Soundtrack to... 1985: In 20 Albums

Come with us now, back in time, to the year of Live Aid, Wrestlemania, and some of the best bands and albums the 1980s had to offer. Enjoy our countdown of 1985 in 20 albums...

Review: Lindemann – 'Skills In Pills'

LINDEMANN 'Skills In Pills' WARNER MUSIC GROUP

Review: Cocksure – 'Corporate_Sting'

COCKSURE 'Corporate_Sting' METROPOLIS RECORDS

Book Review: Lewis Carroll – 'Alice's Adventures In Wonderland...'

LEWIS CARROLL 'Alice's Adventures In Wonderland: 150th Anniversary Edition' PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS

Review: Chant – 'Brave New Apocalypse'

CHANT 'Brave New Apocalypse' WTII RECORDS

Friday, 4 September 2015

Review: Caustic – 'Faux Caus'




CAUSTIC
'Faux Caus'
UNDUSTRIAL MUSIC


Only a concept such as a fake album could come from the mind of an artist like Matt Fanale. The king of jizzcore returns... only he doesn't. Not on this new Caustic album which doesn't feature one note of material by Caustic. Instead Fanale has invited his music making peers to each write what they think a Caustic song should be. The result is brilliant and best of all all proceeds go to the Sophie Lancaster Foundation.

The majority of the album focusses on recapturing the early caustic sound as heard on the likes of 'This Is Jizzcore' and '…And You Will know Me By The Trail Of Vomit' with an overall leaning towards powernoise and electro-punk from the various artists contributing. The likes of Flammpunkt, Killcrop, Null Device, Robots On Drugs, Fedorahead, and Pill Brigade provide some genuinely brilliant moments as embrace the spirit of jizzcore and evoke some tracks that would make you doubt that they weren't taken from Matt's own personal stash of unreleased monstrosities.

With this being a compilation and one where the low-fi early works of Caustic are being used as the main source of inspiration, it goes without saying that this is a rough and ready sounding track list. However it has been mixed and mastered well and maintains its focus across every track.

This may not be the new Caustic album most people were expecting, but it is a brilliant move from Fanale. In terms of his own songwriting his last two albums under the Caustic moniker, as well as his first full-length outing with Beauty Queen Autopsy have shown that he has grown substantially beyond his root sound. Yet there are plenty of endearing tracks contained within that part of his discography. So while Fanale continues to move onwards and upwards with each full-length studio album, why not invite some friends over to do their best impressions of you in the meantime? It's fun, it's different and most importantly it's all for a good cause.

Don't worry, Matt Fanale will return soon with the hotly anticipated REAL Caustic album 'Industrial Music'.

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Review: John R1se – 'Overcome'



JOHN R1SE
'Overcome'
VENATOR MUSIC


Siberian composer John R1se (AKA Evgeniy Akimbaev) is one of those talents that is inexplicably hidden away. Blending classical, electronica, and rock music. John R1se is an instrumental project that should quite rightly be scoring big budget sci-fi films. The project has only been around for year but has already yielded an EP that is hard, heavy, cinematic and addictive. It's John Williams meets Juno Reactor.

The title track 'Overcome' is a solid opening credits theme with it's initial orchestral swell leading into heavy electronic rock with elements of dubstep lightly sprinkled throughout. 'Peacemaker' on the other hand is the emotional scene playing out as a star destroyer burns in the heavens with horns and strings drilling the emphasis home over the electronic ambience. 'Magnum' picks up the pace as the action intensifies with the ambient electronics and orchestral elements giving way to a modern electronics in a wonderful breakdown. 'The Event Horizon' blends sweeping ambience with martial beats to build a foreboding sense of scale as an imperial armada masses on the edge of a distant galaxy. The final track 'Emperyan' rounds off the EP in a classic end credits manner after the shock cliffhanger sets up the sequel with epic strings building, hard dubstep breakdowns and a slow fade out as the screen fades out.

The two remixes are okay with their emphasis on the more techno and dubstep elements of the EP creating a couple of good dance tracks. However they feel tacked-on and unnecessary as the original tracks are a complete statement in their own right.

