vrijdag 20 december 2019

Syrenomelia: The drunk rural constable at the local pub.

Recently we got acquainted with Syrenomelia, the project of the Brussels-based Wim Lankriet, via the single A Rose Shattered. Since promoting local talent remains the main objective of Dark Entries, we immediately contacted him for a more extensive introduction.

DE: Before Syrenomelia you were musically active under the name Magdalena Solis, which was introduced to me by my colleague Peter De Koning, who described this as sublime. Is Syrenomelia a continuation of this, or do both projects continue to exist independently?

WL: Magdalena Solis came to a definite termination in 2013. At that time I needed something different, and started experimenting with piano and soundscapes. But I remained nostalgic for the guitar sound of Magdalena Solis. So, for some time the embryonic Syrenomelia had two faces: ambient piano vs alternative rock. But in the end I always enjoy myself the most doing loud guitar music. That’s what I prefer to listen to, so that is ultimately always the best choice for me. So in certain aspects Syrenomelia is indeed a continuation of Magdalena Solis.

DE: A Rose Shattered is your second single after Weight Of A Beautiful Mind, are there already solid plans for a first full-length album?

WL: The next step is a 4-track EP. I actually find it quite interesting and exciting for now to just release singles and EPs. My creative phases usually consist of 4-5 songs in which I see true potential. Currently I’m doing auto release so I put my own money in production, promotion etc... A full-length... to do this professionally and get the most out of it, I don't know if I could handle this financially and logistically. I would need a label for that.

DE: There is a common thread in the songs on your new single, the title track is based on the English Mary Bell, the other track "Like The World Outside" is more generally about the atrocities that children are capable of. Purely out of sociological interest, or can we state that a child trauma is at the root of this?

WL: The title track was only inspired by Mary Bell in the beginning, and rather briefly: about an aging prostitute with perverse specialisations, in which she is surpassed by her daughter. When I spoke to a friend about these lyrics, she started to talk about her mother, and about her own psychological problems and self-harm, due to abuse during her childhood. Then I largely rewrote the text, based on what she told me, and also on the relationship with my own mother.
The background of Like the World Outside is the rural village where I spent most of my childhood. Lots of wanton children and violence, air guns, home-made weapons, torture of animals, all sorts of abuses... There was no police, only a rural constable who was drunk at the local pub all day. So young people just did as they pleased, with all kinds of sad and tragic consequences.

DE: Hailing from Menen in West Flanders, you settled in Brussels. Did you experience the move from the provincial area to the anonymity of the big city as a cultural shock?

WL: No not at all. The area between Menen and Poperinge is quite heavy and violent. Studying and going out in Ghent and Brussels felt much more "civilised". And also, since my childhood I have been fascinated by androgyny, bisexuality, crossdressing, the sort of things you better keep to yourself in rural and provincial environments. So my student life in the city was a huge liberation, an environment where I could be more myself and where I met more like-minded souls. It gave me the feeling: now my life can finally begin.

DE: How long have you been living in Brussels, and how do you like it there? It is a city that is often portrayed in a very negative way, especially by people who do not live there themselves. Are they right or not?

WL: I have been living in Brussels for twenty years and I quite like it. Of course it largely depends on the neighbourhood you live in. I live in Sint-Gillis, on the border with Ixelles, and there it’s quite cool and nice. But half a kilometre down to the Gare du Midi it’s a completely different world. I love Brussels but I don't really benefit from the city. I prefer to be at home to (obsessively) work on my project :) I feel best in my own creative universe and in general avoid contact with the outside world.

DE: Musically you tap from different kegs: you know how to merge indie, gothic and metal into a unique sound. I suppose your influences are very diverse, which artists have left a mark on you as a musician?

WL: I have always been eclectic and curious, pop, rock, world music, experimental etc ... I can find interesting and qualitative elements in various styles. The last two years I listened a lot to music from the 80s and 90s. Alice In Chains was the main influence ... their guitar sound, dark atmosphere and lyrics, the unique polyphonic vocals. The Smiths always remain a major influence, the brilliant songwriting and lyrics. I love the candidness of that period, how songwriters exposed their souls. And how compelling this was for the fans. For me this is something that was lost too much in the last 10-15 years. And I definitely wanted that in in my project, lyrics that touch people’s hearts. Little by little I found this in more recent projects such as Darkher, Emma Ruth Rundle, Chelsea Wolfe ... and this greatly inspired and motivated me.

