Monday, April 13, 2015

Dark Wave Briefs

"Full Metal" . . . right . . .

It seems these days I'm circling further and further afield of metal or even anything remotely associated with it.

In wrapping my head around the brilliant work of Chelsea Wolfe, I've begun listening to an iTunes Radio station based on her. It is one of the most remarkably eclectic stations I've ever heard, playing Nails as well as some clearly hipster-oriented dreck. But one thread that I've enjoyed out of it is the dark, synth-based stuff. If you've been paying any attention to this blog over the years, you would have noticed by now that I love the dark synth elements of the likes of Killing Joke and Theatre of Tragedy. So this, one more departure from metal, should not surprise you. I'm using the term "dark wave" because I've seen it in reference to bands like this, although I couldn't tell you how accurate that label is in any given case.

Austra: Feel It Break (2011)
4 out of 5 stars

My wife told me she had heard one of the songs by Austra somewhere, and she only partakes of the most mainstream of media. I figure it was either on an Apple commercial or a movie soundtrack somewhere. So maybe I lose all credibility by mentioning this, but I really enjoy it. Other genre names attached to this include synthpop and dreampop, so take that for what it's worth. A few of the songs have a brighter sound, but even at its brightest there's an undercurrent of darkness. And the "heavier" synth parts on tracks like "Darken Her Horse" and "The Beat and the Pulse" are pure joy for me. "The Villain" or "The Noise" could be Chelsea Wolfe tracks, although you won't find any guitars here. The female vocalist also employs a vaguely folksy style, akin in a way to many female-fronted doom bands.

Cold Cave: Love Comes Close (2009)
3.5 out of 5 stars

Cold Cave plays gothic-sounding, poppy, dance-friendly synth that leaves me torn. Several tracks find the parts of me that love synths and The Cure (like "Theme from Tomorrowland") while others leave me bewildered and vaguely disgusted ("Double Lives in Single Bed"). On balance, the good outweighs the bad.

oOoOO: Without Your Love (2013)
4 out of 5 stars

What a dumb name, oOoOO. I imagine it's pronounced like the noise that sitcom studio audiences make when something "sexy" happens. Regardless, the music is pretty rad. This one's also been called "witch house," whatever that means. I hear a Deftones vibe on a couple of tracks, and elsewhere I hear the Dust Brothers (Fight Club soundtrack), some very small dose of hip hop, intentional auto-tune effect, and throbbing. All around it sounds like vampire sex, but like Blade vampires, not Twilight ones.

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