Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Home – The Gathering [#589]

Gathering_homeDuring the Great Download Free For All of the mid-noughties when I was ripped from the comedy inflatable bosom of Nightwish and thrown grovelling at the awesome rock prowess of The Gathering, I was self-tasked with the necessity to obtain the band’s entire catalogue.

Fortunately, this was one of those times when such an action was worthwhile. Aside from the band’s first couple of albums, Always and Almost a Dance, which are both truly dreadful and were swiftly deleted from my collection, their other albums just kept on sending tingles.

The Gathering are another example of where the UKs coverage of quality Euro music is lacking. The downright snobbery of the UK music industry in regard to artists from beyond the North Sea frequently turns my stomach. There really are some excellent artists out there but because a minority have the monopoly on what is seen and heard in the UK, it is often the case that without the internet, nothing “non-British” would be available. Indeed, even with impending changes to the accessibility of internet this will only get worse and result in  further impedence of the spread of culture from east to west while the spread of culture from west to east will continue unhindered.

Home is The Gathering’s eighth album and the last to feature Anneke van Giersbergen who, in my opinion, made the band. It seems that 2006 was the time of departure for a few female led Eurometal bands (eg Nightwish and Tarja’s departure), but rather than disappear into obscurity, van Giersbergen went on to work with Ayreon and do her own stuff and quite successfully too. Like Mandylion, it has an almost progressive concept album feel to it but the concept album vibe might just be my overactive imagination.

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Hecate – Ordo Equitum Solis [#581]

R-436890-1421008785-2640Further darkwave caterwauling from the Franco-Roman musical union of Ordo Equitum Solis.

It is with this album one is clearly able to distinguish the influences from bands like Dead Can Dance, Miranda Sex Garden and Coil woven throughout the album’s fabric. Like a dusty tome, the album is often difficult to digest in the wrong setting. This isn’t something you might want to accompany you while you do the vacuuming or brass polishing, nor is it the ideal setting for a children’s eighth birthday party unless, of course, you are fostering future gothlings. Instead, this is the kind of album you’d probably want to burn some incense sticks with while donning one’s floaty hooded gown following a healthy manicure for those extra long nails of yours and drinking large amounts of dark red wine while lasciviously doing the dance from Kate Bush’s music video for Wuthering Heights.

The album is split into at least four sections, an introduction, Songs of the Man, Songs of the Fool and a coda which kind of suggests to an old Prog fan like me, that this work should be listened to in its entirety with attention paid to the liner notes or the song titles. Sadly, I don’t have any liner notes. All I have is song titles and from them, I conjure up mental imagery of sordid sexiness of the hooded variety in vaulted cellars filled with wine and incense smoke. Which probably says a lot about my own psychology than anything else…

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Heavenly Voices Parts 1 – 3 – Various Artists [#578-580]

A bumper three albums on a Friday with a most peculiar acquisition, Heavenly Voices.

Much like how Looking for Europe does for the Neofolk genre, Heavenly Voices does for the dreampop/ethereal wave genre by way of the artists on the Hyperium record label. Here we have, in effect, three distinctly glorious compilation albums featuring a whole range of talent from artists like Eden’s Sean Bowley and his side project Sunwheel to fully functioning bands like Bel Canto,  Black Tape for a Blue Girl and Miranda Sex Garden.

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[#578] Part One is possibly the most accessible of the three. A little catawauling here and there but a nice build up towards (and what was my introduction to) Ordo Equituum Solis‘  Playing with the Fire.

Dreamily swimming onwards through Die Form’s Cantique and culminating in Winter Moon Descending by Annabel’s Garden

hev[#579] Part Two takes a different approach. The songs here have a much more floaty dreamy kind of feel with a slight dash of hauntology. This album was my introduction to the whole Heavenly Voices trilolgy and as a result not only are there many artists who have appeared previously in the Music Project, for example Collection d’Arnell Andréa and Black Tape, but also many who are yet to come. Possibly my most favourite tracks from this album are Sunwheel’s Walk Upon the Grass (which, incidently, I was intending to shoot a music video for but couldn’t find a willing person to film in time! Maybe a later opportunity will arise) The Sea is My Soul by 24 Hours and the haunting 56 in 81 by Eleven Shadows.

