entertaining than some highly polished and carefully rehearsed tribute bands. What Lost in Echoes showed above all else is the love and passion they have for the material and the tradition behind the music.

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Museums

David Bowie Is

Brooklyn Museum

March 2 – July 15, 2018

This exhibit has been on tour for 5 years and its last stop is here at the Brooklyn Museum. The exposition makes – and ultimately proves – the argument that David Bowie is the greatest rock star of all time. It also makes clear that throughout his career and certainly in the couple of years since he passed, David Bowie is a cultural icon whose persona serves as a symbol for our age.

Entry will cost you $25 on a weekend unless you’re a student with I.D. It’s a timed entry-situation, and we had to make it through 3 lengthy and long duration lines, the first to get tickets (50 minutes), the second to line up on the floor where the exhibit is housed (15 minutes) and the last one brief, to get into the spectacle itself. Bowie’s show is housed on the fifth floor, accessible by an elevator ride (after another line). I wouldn’t advise using the stairs because each floor is separated by two flights of steps, so your climb is 10 flights! No photos are allowed and cell phones must be in airplane mode.
And well worth all the trouble!

This is one of the most spectacular museum displays of all time, featuring almost countless items, artworks, costumes, video clips, giant-screen shows and historical artifacts and references. All the while the visitor is listening to narratives and to Bowie’s music via headphones that pick up the location-appropriate audio as one moves from station to station and room to room.

It isn’t possible to touch upon the myriad topics and presentations here. The unguided tour starts with his life history, from when he was born David Robert Jones in South London to his youthful interest in Beat poetry and Jazz. The situation in Britain at the time of his early artistic developments is outlined – from the economic disaster of post-World War II – to the socialist government that was supposed to remedy it – to young David’s exposure to Elvis, Chuck Berry and Little Richard. The Beatles and the British Invasion paved the way for him as he began to explore song and dance and musical instruments. He was also drawing and painting, something he would dabble with all his life. One wall displays numerous line drawings he did in collaboration with Laurie Anderson. A tarot card deck of his design is on view.

In the early days first Bowie knocked around with unsuccessful blues and jazz groups before exploding on to the scene with Space Oddity in 1969, released five days ahead of the Apollo 11 space launch. While a visitor is reading about this, the music is pouring in through his or her headphones. The character of Major Tom is introduced, said to be both heroic and vulnerable, not to say sexually ambiguous. He is to reappear in “Ashes to Ashes,” “Hallo Spaceboy” and in “Blackstar.” The mock astronaut suit Bowie wore for the video is there on display.

What this exhibition reveals is Bowie as a unique entertainer who saw himself as a “One Man Revolution,” determined to define a signature style that underlies all the superficial variations of appearance and persona. Along with this, he maintained an interest in Buddhism, in mime and in literature. His bookcase is displayed, filled with exemplary titles of books that defined our modern world: “1984,” “A Clockwork Orange,” James Baldwin’s “The Fire Next Time” and “The Hidden Persuades,” etc.

There’s much display and explanation of Bowie’s costumes, make-up and personae. The iconic facial lightning bolt appears on the “Aladdin Sane” album and on a mask, but was never – we learn – worn in performance. Its zigzag design also appears on a costume coat, modifying the stripes of the British flag.

The outlandish, sometimes androgynous, and bizarre costumes are shown to be central to his personal style. Among them one will see the giant plastic tux that Bowie wore on an historic 1979 Saturday Night Live appearance with bizarre Bavarian performance artist Klaus Nomi. At that viewing area one will be simultaneously watching a video of the actual SNL TV show. This occasion marked a turning point in both his career and that of Nomi. Bowie was now mainstream. And Nomi subsequently appropriated that tux for his own future stage appearances.

Posters, kabuki and extravagant fashion magazine covers that influenced the aesthetics of Ziggy Stardust are framed for viewing, and notably included images without regard to any particular gender. Bowie allowed there to be confusion of his identity with that of Ziggy. In 1973 he temporarily retired Ziggy but revived him in his final threnody, “Blackstar,” which was released on his 69th birthday, two days before his death. Bowie took in influences from around the world, and chose from broader, more exotic sources than most.

There’s a “Periodic Table” of Bowie showing the hundred-plus influences, musical and otherwise, laid out like the familiar Periodic Table of the Elements. The exhibition gives due credit is to artists and designers who helped Bowie realize his artistic expression with album covers, costumes and the like.

Astonished attendees stand and gape, fascinated by the many high-tech audio-visual experiences at the exhibition. One of these is a large, mirrored alcove that puts on a dazzling pastiche of video art with accompanying, matching music, fragmentary yet unified. There are many opportunities to just stand and watch movie and TV clips sampling Bowie’s musical and acting careers. And there’s more – much more – to the exhibit than this report.

