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Autodrone – “This Sea Is Killing Me”

Filed under: Recorded Music,Uncategorized — doktorjohn June 23, 2016 @ 6:18 pm

Autodrone
“This Sea Is Killing Me”

Autodrone - This Sea Is Killing Me

Listen on Soundcloud or contact autodrone@gmail.com

By Doktor John

Lovers of ethereal, trip-hop and similar styles should check out this second album by Autodrone, a project of guitarist Jeremy Alisauskas, formerly of Projekt group Unto Ashes. This 10 track album, written by Alisauskas and keyboardist Angel Lorelei, appears to have aimed at relieving some personal grief and even despair as embodied in the plaintive vocals by the lyricist Katherine Kennedy, whose singing suggests Kate Bush calling from captivity, perhaps trapped in a cave.

The opening track, “Corvus” (crow) begins with a simple organ riff, the keyboard manned by second guitarist Markus Fabulous , formerly of Psychic TV, and introduces the faraway-sounding female vocals that set a melancholy mood for the rest of the album. A similar pattern is heard on the 2nd track “Exit Ghost” but with a little more rhythmic complexity provided by drummer Terry Taylor. Percussion complexity intensifies in the next track “Le Voleur” (The Thief) and serves in this and further tracks as a vehicle for the deliciously sad, yearning female vocals.

The 4th track “The Way Way Down” is more upbeat – to the point of being very danceable – with enthusiastic drumming, synthesizer and organ riffs, still in the service of Angel Lorelei’s disconsolate voice, and the 5th track even more rapidly paced into an actual gallop. The vocals soar to heart-rendering heights.

With the 6th track “Thunderbolt,” the cadence slows to a lumbering trudge through emotional pain and a sense of resignation. In the 7th track, the vocals become intentionally muddled and begin to merge with the instrumental accompaniment which comes to the fore, and presents a couple of captivating hooks.

A deep drone opens the happily gloomy 8th track, the “Lay of the Land,” but it turns into a structured mantra with – again – amazing cadenzas by Katherine Kennedy, who matches her melodious wailing during the 9th track as well. The 10th track is two and a half minutes of voiceless electronica, in keeping with the tradition observed by many electronic-based groups.
If you are a fan of shoe-gaze, mystical sounding, new-age-y music; if you are looking to expand your appreciation beyond This Mortal Coil, or supplement your desire for more in the Cocteau Twins genre, this album is for you.

The Burning Bridge

Filed under: Recorded Music,Uncategorized — doktorjohn June 11, 2016 @ 10:50 pm

NoirThe Burning Bridge (cd cover)
The Burning Bridge
Metropolis

by Doktor John

This is Noir’s fourth release and it is dedicated to David Bowie. Noir consists of frontman Athan Maroulis, formerly of Spahn Ranch and Black Tape for a Blue Girl and keyboardists and backup female vocalists Kai Irina Hahn and Demetra Songs. In this collection they continue in what Maroulis terms the “Electro-Gothic” style. Isn’t that what the rest of us call “industrial?”

With this EP, he has re-interpreted a number of lesser-known classics from the New Wave era and added a brilliant original piece, namely the title track, “The Burning Bridge.” For this, track, he took a 40 second techno-instrumental groove by associate Erik Gustafson, digested it and set to it lyrics that envisioned himself or something like his ghost soaring through the night as a disembodied spirit. This artistic concept allowed him to look back beyond bridges that he had burned behind him to revisit experiences and repressed personal situations long since forgotten. He set this narrative to a perfectly danceable, electro-industrial rhythm track, richly overlaid with menacing deep, dark synthesizer melodies and his undulating, plaintive, yet angry vocals.

Noir turns Ministry’s pre-“With Sympathy,” 1982 upbeat obscurity, “Same Old Madness,” into a downbeat, lumbering slog through a knee-deep techno-industrial swamp, the heavy trudging paces marked by the mantra-like repetition of the title.

“The Chauffeur” continues in the persevering, slow trudge mode, not as ponderous, but still It retains the eerie negativity of the Duran Duran original, largely by unusual and somewhat discordant arpeggios and a zombie-paced cadenced percussion.