 

11K190SNXWLFinally Part 3 [#580] copies of which are currently changing hands for around £300. Featuring a much more accessible approach to the genre with more familiar artists like Miranda Sex Garden and Bel Canto. Again, this album introduced me to many artists and it is easy to see why people prize it so highly. Emerging from Part 2’s forest of floaty vaginas into a dystopian landscape of industry like a stumbling ninny, the listener finds Part 3 rips up the leafy glades of Part 2 and drills deep concrete foundations of industrial darkwave right into your mind.

Legend has it that there is actually a part four and a part five compilation. Rumours, whispers abound.  Sadly the Hyperium label closed shortly after the death of its founder in 2002, but many of the acts continue on in the worlds of Darkwave and etheralwave.

 

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Halo Star – Black Tape for a Blue Girl [#566]

Halo_Star_(Black_Tape_for_a_Blue_Girl_album_-_cover_art)Halo Star is the ninth studio album by the band Black Tape for a Blue Girl.

We’ve seen BTBG on the music project a couple of times before, most notably with their tenth album 10 Neurotics. As 10 Neurotics was my first experience of BTBG album and their most recent, the earlier Halo Star is difficult to adapt to, especially as I’ve not really given it that much play time. That’s not to say I don’t like it, I just guess that having eaten the cherry on the cake, the icing and sponge is one meal too much.

But I will perceiver.

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Greatest Lovesongs, Vol.666 – HIM [#558]

In my opinion, HIM was borne on the back of the mid ninetiesHIM-GreatestLovesongsVol666 semi-successes of corporate-goth bands like Evanescence. Unremarkable, goth themed performers singing grungy devil worship innuendo laden lyrics while also providing music for the occasional occult themed movie soundtrack.

I was told I wouldn’t like HIM.

They were right. I don’t. HIM are too similar in sound to the likes of Scream Silence and Rasmus and then the whole chicken/egg thing starts in my mind.

I keep this album purely to be reminded that someone murdered Chris Isaak‘s Wicked Game and Blue Oyster Cults Don’t Fear the Reaper and that I’m glad I didn’t pay for album.

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The Grand Design – Edenbridge [#545]

Edenbridge_-_The_Grand_DesignTowards the end of my exploration of the Scandinavian operatic goth metal movement of the late nineties and early noughties, and before branching out down the Ayreon/Gathering path, I uncovered an Austrian band called Edenbridge. Pretty much a Nightwish clone but with better pronunciation of English.

The Grand Design is their fifth studio album following the success of Shine. By this time, I was a little bored of the whole genre. There’s only so many Valkyries you can put up with and with middle age approaching, the constant chuggachugga guitar became a little puerile after a bit. As well, there was a kind of…I dunno…a Sandy Denny quality to the sound.

After some careful consideration, I had a purge of music in September and many Edenbridge albums didn’t make the cut. This one survived purely because it was the first of theirs I’d heard and because Evermore is not a bad song.

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Gothic Spleens – Dead Can Dance [#544]

UnknownAs we finally come out of the (reduced) gothic compilation portion of the project, we see the peaks of “Greatest Hits” ahead of us but until then there are a few more albums we need to visit.

Gothic Spleens is another bootleg album for Neoclassical/Goth group Dead Can Dance. Recorded from a live radio broadcast from Hamburg’s  Musikhalle in 1990. It has a similar track listing to Golden Age but certainly doesn’t disappoint. Even if we’ve heard it all before.

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Gothic Erotica – Various Artists [#543]

41821Z2JRZLAnother gothic compilation. This time with a sleezy kink feel to the songs. Or so it’s suggested by the albums title. I’ve been more aroused sat at the back of the 81 bus than the music in this compilation.

That aside, it’s not a bad compilation. Lots of old and new favourites turn up to the mix including Mephisto Waltz, Nico, The Mission and Bauhaus. There are also some good covers too, Brix Smith does a version of Bowie’s Space Oddity, Ghost Dance do a version of the Yardbird’s Heart Full of SoulBauhaus’ Bela Lugosi’s Dead is given the Electric Hellfire Club treatment and Patti Smith Group’s Because the Night is reimagined by Beki Bondage.