The albums is wonderfully produced with the mix truly matching the scope of the composition and sound design. It achieves that cinematic sense of space that creates emotional resonance with each subtle change.

'Overcome' is a stunning début EP that promises a lot more to come. If there is any justice in the world Akimbaev will be scoring films and releasing albums for years to come. If this EP is anything to go by, a full-length offering from John R1se will be something special. Definitely one to keep and eye on. 

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Review: Venus Fly Trap – 'Metamorphosis (1987 – 2007)'



VENUS FLY TRAP
'Metamorphosis (1987 – 2007)'
RETINAL RECORDS


Northampton based alternative rockers Venus Fly Trap last studio release was back in 2011 with the criminally underrated 'Nemesis', and with the promise of new material round the corner it seems only right that their legacy is revisited with a vinyl re-release of their two-decade encompassing best of selection. Charting the band's rise from their roots in the 1980's Midlands goth scene across their seminal early singles and into their post-millennial output.

Venus Fly Trap were always a hard band to pin down. Not quite post-punk, not quite goth. Not quite avant-garde, not quite electronic. They mixed and matched genre conventions with ease to create an experimental yet always accessible core sound. It's easy to hear elements of deathrock, post-punk, gothic, new wave, industrial and even psychedelia-tinged garage rock in the tracks assembled here.

The band have been very selective and kept the selection short and full of impact with choice cuts such as their brilliant covers of 'Rocket USA' and 'Human Fly', as well as 'Morphine', 'Europa', 'Achilles Heel', ‘Pulp Sister’, ‘Metropolis’, and ‘Gemini Lounge’ being worth the price of admission alone. They have avoided to throw in b-sides, remixes and rarities and have created a lean, strong and definitive “best of” track list that is a perfect introduction to the band's legacy.

With the songs being drawn from across multiple releases over twenty years the recording and mixing quality of the songs varied. But the album has been mastered and crafted with attention paid to this and the end result sees the tracks come together and stand shoulder to shoulder nicely.

'Metamorphosis (1987 – 2007)' is a straight-to-the-point and no nonsense best of that simultaneously shows the band's strongest cuts as well as just how diverse they can be. It is a “best of” that does exactly what it sets out to do and provides a definitive overview of the band's career. This vinyl re-release is long-overdue and a must-have for long-time fans. 

Book Review: Catriona Ward – 'Rawblood'



CATRIONA WARD
'Rawblood'
WEIDENFELD & NICOLSON


The début novel from Catriona Ward is a trip into bleak gothic horror. Set between two timelines the book focuses on the sad and haunting tale of the cursed Villarcas family through the eyes of the teenage daughter and end of the family bloodline Iris Villacras while intersected by different points of view from the past. It is an excellent example of modern gothic fiction that owes a great deal to books such as 'The Woman In Black', 'Wuthering Heights', 'Frankenstein', and 'The Turn Of The Screw'. It is an enticing plot, heavy on mystery and suspense that urges you to turn the page.

The book ticks all the right boxes for a gothic horror novel – a strong naïve heroine. A sinister family secret, mad science, forbidden romance, a supernatural presence in an old house within a bleak and isolated, and locals fearful of the noble family. It may be using standard conventions of the genre, however it doesn't come across as derivative or conceited at any point. Instead Ward weaves them into a compelling plot that will genuinely have you guessing and in a few places will shock you.

The language used throughout feels authentic and avoids falling into the traps of anachronistic phrases and clichés. The characters voices evoke the archetypes of gothic horror – such as the dry and god fearing scientist, Charles Danforth. The passionate and emotional heroine Iris Vilarcas. As well as the tortured Villarcas patriarchs. There is a poetic flow to the prose and it is rich with detailed descriptions that bring small details under the glare of scrutiny and roots the image of Rawood and its inhabitants into your imagination.

