Light a candle. Draw the required sigils. Now, raise your arms above your head and slowly, gently, exhale your soul. You won’t need it here. This is Audioccult, and it’s time to get low. Illustration: SHALTMIRA
I was frantically running around the room this morning trying to find a pithy quote or bizarre monologue, only to keep tripping over my feet (potential failure allegory) before an email notification sent me scrambling to my computer. Had the Pope choked? Someone do a thing that I could use language to suggest that it was another thing done in a humorous way? In fact it was Tamara Sky, sending me a link to her latest mixtape. In my article covering the rise of EBM in the non-specific ‘dark’ scene that exists somewhat outside the more longtime ones, I’d mentioned LIL DEATH and their skillful blend of clubby bass, witchy weirdness, and industrial-dance. This mix is a perfect example of that ideology, effortlessly linking Mr. Oizo to Blvck Ceiling to Xmal Deutschland and Dimmu Borgir. Few recent files (outside of Kahn‘s smouldering new cut, perhaps) are making my body move the way this one does.
There were quite a few topics and artists I’d like to have covered in that culture piece that I just didn’t have room to, one being this outsider scene’s embrace and incorporation of hip-hop—particularly in SALEM and White Ring but also including newer acts like Mothman and Valhall, whose latest edit is a mashup of their haunting “Reaping Time Finally” with Waka’s viciously screamed chorus on J-Lie’s “Throwin’ Money”. It’s probably the best thing since Sisters of Mercy toured with Public Enemy, and without the chore of having to listen to Andrew Eldritch talk. The Carpenter-esque synths combined with bellowed braggadocio fit perfectly together, making me wonder when rolling 808s are going to be overtaken by CS-80s.
Bestial Mouths‘ latest sonic excursions seem to be edging more into the bass-heavy side of things as well, most likely thanks to the producing skills of member Gustavo Aldana of WMX. “Hollowed”, off their new Sweating Tapes split with Deathday, still retains much of their noisy post-punk feel, but with a booming, lurching beat that’s still not strong enough to overpower Lynette’s grandly wailed vocals. It’s their remix for Mater Suspiria Vision‘s “Spiral Chamber” that shows just how much beastly fury can be unleashed from Aldana’s mind. Such a heavy revelation combined with their upcoming collaborative album with Night Slugs player Egyptrixx lends a metallic tang of excitement in the air for evil clubbing, as well as a solemn prayer to Peter Murphy’s DUI ticket to ensure we don’t get stuck with next-gen Cruxshadows.
On a rather more pop side, the beautiful Butterclock has just released a new single from her recent EP. It floats closer to electro than any of her previous work, but still packs plenty of charm. I typed that last sentence while staring across the coffee shop, and what I typed initially was “Your pinstripe hat makes me puke.” The job of barista should be one of dignity. Coffee is important—like a well-crafted mixtape, it should slide down easily but memorably, and with a minimum of pinstripes. Total Freedom‘s new mixfile for VERSUS TOKYO handles that action nicely, with all of the expected weirdness Ashland is known to provide condensed into an hour of mutant club… and when it comes to spending time in clubs, mutation is exactly what keeps a body moving. That’s the real secret of the ooze.
“Noise is dying. Punk’s been dead. The only rock’n’roll left is in your head.” – Sewn Leather, “No Names”
“Meet the new goths. Same as the old goths.” – The Who, “Won’t Go Goth Again”
Like a rather bedraggled and dusty phoenix, goth has rebirthed itself in a way that echoes its 30+ year history as well as explores new ground. Sometime in the mid-late ’00s, post-punk sounds from groups such as S.C.U.M and Kasms brought a darker edge to indie music that hadn’t been so visible in years. To younger ears with few accessible options for this kind of vibe, it was fascinating; to older ears longing for new takes on beloved ideas, it was a godsend. As the likes of Cold Cave, Light Asylum, and Zola Jesus helped redefine classic goth tropes, minimal wave enthusiasts WIERD and Veronica Vasicka were using their labels, parties, and love of classic sounds to attract new electronic producers with a taste for gloom as well as weekly crowds of cross-genre weirdos and trendsetters alike. Slowly an audience was built, partly from scratch—bringing in those drawn to the style and dark glamor of it all—and partly from those bored with the stale, established goth scene and looking for something familiar yet refreshing.