“In Every Dream Home a Heartache,” recorded live off a WFMU broadcast session, Noir’s version of Roxy Music’s creepiest piece, Noir slows it down even further to a funereal pace accompanying his mournful vocals with distant, echoing chimes, noise effects and instrumentals that might serve as the soundtrack for a horror movie.

“The Burning Bridge” offers musical pleasures of several varieties. First, there is an excellent new and original title track. Then there is the guilty pleasure of enjoying re-invented covers of lesser-know works from well-known artists. Finally, there is the unique, undulant vibrato vox of Goth-industrial pioneer Athan Maroulis to add a novel and classic touch to each of these tracks.

Rating: A
In a word: Short’n’Bittersweet

Memento Mori

Filed under: Events,Goth Stuff,Recorded Music,Reviews — doktorjohn February 26, 2016 @ 8:07 pm

Club Night

Memento Mori

Bedlam
Feb 25 2016
By Doktor John

New York, NY

Bedlam bar

Since sometime late last summer, promoter Ana Vice has been hosting a small group of DJs for a mid-week monthly Goth social and dance night at a uniquely eerily decorated bar, appropriately called Bedlam, in Manhattan’s Alphabet City. The night is called Memento Mori” and it is held one Thursday a month. Bedlam, as is well known, was a notorious old school mental hospital, and this namesake venue lives up to both the medical and the mental reputation of the institution. Antique anatomy charts and gruesome anatomical models adorn the walls. Facsimilies of human bones are distributed at each of the sitting booths where ornamental cobwebs are strewn.Moose head
Among the DJs, Mike Stalagmike of Defcon has a modest, low-key and friendly aspect about him, but Mexican import Bela Lugosi Alex and stunningly androgynous Valefar Malefic go all the way with their looks, each manifesting monumental coiffures and morbidly beautiful male vampire appearance. DJs
The music is decidedly of the darkwave/coldwave dance variety, but there was no place for the conventional classics. No Sisters of Mercy. No Cure or Depeche Mode. Nor were they missed, because these DJs dug deep into the realm of Goth, with selections from such rarely played artists as Xmal Deutschland, Black Ice and Virgin in Veil. A fair number of tracks were unidentifiable, but nonetheless as pleasurable and hypnotic as they were melancholy.ValefarMalefic
Doors opened at 10 pm and about 30 or so patrons were in attendance, most arriving between 11:30 and midnight. All were decked out in blackest of black finery, boots, veils and fishnets as well as high make-up and serene attitude. Not more than a handful of dancers were on the floor at a time. Most attendees stood at the bar and engaged in conversation where a surprisingly festive undercurrent pervaded the generally restrained gathering. A more beautifully attired and groomed crowd is rarely seen, even in the bowels of New York’s deepest, dark demimonde.

IAMX – Metanoia – Metropolis Records

Filed under: Goth Stuff,Recorded Music,Uncategorized — doktorjohn October 11, 2015 @ 11:22 am

Metanoia

Metanoia 2

Nothing is quite as effective —not love, not drugs —as emotional or mental breakdown to inspire artistic expression. It is particularly fortuitous when that kind of affliction befalls a really talented artist like Chris Corner, the composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and video artist fronting the synthpop group IAMX. His sixth album, titled “Metanoia,” meaning a profound, spiritual, transformation, reportedly represents his recovery from depression and insomnia. Indeed, the fervor and creative vigor of this eleven-track opus bespeaks just such a wrenching transformation.

Fans of IAMX need not fear, however, that Chris Corner has changed his style of vocal clarity as well as ferocity. On the contrary more than any prior work, this album captures the inimitable power and frank beauty of his androgynous, wide-ranging and confrontational singing, whether fashioning delicious hooks, operatic flourishes or delicate autobiographical narratives.

