Night Fantasies and Other Indiscretions

I’d always heard the name Umberto in musical circles here and there over the years and assumed it was the name of some aging Italian composer. Maybe by day he wrote scores for Giallo films and Italian daytime soaps, then by night he hit the Milan discos and laid down some serious disco grooves for Monica Vitti, Laura Antonelli, and Claudia Cardinale to lose their minds to. I mean, with a name like Umberto that narrative seemed to make the most sense. I bet he even double dated with Giorgio Moroder from time to time.

But of course I was completely wrong. The name Umberto is the nom de plume of Los Angeles-based musician and composer Matt Hill. I delved into his musical world around the same time I picked up his collaborative LP with Antoni Maiovvi(aka Anton Maiof from Bristol, UK) called Law Unit. The first album I heard was his newest called Alienation. A mixture of subtle dance grooves and melancholy eeriness, that was a good starting point for me. I delved back further into the Umberto discography and listened to La Llorona, From The Grave, Prophecy of the Black Widow, and Night Has A Thousand Screams. All of these albums varied in different ways, but all carried with them the feel of melancholy and the macabre. They all lived within groove and gruesome.

Out of all the albums in the Umberto canon, the one I seemed to connect with the most was 2013s Confrontations.  There seemed to be just the right amount of distant techno dance grooves, eerie vibes, and Gothic, melancholy sadness to sustain me for a lifetime in the crypt. This record would be the perfect score for an alien abduction, a stroll through a haunted castle, or a demonic possession.

It’s very multifaceted.

I’ll start out with the track that hit me the hardest. “The Summoning” is just pure melancholy and melodrama. It seems to beckon from beyond the grave, inviting the living to join the dead in some ritualistic and macabre dance. Dario or Lucio would have definitely asked Umberto for his musical handiwork back in the 70s had that been a possibility. It’s such a great track.

“Final Revelation” feels like it skips a decade with its ‘DX-7 filling in for 80s electric piano’ sound. It sits somewhere between Phantasm and Nightmare On Elm Street in regards to mood. Then the song shifts gears a bit halfway thru for an almost videogame sound, ala Castlevania. Still very 80s, but we go from movies to NES. I quite like that.

“Initial Revelation” has a opening credits lean to it. You can almost see a slow, steadicam shot thru some abandoned city streets that lead up to a dilapidated house where horrors beyond horrors occurred. Credits roll by as we make our way thru this “house of horrors”.

“Confrontation” goes for a Walter Rizzati vibe. Very House By The Cemetery, and the Gothic voices doing their “Ahhs” send chills down the spine.

“The Invasion” is the last thing you hear before you’re whisked up into the spacecraft and are never heard of again. Subtle, slow moving, and ominous as it makes its way into your ears, it’s the perfect way to say goodbye to this great album(and this reality as we know it.)

As far as imagined soundtracks and spooky grooves go, Confrontations has it all. There’s also a subtle sadness that permeates the entire album that gives it an almost timeless feel.

I can only imagine that Matt Hill was as directly affected by 70s and 80s horror and sci fi as I was. He captures that late night movie vibe perfectly. As cheesy as they may seem now, back then those films captured my imagination like no other film did(yeah, even more so than E.T.) And those scores that accompanied scenes of dread and gore, they lived on far longer than the films themselves. That’s obvious when I listen to an Umberto album.

Confrontations, especially.

Vi Res : Cold Century

Michael Figucio’s musical project Vi Res dabbles in the darker, colder realms of heavy synth music. When I listen to something like Lost Score or Silent Collective I get the feeling of watching some deeply abused VHS tape I rented for a Friday night viewing. Seedy scenes of city streets and midnight clubs, black leather and neon lights. Those first few releases captured the feel of those single synth scores that ingrained themselves into my brain as an 80s kid watching things far beyond my maturity level. Stuff like Maniac, Ms. 45, The Keep, and Escape From New York made as much an impact on me with their scores as they did with their B-movie exploitation and neo-futuristic shock. Figucio locked into those vibes and brought them back with his releases.

Since 2016, Vi Res has dropped a couple collections of music, as well as several singles(and were featured on the excellent SNDTRK compilation.) Vi Res just released a new album called Cold Century, and Figucio’s knack for mood building continues with this excellent new release.

