Amoeblog

Getting to Know...Xeno & Oaklander

Posted by Aaron Detroit, February 15, 2010 02:15pm | Post a Comment

In the tradition of the DIY Minimal Wave and Synthpop bands of the 1980's, Xeno & Oaklander make music with strict guidelines: no digital instruments or recording. The New York-based duo of Sean McBride (of the quite excellent synth-project Martial Canterel) and Liz Wendelbo implemented the exclusive use of analogue synthesizers, instruments and equipment to write and record their darkly brilliant debut full-length, Sentinelle (one of our 20 Dark Music albums of 2009,on the always-superb Wierd Records). Recently, I got the chance to have the band expand on these principles as they were preparing for a series of upcoming globe-trotting live dates in New York, Rotterdam and Paris. Please, get to know...Xeno & Oaklander.

Black Light District: First things first. Why is analogue better than digital?


Liz Wedelbo:
Analogue is immediate and raw. Sean McBride: It's alive -- a current which can be shaped in infinite ways. It's quite elemental, like fire.

BLD: Sentinelle is available on CD and LP, but being an exclusively analogue band in a digital age, do you prefer vinyl? Your presentation as a band seems pretty complete in sound, concept and artwork – so in the age of downloads and streaming, how important is the physical piece to you?


LW:
I'm fond of the weight of objects. SM: The physicality of vinyl has some earthly origin. LW: ...with traces, marks and scratches.

BLD: The press release for Sentinelle expresses that the album's laments of industrialization are meant to mirror our fast-evolving and totally isolating digital age. With this bleak message, what are you hoping to incite/inspire in your Xeno & Oaklanderlistener?

LW: I would wish to inspire a new form of rebellion. SM: and a return to a craft and community.

BLD: Sean, you've been credited as the founder of the current Minimal-Synth revival with your other current project, Martial Canterel – what led you to synthesizers as an instrument and chosen tool?

SM: My college had an electronic music lab with all sorts of esoteric analogue synths. This was absolutely inspiring and I owe much to the many nights spent there patching the Arp 2600 and the Serge modular creating a music I couldn't quite describe.

BLD: What musical artist was the ‘one’ that made you want to start your own project?

SM: It’s a particular methodology in music that inspired me, not a singular band.
LW: Mozart.

BLD: Do you feel an affinity with any other current 'Minimal-Synth' bands of the moment?

LW: There is a great community of like-minded musicians around the world, who have a similar approach to music. Here in the US, there's the Miami scene with bands such as Staccato du Mal, Opus Finis, Ronin and Nina Belief -- Miami is the darkest scene in contrast to the sunshine. On the west coast, there are new bands like Frank Alpine in LA, and Futility in Portland. Here in New York there's bands such as Sleep Museum and Epee du Bois -- seminal first wave Wierd artists who have been working in the genre with great rigor and dedication – and Led Er Est; also more recently Light Asylum, Figure Study, and Further Reductions.
SM: And outside of the US this affinity is felt strongly in the Ruhr Valley, Germany, such as our friends Dirk Klein of Silent Signals / Echo West, Andreas Sippel from Second Decay, the lads from Epic Dreams, Automelodi in Montreal, Frank (Just Frank) from Nice; too many to name here.

BLD: Sean, is there something separate or different from your work you are trying to achieve or communicate with Xeno & Oaklander and Martial Canterel?

SM: There are a lot of similarities with X&O and MC, however with MC there isn't the fine art of cooperation which exists in X&O, the counterpoint, the fusion of two hearts and two minds. MC is quite isolating, which figures heavily into many of the themes I deal with. Naturally, there is a greater immediacy as I can just turn on few step-sequencers, patch them into a synth and the song has started.

BLD: Liz, do you also work on music separately from Sean? When can we look forward to hearing this?

LW: I'm a visual artist, so when I'm not doing Xeno & Oaklander, I make films, books and take photos -- that is my solo project. I'm a punk at heart though -- I like the idea of community and being in a band is that for me. I'm fond of collaboration, and have released music with other artists, such as Staccato du Mal in Miami, the 'Xeno & Staccato' 7inch, or Epee du Bois and Martial Canterel with our 'Three to Forgotten' Cdr Music for Ruins.

