2017 will see a rise of Lovecraftian, cosmic horroresque aesthetics
2016 slipped away without a spotlight for a development in music that has come into full force over the course of this year, completely out of view of most blogs and music magazines, even independently of the internet avant-garde’s metal fetish. It is one of the most successful stories of how a music movement can be assembled from different genres and musical backgrounds. Meet the new dark generation.
I’m calling it a generation rather than a movement or a scene because not all of the artists are necessarily connected or would recognise each other as part of the same thing. Rather there are smaller groups and scenes, probably more than there are on my radar right now, that are making forward looking, multi-genre music with a dark twist. With the facebook group Dark Electronic Music, I’ve tried to tie all of these small movements together and to some extent this was successful, but still far from where I’d hope it will move. But all of these movements and scenes have grown and diversified this year and that is something which can never deserve enough support.
Some household names and some new names to support. Also I lost a bit sight on the techno, hardcore and industrial side of things, so that’ll be saved for next time.
1. Hexx 9 records (label)
Of all the labels and collectives out there, few embody what I call the ‘new dark generation’ as on point as the New York based trailblazers of Hexx 9. Born out of the post-witchouse movement, they have released next generation gothic music on the interface of witch house, industrial, ritual ambient, drone, noise rave, dub, trap and more. Even Abu Ama‘s Arabic ambient dub tarraxo has found a warm home at the label.
2. 209 SINS
With separate projects known under different pseudonyms, 209 SINS is one of the most consistently active Soundclouders, combining repost selections with own productions and mixtapes: れモモ刀下∨ㄥ 匕卄丹れム乙 for vocal hiphop, ᴆ ᴀ ᵛ ᴵ ᴆ † ᴌᴬ ᴮ 0 ᵙ ℜ for hard-hitting industrial DnB rave crossovers, Philip K. Decker for cinematic ambient influenced instrumental tracks and ｙｕｎΠｇ≠ｗｅｌｌｂｕｔｒｉΠ for mixtapes.
209 SINS recent selector’s choice of industrial bass rave mixtapes
We’ve supported the Paris based prodigy ßęđŧīmĕ Šŧōŗĩėş and his alter-project Shinji (now [lyn]) several times before on the blog, but 2016 was the year where he put himself on the map, both with his two artistic projects and with his avant-witchhouse Facebook channel U+06e9. An autodidact classical singer, electronic producer and improvisationalist, bedtime stories’ has developed an impressively unique style, individually, without following any trend. Although he calls it ‘classical witch’, the sound transcends the witch house genre in every possible aspect, while its relation to classical music is even more intriguing. ßęđŧīmĕ Šŧōŗĩėş is a neoromantic, early-classical punk, reclaiming the sound and aesthetics of thoroughly elite, institutionalised entities as a tool for improvisational self-expression.
I’m looking forward to what 2017 will bring. Yet for now, ‘Gaia’ (Hexx 9, September 2016) is ßęđŧīmĕ Šŧōŗĩėş’ defining release.
Ģăīă was a project created by an unknown entity, a creature able to bend the nature of things and able to change reality by interacting with dreaming people. Ģăīă was able to save lives, but playing with human psyche is not without consequences, and most of the dreamers died. Only a few stayed alive, connecting with nature to transfer the energy of the entity into the lands. Now, Ģăīă is all around us and influence our reality, but maybe this reality is just a lng dream orchestrated by Ģăīă itself.
One of the exiting aspects of ßęđŧīmĕ Šŧōŗĩėş is that he knows how to deconstruct his own sound, combining elements of it such as the gothic opera singing, with vastly different vibes such as this industrial, rhythmic ambient track collab with Achromatic Residue.
Another very active producer and scene pusher involved in blending witch house elements with industrial ritual ambient music is Volkanos from Denver, U.S. Involved with the Hexx 9 label as well as the dark experimental techno label Tenebrous Music. Grown up in a family involved with Wicca and Shamanism, Volkanos always had a vision of fusing music with symbolism, mythology and ritual choreography. Expect a more in-depth interview soon on the blog!