The one major issue with the novel is the pacing. It is heavily descriptive, very accurate in its use of language, and has multiple first-person narratives intersecting throughout the text. And for the most part Ward handles these well and keeps the text interesting. But the shifts in perspective and narratives does regularly derail the momentum being built up in the preceding sections. Ward does always recover but her constant attempts at mixing up the timeline of the story does become a source of frustration despite some genuinely inspired passages.

On the whole though the novel is well written with wonderful and visceral details with a intense and gripping plot that blurs the line between the supernatural and the psychological in a way that keeps you interested until the end. It is a strong first novel and one that fans of both classic and modern gothic fiction will be able to get into with ease. 'Rawblood' utilises all the expected conventions of the genre but remains an original and compelling read that promises a lot more to come from Catriona Ward in the future.  

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Book Review: Isis Sousa & Ove Neshaug – 'No Escapes Vol. 1 – Melancholic Beauty In Norwegian Landscapes'



ISIS SOUSA & OVE NESHUAG
'No Escapes Vol. 1 – Melancholic Beauty In Norwegian Landscapes'
TRAGIC BOOKS


The prevailing mental image of Norway is one of expansive landscapes full of fjords, rivers and snow-capped mountains. A primal kind of beauty that gave rise to a rich mythology and folklore spread throughout Europe by the seafaring people who dwelt there. The first in the 'No Escapes' series from Isis Sousa & Ove Neshaug that depict a photographic journey into the seasons and terrain of the country.

The book is in part a photographic exploration, but with both creators coming from artistic backgrounds there is a lot more to this. The photography of the autumnal landscapes are beautiful and capture a certain bleakness, but one that is strangely inviting. With each set of pictures from the locations they visited, the duo add an accompanying piece of text outlining their impressions of the area as well as notes on how the shots were taken.

Despite the fact this is a Norwegian published book, the text is in strong written, and grammatically correct English. It avoids hefty jargon and keeps things simple. The result of which is an exceedingly easy read that puts the emphasis on the art.

Perhaps best of all though is the extra attention given to detail, making this a very useful resource, not only for photographers, but also anyone who likes to capture landscapes in other mediums such as paint. Each photograph comes with an accompanying colour pallet which breaks down all the subtle colourings, as well as notes on the compositions of the pictures.

'No Escapes' is a photobook that wants you to be inspired, and wants to make things as easy for you as possible. The photographic gear used is listed, and coupled with the colours, compositional notes and text on impressions of the areas and how they took the photos (even the CDs they listened to!). It's all there in a solid hardback edition on thick paper to show what is possible if you want to set out on a journey of your own, or purely as a reference for painting, sketching or design work. It doesn't appeal to any one technical level or specifically push itself as an art reference book, but instead gives you a bit of everything with an emphasis on the visual aspects and avoiding lengthy textual breakdowns.

With this being the first volume of a series it sets up the expectations for what will surely follow well. It promises a series that is heavy on aesthetically pleasing visuals and straight to the point with its descriptions and notes on compositions. And with a country such as Norway, the potential for this series is high.