BLD: Sentinelle has been described as a “cinematic” record. What films or directors would you say helped shape the album or your music in general? In what way?

LW: I've been making films for many years. It's a kind of cinema I refer to as 'Cold Cinema', which is based on similar principles as the music of Xeno & Oaklander: one take, all live effects, no post-production. So it only makes sense that our songs are visually charged. Japanese directors such as Teshigahara and Ozu were formative during the making of Sentinelle -- dehumanized urban experiences, arid landscapes and the recurring character of the lone wanderer. The sparse aesthetics combined with great attention to detail and texture of 50s and 60s Japanese cinema are affecting. There's always a slight sense of menace lurking beneath the surface, an uncanny sort of tension.


BLD: Being such a “cinematic” band, are you interested in scoring a film or -- the next step -- collaboratively producing one yourselves?

LW:
Sean has been scoring soundtracks for my films from the moment we met (one can see a few on our site). We've also shot the video for "Rendez-Vous d'Or" on super 8, which was cut by director Jimi Patterson. Soundtracks are a passion of ours, and ideas often come from specific fixations on a detail, such as the sound of the wind in Fellini movies, or the sound of a door closing in Teshigahara's Face of Another -- and recreating that feeling with the specific sounds of a filter on the Serge, tubes rattling in the Arp 2600, or two oscillators coming in and out of phase. A new series of short films is in the works.



BLD: How do you see Xeno & Oaklander evolving in the future? Are you firm on working within the confines of analogue synths or would you ever consider using or adding other instruments?

SM:
Certainly. The track "Another" features Liz playing live Indonesian percussion, Maracas, Flute, and I play trumpet -- my first instrument. With some of the soundtrack work I have done, I have incorporated non-synth instrumentation, such as using the voice to imitate raven song, drumming on an aluminum bread box, using SuperCollider to create 36 tone aleatoric clusters. Having said all of that, the synthesizer still affords us the greatest variability and breadth.

BLD: It took you nearly 3 years to release Sentinelle, can we expect a follow-up sooner?


SM:
We are already working on new material...

BLD: Excellent, so finally and just for fun, recommendations -- your guiltiest music/film pleasures?

LW:
Devil's Daughter
by Michele Soavi -- written by Dario Argento, a Horror film set in the provincial suburbs of Frankfurt, Germany, starring classic actor Herbert Lom and Kelly Curtis (Jamie Lee's Sister). Devils' Rain by Robert Feust -- a 'melt movie' set in a Western desert awash with sunlight starring Anton Lavey.
SM: Stuffy septuagenarian British Murder mysteries: Midsomer Murders, Inspector Morse, Lord Peter Wimsey (Edward Petherbridge), to name a few. For music I quite like smooth jazz and DC Go-Go.


Xeno & Oaklander's Sentinelle is available at Amoeba Hollywood on CD & LP. Also check out other great new Minimal Wave and Synthpop releases; Frank Alpine Night Tripper  7",  Led Er Est LP, Cold Cave Love Comes Close CD/LP and Death Comes Close 12" and The Minimal Wave Tapes, Vol. One -- all filed in the always awesome Goth/Industrial section.

Black Light District's Best Dark Music Albums of The '00's

Posted by Aaron Detroit, December 23, 2009 12:45pm | Post a Comment
Last week, I posted Black Light District's year-end best of list, which was a breeze to compile compared to reviewing the last 10 years for this week's post -- the 20 Best Dark Music Albums of The Decade. I had to whittle away many great titles, but I believe these records have proven to be or will prove to be dark classics for years to come. See ya next year, kids...

1. Coil – The Ape of Naples / The New Backwards (2005/08)


John Balance’s passing was one of the great tragedies in the music world this past decade. It was especially sad to see one of his greatest works be released posthumously. The recordings on The Ape of Naples and its (later-released) sister album, The New Backwards (collected together in the limited Ape of Naples LP box set), date back as far as 1993 when the band was briefly signed to Trent Reznor’s Nothing label, but went unfinished until 2004 when the group returned to the abandoned material for their new album. Gorgeous Funeral-Folk, third-eye electronics and captured transmissions from beyond The Threshold.