All of this is incorporated in the most mesmerizing, irresistible dance grooves and complex synthetic rhythms. Dance clubs will treasure this repertoire, whether playing galloping, unstoppable juggernauts like “No Maker Made Me,” or the plodding, slow-paced “Hello Melancholia.” Noteworthy are the bluesy, yet danceable eighth track, “Cruel Darkness Embrace Me” and the wild, wanton and relentless “Aphrodisiac.”

Every track is written in a minor key, which confirms the emotional depression that inspired the entire opus. Some tracks feature a mournful female chorus, others cadenced scraping industrial noises. Did I mention that this dark, really dark —even deliciously dark music?

At least ten tracks feature memorable, seductive melodies and compelling tempos. It lends itself to exceptional listening or dancing pleasure. Gloomy as the entire album seems, if it purports to represent actual recovery, I don’t want to know what that depression was like.

iVardensphere – “Fables”

Filed under: Goth Stuff,Recorded Music,Uncategorized — doktorjohn February 27, 2015 @ 2:02 pm

iVardensphere
Fables

Metropolis Records
iVardensphere
By Doktor John

This tribal/industrial Canadian group, has been around since 2009. Having, regrettably, no prior exposure to their oeuvre, I was stunned by the varied richness and the grim appeal of this 14-track masterwork that respects no boundaries or genres as it free-forms each song and crosses through every electronic musical category.

The album opens with “Million Year Echo,” featuring a persistent EBM groove that is interrupted by odd, sci-fi imbued samples that seem to emerge from a desolate, post-apocalyptic soundscape. It is followed by “Stygian,” a 7-minute, plodding, whip-cracking zombie march overlaid with harsh, hoarse male vocals. Several tracks take the listener on a techno-industrial visit to the Middle East, complete with synthetic versions of Arabic instrumental accompaniment, sacred-sounding male vocals as well as sensuous, almost erotic female vocals. Synthetic versions of everything from the Australian aboriginal didgeridoo to bongo drums are present.

“A Tale of Two Wolves” is a techno-industrial track that renders it easy to imagine a pair of canine predators loping through the forest in single-minded pursuit. “Black Lodge,” the track that follows, is a slow-paced trudge through a nightmarish dystopia, narrated by a desperate and hostile speaker, while merciless mechanical noises pound out a cadence and are joined by a mournful male chorus. I particularly enjoyed “Papa Legbo” with its ominous “the natives are restless” beat and intermittent chants.

In addition, there are frenzied hand-drum ensembles; eerie female a capella singing; languid but delicious, acoustic guitar riffs; ominous vocal narratives; and echoes of various genres including Scandinavian darkwave, aggrotech and even a piece, “Terra Sapian” featuring ultra-fast-paced, “swing ” beats. The poignant “Girl With No Hands” is a pessimistic and frankly psychotic poem with groaning choral and emotionally delicious strings plus prominent percussion. In the eighth track, “It Is As Blackness Is” an eloquent lecturer recommends philosophical acceptance of “a new dark age,” as a relentless EBM groove suggests the relentless march of Time.

The album ends on an aquatic theme, “Poseidon,” featuring the seductive sirens’ call on vocals and electro-symphonic instrumental accompaniment The majority of tracks, if not all are eminently danceable. In fact, I dare any listener to sit still while hearing these infectious and hypnotic rhythms as I tried to do when writing this. Aptly named, “Fables” transports the listener into a fantasy realm of myths, seductive melodies and mesmerizing rhythms.

Rating; A
In a word: Bountiful

The Dreaming – “Rise Again”

Filed under: Recorded Music,Uncategorized — doktorjohn January 27, 2015 @ 11:40 pm

Rise Again

Metropolis Records
By Doktor JohnThe_Dreaming-Rise_Again

Stabbing Westward’s lead vocalist Christopher Hall and programmer/keyboardist Walter Flakus have been reinventing themselves as The Dreaming since the demise of the parent band in 2002. Three EP releases, a video, a track for the movie “Elektra” and live performances on the West Coast have kept them busy since the band’s inception. Joined by former SW drummer Johnny Haro, plus a bass and a guitarist, “Rise Again” is clearly a resurrection of the immensely popular Stabbing Westward style.