DE: Psychological turmoil and subversive sexuality form the common thread in the music of Syrenomelia, we read in the press bio. Okay, time to confess and share your secrets!

WL: Most of my lyrics are based on a long period of a promiscuous bisexual life, seeking various experiments, with a preference for unusual and sadomasochistic experiences, and frequent drug use. Due to naivety and poverty this increasingly led to shameful and traumatic experiences. I still struggle with painful memories and feel I need to write about it in my lyrics, to somehow turn it into something beautiful and valuable, so that I feel that it was worth the pain, even the most terrible experiences. But I always add a good deal of irony and sarcasm to it, I don’t want it getting too melodramatic.

DE: Syrenomelia refers to the rare condition where the legs of a child are fused together, like a mermaid in other words. Why did you just choose this name?

WL: I found this on a Polish blog with photos that instantly fascinated me. Something rare and strange, and therefore a perfect match for my lyrics and visual interests. On this page "syrenomelia" was spelled with "y". I thought this was the Polish spelling, found it beautiful and decided to keep it that way. However recently I discovered that in Polish it is also simply "sirenomelia", so in the end the name is derived from the erroneous spelling on that blog. Incidentally, I pronounce the "y" like "i" in the English "in".

DE: You do everything yourself at Syrenomelia, is it the intention to play live, or do you consider it purely as a studio project.

WL: I played live with Magdalena Solis. Only the first time it was a truly gratifying experience. After 2-3 times it was already less fun, and I started to feel it was messing up my creative routines. Syrenomelia on stage would require a full band line-up, and even then I would not exactly be stoked about it. I sometimes do things live via Instagram, just spontaneously, and that’s more fun.

DE: How exactly does a Syrenomelia track come about?

WL: It takes quite a long time, many months. I like to fine-tune and try out various arrangements. It’s not unusual that at one point I have 10 versions of a song. And then suddenly I am tired of searching, and then allow myself 7-10 days to record a final version. I love to pretend that I have limited studio time, as if I have to pay per day. That helps, because in a home studio environment you can endlessly keep shaping, which is not always a good thing.

DE: Not only in music, but also in visuals you have a keen eye for details. As we can see in the pretty awesome video that you made together with a few befriended artist for the title track of your new single. With whom did you work with for this?

WL: At first I had something in mind like Suede's Animal Nitrate video, and for this the dark erotic photography of Lilith Room Noir seemed perfect. Then the other two befriended photographers joined in. I like to work with Instagram contacts. I quite easily find people there who are on the same wavelength. Working via chat has its pros and cons. But I like to give people freedom, just chat and exchange ideas, and let them improvise. And then cut and assemble from it. My girlfriend helps me a lot with the edits and design, she does this as a job so I like to leave most of the magic to her.

DE: My first introduction to Syrenomelia happened thanks to the remix CD from the Ashtoreth album Pilgrim. A one-off thing or are there plans to work together in the future?

WL: Rather one-off, because I am not exactly the collab type. I enjoy working with other people for videos, but for music I feel best working alone and on my own compositions.

DE: As it is the end of the year: what was the musical discovery of 2019 for you?

WL: I always live a bit in a cave :) But I still occasionally discover stuff. Newly discovered projects I enjoyed in 2019 were She Made Me Do It, Paradise Lost, Me And My Two Horses and Blurred Twin.


zondag 8 december 2019

Object - Borderlands (CD review)

Genre: Dark Electro
Label: none (self-released)
Rating: 8,5/10

2019 has been a good year for the fans of old-school electro. A few months ago, I reviewed the new albums of Amnistia and Fïx8:Sëd8, 2 German artists that I cherish and that acquired a well-deserved spot on the Bimfest bill (Amnistia last year; Fïx8:Sëd8 this year). Perhaps a little less known is Object, a dark electro project that also originates from Germany. Then again, it has been 7 years since Andreas Malik released truly new work. In fact, it looked like he had buried Object for good. But as the insiders know too well, artists in this genre often change their minds. In most cases, they also decide to perform again. Object could recently be seen at the Lauscher vs Oldschool festival in Erfurt and it is there where I bought the new album 'Borderlands' even before the official release date.

Even though the new album is strictly speaking the amalgamation of 2 of Andy’s projects (that is, Object and Borderlands), it bears the typical Object signature. With other words: raw and complex sound tapestries, interwoven with samples and Andy’s heavily distorted, mostly unintelligible vocals. Compared with the tracks of other dark electro artists, those of Object are less clearly defined in general. You can perceive the Object albums as one protracted composition, which is divided into several pieces with certain variations. This has the consequence that they are usually not easy to memorise. 'Borderlands' is not different in this respect.