Listen: Coil "Fire of the Mind"




2. Diamanda Galas – Defixiones, Will and Testament (2003)

Diamanda has been scaring and thrilling me since I was a teenager and first heard the double-miked insanity that is Plague Mass
. Her wrath is visceral and unrelenting, and is not something I would like to incur. EVER. She once referred to her voice as “an instrument of inspiration for my friends, and a tool of torture and destruction to my enemies.” And that is exactly how she uses it on Defixiones, Will and Testament -- which not only stands as one of the best albums of the decade, but also as one of Diamanda’s ultimate masterpieces. This album is meant to give voice to those lives lost in the Armenian, Assyrian, and Anatolian Greek genocides which occurred between 1914 and 1923 via Galas’ other-worldy four-octave voice, piano, tape and minimal electronics. Harrowing, devastating, emotionally eructative, yet scholarly focused. The album, for its weight, intensity and scope, has no peers. 

                                                                  Listen: Diamanda Galas "Holokoftoma"





3. Nový Svět - Chappaqua (2001)

The now-defunct Austrian duo, Novy Svet, while largely associated with the Neofolk genre in the early part of this decade, was a truly singular band. Their post-industrial sound included bits of wonky lounge, Mediterranean folk, minimal wave, electro, krautrock, dark ambient and jazz. Their lyrics are sung in everything from English, Spanish, and German to Italian, French and even Esperanto. One’s inability to pin the duo down to one genre is a testament to their unique genius. While nearly any one of their 11 full-length albums could have made this list, Chappaqua is the first stand-out amongst their many stand-outs. It is the early masterpiece in their catalog for its unnervingly sinister ambience and dark romanticism -- sounding like nothing else in the year 2001, before, or after. 
                                                                 
                                                                  Listen: Nový Svět "En Posesion De Te"




4. The Knife - Silent Shout (2005)

Music for a David Lynch film that doesn’t exist but should from weirdo Swedish Brother/Sister Duo.
The Dreaming-style weirdly-pitched and occasional Eastern scale vocals, memorable melodies, bizarre story-telling and general eerie atmosphere make this one of the darkly defining and classic albums of the decade.

Listen: The Knife "One Hit" 






5. Subtonix – Tarantism (2002)

Subtonix was one of the only Deathrock bands to do it right this decade. They reclaimed the flame and moved the genre forward. Combining elements of Christian Death, X-Ray Spex, Fuzzbox and feminism with a Gothic Horror aesthetic at now- legendarily frenzied live shows, this is the one LP they left us with and it holds up with the classics from the original 1980’s Deathrock-wave.


Listen: Subtonix "Berlin 1930"




6. Cold CaveLove Comes Close (2009)


Like Subtonix were to Deathrock, Cold Cave is to Synthpop. Love Comes Close is an infectious slab of 9 inspired Darkwave and Synthpop anthems. Cold Cave couldn't have timed their debut any better either, with Synthpop bound for a big comeback with the release of BBC's stellar documentary Synth Britannia. Read my review of
Love Comes Close from earlier this year here.

                          Listen: Cold Cave "Heaven Was Full"






7. The Vanishing – Still Lifes Are Failing (2004)

After Subtonix, saxophonist/vocalist Jessie Evans (then Jessie Trashed) moved on to the more synth-heavy band, The Vanishing. Starting out with a relatively traditional Deathrock-vibe, the group eventually evolved into a more hypnotic dark electro/industrial sound, which can be found on the intense Still Lifes Are Failing. A record very much of its environment, Still Lifes funnels all the fear, war, excess and confusion of the last decade into a tight yet frenetic set that moves from the paranoid to the celebratory and back in under an hour. One of the best live bands of the decade finally was able to distill some of what made them so special live into a studio record. 

                                                                 Listen: The Vanishing "Still Lifes"






8. Wolves in The Throne Room – Diadems of 12 Stars (2006)

Epic, transcendental Black Metal that set the new bar. Folk, Goth, Shoegaze and Blackened Metal collide on the debut (and still the band's best as a whole) from the Olympia, Washington forest-dwellers. As important to American Metal’s evolution as Weakling’s Dead As Dreams.