Around 2010, this New Dark Age went a poppier, reconceptualized route with darkwave-esque witchy sounds (the categorization of which has been articled to death) and parties like New York’s Pendu Disco, FILTH† and S!CK, where you were likely to hear just as much Britney as Salem, and White Ring might open for aarabMUZIK. In many ways, that first season of the witch seemed both a rejection and reclamation of goth: a queer-friendly, ADD blend of underground and trendy aesthetics, where Top 40 could be twisted into something bleak and new, a world with fewer barriers and a lot more fog. An aspect of witch house rarely mentioned is that, unlike the highly sexualized goth scene, it had a more asexual or even desexualized vibe to it as well—something perhaps emphasized by its classification as an “internet subculture”. The visual keys (a blend of high-fashion goth/punk, hip-hop tropes like gold chains and black New Era caps, touches of rave culture) were those of the younger, more technologically-obsessed consumer than the velvet-and-clove crowd—something that also made it feel more more finite and therefore more exciting for those involved (including myself). While a few bright young faces still exist today such as BLVCK CEILING, Crim3s and Bruxa, for the most part the witch scene has burnt itself out amongst a sea of symbols, lazy productions, and forgetting not to take itself seriously.
The wider influence it had (admitted or not) outside its limited sphere is still noticeable. Walk into any youth-catered mainstream store with the slightest veneer of ‘alternative’ on its name and you’re likely to find spike-covered jumpers, creepers, and upside-down cross sweaters sharing rack space with neon hoodies—a trend that peaked in high fashion (as well as the digital world) mid-2011 and continues to be absorbed, diluted and reformatted by mainstream, sub-mainstream and wholly underground brands alike. Both the visual and audio influence has been felt even more in a variety of sub-mainstream musicians, among them Purity Ring, Holy Other, and Grimes.
While bands who wear their goth-rock cards on their sleeves continue to spawn in new ways (I recommend checking out Sweating Tapes for a glimpse at some of the best), within the past few years there has been a shift toward a sort of new-school-via-old-school EBM revival. This is not the blasé cybergoth EBM that you’ll hear in ‘real’ goth clubs; these musicians are influenced more by the vibe of industrial punk, crafting stomping beats that lead as much to the moshpit as the dancefloor. Texas duo //TENSE// were perhaps the most noticeable of this new breed, and through them, a rising wake was left behind—brutal one-man acts like By Any Means Necessary, the rawness of Youth Code, and sleek after-dark soundtrackers like White Car. In terms of classic influence, these groups lie somewhere between the fetish-friendly industrialectro of ’90s-era Die Form, the oddball punk ad-libs of Nervous Gender, and the aggressive adjective of a young Skinny Puppy, and it’s notable that many of them have jettisoned the ideal of overproduced floor-fillers for DIY earkillers. Youth Code’s debut cassette was recorded live in their bedroom a week before their first show, lending it a bleak crunchiness that fits in perfectly with their grimy aesthetic, while By Any Means Necessary makes a point of recording entirely via hardware. Many of the OG witch acts have begun to follow suit as well: White Ring’s newer productions leave behind much of their hip-hop inspirations for more driving terror-beats, Fostercare has upgraded his original sound entirely, and ∆AIMON continue to produce ever-lusher, heavier productions. “I know there are people like us who love goth and industrial, but don’t really want to relate to a relatively stagnant genre,” said ∆AIMON’s Nancy Showers. “I think the aesthetic has always been cool because of its obscure nature, and there have always been people like us lurking in the shadows, waiting for it to re-emerge.”
