Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

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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Happiest Days of My Life – David Galas [#567]

First post in a year and with it, our last visit to a David Galas album (unless he releases another album before I reach Z). Happiest Days is Galas’ difficult second album with anger, gloom and despondency key elements at play.

Smouldering gloomy guitar work coupled with a flavour of the conceptualisation of returning from war; shocked and horrified by the sights witnessed. Dark places. Dark wave.  Again, Galas pulls it off. It is a vast difference from Cataclysm and you can hear the developing themes that would later appear in Ghosts of California. 

I’d like to thank David Galas for this and all his solo albums to date. Thank you for making such life changing and affirming music at the right time. Your work has been a stretcher bearer for me on many occasions and  I guess you’ll never know how much it means to me and others. Please don’t give up on your amazing talent.

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Fairytales of Slavery – Miranda Sex Garden [#456]

Unknown-3We’ve met Miranda Sex Garden on the music project before; Medieval Baebes’ Katherine Blake’s other band and their weird mix of ethereal a cappella and dark wave. I’m always surprised by how much I enjoy listening to MSG. Often I approach them with a soupçon of trepidation but I always end up having a good old shoegazey shuffle.

Fairytales of Slavery is MSGs penultimate release from 1994. It is not as finely honed as Carnival of Souls and you can almost detect a bit of lethargy in the overall production but it still rewards the listener with an interesting sweep across the dark wave genre brought to you via Blake’s unusual showcase of talent.

Probably very popular with Whitby Goth Festival goers.

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Desire Rites – Sieben [#363]

Desire rites - Sieben [#363] We’ve met Sheffield violinist Matt Howden in his alternate guise of Sieben on the Music Project before. This was the first album I bought by Sieben having previously only heard the artist on the Looking for Europe neofolk compendium.

On this album Howden shows how his cheeky humorous side can be laced through his biting observational reflections on various aspects of life. From how the far right have propagated their disgusting agenda through some neofolk to the story of a besotted lonely projectionist, Howden uses this album to set the foundations for his later albums.

If you are new to the neofolk scene, especially the small presence within the genre of British artists, the talented Sieben/Matt Howden’s album Desire Rites is a nice intro.

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The Cataclysm – David Galas [#253]

The+Cataclysm+coverThe Cataclysm – David Galas

Possibly one of the most remarkable yet uncelebrated albums I have ever had the pleasure of listening to is Cataclysm by David Galas. I have to say that in my personal all time top ten favourite albums, this ranks in the top 5.

Galas, previously with Lycia, released a number of albums between 2007 and 2011 and Cataclysm was the first of his solo releases. I came across the album in 2008 and it changed my life.

Primarily my interest was due to an incorrect review on a website which described the album as “a miserable concept album about Chernobyl”. This was, of course, total bollocks but it didn’t stop me listening to the atmospheric sounds, gloomy lyrics and melancholy melodies while mentally visualising images from an illustrative Chernobyl based film which could pass as it’s music video. Of course, there is no such actual video and it certainly isn’t anything to do with Chernobyl, but a visual backdrop like that would make a fantastic accompanying video to the album.

Galas has a very unique style. His work is instantly recognisable and his musical talent makes most of his contemporaries look like amateurs. Sadly Galas has moved away from his solo career and back into group work. This is mainly due to his own personal reasons but I can’t help feeling disappointed that he was only able to squeeze out three albums.

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#110 – Aux Volontaires Croix De Sang – LJDP

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 18.24.20Aux Volontaires Croix De Sang – Les Joyaux De La Princesse

If it’s not Scottish chicks with guitars or hairy men from the 1970s, this project seems to dip in and out of the darker recesses of Euroculture.

This is yet another limited edition LP from LJDP. Not satisfied with having Absinthe bleeding from your ears or Aux Les Petits Enfants de France giving you frightful nightmares about goings on in Vichy era France; Aux Voluntaires Croix De Sang leads you through the even darker twisty bendy turns of dark French history.

Now here I must put a disclaimer. I like the atmospherics of LJDP. Nothing more. I don’t sit in my garret with my jackboots on saluting like a fuckwit. Nor do I burn religious symbolism, shave my head or tattoo swastikas all over my face. My political beliefs are so removed from the far right it’s down the road in the other direction, over the bridge and through the gap in the fence. I repeat, I like the atmospherics. I am mature and sensible enough to appreciate art for the creators effort, whether I share their beliefs or not and maintain detachment from anything subversive or otherwise.

Don’t have nightmares….

 

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#109 – Aux Petits Enfants de France – LJDP

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 18.02.33Aux Petits Enfants de France – Les Joyaux De La Princesse

If you read the entry for Absinthe  and tried out the Youtube playlist, you should have some idea about what is about to follow.