The newest CD, “Rise Again” is scheduled for release this coming February and captures all the intensity and ecstatic bombast of the original band.

Consisting of 10 tracks, “Rise Again” is characterized by Hall’s extraordinary tenor vocals, full of intensity and defiance, accompanied by bombastic, symphonic metal.

The titles and the lyrics are profound and penetrating, mostly probing harsh, even painful emotions. The third track asks, “Why do all your kisses taste like death?” The fifth track aggressively asserts, “I will not be afraid anymore” as a kind of self-assuring mantra. I think you get the idea.

From the first track, “Alone” with its galloping cadence and accusatory tone, to the final and title track, “Rise Again,” every track has a delicious, melodious hook and a restless, hypnotic groove. Angry, belching guitars are woven into fast-paced electronic rhythms that will have industrial dancers in a frenzy on the dance floors or fervently bobbing their heads on the sidelines. For those who loved and sorely miss the now-defunct Stabbing Westward, this revival of that sound is more than welcome.
Rating: A+

“Superstition” by The Birthday Massacre

Filed under: Recorded Music,Reviews,Uncategorized — doktorjohn November 27, 2014 @ 12:49 pm

The Birthday Massacre
“Superstition”

Superstition
Metropolis Records

By Doktor John

This ten-track release by Canadian Goth-rock sextet The Birthday Massacre represents their sixth studio album. It lives up to the hopes of those who have come to expect gorgeous, dark-themed female vocals by lead singer Chibi, delicious minor-key melodies and symphonic elements realized through heavy, down-tuned bass and guitar as well as synthetic accompaniment.

From the opening track —“Divide” with Chibi’s ultra-sweet vocals and menacing, drone-like bass background — to the all-instrumental concluding track, “Trinity,” the theme is dreamy, hallucinatory and ethereal. Occasional hissing, menacing male spoken word interjections are set against her luscious singing. The flow is generally upbeat, with a few ventures into more complex, syncopated rhythms., The title track “Superstition” slows the tempo down to a pace that is just shy of depressing, giving the entire ensemble a chance to be heard and for soloists to sound off alongside a blend of synthetic effects.

Fans and newcomers to The Birthday Massacre will enjoy poetic narratives, the seductive if somewhat vampiric propositions, the allegorical portrayals of such phenomena as the ocean, rain, the so-called coming of age and the mysterious “other side.” Above all, they will find themselves drawn into succulent melodies and mesmerizing rhythms that have been the signature sound of this band from their earliest appearance on the dark-music scene.

Cocksure/ TVMALSV

Filed under: Recorded Music,Reviews,Uncategorized — doktorjohn July 8, 2014 @ 10:31 pm

Album

TVMALSV

Band
Cocksure

Cocksure

Metropolis

By Doktor John

Lovers of old-school industrial who are waiting for a modern, novel reinterpretation of their genre will find TVMALSV by the irreverent band, Cocksure, to be right up their proverbial alley. Brainchild of Chris Connelly (KMFDM, Ministry, Pigface, Revolting Cocks) and Jason Novak (Cracknation and Czar) with guest appearance by Richard 23 (Front 242), this nine-track album contains all the elements they are listening for and more.

From the first cut, “Skeemy Gates,” to the pseudo-reggae finale, “Cokane in My Brain,” listeners are served up a techno-industrial slurry of mesmerizing rhythms and distorted vocals serving up cheerfully aggressive rap at various cadences in a matrix of organized, sonic chaos.

Echoes of the ancestor bands appeal to and entice the fans of Ministry, Front 242 and especially Revco, but Cocksure takes the audience a couple of steps further with a harsh, industrial-strength version of the rap style associated with hip-hop. Nasty topics, hoarse and rapid-fire vocals are suitably wedded to relentless mechanical beats and occasionally melodious background noise.

Dictionary.com defines “cocksure” as “overconfident.” The Urban Dictionary offers a more vulgar definition. I’m sure Connelly and Novak self-identify with both.