The previous album 'Mechanisms Of Faith', which is considered a masterpiece in its genre by many and which also received a very high rating from me, contains a few tracks that really stand out (in particular, 'Neural Explosions', 'State Of Reality' and my personal favourite, 'Under Zero Halo'). 'Borderlands' is in my opinion less refined, "heavier" and somewhat less digestible as a result. It is absolutely a nice and enjoyable album, but it cannot equal the (top) level of 'Mechanisms Of Faith'. There are 2 songs that I think are memorable: the title track 'Borderlands' and 'Beyond Belief (Vocaliz-ed)'. Honourable mentions go to 'Heaven Sent Salvation' and 'Nitrogen Skies'. The latter is a more classic dark electro track with guest vocals of Martin Sane (Fïx8:Sëd8). As usual, there are also a couple of purely instrumental compositions on this album ('Parhelion Descend' and 'Vortex Of Entropy'). All in all, it is a relatively short record with a playing time of just over 50 minutes. And this time, there are no remixes nor other bonus tracks to be found.

Dark electro in general and Object in particular is music that is especially fit for the cold winter months. 'Borderlands' is no exception in this respect. I have not reviewed many releases this year, but I am sure that I am not the only rivethead who thinks this is one of the best albums of 2019. Highly recommended!

CD review: Marjolein Laenen

zaterdag 14 september 2019

Stalingrad Valkyrie: The old world will be collapsing pretty soon.

Many will agree: every opportunity is a good one to have a chat with Elena Alice Fossi. Not so long ago we've talked about the resurrection of Spectra*Paris, and again had a very good reason: the release of Martyrdom Europae, with which after a 17 years break side project Stalingrad , nowadays renamed Stalingrad Valkyrie, comes back to life. Angelo Bergamini also joined in the conversation that also was about the 40th birthday of Kirlian Camera, which makes 2019 an even more special year for both Italian legends.

DE: It was a very big and pleasant surprise when we saw the name of Stalingrad (Valkyrie) appearing at the NCN (Leipzig) festival, I think a lot of people didn’t expect to welcome you back. Why did you decide to return with Stalingrad (Valkyrie)?

Elena Alice Fossi - Don't know any reason why. Let's say it was about time. We recently composed many songs showin' that particular romantic and epically symphonic mood, so we opted for calling Stalingrad Valkyrie back to arms! I've been wanting to do that for a long time...

DE: Kirlian Camera is very active nowadays, and two years ago you’ve made a comeback with Spectra*Paris. Now also SVK joins in. I was wondering, if a new song is born when you rehearsal is there some kind of ranking in which project it (eventually reworked) will be released? Or does it happen when you rehearsal with one of the projects a new song arises that later will be released under another project?

Elena Alice Fossi – It's just a question of mood. We know listeners tend to identify a mood with a music genre, so... if it's complicated enough, a certain new song will be probably directed to Kirlian Camera, whereas complexity meets pop, new drama, futuristic visions and so on. SPECTRA*paris will take care of those paillettes Stalingrad Valkyrie couldn't offer due to imaginable reasons (unless the other part, that is Angelo, likes to paint fucsia a funeral statue!!!). But, it must be added that even in our main projects we not that seldom like to add some unexpected variation, sometimes going to put an atmosphere upside down. It happened with the last – and probably final – studio album of SPECTRA*paris, for example...

DE: SVK, KC and SP are musically three complete different projects, in which way are they different to you in ways of working?

Elena Alice Fossi - Kirlian Camera is “odd” enough for the people, so adding any further influence or sub-genres to our main project looks kinda impossible... it'd turn out to be taken as sheer schizophrenia, by today's listeners! So, it comes out natural to direct any “massive mood” (whether it goes to sound glam, naive or either apocalyptic) to other channels, being differently labelled, in order to underline that one finds himself to step on a different territory. All in all, Kirlian Camera is our most complex creature, today. Someone labels it as “Alien Pop”. We like it, it can represent us. Couldn't be otherwise!

DE: Also striking is that nowadays you added Valkyrie to your name. Is it because this is a new chapter in your history, or does it have another meaning?

Elena Alice Fossi – We've been informed that another band had the same name before we came out with our first album, time ago, although they got no huge popularity; so we decided to respect their long-service and went to add Valkyrie to the name of the project. It was not a sad step at all, as Angelo wasn't that sure he absolutely liked the original name, so we looked for a proper additional word, one having some meaning for Angelo too... Now, he looks happier by far, as his love for Wagner is going to definitely put a big stamp on the band identity!!!

