Dark, moody, somber, chilling, you get the idea.

The narratives and interpretations are my own. Your mileage may vary.

Fellow travelers down this dark road:

Too gloomy?

Here we go:

Beausoleil, Bobby - Lucifer Rising

Lucifer Rising soundtrack (recorded in the late 1960's) - Composed by Manson Family member Bobby Beausoleil (who was actually in jail at the time of the murders), for Kenneth Anger's film of himself performing a ritual for invoking Ra the Egyptian Sun God, in the Valley of Kings (I think). The film is silent except for the soundtrack, soaring guitar and snare, unequalled until Popol Vuh's "Aguirre" or middle-period Tangerine Dream. Buy the video, which is a visual treat, featuring Kenneth Anger and Marianne Faithfull, from Mystic Fire Videos. It took 30 years for this soundtrack to be released, and now it's available in a few cool stores or directly from White Dog Music


David Bowie - Inside/Outside

Inside/Outside (1995) - Bowie toured with Nine Inch Nails for this album. Maybe he was trying to out-grim Trent Reznor. He returns to Berlin, the scene of his most painful and creatively interesting period (Low/"Heroes"), after nearly 20 years and nudges the calendar forward to 1999. He's a detective investigating a string of art-murders inspired by the likes of Hermann Nitsch. It's not clear if he's trying to be cyberpunk or tap into the previous decade's hipster love affair with mutilation and serial murder, so I found the result muddled. But atmospherically it can't be beat. Monologues, music for wandering the desolate streets, mutters and wails. The album spawned a single "Deranged" that was used in David Lynch's "Lost Highway." Another cut, "A Small Piece of Land," was used to score the decline of Jean-Michel Basquiat, in the eponymous movie from 1997 (Bowie played Andy Warhol). It worked for me.


Fad Gadget w/Einstuerzende Neubauten - Spoil the Child

Spoil the Child (Mute, 1983) - This is on the B-Side of the "Collapsing New People" (London Mix) 12". It features a surprisingly melodic Einsturzende Neubauten backing an uncredited female singer in a melancholy, waltz-time paean to raising iron youth.


Videodrome Sdtrk - music composed by James Horner

Videodrome (Varese Sarabande reissue, 1998?) - The sound of revelation found at the bottom of a well with the bass chords of a church organ. A bit short, maybe a bit repetitive, and without any dialogue from the movie, let alone Professor Bryan O'Blivion's wonderful McLuhanesque pronouncements, but just the thing to call us to services at the Cathode Ray Mission. Long live the New Flesh.


Kosova Republike

Dream Needle and XXXXXXXXXXXXX (on various artists CD, 1992) - They picked the name when most people were dimly aware of the Yugoslav War(s) of Secession. I promise to write more on them later.


Lustmord - The Place Where the Black Stars Hang

The Place Where the Black Stars Hang (Side Effects) - Dark, living matter in the spaces between the galaxies. This is the heartbeat of Nemesis, our sun's dark companion. Sonorous breathing, howling solar wind (as the dead sun approaches) and tone poems composed among Cyclopean ruins. Lustmord credits Adi Newton of TAGC and Graeme Revell of SPK with assistance on this disc. It was recently discovered that our entire sun resonates at a frequency of a few hertz.


Sound Column - Lights in a Fat City

Lights in a Fat City (Extreme) - Inspired by the wide open spaces Down Under, this SF trio re-create the Long Ago Dreamtime in four parts, using Australian instruments. "Taksu" introduces and anchors the disc with a solid didgeridoo. "Aluna," the second piece, owes a lot to Jon Hassell, circa "Earthquake," though its horns (trumpet?) are not its focus. "Surya" finds the two schoolgirls lost in "Picnic at Hanging Rock," now inside a cavern. The air moving slowly through it sounds like a langorous didgeridoo and the rattling of small bones and chimes accompanied briefly by chanting voices tells them they've got company. And doesn't that the sax player sound like the guy from TAGC's "Digitaria?".In "Memory Ground" the girls emerge from the cavern into the Arabian desert at sunrise. One of the girls runs back inside and somehow makes it back to Australia and is found, unable to explain her disappearance. The other does not and is lost to history.


SPK - The Insect Musicians (Mute/Grey Area)

SPK's Graeme Revell recorded insect sounds - chirps, buzzes, etc. - and used the samples to compose insistent minor-key music.


SPK - Necropolis, Amphibians, and Reptiles (Mute/Grey Area reissue)

Collaboration with Steve Stapledon of Nurse With Wound, based on the poetry of Adolf Woelfli, a German schizophrenic wh died young.