Tuesday, 1 September 2015

The Value of Art



You can't always choose the people in your life. You can and you can't.
You can choose to not call back that person with whom the sex wasn't so great after all, and then you can't really choose the people you work your dayjob with. 
I have to spend 40hrs of my week with someone who, a few months ago, discovered that YouTube videos could be converted into mp3s. "Did you know you could do that, Alex?", he told me, thrilled. "I'm never buying music again!"
And everytime I hear him share these news with someone, and everytime I hear him say he's downloaded another 50 albums for free, well, I just can't believe that someone who knows me and spends so much of their time with me would talk about this with such pride. And my stomach turns a little, everytime. 
I've gotta face it. 
In this day and age, it is a struggle for artists, real authentic artists, to be respected, and valued, for the mastery of their craft. And the value of Art had become very low indeed.
I wonder why is it so hard for people to pay for art. And I wonder where artists have failed at valuing themselves?
Some people will only ever consider music as a hobby. I remember a conversation I had a few years ago with someone who said “I’m not making music to make money, I’m happy playing in pubs for free every once in a while, and I’m happy to give my album to whoever wants it”. Which is fine for him, if that’s how he views making music in his life. But for other people, like me, and thousands of other artists with the same frame of mind as my own, making music is a career goal -just as learning languages can be a hobby for some people, while others are learning languages to become translators, or interpreters.
Are people like him the reason why people like me end up struggling so much to get hired/paid for gigs, and having to sell our albums at ridiculously low prices, because others just put their music out there for free? Of course, as far as I'm concerned. In dealing with people like that, I’ve always chosen to move forward, and keep searching for, and finding, like-minded musicians to play shows with. We settle for a door deal, share profits, and set up our merch for sale. I choose to respect people and what they believe in, yet move on and team up with people who believe in the same things I do.
To me, the amount of time, energy and money I invest in my art is of value, as is the quality of the performances I put up, and the songs you’ll hear on my album, down to the polishing of my image with every new step, and every merch item I put out there. I can compare this to someone in a gallery or a museum, looking at a painting. You can sit there, and stare at the painting for hours, reveling in its beauty, message and glory -in the same way you can find a song on a streming service, and want to listen to it again and again. Well, at some point, the museum or gallery will close, and if you want to keep staring at the painting, you buy it. Why wouldn’t you buy the album the song is off of, or at least the song itself? Then you can listen to it over and over again, anytime, without having to go on the streaming site all the time.
Onto these streaming websites, which are more and more of a hot topic within the music community. The main argument they hold is that of exposure. 
Of course, exposure is crucial for any artist -but at what price?
My own experience of streaming websites has not been lucrative at all, so far. When my first album came out, I payed 50$ to CD Baby, so they could put it up on ITunes, Pandora, Spotify, and some other places. These are all websites where you have to reach a certain amount of hits before you touch any money, and then your music is there for anyone to listen to over and over again, for free. Some people are paying maybe 9$ or 10$ a year, or as the only subscription fee, and think "Well I’ve paid to get on this website, everything is covered". NO. The owners of the websites, and maybe their employees, are covered. Not the artists. Maybe the top 5 major artists on the top 3 major labels are. But that’s a whole other story. 
Coming back to us, the independent artists, and going back to my personal story, I can say that I’ve never had anyone come up to me saying they’re at my show because they found me on Spotify. And though 2 people have so far bought my album on iTunes, I haven’t touched any of that money yet, because I need to sell for a minimum amount before Apple gives me my dues.
Needless to say I’m not putting my second album on ITunes. Bandcamp is where it’s at for me. Many people have found my first album on there, and after a few listens, have purchased 1339 Crowder’s End, more often at a higher price than the one I ask for. And Bandcamp sales go straight into my PayPal account, which I link straight up with my bank account. Thank you Bandcamp, for making it simple, and direct.
More about those streaming websites now. In recent conversation with a fellow musician friend, he pointed out to me how people’s perspective of entertainment is being twisted by the mere presence of these websites and what they deliver. TV shows and movies cannot be compared to music at all. When a TV show is made available for free streaming, every cast and crew member has already been paid. Everyone who has invested time and energy and money has gained it back already. When an independent musician releases music, they are finding an outlet for people to discover their art, fall in love with it, and choose to support it. The independent musician has invested thousands and thousands of dollars for the album to breathe life, and is still investing more money into producing videos, live performances, merch, and getting new gear or fine tuning what they already own, to make sure their performances are as perfect as they can be, so as to keep the fans happy and proud to be supporting his or her art. In short, when we’re putting our music out there, we’re still waiting to get paid for what we do, what we’ve done.
As I grow and evolve as an artist, always reaching another level of expertise with every show I perform, I’m happy to say I’m more and more confident about giving myself value. I’ve never performed for free, but I’m more and more comfortable in asking to get paid for what I do. The amount of time and energy and money I put into every performance is worth every dollar I can get for it. Some people will try to argue "But when you’re making music, you’re having fun, so it’s not a job, it’s not real life, it’s just like a party"… 
Those who say this have no idea what they’re talking about, especially if they’re talking to an independent musician like me, who not only does the whole art aspect by herself, but also handles all the business aspect by herself. When I was on tour last year, not only did I make a point of delivering the best of the best performance I could every night, for every single person in the venue (beginning with putting on my stage makeup and costume properly, down to making sure I sang and played and danced as perfectly as I could), but when the show was over, I’d be sitting in the van counting profits, evaluating costs from one city to the next, and making sure promotion what up and strong for the show the next day. Oh, and I’d be the one at the door and the merch table every night, before and after the gig. I had started planning that tour 6 months before, and anyone who knew me then would keep remarking on how exhausted I was during that whole period. The amount of time put into it was extreme - and that’s why it was such a success for me. I gave the Spider Grooves Tour my all, and it came back to me. 
I digressed a bit here to fully prove the point that to me, music is a job, it IS my real life. I could go on further about the amount of time, energy and money I had put into Crowder’s End (a production process of 2 years in a studio, with 17 musicians performing on the record, and everyone involved in the artwork and visual aspect of the album), and how much more of that is being put into my second album, Original Game. I could go on, but I’m writing this blog post to bring a point across: the same amount of time and energy and money can be put by someone on studying math, or trees, or animal biology. At some point, this person will end up with a job in his or her domain -and that’s their real life. Being a vet is just as valuable of a job as being a musician is, and if this person followed what rang true in his or her heart, well, that person will be very happy to get up and go to work everyday. If this person loves animals, and passionately cares for them, then that person can only be respected and valued for all the investments he or she chose to do to be able to pursue that passion and have it become a career.
And honestly, if you’re not making your life be about what makes you happy, if you’re not making the core of who you are and what drives you to wake up everyday the core of your own life, then you’ve clearly missed out on what makes life such an incredible experience.
I am aware of the choice I made to be a self-made artist, and what it means. I write my own songs, dress up the way I want to, and share with my fans whatever please me -and them. I am lucky to be able to touch people with my art, and whenever a friend or fan tells me that my music, my art or my words made them feel good, and happy to be alive, well, I know I’m doing the right thing. It’s not the easiest road, and it’s not the wealthiest road either, but it’s the path I chose, and I accept every challenge fearlessly. As an independent artist, I know I have to take it upon myself to re-educate people on the value of art. We live in ruthless times, and the Money-City-Coorporate-Machines are seemingly so strong, but as long as we are there to fight, and educate, and as long as independent, like-minded artists choose to stand strong together, we can still believe in the Art we make, and its value -and what it means for society, and the children.