Listen: Wolves In The Throne Room "(A Shimmering Radiance) Diadem of 12 Stars" PART 1
                                                                 
                                                                 PART 2




9. Rome – Masse Me
nsch Material (2008)

Honestly, any one of Rome’s records could have made this list, but I do believe Masse Mensch Material is the strongest of
masterstrokes from this young yet wonderfully prolific “Chanson Noir” collective. Rome built its foundation on Neofolk but has brazenly forged its own path, consistently improving and evolving on each consecutive release. They came out of nowhere and knocked all the hapless hushed neo-strummers on their asses and then kicked them into the dirt. The band further evolved on their 2009 release, Flowers From Exile (#7 0f 2009), adding poppier melodies and expanded instrumentation such as flamenco guitar to their soundscape. This definitely made Mensch the closing of the first chapter in the Rome story, and also effectively made it the band’s strongest effort as a ‘post-Industrial’ or ‘Neofolk’ outfit. Also, none of frontman Jerome Reuter’s peers can compete with his classic gothic tenor. 
                                                                
Listen: Rome "Der Brandtaucher"




10. Ruby Throat – The Ventriloquist (2007)

Stellar debut from Katiejane Garside's Folk-Noir project with guitarist Chris Wittingham. Ethereal pyscho-sexual musings to stark transgressive murder-balladry to sixteen-minute-long Apocalyptic/Psychedelic folk tracks. An amazing new peak for Garside, an already consistently powerful artist.


Listen: Ruby Throat "Lie To Me"




11.  Weakling - Dead As Dreams (2000)


Listen: Weakling "Cut Their Grain And Place Fire Therein" PART 1
                             
PART 2











12. Der Blutharsch - When Did Wonderland End? (2005)


Listen: Der Blutharsch "So Bring Your Iron Rain Down"









13. Bain Wolfkind – Music For Lovers & Gangsters (2005)


Listen: Bain Wolfkind "I Only Get Turned On..."

 









14. Ludicra – Hollow Psalms (2002)
 
Listen: Ludicra "The Final Lamentation"





 






15.  Piano Magic – Disaffected (2005)


Listen: Piano Magic "Night Of The Hunter"














16. Turn Pale – Kill The Lights! (2003)


Listen: Turn Pale "Lights Melt Away"

 












17. Cult of Youth – A Stick to Bind, A Seed To Grow (2008)


Listen: Cult of Youth "Torch of Man"


 










18. The Gault - Even As All Before Us (2004)


Listen: The Gault "Bright White Blind"

 












19. Spiritual Front - Armageddon Gigolo (2005)


Listen: Spiritual Front "Love Through Vaseline"














20. Tor Lundvall - Sleeping And Hiding (2009) 


Listen: Tor Lundvall "Falling Trees"











Honorable Mentions:

Nachtmystium – Instinct: Decay
(2006)

Derniere Volonte – Devant Le Miroir (2006)

Crebain – Night of Stormcrow (2003)

Of The Wand and The Moon - Sonnenheim (2005)
 
Pest - Ad Se Ipsum (2002)




Dais Records Unearths COUM Transmissions

Posted by Aaron Detroit, August 11, 2009 04:00am | Post a Comment

Bicoastal boutique label Dais Records --founded in 2007 by Gibby Miller in L.A. and Ryan Martin in Brooklyn -- has, in its brief history, quickly amassed (with no signs of stopping) an impressive back-catalog of instantly classic releases by artists on the obscure and dark end of the spectrum. The label’s roster of quality limited vinyl pressings includes albums by Cult of Youth and Tor Lundvall as well as the sought-after Cold Cave 12”, The Trees Grew Emotions and Died.  The label has also developed a trusted working relationship with Genesis Breyer P-Orridge which has resulted in the vinyl release of Psychic TV’s recent full-length, Mr. Alien Brain vs. The Skinwalkers, and a haunting, previously unreleased 1968(!) archival recording from P-Orridge entitled Early Worm (now out of print).  

