6 Bands I’m Learning Black Magic For To Resurrect Them

Affecting free will, or even reanimating the dead is a near impossible task to accomplish, unless you have lots of money. Maybe not so much the dead part though, if the deceased can come back to life from slamming a suitcase full of money on their coffin or ashes, then Michael Jackson and Elvis would still be touring now. Then again, holograms. The point is, there are circumstances out of our control that affect what we love on a day-to-day basis and as much as it hurts, you want to do whatever you can to make it better again. In my instance, it’s bands that are inactive, deceased or simply no longer exist any more. So I’ve assembled a cast of five semi-unknown bands and one famous that I would willingly unearth from the great musical cemetary, in no particular order:

  1. Ulterior
Photo source: The Quietus/Unknown

Photo source: The Quietus/Unknown

Press who are in the know about this London synth-rock/neo-goth outfit adore them, but their current whereabouts right now are unknown. All social media traces of them have disappeared bar their website, but even that only features a full-screen YouTube video. I can only assume they’ve disbanded, which is a tragedy for fans of icy, vengeful synth-dominated rock, that poured attitude and an arousal into the heart of darker electronica. I already have written about this band on three occasions, my personal favourite here. They chose three words: icecold, staticvenom and speedhate to describe their music and it’s spot on. While politically charged and taking square aim at mass media, there’s a lingering Sisters of Mercy flavour in their palette, yet the flirting with pseudo-industrial and the unmistakeable 80’s synth sound, there’s an anger but an addictive personality to their cold-hearted yet incredible songwriting.

Five of their best:




Everything else is via Bandcamp.

      2. Schoolyard Heroes

Photo source: Pop Matters/Unknown

Photo source: Pop Matters/Unknown

My case for Schoolyard Heroes isn’t even funny as they reformed last year for a one-off show in the States, but have no intentions for continuing on their cult appeal since calling it quits in 2009. The Seattle-based fearsome foursome were one of a kind and the fever around them has grown noticeably since their split. What Schoolyard Heroes essentially did best was a punk rock horror cabaret, splicing the struggles of teenage life with B-Movies and the macabre, resulting in an all out assault that could be glamorous as it could visceral. Although with three albums to their name, all completed well within their youth, you can only feel disappointed that their infectious punk parade didn’t spread like the plague. There’s so much to enjoy from their utter delight in matters most morbid and the exact kind of fun and insanity that modern music is missing.

Five of their best:
Children Of The Night
The Plastic Surgery Hall Of Fame
They Live
Contra
Bury The Tooth Of The Hydra And A Skeleton Army Will Arise

Social media is scarce bar Facebook, but their music is readily available from most respectable music retailers.

3. Working For A Nuclear Free City

Photo source: Indie On Bunnies/Unknown

Photo source: Indie For Bunnies/Unknown

Previous to Gary McClure’s new found success in lo-fi indie rock darling American Wrestlers, he was one fourth of an incredible Mancunian troupe of musicians and producers known as Working For A Nuclear Free City. What the status of the band is currently unsure as not long ago they were on the lookout for a video editor, possibly signalling new incoming material that never arrived. Those on the insider’s circle and were aware of Working For A Nuclear Free City’s existence knew of the vast creative capacity that they housed, but they never received the full acclaim they rightfully deserved. Mining from an inexhaustible bank of inspiration and influences, they put together three (four including the now-elusive rarities) albums of some of the most eclectic music I’ve ever encountered. An under-appreciated and true original band, hopefully to return one day.

Five of their best:
Rocket
Asleep At The Wheel
Quiet Place
Alphaville
Brown Owl

Social media works for them, even though their posts are sporadic via Facebook. I had no idea this song existed until I searched out of curiosity, but go buy this via Bandcamp and for everything else, go get their music via most respectable music retailers. Also if you’re into that sort of thing, go read this interview of theirs, it’s hilarious.

4. Pitchblend

Photo source: Altwall.net/Unknown

Photo source: Altwall.net/Unknown

This is one of the saddest stories on this list for me. As a band from Reading in the UK, a seasoned music city from a national perspective, to perform for 10 years, and to have next to zero recognition for what is a seminal sound and phenomenal emotional and spirtual journey, should be punishable under the country’s justice system. This is by no means their fault however, whether victims of circumstance or the cruel realities of life, people just weren’t in tune with their explosive wave of stunning post-rock exhibitionism. How beats me. Rarely can you hear so much passion and belief agonisingly pour out of every single note and word without fail. There is never a wasted moment on the entire Lines Of Unreason album and the fact this has stayed buried in the musical graveyard is a travesty. Words do so little to give merit to how excellent this album truly is.