There is as palpable mood shift when you first hit play on Cold Century. The darkness usually associated with a Vi Res release is decidedly lit with neo-futuristic tones as “Intro To Cold Century” opens the album. The bubbly, analog moods are more reminiscent of Vangelis and Jean Michel-Jarre than Slasher Film Festival Strategy and John Carpenter. It hits you in the face like a chilly ocean breeze. Title track “Cold Century” continues the Blade Runner vibes to stunning effect. Figucio has set out to create something bolder in scope here and these two opening tracks are proof of that. “Love Theme(From Cold Century)” wavers and pulsates like the best love themes do.

Despite the grander scope and neo-futuristic themes there is still a low key vibe here. The main synths used are the Yamaha CS-80, Juno 60, and the DX-7, which if you know much about classic synths are kind of the holy grails of classic early 80s sounds. Figucio’s deft touch proves immeasurable in world building with these masterful machines.

But all is not steeped in cold light and phosphorescent glow on Cold Century. “Sub Zero” emanates with sickly waves of dread in the best ways possible, while “Intermission Music” sounds like what would’ve happened if Devo had gotten into scoring science fiction films in the early 80s. Ghostly synth wavers like a theremin over a synthetic motorik beat. There are also two tracks included here that were recent single releases. “Staple” and “Pulse” are both epic tracks that capture desolation perfectly within their dark corridors. “Pulse” toils and turns with droning perfection while “Staple” ends the record on a melancholy note, revisiting those Jarre vibes as we’re sent off into the cold, dark night to fend for ourselves.

Cold Century is the best Vi Res album yet. It feels to be the strongest narrative-wise and concept-wise, as well as being emotionally engaging. It instantly grabs you and doesn’t let go until the journey ends. Darkness and light engage with each other here, giving us more of a dawn or dusk kind of record. It’s either a beautiful beginning or ending. Either way, it’s beautiful nonetheless.

8. 2 out of 10

Grab a copy here, both digitally or on limited edition cassette. 

Latest Obsession : Vi-Res’ “Pulse”

Over the last couple of years I’ve dabbled in the dense, gauzy sounds of Vi-Res. Vi-Res is a heavy synth musical project based out of Australia. I first heard his work on the first SNDTRK album, a Disco Cinematic Records-curated compilation with some absolutely amazing artists(like Xander Harris, Wolfmen of Mars, Slasher Film Festival Strategy, and Repeated Viewing) coming together to create the vibe of an old school horror/sci fi score. Vi-Res hangs in the darker corners of heavy synth. Think Phaedra-era Tangerine Dream with a bit of Timothy Fife’s more modern touches. This isn’t synthwave, guys. This is seriously heady, dense, and analog-driven music to trance out to.

A couple of weeks ago Vi-Res dropped a couple new tracks, “Staple” and “Pulse”. Both have been getting heavy rotation in my brain, but “Pulse” has been hitting the right Berlin School/Kosmische spot lately.

Starting out with circuit-driven growls and menacing mood, it quickly gains momentum with a Krautrock synth groove as the song builds upon itself. Whooshes of noise fly by your ears as the song moves along like an ancient beast woken up from a centuries-old sleep.

At times it comes across as dark ambient; like some of those acid-burnt Froese explorations that took place in ancient Germanic churches(ones that were still standing in 1972.) But throughout the nearly 12 minute run time the song morphs into something more post-counterculture Berlin and heads to mightier and headier heights.

Vi-Res is a bit of a mystery. I can’t find much information on this musical project. It seems to have appeared from the wilds of Australia, fully formed and eager to share with the world a musical landscape filled with dark atmosphere and sci-fi-leaning sounds. I think not knowing adds an air of mystery to the whole thing, really.

What’s not a mystery is that “Pulse” is a damn good and epic track. Give it a listen and see for yourself.

Interested in what went into making “Pulse”? Check out the list below:

Juno 60 
RX7 
Logic Pro X 
Mooer Ana Echo 
Nux Tape Core 
EHX RTG 
Waves 
Focusrite Saffire DSP

Locust Accords and Erotic Rites : Alex Cuervo and Timothy Fife Talk ‘Communion’ Compilation

So if you’ve been paying attention over the past week, I’ve been talking a lot about this Record Store Day 2018 compilation coming out in just a couple weeks called Communion. The righteous duo of Darren Page(Burning Tapes) and Gary Dimes(All of Them Witches) who run Burning Witches Records together are throwing their synth-heavy hat in the RSD ring this year with a powerhouse collection of tunes from some of the electronic/synth world’s greatest. It’s a smorgasbord of woozy synth goodness; from Berlin School headiness to dark cut and paste drum grooves.

