Music for the darkly inclined!
Nostalgia is an adept seductress, and one of her most effective snares is music. The memories associated with the cherished bands and tunes that make up the soundtracks of our lives rest dormant in our psyches, yet an unexpected listen can launch a flurry of reminiscing. In the span of a few minutes, the pleasant, the wistful, and the regretful can bloom in our minds and drag our emotions along for the ride. A suspension of time when aspects of our past haunt our present.
Speaking of haunting and nostalgia—I’m just going to segue into my topic at hand: Goth/industrial music and the various subgenre flowerings within this garden of dark delights. The types of music now represented in the goth/industrial category are many, and they resonate quite well with each other. Goth/industrial/post-punk/new wave/and so on—this is a popular theme for many a bar and club night in cities across the country, and the grouping provides a bountiful harvest of music. I’ve enjoyed many a night out swirling and twirling and stomping with the rest of the crowd. Evenings steeped in fun and escapist nostalgia—what’s not to love?
Yet what about more recent music for the darkly inclined? There’s a whole lot of that too, but if you’re a regular at a local goth/industrial night, you might not hear much of it. The heady potency of nostalgia means attendees often want to hear and dance to their fond favorites. The beaten path is familiar, comfortable and comforting, but the scene finally appears to be evolving out of its cozy stasis. I'm delighted to report I’m hearing quite a bit more new goth/industrial (and the category’s myriad offshoots) inserted in-between the old standards. Huzzah, the times are a-changin’!
Okay, I’m not going to stumble into a disgruntled rant here, even though I adore disgruntled rants and will likely indulge in one in the future. (Lucky you!) I’m making an observation, and then moving on to how nostalgia (that bewitching temptress) can also work as a lure for discovering new music—which is how it worked with me.
Beyond the sporadic hearing of unfamiliar songs while out and about, and taking note of them for future download, the most condensed exposure I’ve had to newer goth music and its ilk came a year or so ago via a link posted in one of the music or goth groups of which I’m a member. The link promoted a free download of a 33 Gothic Bands You Should Know compilation put together by Oskar Terramortis of Gothic Music Records. The list included songs by bands from around the world. Intrigued, I downloaded, listened off and on over the next week, and my enthusiasm to hear more grew. Lucky for me an ample archive exists on Bandcamp of such Oskar Terramortis compilations. For me, like many others, Bandcamp has become a super reliable outlet for listening to and purchasing new music, especially of the indie and non-mainstream variety.
So where does nostalgia fit into this picture? As I listened to the fresh music on the compilation, certain songs immediately stood out because they were evocative of old school favorites. Something about them plucked at my memories in pleasant yet nebulous ways. If a particular tune strongly brought to mind, for example, Christian Death, you can be damn sure I went searching to hear more from that band.
I listened to four compilations of the 33 Gothic Bands You Should Know series, and rode high on a wave of surreal nostalgia. I became ever so slightly obsessed with first separating out those bands/songs resonating old school before re-listening to the rest with a less fixated ear. Soon, I’d built up a nice fledgling collection of previously unknown-to-me artists and songs. The “reminds me of” game turned into an entertaining way to listen to and discover new goth music, especially since I’d been fairly apathetic in prior years, preferring the “catch as catch can” method of hearing new goth/industrial music.
Below I list a few of the tunes that enticed me to eagerly venture beyond the winsome grasp of the same old same old, and also indicate the band they evoked. Obviously what “reminds me of Killing Joke” won’t likely be the case for others, but eh, who cares? Taste is subjective and nostalgia prompts are as well. These days I’ve zero inclination to debate or engage with a purist mindset about music. I yield that tedious territory to Serious Music Journalists, and I wish them luck.
Anyway, I hope you experience a peculiar sense of nostalgia as you slide down the rabbit hole.
(Miazma - Sweden)
Reminds me of: Sisters of Mercy
If the above song doesn’t call to mind Sisters of Mercy then I don’t know what to do with you. I mean, come on. I’ve seen a bit of dragging of Miazma in the comments on YouTube because of how similar the sound is to SoM, but all I can muster to that conflict is a shrug. I think the world is a more enjoyable place with additional Sisters of Mercy music, and I don’t care who’s making it. (Also, unless you’re determined to torture your intellect, never read YouTube comments.)
(Silent Scream - Finland)
Reminds me of: Killing Joke
(Black Buttercups - UK)
Reminds me of: Christian Death
(Saigon Blue Rain - France)
Reminds me of: Cocteau Twins, especially Garlands.
Don’t even try and argue with me on this one. Garlands is my favorite work by Cocteau Twins. Upon hearing Queen Ephemeria, I listened to Cocteau Twins a lot for days and found myself soaking in a warm bath of nostalgic sound. Dreamy!
The Worm Prince of Black Toad Hollow
(Black Heroin Gallery - L.A.)
Reminds me of: Virgin Prunes/Sex Gang Children
(Sorry, Heels - Italy)
Reminds me of: Siouxsie and the Banshees
(Undertheskin – Poland)
Reminds me of: Fields of the Nephilim
I highly recommend checking out the Oskar Terramorits compilations. So much music!
In future pieces about music for the darkly inclined, my topics might not always fall strictly under the goth/industrial music banner because what fun would that limitation be? I may write about, say, how the soundtrack from the 1988 movie Dangerous Liaisons is excellent to listen to while one crafts sigils to stir up a bit of social mayhem. Or devote hundreds of words to my relentless love of the Virgin Prunes. (That’s more of a warning than a promise, by the way.) Ideally, though, I’d like to feature a variety of topics, perhaps a few interviews with movers and shakers, and write about the sorts of music that makes the hearts of the darkly inclined beat a little bit faster (or slower, if that’s your thing).
Until next time, my painted birds!
Inky Heels lives in San Francisco and avoids sunlight. She gets sardonic pleasure from mixing metaphors and poking various beasts, often at the same time. Email: email@example.com | Twitter: @InkyHeels
Image courtesy of: Todd Perley and Becky Alice