And with every passing year, ever more people all over the world are finding out about this frightening creature that unleashes chaos and darkness in the streets of cities and villages at the onset of December. There was a Krampus Walk and Krampus Fest in Rotterdam to which couldn’t make it so a Youtube clip is all I can give you until upcoming year…
This is what regained my interest Krampus, a radiopodcast from Rotterdam, hosted by forward looking minds from the dark-alternative electronic scene who have been pioneering in the borderlands of hardcore, industrial, schranz and more. Since this year they’ve launched a campaign to introduce krampus in the Netherlands to show that an alternative to the Dutch idiotic blackface tradition doesn’t need to be a character-less, watered-down-consensus figure, but can also be something vibrant and exciting. As a teaser for the krampus walk and krampus fest, they made this podcast with a 2 hours of mindblowing brutal dark beats and background information about krampus (in Dutch).
At the same time, I’ve witnessed a rise of dark, apocalyptic vibes in many areas of music, including global bass genres. We’re in the midst of a transition and ever more revolutionary chaos is spreading in music and in our understanding of virtually everything in the world around us. I’ve been talking with people about the idea of dystopian futurism and darkness in music, fashion, art and wider culture for about a year now and mainstream vids like Skrillex ft. Ragga Twins‘ ‘Ragga Bomb‘ and Skrillex newest video ‘Dirty Vibe‘ confirmed that gut-feeling.
As I explained in my skullbass post, there are three main innovations going on in our times: 1.) fusions of different dark/hard genres music such as hardcore, breakcore, drum ‘n bass, dark dubstep, dark techno, industrial, hard electro, noise music and metal; 2.) global bass; and 3.) fusions between urban flavours with dark music and aesthetics.
Fusions between styles that are known as dark and those that are not that much known as dark have, in fact, always been there, but throughout the 2000’s, the hey-days of animosity between scenes, it has never grown out into something more substantial. But towards the 2010’s, a fusion emerged between southern Chopped n screwed hiphop and gothic flavours which became hyped by the music media (in parallel with global bass) as which house. Remeber those days? Witch house was kind of the ‘thing’ before seapunk and vaporwave and a lot has been written about it that seems to be iconic for music in the internet-age: is it an actual genre? when did it become a ‘thing’? was it just an empty bandwagon?
And the list is much longer. Venus x‘ vanguard movement GHE20G0THIK is probably the most transformative cultural initiative of our time, Tommy Lee Sparta fused dark sounds and gothic aesthetics with dancehall in a way nobody has ever done before. But dark-alternative dancehall is growing (more about this later), and so is industrial hiphop, brought into the mainstream by Death Grips & Kanye West. And only think about the dark-industrial influences in bass music genres like grime, dubstep and DnB, which are endless.
So what’s the idea.. Global bass is the source of innovation for EDM while dark-alternative music incorporates ever more flavours of dance music (for an excellent history of how goth incorporated EBM and trance and transformed it into cybergoth and then died of a lack of innovation listen to this podcast!) and urban music is innovating by incorporating dark, abrasive flavours. Considering that global bass itself are often urban inspired rather than dance inspired music, an eventual convergence of dark music and global bass rhythms and flavours seems almost unevitable. And with internet trends like Healthgoth now also embracing the idea of cross-genre dark music, there is only more potential for this to happen in 2015.
Munchi was years ahead of his time..
To actively speed it up, I created the Facebook group Dark Bass Underground, later turned into (for the lack of a more accurate name) Dark Electronic Music to share stuff from both sides, trying to inspire people. And especially now we at Generation Bass started the NXNW section, we also moved more solidly into dark terrain. Time to celebrate it with a massive dark bass post, with picks from the best of what has been shared in that group so far.
One of my main loves when it comes to dark music is the 80s retrofuture-noir atmosphere of cyberpunk, which I call ‘a mirror’ for our own world. It is the sound that emerged as people were thinking about the times ahead of them that we are now living in, and it is only logical that this music will rise again after the euphoria and consumerist air castles from the 90s are stripped away. Perturbator is one of the most important new generation of artists who is bringing dark, often analog, synth music back to the forefront of electronic music today! Check out this amazing set from November!
What’s especially promising about analog oriented styles like ebm, early electro, early techno, synthwave and synthpop is that they can be performed by bands and can break the current dominance of DJing in electronic music. As I found out while writing this post, the line between live and pre-recorded is often very blurred when it comes to performances of electronic bands, but nevertheless, this performance from the Detroid based electro band Dopplereffekt shows what kind of things we may see much more in the future.
Now compare this to the legendary Boiler Room performance of the ruidosón OG’s Los Macuanos, and imagine what may happen if band-based electronica and global bass will merge on a larger scale!
The Enigma TNG is one of my all-time favourite producers, with an eclectic retro-futuristic approach that varies between cinematic electronica, industrial and hiphop!