April 21st. Find this and savor every morsel.

So last week I sat down and talked to musician/producer Cory Kilduff about his childhood in Texas, how he got into music, and his incredible contribution to Communion titled “LV426”. Cory’s got an album in the end stages of being complete and will be coming out with Burning Witches Records, hopefully sooner rather than later. Cory also recently was a guest on the Squirreling Podcast where he talks extensively about the music scene he came up in, graphic design, and how the electronic scene is far more punk rock than the punk rock scene is(something I completely agree with.) Check it out here. It’s a great conversation.

Today is a double feature. Today I’m talking to musicians Alex Cuervo of Espectrostatic and Timothy Fife, he of solo release Black Carbon, as well as his soundtrack work and with Chris Livengood in Victims.

First up is Alex Cuervo. He released the excellent Silhouette with Burning Witches back in 2017, but before that he’d been releasing music as Espectrostatic since 2012. As well as Espectrostatic, Alex was in the band Hex Dispensers(which disbanded just last year.) Music has been Alex’ main trip, but electronic music has become a passion over the last few years. You can hear that passion on Silhouette, as well as his excellent track “The Locust Accord” on Communion. Stuttering cut and paste drums, the ominous tinkling of piano keys, and the gloomy synth all come together to make one hell of an engaging listen. Check out our conversation below.

 

J. Hubner: Where did you grow up? 

Alex Cuervo: I was born and raised in El Paso, Texas.

J. Hubner:  Have you always been into music? Either as a fan or as a composer?

Alex Cuervo: Yes, I’ve always been drawn to music. I’ve been playing music in some capacity for most of my life now, beginning with playing in punk bands as a teenager (over 30 years ago!)

J. Hubner: Can you remember the first movie you saw where the score made as equal an impact on you as the film itself? Where you realized the importance of the score?

Alex Cuervo: I remember being really blown away by the music in Onibaba (A classic Japanese film). I think that was the first time I’d thought about how cool it would be to make music for films.

J. Hubner: Were you always into making electronic music? You also play in Hex Dispensers. Can you tell me a little bit about them? 

Alex Cuervo: Electronic music is a more recent interest. I’ve only been doing it for about 6-7 years. The Hex Dispensers called it a day last year, but we had been active since 2006. We released 3 full-length albums, many singles, and toured overseas quite a few times. It was incredibly rewarding, but I felt it was time to move on from it and push myself to write music more outside of my comfort zone.

J. Hubner: How long have you been making music as Espectrostatic? Prior to your Burning Witches debut release ‘Silhouette’, you had quite a few self-released albums.

Alex Cuervo: I’ve been doing Espectrostatic in some form since 2012. The first two Espectrostatic LPs were released by Trouble in Mind Records; a fantastic label out of Chicago. Before that I’d self-released some digital stuff. It’s evolved a lot since the earliest recordings.

J. Hubner: Speaking of Burning Witches Records, you released your debut with them late last year and now you’re contributing a track to their RSD 2018 release ‘Communion’. “The Locust Accord” is a powerful bit of looming dread and groove. 

Tell me a little bit about that song if you could. What was the process of creating it? Is there a mix of electronic and acoustic instruments? The drums don’t sound programmed to me. It sounds like a real kit. 

Alex Cuervo: Thanks. Yeah the drums on that one are all chopped up from human performances. I approach percussion and drums differently on every track. I often program the drums from acoustic samples, which also sounds more human – but sometimes I go for a colder, more mechanical feel. Depends on the song, but I do really enjoy chopping up and editing human percussion performances. I guess it’s similar to how Hip Hop producers have traditionally worked with drum breaks. The rest of the Locust Accord is a mix of virtual and analog synths, as well as sampled instruments. It was an idea I’d picked up and re-shelved a couple times over the years – so it was nice to finally see it through to a complete track.

J. Hubner: Besides having a very unique sound, you seem to also take your time on the visual aspects as well. Not only is the music intricate and detailed, so is the album art and videos. Are you also a graphic designer?