“I was shocked when I started hearing this stuff again.“ Giallo Disco Records owner and producer Antoni Maiovvi says. “For me, it’s all part of a larger community who make weirdo dance records.” Musician and promoter Mike Textbeak, whose ties with the IRL goth scene are still bound closely, has a somewhat different take on the issue: “Once you have connected to something like Coil or Throbbing Gristle, it’s very hard to fill that space with anything else. Music like that is harsh and raw and true. It’s not fake or glamorous, and it’s not pretty by normal standards. It is beautiful, frightening, and real like life—like a car crash, an insect, a flower, the night sky. The point is that fans of classic industrial (similarly fans of old goth/post-punk) tend to hold this music almost religiously, and therefore it retains its importance in the underground. It seems harshly pristine to our irony-saturated modern culture. People want something new and different and real. They are digging for it and finding it. They are no longer forced to watch the same ten videos on MTV. People can now choose to listen to whatever challenging music they please—which is why so many people are.”
While many in the goth scene scorn techno, it’s oftentimes these sort of producers who achieve the most interesting and bleakest sounds while defying strict categorization. Labels like Blackest Ever Black and Downwards continually push new ideas that echo with the old evils while still evoking new wonders. The crisp, metallic post-punk techno of Silent Servant (aka Juan Mendez, of the sadly-departed Sandwell District) works just as well in a massive, high-end club as in some dank fog-shrouded basement. Dominick Fernow’s incorporation of his myriad influences into both Prurient and Vatican Shadow has been fascinating to watch (and listen to), while Powell’s disjointed techno brilliantly incorporates hacked-up No Wave.
With not one but a series of redefined templates and a growing list of interesting new faces, however you wish to define it, the term goth has lost quite a a lot of its social stigmata—not that most goths would care. While some scene-traditional goths have embraced the new class, most seem to remain unaware, bewildered or outright hateful. This has shifted somewhat in recent years with crossover groups like Bestial Mouths and Light Asylum attracting attention from both sides. Scene figureheads such as Douglas McCarthy of Nitzer Ebb has taken part in his wife Hazel’s esoteric Show Cave parties (a continuation of the even more bizarre White Slave Trade) which has brought a variety of new and old musicians and artists together, including Modern Witch, Genesis P-Orridge, and Chelsea Wolfe. Weekly nights like LIL DEATH meld witchy, industrialized sounds with club-friendly bass, while promoters like Pendu continue to combine dark fashion aesthetics with fittingly occult music. ” It’s the beat; that’s why goth finds itself at times in the mainstream,” says Pendu. “It will come to haunt all of our dreams soon. I’m excited to see where it leads us.”
Alongside his duties as an EB writer and editor, Daniel Jones is also the creator of the blog-brand Gucci Goth (now BlackBlackGold).
Photo: Zed Cutsinger
Rather than operate as a music news source, Electronic Beats operates more as a music information source. We want to share with you; we want you to know what we’re hearing, what’s reverberating through our cochleas and sending broader vibrations throughout our bodies, and by extension our audio-addled souls. Welcome to Editor’s Choice.
Daniel Jones (Contributing Editor)
Vessel – “Carele$$ Wi$pa (APErmx)”
While I’ve never been overly drawn to Vessel’s off-kilter rhythms, this is a solid and earwormy remix of George Michael‘s 1984 single—no sax, all sex.
Bestial Mouths – “Hollowed”
POWERFUL. It’s a pleasure to see Bestial Mouths gradually grow in scope and fame. “Hollowed”, which recently premiered on Vice, is a howling and merciless post-punk rager off their 12″ split with Deathday. That bad boy can be snagged from the always-entrancing Sweating Tapes.
Louise Brailey (Deputy Editor)
Otik – “Thugluv”
Remember when Boddika and Joy Orbison remodelled Tronco Tracks’ “Walk For Me” into “Swims” and suddenly a bunch of blokes in jaunty baseball caps were bro-dancing to vogue? This track pulls a similar trick: London-bred bass music that, for all its snap and flex, pins its payoff to a fierce “WERK ME!” sample. All eyes on the forthcoming Otik EP on Prism Tracks.
Azealia Banks – “Barely Legal” (The Strokes cover)
That’s the NME front cover in the bag, then.
Lisa Blanning (Online Editor)
Patrice & Friends – “Greeen Linez”
Patrice & Friends (aka Slackk) remixes Greeen Linez for a strangely appropriate meeting of the minds where juke and 80s-style boogie meet.