A third upcoming team-up between P-Orridge and Dais is another archival release, entitled The Sound of Porridge Bubbling by the infamous COUM Transmissions. Its release will mark the first time most will hear COUM Transmissions, a transgressive performance art collective and band founded, in part, by P-Orridge in 1967 (whose detailed story can be read in a 1999 illustrated biiography entitled Wreckers of Civilisation by Simon Ford). By the time Sound was recorded in 1971 its members also included Cosey Fanni-Tutti and, by 1976, eventually evolved into the seminal and forever holy/unholy Throbbing Gristle.
 
The recordings went unreleased until now due to the rapid activity of the collective pushing them off as a priority.  However, now that the seal on the vault has been cracked, further COUM archive releases via Dais are also in the works .

The Sound of Porridge Bubbling (complete with  liner notes by Genesis!) will be available very soon from Amoeba Hollywood. The Hollywood store has secured several copies of this already sold-out and landmark release and will have them on hand as soon as the label gets them from the plant!
 
Other Current Dais Records Releases In Stock, Amoeba Hollywood:

Tor Lundvall - Sleeping and Hiding
Dreamy bliss in the vein of Talk Talk’s later stuff and Slowdive’s Pygmalion.

Awen - The Bells Before Dawn
American Dark Ambient/Neofolk.

Psychic TV - Mr. Alien Brain vs. The Skinwalkers
Excellent 2008 return of Genesis P-Orridge and company.

Cult of Youth - A Stick to Bind, A Seed To Grow
One of the ten essential dark music releases of 2008!

 

Amoeba Hollywood’s Goth/Industrial Section Featured New Releases Week of 8/11:



Sprung Aus Den Wolken -
Dub & Die plus CD [Klanggalerie]
Originally released in 1981 as an untitled mini album, this was the first release by the German Avant-garde/Industrial/Post-Puink group that was once a member of the "Geniale Dilettanten" movement. Like a more structured early Einstürzende Neubauten. Expanded deluxe release with a set of bonus tracks.

Les Paradisiers – More Tales From The Garden
LP + Digital Download [Disques de Lapin]
Thomas Nola
and O Paradis collaboration! Dark, uneasy and psychedelic trips through the duo’s exotic and anachronous universe, where humid locales not only house jungle birds and cats, but also early 20th Century European speakeasies hosting American Vaudeville and Spanish Cabaret acts with 1980’s Goth sensibilities.



In Next Week, Amoeba Hollywood:

Clan Of Xymox - In Love We Trust CD [Metropolis]
The classic darkk-wave band celebrates its 25th anniversary with the release of a brand new studio album!

also in next week...
Informatik - Arena CD [Metropolis]

Still Fresh...

Nachtmahr - Alle Lust Will Ewigkeit CD [Trisol]
L'ame Immortelle mastermind Thomas Rainer's industrial project's new album.
 
Cold Cave - Love Comes Close LP/CD [Heartworm]
Brilliant scourged synthpop with heavy currents of Joy Division / New Order in its veins. "Supergroup" featuring Wes Eisold (Give Up The Ghost, Some Girls), Dominick Fernow (Prurient) and Caralee McElroy (Xiu Xiu).

6Comm - Like Stukas Angels Fall: Retrospect 1984 -1990 CD [Kenaz]
Re-recorded album of classic tracks featuring songs from the early 6Comm period and also a few tracks from his previous work in Death in June. Electro - Folk - Classical- Martial- Experimental -- 16 great songs, including new versions of "Torture Garden" and "Carousel" with new vocal sections. Nice gold foil blocked Digipak!

Jessie Evans -
Is It Fire? LIMITED  LP/CD [Fantomette]
Former Subtonix/The Vanishing/Autonervous member finally goes solo. Features appearances by Budgie (Siouxsie & The Banshees, The Creatures) and Toby Dammit (Swans, Iggy Pop).


Coming Up...

Der Blutharsch - Everything is Alright! LP [SOON!]
Death In June - Black Angel Live! Picture Disc LP+CDEP [September 8]
Black Tape For A Blue Girl – 10 Neurotics CD featuring Brian Viglione of The Dresden Dolls [September 22]