Some songs in the compilation I can do without but it’s not something I could delete at this moment in time.

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Goth Stuff – Various Artists [#542]

This is an unusual compilation, and it is one that guided my ears in the direction I took when exploring the genre. It’s an unofficial compilation and, like all good music, not available in the shops. More of a mix tape someone put out onto the wibbly wobbly web back in the nineties.

The first track is Hoquetus I-VII by an unknown composer and by the third track, a Saltarello  also by an unknown composer, it starts to become clear that the compiler is trying to take the listener through their interpretation of goth music through the ages. Soon we hear Minstrel Hall by Blackmore’s Night. Not exactly goth but dabbling with medievalism, nicely leading us into track two, 18th Century Gypsy Music by Bubak and Hungaricus. Layers of folk influences building up. By the time we reach midway point, we are already being tricked into believing that Ataraxia’s Canzona is a faithful reproduction of a old classical piece.

Of course it’s not. But by this time you don’t care. Further tracks of the acoustic, goth, medieval theme float past including Eld’s interpretation of Death in June’s Death of the West, songs by Ordo Equitum Solis and Eden  also don’t seem out of place. The cherry on the top being Bauhaus‘ King Volcano. 

I’m still fond of this compilation, even though, in all honesty, I am missing a number of tracks from  the original compilation. Moreover, this album also saw me eager to discover more about bands like Ordo Equitum Solis, Blackmore’s Night  and Eden. Bands I would never have heard of if it had not been for illegal downloads of music from unregulated sources.

Of course, like home taping before it, downloading music illegally was the death of music and we know today how empty our lives have become because  music was killed.

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Goth Electro Tribute to Depeche Mode – Various Artists [#541]

UnknownAnother tribute compilation album featuring artists nobody has heard of covering a band people have heard of.

Today, Goth Electro bands mostly murder 12 classic Depeche Mode songs but surprisingly, I’m willing to reduce the sentence to manslaughter with diminished responsibility. Or maybe even just a “slap on the wrist don’t do it again” common assault charge.

Because on about fifth listen, some of the tracks actually work. It’s that age old thing of music suiting the environment and situation. Here I am, listening to the album in bed, late, alone at night while Mrs Gnomepants is out at an Ezio gig, and it’s kind of fitting.

Goth electro is not my favourite gothic sub-genre by any means. It’s a little too cyberpunk for me, wet streets, stupid hair styles and skin-tight plastic clothes in a post industrial futuristic vampire nightmare. This album is that, only with Depeche Mode.

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Goth Box – Various Artists [#540]

R-427454-1292370992.jpegHad I started this project at “G” back in 2012, at this point we would be at Gothic Compilation Vol 342. But rather than shed even more readership, I opted to weed out those compilations and reduced them to  the selection that follows.

Today’s album, four volumes, G, O, T and H. In a box. Goth Box. Genius. Made up of four volumes, it is a showcase compilation of gothic artists from Europe featuring artists such as Inkubus Sukkubus, Big Electric Cat, Bauhaus, Mephisto Waltz, Lycia, Love is Colder Than Death and Black Tape for a Blue Girl.

I really like this compilation. It scares me like all good goth music should, in that I’m not entirely sure what it is I like about it all. It’s a compilation that I dip into for a bit, then quickly dip out of. The arrangement features gothic music from most of the goth subgenres including cybergoth, fluffy goth and neoclassical goth across the decades. There’s something for every wanna be goth, though there are exceptions and omissions that I, personally, would have included had I been compiling the compilation.

The compilation is massive, coming in at a whopping sixty tracks long and would make the perfect gift for any wannabe goth or moody teenager looking to discover their own identity.  Rather than list the tracks and artists featured,I’ve opted to let you discover the album yourself through the wonders of Amazon. 

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Ghosts of California – David Galas [#521]

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I love every second of this album and, as my wife will testify, I must have listened to something from it every day since I bought it in 2011. This is David Galas’ third solo outing, which, in my opinion, is probably his finest.

The dark brooding of Galas’ first solo album The Catacylsm has matured in the moody bath of The Happiest Days of My Life (his second) and emerged as a dark and haunting anthemic opus.

