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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)




Jessie Evans, The Vanishing Lady, Returns To California

Posted by Aaron Detroit, July 23, 2009 11:23am | Post a Comment
Greetings and Salutations!! Welcome to the inaugural post of Amoeba’s Black Light District, a new weekly(ish) blog where we shall traverse in the darker realms of the musical & subcultural universe (i.e. Death Rock, Industrial, Dark Ambient, Transgressive Fiction, Dark Wave, Apocalyptic Folk, Goth, Black Metal, B-Movies, Doom Disco, Synthpop, Ethereal Nu-Gaze, Neo-New Beat, Death-Twee, Infernal Drone and all manner of night-friendly sounds and darkly delights! *cue Evil Doctor laugh). Come forth, for we own the night!

This week, California’s prodigal dark queen,
Jessie Evans, jessie evans is it fire?returns for shows in San Francisco and Los Angeles to promote her debut solo LP, Is It Fire? (Fantomette Records). Jessie spent nearly a decade in the California Punk and Death-Rock scenes honing her chops singing and wailing James Chance-style on her trusty saxophone (as well as a few other instruments!) in bands like The Vanishing and the now rather legendary Subtonix.

The Vanishing relocated from San Francisco to Berlin in 2004 but split up soon after, leaving Jessie free for new ventures.
Autonervous, initially a solo project, blossomed into a collaborative project between Evans and Bettina Koster (of the '80s German band MALARIA!). The duo released an LP and toured in 2006. Autonervous marked a heavy shift in direction for Ms. Evans -- her songwriting became more sultry and less incendiary, her lyrics more minimal and focused. Also bubbling under the dancey beats was a new sense of joy. Egads! Her grimace was turning into a smile!

On Is It Fire? that smile has turned into full-on laughte
r, and audibly s
o! It’s not an evil-kind of laughter either, on the interlude track “Micheladas,” Evans can be heard clinking glasses and laughing joyously. The album is indeed a celebration of dark glamour, love and sexuality, from the daring come-on of "Scientist of Love" and the House-y statement of intent, “Let Me On,” on to the horn-y swing of the Autonervous re-take “Golden Snake” and the dark and dreamy sway of “Black Sand” with its chant of “It’s time to get into your body.”

Evans didn’t party completely alone though; in fact, she brought in some heavy-hitters, literally. Both
Toby Dammit (Swans, Iggy Pop), and Budgie (Siouxsie & The Banshees) share time behind the drum-kit on the album. Evans’ arrangements focus heavily on beat and rhythm, which adds greatly to the primal and sexual mood of the album, whilst Budgie ‘s presence definitely lends to some Creatures-esque moments. Also under Evans' employ is horn-blower Martin Wenk (Calexico), and an International Children’s choir. This lady throws one crazy shindig!

Half of Is It Fire? was recorded at home in Berlin while the other half was recorded in Jessie’s newest beloved city, Tijuana (Evans pays tribute en Español on 3 tracks). Evans’ ridiculously long list of credible contributors gets longer with production and mixing duties handled by Thomas Stern (Einstürzende Neubauten, Crime and The City Solution) in Berlin and Pepe Mogt (Nortec Collective) in Tijuana.

Regardless of its more famous contributors, Is It Fire? at the end of the day is still Jessie’s party. Her vocals are steamy, not screamy, and her saxophone is booty-shakin’, not siren-screechin’. Is It Fire? stands (so far) as Evans’ crown jewel in an already stellar back-catalog.





Jessie Evans is bringing the Fire party (with Toby Dammit in-tow!) to the Eagle Tavern in San Francisco tonight and to Los Angeles’ Silver Factory Studios on Friday. Don’t forget to bring your party-hat (and/or mask) and dancing shoes!

LIMITED copies on CD and LP of Is It Fire? will hopefully be on the shelves by next week at both Amoeba SF and Amoeba Hollywood!


Also next week, Amoeba Hollywood should be getting very limited copies of Cold Cave’s debut LP Love Comes Close. Look for a review of that right here next week, but consensus around the Hollywood Store for those that have heard the LP is that it’s a heavy contender for Album Of The Year.


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

Rome - Flowers from Exile CD [Trisol]
Great New Full-Length at DOMESTIC price!

Les Paradisiers - More Tales From The Garden LIMITED vinyl LP + MP3 card [Disques De Lapin]
Awesome full-length new collaboration between Thomas Nola and O Paradis! Swinging dark cabaret!

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.

Death In June - Braun Buch Zwei CD [Neroz]
(Digitally remastered edition was the bonus CD accompanying the 20th Anniversary Stone Circle Edition of DIJ’s seminal Brown Book album issued in 2007, and contains 7 songs from the original album coupled with 7 remixed, re-recorded and rare versions of the remaining songs. Basically, it’s Brown Book II. The completely recycled paper booklet and 'Repak' is brown with black 'Ultra Coated' images and runes featuring never-before-seen photos from the period.)

Dense Vision Shrine - Unwinding The Inside LIMITED CD [r.a.p.]

Njurmannen - Terror in The Dollhouse [Old Europa Cafe]

Naevus - Truffles of Love (Remastered Reissue) [Old Europa Cafe]


In Next Week, Amoeba Hollywood:

Nachtmahr - Alle Lust Will Ewigkeit CD [Trisol]

Cold Cave -
Love Comes Close LP [Heartworm/Insound] (Limited Copies on This!)

We.Got.this.Far -
Bluntforcevolume CD [Spiral Chords]


Coming Soon:

New Minimal Wave Titles!

Hot Used Section Tip: Amoeba Hollywood has a few copies of the excellent Rhino 4-Disc box set A Life Less Lived-- full of goodies by The Cure, Siouxsie, Sisters of Mercy, et al. 3 CDs of 53 Goth Essentials and 12 iconic Goth videos on DVD packaged with an extensive book in a faux-leather lace-up slipcase! Used for only $29.99 !