SPK - Zamia Lehmanni

Zamia Lehmanni: Songs of Byzantine Flowers (Mute/Grey Area)

Everything else SPK did was either industrial grind or fluffy dance-pop. Zamia Lehmanni lies along the axis of Graeme Revell's other solo projects (see below) and is gorgeous throughout. Its cover is red, gold, and black and the liner notes quote decadent poets in the original French along with a description of copper-colored blossoms from "Against Nature." by J. K Huysmans. You can see the dew on the leaves in a garden enclosed by mold-covered stone walls. The music is urgent gamelan with sampled laments by the former residents of Bikini Atoll (they were removed for the US atomic bomb tests and as a result lost their sense of place. They never again flourished--they only persisted). Byzantium and bikinis aside, you can also use it as music for a drowned world resurrected. In peaceful lagoons, amid the seaweed-wrapped ruins, one can take one's solitary ease and dream of growing gills for a return to the sea. I've been hitting the J.G. Ballard pretty hard lately. Also, Max Ernst's "Europe After the Rain" seems to go well with this. The CD ends with a poignant track from Necropolis, Amphibians and Reptiles, an interpretation of the poetry of Adolf Woelfli that Revell did with NWW & DDAA.

Trent Straughan - Untitled

Music from the future in which the people all killed themselves off and the automated weapons systems they left behind are engaged in doing the same. Machines hum, drumbeats quicken, and warning klaxons serenade each other from enemy camps on the night before the final battle. A long, slow fuzz-guitarish (think of Bauhaus' "She's in Parties") finishes the disc, allowing you to survey the twisted hulks of BOLOs,, Screamers, and Beserkers. Great disc! These tracks may be released on their own or as part of a collaboration. To find out more, go to Hotweird or contact Trent directly at 6232 Palo Pinto, Dallas TX 75214, or at trents@onramp.net. He also has a band, Prison Rape Scenes, whose CD Licked By the Mother Tongue is now available

TAGC - Digitaria

Digitaria (Sweatbox, 1987; Re-release Side Effects, 1995) - The best example of what TAGC wants to accomplish via "psychoacoustics." This sound of boiling liquid (blood?) quickly gives way to constantly changing points of view and musical pieces and a scream that come out of nowhere. The seeming chaos is really preparation for the terrifying climax of "ShgL." Along the way, listeners are treated to a soliloquy from "Marat/Sade," Patrick Magee relating the slow execution of a would-be regicide by way of explanation for his (de Sade's) refusal to preside over French Revolutionary tribunals. Hear it with a friend. The original version on Sweatbox ends with ShGL,Sunset Eyes Through Water, and po-ema, a recitation of S. T. Coleridge's "Kubla Khan." The re-release on Newton's own Anterior label does not. It ends in kool jazz, which is actually quite pleasant but lacks the punch of the original. Sht, a vinyl EP on Sweatbox, has all three, as it was meant as a continuation of the vinyl version of Digitaria. Audiophile, a TAGC singles compilation, includes ShGL, Sunset Eyes Through Water (but not po-ema), Big Sex, and Broadcast Test.

TAGC - Meontological Research Recordings Teste Tones

(Soleilmoon 1988) - Mostly an exercise in psychoacoustics, this one's good for playing while tripping or for having a little fun with friends who are. TAGC is here to cheerfully mess with your head, playing Emergency Broadcast System test tones and intoning words like "CIA," "LSD," "drip," and other highly suggestive words. However, one cut, Magnetic Pharmacology is a sublime choral, almost melodic piece that ends with an implied clock tower chiming in the grey dawn. But then it's back to more acid tomfoolery. TAGC - Burning Water Soundtrack

Burning Water Soundtrack (Side Effects) - The title refers to an alchemical concept, the wedding of elemental opposites. The work consists of two long pieces. The first, an extended synth wash punctuated by wind sounds, recalls Vangelis' "Opera Sauvage." The second has more of an industrial sound to it, of distorted voices giving way to the thrum of massive engines in an abandoned factory, turning out artifacts not meant to be seen by daylight. Another of TAGC's "Psychoacoustic" projects. Distributed by Soleilmoon Records.


Vasilisk - Liberation and Ecstasy

Liberation and Ecstasy (Musica Maxima Magnetica) - Vasilisk is a Japanese percussion ensemble that plays for the eternal procession of the dead, the entourage of Pharaoh Khephren and his consort the ghoul-queen Nitokris. The booming, clicking, piping, and droning on the cut "Awakening" sound the progress of mummified nobles and human-animal hybrids marching from nowhere to elsewhere. In other cuts on the disc, drums, bells, and shrieks portray scenes best observed from behind the gigantic pillars of the King's Chamber. The reek of natron and rotting flesh rises from many of the cuts on this CD, a compilation of impossible-to-find albums and EPs. Vasilisk has a cut, "Into the Circle," on the "Death of Vinyl" compilation CD (DoV, Canada) which also includes a cut by Zoviet France. (Heard while reading "Imprisoned with the Pharaohs," by H.P. Lovecraft)

Various Artists - Vhutemas Archetypi (Mute) - A collection of early works by Mute artists such as Laibach, Lustmord, & SPK, not to mention Hunting Lodge's "Tribal Warning Shot." Back