Alex Cuervo: I am, but I’m well aware of my limitations. I prefer to get more talented designers to handle the Espectrostatic LP art. I did all of the Hex Dispensers LP designs, and I also design a lot for Espectrostatic, but I really want the LPs to be something special – so I seek out the help of more skilled people for those.

J. Hubner: As a teenager did you haunt the local video store and burn through the horror section like I did? Who were some of your favorite horror filmmakers growing up? Or just filmmakers in general?

Alex Cuervo: Oh you bet I did! I’ve always been a huge science fiction fan. I was super obsessed with anything post apocalyptic in the 80s – and there were many low budget, straight to video movies to scratch that itch . I got really into horror in my late teens/early 20s. My favorite directors were the top ones of that era: John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Ridley Scott (etc). I was also really drawn to weirder arthouse, foreign & trash/cult cinema from David Lynch to John Waters.

J. Hubner: What’s next for Espectrostatic? 

Alex Cuervo: I’m planning on compiling some rarities, demos & one-off projects for a digital release this summer. After that – I’ve got a couple things planned with Burning Witches on a slightly more distant horizon.


Up next is the conversation I recently had with musician Timothy Fife. I first spoke with Tim back in 2016 as half the musical duo Victims. Their 10″ Death Waltz Originals release Form Hell really blew my mind. When Tim released his solo debut Black Carbon back in early 2017 I got to sit down and talk with him then as well. Timothy Fife is a humble dude, and an incredbibly talented one, so it’s no surprise that Burning Witches Records asked him to be a part of Communion(he contributed to their Halloween compilation as well.) His track “Erotic Rites” is a monster Giallo love fest. Exquisite, detailed, and makes you think of early 70s, Italian countryside, and beautiful bodies in a tangle of technicolor exploitation. Check out our talk below.

J. Hubner: So it’s been close to a year since we last spoke. At that time your excellent ‘Black Carbon’ was recently released. How has the last year treated you? Are you going on your 4th week of being snowed in out east?

Timothy Fife: It’s been a while!  Last year was pretty good, I played SxSW with Antoni Maiovvi then played at the Boston Underground Film Festival with Antoni and Dust Witch and then two other shows, one with Boy Harsher and the other with Bastian Void.  Those were the first shows I ever played as a solo artist and each set was totally different.  But then I didn’t do much for the rest of the year because my parents passed away and I had to clean out their house and sell it.  Then I got married right after that.  So now I’m getting back into working on new music, although I did manage to sneak out two releases by the end of the year.  And the snow doesn’t bother me, it keeps me inside working on stuff.

J. Hubner: Well my condolences about your parents, but congratulations on the nuptials. I’m glad to hear your back working on new music. I wanted to ask you about a couple things you’ve been involved with over the last year. First is your excellent work on ‘The Streets Run Red’ S/T with David Ellesmere. How did that come about? 

Timothy Fife:  Streets Run Red is the second soundtrack I did with Dave, the first being a Suburbia-type film called The Ungovernable Force.  It was my third full length feature for Ungovernable Films, a company out of the Boston area that do punk inspired exploitation films.  Dave is great to work with.  He’s known for being in all of these classic punk bands but he has great musical depth and can play just about any style of music.

J. Hubner: You also did a single release with the Polytechnic Youth label. Both tracks, “Simulacra” and “All Tomorrow’s Remembered” are Komische heaven. Just brilliant work. I was wondering how that collaboration with Polytechnic Youth came about? And where did the idea for the 45 to play from the inside out come from? 

Timothy Fife: I can’t remember how I came across Polytechnic Youth, but I figured out that they did odd releases like reverse playing records and stuff like that.  So I contacted them, they knew the Victims record I think and said “let’s do something.”  There was some talk in the beginning about it being a split with Sonic Boom of Spacemen 3 but that never materialized.  I really wanted the tracks to match the feeling of the record playing backwards so I wrote those tracks with that specifically in mind.

J. Hubner: Along with a bunch of other amazing artists, you are contributing a track to Burning Witches Records’ RSD 2018 release ‘Communion’. And like those other amazing artists your track “Erotic Rites” is a real banger. Love the vibe of that one. How did this collaboration come about? 

Timothy Fife: I did a track for their really amazing Halloween compilation “Witches’ Halloween Brew” and the record company and I both wanted to continue working with each other.  They have a really cool roster of artists and I hear something great and inventive out of their work.