GR∆V3☦ROBB∆ is currently one of the most active and experimental names in witch house. He doesn’t follow fixed formulas but always explores diverse sounds, from dark dubstep to ritual ambient to techno!
For more of most forward-looking witch house, check out one of my absolute favourite YouTube cannels: Nightmares & 808s. This mindblowing, industrial-inspired tune from the Russian dark avant-garde producer Greycity is a good example of the fantastic stuff that you will find on this channel!
Before I move to the next genre, here an stunning, genre-crossing tune from Wanage Ska, an industrial & witch house producer from Rosebud Sioux Tribe reservation Lakota!
A whole different kind of fusion of dark sounds and southern hiphop is dark trap. As an antidote to the brainless euphoric laser-sound of festival trap, dark trap could be called ‘funeral trap’, combining distorted 808s with ritual chants, mysterious pads, trans-dimensional synths and brutal bass stabs.
If there is anyone who should be credited as the originator of dark trap, it is the cosmic trapgod Gameface. Check out his newest, apocalyptic track that pierces a hole in the veil between life and death, in the middle of the harshness of the streets!
Another rising dark trapper is the Portuguese producer Bruno Alison! That subtle percussion is just perfect and my deepest wish is that he will collaborate with the Portuguese tarraxo underground one day!
Avant-garde producer Flint Beastwood from Amsterdam made this stunningly dark for his grand Blasphemy Age album that was just too good to leave out.. It’s definitely the darkest track on the list but if you want to hear some of the best post-internet underground vibes, you should definitely check it out!
A specific genre of ‘dark urban music’ to mention is drill, Chicago’s dystopian, ice-cold cousin of Atlanta trap, which has been on the rise over the last years as one of the new major waves of hip hop, known for acts like Bobby Schmurda and Chief Keef. The harsh lyrics go hand with the most spine-chilling dark sounds that sometimes comes close to a industrial ambient flavour, fused with downtempo 808 beats, like this throat-gripping instrumental by Dj Hitkidd!
Industrial music, the prototype of all dark electronic music, seems to be in a state of confusion for a while now, torn between innovators and purists who do everything to keep existing sounds subgenres the way they are. Meanwhile, fans hop into ther scenes, such as hardcore or goa.
But in all different corners of the umbrella term ‘industrial’ there are interesting things going on. Especially now the early and heydays of industrial are being rediscovered in the wake of internet hypes like healthgoth, I’ll expect it to get only better in 2015!
For me personally, this massive yet thoughtful electro-metal flavoured stomper from the German band Chrysalide was the best industrial single of 2014! Download it from their webpage!
The experimental producer Grimstatic keeps impressing me with a eclectic blend of dark electro, harsh EBM, industrial noise and complex rhythmical patterns. I’ve been reposting him for a while and I’m happy I can finally support him on Generation Bass!
Electronic Body Music and industrial music are not the same thing but they are often heard together, especially when it’s harsh EBM. Generation Bass on an 80s underground synth trip and EBM is definitely a fascinating movement of electronic music rooting in the 80s that you will hear more often on the blog in 2015. Here an great example of an 80s flavoured EMB tune that blows my mind!
Spectral Incision is an experimental producer who calls his own style ‘industrial filth’: a fusion of industrial, metal and dubstep. His newest track explores a whole new sound, an abrasive, percussive DnB-flavoured beat with a vibe that goes into the direction of zoukbass!
And here another experimental industrial track, from eclectic dark producer Beat Driven Insomnia, fusing a typical industrial cyber-electro synths with an uptempo, distorted breakbeat!
And from Argentina we’ve got PSICOTOP, a very interesting experimental producer who fuses industrial and EBM with dark ambient, noise and Latin influences. I originally wanted to blog a track where you could clearly hear elements of cumbia and salsa but he took it off his soundcloud so here another amazing example. Not exactly industrial, but dark ambient with flute sounds from the Andes!
In you are interested in what’s happening at the front-line of innovation in hardcore and all its sub-branches, check out the magnificent label Noisj and new events such as N.O.R.A.D., where excellent crossovers between hardcore, DnB and hard techno are starting to form a whole new generation of hard-dark music fans from many different directions. People from the cyber-industrial scene, the still substantial gabber underground, from DnB, from raggacore, acid and tek, from hard techno.. all have found their way into this new and exciting world.
Let’s start with crossbreed, a hybrid genre of hardcore and DnB, which I heard is still far from embraced both by the hardcore scene among DnB fans. First an example which is still close to the darker side of DnB, by the Russian dark-hard eclecticist DNE!
And here a crossbreed track with the same monstruous energy as hardcore, a fresh release from the Belgian innovative hardcore duo Existh!