While The Happiest Days of My Life was initially a little hard to ingest I took well to Ghosts. From the opening gambit (a recording of air traffic controllers during 9/11 segueing into the atmospheric Sect VIII) to an acoustic version of The Last Days of War my favourite track from The Happiest Days of My Life, every second has been carefully thought out and produced to an excellent standard.

My only regret is that this album hasn’t had the recognition it deserves.  Few of my friends have heard it, even fewer care, and yet I do truly believe that despite all my attempts to encourage others to listen to it, if they really gave it a try, they too might get the same enjoyment as I did. I just hope that through this Music Project I might encourage a few others.

 

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Ghosts from the Darkside III – Various Artists [#520]

R-708447-1150309381.jpegCompilations, it seems, are like buses. You wait for ages then two come along at once.

Ghosts from the Darkside III (I’ve no idea what happened to Ghosts from the Darkside I) is pretty much the same as Ghosts from the Darkside II, darkwave/goth music somewhat difficult to ingest aurally driving to and from work.

This time Tristania, Clan of Xymox and L’Âme Immortelle join the dark pageant but again, the rest of the acts I’d never heard of, nor did I find any affinity with.

Unfortunately, this eagerness to embrace the dark resulted in me getting quite a few albums and fan compilations like this and, advanced warning here, very soon we will see examples of other Gothic compilations on the music project.

1-01 Flesh Field Animal 5:34
1-02 Funker Vogt The Journey 5:52
1-03 Terminal Choice The Saviour 6:46
1-04 In Strict Confidence The Truth Inside Me 5:05
1-05 Yendri Bodyless 5:49
1-06 Diary Of Dreams Winter Souls 5:45
1-07 Clan Of Xymox Crucified 6:00
1-08 Sanguis Et Cinis Phantom 4:57
1-09 Illuminate Energie 4:58
1-10 Umbra Et Imago Mea Culpa 4:47
1-11 Samsas Traum Für Immer 5:23
1-12 Mondsucht Verlies Der Ewigkeit 4:28
1-13 Mantus (2) Feuer 7:08
1-14 Exovedate Truly 2:30
1-15 Ophelia’s Dream Quando Corpus Morietur 3:09
2-01 L’Âme Immortelle The Immortal Part 4:53
2-02 Claire Voyant Love The Giver (Eskil Simonsson Of Covenant)

Remix – Eskil Simonsson

5:28
2-03 Love Like Blood Bleeding 6:02
2-04 The Garden Of Delight Chaos AD 5:09
2-05 Tristania Beyond The Veil 6:39
2-06 Grabesmond Totgeboren 3:45
2-07 Stillste Stund Drei Sind Eins 4:28
2-08 Cinema Strange Lindsay’s Trachea 5:17
2-09 S.P.O.C.K Klingon 2000 (Radio Mix) 3:49
2-10 Klirrfaktor Dekadenz 4:10
2-11 Cleaner Anti-Arctic (Hard Vox Version) 5:38
2-12 Absurd Minds Fairy Stories 5:12
2-13 Hocico Spit As An Offence (Suicide Commando Remix)

Remix – Suicide Commando

5:25
2-14 Siechtum Gesellschaft Mord 3:36
2-15 Dulce Liquido Illusión Hecha Mentira
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Ghosts from the Darkside II [#519]

R-570247-1150308479.jpeg
A compilation of highlights of Goth, Darkwave and Dark Electro bands.

During my exploration of usenet newsgroups, specifically the goth-industrial binary group, I happened upon a whole treasure trove of gothic compilations (as you will hear about a few weeks later on in this project). In an effort to grow my “repertoire” with goth music I would download compilations as a way to find new bands.

Ghosts from the Darkside II is pretty hard going. I’d heard of a few of the bands featuring on this album through other explorations, such as Inkubus SukkubusBlack Tape for a Blue Girl and Blutengel so it was natural for me to give it a go. However, I’d not really heard of any of the songs in the compilation either. There are quite a few German bands in this compilation so I suspect this is an album aimed at people who attend Wave Gothik Treffen.

After several listens I’m still not enamoured with the album. Perhaps it’s because I’m older now and I’ve reached “Full of Goth” or perhaps it’s because I just don’t like what I’ve heard.