J. Hubner: Was “Erotic Rites” something you wrote specifically for the compilation? Or was it something you were working on for another release?

Timothy Fife:  I wrote Erotic Rites for it for sure.  I originally had this grand idea to have this really crazy kosmische-type track and worked on one for like a month straight until I realized it was just not going to work for the comp.  So I sat down and pumped Erotic Rites out in a day after watching some sleazy Italian films and I’m glad I did because it fits the mood of the compilation much better.

J. Hubner: So what else is lined up for 2018? Any super secret information you can divulge?  

Timothy Fife: 2018 has still just begun!  In the beginning of the year I scored a short called “Tiny Clones” that’s getting into some cool festivals.  I’m playing with Pentagram Home Video at the Boston Underground Film Festival next week, then I’ll be scoring another film.  I’m trying to get a live group together right now and I’m preparing work for three different collaborations.  Hoping this is gonna be the best year yet!


Communion will be available on Record Store Day, April 21st 2018(that’s two weeks from tomorrow if you’re keeping score.) Go get in line at 4 am, drink lots of coffee, and don’t leave until there’s a copy in your grubby hands. If you can’t find one, keep up with Burning Witches Records over at their website for possible post-RSD copies available online at their shop.

Deep Space Meditations(The Dresden Codex)

In space they can’t hear you scream.

Well who’s they, and why would they be close enough to hear you scream? In space, the desolation is overwhelming, especially on a 10-year run into an exploration program that is sure to deteriorate my muscles and re-write my DNA enough that by the time my feet can hit good ‘ol American soil I’ll need to be held up by soldiers that don’t know me because the muscle mass in my legs will be nearly gone. By then my loved ones will have forgotten me; wife will have moved on and my children will only have vague recollections of the man they called “dad”.

There’s no point in screaming in space. The existential loneliness is worse than anything.

I must carry on, though. If I don’t, there will be no soldiers to carry my bag of bones out of this chromed-out space truckin’ machine. I’m following orders straight from The Dresden Codex. It states an officer of the Intergalactic Alliance must make the trek from earth into the outer galactic realms in order to search for answers to the mysteries of retaining life on our planet. Bodies of water have dried up, destroying marine life planet-wide. The air has gotten toxic to where air pacs and full body suits are needed for protection in just the shortest of time frames outdoors. Mother Nature has become a Hazmat nightmare, spitting acid grins every time the fading, dried blood-colored sun rises and sets every 5 days(for only 10 hour increments.) Certain spots in the United States, mainly in the Midwest, the earth has cracked open and swallowed homes, schools, towns, and in some places counties and left in their place massive chasms that lead to the center of the planet. Rivers of looming doom; lava flows that spit magma miles into the air and occasionally take out Life Detection Drones. There are “safe zones” in Canada and Europe, but we don’t know how long they will remain safe. The New York safe zone was zapped by radioactive lightning and turned to glowing soot.

We pissed off our maker, so now he’s unmaking us.

But for mankind, I will fly into the Teleforce. The unknown light emanating from the darkness of deep space in order to look for answers to how we can fix our mistakes. How we can reverse our almost certain death by our own egotistical need for “more”. Chomping at our natural resources like a spoiled child at the dinner table wanting more, more, more. The fastest vehicles, the biggest homes, the most convenient means of saving a buck in order to splurge on ourselves. We built a throw away society made from plastics and poisoned gases that will never biodegrade. We stuck a straw into the earth and sucked till she was dry as a desert-scorched bone. We collapsed the terra firma into itself giving way to a scarred face of dirt and dead foliage, which then turned into blisters filled with hot magma. They burst, belched into the waning blue skies a cocktail of gas and melted rock that would give us 80 years of a demonic dusk. 

This is mother earth’s nuclear forever. A gift to her spoiled children. 

So I sit in this capsule, this galactic silver bullet, and search for an answer. Molecules, nutrients, intelligent life, other universes, and a new home are all part of project Timespan. Despite the mistakes made by our forefathers and their forefathers, I’m determined to find a new home. I’m determined to come through for all of us. Someone once said that the past is a grotesque animal. The past is far worse than any animal. It’s a looming, destructive storm just inching away in the rearview. I’m not sure I can move fast enough to escape it, but I’m doing my best. For mankind’s sake, the answer must lie in the Teleforce. Somewhere in the Teleforce. 