With more complex breakbeat patterns on the high frequencies it becomes breakcore rather than crossbreed. There’s some very interesting experimental stuff out there which tries to bring the drum insanity from breakcore and the brutal harshness from hardcore closer together.. Check out this stunningly futuristic track by Maza (Russia) & The Infernal Brothers (Russia)!
Other experimental vibes go more into a melodic, quiet direction, like ‘dreamcore’. With soothening pads & piano work, Ragnarok (Norway) & Starving Insect (Sweden) manage to fuse abrasive, distorted kicks with a toughtful, post-apocalyptic chill-groove!
Also from Ragnarok: a magnificent techno flavoured banger with a vibe that almost becomes 3ball!
And here a third track from Ragnarok, remixed by The Peoples Republic of Europe, one of the most influential formations in another hybrid genre, industrial hardcore!
A genre where dark sounds are living a strond and passionate underground life is techno. There is a network of connected subgenres like doomtechno, dark techno, industrie techno, mainly located in Germany. I can’t cover it all but I can share an example of the amazing stuff that is coming from this underground..
Here brutal fresh release from the Düsseldorf based producer Klangtronik!
The Belgian producer Ethan Fawkes is a producer-dj who stands with one leg in the world of industrial and with the other leg in the world of dark techno and a lot of amazing industrial flavoured techno is being released these days by him and producers around him. I picked this remix by the duo E-Squad, because of the groovy tribal flavoured percussion!
Of course there cannot be a Generation Bass post with dark techno without a major shoutout to Generation Bass godfather Drvg Cvltvre.. Check out this fabulous dark, almost Latin-flavoured percussive techno track!
The Colombian producer Luix Spectrum combines percussive dark techno with a rhythmical pattern that comes close to 3ball!
We’ve seen that there’s a lot of experimentation going on in different dark electronic music scenes, especially with rhythm and percussion, and urban music embracing dark flavours on an ever larger scale. So what about ‘global bass’?
The duo Deadstare is the most outspoken dark-global bass initiative, who referred to their style as a the middle between the Owsla signed, occult-cyberpunk themed black metal dubstep act Phuture Doom (one of my favourite dark music acts, which I couldn’t blogged here because they haven’t released in a while), and global bass! They fuse sounds like cinematic horror ambient, terror and speed- and breakcore with latin rhythms like cumbia and 3ball. This is one of their newest releases that you might have missed: a moombahton rework of one of the tracks from their New EP!
The innovative 3ball bass duo Los Innsurgentes dedicated an entire, evil-themed EP last year to energetic dark sounds, drawing from dark trap, metalstep and witch house! This should have received a massive shoutout from us long ago already, but it’s never too late I suppose.. Grab the EP here!
One of the most established subgenres of dark, dystopian global bass fusion is rough kuduro, which we introduced last year with Nazar‘s magnificent Nihil EP! It isn’t bad to reblog a post that almost went unnoticed: this industrial horror vid with a dark ambient-noise kuduro track from avant garde producer OnlyNow a.k.a Kush Arora!
SP Deville is a London-based Portuguese producer with Angolan roots who specialises in hiphop beats, Luso-African styles as well as eclectic bass music with a dark edge. Check out this fabulous track which draws influences from drill, dancehall, kuduro and grime!
I remember from my Sexxy Saturday Cumbia time that there are many amazing dark cumbia tracks out there. This is the newest example I could find: a black metal flavoured electronic cumbia tune from the Argentinian tropical alrounder Fede Trip!
Deliciously dark avant-garde dembow here, from the upcoming eclectic underground formation Santa Muerte!
Under my new artist name S x m b r a, I try to experiment some different dark global bass blends myself as well. Here a quick demo where I try to capture a typical cyber-goth atmosphere, fused with moombahton. Try to picture a choreography that holds the middle between industrial dance and perreo!
Closing this mega-post with some uncategorisable but mindblowing dark tracks!
iLLu!, dark trap duo from London, released this powerful, apocalyptic DnB track!
Another new trend of 80s inspired electronic underground music you will come to see more often is ‘minimal synth’. Also analog and melodic, but more minimalistic and groovy than synthwave or EBM. Ortrotasce is a musician who is specialised in this sound, which can be mellow and dark. This absolutely perfect, surrealistic underground track is his newst creation!
Alternative hiphop producer Mike Sore, from Warsaw, Poland, makes beats for rappers as well as dark trap, witch house and experimental stuff. This menacing instrumental hiphop tune blows my mind!
Another dark eclectic hiphop producer, Dark User, is one of my most interesting recent finds on Soundcloud. This symphonic-electronic-blastbeat-ambient-industrial track is one of the best things I’ve heard lately!
A third experimental avant garde dark trapper who deserves more attention is AyyJAy, from London. This horroresque, mellow dark pearl of a track is one of my favourites of is productions! Close your yes and feal the fear..