It’s wild to think of how 2020 is literally half over – both from the perspective of how fast it went, and from the perspective of everything that has happened as is continuing to happen around us. We would traditionally be starting to take stock of what we’ve already heard and what releases are yet to be released, and start to develop a framework around how to discuss the year in terms of sounds and broader movements in Our Thing. This year is feeling pretty different though, and to be honest we’re still coming to grips with what a Covid-19 world at the cusp of social revolution looks like. Keep watching this spot as we try to get our heads around it and what for hints of what’s yet to come.

Linea Aspera

Linea Aspera

Linea Aspera, “Solar Flare”
Linea Aspera were succesful in their original run, but there’s a strong argument to be made that Alison Lewis and Ryan Ambridge’s work was even more influential during their inactive years, their template for modern darkwave being touched on by countless acts since. Naturally the news of their reactivation was a really big deal, and first taste of the the forthcoming second LP “Solar Flare” justifies that; distinct from Lewis’ countless other projects and even from their original material, this is the regal, atmospheric return that folks have been waiting for.

Okandi, “Dark Park│Breonna Taylor”
Former O Children vocalist Tobi O’Kandi’s return to music speaks to a pretty wide range of sounds withing the borders of dark music. May’s Devil I Know EP had both rangey cowboy sounds and fluttering dark wave, while new release BlackSquareCarePackage intriguingly explores on post-punk, minimal synth and hip hop across its four tracks. With each song named after a Black victim of police violence, the proceeds from the EP are being donated to Black Minds Matter UK who provide support and mental health resources for Black people in the UK.

Am Tierpark, “We’re Not Welcome”
Hey, weren’t we just saying yesterday that as much as we respect Claus Larsen for his pioneering dark electro releases, we also love it when he works in other styles? Case in point: the new single from Am Tierpark, his collab with John R. Mirland. It’s a classic synthpop jam with more than a little lick of Italo flavour, and we’re digging it.

Karger Traum, “Das Ende”
The throwback EBM and wave stylings of (still surprisingly American) Karger Traum won us over a couple of years back with their debut LP on DKA. The first taste of forthcoming follow-up III once again finds the duo making a virtue of minimalism, with a wormy bassline and ghostly reverb guiding Taylor McKenzie’s anxious vocals. This is a band who can be more economical than any Depression-era miser but still yield big dividends, and so we’re keen to hear the rest of what they’ve been crafting.

Chiasm feat. John Fryer, “Away”
A team-up between long-time Detroit Artist Chiasm (only a couple months and we’ll find out if she makes a return appearance on the next Vampire: Bloodlines game) and legendary producer John Fryer is something that makes more sense the more we think about it. This tune nicely combines the churning yet elegant patinas of sound and distortion Fryer’s brought to his Black Needle Noise Project with the rippling and drippy darkwave of Emileigh Rohn’s Chiasm. A portend of more collaborative work to come?

Big Time Kill, “Burn Out”
Sick new stuff from Boston industrial rock outfit Big Time Kill. The sound of “Burn Out” puts us in mind of some classic American coldwave in terms of its mechanized groove, although we’re also getting some very modern touches in the song’s punch samples and fluttery synths. It’s not easy to renovate such a classic wing of Our Thing, but Big Time Kill are showing a willingness to try new things on this number and it’s b-side “Devolver”. Keep an eye on these cats.