 

The following was inspired by Majeure’s Timespan Redux, a remastering of AE Paterra’s 2010 space rock masterpiece. A weekend purchase that filled my head with visions of intergalactic travel and end of the world storytelling, the album almost wrote the above narrative itself. I merely sat at the computer and typed while indulging in a lager or two. Paterra’s solo work sometimes gets overlooked as his Zombi bandmate Steve Moore has found solo success as a film soundtrack go-to guy. I’ve only recently delved into Majeure’s work and it’s a glorious world of Tangerine Dream visions and progressive rock touches. His drums are still very present, but the synth loops and soundscapes he creates are what make Majeure, in particular Timespan, such an engaging listen.

 

 

 

The Witching Hour : A Conversation With All of Them Witches’ Gary Dimes

There’s a certain chunk of the population that are molded and fostered from a young age by horror movies. Where some watch the work of John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Sam Raimi, Dario Argento and George Romero and are disturbed, disgusted, and generally turned off by the blood, terror, and occasional flash of boobs, the rest of us have formed a kinship with these Masters of Horror. Within the confines of the abandoned cabin in the woods, quiet suburban neighborhood, Gothic European surroundings, or seemingly end of the world we find allegories on our own lives, metaphors for the human condition, visual beauty in the menace of terror, and of course boobs.

And within that community of horror lovers there’s a smaller percentage that go on to do something creative with that horror love. Some make horror of their own, in the form of making their own films. Or some write their own tales in the form of short stories and novels. Maybe even some go into special effects like their heroes Tom Savini, Rick Baker, and Stan Winston. And some even go into music.

Enter Gary Dimes.

Dimes grew up on horror films. He also grew up on music. His love for both came together in All of Them Witches, a synth-heavy music project where Dimes plays the role of composer for the imagined horror film. He establishes early on that he’s a fan of John Carpenter, but his love for other genres besides the horror score makes his music quite unique. His debut as All of Them Witches was 2016s excellent The Coven. And now he’s releasing Hunters Moon(available 3/9 via Burning Witches Records.) I got the chance to ask Gary a few questions about his music, growing up, influences, and All of Them Witches. Grab some coffee and enjoy.


J. Hubner: So where did you grow up?

Gary Dimes: I grew up in the Medway Towns in South East England. Still live in the dive today. It’s under an hour’s train journey to London, so good for catching gigs.

J. Hubner: What was your childhood like? Were you outside running around or inside reading comic books? Or both?

Gary Dimes: Bit of both, I was really into my comics, I used to walk four miles to the nearest comic shop with my friend once a month to spend all our pocket money. And not getting the bus meant you had that extra bit of cash to buy more. That and hanging around the nearby woods, building camps and setting fires.

J. Hubner: Given the music of All of Them Witches, as well as your label name(Burning Witches Records), I can only assume horror films play a big role in your formative years. Are you a big horror fan? What was the first movie you remember that truly scared the hell of out of you?

Gary Dimes: Yeah I’m a huge horror/thriller fan, have been since way back. Can’t remember the first movie, but one that really scared the crap out of me was “House”, I must’ve been about seven or eight at the time. The Vietnam soldier was really scary to me as a kid, watching it back recently It’s more funny than scary.

J. Hubner: Has music always played a big role in your life?

Gary Dimes: Yeah massively, I’ve always been in to a lot of different styles of music, but Nirvana changed my world. In Utero is incredible! Love the more abrasive and natural sound it has to their previous albums.  After that I was all about the alternative grunge scene. Big into Smashing Pumpkins, Jesus Lizard, Pixies, Breeders, Butthole Surfers, Sonic Youth. Wasn’t until a little later that I started getting into electronic music.

J. Hubner: Do you remember the first album you bought with your own money? Do you still listen to that album today?

Gary Dimes: First album was Madonna True Blue, still get a regular spin at the Coven. The record still somehow sounds pretty good, even though I used to play it to death on a cheap old hifi system. The first soundtrack I bought was the Labyrinth, 1986 was a pretty good start to my vinyl collection!