    Sunday, 23 August 2015

    The Alternative Culture - A Part of the Future



    We all want to be a part of something.

    A part of a family, a part of a couple, a part of a group, a part of a team, a part of a band, a part of a crowd, a part of society. A part of those with whom we feel we belong. A part of something that's bigger than ourselves.

    I want to be part of the Future.

    Culture.
    [The customary beliefs, social form, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group]
    In a way, the culture we choose for ourselves defines who we are.
    Because we can always choose. We are all born somewhere, and it means something, but we can choose what we belong to.

    I choose to belong to the Future.

    Alternative culture.
    It's easy to think, be and do as other people, and harder to think, be and do for ourselves.
    Hard, but easier than you'd think, once you wrap your mind around it.

    The Other Culture.
    It's when you start thinking differently that you can begin to evolve.
    And the option is there for you to select, in the alternative culture, where you can choose to be proud to be different, and think thoughts no one else is thinking -where you can choose to be yourself, and live your life for yourself.

    Subcultures are the many alternatives within the alternative culture. The words alternative culture act as hub for all the many customary beliefs, social forms and material traits that people can choose from in order to stand as different.

    Why choose to be different? Because a very long time ago, someone, or a few people, dared to believe in a positive outcome from an alternate route.
    No, that's crazy, Don't think that. No one ever did that before. No one ever went there. It might be dangerous. You might fail. 
    I might, and maybe all of this is true, but I'll do it anyway because somehow, I'm feeling right about this.

    And then someone created something, and someone else created something else, and out of many of these things, someone created a Wheel.
    And then the world, and its people, expanded.