Five of their best:
Sirens
Celsius
Revelation
Searching For Satellites
Somewhere I Could Never Find

There is a Facebook page for the band, though it is very much inactive. Their music is however available via most respectable music retailers.

5. Pure Reason Revolution

Photo source: NME/Press

Photo source: NME/Press

Boy, where do I even begin with these guys… There’s been very quiet rumblings yet incredible demand for a possible reunion for years, but no actual drive to capitalise on it since their demise in 2011. Whatever their reasons, Pure Reason Revolution were a breed unlike any others in their class. Marrying intelligent progressive rock with luscious pop harmonies that later stretched into deep electronica territory that still maintained their killer songwriting principles, the London musicians behind this monumental project rightfully gained a rabid cult following. But press tried in all their might to elevate the band to the height they deserved and shockingly, it was never reached. One day, one day, there’s a hope that they will return and their astonishing progressive masterpieces will conquer a new generation of fans.

Five of their best:
Bullitts Dominae
The Twyncyn/Trembling Willows
Deus Ex Machina
Black Mourning
Over The Top

Oddly, their Facebook updates occasionally, but not with Pure Reason Revolution news. Go show support if you enjoy them anyway. Their music is available at most respectable music retailers, buy all the copies.

and last but no means least…

    6. Type O Negative

Photo source: NY Rock/Unknown

Photo source: NY Rock/Unknown

While there is a remote hope for every band on this list to reform, chances here are far beyond impossible. Why? If you’re not familiar with the name Type O Negative, then you won’t be aware that vocalist, bassist and literal giant personality Peter Steele has been dead for five years, tragically passing away from the effects of an aortic aneurysm aged just 48. The music of Type O Negative has always had an air of severe gloom attached to it, oft with self-depreciating humour and self-loathing running through every fibre of their being, becoming synonymous with the band (they were nicknamed the ‘Drab Four,’ playing on the Beatles moniker). There’s an entire conversation for another time here which may arrive at a later date, but the long story short is, the irreplaceable black but beautiful expanding harmonies and inexplicable doom of one of goth rock’s best and beloved bands will seldom be replicated.

Five of their best:
Wolf Moon
Love You To Death
We Hate Everyone
I Don’t Wanna Be Me
Dead Again

Their Facebook updates are rare but relevant should you wish to get them, but worth showing support too. Their music as expected is also available via all respectable music retailers and the vast majority of merchandise can be obtained through their website.

Until I figure out a way to raise the dead, may all these bands rest in peace…

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Dirty Scarab

Sometimes, some musicians are enigmatic, not because they don’t want to be found, but building a mystery behind the incredible skill and production that goes into making memorable music compositions, creates an allure that music fans flock to. One of the most high profile cases of this was the mystery surrounding electronic producer Burial, who for years was a myth, aside from his untouchable production abilities and stunning musical invocations because he kept himself hidden from the public. But the second he pulled back the curtain, the hype began to fade. Talents never die, but enigmas certainly can. Dirty Scarab is no exception. Prior to writing this piece, there is next to no social media presence nor a website for this under-the-radar producer, but details did eventually emerge with a little further digging. Dirty Scarab is the brainchild of Ben Youngs, a Leicester man who currently resides stateside, that specialises in remixes and soundtracks, accumulating a wealth of independent movie credits and more impressively, Trent Reznor-endorsed Nine Inch Nail remixes. Such as his talent for excelling in sheer breadth of production, his only album, 2009’s First Stint, contains a playroom of eclectronic sights, sounds and sensations, to sate whatever aural desires your state of mind decides. Naturally, a single song doesn’t speak for this brilliant artist’s entire creative repertoire, but it can showcase an aspect that they are capable of and nothing else says blackened mechanical wasteland like The Brooding. Setting forth on a high-impact hip-hop pace, booms of bass nestle under the encroaching menace and what sounds like robotic gurgling. The danger then engulfs you and a blasting of pained sirens and rusted robotic limbs edging closer, with the padding of a deep rumbling bass wall is incredibly unsettling. Everything screams foreboding, but there’s a delicate light of hope in a small riff of bright, graceful synth that in its two appearances, banishes that intense darkness and more than completes this track. No wonder Ben Youngs is proficient in soundtrack work, such well-realised and crafted atmosphere could cradle a compelling visual scenario with absolute ease. Though I have taken aback the cover over Dirty Scarab’s persona, ending an albeit brief puzzle, his versatility and adeptness behind the production desk heighten his credentials as a sterling young electronic producer, as much as a social media face figure equivalent.