J. Hubner: Are you a horror fiction fan? Stephen King? Clive Barker? HP Lovecraft? Ray Bradbury?

Gary Dimes: Big Stephen King fan. The Shining is my all time favourite book/film. Also a fan of the sequel Doctor Sleep. I love James Herbert. Shrine is another favourite, this story to me was totally different to what I was used to. Where Stephen King concentrated on characterization and how they dealt with terrible and impossibly situations both physically and ethereal – James Herbert took his characters and put them through hell with all the blood and guts he could find.

J. Hubner: So when did you first really get into music? What artist influenced you to want to make music? 

Gary Dimes: Probably about the age of 14/15 when I discovered Nirvana. I was a little bit late to the party on that one though. I formed a post-rock band in 2005 which I was in for 15 years. Played some pretty cool gigs. Dunk! Festival in Belgium was one of many highlight, and ArcTanGent with Fuck Buttons was a bit special. But recording an EP in Abbey Road Studio 2 was the fondest memory.

J. Hubner: What was the first instrument you learned to play?

Gary Dimes: Probably a Yamaha keyboard I was bought one Christmas. Remember being chuffed to bits because I learnt to play “Heart and Soul” from Big. I taught myself to play the guitar at 17, and started a band the year after. My band were a bit more experimental when we started, so I could  just whack delay and distortion on and play a load of noise.

J. Hubner: Let’s talk about All of Them Witches. How long have you been making music as AoTW? 

Gary Dimes: I’ve been making music as All of Them Witches for nearly 2 years now, I started around July 2016. I left my band 2 years previously, and wanted to do something more soundtrack based.

J. Hubner: Were horror soundtracks a prime influence on the sound you were going for? Who are some of your favorite horror score artists? 

Gary Dimes: Yeah, both The Coven and Hunters Moon are heavily influenced by horror. I did start writing a sci-fi style album, but i’m not sure if that’ll ever see the light of day. My favourite horror score artists are : The obvious ones are John Carpenter and Alan Howarth,the best directors/composers of the 70’s and 80’s. There’s a lot of modern synth artist i’m really digging like Wojciech Golczewski, he knocks it out of the park with everything he touches. Favourite recent soundtrack is Sinoia Caves’ Beyond the Black Rainbow. It’s just prefect!

J. Hubner: Are the AoTW albums all you? What’s your gear set up like? Is it a mix of hardware and soft synths? 

Gary Dimes: Yes all me. I started off with soft synths, until I could afford to start building up my arsenal of analogue. I’ve recently picked up a Korg monologue and Volca Keys, been working on a lot of sequence stuff recently with them. Also an old Casio keyboard i picked up form a second hand store. I put it through a delay pedal to get a nice poly synth sound. Just a very basic setup at the moment, but something to build on.

J. Hubner: Your first record came out in 2016. That was ‘The Coven’. Your newest record, which is being released on March 9th, is called ‘Hunters Moon’. Can you tell me a little bit about how that record came together?

Gary Dimes: Hunters Moon was written over the past year. I wanted to get ahead of myself as I had my first child on the way, and heard they take up a lot of time. I ended up with 2 albums worth of material, and painstakingly stripped it apart and ended up with the 11 songs that make up the album. Some of the tracks that were on the chopping block may resurface at some point.

J. Hubner: What’s your writing process like in All of Them Witches? Do you go in with concepts in mind, or is it more of just a song by song thing?

Gary Dimes: It varies, sometimes I have a clear vision/concept in mind before I start, but most of the time it’s just playing about, finding a decent sound and building from there. I like to try and tie all the songs together, so there’s a running theme through the album. Although Hunters Moon is more of a mix bag than The Coven, I think I achieved that.

J. Hubner: Do you see any major differences from ‘The Coven’ to ‘Hunters Moon’ style-wise or approach-wise?

Gary Dimes: I think it’s been a natural progression. On The Coven my influences are laid bare, I think I’ve developed my sound a lot more on Hunters Moon. Hopefully people will be into it as much as my first album. I have been blown away by the response to my music and the Burning Witches Records label I started with Darren Page of BurningTapes.

J. Hubner: Do you ever take All of Them Witches out for live shows? 

Gary Dimes: No, not yet at the moment. I don’t really have enough equipment to do so. I’m trying to strip things down for future releases and go as analogue as possible.