DE: ’Heiliger Regen’ is definitely the key track on the Martyrium Europea album. You sing: “Wir kommen wieder, wir wollen gewinnen”, which sounds very victorious and in which you succeed. What’s this holy rain you’re singing about?

Elena Alice Fossi – Many interpretations possible. Let's say SVK owns kinda real disgust for current trends, whether they're musical, artistic, political and social in general. The Holy Rain you ask about might be found in our need to destroy today's rules, where REAL rebels are fighting alone, being stripped of any respect, even by those who claim to drive a rebellion against “new” and old totalitarisms and oligarchies. The old world will be collapsing pretty soon. A new world will rise, after a... holy rain. We wrote a song about such a joyful need to fight against darkness. And if death is a necessary ingredient of such an above mentioned future... then it's welcome!
DE: Kirlian Camera and Stalingrad absolutely have loyal followers in the dark folk and everything related to this scene. I know some of them like more the old stuff, and don’t follow the more recent things anymore. Is the comeback of Stalingrad Valkyrie also an attempt to please those people?

KC/SVK – No, we are not used to pleasing anybody. We several times proved we are not looking for any special followers, but those who are able to being open minded, those who are tuned in to music research essence itself. We are not a “genre band” and that has been undoubtedly proved many times, too. We could not have monocolored fans: it is simply impossible, due to the effective fact we are manycolored. Time ago, composers were used to jumping from an atmosphere to another, from a deep state of mind, say sadness or even despair, to joy and humour. That reflects kind of “being alive”, as for a musician – a real one - goes: it is necessary not to be fixed on any one way sensation, on one flat emotion only. It would be extremely easier, for us, to pack up many “one genre” albums and singles, as many other bands do in the electro/industrial scene (a scene we are not particularly fond of, as you can easily realize..). That would be perfect to exploit certain audience's request and we would lose less time in research and study. Today's music market tends to offer a global melting-pot called “Pop Music” in which several well-sponsored artists are working being tied to majors: from Editors to Madonna, from Imagine Dragons to Bjork. Different music for a wide nation of listeners and, after all, it must be said there is even more freedom than in some particular independent scenes. Then, there are the niches: Experimental, Gothic, Black Metal, Industrial, etc. All in all, we tend to going our own ways, regardless of the world and of those who claim to be alternative – ignoring the fact they are just another face of musical totalitarism. Reading these lines, you will exactly realize how much pleasing one audience or another means absolutely nothing to us. We are not slick and never will be: our sodality (Kirlian Camera + Stalingrad Valkyrie + Spectra*paris) reflects our purity. We do not reject huge success, but we are not willing to make a deal with this world. Music is our own world and it is a bulletproof world, we could not sell it out for whatsoever human reason, after so many efforts and sacrifice.

DE: If I have to summarize Martyrium Europae in one word, I’d chose for combative. Especially in songs as the earlier mentioned ‘Heiliger Regen’ but also ‘War Aurora’. Do you think this adjective is well chosen? And if so, what do we have to fight?

Angelo Bergamini - Combative and romantic, yes, whereas “romantic” shouldn't sound like an ode to broken hearts but as a strong feeling, one that doesn't find any real acceptation nowadays...

DE: The artwork (and format) of the album is also very beautiful! Could you tell us something more about it?

Elena Alice Fossi - Main image is coming from a Maximilian Pirner's painting, titled “Finis (The End of All Things)”, seemingly made early 900's. Pirner ain't that popular, today, so, given that his painting impressed us much, we opted for using it, although the original front cover of the album looked different, in the beginning. He is a painter of from the so-called style being labelled as “Finis Austriae” and I guess the sensation one may feel once taking a look to the image in question is going to perfectly fits in the general mood of our album. There's a deep sense of loss, decadence and sorrow, but some real sense of power keeps on shining kind of glorious over such darkness.

DE: Martyrium Europae contains a nice blend of neoclassical and electronic music, which artists were an influence in making these songs?
In our previous interview you’ve told me about your eclectical musical taste (Britney to SPK and back), which artists were an influence for the songs of SVK?