    They probably invented the first box not long after inventing the wheel.
    A place to put things, so they can be carried around, or hidden. Or just placed somewhere safe.

    Outside the box is not safe. You might lose the thing, or it may break.

    To think outside the box is not safe. You will be trialed, you will be tested, and the only way to feel safe in those times is to remain true to what you choose to believe in. Throughout history, it's always the revolutions that brought about Evolution (Revolution - the Wheel, it turns).

    Art is the only true, authentic form of chronicling time. Indeed, the earliest recordings of events in time were depicted on stone walls all over the world, as my friend Nicholas fittingly pointed to me on Friday night, History was first told through visual art, folk songs, interpretive dances and stories.

    Artists will portray what they experience and what they feel in their space and time here, through the means available to them. An artist's perspective is never tainted by an ideology behind it. It is only ever brought forth as a means of expression of feelings -a way to get the feeling out of themselves and into the world.

    See this. Hear this. Feel this. Doesn't it feel strange? Doesn't it feel different?

    When you start to really feel, and understand emotions like disappointment, fear, anger and failure, you can choose to learn how to face them, and it's when you start facing them that you can tame them, and change, and evolve. So you start inside yourself, and what you find in there, you can then release out for the world to see, and feel in return. Have a look within and figure yourself out first -then you can start understanding other people, and help them understand themselves.

    The general human culture is all about things outside yourself. The alternative culture is about what's inside. It's not necessarily about being an artist. It's about noticing what Different feels like, inside yourself, and choosing to figure it out -and embrace it. Or perhaps to be different is an Art in itself.

    In the alternative culture, we celebrate What Is Different: our ways of thinking outside the box, through the arts.
    Because we believe in the Alternative.
    We believe in change. We believe in Evolution.
    And we want to be a part of the Future.


    Thursday, 20 August 2015

    Review: Skepticism – 'Ordeal'



    SKEPTICISM
    'Ordeal'
    SVART RECORDS


    Twenty years on from their début album and Finish doomsters Skepticism return with their sixth full-length effort 'Ordeal'. Drenched in funeral doom and almost folk infused elements the band, never ones to play by the rules, recorded the entire album in its current form in front of a live audience in January of this year. The end result is a is a gripping, raw evocation of the band in their purest sense. Undiluted by clean studio takes, it is an accurate and true to life portrait of the veteran band.

    Slow and heavy, the band's pace changes very little for the majority of the album. It is a monolithic slab of bludgeoning beats, grim guitar riffs, haunting atmospheric keyboards and gravelly growling vocals. Tracks such as 'You', 'The Departure', 'March Incomplete', 'Closing Music', and 'The March And The Stream' are all exemplary pieces that meld the deep melancholy of funeral doom with a wonderfully reverential air of high gothic that smooths out the rougher edges of the recording.

    Even though it is a live recording there is little to colour it as such aside from the odd bit of crowd noise in a few places and the lack of overdubbing. On the one hand it asks an awful lot of the band's performance, which they do deliver on, but on the other it creates a very intimate and close kind of listening experience that you can only get from liver performance.

    Skepticism have gambled and won with 'Ordeal'. The album is incredibly strong in terms of song writing and performance. The live nature of the recording has been executed to a high degree. And the band sound as raw and honest as you would expect, but with enough gloss to just make you forget at times it is indeed being performed live. It's a strong offering and one that demands attention.  

    THE GOTH WARS: LEST WE FORGET



    Festivals of commemoration, marks of respect, monuments to shared history... Britain is full of them, places where we gather together and show our gratitude to those who have fallen over the years. Cenotaphs, monuments, Remembrance Day – all signs of our shared struggles and sacrifices. This month we have seen more marking of the end World War 2 and the end of the greatest and most costly exercise in humanity's self-aggrandising idiocy. But! Are there some wars we should pay more attention and respect to? That may give us more lessons for the future and warnings from the past? Like, for example, the Goth Wars?

