Vlimmer is the name Alexander Leonard Donat goes by when making his own brand of darkwave, dreampunk, and Gothic pop music. He works among dark shades and paints worlds with scattered doom and gloom, with the occasional flash of light. Donat’s voice is a darkly melodic baritone. A voice that demands your attention, while never distracting you from the eerie and alluring synths and electro rhythms. There’s a certain doomed romanticism in Vlimmer’s work; a cross between the writings of James O’Barr’s avenging angel in the crow and Peter Murphy’s pale ghoul singing from the shadows in Bauhaus.
XIII/XIIII is two EPs collected together in a hand-painted wooden box. The box is sold out, but digital lives eternally(plus cassettes and CDs are still available, too.) These songs feel as if they were pulled from a time capsule that had been buried in 1981 Berlin. They wax and wane in a melancholic turmoil. A cross between The Soft Moon and early Cure, with the electro groove of Montreal’s Automelodi, Vlimmer’s XIII/XIIII is a dark cloud to take refuge under in this hot summer.
One of the standouts on an album of many is the glitchy, retro-futuristic “Teilunheil”, a dizzying shot of buzzing synth and skittery beats. It feels like somewhat of an outlier here, too. Donat’s voice almost sounds like Andy Partridge from XTC experimenting in glitch electronics. Very distinct sound. Following that is the majestic and darkly beautiful “Kontakt”. Settling into more of a steady rhythm, Donat emotes over dramatic electro tones. Here, Vlimmer puts me in mind of Miracle, the electro pop side gig of Zombi’s Steve Moore and Daniel O’Sullivan.
Of course album opener “Gesellschaftsrücken” strikes immediately with a Depeche Mode immediacy, but with much more happening in the Gothic tones. You can almost see Donat singing this in some dilapidated castle as rain falls through massive holes in the roof. “Klavierbeton” turns up the MBV vibes with wavering, woozy guitar, but still keeping things melancholy. A cross between “To Here Knows When” and “Alone Again Or”. “Übertraum” moves along on a kinetic rhythm and darkly pulsating melody that is reminiscent of The Soft Moon.
Over the course of XIII/XIIII Vlimmer builds a sonic world of dark delights while never losing the beating heart of pop under all the doom and gloom. While having a foundation of classic Gothic and darkwave, Alexander Leonard Donat seemingly creates new sonic ground with Vlimmer and VIII/VIIII.
7.6 out of 10
VIII/VIIII is available now digitally via Blackjack Illuminist Records. Get it here.