Angelo Bergamini – neoclassical and electronics are two main ingredients of our projects, whether you go to meet St. Valkyrie or either Kirlian Camera, not forgetting that even SPECTRA*paris got some strange digression on such a field. However, Elena Alice comes from relevant classic studies; she even was a praised singing teacher when she practically was a child, so she sometimes deeply feels an utter need to come back to the field in question. She is massively open to cutting edge electronics too, so it comes out natural she – at a certain point – would like to compose electro-symphonic music, going to sing on it. “The Black Mother” is a great example of her talent in regard to neoclassical attitude being aware of modern rhythms, although... she kind of surprised me when she came out with “Heiliger Regen”! I had no real suspect of such a powerful and genuine rage, or... let's say Elena is a complete creative musician, so... everytime she goes to surprise... although “surprise” isn't the rightest word, if you know what I mean. It'd be surprising if she didn't surprise, hahaha!!!

DE: You also told me you were looking for concerts with SV, are there already plans for shows?

Elena Alice Fossi – No dates, yet, although one is allegedly going to be planned in Sachsen (Saxony). We held two shows, recently; they have been so hugely appreciated that I couldn't understand this silence. It's to be said we aren't that immersed in any promotion, at the moment, but... who knows? Some people fear SVK, but I actually wonder why. That's music. Don't fear the music, come on... people need real music, REAL EMOTIONS, GENUINE FEELINGS!!! They're so thirsty of and... we really understand them...

DE: Meanwhile you’ve also released a new KC EP (Hellfire), and will release a full album last year. It seems there’s a lot of creativity going on at the headquarters these days?

Angelo Bergamini – Yes, a lot of creativity, you're being right! On the other hand, Elena doesn't know any rest... she hardly sleeps at night! She's in love with her gear, so she never likes the idea of having any social life, for example! She's not a bear, but I guess she loves music above all else, then... music is her real communication system: she hates social networks and promotion. She never likes to pose for photos, so I have to spit out blood for having some. Then, I have to make a lot of shots once she is available for cameras! She's a very kind person, so pleasant and genuinely well-mannered, but she couldn't help being immersed in the studio hours and hours a day. I have to do with an erupting volcano of energy and creativity! Fortunately...

DE: When we talked a few years ago about the latest SP album, you’ve told me Angelo decided to take a step back from the spotlight and let you be the spokeswoman for all projects. He even thought about working behind the stage, is he still considering this?

Angelo Bergamini – Well, here I am! You're right, I'd love to work behind the scenes. Spotlight doesn't fit my identity, although so many times I have had to play that role, in the past. And I don't like to speak about our “interests”, exceptions apart. Then, one speaker is enough!!! Elena Alice actually knows my feelings, you know... let's say none of the two is so able with words, but, given she's remarkably younger... then she'll have to take care of that; just a question of “seniority rights”, eheheh!!!

DE: With Kirlian Camera you worked with Covenant on your latest album. Imagine you could work together with an artist of choice for a new SVK track. Who are you thinking of then?

Elena Alice Fossi – Vangelis Papathanassiou or even Klaus Schulze are the names who are immediately coming to my mind, as well as Laibach, for sure.
Angelo Bergamini – I agree with you, but I'd like to add Miley Cyrus, though...

DE: This year KC will celebrate its 40th birthday, apart from the new cd I’ve mentioned before, how will you celebrate this event?

KC – let's say we are going to release our first live album ever, AT LAST!!! Then, ideas are so many that we'd need 10 years in addition to make 'em all come true! A big compilation and a brand new album are enclosed in the bag, plus some collaborations with artists we feel real and particular respect for. Don't ask for the names, as it's a bit too early, but... hey... they're sooo great!! We couldn't imagine they liked our music, as they come from other areas. However, there's kind of real admiration, among us... It's astonishing!

DE: Let’s close with a kind of tricky question: Elena Alice, You are also almost 20 years in KC, so imagine someone who’s not familiar with KC comes to you and asks for five tracks he should give a try, which ones would you recommend and why?

Elena Alice Fossi – I think “Sky Collapse” may turn outta be the rightest choice, although it's so recent. Then, I'd add “Helden Platz”, “K-Pax”, “Eclipse” and “The Fountain of Clouds”. But, hey... come on... ain't that easy!!!

zondag 14 juli 2019

Fïx8:Sëd8 - Warning Signs (CD review)

Genre: Dark Electro
Label: Dependent
Rating: 8/10

On the Amphi Festival 2019 poster, a special name is featured. On the last line, in small letters, it says Fïx8:Sëd8, an artist which you would not really expect at a large festival with names such as Blutengel and Lord Of The Lost. I have seen Martin Sane (real name: Martin Januszewski) perform in small clubs several times, at small-scale dark electro events that usually only attract a niche audience. The fact that Fïx8:Sëd8 is now also programmed at one of the most successful gothic festivals in Germany is therefore relatively surprising, although it helps if you are signed to a leading label such as Dependent. However, Martin will have to be content with a modest slot as an opening band: Fïx8:Sëd8 is already playing at the Orbit Stage in the early Sunday afternoon.