    Many people generally categorise the Goth Wars as being a mainly localised conflict between two groups of armed non-state actors – the Mission and the Sisters of Mercy – which came to the perception of being a proxy war spanning the whole of the gothic world. But really it makes more sense to perceive it as a regional conflict involving several other insurgent groups (Ghost Dance, New Model Army, Skeletal Family, Rose of Avalanche) in a more complex geopolitical battle.

    Furthermore, although we perceive the Goth Wars as being completed in a relatively short period of time - a year of conflict from 1985-86, ending with a ceasefire that (more or less) holds to this day – it makes more sense when seen as longer struggle, one which was most intense from 1985 until 1991 but actually lasted much longer than that. In fact, is it time we asked – are the Goth Wars really over at all?

    The background to the conflict is now public knowledge – a failed coup led to two rival groups locked in a bitter struggle for the rights to lucrative musical and financial assets in Leeds, by then the most heavily gothicised city in the world. Although potentially dangerous the war was formally ended by a ceasefire which was eventually brokered by the United Nations and Warner Entertainment. This led to the Eldritch Faction being recognised as the legitimate government of the Sisters of Mercy and the Hussey-Adams Gang being given rights to form their own independent republic. However, that did not stop military excursions on each other's musical territory, which continued for years to come.

    The Mission's detonation of a bona fide A-bomb chart hit in 1986 did much to dent the pride of the Eldritch faction, although the fact that it did not achieve the desired velocity was a relief. Undeterred, tSoM hit back with a brace of H-Bomb nukes of their own in 1987. Their pride humbled, the Mish Brigade were able to regroup to further dent the chart ground with stunning new weaponry in 1988. Both sides, by this point exhausted, refrained from further military activity in 1989.

    By this point the other splinter group from the Eldritch empire, of a Marxist persuasion, were greatly enhanced by a top-level defection from a rival group of gothic insurgents and were soon making their own attempts to carve out territory between the two larger armies. The other Army involved, hailing from Bradford, was much more politically motivated and puritanical - to the extent that thousands of followers fled to seek refuge in other less demanding territory.

    Between them all they would trade blows (mostly legal or musical) throughout the late '80s, but the cost was high. The Marxist faction were obliterated in 1990, and the Eldritch tendency were becoming ever more divisive by courting high-profile defections from neutral groups. Soon both main factions would undergo extensive refits and purges, and bar a brief resurgence with tit-for-tat retrospectives in the mid-'90s neither have been able to find the numbers to launch any major assaults since.

    Maybe it is too soon to ask what we can learn from the Goth Wars, but I'm sure you can all agree that 'never had so much been made by so few to so few for so little' – lest we forget the hairspray, the delay pedal, the snakebite and black.

    Wednesday, 19 August 2015

    Review: Psyche & Luminance – 'Left Out / Passenger'



    PSYCHE & LUMINANCE
    'Left Out / Passenger'
    PSYCHE ENTERPRISES 

    Dark synthpop legends Psyche come together with fresh upstarts Luminance for this unusual collaborative vinyl release. The two bands both contribute to the song writing performance and production of the tracks and for two bands formed decades apart they compliment each other extremely well. The end result is a blend of classically infused synthpop and modern dance-orientated ebm that encapsulates the strongest elements of both sides.

    The opening track 'Left Out' is an unashamed up-beat dance floor attack that merges Belgian ebm, with Pet Shop Boys atmosphere and a sleek electro gloss. While the second side, 'Passenger Seat' moves into much darker territory bringing through elements of Joy Division, New Order, Psyche's own back catalogue and a little electro-disco for a sinister and suspense-filled outing. 

    In terms of production the vinyl-optimised mix gives the songs a great deal of warmth and emphasises the classic elements of the influences at play. But this is sill a clean and fresh modern sounding execution that will still find favour with contemporary audiences.

    This is a genuinely interesting collaboration that hints at great things, so it would be a shame if this was to simply be a one-off. Both sides bring some great expertise to the table and the final product reflects them well. Collaborative efforts that go beyond remixing are few and far between and to have one of this strength begs to be explored and developed further.

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