Tag Archives: synth

Best of 2016

‘ello all. It’s certainly been a while. 2016 has been a very challenging year for many and myself included. Poor health and stress of my day job had certainly not made life easy. But enough excuses and on to the music!

I’d like to begin by thanking all the wonderful Djs over at Communion After Dark for being my primary source of new music for this past year. Due to my local scene severely lacking and causing me great distress, like many children of the internet age, I soon found relief for my condition by spending many hours pouring over alternative music podcasts on mixcloud.com. Rated number one on Mixcloud, Communion After Dark provides a wide variety of music for those darkly inclined hosted by some of the funniest people I’ve ever heard. So, thank you so much guys for making 2016 just a little less bleak.

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2016 saw an unexpected but an incredibly necessary revival of Industrial music. While Skinny Puppy, Nine Inch Nails and many others old timers in the scene hadn’t stopped producing music since their inception, new blood and a new audience was desperately needed in the scene. I’m well aware that 3Teeth had launched their debut album back in 2014 but it wasn’t till 2016 when they were invited to tour with Tool that they become the band on everyone’s radar. Unfortunately they have not yet planned to tour where I live but I am holding my breath in anticipation.

Since everyone already knows the debut album by heart, here’s something fresh from their Soundcloud.

IAMX – “Everything Is Burning” Metanoia Addendumsmokeheadcover-1024x1024

IAMX have become practically mainstream amoung the alternative crowd but that does not make the music or the band any less genius. They need very little introduction or explanation. I had the privilege of seeing them live for the 4th time this year and nothing can compare. Chris Corner writes truly unique visceral unbelievable music.

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Daniel Graves, more well known as Aesthetic Perfection is a true workaholic and never stops making something new. While there is no word on when he plans to release his new album, we have been getting teased with tracks like LAX and Love Like Lies. I can’t wait for what Daniel will think of next.

Mr. Kitty – I Hope You Fall Aparta0439911568_16

I’ve been a huge fan of Mr. Kitty since 2012. His soft synth beats and ethereal vocals call out to the jaded millennial generation who have seen the accomplishments of our predecessors and have decided there’s really no hope but nihilism and music. In 2016 he released the “-+ [EP]” and currently a new single now that’s he’s joined the label Negative Gain. I can’t wait for more. ❤

Victor Love ft. KMFDM – Bitchcrafta3194347266_16

Thanks to Communion After Dark and absolutely every alternative DJ for playing this as it’s serious earworm, but the good kind. The album overall is ok though it’s a tad repetitive.

Hands Off Gretel – Be Minea1893993551_16

I cannot thank my favourite Youtuber Dorian enough for introducing me to this band. I also absolutely adore strong gritty female vocals. As someone who grew up listening to The Distillers, Hole and QueenAdreena, and many many 90s riot grrrrrl bands, this is Riot Grrrl reinvented and brought into 2016! I cannot get enough of them!

Neon Midnight – Retribution3acee51162997f9d6897fe1ffb070770e01dc00dIt’s very tough to assign Neon Midnight a genre. Influenced by 90s grudge bands and gothic sources alike, majority of the songs are rather simple vocals and guitar. While it’s hard to musically categorize, the lyrics are truly impactful and resonate in one’s mind for days. Just give it a try. “Break Me” is my absolutely favoruite song and it speaks to me on a deeply personal level.

 

Nine Inch Nails – Not The Actual Eventsnot_the_actual_events

Of course who could’ve missed the biggest Christmas present of all this year and that’s the new NIN with Trent and Atticus Ross continuing their ongoing musical relationship. Listen for yourself and make up your own mind. I like that it’s more dark and gritty like the earlier NIN I hold so close to my heart.

