With Verboden and a big slate of recent shows now past, we’ve got some breathing room to start looking over the general landscape of 2023 and consider the direction the year is taking. No broad themes have emerged yet that we can see, although a few we’ve identified remain in full swing – the renewed interest in 90’s pop-trance, the French darkwave movement, and a return to DIY rough and ready North American EBM to name a few. This is all of course from our perspective up here in Vancouver, removed from what might be going on in your city, country or continent. Have you noticed any sounds or ideas taking shape we should be up on? Give us a shout here in the comments!
Harsh Symmetry, “Glass Tears”
With a slew of upcoming festival dates (including one happening today as of this post at WGT), Sacramento’s Harsh Symmetry very much seems on the come-up after last year’s Display Model LP began to turn some heads. Tunes like new single “Glass Tears” do a good job of showcasing why there’s real interest in Julian Sharwarko’s updating of classic coldwave sounds, with its blend of iciness, melody, and gloom.
Camlann feat. Vic Rippa, “This World Is Ugly (Gegen Mann Remix)”
We were feeling Indonesian duo Camlann’s previous single for Russia’s Oberwave Records “Your Death is My Glory”, but damn this remix by label stalwarts Gegen Mann is on some other shit. For one thing the unearthly quality of the manipulated vocals paired with a minimal electro-darkwave instrumental is pretty tasty. Then you get Vic Rippa punching in with a full-on 90s Eurodance rap that had us hooked. Unexpected and very welcome stuff that has us fully paying attention for what comes next.
A very nice slice of North American darkwave from NOIR, the project of Athan Maroulis (Spahn Ranch, Black Tape for a Blue Girl) and Eric Gustafson (Adoration Destroyed). What fallen captures is a sound and style that few acts of the modern era working in the genre currently are mining – that specific vocal forward mixture of guitars and electronics that eschewed gothic excess in favour of smooth and confident club appeal. The single is a nice value proposition as well with excellent remixes from Paradox Obscur, Silver Walks and a lovely acoustic rendition of the Psychedelic Furs’ “Love My Way”.
Beborn Beton, “Burning Gasoline (NNHMN remix)”
“Burning Gasoline” was a standout on Beborn Beton’s last full-length LP, this years Darkness Falls Again; a track that had a powerful environmental feel and the modern synthpop chops and production that has been so much a part of the venerable German act’s appeal. Releasing it as a single seems like a no-brainer, and while we enjoy all the mixes (like the very different take by Cryo) we were most drawn to the version by Berlin electro-darkewavers NNHMN. There’s something about the contrast between Beborn vocalist Stefan Netschio’s rich voice and the funky groove of the instrumental that just hits right. Coincidentally both acts will be sharing the stage at Terminus at the end of July, a rare opportunity for North American audiences indeed.
We were impressed with the way Portland’s Temple subtly blended the core elements of deathrock and trad goth rock on their first EPs, and are keen to see how they maintain that balance on forthcoming first LP Submission. If tracks like this one are anything to go on, they’re more than up to the task, delivering both propulsion and atmosphere.
Alex Reed, “Hooked”
This is a bit of a cheat, but we’ve been so entranced by Alex Reed’s (Seeming) version of Seabound classic “Hooked” for the past couple of years that we have to plug it here, now that it’s out from behind the Patreon paywall and appearing as part of Reed’s Born In Black. A compilation of reinterpretations of goth classics originally selected by patrons, it’s a testament to the way Reed is able to transpose both familiar and unexpected elements of songs we all know like the backs of our hands to new contexts, like the shimmering shoegaze rapture of this piece.