Tracklist

1-1 Swartalf Invocation 4:03
1-2 Non Compos Mentis Without Bloodshed 6:10
1-3 Ikon (4) Fatal Attraction 3:17
1-4 In Extremo Ai Vis Lo Lop 4:02
1-5 Morthem Vlade Art Beyond Sorrow 5:19
1-6 WeltenBrand The Fall Of Trisona 6:35
1-7 Diary Of Dreams Drop Dead 7:11
1-8 Nekromantik Girlstickboy 4:05
1-9 Blutengel Beauty Of Suffering 6:13
1-10 Fiction 8 Second Skin 3:32
1-11 Girls Under Glass New World Order 4:20
1-12 Das Zeichen In The Garden 3:58
1-13 Theatre Of Loneliness Holocaust 4:16
1-14 black tape for a blue girl Given 4:20
1-15 Hagalaz’ Runedance When The Trees Were Silenced 2:45
2-1 Exovedate Ego Sum Mons 4:30
2-2 Untoten Gothik Years 5:54
2-3 Chaos God Judgement Day 5:36
2-4 The Dust Of Basement God’s Own Fairytales 5:28
2-5 The Second Sight Answer 3:29
2-6 Die Form Spiral 2 4:12
2-7 Vespertina De Profundis 4:20
2-8 Inkubus Sukkubus Starchild 4:44
2-9 Sanguis Et Cinis Nicht Mein Schicksal 5:33
2-10 The New Creatures My Child Queen 4:53
2-11 This Burning Effigy Exquisite 4:58
2-12 Hexedene Only Human (Original Mix) 4:30
2-13 Attrition The Thin Veil 6:12
2-14 Louisa John-Krol Alexandria 5:30
2-15 Summoning Angbands Schmieden 3:28

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Garlands – Cocteau Twins [#510]

CocteauTwins-Garlands-smallWhen I said I liked the Cocteau Twins I should have clarified that I liked a couple of tracks. It’s just that when you mention you like a band you often get inundated with advice about which albums you “should” like.

This is one such case. Apparently I “should” like this album because I’m a “fan”. I can actually understand that because a lot of the album sounds like early Dead Can Dance and there are occasions where you can detect the seeds of early goth, shoegazing and dream pop and it is easy to suggest a recommendation based on hearing other bands of similar sound.

This is the Cocteau Twins’ first album but really, it gets to a point where all Cocteau Twins stuff sounds the same. Indecipherable caterwauling from Liz Fraser droning guitar wibbles from one of the blokes and synthetic moodscaping from the other. If I was held captive in a car driving somewhere late at night in the post rain wetness while perhaps bleeding to death or coming down with a fever, this would probably be ok to listen to.

 

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From Wishes to Eternity – Nightwish [#503]

Nightwish_from_wishes_to_eternity1Scandinavian rock valkyries again, this time with a live set featuring Nightwish’s pre-breakup line-up and Tarja Turunen.

The album is a live recording of a concert performed in Tempere in 2000 and was originally released as a limited CD run and released in DVD format with footage of the actual gig. It features a number of my favourite tracks from across the Nightwish catalogue.
I was never at the gig. Nor am I likely to want to go to a Nightwish gig these days. But, like with all live albums, I can play it really loud while standing in the garden in the dark and pretend I’m at the gig whenever I like.

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Forever & Ever – Fields of the Nephilim [#487]

R-571075-1165231721.jpegMore brooding beats from the cadaverous cowboys that are Fields of the Nephilim taken from the soundtrack of their video release Forever Remain.

I suspect after Ginger Chris’ cassette finally drove the music industry into an irretrievable spiral of descent, my enthusiasm for music waned too. As I wandered around the global car boot sale that was the early internet of 2004-2010, I would pick up remnants of forgotten things called albums from the digital flotsam and jetsam and store them for humanity on my hard drive. If it wasn’t for my actions I’m fairly certain the music industry would have been completely destroyed by home taping.

Forever & Ever is a rip of a live video album and features many of FONs “greatest hits”, all favourites of mine. I could have quite happily left my appreciation of the band there but subsequent releases enticed me in with the promise of good music. I suppose by then, the zeitgeist had leaked from the loosely sealed bottle of life and I began to realise that the new rules and flavours brought about by the demise of the music industry were bitter and unpalatable.

 

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