Babylon HoR---Speculum Ziggurat
This was a rather enjoyable album of traditional electronic industrial with Gothic overtones and even bits of noise. I was quite impressed with the synths and drum machines as well as the use of the vocal elements. The one thing about this album is that a number of tracks remind me of the Cleveland electronic band BATH, who also share an affinity for the same vocal style, though BATH is far less structured musically. I think the vocal and lyrical elements are the strongest part on this album, mixing lighter female vocals with heavy distorted male vocals. Lyrically, the songs recall Rozz Williams and even Baudelaire in their best moments. The music on this album was fairly traditional, harkening back to an old-school Gary Numan and Fad Gadget appraoch, with touches of Twitch-era Ministry and early Skinny Puppy, but with a clearer sense of melody. This is a good album, though perhaps rather traditional. they aren't cutting any new ground here, but are certainly worth your time and money.
Fear of Dolls---All Monsters Eat Children
This album wears its influences deep upon its shoulders. In the hands of lesser musicians that would be detrimental, but in this case it works wonders. One can hear a certain amount of Bauhaus, Joy Division, The Velvet Underground, and some old Nick cave and Cranes mixed in for spunk. yet somehow this Seattle band explores entirely new ground. The bass is nice and heavy and the guitars decidedly distorted and noise laden. The drumming is very driving, well suited indeed to this forseful, heavy, dark music. The female vocalist is one of the most exciting elements in the band, with her mix of sweet sugary excursions and harsh distortions. The songs themselves range from noise ridden dirges to guitary heavy doom and strange lyrics, which are never completely audible but ever so potent. Maternal Charade is also one that is a standout. Perhaps one of the best songs is In Another Year, ending the album on a somewhat bitter note, harsh and crunching. This is one of the best demos I've had the chance to hear in a while. I whole-heartedly recommend it.www.fearofdolls.com
Odor of Pears---Mortal
This is a wonderful album of just plain good old goth music. This is not pretentious or masturbatory at all. I can't believe how good this is. I can't believe this band is located in Columbia, Missouri either, but I am impressed. The music I assume is nearly all electronic and makes good use of danceable drum rhythms and pretty ethereal synthesized melodies. This album contains a good balance of noisy goth/industrial elements with floaty ambient elements. Diana Blackwell;s voice suits the music to a tee, twisting a low sultry growl with soft whispers. I myself thought of Die Form as a direct influence on this work as well as the whole legacy of goth, industrial, and electronic music. Indeed, like Die form, they deal with a number of sexual and fetish themes that seemed ever so enticing in their strangeness. Of coursse, they also deal with issues of religion and death, both quite typical themes in gothic music, but this band certainly has a newness to their approach and sound while retaining all those qualities that make gothic music worth lsitening to: the beauty, the pain, the ambience, and the darkness. This is a great album for anyone looking for some new gothic music that isn't pretentious and over-wrought or another Sisters rip-off.
Venture Beyond Records
In the vast genre that is gothic music, one often has many coices, but the whole of the industry can be divided between soft and heavy categories. While heavy is exemplified by say Christian Death or Bauhaus, the softer stuff is more tied in a classical tradition (Dead Can Dance and Ataraxia are two great examples). For any matter, this album definitely sits knee deep in the latter category. It is in fact a lovely album very reminiscent of a number of classical and baroque composers such as Bach, Beethoven or Mozart. Now, I don't know if this fellow Anthony Rhodes was directly influenced by those seminal greats, but he certainly resembles their genius. One of the most remarkable qualities of this album is that he was the sole player. It has a very authentic orchestral quality nonetheless that is not overshadowed by some of the more synthesized pieces. I was drawn personally to the songs with heavy tympani and of course those glorius cellos, which added much drama to the melody. Much of the album has an uneasy quietude about it that is particularly compelling. I was less drawn to the pieces based more on synthasized sounds than those with more depth. I think this album would have benefited from more live musicians, perhaps adding that depth of drama taht one man is often incapable of producing. However, much of this seems very heartfelt and graceful and it pleasures me to hear something so involved and not so determined by decibels than by composition. All in all a nice album.
The Printwork of AR
Cover image by Ego Plum
clipart, manipulations, editor--AR
co-editor, creator--Grant Hawkins