Dirty Scarab’s work can’t be traced on the usual modes of music discovery such as Bandcamp, but First Stint is available completely for free, with the option to donate for his work on Jamendo or you can find him on CDBaby and support him that way. Of course, his music can be found be on most respectable music retailers too.

http://www.last.fm/music/Dirty+Scarab

P.S. Eclectronic is a term I’ve decided to use, to give to artists that can make or excel in producing more than one kind of electronic music.

Ice Cream Cathedral

It’s very rare that band names completely nail the sound of the music they make. After all, one of the best practices is to make a band name that entices a potential audience in, but still reflect in some respect the vision of the sounds they make, that will last their lifespan. Some bands do it spectacularly, some bands do it to create a sense of mystery around them, some bands do it mostly to catch your attention, while others… simply don’t try. I’m not going to go into semantics here, as there are plenty of cases for all of these camps, some which may form the basis of an article for the future even, but for now we turn our attention to the antics of Danish synthpop outfit Ice Cream Cathedral and what lurks beneath their exciting moniker. You can picture it. A pristine monument of textures and swirls, chilled and tranquil yet with a grandiose presence that takes your breath away. While this is merely a fantasy, the reality is none too different. Formed in Copenhagen in 2011, the dream state of luscious, sweet but not saccharine pop movements has taken hold of those willing to succumb to the sheer beauty of this music created.  Part of the charm lies in the timelessness of the instrumentation, the satisfying plonks, clicks, warm throbs and bass from analogue synthesisers, married with a simple but quietened drums and a soulful 60’s vocal delivery, all unite to form an abstract, space-travelling gem from yesteryear, yet taken from five minutes in the past. Amber Sail, taken from 2013’s The Drowsy Kingdom, taps into this golden formula, a sunshine glazed stroll of jaunty but bright keyboards and smoky ambience, with the echoes of female dulcet tones front and center, guiding a settling path through the near five minute journey. A moment of time is given to showcase each layer of synthesiser and programming, building up a carousel of colours, revolving before your very eyes before letting the vocals take reign once more. The marvel of the ice cream cathedral visual has taken a change recently as most recent album Sudden Anatomy from last year is a darker, icier endeavour, but The Drowsy Kingdom is undeniably the dawn to Sudden Anatomy’s dusk. The points still stands however, that this collective from Denmark are crystallising a blissful realm of pop music, and adorning it into a spectacle that remains cold to the touch, but utterly delicious to consume.

The back catalogue of Ice Cream Cathedral remains torn between their own Bandcamp page and Riot Factory Records’ Bandcamp page, all you should know is if you enjoyed this, it’s all available for a very reasonable fee.

https://www.facebook.com/icecreamcathedral?fref=ts

Squid Lid

Ah the circus. The frequent realm of a child’s revelry or a child’s nightmare. No matter how you look at it, there’s always been an air of the sinister attached to the big top and its residents. Showmen even capitalise on it, turning their carnivals into horror shows, making the sanguine pantomime of the unconscious a living, breathing reality. It then begs the question: How have so few married the theatrics of the circus with the wealth of music the world has to offer? Beats me, but in the reaches of Toronto’s music underworld, lies a project that not only showcases a performance spectacle, but drags it into a watery grave to electro-industrial, sewn together with as many electronic-tainted genres as tentacles can ensnare. Once referred to by founder James Zirco Fisher as the electro-industrial glow circus, the ideals of Squid Lid created a playful submersion into an ocean of light displays and marine life mutations, sinking deeper and deeper into darkness with every evolution. Third album Tackle Box from May of this year, is the most accomplished genus so far, adding female vocals into the mix where previously unease and uncertainty dominated the instrumental albums before it. The switch feels more natural as the project gains ground in underground circles, and production values clamber higher with it. Every song of Squid Lid has always had its own identity, so it’s always difficult to get a full complete picture of the vast array of sounds that this outfit is capable of creating. Shark Club, from Tackle Box has been honed for dancefloors, percussion and bass exploding with every beat, designed with a tribe in mind and synths twisting and warping into snarling beasts, or into haunting stabs, hovering above the party below. For someone who has followed this group for a few years, the escalation of detail and devotion to realising this new album is jaw-dropping. Squid Lid are truly a cult sensation, an experience that has to be seen to be believed, contained within such a diverse, delectable, darker side of electronic music, that musicians and artists alike have no hope of replicating.