The timing could not be better: last month, Fïx8:Sëd8 released the album 'Warning Signs' and it is to be expected that Martin will play many songs from the new record on his summer and fall tour, which recently took off with his passage at the Familientreffen. Already at the time of the previous album 'Foren6', he had announced that the new CD would be fundamentally different. For 2 years, I was wondering what he meant with that. With 'Warning Signs' playing nonstop in my car in the last few weeks, I think I finally know the answer: the new Fïx8:Sëd8 is more alternative in a way. As in: less electronic than what you would expect from a dark electro act. Tracks like 'Syringe Relation', 'Love' and 'In Denial' (the latter being featured on the bonus CD 'Aftermath', which you get with the limited edition) are not typical dark electro and not even typical dark electronic music generally speaking. That may sound rather cryptic, but I would not know how else to describe it.

Do not fear: there are for sure authentic (dark) electro tracks on this album as well. My personal favourite is the title track 'Warning Signs', which is the last song on the CD. This one starts ominously, with various unearthly vocal effects that are reminiscent of Skinny Puppy. After a dark and atmospheric intro/build-up of roughly 2 minutes, the tone changes, which changes once again a few minutes later, after a kind of cinematic interlude. Very cool, although I wonder if and how Martin could bring such a complex song live. Another track that stands out for me is 'Within Cells Interlinked', which is strikingly "clubby" by Fïx8:Sëd8 standards. The same goes for the 'Ruptured Blood Vessel' remix of 'Embolism' on the limited bonus CD, which is more dancefloor-friendly than the original on the actual album. My top 3 is completed by 'Futile Attempts', not in the least because of the lovely vocals/vocal effects and occasional piano. The other songs do not appeal to me to the same extent, but I must admit that they are really well-made. Then again, I do not expect anything else from a dark electro artist who knows what he is doing.

On social media, certain diehard "Fixie" fans claim that 'Warning Signs' would be (even) better than 'Foren6', but I do not agree with that. Both are very good albums, but personally, I prefer the more classic dark electro style on 'Foren6', which explains why I have deducted half a point (my ratings always reflect a combination of objective and subjective considerations). But all fans probably agree on one thing: Fïx8:Sëd8 is by far the best (or at least the most interesting) addition to Amphi's line-up this year. Go watch it!

CD review: Marjolein Laenen

zondag 12 mei 2019

Amnistia - Black Halo (CD review)

Genre: EBM - Electro
Label: 9XO Media
Rating: 8/10

Anyone who attended BIMFest last year could get acquainted with Amnistia. For me, it was not the first acquaintance, however, it was the first time I saw the gentlemen in my own country. I have already met Stefan Schötz and Tino Claus various times during my wanderings in the European old-school electro scene. Most of the time, I encounter the two in East Germany, more specifically at the WGT EBM Warm-Up in Leipzig (their place of residence) and at the Lauscher Festival in Erfurt. I have also stumbled across them in Oberhausen (E-tropolis Festival) and in Bratislava (Dark EBM Souls). But then again, the European dark electro scene is very small and everybody knows everybody. Consequently, it was written in the stars I would review this CD, even though I have bought it myself. Believe it or not, but us reviewers still invest in music, even though we can generally still obtain (digital) promos rather easily.

'Black Halo' is the follow up of 'Dawn', the album from 2016 which I also reviewed for this webzine at the time and on which former third band member Jan Moritz had still collaborated. Amnistia has now been a duo for a while and that has in no way resulted in any loss of quality. Just like the previous album, 'Black Halo' is a guarantee for cast-iron compositions in the old-school electro/EBM setting. Compared with other bands in the contemporary dark electro scene, Amnistia has always been more EBM-oriented. Their tracks have a cutting-energetic touch which you do not encounter with let’s say, Fïx8:Sëd8 or Pyrroline. I certainly think they are talented, but fact is I am personally more into classic dark electro. I have always struggled a bit more with EBM, even though that strongly depends on the kind. For instance, I do not like Nitzer Ebb/Anhalt stuff at all, but fortunately, that is not the case here. Amnistia’s EBM is of a very different (and in my opinion, much more varied) nature.