Moritz Gayard (Online Duty Editor)
Gut Nose – “Time Traveler”
Slow beats are better than weed: “Time Traveller” is a standout masterpiece from out of nowhere, taken from Gut Nose’s already sold-out debut tape eaT biskiT. If you run a label, I suggest you sign them.
Jonas Reinhardt – “Elimination Street”
Jonas Reinhardt is a trio which you might have stumbled over during last year’s omnipresence of Not Not Fun. But you should try this trip, which features some “I feel love” vibes with vocals by Meryl Press on top.
Walter W. Wacht (Social Media Manager)
AlunaGeorge – “Attracting Flies”
AlunaGeorge are finally (we first covered them in April of 2011) putting out their debut album Body Music on July 1, and their new single “Attracting Flies” is definitely not only luring for insects, but also for triggering my pop pleasure-zone.
The Portland trio’s dark and heavy dance music draws influences from several of our usual pleasures: the modern gothnicity of witch music, the grinding drops of dubstep, and the throbbing insistence of techno. Add a touch of screwed hip-hop and you have a gem of blackened sound that’s perfect for clubland seances.
Their latest LP VICTIMEYEZ, out digitally September 1 on MISHKA and in cassette form on Sweating Tapes in October, is packed with their trademark occultrave, both sensual and sinister. ‘Paperweight Pt. 1’ is our favorite track from the album, and (like our other favorite ‘Die At your Door‘) absolutely KILLS when you drop it at a party. Listen below to find out why.
(Note: some of the videos in this post are not available in Germany. You’ll figure it out. – Ed.)
With our normal Videodrome host Moritz engaged with more pressing business, it falls to me to deliver your A/V materials for the week. Sweet for you but extra work for this busy buff bro. That’s why I”ll be posting about whatever the video is while I do sick reps and curls and pound my quads, lats, and biceps into hard, deadly diamonds. Will you be my spotter? Be gentle…
1. Xiu Xiu – Born To Suffer
You might remember director Adriana Alba from her previous work with, for example, R. Stevie Moore and Gary War. Now she returns to direct the latest bit of pixellated pleasure from Xiu Xiu. Ughhh my pecs look so cool and sweaty.
2. Bestial Mouths – Live at HOLLOW Fundraiser
God I love these kids…almost as much as I like curling these irons and adding bulk to my gross weird body. If I’d been at this fundraiser for HOLLOW it would have been a disaster (for them) because everyone would just be touching my arms and begging me to lift them with a shrug and Michelle would feel bad for rejecting me.
3. Gucci Mane (feat. Jim Jones) – Kansas
I’ve been to Kansas and I don’t think it’s anything to make rap songs about. Shame on Gucci Mane.
4. Virgin Blood – Cupidity
Portland-based drone-pop project that will make fans of Grouper and U.S. Girls salivate. If you haven’t checked out (for free, if you want) her new album, I highly suggest you do. *flexes meaningfully + sexily*
5. Beth Jeans Houghton and The Hooves of Destiny – Dodecahedron
Off their upcoming Mute debut. Really nice to look at, and the fact that it’s called ‘Dodecahedron‘ makes me pretty damn happy.
6. Nightmare Fortress – Hang You On The Wall
My fave track of their Sweating Tapes EP Until The Air Runs Out. Goth done right; take it from the gothest jock in the gym #stretched1334tats #athleticboots
7. SpaceGhostPurrp – 4AD Sessions
Purrp’s claustrophobic beats, plenty of fog, and a dimly-lit gray void. Sounds like my room after work, only way less erotic.
8. Diva Dompe – Wanna Get To Know You
LA artists can pretty OD with all the woozy, blurry lo-fi videos, but when it comes to Dompe I usually forgive.
9. Skum Star – Untitled
This new project already made an appearance in yesterday’s Audioccult, but it’s really worth a second look (and listen!). And it’s long.
10. Mykki Blanco – Wavvy
This Brenmar-produced cut makes me want to go to bed! But not to sleep. Exercise your lower muscles with this one.