Tackle Box, and its older counterparts 2009’s Steam Powered Submarine and 2012’s Crypto Zoo are all available from Squid Lid’s Bandcamp page, all from a very respectable price.

https://www.facebook.com/SquidLid?fref=ts

Amusement Parks On Fire

To you, what does the sound of amusement parks on fire even sound like? I imagine some sort of combination of carousel or the music associated with such melting to the ground, backed by a choir of patrons screaming for their lives. If you’re from the UK, public opinion on this subject could be touchy, given the recent controversy surrounding Alton Towers safety practices. The band however, hailing from Nottingham, imagine that visage a whole lot differently. Straddling the ground between some beautiful yet tragic classical pieces and indie pop, often backed by an inescapable wall of distortion and sound, the 2005 self-titled debut was the triumph of a 20 year old Michael Ferrick, before evolving his solo vision into a buccaneering four-piece band. Venosa takes a more punk approach, upbeat yet razor sharp and impactful, not to mention loud as all hell, but laden with melodies that latch to your eardrums and don’t let go. As with most noise pop bands, they can transform endless drones and guitar feedback into incredible works of art, and with the added melancholy of keys between songs, Amusement Parks On Fire achieve the art they strive for, immortalised as a blissful moment of utter destruction.

Their self-titled debut and sophomore effort from a year later, Out Of The Angels, can both be purchased from most respectable music retailers.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Amusement-Parks-on-Fire/104051302965425?fref=ts

Rose Kemp

Once upon a time, there were two folk musicians called Maddy and Rick, and they were in one of the most famous British folk bands of all time: Steeleye Span. Maddy and Rick married and conceived two children, one of which her name was Rose. Rose too initially was a folk musician, but she began to move in a different direction. She abandoned the traditional instruments and strove for a more electric based sound.You could view this as a fairy tale of corruption, but on behalf of the sheer talent and eclecticism that Rose Kemp shows in her songwriting, things turned out for the better. From embracing the more acoustic-focused, less-tempered roots of her parents to full-blown Sabbath-esque doom and drone dirges, her recorded output has sunk more and more into the shadows, but there has always remained a quirky, offbeat likeability to her work. Whether it’s the stirring emotional connection with the strings, or the sudden peril from stabs of organ, or even the various voice projections, from siren calls, to sultry tones, there is a large world of sounds just waiting to be explored. Saturday Night from 2008’s Unholy Majesty is a slow-burning ballad concerning the escapades of weekend living, that bursts into life near the climax, but is gorgeous only based on a few chords of the electric guitar and Rose’s sultry yet vengeful sounding tones. She’s since disappeared from a recording schedule, but her talent has given another shining hope to the already rich singer-songwriter pool, a darker hope, yet an excellent one.

Many of her recorded albums, as well as the odd collaboration such as Jeremy Smoking Jacket, can be found here and there floating around the internet and most respectable music retailers

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rose-Kemp/103984439637649?fref=ts.

Beast Make Bomb

Very few bands I’ve listened to make me ask the question: Are they an indie band, or a punk band? Or even a very loud pop band? Actually Beast Make Bomb are the only band that’ve made me ask those questions. Defunct as of three years ago, the two guys and two gals responsible for this dose of sugar-charged, punk-injected indie pop hailing from four different cities in the States, were an underground sensation. Much of their output revolved around a fuzz-saturated guitar freight train, that could compare with many of garage rock’s greats, but they could also pen killer pop melodies, and even sweet but never saccharine ballads to showcase their multi-faceted abilities. Rough It Out, from free-to-download EP Sourpuss, is an upbeat rocket about failing to confess your love that has pace, a contagious chorus and searing hot guitar work to boot in just three and a half minutes that will leaving you smiling ear-to-ear. Beast Make Bomb could turn the struggles of teen life into a wonderland of positivity, punctuated with unforgettable melodies and the world, for what they didn’t know about this band, is worse off without them.

Sourpuss, as well as numerous other EPs and songs can be found on their Bandcamp page, either for a small fee or for nothing at all.

https://www.facebook.com/BeastMakeBomb?fref=ts