The Sedona Effect

Filed under: Live Music,Recorded Music — doktorjohn March 26, 2014 @ 1:52 am

The R Bar
March 9, 2014
New York, NY
By Doktor John

Kai  cover

Female-fronted Brooklyn-based, dark electro band The Sedona Effect put on two screenings of their newly-released (January 2014) music video “Cross the Line” at the R Bar on Manhattan’s Bowery on a recent Thursday night to a large crowd of black-attired, dark wave fans. This band is the solo project of German-born, classically-trained soprano and dramatist Kai Irina Hahn who has recently come to NYC from London where, it can assumed, some of her conversion from lyric opera to EBM and industrial developed.

The video features a mesmerizing, layered electro-industrial track that builds through several crescendos. On screen are Kai, in the form of a femme fatale — alternately bathed in eerie, blue and red light — and in the background phantom-like, masked and fetish-clad characters.

Kai hisses her call to “cross the line.” During a black-&-white segment she holds the blade of a knife to the throat of a lethargic young male and succeeds in seducing him into final action. A large and slithering, spotted snake weaves its way throughout the video, bridging between several scenes, reminiscent of the serpent in the Garden of Eden. So —come to think of it — is Kai herself! Just the kind of thing to awaken the amoral side of the poetic persona. Parts of the video were actually shot at the RBar.

Kai Anke ShedKai snake

Besides the video, there were live stage performances featuring duets of performers, the first a “Celtic Kabuki” with Duchess Wendi and Sean Monistat who wore a deer-antler helmet. The second featured Ess Moonking and Kai herself performing parts of the choreography of “Gloomy Sunday,” a cabaret piece that she staged last year at Bizarre Bushwick in Brooklyn where Kai now resides.

A pair of very interesting photo exhibits was held as backdrop to the video release party. Anka Jurena’s work was largely b & w and quite creepy, and it included some available prints of Kai intertwined with her snake. Jesse Kleitman’s photography display featured traditional subjects, colors, filters and Photoshop enhancements.

The turnout was excellent and the video was well received, which portends an even more successful launch of The Sedona Effect’s upcoming album “Vortices,” due out in the fall of 2014.

Psyclon Nine “Order of the Shadow [Act I]”

Filed under: Goth Stuff,Recorded Music — doktorjohn October 31, 2013 @ 9:32 pm

Psyclon Nine
“Order of the Shadow [Act I]”
Metropolis Records

Psycon Nine
By Doktor John

This San Francisco-based industrial/metal crossover band is back from a hiatus since 2010 with a new album due for release on November 12. There are 13 tracks, almost strictly for those in the head-banger (if that term still has meaning) crowd who are willing to accept techno-industrial elements on the menu.

There’s a fair amount of variety in this album. Several tracks are noted to begin with or have variable stretches within them consisting of formless, wind-like electronica and distant menacing samples. Numerous songs contain frantic, gasping vocals synchronized to artillery-like, pounding beats and are very danceable. Other tracks like “Suffer Well” and “Glamor Through Debris” employ death metal forms, such as machine-gun-fast vocals that are aggressive to the point of being vicious, but are better to dance to than your usual heavy metal.

Track12, “Penance” is barely a minute long and consists of wind-like noise without melody or rhythm, and then a brief noise bridge that could be the sound of two locomotives being violently slammed together numerous times before lapsing back into relatively soothing noise.

Track 9, “But With a Whimper,” contrary to T.S. Eliot’s line “…the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper,” contains a couple of series of loud bangs separated by desperate whispering, and is definitely not for dancing.

The final track, “The Saint and the Valentine” comes as an astounding melodious departure from the rest of the album, with pitch-dark minor-key symphonic elements and moments of pleasurable, carefully sung vocals in a theatrical whisper alternating with the abrasive screaming heard on the rest of the album.

Heavy metal is neither my favorite, nor my forte to evaluate. “Order of the Shadow [Act I]” has definite redeeming features, although it is not going to be within everybody’s comfortable listening zone. The best thing I can say about it is that it sounds like Skinny Puppy died in a horrible accident, went straight to hell, connected with some metal heads and from there produced this brutally seductive album.

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