Do we have to say it? Bowie’s influence spreads farther and deeper than just the entertainment world. His fabulous good looks allowed him to juxtapose weird costumes and makeup while remaining irresistibly attractive and at the same time promoting gender ambiguity, preposterous appearance and implicit iconoclasm. It’s hard to imagine the individualistic appearances of today’s world of style, fashion and gender identity without recognizing the spin put on our world by David Bowie.

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Morbid Anatomy Library

Green-Wood Cemetery
Brooklyn NY

Goths and other denizens of the dark cultural scene can rejoice at the resurrection of one of – if not THE most beloved institution in the greater NY/NJ area, the Morbid Anatomy Library. After an all too brief and glorious two year run in Brooklyn’s Park Slope from 2014 to 2016, the Morbid Anatomy Museum closed its doors amidst much grieving by its devoted members and enchanted visitors.

It’s important to remember that the Museum had its origins in a smaller, less ambitious establishment called the Morbid Anatomy Library, which was founded in 2008 in Proteus Gowanus, and before that in 2007 in the Morbid Anatomy blog of founder Joanna Ebenstein.

The mission of examining and celebrating the intersection of “art, medicine, death and culture” goes on – and never really ceased. It is now headquartered in the historic and fitting edifice that is the Fort Hamilton Gate House of Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

An open house at the new digs was held on Easter weekend March 31 and April 1. The dedicated core of Morbid Anatomy, namely artistic director Joanna Ebenstein and events coordinator and librarian Laetitia Barbier greeted guests and well-wishers on the second floor where recognizable artifacts from the original collection were on view and members of the press and other media were taking notes both days.

Downstairs on the first floor was an exhibit area, the centerpiece of which was the marvelous miniature diorama model of the fabled museum, lovingly and painstakingly built by Joel Schlemowitz. It shows both the iconic black exterior and the two main floors complete with breath-taking, detailed reproductions of furniture, architectural details and display articles. A video of the diorama can be viewed on Youtube under “Miniature Diorama of Morbid Anatomy Museum.”

The events-schedule of Morbid Anatomy continues. There is an ongoing Morbid Anatomy exhibition on artworks created with human hair at the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia. One can learn about and plan to attend or visit upcoming local lectures, exhibits and activities of the Morbid Anatomy community by following their page on Facebook or going to the Morbid Anatomy blogspot.

Congratulations and best wishes from New Dark Age!

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Recordings

The January Sessions – 1998
The Empire Hideous
Hideous Productions

Gothic metal band The Empire Hideous was active mainly between 1988 and 1998, although there were a few spurts of activity and a couple of CDs released in the post-millennium decade. Just before and in anticipation of the official breakup of the band in early 1998, EH went into the studio with their best-ever lineup of musicians and recorded their then-current set list, in a series of sessions. Early this year, on the 20th anniversary, the recording of those January sessions has been released, consisting of fourteen tracks, some of which had appeared on earlier albums, some that had only been heard live, and some that would find their way onto CDs released after the band had gone into hibernation.

In a sense, this collection represents the band at its mature peak of artistic achievement. The Empire Hideous’s signature sound, combining howling, sorrowful guitar lines, ultra deep, bass guitar fulmination and compelling, urgent rhythms combines with mournful minor key melodies and Myke’s legendary voice. Fans of EH will feast their ears upon Myke’s unique vocal style, heavy with vibrato and echoic effects as he presents his poetic narratives that range from melancholy to demonic, delivered with an anguished intensity.

Four of these tracks were included in the sold out and no-longer-available CD, “Victim Destroys Assailant.” These include the funereal “God and I,” the rapidly paced “Talk Is Cheap,” the surprisingly folksy “Dead Season” and the hypnotic “Otherside.”

Live versions of “Kissing Your Poison” and “Parasite’s Bible,” with its recognizable harmonics riff, are resurrected from the first full length album, “Only Time Will Tell.” Covers in this collection include a driving, speeded up version of “All I Want” by the Cure and a version of “God of Thunder” that is more serious, less facetious than the original by KISS. “Girl at the End of My Gun” by Alien Sex Fiend gets the EH treatment in a frantically paced, faithful tribute to the original.

As this collection basically represents the concluding achievement and final culmination of the Empire Hideous, it was fitting that it should end with Paul Anka’s “My Way,” famously made into a mega-hit by Frank Sinatra and later the Sex Pistols. Here it starts ballad-like, highlighting Myke’s native and unaltered vocal qualities. About a third of the way through it accelerates and transforms into a goth rock anthem, serving as a perfectly apt conclusion to an album, a collection and a career.

This album is available only in mp3 version from various Hideous websites that can be found via the Internet, Facebook, Spotify, etc.

New Dark Age March 2018

Filed under: Goth Stuff,New Dark Age Monthly,Uncategorized — doktorjohn March 20, 2018 @ 6:26 pm




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