J. Hubner: What does the rest of 2018 look like for All of Them Witches?

Gary Dimes: I’ve started working on a new album, been listening to a lot of Krautrock and Post Punk, so that may have a few influences. Also going to have a split cassette release out towards the end of the year. There’s also a download extra remix album with Hunters Moon. I’ve got a bunch of my favourite artists onboard Xander Harris, Timothy Fife,Thomas Ragsdale, Ian Alex Mac and BurningTapes. Also have DIE HEXEN on a vocal duties on an alternative version of Copper Bones. I’m over the Hunters Moon they’ve all contributed to my release.


Head over to Burning Witches Records and order Hunters Moon. It’s available today, 3/9. Bookmark that site because they’ve got some big releases coming this year. And give their other artists like Burning Tapes, Espectrostatic, Isvisible Isinvisible, Brass Hearse, and Maine a listen. You may find a new favorite.

 

 

Steve Greene : Electronic Dreams for a Holographic Existence

Steve Greene is the synth wizard in the progressive heavy synth rock band Voyag3r. Within Voyag3r Greene is one third of a power trio that mixes elements of John Carpenter scores, Goblin, Zombi, and even hints of progressive rock from the 70s. They world build on releases like Doom Fortress and Are You Synthetic. Within the world of synth, guitar, and drums(both acoustic and electronic) this Detroit band take horror and sci fi themes to new blistering heights. A smorgasbord of rock-inflected science fiction jams.

When Steve Greene isn’t one third of Voyag3r, he tends to take a darker tone in his songs. On his own, composing late at night in his home studio, Greene channels the darker aspects of Tangerine Dream, 80s television synth themes(think Knight Rider or Street Hawk), and most definitely Mr. Carpenter. Greene recently released his solo album debut titled Electronic Dreams for a Holographic Existence. It’s a menacing heavy synth album that follows themes of what we think we know in this universe and that great unknown that we unknowingly pull inspiration from. It’s an intense and beguiling record that pulls you into its electronic world.

When someone opens an album with a track like “Triad of the Dark” you know they mean business. It blows in like some ominous haze over you, looming synths buzz like the best horror themes. It has the intensity of a great Carpenter theme but Greene builds his own personal vibe here. He manages to stand with contemporaries like Slasher Film Festival Strategy, Antoni Maiovvi, and Umberto while adding a toughness here that makes it unique. There’s a street-level feel here, as if he’s scoring some neo-futuristic anti-hero’s story. It’s a heady musical trip. “Machines, Schemes, and Manipulations” has a real robo-strut to it. Once again capturing some early 80s magic. Something that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on some early 80s Roger Corman-produced dystopian B-flick. Greene even adds some organic soul here with some very tasteful saxophone. “Aerial Maneuvers” buzzes and beeps with analog life. Steve Greene is a hardware kind of player, using old school synths to make his musical magic. “Aerial Maneuvers” benefits greatly from the warmth of real synths. There’s a lot to be said for tactile instrumentation, and Greene weaves square waves and circuit-fed melodies expertly and effectively.

Electronic Dreams for a Holographic Existence never falters throughout its 37 minutes. It flows effortlessly from one track to the next. Though maybe not a concept album per say, Existence flows with a very distinct musical narrative that gives the impression of a story being told. Tracks like “Gravitationally Bound”, “The Hoax”, and “The Great Barrier” feel like electro micro movements that carry you from one theme to the next. At times they remind me of some of the great 8-bit themes you’d hear in old NES games. You never realized just how much of an impact those little themes had on you until years later when they were isolated and you could hear the intricacies and detailed melodies that went into what was in essence “background noise” to your RPG action.

Greene makes truly effective compositions here.

These middle tracks lead us to the hypnotic and noisy “Revel In Your Time”. Imagine Disasterpeace trying to capture the magic of Brad Fiedel’s Terminator score and you’ll have an idea of the power of this song. With slight jazz inflections courtesy of electric piano this song seems to just soar. “Expanding Symmetry” has an almost baroque quality to it. Chamber music for outer space, if you will. It’s a melancholy close to a heady space trip. Beautiful galactic gloom.

Steve Greene seems to excel at working in both a band and on his own. Electronic Dreams for a Holographic Existence feels decidedly personal. It pulls together 8 tracks that when played consecutively lay out this sci fi music journey. It’s a warm, buzzing piece of heavy synth work that begs repeated listens.

8.1 out of 10