Even though I have to acknowledge that 'Black Halo' is objectively well-made, I do not like all songs to the same extent. For example, 'The Itch' sounds rather overloaded and 'Last Words Purify' vaguely reminds me of 'Nightfall (Over EC)' by The Cassandra Complex, a song which I have never liked. I also deem 'Suffer' as one of the less memorable compositions. But the majority of the tracks is certainly good or great. My top 3 consists of 'Through The Night', 'Misery' and 'Package Of Regrets'. They are 3 very distinct tracks, each of which in their own way showcases an attractive, ear-friendly old-school electro/EBM sound. An honorary mention goes to 'We Do Not Disturb Our Dead'. This atmospheric, dark instrumental sounds totally different from the rest of the album (as well as different from what I am used to as regards Amnistia). In a way, it would have made more sense if the band would have kept this song for the bonus CD 'Black Halo Encores' (available as part of the limited box set; soon also digitally), but instead, it has become the last track of the actual album. Not that I am complaining.

With 'Black Halo', Amnistia has proven that old-school electro/EBM still sounds exciting and refreshing in 2019. So far, I have heard nothing but enthusiastic feedback and in all objectivity, I myself can conclude that this is a solid, contemporary album in the genre.

CD review: Marjolein Laenen





zaterdag 20 april 2019

Evi Vine: "We have a few stories but maybe over a beer one day … My lips are sealed! haha … "

It was at the Black Easter Festival edition 2016 that I witnessed 2 bands performing who urged me to rush towards the merchandise stands in order to buy any material by them I could find… after 1 or 2 songs already… The first band was our National Postpunkish Pride calles Whispering Sons and the second one was Evi Vine, who came to present her 2nd album Give Your Heart To The Hawks… 
They were picked up by festival organiser (and founder of Peek-A-Boo magazine ànd IT-wizzard for Dark Entries) Ward De Prins to play on his beloved Black Easter. That same Ward De Prins came to pass away last year, being greatly missed by fellow music lovers and befriended artists alike. Some of his close friend came tot he idea to celebrate Ward with a  new edition of Black Easter, inviting some of the best bands of former festival editions, not forgetting the great 2016 passage of Evi Vine…
Evi and her band will be performing material from their 3rd record Black/Light/White/Dark, but not before kindly answering our questions…

Dark Entries : The first time I saw you performing was on the Black Easter Festival, some years ago, the same festival and on the same location you will be playing (again) on april 20… The second time was a gig for Can’t Live In A Living Room (wich was in someone’s living room indeed)… I understand that you met Ward, the late organiser of Black Easter on a previous Can’t Live-gig…? Is that how you came to play Black Easter in 2016 in first place…?

Evi Vine : Yes, that’s right: we met Ward for the first time through Eddy and Anja who are amazingly supportive beings whom we love dearly and they introduced us to Ward. He was so kind to us and his enthusiasm for the scene was unstoppable and contagious. Black Easter 2016 for us was a time of transitions, GB our drummer had just joined and we were trying out a bigger sound which led us to where we are now with this album….so we are very much looking forward to return to BE 2019 and perform the new material.

Other people came accross your music via Joy Division tribute-album A Change of Speech, A Change of Style, where you contributed with a reworking of Dead Souls. How came this into life? Did it opened some doors…?

EV : We have had some great support from a dear friend & collegue Sven Affeld who was integral in our support tours with Phillip Boa, also NCN Festival.  And being asked to contribute to the album havinjg opened doors …? I’m not sure but we have had some really positive feedback. There is a great deal of pressure taking on a track from such an influential band. Working with Danny Nolan aka 'Flint Kids' on production certainly gave it the dark edge . 
You also came to sing with Goth supergroup The Eden House (feat. Tony Pettitt from Fields of the Nephilim, amongst other fine names)… How did you end up singing and touring with them…?

EV : I met Tony & Peter (Yates?) at Elektroworks… We were there to see our mutual friend Bob White perform with his band NFD, so the communications started from there … which led to me writing & recording  Reach Out, In The Fire For You and The Dark Half with the guys. 
In The Eden House you shared vocal duties with Monica Richards (Strange Boutique, Faith and the Muse, solo, …), so you are familiar with each other. She’ll be performing Black Eatser the same day as you… Long time no see…? 