Les Joyaux De La Princesse (LJDP) presented the darkwave world with this album in about 2006. Dark, mournful vibrating chords force themselves into your skull via the ear like lukewarm liquid metal prongs.

Accompanied by recordings of French politicians from 1944, a very dark period of French history that you won’t find on l était une fois… l’homme, this haunting work will lay earworm eggs in your brain which will hatch and bury themselves deep into your psyche. Only resurfacing when you are having delirious hallucinations brought on by a nasty infection or a bad pint.

This is the stuff you should be listening to if you even consider yourself a hipster. Of course, I heard it first, so I’m hipper than you’ll ever be. Soul patch or no soul patch.

 

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Album #78 – Anthology Archive – Revue Noir

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 14.05.53 Anthology Archive – Revue Noir

This is another one of those music projects by bands I like but didn’t know they’d done.

Revue Noir is a collaboration between Sam Rosenthal and Nicki Jaine both former Black Tape for a Blue Girl.The Noir is rightly placed as this is as dark as 10 NeuroticsThe album covers several familiar songs from a variety of artists such as David Bowie and The Doors taking them to a very dark place indeed.

Think Dresden Dolls, with the lights out, in a mine, painted black. With your eyes closed. Or maybe imagine a dark burlesque evening where everyone there is hedonistically miserable and the stage act sounds like they’re about to break into some weird real life S&M.

That’s Revue Noir. Dark and sinister.

Another hipster album I think. For those wanting to sound enchanting, hip and dark or fans of the sexually charged Dark Cabaret revival of the noughties.

I couldn’t find a video of anything from this album other than this one which, curiously, was filmed at a burlesque evening.

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Annwyn, Beneath the Waves – Faith and the Muse [Album #76]

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 13.11.55Annwyn, Beneath the Waves – Faith and the Muse

Until the last decade I had shamefully only heard of Faith and the Muse in rumours and student bedroom wall posters. Faith and the Muse have a similar style to Ordo Equitum Solis. Much like OES, Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance, Faith and the Muse are popular amongst the dark clothe wearing goth fraternity. Dark in style with mediaeval tones, Faith and the Muse mix open atmospheric chords with wailing floaty dressed female vocals and, in some tracks, militaristic drumming.

I had only listened to Annwyn once before. I’m not sure I would choose them for a car mix tape or to accompany a dinner party. Unless I was trying to be some sort of hipster goth or impress some Twiglet (sic) obsessed teenagers on their first forays into the dark.

I don’t know why I find this kind of music enjoyable. Perhaps it is the mental images of  dark and wet rainy streets that it conjures. In all, if your folk is too cheery, this is what you want. In a room. With joss sticks and pentagrams.

 

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Album #75 – Animi Aegritudo – Ordo Equitum Solis

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 12.40.53Animi Aegritudo – Ordo Equitum Solis

Neo-folk? Goth? Both? Not entirely sure.

There seems to be a lot of dark wave European bands with latin names. Ordo Equitum Solis, or Empire of the Sun are one such example . OES have a similar sound to Dead Can Dance only without the wailing Lisa Gerrard or weird avante-gard revivalist instruments. There are no sackbuts or crumbhorns here.

Animi Aegritudo (or Mind Illness) gives you that haunting mediaeval feeling, like you should be in some sort of red candle lit cellar in Italy, just before red cassocked hooded monks come into the room and sacrifice you to some dark entity.

I really like them (OES that is, not weird demon summoning monks).  I could quite happily sit in a cellar somewhere and listen to their haunting songs while supping red wine from golden jewel encrusted goblets. Of course most of their stuff was released a long time ago although they have recently had a bit of a come back.

I was really lucky to discover OES whilst on a Usenet music harvesting excersise in the early noughties. Of course, at the time, none of their stuff was available to buy legitimately in the UK. Sure you could buy imports but the last time I did that I ended up with a large credit card bill for porn and internal flights in the USA, which, of course, I have no recollection of buying. Anyway, you can buy their stuff now through Amazon and CDBaby if you’re really interested. I suggest giving them ago. They grow on you . Like moss. On a red candle lit cellar wall.

 

 

 

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Music Project – Album #46 – A World We Pretend–Twilight Garden

 

imageA World We Pretend by Twilight Garden

Every so often I come across a band in my library and I think “How the hell did I ever get this?”

 

Twilight Garden are one of those bands.

 

 

They are a curious cross of Depeche Mode, the Cure and maybe a tiny bit of Bauhaus. Lots of echoey guitar, forlorn vocals and the kind of production that makes it sound like they’re recording in some disused quarry. In the rain. After a group of smack head punks from the 80’s have been and daubed the walls with political slogans.

 

Perhaps they recorded in the foot tunnel depicted in their album cover?

 

 

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