Volkanos’ style: suggestive horroresque soundscapes, blended with organic percussion and witch house flavoured rave synths
The All Souls mixtape which came out around halloween is one of my favourite mixes of 2k16, particularly because Volkanos, next to myself, is one of the only artists in the world fusing witch house, dark techno and 209 sins style industrial bass music with the dark flavoured side of ‘avant garde club’
5. Young Yogi
Supported several times before, Young Yogi, alter-project of GAMEFACE, is paving the way ahead of the dark trap microgenre which GAMEFACE has been building for about two years now, steering away from sounds of EDM trap as well as from post-internet cloud trap into a more unique and conceptual direction. Young Yogi’s sound combines the explosive tension and monstruous 808 bass of the new dark wave of cloud trap and with psychedelic uplifting melodies and cyber-utopian mystical thematics.
Mad genius of the witch house scene, playing with thematics and imagery sometimes too gruesome for even me to share. When he disappeared from all his social media platforms at some point last year I, and probably more with me, was honestly worried he’d put an end to his life. But he came back and has been uploading so much fire lately, venturing from his already rough and eclectic twist on witch house further into noise, breakcore, hardcore, dark trap and black metal.
8. RARE AKUMA
Especially Sadwrist’s more trap leaning work would probably fit the new #RAGECORE genre, created by the Antwerp based beatmaker Rare Akuma. Pushing a blend that is sitting somewhere in between drill, deathstep and metal, Rare Akuma bridges the worlds of hiphop, loud bass music and the rise of metal in the electronic avant-garde.
The witch house scene in the Netherlands is small and fragmented. The people that make it are not really connected into one scene. In fact, there isn’t really a scene at all. The genre is just getting a bit more known over here only recently (then I’m not talking about Crystal Castles) among the new generation of dark-alternative leaning fans who can nowadays listen to anything from vaporwave or sad rap to anime music or whatever edgy genre the internet has spit out over the last years. Producers are a different story. With Atilla The Hvn and Noire Antidote there are two great forward looking examples, one coming (as far as I can tell) from industrial techno, the other (alter-project of Benjamin’s Plague) coming from the cybergoth-industrial scene.
From Tilburg, home base of Generation Bass, Atilla the Hvn seemed to come out of the blue when I first discovered him last year, but apparently he has not only been experimenting with witch house for more than two years, has a solid following and is well connected in different forward looking corners of music. If I may bet on any producer from the Netherlands to rise to greater heights in 2017, Atilla The Hvn is the one.
Dark melancholic trance & hardcore beautifully blended and distorted into a powerful emotional rave flavoured soundscape.
I’ve known the guy behind Noire Antidote for a while (never met him in person tho) because of my occasional adventures in the industrial scene and how much I like dark electro, I was even happier to find out that within the remnants of the gothic scene at large, there is interest in witch house as a direction to go into. Not that I have anything particular against industrial hardcore or psytrance, but with self-proclaimed scene destroyer DJ Krat (industrial hardcore/rhythmic noise), the psy/goa scene or wallowing in German festival nostalgia as the only three options, witch house was never embraced by the gothic scene in the Netherlands so far. In 2017, things have changed. Whether it makes sense or not to still talk about a gothic scene is irrelevant. Noire Antidote is making great music and actively reaches out to crowds with livesets on industrial minded festivals, without the need for a witch house scene.
10. The Enigma TNG
Back in the days I’ve suppored The Enigma TNG, still one of my all-time favourite producers, as an example of what an eclectic, multi-genre cyberpunk flavoured dark music future could look like. Almost two years later, he is still going strong, consistent pushing and developing his unique style. And where back then, he was a solitary pioneer with a solid following mainly in the world of cybergoth-electro and alternative electrostep, today his sound, involving elements of metal and cinematic epic orchestral music, is being mentioned as an inspiration for the direction in which the club avant-garde will be moving in 2017.
His newest album, ‘Midnight’, came out in October last year.
11. Toxic Embryo
Upcoming live electronic formation and enfant terrible of the dark-alternative scene in the Netherlands. Drawing inspiration from sources like Babymetal, BOTDF, anime music and nightcore, Toxic Embryo’s twist on dark electropop possesses the same post-ironic DIY edge as PC Music’s bubblegum rave or Elysia Crampton’s conscious use of cartoonish horror elements and recontextualised pop sentimentality. The nostalgic, trancy neo-rave melodies and anime-esque adventure lyrics combined with campy cyberpunk aesthetics will leave the traditional electropop fan in utter confusion whether this is a joke or truly garbage. Yet at the same time, this androgynous blend of hyperpop and angelwave, fused with metal, hardcore, trance, rap and live performance is exactly where the avant-garde of internet culture will be moving in 2017.