EV : Actually we don’t know each other that well. There was a really amazing performance where we were all together but maybe for just one show? In that time Amandine,  myself & Valentine toured the first album just the three of us … but we are really looking forward to see Monica performing live again at Black Easter

To play the Fields-card again: you already worked with Tony and now Peter Yeats (one time guitarist with Fields) worked with you on the single Sabbath, from your new album Black/Light/White/Dark… Do you have any harmless Fields-aneqdotes from them…? 

EV : We have been working with Peter Yates for years. We have toured together as part of Evi Vine and of course Peter recorded on the 2nd album Give Your Heart To The Hawks too… We have a few stories but maybe over a beer one day … My lips are sealed! haha …  

So we have Peter Yates but also Simon Gallup (Cure) working with you and the band on Sabbath… How come this into life and what was your experience with this…?

EV : Being in a space with Simon was so inspiring as I’m sure you can imagine … He is such a humble guy which makes the experience all the more fulfilling. The discussion to do something together has been some years in the making just trying to get the timing right. We feel so privileged… 

The single Sabbath has a heavier sound then we are used from you (next single My Only Son proved to be more old school Vine again)… Also the videoclip has a more heavy pictural approach… The title Sabbath makes me think of a period of contemplation but I heard that the video is all bout transformation?

EV : Transformation / Metamorphosis … Who are we if we don’t shed our skins ... The only reason I can think of for being here is to learn, grow, be more than we were before .. step outside the fear … it’s not always easy … Craig Murray’s work is out of this world… We just adore him… 

Would you say that the whole album deals with transformation in some kind or another…? 

EV : Yes, I think so … The album is layered like always … The songs deal with the recent loss of loved ones … They pass into new dimensions and we remain … Transforming in the cycle or destruction & rebuilding from within… 

Black/Light/White/Dark contains 6 tracks, so people would expect a short album. Wrong, I would say, because you’ll let the tracks breathe… (discuss…  )

EV : We didn’t want to have as many constraints this time  … We were recording for the first time as a band with Matt Tye on bass & GB on drums with everyone bringing something to the table … There are a few vocal based tracks but the album is not lead by stories this time, so yes > more room for the music to breath

You and Steve are vegans… I know that veganism has a deep impact on a lot of things that I do in life… In what way and how much does this influences you in terms of your work as an artist…?

EV : I let you leave … Hmmm… to know the difference & the burden it become’s  you can’t unclear things, you can’t unsee terrible things once you know you step into a mother level of understanding… For us there is no option… 
GB is nearly there too… If we are talking about food then usually the communication works better one to one,  as long as people don’t feel like they are being threatened or judged, wich sadly is often the case … Some get very defensive when it comes to the eating of animals/meat conversation. They feel like their rights are being compromised somehow > they trust the system and don’t want to have to rethink eating…We have become accustomed to instead of taking new information on such things they may never have known… People can get very defensive .. They have animal companions, see themselves as good and kind people, have no knowledge of industrial farming practices and have never known to question the system… So defences go up… 

You are very weary about what’s happening in the world (politics, environment issues ,… ) and you speak out, being it in your lyrics (examples?) or during mid-concert speeches… As an artist you use your channels… Do you feel that people are open for this, I mean besides the music…? Do you experience moments that the message gets really across…? 

EV : Our recent show in Belgium, where you were present, was a very special night >  one fueled with emotion… Ward was as a brother to many...He was a dear friend to so many… The music community lost a friend and champion. It was a rare thing for me to feel as I did that night and I composed a spoken work piece reflecting the pain and love  present in the room…

During the Living Room-gig I was in the company of a Lady with a lifelong carreer in dancing, also Butoh (a post-war Japanese dance-art, known for it’s transformating potential)… If you would use the skills and experience of someone like that, how would you put it into use…? I did see AmenRa performing with a Butoh-dancer onstage and it was very powerful …

EV : Yes we did met her there and I’m so glad you are reminding me … She was a very charismatic inspiring woman and I would defer to her experience … I’m sure we could create a living working piece with movement both musicaly and physicaly… It could be very important to film this  … Maybe something for Craig Murray ?? 

Looking forward to your Black Easter-gig > what may we expect…? 

EV : When we get on stage now as a 4 piece, the aim is to connect with each other musicaly and sonicaly….That’s what we are looking for, The moments where you feel it may explode or take a new direction or improvisation… We will be playing the whole lot of Black/Light/White/Dark possibly for the first time ever and that will be exciting for us to share. Mostly we are also looking forward to catching up and seeing old friends… 

Well… see you folks there, for music ànd stories… !! 

(interview by Jan Denolet)