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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)




Thomas Nola and O Paradis: Supergroup Paradise

Posted by Aaron Detroit, August 4, 2009 04:00am | Post a Comment

Les Paradisiers
is a musical power-marriage between American underground musician, author, and film director Thomas Nola (et Son Orchestre) and Barcelona-based Mediterranean-Neo-folk artist Demian, aka O Paradis. The duo’s first aural offspring, More Tales From The Garden, was recently released on LP with Free Digital Download Card via Nola’s own Disques de Lapin imprint. The LP features a dozen dark, uneasy and psychedelic trips through Thomas and Demian’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.

Tales’ atmosphere is helped along by the fact that it was birthed into one being in two very separate places-- Demian’s parts were recorded in Barcelona and Thomas’s contributions were captured in Boston, MA. Therefore, the album is also a bilingual affair, split between American English and Peninsular Spanish.

However, much like O Paradis’s collaborative efforts with the now-defunct Austrian neo-cabaret act Novy Svet, Nola and Demian are actually a logical pairing. Both artists are popular among fans of the Neofolk genre but neither of them carry or are weighted-down by any of the problematic dogma that exists within it. The pair’s main respective projects seem to strive to weave new surreal worlds out of the pieces and tatters of this one, rather then anchoring their songs in a particular part of real world history. Where many of their peers’ albums are academic in nature, Nola and O Paradis’s output is usually looser and takes itself less seriously. Les Paradisiers doesn’t stop this trend. 

On a Nola-led tune, “Don’t Be Afraid of Paradise,” a near-standard neofolk arrangement of martial drumming and samples suddenly shifts and then glides into an Exotica-swing complete with a croaking bassline and the gentle call of:

“Where are you little birds of paradise?
Doesn’t the moon get bright?
Are you stuck to the ground,
Are you in flight?
Don’t be afraid of paradise.”

By the time the subtle-but-catchy synths kick-in a third of the way into the track, it’s hard to believe Nola isn’t trying to inspire at the very least a wry grin out of the listener, if not an actual laugh.
On “Oui Oui, Je Suis un Paradisier,” Nola dryly declares, “I think I’ll dye my ascot black.” That isn’t to say Les Paradisiers is all playfulness and no bite. There is a languid cover of Death In June’s “Runes and Men” with its purposefully queasy production and uneven harmonies. On “A Little Moonglow,” the bird calls and jungle sounds that seem so impish at the beginning of the album turn ominous and the bird of paradise’s “wings are clipped.” There are also darkly blissful moments, “The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady” has Velvet Underground and Nico-Haze with a vocal melody cribbed from Nick Cave’s “Into My Arms,” whilst the slinky rhythms and sleigh-bells of “Mirame Otra Vez” are accompanied by the closing chant of the album: “We are so happy, we’re already dead.” Paradise Here and Hereafter, indeed.

More Tales From The Garden LP (+Digital Download Card), as well as catalog tiltes by Thomas Nola et Son Orchetre and O Paradis are available now from Amoeba Hollywood.

Video: Les Paradisiers Album Trailer, featuring album outro track "Ornithophilia."



Amoeba Hollywood’s Goth/Industrial Section Featured New Releases:


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!

Black Sun Productions - Somwhere Between Desire & Despair CD [Torurette]
Awesome full-length new collaboration between
Black Sun Productions and Val Denham! Recorded live at the Transformer Festival, Biel, Switzerland, March 31, 2007!

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]



In Next Week, Amoeba Hollywood:

Sprung Aus Den Wolken - Dub & Die plus CD [Klanggalerie]
Originally released in 1981 as an untitled mini album, it was the first release by this German Avant-garde/Industrial 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.

Magas - Violent Arp
12" + Digital Download Code [Punch Records]
Transparent Red vinyl in special outfolder/cut cover. Limited edition of 333 hand-numbered copies. Violent Arp is exac
tly what the name implies. 6-song mini LP. Arp riffs, 808s and tough, surreal vocals with a hard rock sensibility. Dark ultra-minimal techno to vintage hard rock., Magas comes barreling toward you! Includes coupon for free mp3 download of entire album!


Still Fresh...

Nachtmahr - Alle Lust Will Ewigkeit CD [Trisol]
L'ame Immortelle mastermind Thomas Rainer's industrial project's new album.


Tor Lundvall
- Sleeping and Hiding Limited vinyl LP [Dais]
Dais is flawless! Not a bad release in the bunch! Dreamy bliss in the vein of Talk Talk’s later stuff and Slowdive’s Pygmalion.

Rome - Flowers fr
om Exile CD [Trisol]
Great New Full-Len
gth at DOMESTIC price!


Coming Up...

Der Blutharsch - Everything's Alright! LP [SOON!]
Clan Of Xymox - In Love We Trust
[August 18 2009]
Informatik - Arena [August 18 2009]
Death In June - Black Angel Live! Picture Disc LP+CDEP [September 8]
Psyclon Nine - We The Fallen [September 8, 2009]
Assemblage 23 - Spark (single) [September 22, 2009]
Suicide Commando - Die Motherfucker Die [September 22, 2009]