Strvngers –  Strvngersa3959448815_16

Now with THIS, I’ve certainly saved the best for last. Strvngers is a band which I’ve discovered completely by accident sometime in November and became instantly obsessed with. If I had to choose a favourite album of 2016 it would have to be this. I’ve played it over and over so many times that I now hear the lyrics in my dreams. Heck, I could write an entire album review post singing this band praises. Now, I must caution you, as with much synth darkpop, you’ll either love it or hate it. That being said, it really is the perfect soundtrack to 2016. At first they reminded me of The Sounds with their 80s throwback sound. But, uniquely to them, having synthy upbeat melodies does not mask the dark desperation of the lyrics which might come across as a bit emo but then again 2016 has been a very dark year after all; and is it not the job of art to reflect the current times? The album tells a story about the rise and fall of a young relationship. Very few albums these days have such a cohesive bold story arc which transitions perfectly between each track. They speak very clearly to our current jilted generation who grew up on video games and empty promises. It’s no surprise they share the same record label, Negative Gain as Mr. Kitty whose music also very much taps into this aesthetic. A true gem amoung the coal. A+

Disclaimer. All music belongs to the artists. I tried to link directly to sources like Bandcamp where you can pre-listen and download to your heart’s content. I own nothing.


Clan of Xymox / NamNamBulu

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As the time approached 7 o’clock, the time stated on the ticket as the beginning of the concert, I could only see about 10 people lined up outside the venue. This worried me. I did not know just how well known the goth giants Clan of Xymox were in Russia and was hoping the group didn’t get dissapointed by a low audience turn-out. Luckily I was soon proved wrong.

The opening band was a Russian group called Yulia Crow (Юлия Кроу). The band consisted of a drummer, a bassists, two guitarists and the lead singer, Yulia Crow. Wearing a white T-shirt dress, a fluffy angel halo, ballet shoes and bloody eye makeup, her style was rather reminiscent of asylum Emily Autumn, or early grunge Courtney Love. Yulia had quite a stage presense with her firey eyes and lurching movements which made her particularly hard to photograph. What I found to be quite distracting was the over usage of props, ranging from a plastic skull, to a fake prison chain, to a noose, to a skeleton parrot. It seemed as though Yulia had raided the Halloween prop store and left the shop empty. The songs ranged from themes about death, the afterlife, and sexual themes. Stylistically they didn’t sound all that interesting. Luckily my attention was drawn to the second guitarist who was dressed in drag and fully made up. He looked like a cute girly goth angel, which is a very rare in Russia, so it was a pleasant sight. Overall Yulia Crow had left quite an impression on me and it wasn’t entirely a good one.

 

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The opener for Clan of Xymox, as had been advertised on the ticket were NamNamBulu. I had come across their music when I was doing research into EBM bands prior to attending Infest and I was looking forward to dance.  I was quite surprised that t a crowd of people had already filled the room and were quite making quite a welcoming atmosphere. I had no idea that Namnambulu have been around since the year I was born so I expected a spectacular show from the seasoned musicians. NamNamBulu had not been to Russia since 2004 or 2005 so it was a welcome sight for them to be received with such open arms. Henrik, the lead singer, delivered beautiful and powerful vocals alongside the body-moving beats. Tracks featured were played from most of the old albums, but mostly focused on songs from their 2003 album, “Distances.” I had not danced EBM for over a month so it was nice to pull shapes to the fast NNB songs. Overall the show was very soulful and touching, and the crowd threw their hands up and bobbed their heads. The Moscow synth loving community did not fail in showing their support. Namnambulu left the stage glowing and loved.

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With two opening bands, the anticipation had substatinally grown and the crowd was hungry for Clan of Xymox. The crowd erupted with biosterous applause once the band came on. They went on to play a selection of songs ranging from their 1985 debut album “Clan of Xymox,” to their most recent release of this year, “Matters Of Mind, Body & Soul.” Some of the songs that had stuck out in my memory as those to get the most crowd response were “Hail Marry,” “She’s Falling in Love,” “Emily” and “A Day.” The response to “A Day” was paticularly explosive! They were so loved by the crowd that they played 2 encoures! The first encoure included “Delete” as well as a Bananarama cover of “Venus,” to which I giggled quite a bit. The crowd chanted the name of the group, as well as yelling “MORE!” To this Xymox obliged and played one more song to close the night. It had been a truly successful night in celebration of goth culture and gothic music. The crowd and the bands had all enjoyed themselves and all in all it had been a very rewarding night.

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